Review: The Chaos Protocols by Gordon White
Like many Occultniks, coming across the writings of Gordon White on Runesoup was the equivalent of having a UFO carrying the secret memos of International Capital crash in your backyard. A whole new world of intrigue, magical theory, and political skullduggery was laid bare for my prying eyes to ponder, literally changing the way I viewed the world and magic forever. So when I found out that Gordon had finally written some books I jumped on them like Florida mosquitoes on a New Yorker’s neck.
Enter The Chaos Protocols, Gordon’s modern grimoire and survival manual for Sorcerers living through the go-go world of modern capitalism. The book clocks in at about 204 pages and is light enough to finish in a day if you’re so inclined, but the rituals and techniques contained within will have you pulling it off the shelf many, many times.
Where to begin? The Rite of the Headless One, a sonic depth charge into the Spirit World to have all manner of beings notice your existence and begin a self-initiation? How to meet the Devil at the crossroads? A detailed explanation of how probability and magic might be much more related than you think? I don’t want to give too much away but the techniques advocated here are a far cry from the usual Llewellyn texts. This isn’t bullshit Gordon came up with to sell a book. He’s delineating techniques and tactics he uses on a daily basis to get by.
Readers of Runesoup will find some familiar techniques expounded on and others never before seen; folks new to Gordon’s magical discourses will literally have their faces melted and their minds jettisoned to Plutonian heights of new paradigms. This will change the way you view magic forever. You have been warned.
Interlaced between kernels of magical tech are Gordon’s well known critiques of modern capitalism and how the “system” really works:
“The general assumption about capital was that it is re-invested into the real economy, for example, in the form of industrialists building new factories which create additional jobs and have service sectors spring up around them. Capital growth was best achieved through judicious capital expenditure. This certainly happened and still happens. However Piketty has observed a general trend for the increasing centralization of capital in fewer and fewer hands, leading to a disastrous scenario where a few dozen people can effectively buy the entire political process, and do so with an amount of wealth so small it would be akin to what you and I find between the couch cushions.”
The one stick in my craw is while such knowledge might inspire others towards a molotov-fueled, seething rage, Gordon never seems to call for the destruction of the system itself, which is understandable: this is a book for surviving capitalism as it exists today, not necessarily how to destroy it.
Still, if the average militant looks past some of the more subserviant strategies(“marry well,” “avoid the workplace pariah,” “never complain about your boss”) there is fertile ground for radicals of all stripes if you read inbetween the lines.
Consider Gordon’s thoughts on “the network:”
“In a mind war, networking extends far beyond having more than 500 LinkedIn connections. Correctly used it is probably one of our greatest advantages. From a magical perspective, I have my professional network, but I consider it a subset of something larger and more varied. I consider it a part of my tribe.”
Kinda like an affinity group?
“It is too early to predict just how disruptive the rise of crowdfunding and the return of localism is going to be but they are hugely positive signals that we are moving into a world that can be consciously decentralized.”
“Consciously decentralised” sounds like fighting for Anarchy to me!
“Collaboration and shared ownership of income streams are emerging as the new funding model, replacing the old debt-based model of business loans and interest payments.”
Or as we might call it “building communes.” Compare Gordon’s ideas on networks to the words from The Invisible Committee in The Coming Insurrection:
“Communes come into being when people find each other, get on with each other, and decide on a common path…A commune forms every time a few people, freed of their individual straitjackets, decide to rely only on themselves and measure their strength against reality…Each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up.”
Even his thoughts on social wealth aren’t far off from our own territory.
“The learned networking behaviors of the digitial world–such as sharing and mutual interest–are now being taken offline…
“As the old world of the stable manufacturing jobs shuffles off to retirement with its Boomer devotees, a new world is emerging that is asking the question of what work is for. What will be written on your tombstone? What is it about you that is perishable and what is imperishable?..
“‘Degrowth’ rather than growth is now the cutting edge of culture. It is a way of being in the world that values access over ownership, that does not measure success or prosperity in terms of consumption.”
“We anticipate a profound reversal of perspective at the threshold of communal society, in which any possible strictly privatized value will pale into insignificance, and be experienced as narrow and impoverished, in comparison to the individual, personal, “private” value to each social individual of his social existence. And this attitude would be then, under those conditions, no mere idealistic posture or pious wish, no mere moral abstraction, no representation over and above the real conditions – which is all it can ever be today – but, on the contrary, would arise from the most immediate, palpable, and concrete facts of life. Increasingly up to the present, since the breakup of early communal forms, all wealth has been private, that is, only private property has been recognized as wealth.
In the future, if there is a future, the narrow and the privatized will be revealed as the essence of poverty, and wealth will be realized as social wealth, as wealth in human beings; in their relations and their capacities, in their faculties and their objectifications. That is, the greatest wealth, and the necessary context of all wealth, is society itself.”
While certainly not a text geared towards Anarcho-Communists, Insurrectionists, or even strident Egoists, nearly every branch of magical Anti-Capitalism will find not only a clear but horrifying account of The Beast as it exists today. Combine that with magical theory and plenty of rituals to sweeten the deal and this book is a must have for any would be revolutionary.
Will we ever see Comrade White on the barricades shouting “No justice, no peace?” Probably not. But, with The Chaos Protocols in hand, sorcerous subversives can arm themselves with some of the best magical praxis aimed at liberating the individual from the hand-to-mouth existence we call Capitalism.
It’s still the same book. We’re merely changing the pronunciation of “Do What Thou Wilt” to “Proletarian Appropriation,” and if that’s not in the spirit of Chaos Magick, I don’t know what is.
Dr. Bones is a 9 year practitioner of the Southern occult tradition known as Conjure, Rootwork, and Hoodoo. A skilled card-reader and Spiritworker, Dr. Bones has undertaken all aspects of the work, both benevolent and malefic. Politically he holds the Anarchist line that “Individuality can only flourish where equality of access to the conditions of existence is the social reality. This equality of access is Communism.” He resides in the insane State of Florida with his loving wife, a herd of cats, a house full of spirits.