I saw the crowd staring at me with disgust. The idea that I could end up dead in Mexico killed by peace-loving hippies hadn’t crossed my mind before, but now horrified me. I looked around for an exit as I waited for their judgment. My good intentions meant nothing to them. In that moment I knew what so many others had felt before they’d succumbed to the violence of Marxist collectivism. I thought about the picture from Vietnam of the young man with a revolver to his head—I wasn’t going to go out like that. I was going to run. ‘What brought me to such dire straits?’ you might ask. Well, that’s a long story—and it starts with a Mayan Prophecy.
It was December 2012, and I’d just finished my fall semester. The previous five years involved spending time in an Iraqi combat-zone, working as a nurse during the response to Hurricane Katrina, along with the battles of marriage and divorce. I fought severe PTSD from my time in the war and from having to put people down in New Orleans during Katrina. I was barely functioning in school and had a bad pill addiction. I was bored with life, detached, and mentally exhausted. I needed an escape.
All year I had heard talks of paradigm shifts and a new age of enlightenment. The T.V. and Movies were all capitalizing on the end of the Mayan calendar. “Zeitgeist” and other new new age movements were sprouting up every day. Some people may have actually believed that the world was going to end, others thought it would be the beginning of a new age of love and peace, but most just wanted something else to hype up and buy in to. Having no real ambition and never missing a chance to chase hippy women and get high, I decided to buy a plane ticket and fly myself down to the epicenter of it all.
I arrived in Mexico and the heat hit me like a Wave, I bought a frozen drink and thought about what to do next. I saw a pretty girl who carried herself well and could have been a model if she cut her dreadlocks and shaved her armpits. I asked her name ,where she was from, and if she was there for the “Mayan thing”. She looked puzzled as if wondering why this square guy with an Army haircut was there for the same reason she was. “I am Brit and I am here for the Rainbow Gathering”, she said. I asked her what she was talking about. I had never heard of the Rainbow Family before and thought it perhaps a gay pride event. She explained to me that it was a multicultural commune of people from around the world who rejected money, property, and state boarders. She spoke of it as an amazing group where everyone is equal and where everyone supports each other. I asked her if there would be good drugs there, she said yes and I told her I wanted to go. She told me that if I paid for the ride there she would vouch for me, so I hailed a cab and we were on our way.
I fell asleep in the cab and woke up several hours later in the town of Palenque, Mexico. When we exited the cab I noticed hundreds of hippies walking towards the edge of town. Brit and I just followed taking in the spectacle of it all along the way and there was so much to take in. I saw people of all ages , genders , and nationalities. I saw one guy running up to people and screaming, “The circus is in town.” I saw others comparing what goods they had to barter with. One thing I noticed immediately was that almost everyone there had two or three cameras and cell phones. I asked Brit why this was. “It’s a road gift”, she said. I asked her what that meant and she explained that its something people “find” on their travels. The way she said it made me think she meant stole. This was confirmed when we arrived at the entrance and she told me to hide all my valuables. I asked he why hippies who believe in peace and love would steal. She told me that they saw it as taking from people who deserved it for participating in the oppressive system of Capitalism. I tried to overlook that and focus on the festivities, after all this was the utopian paradise I had been looking for.
I set up my tent on top of a hill and away from the river where people were bathing. There were people from all over and the 50 Acres the commune was in was completely covered with tents, hammocks, and firepits. The smell of body odor, weed, and meat cooking on an open flame filled the camp. There were about 50 different languages being spoken by people from every walk of life and nationality. The conversations were quite amusing to listen to because the only thing these people seemed to have in common was a love for drugs, sex, and probably a deep rooted hate for their parents. Despite being a multicultural gathering, people self segregated in to groups by race and nationality. The atmosphere was very tribal even if everyone there denied this fact. We were there for a few hours and I already witnessed several fights between people who couldn’t even speak to each other because of language barriers. Most arguments and fights were over what belonged to who and who’s space was where. I found this absurd considering that this was supposedly a Marxist commune with shared ownership, but the absurdity was just beginning.
I convinced Brit and a few other Americans we had met along the way to come join me where I had set up my tent. I told them that I had picked a spot that was safe from thieves and high enough to protect us from the river flooding. I thought it very selfish and stupid that people all set up camp near the river. I saw the potential for the river to flood and the problems of 2,000 people all huddling to one spot so they could bathe close to their tents. There was no planning because they had deemed it a direct democracy commune with a dictatorship of the public and planning would be considered an elitist individualist function. The strange thing was that many of the Rainbow members were professors of sociology and political science. You would think that they would know to create roles based on abilities, but they were proudly withdrawn from anything that would make them look bourgeois .There were only two rules, no using money and no alcohol. The money was an obvious attempt to distance them from capitalism, but the alcohol was a decision made after too many violent incidents at past gatherings which people seemed ashamed to speak of.
The first night there was all a blur. It was the harsh reality of the next morning that woke me out of my stupor. It had rained overnight and half the tents had washed downstream. The scene brought me back to my time in the war, where a monsoon tore through Balad and we tried to bail out our hospital camp while providing care to others who had got stuck out in the rain. There were people crying and I saw some had fallen on the rocks. I went to an area they had marked as a medical treatment tent. I walked inside and saw people lying on tables bleeding. There were crystals and bags of pot on the treatment table right next to the bandages and gauze. Iwas amazed to see that only three people from the thousands there had volunteered to help in the medical tent. I asked who ran the tent and they let me know proudly that it was the community’s tent and nobody was in charge. I informed them that I was a nurse and they looked at me with disdain. I told them that they needed medicine and organization for this kind of emergency and that sent them in to a tirade. I knew that I would have to step on their toes to help the others.
I left the commune for the town and bought tons of antibiotics and Percocet, which can be purchased over the counter in Mexico. When I returned I walked back to the medical tent and saw a man who was pale and bleeding from the leg. I treated him and gave him some of the meds I had bought. Not a minute later a gang of people surrounded me and tried to tear my bag from my shoulder. They said that the community had decided to pool their medicine and that I needed to surrender what I had bought. I let them know again that I was trained and qualified to dispense the meds, but they insisted that people have access to all medicine voluntarily. I finally gave up against my better judgment and returned to my tent to get high with my group.
I spent the next few weeks getting stoned and trying to live by the group’s whims and ever changing values. Most believed strongly in Critical Theory or ‘Cultural Marxism” , so anytime anything started to resemble an institution or a hierarchy , they would start to show animosity or disgust towards it. What started as a fun attempt at a utopia was quickly becoming a dystopia. People were no longer friendly and divisions between the different regional camps became more visible. The idea of bartering went out the window and black markets had arisen all over camp where goods were being sold for U.S. dollars , Pesos, or drugs. The good looking loose women and the men with drugs were the elites of the camp. They had started with Marxist communism and quickly devolved in to black market fueled by sexual and narco capitalism. Even if dollars were not involved, people were gaining capital through sexual favors and dimebags.
I had gained a reputation around the camp as a bit of a wildcard. Many there thought I questioned their ways a little too much and I was often challenged for my libertarian leanings. I had become disillusioned with the whole utopian fantasy, but hung around for the drugs and social experience. Most the people saw me just as an outsider who had tagged along with Brit. I never thought any of them saw me as a threat, but more of a curiosity. I often inserted myself in to debates when I would hear them bring up politics. Many in the group were anti-statists and Marxists, but were content practicing Marxism in their little microcosm. It was the more intellectual members of the group that would engage me in debate for hours. I started to notice that several of the more educated members seemed to hold more sway over the group. As much as they pushed the idea that everyone was equal, these people planted the seeds of what decisions the group would make. I started calling these people “the elders”. The more I got to know the Elders, the more I realized that they were the leaders of the group and they were using the group as their own social experiment and recruiting grounds for hard core Marxist revolutionaries. I found this interesting and being the Kekistani that I am, I never missed a chance to challenge them. I think they saw me as a an intellectual sparring opponent. I was much more of a social libertarian at the time and people were not as divided back then. This would soon all change and when it did, it would change my life forever.
I had been with the commune for almost a month and the commune was set to change locations soon. The rainbow family is nomadic and they rent land or squat in different locations. Many times they go places where the locals are hostile to their being there. Palenque was not such a place. The locals were so excited to have gringos there bringing in gringo money. They had no Idea at what cost. The group had stayed outside of town and only a few people at a time were going to town for goods. I had gone to town with Brit to pick up more drugs for myself in the local pharmacy. In town I ran in to one of the elders. His name was Hippy Dave and he had often been the one who defended my views when discussing politics with the elders. I noticed Hippy Dave had a map and a list of names so I asked him what their plans were. He told me that they would all “bail out” at midnight. I asked him what that meant. Dave let me know point blank that I should leave early because people were going to be pissed off. I asked him why and he told me that the group would all come to town and leave the campsite behind.
At this point the campsite was ankle high in litter. People had thrown their plastic bottles and garbage all over the campsite. There were holes that had been dug all over camp and used as latrines. For all their talk of naturalism and environmentalism they were getting ready to leave their campground a filthy toxic waste site. I had witnessed a lot of hypocrisy over the last month, but this made my blood boil. They were hypocrites of the worst order. “That’s ridiculous”, I shouted at Dave. “How can you do something like that to the people who welcomed you in to their town?” I asked. Dave told me to keep my voice down. Dave said, “That’s nothing, you should see all the stuff these guys will steal before they leave here.” “You are a hippy-crite”, I told Dave. I reminded him of all the Marxist garbage they had pushed on these kids about “not exploiting the workers” and “how greedy capitalists just take while shitting on the little guy.” I told Dave that he was about to literally leave the little guy covered in shit.
Dave shrugged. I could tell he agreed with me , but he was so attached to the group, he had abandoned all his principles to stay with the collective. I told Dave that I would warn the shopkeepers. I told him that these people were poor and they couldn’t afford a bunch of spoiled middle class hippies stealing from them. Dave warned me not to not in a threatening way, but with the sound of concern in his voice. I told him that I was going back to get my stuff and I would leave camp.
I got back to camp that evening and noticed everyone gathered around a giant bonfire. I ignored them and went to get my stuff. I got to the top of the hill and found my campsite had been picked through. I looked around and found my boots and my backpack half emptied. I gathered what I could and started walking out. Halfway down the hill Brit came to me and let me know that one of the Elders wanted me to come join them. I walked down with her trying to convince her to leave before shit hit the fan. When we got to the bottom of the hill, a group of 30 or 40 people were there waiting. They had me surrounded and told me to drop my pack. I resisted and asked what they wanted. “We are trying to decide what to do with you”, one of the elders said. “To do with me”, I asked. They informed me that my actions could hurt the commune. I then realized that Dave had told them about our discussion earlier that day.
As the group stood there surrounding me I thought about all I had witnessed over the prior month. I thought about all the hype of this utopian commune and all the lies about free love, no need for money or property, and absolute freedom. These were all lies. Human nature had ruined their fantasy from day one. They were a bunch of kids playing make believe and a few adults exploiting those kids for a darker purpose. I thought about how most of these people only even came there because they had an out. They knew mommy and daddy could buy them a ticket home, or that they could find some other group to infiltrate and spread Marxism through. This is when I thought about the boy from Vietnam and the victims of communism who also were removed from the group so the others could keep playing make believe. I got ready to make a run for it and that’s when I heard them say, “we will walk you out and you will get a cab at the road.” They told me that I had never fit in, that I shouldn’t have come there. They told me that if I showed up at another gathering, I wouldn’t make it out in one piece.
As I left I could hear a couple people shouting at me. I heard them call me a “reactionary”. That word stuck with me. I never fit in there. I was too set in logic and despite my drug habit and the degeneracy that went with it, I was a conservative at heart. I knew that I could never let people like the elders manipulate my children. I knew that I would never buy in to this leftist bull shit again. I had been changed. I had hit rock bottom inside that place and not even known it. It was the hypocrisy of it all that made me sick to my stomach. It was this vacation in to leftist insanity that would shape my whole future as a political activist. I became obsessed with Marxism and how people could ever buy in to an ideology that ignores all human nature and exhibits such blatant hypocrisy. I had never seen a group of people so threatened by an individual, and it excited me. I vowed that day that I would never deny my individuality again. I knew I had found my place in the universe.