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Can one be a Thelemite and not a Tory?  

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ianrons
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02/05/2010 3:05 pm  

Flippant though the title of this thread might seem, I am fascinated by those who view religion as separate to political belief, and am confused when anyone of a Thelemic persuasion espouses left-wing, socialist or liberal ideals of any sort. I wondered what exactly Crowley's perception of himself was, politically, and came up with a few quotes spanning 40 years of his life:

Thien Tao; or, the Synagogue of Satan
"The shallow sophisms of the socialist were intelligible; they could not be refuted by the profounder and therefore unintelligible propositions of the Tory."

The Equinox of the Gods, Chapter 8
"Myself, age 28 1/2. In good health, fond of out-door sports, especially mountaineering and big-game shooting. An Adept Major of the A.A. but weary of mysticism and dissatisfied with Magick. A rationalist, Buddhist, agnostic, anti-clerical, anti-moral, Tory and Jacobite."

Magick Without Tears, Chapter 75
"Still, perhaps with a little help from Hashish, one can imagine a Merchant Prince or a Banker being intelligent, or even, in a weak moment, human; and this is not the case with officials. The standard, moreover, of education and Good Manners, low as it is, is less low in Tory circles."

Does this surprise anyone about Crowley? Did Crowley's political views deeply inform his religious model? Or is there no clear political message in Thelema – does it speak only to the individual, regardless of political context? And is it possible to be a liberal Thelemite, or even a socialist Thelemite?

Since we are in the final week of the UK elections, I would be interested to hear people's views on Thelema in the context of politics.

For myself, I think Thelema is rather akin to a warlike libertarianism: really almost indistinguishable from Toryism, but replacing God with Satan and implying the beginning of a new royal line of kingship (though presumably not the Stuarts, although Crowley did also make dubious claims to Jacobitism).


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lashtal
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02/05/2010 3:11 pm  

Very timely post, Ian! I was just listening to the rather wonderful Democracy by Killing Joke in the car.

"A warlike libertarianism"? Yes, more or less. Perhaps, "robust" or "realist" rather than "warlike", but the essential drive seems sound. I'll pass on the "replacing God with Satan" bit as a piece of well-meaning invective, though…

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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 3:19 pm  

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

Sounds pretty libertarian to me.


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ianrons
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02/05/2010 3:20 pm  

"Robust" as in "a robust foreign policy"? 😉 Actually, whilst quoting William Hague I heard him talking not too long ago about Britain's "warrior ethos" too.

You mention the word "democracy", and that's also at the heart of it, as well as Toryism. After all, TBOTL has the line "Ye are against the people, O my chosen!" – "demos", in "democracy", meaning "people" of course.

We can agree to differ on the Satan thing, but certainly it seems absolutely clear that Crowley wanted a new God, and intended quite specifically to replace YHVH (in The Vision and the Voice). How seriously one takes his identification of Hadit with Satan – or how critical that may be to an understanding of Thelema – doesn't seem terribly relevant in this context.


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 4:25 pm  

I'm pleased to see this post as I too have been puzzled how some prominent Thelemites appear (quite possibly the operative word!) to espouse left wing socialist ideas which seem incompatible with my own reading of Liber Al and Crowley's commentaries. Take "The Next Step" in the introduction to the 1938 edition of the Book of the Law. The policies of the Labour Party and the Lib Dems seem quite counter to my take on Thelema, a self reliant individualism which goes running to neither God nor Man. That's not to say I see being a Tory as overly compatible either, the present day Tories seem to share that tendency to being Communistic and restrictive except in areas where it suits them. Nearly all parties seem to have an immigration policy, for example, which is quite at odds with Liber Oz. Seems to me Thelemites, like everyone else, are currently stuck with seeking the least worst option!


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christibrany
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02/05/2010 4:27 pm  

I see Crowley's identifying with such a conservative viewpoint politically while actually acting out in private in more libertarian or liberal fashion a sign of the inherent dichotomy of the man and being human in general. Part of him strove to be the good mannered gentelman while in private he railed against norms and ran free when no one was able to judge him. And since he was trying to run from Liber AL for a good part of his life, I can see that he was very mannered cultured and conservative due to his upbringing but consciously strove to smash these qualities in the name of spiritual progress. So I think while Thelema seems to be open to all in this sense, it tends as an end goal towards a sort of feudal anarchy. On the other hand the feudalism inherent in Tory-ism fits with Thelema. So it fits and it doesn't. What do you guys think?


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ianrons
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02/05/2010 4:58 pm  

Liber Oz vs. immigration policy is certainly a difficult one. Essentially, Crowley didn't factor the welfare state into the equation, which is where the state provides incentives to immigration: he was thinking, it seems, about a pure capitalist utopia where there would be no economic migrants.

There is much in Thelema, particularly the OTO documents, that suggests neo-feudalism. But feudalism is a form of socialism, albeit one where the social contract is determined by immediate factors (survival more than acceptance or influence – not the mark of a "compassionate" society). Ultimately, I think Crowley was aiming towards an extreme meritocracy, howbeit one considerate of social circumstance: "if he be fitted by birth, or by wealth, or by intelligence, or by some other manifest sign."

But above all else (and as a discussion point), Crowley wanted a cryptocracy.


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 5:21 pm  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,

Ian, I actually find the opposite quite fascinating: How can one intertwine religious beliefs with politics? I can't even begin to imagine that! I am enjoying this thread, however.

love is the law, love under will.


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 5:23 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Or is there no clear political message in Thelema – does it speak only to the individual, regardless of political context?

I certainly do see a clear political message in Thelema, and in anticipation of the usual objections to that very notion itself, I'd like to explain as clearly as possible why I see this as important in the first place:

I, for one, would like to see the policies and common laws of the lands in which we live interfere as little as possible with the adherence by individuals to the Law of Thelema, to the knowing and the doing of true Will by each individual. Further, I would like to see the policies and common laws of the lands in which we live support as much as possible the adherence by individuals to the Law of Thelema, to the knowing and the doing true Will by each individual.

Now, the policies and common laws of the lands in which we live are made by what are known as policy makers and lawmakers, officials who, in so many countries today, are elected by way of a political process. Hence the connection between Thelema and the political process.

I wanted to make this post separate from my own personal political interpretations, just for the sake of clarity.


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Alan_OBrien
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02/05/2010 5:42 pm  

Crowley was a Liber Al.


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alysa
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02/05/2010 5:58 pm  

As far as I understand Aleister Crowley, I think a Thelemite can both be a right-wing political person as well as a left-wing political person I think Crowley was intending to integrate ideas of the right-wing political system as wel as of the left-wing political system in Thelema, yes I think you can both be a right-wing person and a Thelemite or a left-wing person and a Thelemite. Must say one can have the ones who feel more right-wing inclined, they see more right-wing ideas in Thelema, and one can have the ones who feel more left-wing inclined, they see more left-wing ideas integrated within Thelema, I think Crowley tried to integrate both right-wing ideas as left-wing ideas in Thelema, though must say I recently read the book "Aleister Crowley : A Modern Master" by John Moore and therefrom I relearned that he tried to inform through Walter Duranty whether his religion of Thelema could be integrated in Communist-Bolshevik Russia and he also tried to investigate whether his religion of Thelema could be intergrated in National-Socialist Germany, but it seemed both systems rejected the idea.


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ianrons
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02/05/2010 6:26 pm  

piscean93, I'm not sure how one's deepest (religious) beliefs could be divorced from (political) reality. However, I know how easy it is to be vague about religion, as with politics. It's this vagueness that isn't often addressed in Thelema. People get together in Thelemic groups, but you'll find that whilst the youngsters have very nebulous ideas about politics, often the leaders have very strong political beliefs, and often take the youngsters for a ride. The current OTO in the UK has strong communist/anarchist roots, for instance: they have even used communist venues for events.

Camlion, firstly when we're talking about "common law", that is a particular legal system based on precedent which is even now under threat in the UK from the EU, which prefers the Napoleonic system of public prosecutors, etc.; but this is a specific point, and one which the Tories specifically oppose (I have it in writing from the Conservative Party!). However, as far as power-systems ought to limit their own power, this is essentially a Tory argument, currently part of UK Conservative policy insofar as their decentralist and anti-statist agenda is legible or credible.

alysa, I think you are too easy bandying terms like "left wing" and "right wing". However, in respect of Crowley, Spence makes the point that Crowley's dalliance with Hitler and Stalin may have been as much a part of back-channel subterfuge as of ordinary political discourse, so we have to take that with a pinch of salt.

Is Thelema essentially a Tory religion, albeit alternative? That is the question.


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alysa
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02/05/2010 7:30 pm  

Ianrons wrote: "alysa, I think you are too easy bandying terms like 'left wing' and 'right wing'" I equated the terms 'left-wing' with being a Whig in England and 'right-wing' with being a Tory in England, to make it simpler I think one can be a Tory and being a Thelemite, and one can be of another political standpoint and still being a Thelemite. Don't know whether Thelema is essentially a Tory religion.


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 7:33 pm  

No, I don't think you can put labels like that on thelema!
This whole label/party deal don't work out well alot of the time if look around.


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 7:37 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Is Thelema essentially a Tory religion, albeit alternative? That is the question.

I would call it a libertarian worldview (because it is not embraced as a"'religion" by all Thelemites, only by some.) Libertarian because it is necessarily both liberal with respect to personal social freedoms but also necessarily conservative when it comes to individual independence, self-reliance and the personal strength that these bring, as opposed to dependence, government reliance and the personal weakness that these things bring. In other words, Thelema would be a political hybrid, not fully compatible with either liberal or conservative extremes.


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 8:14 pm  

"The principle of popular election is a fatal folly; its results are visible in every so-called democracy. The elected man is always the mediocrity; he is the safe man, the sound man, the man who displeases the majority less than any other; and therefore never the genuius, the man of progress and illumination." Liber CXCIV. Thelema is unlikely to be compatible with compromise and the middle road, which is where all three main parties seem to be at the moment! Maybe it's the House of Commons we should abolish and retain only a reformed House of Lords 🙂


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OKontrair
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02/05/2010 8:41 pm  

The word 'Tory' does not mean the same today as it would have during Crowley's lifetime. The essence of old style toryism is monarchy, aristocracy, traditionalism etc.

To really reform the House of Lords - modern users of the term really mean transform - you would need to put it back how it was before the swathes of political appointees arrived. Aristocrats only.

The British aristocracy are, in the main, nutty as fruitcakes. But their nuttiness is rich and varied. A Fruitcakeocracy is probably the best we could hope for.

I look forward to a hung parliament although shot, stabbed or strangled would be alright.

Anyway I'm too old for politics, my memory is failing. I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of ever asking to be governed.

OK


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Michael Staley
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02/05/2010 8:45 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
The current OTO in the UK has strong communist/anarchist roots, for instance: they have even used communist venues for events.

Which communist venues do you have in mind?


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 Anonymous
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02/05/2010 9:07 pm  

A fruitcakery sounds a good idea 🙂 A friend once suggested that the difference between capitalism and socialism was that under capitalism power was in the hands of those with money, some of whom were nice and some of whom were not. With socialism power was in the hands of those who wanted it most, and none of those were nice! Crowley had some things to say about those who inherited power and money and how this could tend to weakness from lack of external drivers. However a House of Lords with only people who had inherited their titles from 4 or 5 hundred years ago is not necessarily going to be stuffed with people born with silver spoons in their mouths, and maybe one or two might be up to the job.

For me small government must be more compatible with Thelema than the regulators of Labour and Lib Dem. If the Tories really believed in freedom, rather than just the freedom to exploit and be exploited, then I feel they would really be the natural home of the Thelemite, rather than the best of a bad lot as at present.

I can see that Liber Oz is made difficult by the welfare state incentives to immigration and perhaps it is the wrong issues that are being looked at. However, the real problem for me as a Thelemite with party politics, and the present system of government, is that they all have to codify a set of rules to be applied in all cases whereas I think we have to take each situation individually and decide the right course of action on an individual basis. There is only one law!


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Los
 Los
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03/05/2010 12:06 am  

As far as I'm concerned, Thelema is an individual philosophy that has no direct relationship to politics.

It's important that we not confuse Crowley's personal preference -- or the personal preference of any individual Thelemite -- with Thelema itself.

For example, a lot of Thelemites like the idea of a society where there are as few limitations on an individual's actions as possible. I more or less like that ideas as well. I also like pizza, but I don't go around calling pizza "Thelemic food."

Thelema is perfectly consistent with any brand of politics -- just as it is perfectly consistent with any type of diet -- so long as the individuals espousing those particular political ideas -- or eating those particular foods -- are doing so in line with their true wills.

So, to answer the thread's title, of course it's possible to be a Thelemite and be [insert political label here]. I can't imagine a more backward interpretation of Thelema than the thought that we all have to conform to the same brand of politics, especially if said politics consists of a bunch of hand-waving to keep the middle class voting against their own economic interests. [see that? That was personal preference speaking, not Thelema]


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 5:36 am  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,

Ian, let me give you an example of how I am approaching this discussion. Politically I am against motorcycles in every conceivable way. They should be made illegal for several reasons. Safety is the biggest concern I have. This stems from a near fatal crash I had when I was younger. In the case of the crash, it was the motorcycle that made it almost fatal. So, politically, I am against them across the boards.

However, “religiously”, I am okay with people that drive them, and the items themselves. The reason for this is that I believe in “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” If someone wants to indulge in this endeavor, then I will honor their “will”, even if I don’t agree with it. Ergo, politically, I am against them in almost every conceivable way. But “religiously”, I respect the individual’s choice.

Politics is the realm of the personality self. It is what we have to work with while incarnated on the physical plane. Crowley knew this, and I know that he knew this because he was well steeped in Theosophy, and that’s where this teaching comes from. Ergo, when one realizes the personality shell is predominantly focused on this world, then politics becomes something that is associated with the temporary and not the permanent. Permanent here is defined as the part of ourselves that lasts beyond this incarnation. When that concept is realized and accepted, politics assumes a different place in the psyche.

Secondly, most times when people discuss politics, there is an emotional reaction to the subject. Emotions are the second densest plane, right behind the physical. Ergo, if politics are being indulged in at all, then the perspective of the magician is lost, as magicians naturally resonate with the upper mental, the monadic self, and the causal self. We are at a much lower vibration than we are naturally at, being co-creators of our reality.

Crowley knew Theosophy. He knew it well enough to handle politics as a tool, and understand the above teaching.

This is why I see the two as separate entities.

Sorry this is long winded, but I chose to clarify a platform in the context of this thread.

love is the law, love under will.


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Michael Staley
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03/05/2010 10:07 am  

Essentially I agree with Los and piscean93 on this matter. The Book of the Law is woven from a number of conflicting strands, a superficial reading of which can be used to buttress a diversity of political outlooks, ranging from what some might consider the egalitarianism of "Every man and every woman is a star" to the apparent feudalism of "and the slaves shall serve". We all have our own understanding of The Book of the Law, an understanding which is dynamic, deepening with experience, and we apply that understanding as we see fit.

I doubt very much that many of us determine our political convictions on the basis of The Book of the Law, though some might seek to justify them thereby. For what it's worth, my own political outlook is basically left-wing, and has been for as long as I can remember - long before I came across The Book of the Law.

Best wishes,

Michael.


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spike418
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03/05/2010 10:28 am  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Essentially I agree with Los and piscean93 on this matter. The Book of the Law is woven from a number of conflicting strands, a superficial reading of which can be used to buttress a diversity of political outlooks, ranging from what some might consider the egalitarianism of "Every man and every woman is a star" to the apparent feudalism of "and the slaves shall serve". We all have our own understanding of The Book of the Law, an understanding which is dynamic, deepening with experience, and we apply that understanding as we see fit.

I doubt very much that many of us determine our political convictions on the basis of The Book of the Law, though some might seek to justify them thereby. For what it's worth, my own political outlook is basically left-wing, and has been for as long as I can remember - long before I came across The Book of the Law.

Best wishes,

Michael.

Michael,
you have stated my position with more eloquence than I could muster!
I have never actually voted for anyone, my cross has always been used to keep others out. I became entitled to vote the year before the milk snatching blue rinse harpy ascended to her M & S throne. The only time I could imagine voting Tory but would be to keep the BNP and their ilk out 🙁


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gurugeorge
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03/05/2010 2:14 pm  

Frankly I think Crowley was a bit of an opportunist about politics - there are as many quotes you could find that suggest he was left-wing (e.g. two that immediately springs to mind is a discussion in the Liber AL commentaries about consumerism, and the passage somewhere that starts with "Allons! Marchons! ...").

I think you can make a good case of it to say that Thelema is essentially libertarian - but libertarianism has nothing to do with the Right (in the sense of any reliance on central rule or kingship, etc.). Libertarianism as it is today is merely a thoroughgoing liberalism (most liberalism departed from liberal principles towards the end of the 19th century, and took on board socialist memes to a greater or lesser extent, eventually converging with socialists who were backing off from communism by the mid 20th century).

In essence, Thelema is hyper-liberal, liberalism to the max, extreme liberalism, liberalism of the anarchist tendency. It would have little central direction, each individual is sovereign, and we interact and co-ordinate via various "protocols", of which money is the earliest known example.

It's capitalist and socialist, in a certain sense - if you imagine both of these without any government or any centralised authority. Take, for example, mediaeval Iceland - it had a decentralised justice system that was very similar to what's desired by "anarcho-capitalists" of today, but it also had a mutual-self-help system that's indistinguishable from the kind of thing that happened at the beginnings of the labour movement in the UK towards the end of the 19th century (before it got hijacked by doctrinaire, middle-class socialists).

Another way of looking at it is this: the biggest meme today, the meme that's only just started in its cutting of a great swathe through all human thought, is "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", which really IS the death of God, in that it's a way of conceiving how complexity can arise by incremental steps of generate-and-test, without any need for an exterior Designer. Liberal ideas (especially of the Scottish school - e.g. Adam Smith) were a harbinger of that (note that there is a direct connection between some of the early attempts at this sort of explanation of spontaneous order - ie. Darwin was actually directly influenced in his thinking by those liberal economics ideas).

How this translates into politics is a vision of society as "bottom up" rather than "top down": it's essentially anarchist, but more a liberal or libertarian kind of anarchism than a socialist one (or rather, it might be more accurate to say that socialist anarchy is logically a subset of liberal anarchy, since it depends on "voluntary", and depends on a prior space being held open for voluntary action by the common acceptance of public "ground rules" that could be enforced privately or publicly, whichever is most efficient in a given case).

The internet is an example of this: note that the sifting of ideas is being tremendously accelerated by all the hundreds of thousands of conversations people are having, not with the people they happen to be stuck with locally and physically, but with like-minded people half-way across the world, at relatively little cost. This kind of networking is only a tiny corner of what technology is facilitating at the moment.

The great difficulty is, one cannot predict what form life wil take - one can only predict that it will be largely good (because it's what people will have voluntarily chosen - bracketing the subject of public goods and positive/negative externalities for the moment). So it's not exactly something one can put in a manifesto!


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ianrons
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03/05/2010 6:13 pm  

Robert,

"Robert_an_Keow" wrote:
"The principle of popular election is a fatal folly; its results are visible in every so-called democracy. The elected man is always the mediocrity; he is the safe man, the sound man, the man who displeases the majority less than any other; and therefore never the genuius, the man of progress and illumination." Liber CXCIV. Thelema is unlikely to be compatible with compromise and the middle road, which is where all three main parties seem to be at the moment! Maybe it's the House of Commons we should abolish and retain only a reformed House of Lords 🙂

Indeed, this quote is right on-point and partly illustrates why I think Thelema is specifically an "Old Tory" or "High Tory" religious philosophy: there is an underlying anti-plebeianism, moving towards benevolent despotism and even implying the divine right of kings (a topic which occurs frequently in TBOTL, although denied by Crowley in rather hypocritical terms in Scientific Solution...), and the implicit assumption of non-egalitarianism (kings and slaves). It is, thus, specifically not a liberal philosophy in any meaningful sense, although "Every man and every woman is a star" suggests the notion of the infinite potential of every human (AC did not believe every star shone with the same brightness).

It differs from Toryism in this respect, that the hereditary principle of kingship is replaced by a divinely-sanctioned but nevertheless more meritocratic-seeming society where "kingship" is a function of one's ability to do one's "True Will"; however, "there is none that shall be cast down or lifted up", suggesting still a divine order: an aristocracy of the spirit.

It certainly has libertarian ideals, but I feel there is no sense in which Thelema is anarchistic: Crowley promoted the state and kings, regarded them as necessary, but stated (in Scientific Solution...) that state action ought to be limited to settling disputes in a juridical (apparently in a non-voluntary, non-democratic) manner; although there is obviously the "robust foreign policy" – in fact, a very violent foreign policy in my view, effectively mandating a kind of religious warfare or jihad. In this, there is a strong distinction between those who accept Thelema, and those who don't – the latter would be forced to accept it or be killed as "heathen".

Crowley's great desire to have his religion taken up by governments is key: he did not believe Thelema was a matter for personal conscience, but ought to be imposed from above. Obviously, in this he would have been the ultimate despot ("obey my prophet", etc.). This is all very far from anarchism, in fact it is minarchist not anarchist, and depends on the acceptance of a divinely-mandated ruling elite who are able to arbitrate on the "True Will" of individuals and corporations. This ruling elite would obviously begin with Crowley, then "the servants of V.V.V.V.V.", etc.

"Crowley" wrote:
Let this formula be accepted by every government. Experts will immediately be appointed to work out, when need arises, the details of the True Will of every individual...

Los,

"Los" wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, Thelema is an individual philosophy that has no direct relationship to politics.

Crowley clearly believed TBOTL to be a political document: "The scientific solution of the problem of Government is given in AL (Liber Legis). This Law supersedes all the empirical theories hitherto current." He stated in several places that the principles of TBOTL would form the basis of government. And of course, with Thelema, it is Crowley's views that are important – though plenty of people prefer to see Thelema as whatever they want it to be.

"Los" wrote:
It's important that we not confuse Crowley's personal preference -- or the personal preference of any individual Thelemite -- with Thelema itself.

On the contrary, in Thelema Crowley was the ultimate authority, and this is specifically stated in both TBOTL and the Comment: both "Class 'A'" documents. You are specifically required to base your interpretation of the "Law" only on Crowley's writings, and in Thelema you must "obey [the] prophet". Otherwise you are not talking about Thelema, but a separate personal philosophy, albeit one derived from Thelema.

"Los" wrote:
Thelema is perfectly consistent with any brand of politics [...] so long as the individuals espousing those particular political ideas [...] are doing so in line with their true wills.

I really have no idea where you get this notion: obviously, Stalinism is not Thelema. Neither is Nazism, or any form of socialism or statism. Neither is anything else but that political philosophy espoused in the Thelemic texts. To think otherwise is to disregard everything Crowley wrote on the subject. Any political philosophy opposed to any concept of state authority (e.g., anarchism) or one opposed to the concept of individual liberty and property rights (e.g., communism broadly speaking) is clearly not Thelema, but there are many other aspects to Crowley's religion that are quite specific – hence this topic.

"Los" wrote:
I can't imagine a more backward interpretation of Thelema than the thought that we all have to conform to the same brand of politics

But Thelema is a brand of politics, with (as Crowley said) quite specific aims and principles, for instance the establishment of the kingdom of Ra-Hoor-Khuit on earth. We may differ on the exact application of Crowley's ideas in practice, but there is no denying that Crowley intended Thelema to be the basis of government on earth. Obviously that's not going to happen, and in response to the failure of TBOTL it seems most Thelemites are happy to accept Thelema as a personal philosophy only. But this is not what Crowley was doing, and therefore I would question why soemone such as yourself might refer to yourself as a "Thelemite".

piscean93,

"piscean93" wrote:
Politically I am against motorcycles in every conceivable way. They should be made illegal for several reasons. Safety is the biggest concern I have. [...] However, “religiously”, I am okay with people that drive them, and the items themselves. The reason for this is that I believe in “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

Clearly you don't believe DWTW very much, if you are willing to use political leverage to force people not to ride motorbikes. I would suggest this is a simple contradiction, not a reasoned argument.

Michael,

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Which communist venues do you have in mind?

The Marx Memorial Library. Imagine Lon Milo DuQuette giving a lecture in front of an International Brigade flag 😉 Crowley was of course active as an anti-communist for MI5, as Richard Deacon avers.

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
The Book of the Law is woven from a number of conflicting strands, a superficial reading of which can be used to buttress a diversity of political outlooks, ranging from what some might consider the egalitarianism of "Every man and every woman is a star" to the apparent feudalism of "and the slaves shall serve". We all have our own understanding of The Book of the Law, an understanding which is dynamic, deepening with experience, and we apply that understanding as we see fit.

On the contrary, I would argue that TBOTL and Crowley's writings on the subject form a more-or-less coherent political philosophy which matches his stated Toryism quite well. The confusions, and differences, arise when one cherry-picks from TBOTL and from Crowley: it seems that people read into TBOTL what they want to read, beginning with the notion that it is divorced from earthly politics in some way. The bizarre situation, currently, is that Thelema, "Scientific Illuminism" and the OTO are being embraced by the left wing, as an edgy form of cultural diversity. But there is a lot of conflict in the "Thelemic community" between those who take a literal interpretation of Thelema (who tend to read Nietzsche and Hegel) and the older hippies.

gurugeorge,

"gurugeorge" wrote:
Frankly I think Crowley was a bit of an opportunist about politics - there are as many quotes you could find that suggest he was left-wing (e.g. two that immediately springs to mind is a discussion in the Liber AL commentaries about consumerism, and the passage somewhere that starts with "Allons! Marchons! ...").

Can you supply these quotes? I can't find either. However, it's not just a matter of finding quotes, since of course Crowley was quite active politically for the establishment, so there is also his biography to consider. Remember that he was an instrument of the state, and made an oath to King and Country. There are, however, a lot of conflicting and frequently ill-considered statements on a variety of subjects, a lot of them in his New Commentary; and also conflicting aspects of his personal life that can perhaps be explained with reference to his government work.

"gurugeorge" wrote:
In essence, Thelema is hyper-liberal, liberalism to the max, extreme liberalism, liberalism of the anarchist tendency. It would have little central direction, each individual is sovereign, and we interact and co-ordinate via various "protocols", of which money is the earliest known example.

Not really: it has none of the egalitarianism of liberalism, it does involve top-down hierarchical structures and in particular a governing theocratic elite, although a laissez-faire and hence somewhat libertarian elite.

Ian


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 6:24 pm  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
some might consider the egalitarianism of "Every man and every woman is a star"

There is nothing necessarily egalitarian about "Every man and every woman is a star." (Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_classification for a brief overview of the objects in the analogy.) But I do see now, Michael, why you say that you prefer the analogy of 'waves in a sea' and why your personal politics might be so imbalanced to the left. 😉


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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 7:31 pm  

at the question “Can one be a Thelemite and not a Tory?”, the answer is “no”.

The statement of the question is wrong, and consequently, the answers are aberrant.
The current policy is based on the fact that a number of people of one country must elect a so-called elite to direct this country. This country is related to other countries for so-called higher interests.
The elected people aim only at their own interests, and then deal with the interests of their voters according to the economic links, and/or moral policies which enables this "elite" to keep their dominating position.
The good question would be: “can one be a thelemite and do something corresponding politically to his own true will”.
But, once again, this question seems to me preposterous. The word: “political” does not have anything to do in such a matter.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 7:34 pm  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,

Ian,
Actually, I understand it quite well. You see, the will perspective I’m coming from is the will that lasts longer than just this personality incarnation. I choose to treat politics in this fashion because it doesn’t serve my spiritual growth. Politics are simply something of a temporal nature. And things of a temporal nature get temporal energy from me. Part of it is picking and choosing my battles, and part of it is simply that it is always better to focus on spiritual growth than things that are not, and politics is something that is most definitely a ‘bright, shiny’ that can suck you away from your spiritual growth. Just my perspective.

And, to clarify, if I can do this, then anyone can do this. BTW, I am enjoying this thread and the mature debate on it!

love is the law, love under will.


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mika
 mika
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03/05/2010 7:49 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Is Thelema essentially a Tory religion, albeit alternative? That is the question.

No. Thelema isn't a religion.

If people choose to turn it into a personal religion, that's because of the nature of those individuals, not because of the nature of Thelema.

Also, Thelema can be used to support any political bent. Even socialism. For example, pooling a percentage of each member of society's income in order to raise the standard of living for all members of that society can allow for each person to be better able to devote their time and energy to pursuing their individual will, instead of wasting their time, energy and money on the side effects of living in a society in which a significant portion of its members exist in unhealthy, unsafe and unsustainable living conditions.

For example. I didn't write that in order to get into a debate over socialism, just presenting an example of how Thelema can fit into any sort of political argument.


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Los
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03/05/2010 7:49 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
there is no denying that Crowley intended Thelema to be the basis of government on earth. Obviously that's not going to happen, and in response to the failure of TBOTL it seems most Thelemites are happy to accept Thelema as a personal philosophy only. But this is not what Crowley was doing, and therefore I would question why soemone such as yourself might refer to yourself as a "Thelemite".

Because I conduct my behavior in line with my true will.

Now obviously, Crowley had all sorts of bizarre fantasies of establishing a world government -- and certainly his idea of a Thelemic government had absolutely nothing at all to do with libertarianism, I might add -- but I think Crowley was wrong on that specific point.

Thelema, as a philosophy, was largely invented by Crowley's interpretation of Liber Al. That doesn't mean that he was infallibly correct on every point, though it does mean that those whose interpretations of Thelema depart very radically from his need a good reason for doing so -- and demonstrating why Crowley was wrong on a certain point is a good start.

Crowley seems to have thought that if it were possible to determine everybody's true wills, then a Thelemic government would be possible. I suppose that's true, but I don't agree that it's possible to determine another person's true will. Hence, even if one thinks that Crowley's argument is valid, it remains unsound. Hence, I reject his political idea of Thelema.


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Anonymous
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03/05/2010 8:03 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"ianrons" wrote:
Crowley seems to have thought that if it were possible to determine everybody's true wills, then a Thelemic government would be possible.

"Crowley seems to have thought …" This statement is yours.
"…Thelemic government…" It's an oxymoron.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 8:39 pm  

That Crowley favors a governing elite is quite clear in chapter 81 of Book of Lies and its comment.

"While there exists the burgess, the hunting man, or any man with ideals less than Shelley's and self-discipline less than Loyola's - in short, any man who falls far short of MYSELF - I am against Anarchy, and for Feudalism.

....

The only solution of the Social Problem is the creation of a class with the true patriarchal feeling, and the manners and obligations of chivalry."


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ianrons
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03/05/2010 8:48 pm  

mika,

"mika" wrote:
No. Thelema isn't a religion.

Well, we've had this debate before so I won't return to that, suffice to say that it seems very similar to Christianity, and I'm not sure what it is if it isn't a religion.

"mika" wrote:
Also, Thelema can be used to support any political bent. Even socialism. For example, pooling a percentage of each member of society's income in order to raise the standard of living for all members of that society can allow for each person to be better able to devote their time and energy to pursuing their individual will, instead of wasting their time, energy and money on the side effects of living in a society in which a significant portion of its members exist in unhealthy, unsafe and unsustainable living conditions.

But that's not "Thelema". It's a derivative philosophy, in the same way that Bolshevism isn't Marxism. Consider what Crowley wrote concerning AL II:25:

"Crowley" wrote:
By 'the people' is meant that canting, whining, servile breed of whipped dogs which refuses to admit its deity. The mob is always afraid for its bread and butter -- when its tyrants let it have any butter -- and now and then the bread has 60% substitutes of cattle-fodder. [...] So, being afraid, it dare not strike. And when the trouble begins, we aristocrats of Freedom, from the castle or the cottage, the tower or the tenement, shall have the slave mob against us. The newspapers will point out to us that "the People" prefer to starve, and thank John D. Rockefeller for the permission to do so. [...] By "the people" we may understand the many-headed and mutable mob which swarms in the slums of our own minds. Most men are almost entirely at the mercy of a mass of loud and violent emotions, without discipline or even organization. They sway with the mood of the moment. They lack purpose, foresight, and intelligence. They are moved by ignorant and irrational instincts, many of which affront the law of self-preservation itself, with suicidal stupidity. The moral Idea which we call "the people" is the natural enemy of good government. He who is 'chosen' by Hadit to Kingship must consequently be 'against the people' if he is to pursue any consistent policy.

Clearly, Crowley wasn't proposing socialism; but yes, one can cherry-pick verses from TBOTL or talk in vague terms about "Thelema" to support all sorts of views. Again:

"Crowley" wrote:
Consider, my Son, that word in the Call or Key of the Thirty Aethyrs: Behold the Face of your God, the Beginning of Comfort, whose eyes are the Brightness of the Heavens, which provided you for the Government of the Earth, and the Unspeakable Variety! [...] Know then, o my Son, that all Laws, all Systems, all Customs, all Ideals and Standards which tend to produce uniformity, are in direct opposition to Nature's Will to change and to develop through Variety, and are accursed. Do thou with all thy Might of Manhood strive against these Forces, for they resist Change, which is Life; and thus they are of Death

Clearly, in this place he was advocating a very small (although strong, and theocratic) government, not the imposition of some ideological form of state control. And as anpi's quote illustrates, Crowley certainly thought a new aristocracy should arise. It's Toryism through and through, just with a different religion and king.

Los,

"Los" wrote:
Now obviously, Crowley had all sorts of bizarre fantasies of establishing a world government -- and certainly his idea of a Thelemic government had absolutely nothing at all to do with libertarianism, I might add -- but I think Crowley was wrong on that specific point.

Thelema, as a philosophy, was largely invented by Crowley's interpretation of Liber Al. That doesn't mean that he was infallibly correct on every point, though it does mean that those whose interpretations of Thelema depart very radically from his need a good reason for doing so -- and demonstrating why Crowley was wrong on a certain point is a good start.

Crowley seems to have thought that if it were possible to determine everybody's true wills, then a Thelemic government would be possible. I suppose that's true, but I don't agree that it's possible to determine another person's true will. Hence, even if one thinks that Crowley's argument is valid, it remains unsound. Hence, I reject his political idea of Thelema.

Fair enough.

Ian


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 8:52 pm  
"mika" wrote:
Also, Thelema can be used to support any political bent. Even socialism. For example, pooling a percentage of each member of society's income in order to raise the standard of living for all members of that society can allow for each person to be better able to devote their time and energy to pursuing their individual will, instead of wasting their time, energy and money on the side effects of living in a society in which a significant portion of its members exist in unhealthy, unsafe and unsustainable living conditions.

No, actually, this example is false. Firstly, socialism is not feasible economically and therefore will not work regardless of the motivation for trying it. It was been tried on grand scales and failed, and is in the process of failing on smaller modified scales. Secondly, and again it sounds like a good idea, but even if socialism did work, it would only make its 'beneficiaries' hopelessly weak and dependent, unable to think or act for themselves - for simple lack of the necessity to do either one. The cultivation of herd animals is far from a model society of Thelemites.


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ianrons
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03/05/2010 8:54 pm  
"Camlion" wrote:
No, actually, this example is false. Firstly, socialism is not feasible economically and therefore will not work regardless of the motivation for trying it. It was been tried on grand scales and failed, and is in the process of failing on smaller modified scales. Secondly, and again it sounds like a good idea, but even if socialism did work, it would only make its 'beneficiaries' hopelessly weak and dependent, unable to think or act for themselves - for simple lack of the necessity to do either one. The cultivation of herd animals is far from a model society of Thelemites.

Indeed. Even if socialism could be extracted from Thelema, it has been tried many times and always fails. And obviously this discussion is taking place (at least in the UK) in the shadow of another effort in that direction, which has (again) resulted in appalling state-dependence and huge indebtedness. And the other aspect of socialist forms of government is the inevitable imposition of all sorts state controls, resulting in loss of freedom. Shockingly, it's now illegal in the UK for under-16s to kiss each other... but that's to depart from a discussion of Thelema per se.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 9:10 pm  
"Los" wrote:
Now obviously, Crowley had all sorts of bizarre fantasies of establishing a world government -- and certainly his idea of a Thelemic government had absolutely nothing at all to do with libertarianism, I might add -- but I think Crowley was wrong on that specific point.

That Crowley had specific long range goals for the multilevel application of Thelema worldwide is clear. That he could not quite imagine how some of these goals might be realized in the future is also clear, and is perfectly understandable.

I, personally, am fine with the furtherance of these goals by means other than those which occurred to him personally during his life and times, so long as these means satisfy the criteria he set for them. To do otherwise is to settle for less than the full potential application of the Law of Thelema.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 9:15 pm  

What Crowley wanted politically was a system of meritocracy with very high standards, with 3 levels, the men of the earth who are like peasants, they are the brunt of the labor forces, these take no active role in the government at all, since they have not yet proven their skill, loyalty and virtue, until they do they are wards of the state in a sense rather than citizens with a stake in dictating policy.

The second level, the lovers, are those who learn the 5=6 formula, who have knowledge and conversation, that is they prove their virtue and desire to help unite the community. These lead not by threats or violence but by virtue that they are high examples of what the people want to be like and because they prove to have the best interest of the individuals in the community at heart. Their task is to plan out the distribution of resources as to ensure each individual WILL is aided to perform it's unique work.

The highest Grade is the hermit, the MT and Magus. Those who have perfectly transcended the their individual egos' and work in silence to subtlety adjust conditions, to write the rituals and other lessons that transmit the social codes and ethics in the community.

Thus the man of the earth is concerned with the physical labor, the lovers with the relationships, and the hermits with the highest virtues and ethical principles in abstraction.

The administration of the laws and economics in the lovers work, where as the religious or sociological conduct is the hermits. The men of the earth are best kept ignorant of the workings of the higher grades. "thus you have star in star, system in system, let not one know well the other"

All start out as men of the earth, but some prove they are suited to higher instruction and functions. The work of the man of the earth is in his narrow defined personal labor. The Work of the Lover is to aid the inter-personal relations between the people by helping each man of the earth to perform his WILL and function and mind his own business not interfering with the WILL and function of the other. The Work of the Hermit, is the Great work itself and the hermit does this impersonally, without ego and personal attachments.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 9:56 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
And the other aspect of socialist forms of government is the inevitable imposition of all sorts state controls, resulting in loss of freedom. Shockingly, it's now illegal in the UK for under-16s to kiss each other... but that's to depart from a discussion of Thelema per se.

Yes, exactly. I had thought for a moment when writing before that the loss of freedoms inherent to socialism would be commonly understood but, after reading some of these posts, I'm now certain that this is not the case. So, to reiterate Ian's point: As with the herd animals, the hand that feeds and cares for them also measures and guides their every move - "for their own welfare," of course. Individual initiative is neither required nor appreciated.

As for a ban on 'underaged kissing,' discussions of what are perhaps well intended ideas but are clear examples of insanely excessive government are well within the purview of Thelema, IMO. This was also of very great interest to AC, of course.


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ianrons
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03/05/2010 10:19 pm  

Camlion,

"Camlion" wrote:
I had thought for a moment when writing before that the loss of freedoms inherent to socialism would be commonly understood but, after reading some of these posts, I'm now certain that this is not the case.

Unfortunately I think you're right. In some cultures (esp. in the USA), most people "get it", but for historical reasons (because it was the the main Cold War battleground, essentially) Europe is much more socialist and many Europeans fail to grasp this point or understand the horrors of socialism, even after the terrible abuses of the National Socialists in Germany and the communists of the USSR.

Re: underaged kissing, I had a discussion about this with a very senior official involved with public protection in my part of the world – someone dealing mostly with paedophilia and related offences, and who has oversight and decides who to prosecute in these and similar cases – and her view was that you have to criminalize large sections of society in order to provide public authorities with enough discretion and leeway to act. But this results in a situation where the authorities can choose who to target, and of course people in power always want more power: power aggregates to itself, as Noam Chomsky puts it. In my view, the duty of every member of the public is to hold these people to account, and to elect people willing to limit their own powers to the realms of national defence and law and order. However, even right-wing parties have tended towards centralization in the past, and nowadays political discussions tend to focus on what governments ought to do, rather than what governments ought not to do. But most people want a nanny, it seems – assuming wrongly that people, once elected, are more trustworthy than the people they govern. And many people want government handouts, at the expense of every other member of society.

Therefore, whilst we ought to be deeply suspicious of politicians and governments, I think we have to be more suspicious of people who want an overarching government structure to look after them – because it will always end up doing much more than that. In that sense, maturity and intelligence are essential pre-requisites of any voter, however we are in a situation here in the UK where the left are hoping to enfranchise 16–18 year olds. It's terribly depressing for me, but at least I know I can take refuge in the US if it all goes to hell – but with luck, come Friday, that won't be necessary 😉


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mika
 mika
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03/05/2010 10:53 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
but at least I know I can take refuge in the US if it all goes to hell

It must be a sorry state of affairs if you consider the US refuge.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 11:02 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Therefore, whilst we ought to be deeply suspicious of politicians and governments, I think we have to be more suspicious of people who want an overarching government structure to look after them – because it will always end up doing much more than that. In that sense, maturity and intelligence are essential pre-requisites of any voter,

Yes, and I am also deeply suspicious of anyone who suggests that ANY preferred political program at all is equally supportive to an environment optimally conducive to knowing and doing true Will, to Thelema. This makes no sense whatsoever, as with Mika's false example, and is really just a rationalization for clinging to whatever politics one has become accustomed to, without subjecting it the same careful scrutiny that a Thelemite would apply to any other sort of idea.


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Anonymous
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03/05/2010 11:08 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:

Thus…
to vote for change = to vote for no change?

That seems absurd… And how can the policy of a small country influence Thelema?

Did i miss a point ?


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 11:22 pm  

I well remember Lon Milo DuQuette's talk at the Marx Memorial Library, how it came about as a quick "last port in a storm" as a result of a problem over the original booking and how ironic it seemed to me at the time. I also remember his subsequent talk on the Gnostic Mass where he suggested that variations might be all very well but would not be a Gnostic Mass, just as departing from an apple pie recipe to use different fruit might make a nice pie but not an apple pie.
I’m sorry, but in my opinion, those who try to equate Thelema with Socialism have made a similar error – they may have come up with something quite pleasing to themselves but it is not Thelema.
As I hold to the Comment I refrain from quotes from CCXX and my interpretation of them, but I really cannot see how anyone can interpret it as supporting socialism. Try Crowley’s commentary on Chapter III verse 18 (in The Law is forAll) – Labour and Liberal embrace the “humanitarian mawkishness” that Crowley eschews. Please don’t tell me that you reject Crowley’s commentary or offer your own take on the verse – to do either is to reject Thelema.
The fact is that both these political movements have their roots in Christianity, humanitarianism itself is merely a secular version of Christianity. Outwardly caring and loving, inwardly repressive, controlling and cowardly.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 11:41 pm  
"∆" wrote:
That seems absurd… And how can the policy of a small country influence Thelema?

Did i miss a point ?

Yes, you apparently did, since Thelema is about the individual knowing and doing their true Will, and countries, large or small, are populated by individuals governed by the policies of those countries.

It might be interesting to note something, in a light of a couple of the more 'transcendent' seeming posts above. The general goals of Thelemites tend fall into two categories:

a) Knowing and doing true Will.

b) Discovering the true nature and powers of one's own being.

It is often said that there are "two Veils," "two Ordeals" and so on. The first would be (a) above, and the next is (b). The notion that one can transcend (a) in favor of (b) is faulty, because only (a) can direct one to (b), and not everyone is directed by (a) to (b), in fact, most people are not. Most people's true Will is something else entirely, at least at present.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 11:50 pm  

Exactly, Thelema is rooted in the notion of a benevolent Despot, as well as in the fundamental inequality between one person and another, so unequal that they can not even be compared. See what is a number or symbol "Every number in infinite,there is no difference".

The application of a system of initiation and ordeals by which we assure the integrity, honor and intentions of the despot and ruling class is outlined in the structure of the O.T.O.

That structure is Feudal and seems influenced by Plato and others, it is in no way based in socialism or humanitarianism, or any kind of egalitarian democracy.

Communism is a economic theory as is Capitalism. The economic system of Thelema however is that each individual applies his property including money to the use dictated by his WILL. That is the purpose of money is to be spent, to circulate round. Thus the Thelemite is encouraged to not hold an to it, to not pull back as with every act of WILL one is to thrust oneself fully into the act of WILL and not hesitate, not flinch, not regret and never look back. Thus when it comes to economics, the Thelemic system is to throw all of your money into your WILL, Use each dollar for the purpose of the great work, (as with each calorie of food, and every last drop of blood). If you spend as you WILL without hesitation or regret then you are doing you WILL, do not allow fear of poverty to be an obstacle to you WILL. If everyone spends freely and abundantly towards their own WILL then the money will circulate and stimulate labor and production, thus creating a healthy economy.

If however people hold back and hoard up the money, it will slow the economy, it will hinder individual Wills, the whole nation will grind to a halt.


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 Anonymous
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03/05/2010 11:55 pm  

Camlion, you forgot

C) the annihilation between ones own being and being in general. the dissolution of self into the other.

Very few achieve C, as it is crossing the abyss, and most people prefer to act out the little dramas of their individual lives as if there is nothing beyond or other than ones little role in the theater of the universe.


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 Anonymous
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04/05/2010 12:21 am  
"name538" wrote:
Camlion, you forgot

C) the annihilation between ones own being and being in general. the dissolution of self into the other.

Very few achieve C, as it is crossing the abyss, and most people prefer to act out the little dramas of their individual lives as if there is nothing beyond or other than ones little role in the theater of the universe.

I would definitely include your (c) in my (b), name538. And remember, those whose (a) is specifically (b) are often considered "batshit" crazy by those whose (a) is not specifically (b). 🙂


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Michael Staley
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MANIO - it's all in the egg
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04/05/2010 12:50 am  
"ianrons" wrote:
Shockingly, it's now illegal in the UK for under-16s to kiss each other...

You really are talking crap.


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ianrons
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04/05/2010 1:00 am  

No Michael, you are ignorant of the situation, and presumptuous. See sections 9(1)(b), 13(1) and 78 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

"Touching" that is "sexual" is interpreted to mean kissing and caressing. This was covered in a recent Radio 4 discussion programme (not "Unreliable Evidence", I forget the programme). Essentially, this gives the authorities discretionary power. It is a shocking and degrading piece of legislation that should never have been introduced.

See also this BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3672591.stm

There is also some comment on this in the Wikipedia article.


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Anonymous
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04/05/2010 1:04 am  

So do you think that the tories will change anything with this legislation? Do you think that has anything to see with the central subject of this foruml?


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