Book Review: 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Capitalism! The American Dream! Except that what we believe about capitalism, and how it actually works, are two different things. We’ve been told that the essence of preserving the economy involves making things better for the wealthy, so that they will make bigger companies and hire more people for more jobs, and thus the crumbs of their good fortune will “trickle down” to the rest of us. Except that it’s not true; wealthy people won’t part with their wealth unless regulations force them to.

We are told that the American Dream rewards the hard-working and the worthy, and that anyone can succeed if they try hard enough. Except that it’s not true; people in poorer countries are more entrepreneurial than people in wealthier countries, and good infrastructure is the key to building the wealth of nations.

We are told that you must pay good CEOs and Directors of large corporations top dollar so that you will get the best. Except that it’s not true; Board Directors often make decisions that are best for them in the short term, and really bad for the company itself in the long term (fancy that!) And by the way, you’re probably wrong about how much they’re getting paid. Most people think it should be about 10 times what the average worker in their companies get paid, and they think it’s actually more like 30 times. But they’re wrong; it’s really more like 300-400 times as much!

We are told that what’s good for the shareholders of a company is good for the company overall. Except that it’s not true; shareholders want to buy low and sell high, and quickly, and that means that often decisions are made in companies to cut corners, cheat, and patch instead of fix, until the whole structure collapses. Like with pretty much every automobile company you’ve ever heard of, and several large airlines.

We are told that the free market economy is the best way to handle things, because market forces will ultimately balance everything out. Except that it’s not true; there is actually no such thing as a “free market economy;” governments and corporations fix the conditions of the market all the time. So could we; and so we have in some ways, which is why “fossey jaw” is a thing of the past.

We are told that education is essential to the future wealth of a nation. Except that this isn’t true either; there’s almost no correlation. What drives the wealth of nations is actually manufacturing.

Don’t believe me? That’s okay; Ha-Joon Chang is a Cambridge trained economist who has won prizes for his work, and he’ll tell you better than I can, with figures to back it up. And he’ll explain it in a way that even an arts major like me can clearly understand.

I can’t say enough good things about this book! If you, like me, see the rot at the core of our economic system but you lack the words to tell people why it’s rotten, this is the book for you. If you don’t understand economics and you want to learn without taking a course, this is the book for you. If you think that capitalism is the best thing since sliced bread, and you think lefties are wingnuts who don’t understand how the world really works, this is still the book for you because you can acid-test your theories against an educated dissenting opinion. I wish that my Prime Minister would read it because I think he would run things a little differently if he did.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be writing an extended series focused around the theories presented in this book on Gods & Radicals if you want to know more.

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The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two days and one hundred years ago, women first achieved the right to vote in Canada. This was in the Manitoba provincial election; the federal government followed two years later. So it is perhaps fitting that the day before is the day I finally chose to start reading “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

I’ve been a feminist and a science fiction fan since childhood, so many people have recommended this book to me over the years. The year it was published, 1986, I was eleven. I think someone first recommended it to me in 1991, when I was protesting the Gulf War. I always meant to read it. It was “on my list,” especially as a Canadian. Margaret Atwood is considered to be one of the most significant Canadian writers and “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a feminist icon.

I was not inspired to read it because of the centennial of women’s suffrage in Canada. I was finally inspired to read it because I am doing some science fiction related reading challenges; one to read new-to-me female authors, and the other to read LGBTQ related speculative fiction. “The Handmaid’s Tale” was both on a list of award-winning speculative fiction by female authors, and a list of award-winning LGBTQ speculative fiction. You can find those lists at https://www.worldswithoutend.com/list… and https://www.worldswithoutend.com/list… respectively. Because I’m intending to read a lot of books this year, it was convenient for me that this book, which I meant to read someday anyway, was on both lists.

Let’s just establish, right off the bat, that I think this is an absolutely stunning book. I am glad I waited so long, because I don’t think I would have been mature enough to understand a lot of it until this point in my life. And I have mixed feelings about it. It’s frustrating and disturbing. Atwood has made some statements about it that make me angry. Some of the things critics have said about it make me want to beat my head against a wall. It can be difficult to follow if you’re not used to the style, because it is written in a flow-of-consciousness perspective that changes back and forth between present and past tense. Some have criticized her for this but I’m sure it was deliberate. The epilogue of the book, a fictional history lecture, says that the story was found recorded over some secular music cassette tapes from the 1980s, usually after a few minutes of music have played. So when you read it, picture a woman about forty, maybe forty-five, telling a story in a tired voice that is sometimes deliberately neutral, sometimes choking back tears and other times choking back rage. Listen to her talk; don’t read it expecting standard writing conventions. Perhaps, if you’ve ever heard a woman telling her tale in an interview for the Shoah project, picture her voice sounding like that.

So, yes. Mixed feelings. On the other hand, I chewed through this book in two and a half very busy days, abandoning all my other reading projects after leafing through the first ten pages. I was riveted to the edge of my seat. Would the protagonist live? Would she die? The whole novel was like holding my breath, waiting for what comes next. If Atwood intended us to feel this way — waiting in desperate anxiety — because that was what the protagonist’s life was like, then she succeeded admirably. The suspense was downright torturous. Also, the message . . . the message . . . How subversive. How frightening. What a fantastic wake-up call in so many different ways, and not just in how it pertains to women.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” takes place in an alternate history in which declining birth rates in the mid-eighties, attributed to toxic chemicals, pollution, radiation and other ecological disasters, along with AIDS and a virulent strain of syphilis that caused infertility in most men exposed to it, fell to frightening levels. Women’s independence, the use of birth control, lesbianism and homosexuality, were seen as exacerbating this (and perhaps they did). People reacted with fear, as they often do in such situations, and a religious Christian fundamentalist cult rose to power, toppled the United States government, shot the President and most of the Congress, and formed the Republic of Gilead. They used a symbol and a militant ideology never seen before. And suddenly the lives of women drastically changed.

Because all money had become electronic and there was no paper money, they started by freezing the bank accounts of anyone with an F attached to it rather than an M, and they forced people to fire all women from their jobs. Women were denied the right to own property. Men and women who were in second marriages or extramarital relationships, or anyone who was gay or lesbian, were declared unpersons. Their children were taken from them because they were considered to be “unfit parents,” and women so classified with viable ovaries were forced through reeducation camps, with cattle prod wielding “Aunts,” to become Handmaidens; that is, broodmares to the rich and powerful. Women of the right status and religious background were assigned in arranged marriages as Wives to significant and powerful men; women who were no longer fertile but weren’t “undesirable” were assigned to be “Marthas” (maids,) “incorrigible” women were taken out of official existence to become “Jezebels” (sex slaves,) and those who were too old to do anything else or beyond “reformation” (accomplished through a combination of brainwashing and torture) were sent to the Colonies to clean up toxic waste and radiation until they died. All of them were assigned different modes of dress to signify their role. Jezebels never went out in public and never left the brothels they’d been assigned to; Handmaids could only go out in pairs so that they could spy on each other and only to do specifically assigned tasks, wearing a red habit with winged wimples described as “blinders” so they couldn’t see out of the sides. All “vanities” such as immodest dress and makeup were banished and women were forbidden even the right to read. Conversely, men were denied the right to marry until they had proven themselves to the people in power, and were forbidden sex or even masturbation until that time also.

Lots to be discussed here. First of all, critics of the novel have tisked at how unlikely they feel this is to happen in the glorious United States of America. Except that I’ve seen many disturbing echoes of Atwood’s predictions in our society right now. How so many things are blamed on Islamic terrorism. How gradually freedoms and rights and privacy have been eroded in the name of “safety” and “security.” How we are gradually being railroaded into giving up paper money. The anti-abortionists, the censors in Britain. The backlash against LGBTQ rights; the “bathroom” laws. The systematic discrediting of feminism and of Planned Parenthood. Encouraging intolerance as a religious “right.” I won’t lie; you guys to the South of us are beginning to scare the shit out of me.

Some critics have said that they just don’t see all of this happening this quickly. But it has, and it is happening right now. The state of women in the Middle East, two generations ago, was comparable to that of women anywhere else in the world at that time. When the Soviet Union broke up much of Eastern Europe erupted into a seething hotbed of “ethnic cleansing.” In a mere five years in the late 1930s Germany transformed from a modern 20th century country to a totalitarian regime which is still causing shockwaves in our world culture. And in the Islamic State, right now, women are being given to jihadis as brides or sex slaves. I think of American “purity balls” and I shudder.

The story is set in what used to be Boston, Massachusetts, and the choice was made to emphasize the United States’ history of Puritanism. The corporate media and the religious right have been building up our political climate for something like this since at least 1991. I am not a doomsayer; I don’t believe in end-of-the-world prophecies; but I am a student of history and if you don’t recognize the parallels and it doesn’t concern you, you’re being willfully blind.

In order for such a regime to exist, you must create a hierarchy of haves and have nots, and so Atwood establishes that hierarchy in vivid detail. The Unwomen of the Colonies were the bottom of the food chain, deprived even of a right to life and health. The Jezebels at least had the privilege of that; though of course they were deprived of the right to liberty and personhood and were required to service the men who came to them. The Handmaidens came next, who at least could live and go out in public, though of course they, too, were required to do what was commanded of them, perform sexually for men, and had severe restrictions on their behaviour, their speech, and even were denied the right to a name; being called “Of-” plus the first name of the Commander they belonged to. The Handmaiden of the tale was called “Offred”; we never learn her real name. The Marthas were not required to spread their legs on command but were menial servants. The Wives had to obey their husbands but otherwise were the mistresses of the household. Aunts held an in-between place in which they are given extra privileges; what those were weren’t defined, but they earned their extra privileges by disciplining the Handmaidens, as some Jewish people earned extra privileges in the death camps by disciplining their fellow Jews. And above all of them, the young men, who at least had the right to read and go where they wished; then the Guardians, who were the foot soldiers; then the Commanders who were effectively above the law; until they weren’t.

One cannot help but consider the issues of intersectionality of our own time. Our corporate masters give lip service to religious fundamentalism to whitewash their activities and control the populace through “moral instruction.” They tell women not to complain about the inequalities they are handed, because they could be transgendered. They tell white people in poverty not to complain because they could be black and thus subject to being shot in the street, even for being a twelve-year-old with a toy gun in an open carry state. That’s how they control us. And we really need to stop allowing it, because the elite, whoever they are, will keep pushing until we force them not to. This, ultimately, is the message behind “The Handmaid’s Tale”; the sad reminder that we must band together, and view an assault on the rights of any one of us as an assault on the right of all of us. Otherwise, who will be there to help when they come for you?

Atwood sometimes receives anti-feminist criticism because her male characters are two-dimensional (true) and because even Offred’s former husband Luke was suspect. When women were denied the right to own property, hold jobs and have money, he put his arms around her and said, “You know I’ll always take care of you.”

Perhaps he didn’t react the way we thought he should have. We might think that Luke should have immediately said, “Okay, let’s run for the border.” But lots of Jews stayed in Germany because they just couldn’t believe that what was happening was actually happening. No one would go that far . . . would they?

I also believe that Atwood’s purpose in having Luke react in this way was to point out how complicated gender dynamics are. Let’s be frank; in many ways, modern feminism is a brand new thing. For centuries men have owned all the property (actually, I believe property rights created the patriarchy) and all of their identity has been wrapped up in their net worth and how well they can take care of their families. Feminism, especially social feminism, challenges that. It causes us to question what it is that makes one a man. Even now, women will rarely marry a man who makes less money than she does, and if she chooses to, people keep telling her to ditch the bum. If we had true gender equality, what difference would it make?

I have said little about the writing in the wake of the politics and the message. On one hand, I must compliment Atwood on her brilliant, liquid prose. Every word chosen is there for a reason; every symbol means something (for instance, the Handmaidens wear red, which of course hearkens back to red light districts, the Scarlet Letter, and also menstrual blood; red in Western culture is the colour of sexuality and fertility, as well as of anger, passion, and blood). It’s truly a pleasure to read such a good writer.

On the other hand . . .

You may be a bit surprised, after my glowing explanation of the message and the politics, when I say that really, Atwood’s story isn’t all that original. Dystopian societies meant to highlight challenging modern political issues are nothing new in science fiction. Nothing new at all. “1984” should come immediately to mind. Remember, Big Brother is always watching (and keylogging your internet usage).

Which is why it makes me gnash my teeth in fury that Atwood had the audacity to claim that this story wasn’t science fiction. She actually said (in an interview included in the back of the edition I read) that “Science fiction is filled with Martians and space travel to other planets, and things like that.” But she was nominated for a Nebula and she won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. I shake my head in dismay. I’m sure Ms. Atwood knows perfectly well that what she’s talking about is only one sub-genre of science fiction, known as “space opera.” Let’s face it, the real reason she said that is that she was afraid that they would take away her magical “literary writer” card if she lowered herself to writing mere “genre fiction.” And why isn’t “literary” considered a genre? Snobbery and nonsense. Ursula K. LeGuin, easily her equal in this craft, responded to that “but isn’t this science fiction?” question with bold statements that she could see no reason why genre fiction should be considered less “literary.”

Science fiction fans get so tired of this. I am reminded of how everyone, including James Cameron, was soooo convinced that “Avatar” was so original, when basically he wrote “Dances With Wolves” with special effects and I’ve seen even his variation of it as least twice in popular sci-fi novels written in the 90s or earlier. I suppose if you’ve never read science fiction this might look original, but literary critics have a lot of gall claiming that it is if they sneer at my beloved “genre fiction.”

However, Brian Aldiss argued in his book “Billion Year Spree” that reading science fiction is generally a lot different from reading other forms of fiction. When someone is described as looking up at the green sun, we assume the sun is green, not that this is a metaphor for something else, and that it will be explained later. One thing that is clear is that Atwood is not writing to science fiction audiences. And that might be a good thing. I referred it to my mother, who has never understood my love of science fiction, in the hopes that it will help to bridge the gap.

And thus I, as many others have, found the epilogue annoying at best, and wish that Atwood had simply let the book end when it did. First of all, it didn’t wrap up any of the things that were left up in the air. Some things we will never know for sure. Second, I don’t feel it added anything at all that I didn’t already know. I did not feel that the nature of the Gilead Regime or who, exactly, some of the characters were required any further explanation than was already given. Fictional lectures to give perspective to science fiction stories have been tropes since Robert Lewis Stevenson first delved there in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

That epilogue has also annoyed feminist critics. But maybe that was the point. The (male) professor giving the lecture on “The Handmaid’s Tale” pooh-pooh’s Offred’s style and level of education. He remarks that it’s clear that Offred was an educated woman (“as educated as anyone can be in 20th century America”,) which the class chuckles at, and then he goes on to say that since she was so educated, how much more valuable this document would have been if there had been some information about the nature and structure of the powers-that-be in Gilead, if she had included dates, wars, important commanders, that kind of thing.

I say that maybe this was the point, however, because in the first place, it points out how quick we are to sneer at our ancestors, and how much more advanced we always believe ourselves to be, even when we’re not; and perhaps she was also critiquing how our white privilege and militant Anglo culture is always so much concerned with who is important rather than the suffering and experience of ordinary people. Is this a commentary on the way we teach academic history?

Despite my quibbles and its flaws, however, this suspenseful, subversive, emotional and beautifully-written novel is perhaps more relevant in our time than ever before. Everyone should read it at least once, and sit with the things that it forces us to think about. I am inspired once again to band together, defend the rights of the underdog, and seek out the company of other women.

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The Magical Battle of Britain

By Sable Aradia

"The Magic Circle"  by John William Waterhouse
“The Magic Circle” by John William Waterhouse

A Puzzling Question of History

It’s a strange footnote of history.  Something happened in World War II that doesn’t really make any sense, and nobody really seems to give a lot of thought as to why it happened outside of military academies.

Germany never invaded Britain.

It seems crazy, considering the scope of the German war machine, and considering that Britain was the primary foe who stood in the way of the nightmare of Capitalism and Fascism that was the National Socialist Party.  It can be reasonably argued that without Britain to oppose them, world domination would have been within Hitler’s grasp.  I would not be writing this because my grandmother would have been gassed when Hitler’s minions got to Canada.

What stopped them?  The general consensus among military historians seems to be that in order for an invasion to be successful, Germany would have had to gain air superiority in the English channel; a goal that was denied them by the determined and beleaguered pilots of the RAF who fought the Germans to a standstill in the Battle of Britain.

But it’s not that simple.  Further examination of the situation reveals that Hitler made two significant strategic mistakes.  The first is that he chose to focus his Air Force on the Blitz as opposed to the Battle of Britain, and the second is that fear of the Royal Navy kept the Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine commanders at home.

Says J. Gunnar Grey, author of the WWII military analysis Deal with the Devil:

But during wartime analyses, it became obvious to both sides that the Kriegsmarine never commanded sufficient numbers of surface ships nor U-boats to clear the Home Fleet from the English Channel. Worse, the LST hadn’t been invented yet, so the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (general staff) faced the dilemma of how to transport their 9th and 16th Armies across the Channel from occupied France. Sure, they could airlift infantry, but what about tanks and artillery? It was the Panzer Corps that made the Wehrmacht so mighty, and any attempt to conquer Britain without them was practical idiocy.

 

The attempted solution? Rhine river barges, flat-bottomed and clumsy. Of the 1,200 barges assembled for training exercises, only a quarter were self-powered. The rest had to be towed. None carried serious weaponry. All of them floundered in any sea rougher than State 2. Note that a destroyer’s wake qualified as State 4, meaning all the Home Fleet had to do was drive past the German invasion flotilla to swamp or sink a hefty percentage. And how many of the soldiers who survived to reach the shore wouldn’t be seasick?

 

These barges weren’t equipped with cranes. So when (if) a barge reached the English shoreline, how were the soldiers supposed to unload the tanks? The serious suggestion was, fire the cannon and blow out the end of the barge. So, um, how was the second wave supposed to cross?

 

The invasion plan, Operation Sealion, stank. No other word for it. When reality sank in, OKW shuffled it off into a file cabinet and pretended it didn’t exist. Hitler turned his gunsights on Russia, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thus the much-dreaded Operation Sea Lion, which was the German invasion plan, sank, and Germany contented itself with a slow policy of strangulation and trade embargo.  Which brought suffering to England, it’s true; but it also bought England enough time that Japan finally dragged the United States into the war effort; the fronts were reinforced and new supplies were brought; and D-Day was the end result.

Some have postulated that if Germany had persisted in engaging the RAF pilots, eventually the British would have simply become exhausted.  It’s a historically-recognized fact that the RAF recruited pilots vigorously from the Allied or neutral nations because of the rate of attrition (which is military jargon for “the amount of people getting slaughtered”).  Countless Commonwealth pilots took up the task, some even before their nations officially went to war, and they would wash the blood off the recovered Spitfires to put someone else in the seat.  They can’t have kept it up forever.  But they did keep it up for long enough.

I’m fascinated by this period of history, and I am inspired by the “rugged determination” that history’s narrative gives us for these brave pilots.  Maybe the narrative is even true, and not just wartime propaganda.

But what’s more interesting is the “want of a shoe” going on here.  If the RAF had kept it up for a few days less; if less pilots from outside of Britain had volunteered; if Hitler had figured out a way to transport tanks (how much effort would it have taken the highly-industrialized Germans to put cranes on the boats?); if the Luftwaffe had persisted against the RAF. . .

History is a series of “what ifs,” and sometimes those branching paths depend upon a single moment of choice.

The Nature of Magick

Magick-workers know that magick is all about influencing probabilities.  Magick can’t make fireballs fly out of your fingers.  What it does is to influence situations which have yet to be fixed in stone so that they are more likely to manifest in a way that you consider favourable to your purpose.  It works by the principle of chaos theory; slight alterations of direction can have huge consequences.  String theory tells us that every decision that is made takes us into one possible reality out of several options.  Magick aims the rocket that will take us there.

Whether or not this happens because we are actually exerting our Wills to change reality, or whether this happens because magick focuses intent and makes us more likely to be make some targeted decisions than others, isn’t relevant.  The effect is relevant.  It’s the moment of choice that matters.

Magick and Complex Systems

Magick becomes especially challenging when dealing with complex systems.  This is why money magick rarely works.  As Kadmus pointed out in his article “Capitalist Leveling and the Problem of Pagan Values,” money is already a magical concept by definition; most of our species has agreed collectively that we will use a rough unit of measure to represent a perceived value in order to facilitate exchange.  Aside from the many (quite reasonable) arguments that this system is flawed on its face, what it means is that absolutely everybody in the world who is trying to utilize money is exerting their magickal wills on the economy by definition!  So you’re not trying to “tap” a system slightly in one direction or another; you’re fighting for supremacy in a piranha- filled cesspool.

Coins give us a tangible connection to value, but bills are less useful for this, and the credits clicking away from your chip card are even less tangible still; all of which is part of the design.  It’s hard to connect to that sort of energy.  So maybe we should be applying a different approach.

A Magician’s Call to Arms

Immediately following Britain’s declaration of war in 1939, Dion Fortune began a series of regular letters to members of her magical order, the Fraternity of the Inner Light, who were unable to hold meetings due to wartime travel restrictions. With enemy planes rumbling overhead, she organised a series of visualisations to formulate “seed ideas in the group mind of the race”, archetypal visions to invoke angelic protection and uphold British morale under fire. “The war has to be fought and won on the physical plane,” she wrote, “before physical manifestation can be given to the archetypal ideals. What was sown will grow and bear seed.” As the war developed, this was consolidated with further work for the renewal of national and international accord. For the first time the Fraternity’s doors were opened to anyone who wanted to join in and learn the previously secret methods of esoteric mind-working. With unswerving optimism she guided her fraternity through the dark days of the London Blitz, continuing her weekly letters even when the bombs came through her own roof.

– from the introduction to The Magical Battle of Britain, from the letters of Dion Fortune, edited by Gareth Knight

Dion Fortune organized an extraordinary act of magick to stop the Nazis from touching British soil.  She engaged the aid of several prominent magicians of the time, including Aleister Crowley, Dennis Wheatley, and James Bond’s creator, writer and British Intelligence operative Ian Fleming.  She invoked the ancient spirits pledged to Britain’s protection, including King Arthur, Merlin, St. Michael and St. George. And according to some reports, the night that Operation Sea Lion was due to launch, a cabal of magicians gathered in the New Forest and possibly, it is said, at the cliffs of Dover, to perform a ritual to stop the Nazi invasion, including Aleister Crowley and one Gerald Gardner, among others.  It’s said that the magicians of that cabal paid a very high price; most of them suffered from chronic health problems thereafter; two locals who may have been part of the New Forest Coven contracted pneumonia and died that year; and Crowley was dead within two years of the war’s end.

But it worked.

The British resolve under fire was iron-clad.  They never lost faith that they could win the war, no matter how badly the odds seemed stacked against them.

The Nazi fear of the British Navy so overwhelmed them on the eve of the invasion that they changed their minds and stayed home.

Was Dion Fortune’s vast “thought experiment” the reason?  And if so, was it the British belief in the war propaganda that, obviously, was being spread by intelligence operatives who were also occultists — or was it something more?

From Bedknobs & Broomsticks (Walt Disney Pictures)

A Method to Their Madness

Let us meditate upon angelic Presences, red-robed and armed, patrolling the length and breadth of our land. Visualise a map of Great Britain, and picture these great Presences moving as a vast shadowy form along the coasts, and backwards and forwards from north to south and east to west, keeping watch and ward so that nothing alien can move unobserved.

– from The Magical Battle of Britain by Dion Fortune

Dion Fortune’s magickal act worked on several sound magickal theories:

  1. She believed that trained ritualists could combine their efforts to influence the collective Will of the British people, not any one individual.
  2. She utilized easily-recognizable culturally-based spirits and egregors whose meaning would be intuitively understood by thousands of people.
  3. She drew upon spirits and egregors already associated with the purpose for which they’d been called.
  4. She created simple acts of magick that could be easily imitated, and contributed to, by a wide range of individuals in disparate geographical locations.
  5. She was doing a Working in a cause that thousands of people were passionate about.

It seems to me that any act of magick intended to influence the actions of such a large group of people would do well to keep these principles in mind.  Trying to get a large group of people to do something complicated is challenging.  Trying to get them to do something simple that they feel strongly about is much easier.

Opposition

Dion Fortune believed that there were “dark forces” allied in opposition to Britain.  There were persistent rumours of links between the Nazis and the occult even in the midst of the Second World War, and according to Fortune’s book, one of the reasons why there were so many links between occultists and British Intelligence is so that misinformation about astrological prophecies predicting doom for the Third Reich could be intelligently distributed to Hitler’s own occultists.  There’s been much speculation; but again, little proof.  What’s clear is that Fortune and her compatriots felt that there were sorcerers Working against them, which was one of the reasons they invoked angelic presences.

Even if you don’t believe in supernatural forces, it’s clear that Fortune’s project was faced with the formidable opposition of the Nazi propaganda machine.  And it’s clear that this machine, at least in Britain, was defeated.

A New Magicians’ Call to Arms

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

Benito Mussolini

There’s a new magical battle to fight.  Unfortunately, this is a civil war, and the enemy is not as clearly defined as it was for the British in the Second World War.  Nor can we visualize an angelic host spreading over the countryside and tossing out invaders, because they are not invaders; they are already here.  As with the Nazis, there are persistent rumours of their sorcery.  And this time, they have achieved world domination in a way that would make even the most pessimistic of dystopian science fiction writers from twenty years ago shudder.  They own our oil, our information, our money, and even the seeds that grow our food.  So how do we defeat them?

Our Strategy

  1. As trained ritualists, we combine our efforts to influence the collective Will of the People, not any one individual.
  2. We utilize easily-recognizable culturally-based spirits and egregors whose meaning would be intuitively understood by thousands of people.
  3. We draw upon spirits and egregors already associated with the purpose for which we call them.
  4. We create simple acts of magick that can be easily imitated, and contributed to, by a wide range of individuals in disparate geographical locations.
  5. We convince people that they should care about, our cause; thus, when others join us in this Working, it will be for a goal that many of people (perhaps thousands) are passionate about.

Many gods and entities have been stirring in our community.  Perhaps They hear our need for liberation, or perhaps we are simply more attuned to what They represent in our hour of need.  The Morrigan has heard our cries to assert our sovereignty; Odin, Loki, and Hermes have answered our call to remove barriers and untangle bureaucracies; Thor has come to stand up for the people; the Lwa have come to release the slaves; Tyr has heard our cries for justice; Athena has heard our clamour for good government and democracy; Aradia has come to liberate the oppressed.  And if needed, the gods of the wild and of chaos stand at the ready to sow the seeds of change.

There are other egregors we could be calling upon.  Perhaps we should call upon the gods of the harvest to take back our crops.  Perhaps we should ask the scholar deities to loose the chains on information.    Perhaps we should ask the gods of commerce to put the economy back into the hands of the People.

Perhaps we can seek the aid of Robin Hood, who robs from the rich and gives to the poor.  Perhaps we can ask Paul Bunyan or John Henry to fight for the working class.  Perhaps we can ask Lady Liberty to stand fast against those who would take our liberty from us; perhaps we can ask Mother Canada to cry out against the suffering of Her children.

Enlistment

Do Liberation Magic.  Invoke the Concensus.  There will be more efforts; you could be leading them.

Work with the gods and spirits Who have answered the call in our hour of need.  Make offering and acts of devotion.  If you can hear Their voices, be Their loudspeakers.

Convince people to shake off the Glamour of “keeping up with the Jonses.”  Point out the truth of the poisoned apples.  Above all, wake your friends and your loved ones from this horrific fairy-tale sleep of Apathy, before the briars grow so thick that we can never be released from its curse.

Can magick save the world?  Once, it saved my husband’s life.  Once, it may have saved a country. So why not?

Magicians, to arms!

From Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Brothers)

Sable Aradia

sableWitch, Priestess, writer, musician,

singer/songwriter, teacher, healer