Aleister Crowley: The Communistic Liberal Humanist

Let’s settle something here…

…when it came to society in general, Crowley’s worldview was a basic mix of Nietzsche and Social Darwinsism with some modern Bohemia thrown in for good measure. He was a real hardliner in his writing, basically saying that anyone who couldn’t take care of himself should be allowed to crawl into a hole and die. Literally. In this world, some people are kings and others are slaves, which is determined at birth and proven via “fitness within the environment.” In other words, a hardcore right-winger. (Of course, let’s not forget that both Crowley and Nietzsche were practical invalids at the ends of their life—with Crowley addicted to heroin and Nietzsche succumbing to mental illness—and both depended on the good will of others to take care of them. It’s a good thing those others didn’t take their advice and simply let them die for the good of society).

However, when he talked about OTO, he was a pinko-commie leftist! He talked about sharing material resources in common, helping the elderly and infirm, taking care of pregnant women and mothers, and raising orphans of members. All members, while “in Lodge” are to be “treated as Brothers, with perfect equality.” Members should personally attend the ill and make sure they are not wanting for anything. Professionals should all freely offer their services to Grand Lodge. Some other quotes (From CLXI) are:

”Power in the Order depends, therefore, directly on the willingness to aid others.”

”Tolerance also is taught in the higher grades; so that no man can be even an Inspector of the Order unless he be equally well disposed to all classes of opinion.”

”Such property as any member of the Order wills is handed over to the Great Officers either as a gift, or in trust. In the latter case it is administered in the interest of the donor. Property being thus pooled, immense economies are effected.”

”But if you are poor? If you have no property? The O.T.O. still helps you. There will always be unoccupied houses which you can tend rent-free; there is certainty of employment, if you desire it, from other members. […] Are you sick? The other members hasten to your bed to ask of what you are in need.”

”You reply that this can only be by generosity, by divine charity of the high toward the low, of the rich toward the poor, of the great toward the small? You are a thousand times right; you have understood the secret of the O.T.O.”

”Wealth is of no account in the O.T.O. Above a certain grade all realisable property, with certain obvious exceptions—things in daily use, and the like—must be vested in the O.T.O.”

”Property may be enjoyed in accordance with the dignity of the adept of such grade, but he cannot leave it idle or sequestrate it from the common good.”

And then we take Liber Oz, the epitome of humanistic, liberal propaganda. It is humanistic in that it asserts that each and every person has inherent worth (“Every man and every woman is a star” and “There is no god but man”) and that each has inherent, specific rights that each is equally entitled to. It is liberal in that Oz stresses personal liberty (remember, “liberal” stems from the root “individual freedom”). In this single document, Crowley both redefines and confirms the basic principle of Liberal Humanism within a Thelemic frame!

Moreover, Crowley fully expected initiates to behave with dignity, honor, and good manners—”A fortiori, then, it must be possible to train men to independence, to tolerance, to nobility of character, and to good manners, and this is done in the O.T.O. by certain very efficacious methods…” (CLXI). Some call this egalitarianism…I call it common sense. He says it again in the same document, “Even intellectual eminence and executive ability are at a certain discount in the Order. Work is invariably found for persons possessing these qualifications, and they attain high status and renown for their reward; but not advancement in the Order, unless they exhibit a talent for government, and this will be exhibited far more by nobility of character, firmness and suavity, tact and dignity, high honour and good manners.” Crowley did not think this was Christian era humanism, and neither do I. Such behavior is simply the foundation of a strong community.

So, let’s hear it for Aleister Crowley, the communistic liberal humanist!

< Back to Thelema articles