in 4° Cancer : ☽︎ in 22° Leo : Anno Vvi [Wednesday, 25 June 2020]

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

To my Beloved Companion: Greeting and health.

You ask if the Law of Thelema is opposed to fascism and I must immediately say yes. We live in a time when fascism raises its ugly head and, even now in our own country, seethes against the tide of liberty to rush in and mock the very independence for which we have fought so hard and yet so poorly to retain since our country’s founding. 

Though this observation isn’t necessarily just about our country. It is about the continued rise of authoritarianism in the democratic world-at-large.[1] I have witnessed the appalling support of both subtle and outright tyranny by those who call themselves Thelemites as our world is ravaged through pandemic, uprisings against brutality and racism, and political grabs for power by governments while populations are preoccupied with survival. It would seem we are at the mercy of chaos all around. One even might be tempted to suggest that the warrior lord of the third chapter of the Book of the Law is afoot in the world today. 

Of course, we ask again: is Thelema opposed to fascism? Yes, of course it is—is the short answer—and we should be content with that answer; but there are those who require the longer version of an explanation. 

Political infants will appeal to Liber Oz and tell you that the so-called “Rights of Man” is a bulwark against the authoritarianism of fascists. Hogwash. Liber Oz is a good conversation starter, assuming you have Crowley’s background and commentaries to help you along in understanding it, but the Bill of Rights it is not. We need to understand fascism at its most fundamental despite being a bit of a nebulous term. 

Let’s be clear about this, however: fascism isn’t merely the politics of those who disagree with you. That’s ridiculous and sloppy reasoning. Fascism has a basic definition, generally, as a right-wing authoritarian political view that also leans into nationalism in a particularly nasty manner. Let’s not twist that to denigrate merely those who disagree with our own worldview. 

For instance, I don’t particularly care for most of my friend M.’s views over politics. He is definitely right-leaning in his politics and I think he leans a bit too heavy on an authoritarianism, maybe even a bit heavy on nationalistic tendencies; but I also think that I can see his perspective coming from the centrality of the European upbringing that shapes his worldview. I’m quite sure that he isn’t a fascist. I admit I could be wrong, but I don’t think his conservative leanings go so far to the right that he would tolerate such political nuances that make up fascism directly. 

Let’s not demonize our rivals in politics over differences that do not measure up to intolerable divisions of ethics. There is a difference between disagreeing on politics from either a left or right perspective and outright tolerating and supporting fascism. I admit, though, the line can be fuzzy. 

I think Umberto Eco explained best why fascism sometimes can be tricky and hard to pin down:

Fascism became an all-purpose term because one can eliminate from a fascist regime one or more features, and it will still be recognizable as fascist. Take away imperialism from fascism and you still have Franco and Salazar. Take away colonialism and you still have the Balkan fascism of the Ustashes. Add to the Italian fascism a radical anti-capitalism (which never much fascinated Mussolini) and you have Ezra Pound. Add a cult of Celtic mythology and the Grail mysticism (completely alien to official fascism) and you have one of the most respected fascist gurus, Julius Evola.[2]

As we can see here, fascism can take many faces. It will, though, hold to some fairly common traits even through multiple iterations of differences. In this same essay, Eco offers 14 complementary and contradictory (according to him) indicators of fascism. I believe many, if not most, of them fit in some form to the alarming rise of totalitarian governmental overreach in democratic states today. I won’t enumerate them all here. I have attached the article itself so you can review it yourself though I will hit some highlights as I continue.

As much as I think fascism in politics (or anywhere else) is a very bad, no good idea, the occult is strewn through with authoritarian personality cults and megalomaniacs. In his essay, Eco even points out “one of the most respected fascist gurus, Julius Evola” who is also the darling of the alt-right within Thelema.[3] Nearly every time you hear the name of Evola (or Nietzsche, along with a couple of others) in conversation among Thelemites, you are most likely in the company of the radically conservative element.[4] My experience is that it’s rare to find “independent” Thelemites that have any real hero worship of such nonsense.

Without a doubt nearly every fraternal Order is built on the foundation of authoritarianism (i.e., top-down hierarchal systems) or constructed on the back of the cult of tradition or both. This tradition of fascism isn’t in the form of revisiting and renewing the old, but in the syncretic fusion of contradictions[5] under the veils of mystery and forgotten wisdom. 

The Law of Thelema respects tradition only insofar as it serves as a stepping stone into the future and a reminder of a past that is behind us. Tradition is memory, yes, but it is not motivation. Tradition is the soul of a people, but it is not the source a society’s power and glory. Tradition is the stumbling block of a nation that lacks the foresight to gracefully waltz its way into the future without the past seizing the spotlight of distraction through glamour or gloom. We are shown this as the Book of the Law pounces on the past and says, “the rituals of the old time are black.” It is a reminder that tradition is only as good as it is utilized to move forward rather than remaining stagnant and corrupt. 

Fascism would have us stuck headfirst into the hole of tradition, worshipping nationalist idols of glorified dirt and clotted blood rather than the vibrant movement of time and energy. The moment you criticize tradition, however, you’ve made some enemies out there—especially in those retropagans that believe they are reconstructing their nationalist religious movements even if just one person at a time. 

Fascism, like all syncretic movements and religions, cannot handle criticism. Eco says again, “No syncretistic faith can withstand analytical criticism. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.” He goes on to say, “disagreement is treason.” Certainly, musch of Modern Thelema, and especially its alt-right contingent, sees itself as a community of leaders, of übermensch, and no followers; but the truth of the matter is, for all it’s intellectual power and for all the individuals of Thelema’s alt-right who appear to have read every book under the sun, disagreement really is seen as treason or, at best, a personal affront worthy of stomping off into a different corner to start again with some OTO knock-off. How many times have we seen big name personalities from the alt-right of Thelema come out of their hole swinging at someone that has dared to call them out for their fascist views? Personally, I’ve lost count. 

Disagreement requires diversity. Diversity is stifled under the fear of the Other. Show me an individual within Modern Thelema that afraid of diversity and I’ll show you someone that holds to fascist views. They will have, deep down, a xenophobic approach to both politics and fraternity. 

A word on diversity, while I’m at it here: encouraging diversity is not the same as encouraging separation and isolation as some would have it. There is a trend at the moment of white supremists suggesting that all races are equal—despite their rhetoric otherwise—but that each race needs to remain independent and segregated from all others in order to thrive. This is just more bullshit. It is that same fear of the Other that offers this up as a solution of racial purity and other such nonsense. Yet I admit that racial equality can be a tough subject to discuss (and we will another time in more depth). Without falling too deep into that rabbit hole here, I think the Book of the Law offers sound advice in this matter when is says, “Love all, lest perchance is a King concealed!” We know that a King can wear any mask at all, and even a beggar that you wish to step around and ignore may be a King in disguise.

Fascism is a middle-class struggle that pulls in the lower class as its battalions of canon fodder. Eco says that “historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class.” It is little surprise that today we see the rise of fascism within our country and our fraternities born out of the same frustration for social justice, for identity, and for ideology. And yet that social justice does not recognize diversity in action. It is only diversity in sound, in rhetoric alone. It is a social justice that is for “me” and “my kind” and no other—or at least only few others that share a similar outlook on the world-at-large. It’s not justice at all save through the lens of nationalistic isolation.

Look around you. Look at our fraternities. Look at the modern movements of white supremacy. Look at the groups that have arisen to defend their so-called ”rights” against the tide of diverse change. Is not everything filled to the brim with angry, middle class, white men? Of course there are exceptions, but look at the commonality of so many of these angry voices. This is the core of the rise of modern fascism in the West. It is the idea that this category of individuals is repressed by society and a victim of progress. Except, ironically, it is always this victimized group that claims to be the chosen ones, the chosen people of an era. They are hand-picked by Providence to defend the nation from outsiders and infidels. Such hogwash. 

It is from the erasure of the individual—ironically born out of those (as Eco reminds us) “who feel deprived of a clear social identity”—that builds up the explosion of nationalism and creates the falsehood of besiegement from the rising tide of globalism. And yet there is a sense of elitism that a comes from such a stance—and this is the same for both the right and the left. This comes back to the idea of being the “chosen ones.” I will return to this another time, but I think the homogeneity of diversity—this erasure of identity through a radicalization of individualism—is as insidious as any form of nationalism we’ve seen so far.[6]

I could continue on about the subject as to the definition of fascism, but I think you get my point here. Of course, I highly recommend Eco’s article on the subject for further reading. 

Coming back around again to the original question now: is the Law of Thelema opposed to fascism? There are many who would tell you that the Law is politically ambiguous and capable of supporting any political platform or philosophy. I would deny such an assertion and say that the Law of Thelema cannot support fascism, for starters, and many other political platforms—including, I dare say, democracy. I think the Law presents its own form of political ideology that is mistaken for hedonism and anarchy—though that may be truth in the end (I doubt it)—but it most certainly does not support fascism. 

The Law of Thelema encourages individual authenticity, self-discovery, personal accountability, and social responsibility. Each concept follows the previous while the whole is firmly rooted in individual authenticity, in our understanding that ‘Every man and every woman is a star.” Fascism would deny our individual integrity, displace our personal accountability for an abusive tyranny of law, and remove any social responsibility to be replaced by a forced hierarchy of radically constrained and dictated social behavior. Whether it is a legal repression of the individual (or any class of individuals) or the loss of identity within a mob mentality, Thelema stands against it. 

Love is the law, love under will.

B∴


Footnotes

[1] Which is not a specific apology for democracy itself. That’s another topic for another time. Suffice to say that representative democracy, in the absence of governance under the Law of Thelema, is a far better choice than most alternatives. We’ll talk on this more another time.

[2] Eco, U. (22 June, 1995). Ur-Fascism. The New York Review of Books. https://www.pegc.us/archive/Articles/eco_ur-fascism.pdf

[3] Any time you see Evola’s name brought up in defense of conservatism and tradition, you know that you’re dealing with fascist tendencies if not outright fascism as the foundation of that individual’s worldview. To be clear, this is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater any more than we would with Crowley. There is much to be found within Evola’s work that is just fine for the studious occultist. But to mistake Evola for anything other than an outright fascist would be dishonest indeed.

[4] I would like to differentiate between a conservative view and a radically conservative view (or alt-right view). I continue to maintain that Thelema rises above these particular labels and yet we are most familiar with them.

[5] Another red flag of fascism will be those that claim syncretism is the “normal” way of spiritual evolution. It’s not. And nearly all (though not all—Hellenistic Greece comes to mind) “syncretic” religions are pathological in nature.

As a reminder:

Assimilation is the domination of one idea by a different idea in which only parts of the original are contained, utilized, and then claimed by the assimilating idea. It doesn’t necessarily have to be new over old, but just one that is far more adaptable. This is the virus method.

Syncretism is the fusion of disparate and typically incongruous ideas in order to create a single idea. This is the Frankenstein method.

Dialectic is a seed idea that creates a conflict within a larger idea which then is reconciled by an emergent idea [generally based on that seed idea] to resolve that conflict. This is the evolutionary method.

[6] Likewise, so-called “outrage culture” doesn’t mean people shouting at the top of their lungs at something. It’s a self-indulgent lack of awareness that attempts to force a monotonous political morality on others over some minutiae of irrelevancy.