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   Editorial Policy

Publishing is a balancing act between encouraging challenging material and going along with the safe and proven. We call the challenging stuff 'adrenalin' and the safe stuff 'narcotic', based on the effect they have on readers and society generally. One enervates; the other sedates. Modern publishers err overwhelmingly on the safe stuff—'safe' meaning it brings the easiest and best return, ruffles the fewest feathers and lets sleeping dogs lie undisturbed. To us, that's an anti-life investment. Recent experience has shown that we need far more of the other, even if it's not going to make anyone piles of money. What it makes is needed more than money and it's in deadly short supply. That now outmoded type of publisher is the model we've adopted, with the mix set at challenging 60%: narcotic 40%--what we consider the ideal combination for socially responsible long-term publishing.

In a Capitalism out of control in apparent suicide mode, the only visible people taking risks are the finance thieves who can be confident governments will bail them out, no matter how badly they stuff up or what human carnage they cause. Artists don't have that privilege, and despite that they're the ultimate risk-takers. Theodore White said of that right sort of courage: 'to go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.' Yet it's the daily grind for genuine artists whose mission is to enervate, not render comatose or falsely secure. Our times are dangerous because failure to grasp the nettle and renew radically will see us out of the game altogether; extinct. Co-op meetings at Phoenix became de facto think tank sessions as we tried to designate areas of focus for our combined efforts. All four writers have little sympathy with soporific literature or any alle-giance to narcotic-promoting organized religion. The common artistic thread seems to be a respect for writers like Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Tillich, Orwell, Camus and the like--men of great faith; a faith that transcends church-sponsored pseudo-belief on one hand and the sterile atheism that blights society today on the other. Freidrich Nietzsche proclaimed God dead and railed against the iniquity of the priestly caste and their spiritual anaesthetic, yet you wouldn't find a more religious man or a man more passionate about the grandeur and divinity of Man.

We've eliminated the confusion between the 'religion' of the corporate Churches and that of the men who respected their divine inner voices—these men of difficult heroic acts. The consensus here was to aim high and act freely, unintimidated. Some of the first batch of books look at the big questions of existence and take on a user-friendly quasi-philosophical tone. Our view is that religion has failed humanity the same way the war against drugs has failed societies around the world. It's there, yes, but it's not working. There are too many vested Establishment interests that ensure that success isn't even in fact on the agenda. Recent and current bailouts of the criminally negligent global finance rackets are a similar smoke-and-mirrors 'response' to failure by rewarding the villains and punishing the victims for the misery that came out of corporate criminal behaviour. Science lies caught in a similar trap, refusing to tackle the bigness of the challenge facing it, either out of fear of offending, or the loss of its reason to be and the self-confidence that generates. It's okay to obliterate the planet, they say, but we mustn't offend people. At Phoenix, we don't admire such arrant nonsense. We live in dangerous times we may not survive—a fact that's hardly registered in a world where the 'narcotic' word reigns supreme. The idea of just doing business as usual or being mechanically polite to mass murderers is anathema to us and our writers at Phoenix.

Our policy is to allow as broad a literary brush as possible to cover the full range of artistic self-expression. Can art respond to the sort of crisis of social paralysis we all live today? Well, it has for sixty thousand years so far, when the growlers weren't silenced by persecution and corporate thuggery. It's the only thing that can respond to it with any hope of success. Never before has the need for art and a free press been so great; never before have the forces opposed to them been so determined to put them to rout. Humour has a strong place in the expression of our ideas. When we have faith, we can laugh at any human stupidity, even death itself. At this moment, the planet is awash with stuff to laugh at as well as to cry tears of desolation over. That's the bent, twisted and smouldering publishing playing field we've walked onto.