by Brother Richard Strongball
Who cares what Aleister Crowley thought about politics or would care about our current political situation?
I’ll tell you: a devotee of Aleister Crowley is the only person who would care about Aleister Crowley’s political views. That right there tells you everything you need to know about the relevance of Aleister Crowley’s thinking to politics.
In some ways it’s similar to people who refer to Ayn Rand. By and large, political analysts and political scientists are not interested in Ayn Rand, because Ayn Rand never said anything particularly useful or relevant about politics. Ayn Rand tended to think about politics from first principles, which, all other things being equal, is usually a very creative way to think about things, but it doesn’t guarantee relevance or even that your ideas are good.
This is why bringing Ayn Rand into an argument isn’t like bringing Strauss, Arendt, Rawls, Nozick, or even Zizek into an argument. You can rest assured the person invoking Ayn Rand hasn’t read anyone besides Rand. It’s not like showing up to a party with a loud tie. It’s more like having a dick piercing. It implies a whole lifestyle.
Crowleyites are like Randroids, but goofier. Ayn Rand at least has the excuse of having been a political philosopher. She was terrible at political philosophy, but she was without doubt a political philosopher.
The reason you never see political analysts, political philosophers, political economists, political scientists, sociologists, or really anyone else besides Crowleyites invoke Aleister Crowley in political discussions is because Aleister Crowley’s main skillset was casting spells.
Aleister Crowley was a guy who literally thought he could cast spells.
Most of the “Aleister Crowley was a _______ist” discussions aren’t even driven by a desire to frame let alone solve current political problems, though. How could they be when Aleister Crowley’s main problemsolving set involved casting spells?
It’s usually approached from the exact opposite direction. A Crowleyite is already a _______ist, and so they have to convince people—principally themselves—that Crowley was one, too. Because otherwise what are they doing with their life, being a devotee of Aleister Crowley?
The deeper someone is into OTO, the worse this is. Because then it’s not just justifying a lifestyle. The problem now is they’ve given 10, 20, maybe more years of their life to something—real contributions of time, effort, and cash, lasting relationships built—and to find out that it’s based on a set of ideas that are irrelevant or even morally reprehensible vis-a-vis things that person values is too much cognitive dissonance to bear.
This is where you get those interpretations of Thelema according to which everyone is obligated to respect the divinity inherent in each individual—a view which draws its support usually exclusively from Liber Oz but which is otherwise nothing but the warmed over Christian ethics Crowley disparages almost every other chance he gets.
This is the view of Crowley the social justice warriors need to have in order to justify participation. In 10 years when some new form of political flagellation is en vogue, everyone will know—just know—that THAT is what Crowley “really stood for”.
Good thing the man liked playing dress-up.
So here’s a modest proposal.
How about not worrying about what Aleister Crowley believed politically? How about forming your political views on the basis of fact and analysis of facts?
How about instead of arguing about whether socialism is “Thelemic,” start from the perspective that every country on Earth for the last half century has utilized some form of socialism?
Or instead of worrying about what Crowley thought of unions, how about look at the fact that American prosperity was at its greatest when we had strong unions? Shouldn’t that tell you more about the value of unions—or at least their lack of harm—than the opinion of someone who thought he could move things with his mind?
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