Monday, April 24, 2017

Mitch Horowitz — Believe It or Not: The New Age and Occult Underpinnings of Trump and Bannon's Ideology

This is not about Trump and Bannon as the title suggests but about the American psyche and "pop mysticism." Many Americans probably know at least something this already, since it has been reported in the media. But most people abroad may not, and it is important to realize as a key factor in American behavior, as well as a contributor to the formulation of US policy. It is a short post and there is much more to the story.

Regardless of one's prior knowledge of this, the beliefs that Horowitz identifies make an important contribution toward explaining the prevalence and power of "American exceptionalism" as a cornerstone of the American mindset. 

This is also explains the longstanding policies of liberal internationalism and liberal interventionism as Americans seek to bring "the blessings of liberty" to the entire world, regardless of whether others want to be "liberated."

Believe It or Not: The New Age and Occult Underpinnings of Trump and Bannon's Ideology
Mitch Horowitz, Salon


Peter Pan said...

So New Age beliefs can turn people into war-mongering idiots. I can believe that. I can believe the reverse - that any belief system can be twisted into whatever narrative the zealot desires.

There is a cure for American 'exceptionalism' but it is painful.

Matt Franko said...

Not an endorsement:

Tom Hickey said...

Without arguing specifically toward it, the post makes the case that there is a propagation and conversion factor operative in liberalism that is similar to religious "propagation of the faith" and forced religious conversion to "save" others. The parallel is striking.

Peter Pan said...

Who are they saving with their foreign interventions? They're killing people. If you're referring to their self-perceived righteousness, that is universal.

Tom Hickey said...

"It's amateur of rationalizing an agenda" should be "It's a matter of rationalizing an agenda." Auto-correction run amok again and I didn't catch it before pushing the button.

Peter Pan said...

How do you rationalize the delusion that it is possible to win a nuclear war?

Maybe it's a bluff or maybe it's not a delusion. There is another possibility, whereby belief in a cause will magically result in victory. An example of this would be the Children's Crusade, or the pop history version of it. Suffice to say that little adventure did not end well.

Peter Pan said...

China can outmaneuver the 'unipolarists' by putting the NK regime in its place. They can support Korean unification and remove the justification for US troops in the south.

If this is a bluff on Washington's part, then there's nothing to worry about. The stand-off between the north and south will continue.

Anonymous said...

I was a bit surprised that Horowitz did not draw any parallels with German mysticism and the Third Reich.

Tom Hickey said...

Is there a natural affinity between fascism and the occult? Today commentators and historians increasingly speak of occultist and pagan influences on Hitler. The subject is a favorite of cable-television documentaries. It has even spawned a subgenre of historical literature, ranging from the speculative to the serious, that casts the Third Reich as an occult empire....

But the following cannot be stated clearly enough: Hitler was not an occultist. He contemptuously dismissed the work of fascist theorists who dwelled upon mythology and mystico-racial theories. In Mein Kampf, he specifically condemned "volkisch wandering scholars" -- that is, second tier mythically and mystically inclined intellects who might have belonged to occult-nationalist groups, such as the Thule Society, with which the Nazis shared symbols. From the earliest stirrings of Hitler's career in the tiny Germany Workers' Party and its street-rabble allies, he was consumed with brutal political and military organization, not theology or myth. He employed a symbol as a party vehicle when necessary and immediately discarded the flotsam around it, whether people or ideas. He castigated those members of his inner circle who showed excessive devotion to Nordic mythology, dismissing the theology of Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg as "stuff that nobody can understand" and a "relapse into medieval notions!"

Historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, who has done more than any other scholar to clarify these issues, noted that:

"Hitler was certainly interested in Germanic legends and mythology, but he never wished to pursue their survival in folklore, customs, or place-names. He was interested in neither heraldry nor genealogy. Hitler's interest in mythology was related primarily to the ideals and deeds of heroes and their musical interpretation in the operas of Richard Wagner. Before 1913 Hitler's utopia was mother Germany across the border rather than a prehistoric golden age indicated by the occult interpretation of myths and traditions in Austria."

Under the Nazi regime, Theosophical chapters, Masonic lodges, and even sects that had produced some of the occult pamplets that a young Hitler may have encountered as a Vienna knock-about were shunted or savagely oppressed, their members murdered or harassed. Despite astrology's well-publicized appeal to a few of Hitler's cadre, the ancient practice was effectively outlawed under Nazism, and many of its practitioners were jailed or killed. The man sometimes mislabeled "Hitler's astrologer," Karl Ernst Krafft, had no contact with Hitler but briefly reached the attention of mid-level Reich officials for predicting the 1939 assassination attempt on him. Krafft later died en route to Buchenwald. Nazi authorities sentenced Karl Germer, the German protege of British occultist Aleister Crowley, to a concentration camp on charges of recruiting students for Crowley, whom they styled a "high-grade Freemason.

— Mitch Horowitz, Occult America, pp. 185-188

See also

Mitch Horowitz, ?Fascism and the Occult: Is There a Connection?


Wikipedia—Nazism & Occultism

The Nazi connection with "occultism" seems to have been largely through SS and Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler and was mostly limited to the people under his command. But to many, the SS were the elite, and today, Nazi is often equated with SS.

However, Nazism was and is chiefly volkisch. It's mysticism is more romantic and mythological than occult. German culture is a blend of rational and romantic, scientific and mythological.