“On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives,” the manifesto of Project Purple, was written in 1971 by the nebulous Thomas Jefferson Allen. As a legendary figure within the underground movement, this bizarre work of principles of propaganda and misinformation fueled the fires of the subversive organization he’d helped found years earlier.
It was also, says Ludwig (self-anointed scholar of “The Grand and Mutable History of Plundergate”), a fraud.
“The distribution commonly given freely on the Internet today was written by a close friend of Allen, and is so full of nonsense that it tends to provoke the myth that Project Purple is a hoax, or at least a discordian conspiracy. This was, I suspect, the original intent,” says Ludwig. Project Purple customarily releases such misinformation regarding it’s formation to the conspiracy community at large. This adds to the mystery and intrigue of the group, but, according to the (supposedly) original version of “On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives” is also a tactic which they borrow from the “socioeconomically inclined” (the upper class) to cloak their activities from the prying eyes of the government.
While the history of Project Purple is, expectedly, contradictory in several ways and very difficult to untangle, the most commonly accepted version of events begins in 1934.
Thomas Jefferson Allen was born to a poor family in the year 1934, earning an education under the tutelage of his grandfather and the papers (as he worked for a news stand from age twelve to age sixteen). The first exposure to the underground, anti-war movement within the United States was when a group of people, masked, defaced an Uncle Sam poster, replacing the words “for US Army” into “to Kill, Kill, Kill!” (or “to Kill those Chinks!”, depending on who you ask).
By age twenty-three he had written a number of essays on a variety of topics, but his written work alone was not enough to satisfy his desire to take action. Two years later, on his twenty-fifth birthday, he is said to have made his first overture to a group of close friends about forming “an organization aimed at disorganization, a subversive society aimed at subverting society. In short, my friends, an opposition to effective governance within our stifled, dry little world.” (from “the Strange-ness of October”, first p. in 1962, Masked Press)
The group (at first calling itself “Bach’s Orange Six Overture”) contented itself with the circulation of false reports to the local press and small-scale culture jamming antics. However, as the group drew in new interest from other youth groups, it began to take it’s role only slightly more seriously. As the sixties rolled around, the group took on a whole new face: an activist group.
Throughout the sixties the group worked within student organizations on university campuses and spread it’s liberal, funloving doctrines. Always working under a new guise they managed to incite protest where ever they ended up and seemed to enjoy themselves. Rather than being mere harbingers of misinformation they had become social activists with real enemies.
It wasn’t until 1971, when the group was performing some of it’s more memorable acts, that Thomas Allen decided the group needed a manifesto of intent. With the usual attitudes intact, Allen released “On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives” to an awaiting audience. As expected, it was a success.
The newly christened “Project Purple” was more than just a clique of friends doing what they felt was right, it was an underground movement that could not be put down. Throughout the seventies the group prospered as small cells popped up across the United States and Canada, then into Europe. As the eighties dawned the group became less well-recognized and fell deeper into the underground. While the campaign of misinformation and sometime outright rebellion against the social climes continued, with a perfect target in Ronald Reagan and his Cabinet, the group began to dwindle away.
Then came the Internet.
“The Internet revived and expanded Project Purple, much like it did to many other audience cults, including discordianism,” Ludwig speculates. “It allowed the group, as a whole, to come out and cause trouble in a whole new landscape. I suspect that some of the pioneers of the Internet freedom activism were involved in Project Purple, to one extent or another, at some point in time.”
It was in 1999, after years of medical troubles, that Thomas Allen passed away in his sleep. The founder of Project Purple, and some say a pioneer of modern day culturejamming, died at the age of sixty-seven.
As many will tell you, Ludwig included, all of this information is subject to speculation. True to form different accounts involving the “Bach’s Orange Six Overture” being called by different names (Greenman and Plundergate are popular candidates) and varying reports of differing antics, including the establishment of the Earth Liberation Front to “make other activist groups seem peaceable and reasonable by comparison.”
For further information on Project Purple or Thomas Allen, contact [email protected]
Thanks to Jon Spencer, Atomic Boy, The Walrus and Mad Hatter for their assistance.
Special thanks to Ludwig for his assistance in gathering background information and providing sources.
twenty-purple:the age of the internet astronaut includes the original distribution of “On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives” as well as links to discordian sites.