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Timothy Francis Leary  (1920 – 1996)

The P.O.W. Communiqué



First published in 1970 — reproduced by arrangement with the Futique Trust

The P.O.W. Comminiqué

[In September 1970 Timothy Leary escaped from the California Men’s Colony, a state prison in San Luis Obispo, California, with the assistance of the Weather Underground, a clandestine revolutionary organization. He had been incarcerated since February 1970 for a marijuana possession conviction. This communiqué was released to the underground press shortly after his escape.]

The following statement was written in the P.O.W. camp and carried over the wall (in full sight of two gun trucks). I offer loving gratitude to my sisters and brothers in the Weather Underground who designed and executed the liberation. Rosemary and I are now with the Underground and we’ll continue to stay high and wage the revolutionary war.

There is the time for peace and the time for war.

There is the day of laughing Krishna and the day of grim Shiva.

Brothers and sisters, at this time let us have no more talk of peace.

The conflict which we have sought to avoid is upon us. A worldwide ecological religious warfare. Life vs. death.

Listen. It is a comfortable, self-indulgent cop-out to look for conventional economic-political solutions.

Brothers and sisters, this is a war for survival. Ask Huey and Angela. They dig it. Ask the wild free animals. They know it. Ask the turned-on ecologists. They sadly admit it.

I declare that World War III is now being waged by short-haired robots whose deliberate aim is to destroy the complex web of free wild life by the imposition of mechanical order.

Listen. There is no choice left but to defend life by all and every means possible against the genocidal machine.

Listen. There are no neutrals in genetic war. There are no non-combatants at Buchenwald, My Lai or Soledad.

You are part of the death apparatus or you belong to the network of free life.

Do not be deceived. It is a classic stratagem of genocide to camouflage their wars as law and order police actions.

Remember the Sioux and the German Jews and the black slaves and the marijuana pogroms and the pious T.W.A. indignation over airline hijackings!

If you fail to see that we are the victims-defendants of genocidal war you will not understand the rage of the blacks, the fierceness of the browns, the holy fanaticism of the Palestinians, the righteous mania of the Weathermen, and the pervasive resentment of the young.

Listen Americans. Your government is an instrument of totally lethal evil.

Remember the buffalo and the Iroquois! Remember Kennedy, King, Malcolm, Lenny!

Listen. There is no compromise with a machine. You cannot talk peace and love to a humanoid robot whose every Federal Bureaucratic impulse is soulless, heartless, lifeless, loveless.

In this life struggle we use the ancient holy strategies of organic life:

Resist lovingly in the loyalty of underground sisterhoods and brotherhoods.

Resist passively: break lock-step... drop out.

Resist actively: sabotage, jam the computer... hijack planes... trash every lethal machine in the land.

Resist publicly: announce life... denounce death.

Resist privately: guerilla invisibility.

Resist beautifully: create organic art, music.

Resist biologically: be healthy... erotic... conspire with seed... breed.

Resist spiritually: stay high... praise god... love life... blow the mechanical mind with holy acid... dose them... dose them.

Resist physically: robot agents who threaten life must be disarmed, disabled, disconnected by force... Arm yourself and shoot to live... Life is never violent. To shoot a genocidal robot policeman in the defense of life is a sacred act.

Listen Nixon. We were never that naïve. We knew that flowers in your gun-barrels were risky. We too remembered Munich and Auschwitz all too well as we chanted love and raised our Woodstock fingers in the gentle sign of peace.

We begged you to live and let live, to love and let love, but you have chosen to kill and get killed. May God have mercy on your soul.

For the last seven months, I, a free, wild man, have been locked in POW camps. No living creature can survive in a cage. In my flight to freedom I leave behind a million brothers and sisters in the POW prisons of Quentin, Soledad, Con Thien...

Listen comrades. The liberation war has just begun. Resist, endure, do not collaborate. Strike. You will be free.

Listen you brothers of the imprisoned. Break them out! If David Harris has ten friends in the world, I say to you, get off your pious, non-violent asses and break him out.

There is no excuse for one brother or sister to remain a prisoner of war.

Right on Leila Khaled!

Listen, the hour is late. Total war is upon us. Fight to live or you’ll die. Freedom is life. Freedom will live.

Warning: I am armed and should be considered dangerous to anyone who threatens my life or my freedom.


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