Allen Ginsberg Interview – Berkeley, California, 1968 (on police, politics, & racism)

From the Archives of The Center For Sacramento History

Allen Ginsberg, Berkeley, California, 1968

AG: What I’m saying is they ought to arm the police with harmoniums like this (sic) instead of mace and teach then the Hare Krishna mantra Hara Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama  Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Interviewer; What is this song that you sing?

AG: It’s a peaceable song that will calm all riots, the Hare Krishna mantra, which is a famous Indian prayer to the preserver of the universe – Krishna, who’s famous from the classic Bible in India – Bhagavad Gita. – Song of God

Interviewer: Over the years there have been various influences in this country, European and so forth, do you think the Asian influence now, particularly India, is going to be strong in this country?

AG: Well, the Asian influence has always been strong  in California, around here. I mean, that’s an old old old tradition, but it gets more and more meeting of East and West, but that’s natural because it only takes a few hours to fly to India now, so anybody can hop over to India as easily as hopping to New York, practically,

Interviewer: Is there a conflict between this rise in popularity of the things Asiatic and also the war in Asia?  (sic)

AG:  Yeah, there certainly is, and we’re beginning to see that. The war is part of our old provincial American racism (which is what the blacks have been saying all along, it’s a race war. Everybody in America seems to be afraid of changing the image of a yellow life-form virus. They think they’ve got to fight for the planet, apparently. It’s obviously not going to be a resolution of the problem, it’ll just blow up the planet.  So the obvious thing is for everybody to calm down and make friends with the Chinese, I would say.  One good way to be starting would be, like, studying Indian culture and Chinese culture, and so I think it would be a good thing if there’s this mixture of cultures coming up now, and the young people, in particular, are picking up on Tibetan ideas, Indian ideas, Zen and Chinese Daoist ideas. That can’t do any harm at all.

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