Ramparts Magazine July 1973
Ramparts magazine

(Leading magazine of the American left, 1962-1975)
July 1973, page 26-35, 47-57.

The Guru Game: Peace which passeth all understanding.


The First Word - The Editors

Mystic Politics: Refugees from the New Left
Analysis by Andrew Kopkind

Many former political activists have recently turned to spiritualism, and they are now active in a variety of mystical sects. Andrew Kopkind examines this phenomenon.

A Reader's Guide to the New Mysticism
by Joshu

Blissed Out With The Perfect Master
An investigative report by Ken Kelly

Antiwar activist Rennie Davis has turned for salvation to a 15-year-old "Perfect Master" who drives a Rolls Royce, and calls himself Guru Maharaj Ji. Here, for the first time, is the inside story of the Guru's Divine Light Mission.

The First Word

The old slogan, always so annoying when he was winning, fits nicely now that the Watergate scandal has shown the Administration to be full of political muggers and second-storey men. Picking up the newspaper in the morning is no longer the dismal duty it once was. It is a sweet way to begin the day, with the aroma of fresh dirt dredged up and economically parcelled out by the same "eastern liberal press' whose credibility the President sent Sprio Agnew out to destroy a couple of years ago. The funnies are on the front page now.

John Mitchell is indicted. That pair of Teutonic Rasputins, Erlichman and Haldemann, are on their way back to Orange County, which so richly deserves them. And the carefully composed mask of the statesman-which Richard Nixon spent four long years trying to pull together-has slipped down, exposing the old and more familiar features of the small-time political hack. All this may not conclusively prove that there is justice in our political firmament, but it at least has the feel of justice, and will have to do until the real thing comes along. At bare minimum, Watergate is a sort of cosmic mockery of the huge vote Nixon won in November on the strength of his policy of detached murder in Vietnam and Babbittry at home. It is a blow to his predictable world where public reaction can be manipulated and where nothing is left to chance in capitalizing on people's worst instincts.

There is increasing talk of impeaching Nixon, some of it coming from such unlikely sources as the Congress itself. It would do the nation's soul good to have this most offensive of American politicians booted unceremoniously out of office. But if this does not come about, it will be almost as good to have him spend the next three and a half years just trying to keep his job. It will at least keep him and the executive branch out of trouble, which is more than we could have hoped for in January when his popularity stood at an all-time high. Some of the liberal pundits have reacted to talk of impeachment by portentously warning us that the only other serious impeachment proceeding in American history, against Andrew Johnson, so emasculated the office of the Presidency that it took nearly 100 years for its prestige and power to return. This observation, however, only serves to recommend swift Congressional action on the Nixon case, for the Presidency of the United States has clearly become the most dangerous office in the world and needs desperately to be put under wraps. Consider the fact that even now that his Administration has been revealed as a hotbed of petty and grand larcenies, Nixon continues to wage a devastating air war in Cambodia.

Given the confusion and alarms in high places it would seem to be a good time for the left to make significant inroads in America. After all, the revelations of Watergate substantiate many of the claims it has been making during the past decade-not only about Nixon, but about the FBI, the CIA and American government itself. Yet one of the greatest ironies in the current political situation is that at this critical juncture, many former stalwarts of the Movement have left the left and seem to be turning East, away from American and a unique opportunity here. On page 26 Andrew Kopkind discusses the politics of this new mysticism and the reasons why New Leftists are now "dropping out" and spending time forcing their recalcitrant joints into the lotus position. On page 32 journalist Ken Kelley examines the sudden appearance of the Guru Maharaj Ji, a 15-year-old youth from India who claims to be an Avatar of God and whose ministry is blissing out increasing numbers of young Americans.

Is it possible that Rennie Davis and some of his fellow travelers on the backroads and alleyways of the spirit have indeed seen the perfect light we've all been waiting for? Or is all this frenzied spiritual activity rather an indication of the contradictions and secret crises of a society whose "normal" operations have failed so completely that people find themselves turning for relief to peculiar gods and strange auguries? Take your choice. For our part, however, we aren't hurrying to turn our editorial offices into an ashram, and the only mantra we've taken up is comprised of these words: Nixon's-the-one, Nixon's-the-one.

-The Editors