by Lon Milo DuQuette
Excerpt from Ask Baba Lon: Answers to Questions of Life and Magick By Lon Milo DuQuette New Falcon Publications, 2011
Dear Baba Lon:
I have been studying books on the “western esoteric tradition” for a couple of years, and have developed a particular appreciation for Aleister Crowley’s works and ideas, with one exception: his sociopolitical views. I am a liberal humanist, and I oppose “social Darwinism,” or the view “let the strong survive and thrive, and stamp down the weak and helpless” with all my heart. Crowley advocates this view, including in Liber AL vel Legis, which is put forth as “holy writ which is not to be changed.” Even most conservatives in America insist that they are not “social Darwinists.” In other words, Crowley is to the right of Attila the Hun. Are the rest of us excluded from being Thelemites (for example, are we barred from initiation in the O.T.O.)? I ask this sincerely, since all the rest of Crowley’s work is so excellent, and with this single exception, I am whole-heartedly drawn to Thelema.
Dear Name withheld,
Yes, Name withheld. A liberal can be a Thelemite. (Sounds a bit like “Yes Virginia. There is a Santa Claus.”)
I consider myself a liberal humanist. Actually, I’m a radical liberal humanist. I guess the polite term in today’s American politics is “progressive.” So is Constance, and so are most of our closest friends in and out of the O.T.O. I can’t speak for them, but my motives are entirely selfish. It’s simply that I have come to the conclusion it is in my best interest to live in a stable environment undisturbed and unencumbered by violent social unrest. Being surrounded, distracted, and menaced by hungry, unhappy, unhealthy, out-of-work, homeless, downtrodden, fellow citizens are not conducive to my efforts to quietly pursue my spiritual Great Work…..
…That being said, in the O.T.O. and ultimately in Thelema, one’s politics is an entirely a personal matter. It has to be. In my opinion there can’t be a Thelemic political party unless it was one that told its party members to vote for whomever they personally preferred and support the programs they personally agree with.
Anything less would be like saying, “We believe that ‘there is no law beyond Do What Thou Wilt’ and we want a law to make you believe that too!”
Of course, it is likely that many individuals who embrace Thelema’s philosophy of personal liberty would want to live in an environment that allows them and all others this freedom. Naturally, many of us tend to support measures, candidates, and parties that promise strong civil liberties and such.
But the source of these attitudes are most often not dictated by the tenets of Thelema per se, but from our youthful idealism, or our intelligent observation, or our mature common sense, or simply our sense of human decency.
It is possible (owing to infinite and unknown factors of karma or personal issues) that a person might need to spend a season or a lifetime as a social Darwinist, or a Nazi or another such creature in order to “do” his or her will in this incarnation. It is not for any of us to judge on that level……
I admire Crowley too. He’s my holy prophet. But I’m not obliged to comb my hair, or select my wardrobe, or my diet, or my lovers, or vote the way he did. Thelema is bigger than Aleister Crowley. And nobody can tell you how to interpret The Book of the Law. If anyone ever does you should feel empowered to give them a hearty “fuck you!”
I hope this has been helpful.
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5 thoughts on “Can a Thelemite be a Liberal?”
There is no political party that represents “Thelema”, because by nature Thelema is the total antithesis of anything that seeks to control others and this is the basis of all political groups, parties and the like. Thelema is about the individual, not the masses. Nor is Thelema, “democratic” in the popular understanding of the term: “The average voter is a moron. … He is ignorant as no illiterate peasant is ignorant: he has no power of independent thought. He is the prey of panic. But he has the vote.” Aleister Crowley.
It is my will to ensure as much freedom and liberty as possible, this is why the so-called “liberal vote” is a dangerous vote, because it works in bureaucracy to destroy liberty behind it’s supporter’s backs.
Many liberals are Thelemites hiding in plain sight I would say.
LIBERAL vel Legis. It’s right there in the name.