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Life Arts    H4'ed 6/12/21

The Power of Magick: Why Materialists, Atheists and Marxists Need it

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Dancing Around the Maypole
Dancing Around the Maypole
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Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will.

Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth

Author - Bruce Lerro, Co-founder and Organizer for Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism


Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

In two articles I wrote in 2019, Facing the Music: Religion, Nationalism and Sports Have Enchanted the Working Class; Socialism Hasn't and Re-Enchanting Socialism: How Not to Throw the Baby out with the Bathwater I argued that socialism, at least in Yankeedom, has denied the use value of the techniques that religion, sports and nationalism use to create altered states of consciousness. They do this because, in one way or another, they serve the powers that be. Typically, Marxists and atheists dismiss these techniques as simply smoke and mirrors, based on illusions. They can't imagine using images, music, song, or dance to alter states of consciousness and to be used to inspire socialists. In addition, socialists and atheists do not pay much attention to the importance of holidays as a way to support an appreciation of our past as well as for grounding the present and the future on special occasions. Celebration of the holidays helps people to remember the big picture.

Not such strange bedfellows

I made the pitch that Marxists, and to a lesser extent anarchists, were missing the boat by not aligning with neopagans. I argued that neopagans had the following commonalities with Marxists:

  • They were this-worldly as opposed to other-worldly.
  • The material world was good, not a reform school or a way station.
  • Nature was self-regulating, rather than dependent upon a deity.
  • Society and nature were evolving.
  • Pagans were naturally anti-authoritarian.
  • Most pagan values were anti-capitalist.
  • Most neo-pagans are pro-science.

My claim

In this article I want to argue that magick is a technique used by neopagans for altering states of consciousness that can be used by materialists, atheists and Marxists to change moods when we feel fragmented, blue, anxious or depressed. Secondly, Marxists, atheists and anarchists have a cavalcade of female and male heroes to populate every month of the year, which can be used on holidays to remind us that we stand on the shoulders of giants. I am changing the spelling from "magic" to "magick" for reasons I will explain shortly.


Holidays at their best don't just remind people of the changing of the seasons or planting and harvesting in agriculture. The changing of the seasons can be linked to the planting, seeding and reaping of socialist projects throughout the year. One holiday where we can see the power of ritual for neo-pagans is on May Day, dancing round the Maypole. It's important to understand that this corresponds with socialists' May Day, which draws thousands of revolutionaries together throughout the world. But May Day should be celebrations, time off from work, rather than using the day to protest or strike for one reason or another as some socialists have done. As I point out in my article Re-enchanting Socialism, socialists in Europe used to make costumes, sing and dance and perform plays on May Day. What does this do for socialists? It reminds those of us who are socialists of the big picture, that workers of the world have one struggle and should unite. Why can't socialists have at least quarterly seasonal celebrations just the way Catholics, Jewish or Muslims have their holy days?

As for materialists and atheists, we can easily name twelve scientists, one for each month, to celebrate science. Darwin, Newton, Leibnitz, Einstein, you get the picture. A humanist group I once belonged to in San Jose developed something that became known as "Darwin Day". It became a celebration that was even backed by the mayor of Menlo Park, who was a humanist. Richard Dawkins even came to speak one year. Atheists have a lot of work to do if we want to compete with religion over the sway of human beings. We need to use mythology for saturating the five senses systematically. Experiencing the world non rationally for an hour won't kill you! The techniques that sports, religion and nationalists use to sweep people away are rooted in sympathetic magic. These same techniques can be used to combat the downside of sports, religion and nationalism to combat controlling people through mystification, distraction and fear. At the same time these techniques have come to be used to inspire hope, confidence and community to change the world, right here on earth!


The Magick I Discuss is Not For Fostering Perceptual Illusions

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Barbara MacLean and Bruce Lerro are co-founders and organizers for Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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