Rediscovering anarcho-perennialism

An email I received after posting the quotations from Jung the other day has given me some cause for thought.

In that short blog update I referred to the ‘perennialist’ tradition and this, I now realise, needs some clarification.

I had fondly imagined that the Anarchangels booklet explained more or less what it was and how it fitted in with anarchism, but on re-reading it, I am not so sure.

I did attempt a more explicit explanation in my talk at the London Anarchist Bookfair in October, so I have gone back to those notes to try and provide the ideological context that is perhaps rather elusive in the pamphlet itself.

One reason why Anarchangels is a little impressionistic is that I am horribly aware of the provisional nature of everything that I write.

Having been immobilised for many years by what now looks like a very blinkered sense of certainty as to what I believed, or didn’t believe, my thoughts have recently been pouring out in all sorts of intellectual directions like floodwaters released by a breached dam.

I know that anything I write today may not be what I would want to write tomorrow and thus do not want to set in stone any specific arrangement of ideas that happens to appeal to me at the moment.

Thanks to some interesting correspondence in recent weeks, I have also become aware of others working in very much the same areas of contemplation, from whom I realise I have potentially much to learn.

While I make no apologies for the personal nature of the road to philosophical exploration that I set out here and in the booklets (one can only really ever know something that one has discovered oneself), I should point out again that I claim no expertise (in anything!), no particular credentials and certainly no merit in presenting ideas and connections between ideas that, inevitably, have already been examined, and in much greater depth, by so many others over the years.

The starting point of my own foray into this particular forest of thought was a sense of negativity – or rather, the refusal of a sense of negativity.

Others were keen to point out to me that I always seemed to be against everything. Political discussions invariably ended with me concluding that there was no way of fixing the situation, that the whole lot would have to go. The screensaver on my computer declared: “The system is fucked. Fuck the system!”

For a brief moment, I began to wonder if these people weren’t right. Were my conclusions about the state of the modern world really no more than manifestations of some kind of malevolent inner essence? Was I nothing more than a human black hole, sucking away other people’s vital energies by my overwhelming negativity?
Richard Jefferies
Fortunately, it did not take me long to realise that the answer was ‘no’. I knew that at the root of everything I possessed a love for life. Not necessarily my particular life, as it was then, but the life force itself. Was Richard Jefferies (1848-1887), that spiritual worshipper of eternal nature, not my long-time favourite writer?

Did I not yearn for truth, authenticity, connection with the cosmos? That didn’t sound negative to me.

Moving up from that foundation into the political realm, it struck me that the reason why I seemed to always be ‘anti’ everything was that I was following a powerful personal moral compass.

If I think something is bad, it’s because it doesn’t match up to how I think things should be; it doesn’t correspond to my values.

There’s nothing negative about feeling animosity towards bankers or arms dealers if you strongly feel it’s wrong to rip people off or make money out of killing them.

It’s not negative to hate advertising and shopping if you can see that consumerist craving is an addiction that eats away at people’s souls.

It’s not negative to hate the whole capitalist system and to want it to fall apart as soon as possible if you know that it’s destroying the planet and you happen to value the planet you live on.

One of the main characteristics of any anarchist, I would say, is having this strong sense of right and wrong, of being firmly committed to a set of values – even if those values are the opposite of those laid down by the prevailing culture.

And, I realised, the alternative values we espouse didn’t emerge out of thin air, or a workshop at the 1888 London Anarchist Bookfair.

Instead, they have arisen from thousands of years of human culture. A love of nature, an aversion to egotism, to selfishness, to materialism, to greed, to murder – these are all traditional values, which surface in cultures and religions all over the world.

Of course, there is an apparent contradiction here, as conventional thinking tends to have it that ‘traditional values’ are something conservative or right-wing .

But this is just a façade, designed to deceive. If you strip down the generally held notion of ‘tradition’, particularly in this country, all you will find is a lot of pompous flag-waving, adherence to self-serving authoritarian religious organisations and nostalgia for some period of the recent past – You’ve Never Had It So Good, the Dunkirk Spirit, Victorian Family Values and so on.

And behind all this window dressing, you will find that these modern ‘traditionalists’ in fact believe in an amoral world, of every man or woman for themself, of pragmatism and short-term material advantage.

The quest for real values takes us much deeper, into the pursuit of the ancient wisdom that can be found at the heart of the world’s religions, no matter how corrupted their current forms have become.

Perennialism is a search for these hidden values in every corner of human culture – such as in Hindusim, Sufi Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Jewish Kabala, alchemy, indigenous spirituality or the gnostic scriptures of early Christianity.

It sees there a universal human philosophy which reaches back to time immemorial but from which we in the modern West have now been completely cut off.

At the heart of it all is the sense of oneness, of connection to the organic Whole, which I described in Antibodies. Sometimes this Whole is described using the word ‘God’ and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes people who worship ‘God’ mean this all-inclusive Whole and sometimes they don’t.
René Guénon
I personally stumbled across perennialism when a helpful friend pointed out to me a copy of René Guénon’s The Crisis of the Modern World in a secondhand bookshop here in Worthing.

I didn’t buy it on the spot, as I seemed a bit expensive for its size, but awoke the next morning filled with the necessity of returning to the shop and bringing it home to read.

Some internet surfing on Guénon’s ideas and connections subsequently led me to a book by Mark Sedgwick called Against the Modern World – Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century.

As the second part of title perhaps suggests, this can be a little sensationalist and over-egged at times and occasionally constructs some rather desperate ‘connections’ between completely disparate thinkers.

But, for all its faults, it does provide some useful information about the development of the perennialist ‘movement’ which I can use to further my explanation.

According to Sedgwick, perennialism was originated by 15thcentury Italian Renaissance thinker Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), who suggested this single perennial, or primordial, origin behind all religions which had since diversified into apparently separate forms.

The philosophy became popular for a couple of hundred years, then drifted out of favour in the early 17th century to be revived in a slightly different form in the 19th and early 20thcentury.

It was popularised by Guénon (1886-1951), who sought universal truth first in Hinduism and then, when he found it difficult to become a Hindu, in Sufi Islam. He moved from France to Egypt, where he married an Egyptian women, had children and lived out the rest of his life.

Guénon himself rejected the political level of action and was certainly no anarchist, but Sedgwick’s book reveals that anarchists did play a key role in the early development of perennialism.

There was Ananda Coomaraswamy (1887-1947), for instance, who was a keen student of the work of both William Blake and William Morris.
Ananda Coomaraswamy
Alan Antliff writes: “The anarchism of Coomaraswamy represents a compelling instance of cross-cultural intermingling in which a European critique of industrial capitalism founded on the arts-and-crafts was turned to anti-colonial ends in a campaign against Eurocentric cultural imperialism and its material corollary, industrial capitalism.” (From the essay Revolutionary Seer for Post-Industrial Age, included in I Am Not A Man, I Am Dynamite – Friedrich Nietzsche and The Anarchist Tradition, ed John Moore).

Another key figure was Swedish artist Ivan Aguéli (1869-1917) who, with his lover and anarchist comrade Marie Huot, was involved in the perennialist and animal rights movements.

His particular claim to fame is that in 1900 he shot a matador in a protest against the proposed introduction of Spanish-style fatal bullfighting to France.

Aguéli also lived in Cairo for a while and worked with another anarchist by the name of Enrico Insabato.

Not only were the two movements – perennialism and anarchism – intertwined at that stage, but there is a broader overlap of ideas as well.

Kropotkin’s admiration for the values of the Middle Ages is echoed by Guénon and even Bakunin’s idea of Natural Law is not so far away from the perennialists’ concept of fundamental values (despite his fervent atheism).

Perennialism particularly chimes with the thinking of the anarchist Gustav Landauer (1870-1919), who explored the idea of a universal psyche and wrote: “We have been satisfied until now to transform the universe into the human spirit, or better, into the human intellect; let us now transform ourselves into the universal spirit”.
Gustav Landauer
There is also a strong connection between perennialism and the growth of the modern environmentalist movement (which, of course, in turn, feeds back into contemporary anarchism).

Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998), another of Guénon’s disciples, left Europe to live in the USA where he was adopted into the Sioux tribe, was heavily involved in the promotion of Native American studies in the USA and influenced American ‘New Age’ thinking.

Perennialism also has the merit of being a profoundly internationalist philosophy. By appreciating the uniting truth behind different faiths, it overcomes religious divides by rising to a higher level.

Like anarchism, it is thus totally irreconcilable with nationalism. As Guénon himself said: “All nationalism is essentially opposed to the traditional outlook”.
Frithjof Schuon
I cannot avoid the fact, however, that perennialist philosophy is sometimes given a bad name by association with the fascist writer Julius Evola (1898-1974), whose elitist and militarist ‘Traditionalism’ was a bastardised offshoot from the movement.

He really does not sit easily with the perennialist tradition. The anti-industrialist ethic is at the root of Guénon’s, Coomaraswamy’s and Schuon’s philosphy, and yet Evola was happy to hob-nob with right-wing German industrialists and glorifying the conveyor-belt mass slaughter of 20th century warfare.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), in his book The Perennial Philosophy, explains that fascist and other totalitarian ideas are in fact the complete opposite of perennialism and the values and state of mind it promotes. 
Aldous Huxley
He writes: “Excessive privilege and power are standing temptations to pride, greed, vanity and cruelty; oppression results in fear and envy; war breeds misery and despair. All such negative emotions are fatal to the spiritual life.”

This same contradiction does not exist between the perennial philosophy and anarchy, as we have seen.

So a combination of the two, an anarcho-perennialism (a specifically anti-fascist anarcho-perennialism, to finally lay to rest the malevolent ghost of Evola) is not so much a case of welding two traditions together as of rejoining two halves of broken ideological bone.

This theoretical healing can, I believe, restore depth and strength to a contemporary anarchism that sometimes seems a little sterile and superficial in comparison with its philosophical heyday 100 years or more ago.

The self-discipline of spiritual focus is also of enormous benefit to all human beings, among whom anarchists can, of course, be numbered.

The traditional alchemical inner process of self-purification, dissolution into the Whole and then condensation into the material plane is an ideal way for any activist to rid themselves of the constraints of their ego and return to the ‘real world’ refreshed and ready to act out their part in our collective history, unafraid even of death.

This is the very process I described in Antibodies without fully realising its antiquity.

As paradoxical as it may seem to some, we only achieve self-fulfilment through self-sacrifice. Says the Sufi mystic Rumi (1207-1273): “When you give up everything, everything is yours.”

The life of the spirit

Reading a collection of essays and lectures by Carl Jung – Modern Man in Search of a Soul – has reminded of how, inspired as he was by the gnostic tradition, he very much forms part of what one could loosely term the ‘perennialist’ tradition.

I have, in fact, already referred to his work in both Antibodies and Anarchangels, but here are some more quotations on which to reflect:

 “But beyond that [the intellect] there is a thinking in primordial images – in symbols which are older than historical man; which have been ingrained in him from earliest times, and, eternally living, outlasting all generations, still make up the groundwork of the human psyche. It is only possible to live the fullest life when we are in harmony with these symbols; wisdom is a return to them.”
(The Stages of Life)

“We moderns are faced with the necessity of rediscovering the life of the spirit; we must experience it anew for ourselves. It is the only way in which we can break the spell that binds us to the cycle of biological events.”
(Freud and Jung)

“For thousands of years, rites of initiation have been teaching spiritual rebirth; yet, strangely enough, man forgets again and again the meaning of divine procreation. This is surely no evidence of a strong life of the spirit; and yet the penalty of misunderstanding is heavy, for it is nothing less than neurotic decay, embitterment, atrophy and sterility. It is easy enough to drive the spirit out of the door, but when we have done so the salt of life grows flat – it loses its savour.”
(Freud and Jung)

We Anarchangels of Creative Destruction

I feel obliged to point out that I did not write this text in the usual manner – rather it came to me, in its entirety, as a dream in the early hours of a Saturday morning not so long ago.

I was, at the time, recovering from a rather unpleasant virus and had repaired to bed considerably earlier than usual – and with a head uncharacteristically unclouded by alcohol.

When I awoke at around 5.30am, my mind was overflowing with the words you will shortly be reading and I immediately rushed downstairs to my computer and began tapping them out, before they were forever lost to me.

Over the following few weeks I looked back over a number of books I had been reading of late, along with the notes I had made from them, and established correlations with themes and rhetoric in the dream text. I have included these probable sources of inspiration as endnotes which I suggest are better read separately; not as an interruption to the main text, but a kind of subsequent commentary, albeit of a rather disjointed kind.

While these literary sources go some way to explaining the presence of certain ideas and arguments, I have little idea as to the origins of the tone in which the essay is expressed. It is not a voice I entirely recognise as my own and seems somehow to belong to a much earlier age, despite the scattering of contemporary references. There is not much more I can say that this; I assume the text was given to me so that I should share it further afield and this I am now doing.

Make of it what you will!

Paul Cudenec, 2011
“A giant bird was struggling out of the egg: the egg was the world and the world must first be rent asunder” 
Hermann Hesse (1)

“Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”
Gustav Landauer (2)

Do not be afraid for we are ANARCHANGELS and we have risen up from amongst you to set you free and save our world.

We have known for so long that this realm into which we were forced to become manifest, this civilisation in which we are all suffocating, is corrupt with rank and wretched decay.

We know this from the dead eyes of the human robots thronging the passageways of the commuter rail networks, the factories and the schools.

We know this from the tears of tiny babies propped up in front of television screens and told to learn how to fit in. (3)

We know this from the despairing cries of the fish, the birds, and the animals that are choking on the force-fed toxic excretions of the diabolic god Progress. (4)

We know this from the hellish roar of a billion bulldozers, the tormented wailing of a million passenger jets carrying triumphantly aloft a restless humanity desperately trying to escape the gaping insanity of its soul. (5)

We know this from the computer-readable price tags laser-burnt onto every blade of grass, every butterfly wing, every feeble sapling by the eager adepts of the Cult of Quantity.

We know this from the dripping limbs torn from small children, the blood and the grief and the screams of eternal suffering which are distilled and diverted to fill the bank accounts of the yellow-eyed death-mongers.

We know this from the happy couple Gluttony and Poverty, who march hand in hand round and round the globe to keep up with the daily opening of the international stock exchanges. So sweet together and each so indispensable to the other!

We know this from the fear in the hearts of the powerful, the ignorance in the minds of the dispossessed, the anger in the blood of all those who have seen through it all and yet still can change nothing.

We know this from the prisons, the courts, the surveillance cameras, the baton-wielding slave-thugs always ready to pounce on and destroy any faint stirring of that tender precious freedom called revolt.

We know this from our own despair, our own incomprehension, our own rage, our own failures, our own sorrow, our own deadly yearning to break out of this lonely nightmare for once and for all.

We know this because we know.

And we know that it must all be destroyed.

“Wait!” you cry. “Most likely you are not angels at all, but merely devils taking on the semblance! Destruction is a black force and not to be wielded lightly by those with a claim to higher motivations!”

We will not hear of this shallow argument.

It should be clear from what we just said that our destructive desire flows from the most positive of sources.

Behind our whole critique of this benighted civilisation is a deep sense of value.

This may even once have escaped us ourselves, so caught up were we in the emotion and pain of our spiritual dislocation.

But when we look again at all that hurts us most, we see that underlying it all is the absence of the values that we cherish.

We worship life, truth, beauty, nature, the freedom of all creatures to live to their potential, a striving towards perfection and an understanding of the cosmic whole.

This civilisation is built on nothing but cancerous growth, on its own self-fulfilling prophecy of endless exploitation, destruction, production, standardisation, isolation, separation, specialisation, centralisation. (6)

It has no ethos, no principle behind it save a barely human grunt for “more, more, more!” (7)

Nothing can stand in the way of its addiction as it gorges itself on its own body and spews acid abuse in the face of those who say this cannot go on.

But of course it can never reveal itself to be the beast it is.

Instead it turns the picture upside down and presents itself as the protector of values – and ourselves, we Anarchangels, as the threat to all that is good and proper.

These shallow pseudo-values are so lacking in substance that you would perhaps have imagined that nobody could be idiot enough to take them as real.

But, sadly, it seems that the malaise of our times includes the descent into witless gullibility of a fair proportion of our fellow citizens. (8)

Thus it was that the mass murderer Hitler persuaded the German people that he was the saviour of their noble culture, by cunning use of pomp and propaganda.

Thus it is that the black magicians of contemporary times can have (almost!) an entire people believe that their cultural inheritance, liberties, identity, dignity and future can be represented by a motley collection of historical individuals, events and developments.

Sometimes these are presented proudly in the plastic packaging of globalised consumerism and on other occasions, when it suits, they are all wrapped up in a musty old piece of multi-coloured cloth.

Conveniently in the secure ownership of those who possess wealth and thus power (it works just as well in reverse!), this is presented in itself as a ‘value’ although clearly it is nothing of the sort. (9)

The totem, with nothing in reality behind it other than the need for control over the population, can then be wielded as and when necessary to the desired effect.

With one wave of the magic rag, their eyes are drawn away from the conjuror’s accomplices busy picking their pockets, stealing the food from their tables, corrupting their children.

And so it is with all these ‘traditions’ and ‘values’ paraded before us by those who merely want to hold on to what they already have. They are empty, without moral content. (10)

Don’t ask the meaning of a religion, just obey its rules and keep your mouth and mind closed!

Keep telling yourself that the Emperor has a fine set of new clothes otherwise you may find his Anti-Terrorist Squad kicking in your front door!

The ‘traditions’ and ‘culture’ that (just about) hold this civilisation together have the depth of a cinematic stage set, the authenticity of a theme park ride.

The judge’s wig, the businessman’s suit, the monarch’s crown are all just flimsy substitutes for real content, real tradition, real value.

Given that this is so, it may seem possible that our own authentic values could be nurtured in such a way as to show up their hollow version for the fraud it is.

Why the need for destruction when the new society we crave could be built within the shell of the old and, given its inherent superiority, eventually replace it? (11)

This is a fine idea, and an appealing one, but unfortunately takes no cognisance of the depressing reality at which we have arrived.

The system of power understands all too well the threat of an alternative source of value or tradition, the potential of parallel social or cultural structures arising beyond its control.

It had to understand this, and defeat it, in order to have achieved its monopoly in the first place.

This is why heretics have been put to death, witches burned, land enclosed, restrictions imposed, education controlled, taxes enforced, borders patrolled, media regulated, dissidents imprisoned, organisations infiltrated, initiatives disrupted, authors discredited, travellers moved on, squats evicted, protests banned, email intercepted, web servers seized, public opinion assiduously manipulated.

The hunger of Progress (12) demands spiralling sacrifices of our planet’s living flesh and its servants need ever more power to carry out its orders. If they do not crack the whip and impose its will then they have failed in their appointed task.

Be sure that this system will do just what it has to do in its lust for power. It will stop short of nothing.

It is not going to stand idly by and watch us build its replacement under its very nose.

It is not going to be won over by the niceness of our actions or the kindness of our tone into letting us get on with a project that it knows could undermine its existence.

The malignant growth we term civilisation is not going to allow healthy cells of life to get in the way of its fatal expansion.

It does not threaten and intimidate opponents because they are criminals, though that is inevitably its public justification. It does so because they threaten its monopoly and it cares little whether they do so by way of insurrection or agricultural commune.

The Diggers of George’s Hill had no molotov cocktails concealed beneath their 17th century tunics and still they were crushed under the boot of power.

This does not mean we should not embrace creativity and show by our example that there are better ways to live.

But we will always need to be ready to fight to defend our vision. Indeed, we have always needed to be ready to do that.

We have fought over and over again, throughout history. We have to admit we have generally been defeated – otherwise we would not find ourselves where we are today.

But the struggle itself has been a victory of sorts, a flame kept burning and an inspiration for those to come.

It is these battles, however tragic their conclusion at the hands of the dark forces, that have given birth to each new generation of Anarchangels.

And the overwhelming truth that we draw from these bitter past experiences, in particular from their failure, is that we will never achieve what we want until we have destroyed the system in its entirety. (13)

You don’t need us to tell you this. Deep down you knew already, but were unwilling to face up to the enormity of the implications.

If your house was structurally unsound, right down to the foundations, would you try putting a new roof on it and seeing if that helped?

If the cancer of this civilisation is not cleansed from our collective body it will return to colonise any new growth we have managed to inspire. It will draw strength from the fresh energy, absorb the juices and rise up again to reimpose its vicious stranglehold.

We Anarchangels know it will not be easy to kill this system, this civilisation. If it was easy it would have been accomplished long ago.

But we know that it has to be done and we know that it is our task to try to do it.

We cannot separate in our minds the noble values that inspire us from the means with which we can enable them to prevail against the heavy decay that oppresses us all.

We cannot separate them because they are, in fact, the same thing – two aspects of one incandescent guiding star.

If we create an authentic alternative we are, as the powerful know full well, attempting to destroy the current system.

And if we attempt to destroy the current system we are, as we Anarchangels know full well, trying to allow the authentic alternative to come into being.

Creation is destruction. Destruction is creation. This is our faith and this is what drives us on towards our destinies.

We listen with interest to those who tell us that this is all meant to be and we are living towards the end of a great cycle of history.

The ancient Upanishads tell of a gradual descent from the Golden Age (Satya Yuga) to the Dark Age, known as Kali Yuga. (14)

The age foretold in these writings sounds very much like our own and here we can see its lack of values stripped down and made yet more plain.

Multiplication lies at the heart of it all – move still further from the light of simplicity and everything just falls apart.

Religions focus more and more on the detail and the dogma rather than on the eternal truth that inspired them.

Science splinters and specialises, focusing on smaller and smaller detail and becoming more interested in the material application of its findings than in how they contribute to our understanding of the universe.

Mass society lends the appearance of unity but in fact its bringing-together is a tearing-apart, as individuals become isolated, addicted to their own egos and have no sense of any selfless role in the working of it all.

The writings say that Kali Yuga is accelerating ever faster towards its doom, like a stone rolling down a mountainside (15) and that it will end in destruction (16), followed by the dawning of a new Satya Yuga.

We welcome this prediction. But we are also wary of falling for the notion that this is all inevitable and all we must do is sit and wait for epochal fate to run its course. (17)

For we know that we have work to do. The water wheel of history will not turn by itself and we are the droplets who must converge to power the change.

We have no real choice in the matter, for this is simply what we have to be – in the same way as an antibody in our blood must set out to combat disease and infection. (18)

But that doesn’t mean it comes easily, lazily, without effort – and there are some who will drop back, useless and unfulfilled, like a spermatozoon unfit to fertilise an egg.

A fallen anarchangel will plunge, wither and be sucked back into a dark vortex of their own unopened potential, now turned inwards to bitterness and a stunted self.

But we others – we angel-droplets, we swim-sprinting spermatozoa, we creative destroyers of the Kali Yuga – will play out our role with determination and pride.

How many Anarchangels does it take to bring down a civilisation?

More than we are now, that is for sure. But we will swell in size and strength as others flow into our stream and turn it into a mighty river.

Don’t forget that it rains all the time. Life-moisture expended and drawn up into the ether is formed again and joins us here on Earth.

Regeneration means new generations and these are born to play their part in the ending of an age.

The death-power is strong and could not be defeated by the energy of risings past.

But each time we come back stronger and in greater numbers. Each time we know less fear and we understand more fully just how far we have to go.

This will happen again and again until we have won.

Sin miedo (19). Nothing can stop us.

Anarchangels don’t just fight to win, we fight to show the way, to sound the trumpet of revolt (20).

Our rage inspires an electric force that draws in others to our rebellion – even babies in the womb are infused with its necessity and grow up to discover why it is they are here and what it is they now must do.

Through this resonance we can transmit from our halo-antennae not just the riotous fury of our cause but the joyful values we uphold.

These values we hold dear contain the knowledge that the corrupted present must be rent asunder.

Birth and death. Death and birth. Neither comes first, neither is more important than the other. They are one and that knowledge is what binds us to our duty.

And what a duty it is, what a heavy load for any weak mortal to bear. (21)

We must make ourselves strong, fellow Anarchangels, through some alchemy of the soul!

First we must descend into the depths of our inner selves to see all that is there and then rise up high and let the dross all drop away. (22)

Purified, we float above – but here we cannot rest. Down again, down into the world of men and women so we can be just what we’re meant to be. (23)

Now we must speak of our values and how it is that we would hold on to them throughout the great falling of the Darkest Age.

Deep down, we know, these values are as much a part of us as we of them and must forever lie inside our souls, all ready to unfold.

All would not be lost, therefore, if every memory of culture were wiped out and we began again, in naked innocence. Eventually, it would all come back to us in our dreams.

But we need not waste the precious heritage we own and our aim is to carry it with us through the coming storm.

Just as a civilisation at its peak carries the seed of its own destruction, so a civilisation at its lowest point contains the seed of a future rebirth.

We anarchangels must be custodians of this seed so that we can plant the tree of wisdom in the coming Golden Age.

In one hand we carry the black flag of revolt, in the other the ancient book of wisdom that will serve our children well. (24)

Like Ariadne’s thread, this knowledge can lead them and us away out of the dark and perplexing labyrinth of earthly existence and into the light of understanding.

These sacred values can’t be found on the surface of this dying age. The books that teach them won’t be stacked up in Tesco, turned into a three-part mini-series on Channel 4 or liked by millions on Facebook.

Our values won’t be taught on the National Curriculum or trumpeted by state religions or wrapped up in plastic in the glossy supplement of your bulging Sunday paper. (25)

How could they be? These are the values that our civilisation has to suppress in order to maintain its hegemony! (26)

These are the values we began by defending, before the fury of the struggle itself left us drifting without sight of how it all began.

But although these values are not spelled out in neon lights or declaimed by the high priests of football at half-time in the Champions League Final, they do still exist and can be found.

Look – there they are in those old esoteric texts! And there they are in pagan folklore, in gnostic scriptures (27), in indigenous wisdom! (28)

There they are on the lips of a wise woman, there they are between the lines of the world’s religions, there they are in that inauspicious tome in a secondhand bookshop that somehow, for reasons you can never explain, you find yourself reaching for and taking home to read!

And there they are disguised in the clothing of myth! (29)

These are our human values, these are our natural values, these are the values by which we are intended to live.

If that were not so, they would by now have disappeared down the plughole of the millennia and drained away into a forgotten past.

And when this system is destroyed, when we have played our appointed part in the ending of this Kali Yuga, when anarchy has prevailed, when the blockage in the fountainhead has been removed and the spring of life is flowing as it should (30), then those values will surface again, triumphant and supreme.

The Golden Age will have returned and we Anarchangels will rejoice!
Endnotes

1. Hermann Hesse, Demian, Peter Owen, London, 2001, p181.

2. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn, PM Press, Oakland, 2010, p74.

3. “To be fully at ease in a limited sphere, whatever it may be, one must be blind to the possibility of there being anything beyond.” René Guénon, East and West, Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, 2001, p53.

4. Guénon defines progress as “a profound decadence, continuously accelerating, which is dragging humanity toward the pit where pure quantity reigns.” René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, 2004, p61. 

5. “Just as an individual can be hostage in the abyss of addiction, so can an entire epoch or culture. This is true for our epoch, which is plunged into the World’s Night. Western civilisation is experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul due to our self-asserting will to control, epitomized by the technology that we expect to provide us with a secure, happy and comfortable life.” Linda Schierse Leonard, Witness to the Fire, Creativity and the Veil of Addiction, Shambhala, Boston & London, 1990, p197.

6. “What the modern world has striven after with all its strength, even when it has claimed in its own way to pursue science, is really nothing other than the development of industry and machinery; and in thus seeking to dominate matter and bend it to their service, men have only succeeded, as we said at the beginning of this book, in becoming its slaves.” René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, Sophia Perennis, Ghent NY, 2001, p87.

7. “Modern civilisation suffers from a lack of principles, and it suffers from it in every domain. By a monstrous anomaly, it is, alone, among the others, a civilization without principles, or with only negative ones, which amounts to the same thing. It is as if an organism with its head cut off went on living a life that was at the same time intense and disordered…” Guénon, East and West, p106.

8. “The great ability of those who are in control in the modern world lies in making the people believe that they are governing themselves.” Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, p74.

9. “All nationalism is essentially opposed to the traditional outlook.” Ibid, p98

10. “What does the truth matter in a world whose aspirations, being solely material and sentimental and not intellectual, find complete satisfaction in industry and morality, two spheres where indeed one can very well do without conceiving the truth?” Guénon, East and West, p13.

11. Landauer famously wrote: “The state is a social relationship; a certain way of people relating to one another. It can be destroyed by creating new social relationships; ie, by people relating to one another differently.” (Landauer, epigraph) But his views were more complex than might be realised by a superficial reading of this comment (see 13). 

12. “The belief in indefinite progress is, all told, nothing more than the most ingenuous and the grossest of all kinds of ‘optimism’; whatever forms this belief may take, it is always sentimental in essence, even when it is concerned with ‘material progress’. If it be objected that we ourselves have recognized the existence of this progress, we reply that we have only done so as far as the facts warrant, which does not in the least imply an admission that it should, or even that it can, continue its course indefinitely; furthermore, as we are far from thinking it the best thing in the world, instead of calling it progress we would rather call it quite simply development; it is not in itself that the word progress offends us, but because of the idea of ‘value’ that has come almost invariably to be attached to it.”
Guénon, East and West, pp23-24.
“The materialists, with all their boasted ‘good sense’ and all the ‘progress’ of which they proudly consider themselves to be the most finished products and the most ‘advanced’ representatives, are really only beings in whom certain faculties have become atrophied to the extent of being completely abolished.” Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p106.

13. “During the time of revolution, those men are the greatest who most decidedly and effectively negate.” Landauer, p150.

14. “According to all the indications furnished by the traditional doctrines, we have in fact entered upon the last phase of the Kali-Yuga, the darkest period of this ‘dark age’, the state of dissolution from which it is impossible to emerge other than by a cataclysm, since it is not a mere readjustment that is necessary at such a stage, but a complete renovation.” Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, p17.
Joseph Campbell describes the Jains’ vision of a similar dark age: “The days will be hot, the nights cold, disease will be rampant and chastity nonexistent. Tempests will sweep over the earth and toward the conclusion of the period these will increase. In the end all life, human and animal, and all the vegetable seeds, will be forced to seek shelter in the Ganges, in miserable caves, and in the sea.” Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Fontana Press, London, 1993, p264.

15. “The increase in the speed of events, as the end of the cycle draws near, can be compared to the acceleration that takes place in the fall of heavy bodies: the course of the development of the present humanity closely resembles the movement of a mobile body running down a slope and going faster as it approaches the bottom.” Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p43.

16. “The course of the manifested world toward its substantial pole ends at last in a ‘reversal’, which brings it back, by an instantaneous transmutation, to its essential pole; and it may be added that, in view of this instantaneity, and contrary to certain erroneous conceptions of the cyclical movement, there can be no ‘reascent’ of an exterior order following the ‘descent’, the course of manifestation as such being always descending from the beginning to the end.” Ibid, p163 (footnote). 

17. “Man is not restricted at any stage to the passive role of a mere spectator, who must confine himself to forming an idea more or less true, or more or less false, of what is happening around him; on the contrary, he is himself one of the factors that intervene actively in the modification of the world he lives in; and it must be added that he is even a particularly important factor, by reason of the characteristically ‘central’ position he occupies in that world.” Ibid, p116.

19. Without fear. A slogan of the 2011 “Spanish Revolution”, inspired by the Arab Spring of the same year.

20. “This is the destiny of revolution in our times: to provide a spiritual pool for humanity. It is in revolution’s fire, in its enthusiasm, its brotherhood, its aggressiveness that the image and the feeling of positive unification awakens; a unification that comes through a connecting quality: love as force.” Landauer, p170.

21. “The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. ‘Live,’  Nietzsche says, “as though the day were here.’ It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” Campbell, p391.

22. “In order for a fundamental turn to take place in our time, in order for a spiritual transformation to occur, there must be those who venture into The Abyss and encounter it… The ground must be prepared for the divine radiance to shine and be seen.” Paraphrasing of Heidegger by Schierse Leonard, p199.
“He is resolved to forget that the desperate clinging to the self and the desperate clinging to life are the surest way to eternal death, while the power to die, to strip one’s self naked, and the eternal surrender of the self bring immortality with them.” Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf, Penguin, London, 2011, p76.

23. Stephen A Hoeller writes of the need for a new kind of human being, neither a “consumer-robot” nor an “outdated Marxist image of the proletarian revolutionary who naively believes that the basic evils of human nature can be solved by political force and economic change. Rather, the new man and woman must be Abraxas: with head overshadowed by the Logos of wisdom and insight, with swift feet that possess the instinctual force and libidinal resilience of the serpent. Those opposites in turn must be joined and welded together by qualities of true and undisguised humanity, a humanity for which no moral, economic or political apologies are required.”
Stephen A Hoeller, The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead, Quest, 1994, p175.

24. “We do not intend to flee from the vita activa to the vita contemplativa, nor vice versa, but to keep moving forward while alternating between the two, being at home in both, partaking of both.” Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, Vintage Books, London, 2000, p223.

5. “Isolated societies, dream-bounded within a mythologically charged horizon, no longer exist except as areas to be exploited. And within the progressive societies themselves, every last vestige of the ancient human heritage of ritual, morality, and art is in full decay.” Campbell, pp 387-388.

26. “True history might endanger certain political interests; and it may be wondered if this is not the reason, where education is concerned, why certain methods are officially imposed to the exclusion of all others; consciously or not, they begin by removing everything that might make it possible to see things clearly, and that is how ‘public opinion’ is formed.” Guénon, East and West, p15.

27. Warns Hoeller: “The ‘new age’ optimism and superficiality of those who reduce the dark mysteries of Jung’s Gnosis to the shallow level of their own limitations are apt to make people into the victims of the very unconscious they tend to treat so lightly.” Hoeller, p203.

28. “Let there be no confusion on this point: if the general public accepts the pretext of ‘civilization’ in all good faith, there are those for whom it is no more than mere moralistic hypocrisy, serving as a mask for designs of conquest or economic ambitions. It is really an extraordinary epoch in which so many men can be made to believe that a people is being given happiness by being reduced to subjection, by being robbed of all that is most precious to it, that is to say of its own civilisation, by being forced to adopt manners and institutions that were made for a different race, and by being constrained to the most distasteful kinds of work, in order to make it acquire things for which it has not the slightest use. For that is what is taking place: the modern West cannot tolerate that men should prefer to work less and be content to live on little; as it is only quantity that counts, and as everything that escapes the senses is held to be non-existent, it is taken for granted that anyone who is not in a state of agitation and who does not produce much in a material way must be ‘lazy’.” Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, p92.

29. “It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation. Religions, philosophies, arts, the social forms of primitive and historic man, prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep, boil up from the basic, magic ring of myth.” Campbell, p3.
“It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid.” Ibid, p11.
“For they actually touch and bring into play the vital energies of the whole human psyche. They link the unconscious to the fields of practical action, not irrationally, in the manner of a neurotic projection, but in such fashion as to permit a mature and sobering, practical comprehension of the fact-world to play back, as a stern control, into the realms of infantile wish and fear. And if this be true of the comparatively simple folk mythologies (the systems of myth and ritual by which the primitive hunting and fishing tribes support themselves), what may we say of such magnificent cosmic metaphors as those reflected in the great Homeric epics, the Divine Comedy of Dante, the Book of Genesis, and the timeless temples of the Orient? Until the most recent decades, these were the support of all human life and the inspiration of philosophy, poetry, and the arts. Where the inherited symbols have been touched by a Lao-tse, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ or Mohammed – employed by a consummate master of spirit as a vehicle of the profoundest moral and metaphysical instruction – obviously we are in the presence rather of immense consciousness than of darkness. And so, to grasp the full value of the mythological figures that have come down to us, we must understand that they are not only symptoms of the unconscious (as indeed are all human thoughts and acts) but also controlled and intended statements of certain spiritual principles, which have remained as constant throughout the course of human history as the form and nervous structure of the human physique itself.” Ibid, p257.

30. “The effect of the successful adventure is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world.” Ibid, p40.