||[Oct. 17th, 2011|03:31 pm]
Very few writers are willing to confront the politics implied by Liber AL , as well as Liber OZ and the OTO Constitution. Periodically I am teased by the publication of an English translation of Marco Pasi’s Aleister Crowley and The Temptation of Politics, which has yet to see the light of day. So for now I must satisfy myself with various essays such as those published in the recent collection of essays by Stormfront Press, or the recently published essay, “Thelema and Politics”, by Carl Abrahamsson in The Fenris Wolf, Issue #4.
My relationship with government is problematic as I view it primarily as a necessary evil that springs up weed-like whenever two or more are gathered. Struggling through, at various times, Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics and even such Modern works as Hobbes’ Leviathan, has done nothing to change that initial impression that government remains something to put up with rather than have any hopes for.
Abrahamsson begins his essay with that classic trope: there are two types of people out there, only by people, he is referring to Thelemites; those who have accepted Liber AL as opposed to those who have accepted it as “The Holy Book of one’s own life”. This one statement underlies his essential conflict with Liber AL and the politics implied by it. For Abrahamsson, Liber AL remains an abstract book of ideals, and conveniently so, for it is far easier to digest Chapter 3 as something unattainable, than it is to confront what it truly is: an unalloyed, stark depiction of reality. If one understands this as reality, then how can it not become The Holy Book of one’s own life?
In discussing the realistic application of Liber OZ he says, “The problem is that the proto-cowboy mentality serves no other purpose than mere selfish ones.” Since when was the quality of selfishness one that was athelemic? He readily admits his point of view is skewed by being from Scandinavia and then spouts, “So what?!” when addressing the high taxes so necessary for the propping up of his liberal ideals. In turn I say, “So what!” about applying the tenets of Liber OZ in a realistic manner. If someone breaks into my house, I will not waste my time debating the merits of “the proto-cowboy mentality”. He asks his audience to question Liber OZ, but never does he call into question his own values.
He quotes from The Law is For All, “There are no ‘standards of Right’. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with ‘moral principle’; there is no such thing; that is a herd delusion, and makes me cattle” and comments uncomfortably of it as smelling a trifle Nietzschean. “Race instinct is the true guide” and “the slaves shall serve” don’t particularly sit well with him either. But even today with the best of intentions, do we not see the very essence of these statements carried out? Think of the naïve hopes of the latest revolution in Egypt; everyone had visions of sugar plums and free elections in their heads. The reality is a brutal crushing of the Coptic minority. The strong prevail and the weak get crushed. It has ever been thus, and shall always be, even if we choose to avert our gaze.
Those who say Crowley has not written more on the politics of Thelema either have not read or choose to ignore his novella Atlantis, which quite clearly addresses the topics with which Abrahamsson takes issue. Also Crowley’s short story in Golden Twigs, “The Oracle of The Corycian Cave” presents at its end a model on government similar to that outlined in the constitution of the OTO and one that is ultimately derived from Plato’s Republic – a hierarchical structure that defies any attempt at “fairness” or equality.
Abrahamsson sees a hierarchical, undemocratic caste system as untenable, “If there were a working structure based on Thelemic principles and it were pure in spirit and unpolluted by human greed, then the idea or concept of anarchy, as embraced by some Thelemic fractions today, would be but a vague memory.” He sees it as both impossible and if at all possible, something that then be rendered unnecessary.
That such a style of government was deemed untenable because of such polluting qualities as greed is completely contrary to the idea of Thelemic morality and ethics. If there are “no standards of right”, then why would greed, or cruelty, or lust make any difference? His conflict with this also reveals his essential lack of ease with Chapter 3 of Liber AL.
If Chapter 3 does present the world in its cruel glory, then the politics it implies are not those that will be a vague memory. It does not sit well with some that in assessing the political implications of Thelema, one is forced to question the whole course of Modernity and government since the Age of Enlightenment, as if we have all been engaged in the mass delusion of progress. Behind of the pretty masque of liberal humanistic secular values is the hidden stiletto waiting. We can pretend that these values are sacrosanct when in reality they are the ones which remain completely unrealizable. The masses who cry “equality” will all eventually be crushed by the sharp heel of reality.
This is the precipice over which Abrahamsson looms in his essay. He travels right up to the edge, and then retreats. He challenges his audience to change the world, but clearly the change he wants is more in line with the status quo. “Politics constitute one very significant arena in which to change the world. That is, really, truly change the world. Now, is that what we want or are we content to be comfortable in our own magical pipe dreams?” His essay was delivered on the centennial of Liber AL, and no change, not even a whisper regarding the brutal political implications of Thelema, have I seen offered by the leaders of Thelema in the intervening years. Very few have risen to examine these implications. The rest just have their pipe dreams.