Tuesday 28 February 2023

The Occult Revival versus the materialism of public discourse - its encapsulation and malignant dissemination

I have been reading an interesting series of essays by Colin Wilson, collected under the title of Introducing the occult. These date from after the publication of his hefty and best-selling The Occult: A History in 1971; and constitute introductions, prefaces, forewords and afterwords from a variety of occult-themed books of that era. 

Two things struck me about this. 

The first was that this period, more than fifty years ago, was already advanced into an 'occult revival' with many books being written and bought on a wide range of subjects - and this has continued such that large sections of booksellers (plus other kinds of consumables) are dedicated to these matters. 

At the time, this was regarded as a highly socially significant phenomenon - since it seemed to be strongly in reaction against the dominant scientistic materialism. 

It seemed that such interest in the occult must imply that an acknowledgment of the reality and importance of 'spiritual' matters had emerged and was growing; and that this would inevitably permeate and transform the world.   

Secondly, that this had Not happened. 

The occult revival had grown, many millions of people became more and more interested in one or many of its constituents - and yet this has made No Difference At All to the world of Public Discourse - the world of politics, bureaucracy and mass media that controls more, and ever-more, of Life. 

Politics, bureaucracy and the mass media (i.e. Mainstream Ideology) do not contain anything occult in their functional working, indeed they completely exclude the subject - and have been completely unaffected by fifty years of (what seems like) intensive and extensive interest and activities to do with the occult. 

Mainstream Ideology remains utterly mundane, materialistic, reductionistic; the ideas that control the world (international, national, corporate, institutional...) assume and operate-on-the-basis-of, the most grossly simplistic, mechanical, and top-down-imposed models of human needs and desires. 

Exactly as if the occult revival had never happened at all...

In fact, almost the opposite. It is as if the mainstream Public Discourse had become encapsulated: sealed from all possible influences. 

And if mainstream discourse is encapsulated; then so are Men's minds; because most Men either work inside the System - or are so closely dependent upon The System (e.g. for funding by subsidy or tax allowances; and in legal, 'safety', insurance and employment functions etc.) as to replicate System operations within themselves. 

We moderns have become strange creatures whose 'professional', or 'public' minds are - on the one hand - the only thing that matters (so far as the Public World is concerned); and, on the other hand, creatures in which this professional-public thinking is sealed-off from external influences.  


Instead of occult ideas permeating all of life (as was expected in the 1970s), what has happened is the opposite: that sealed-off Mainstream Ideology has disseminated universally; has permeated and controlled the occult; such that nowadays all occult thinking, writing, believing takes-place within the Mainstream Ideology.  

And not just Mainstream - but on the leftmost edges (that is, the most materialistic, totalitarian and globalist) of the Mainstream. 

In essence; nearly-every occult practitioner, author, lecturer, leader - is already, and increasingly, an activist for the Mainstream Ideology.  

We moderns take this kind of thing for granted - if we notice it at all. 

By now, we have experienced decades of incremental, global totalitarianism via bureaucracy and the mass media - infiltrating, subverting, and ultimately inverting every type of social institution away from its original function to become 'converged' onto the nature and purposes of The System.

This has happened to the established institutional churches of all religions and denominations; and it has happened to the disorganized, entrepreneurial world of The Occult. 

All of the apparently 'Anti-Establishment' and 'counter-cultural' influences of the middle twentieth century - whether the occult, self-sufficiency and environmentalism, sexual liberation, anarchy, drugs... whatever - all of these have been neutralized and excluded, when they have not been enlisted actively into the totalitarian project. 

But it is striking to see, from contemporary writings, how convinced many intelligent and informed people were, just fifty years ago; that the era of narrow materialism and mundane social control via materialist bureaucracy, was coming to an end - when, in fact, it had only just begun... 


William Wildblood said...

"In essence; nearly-every occult practitioner, author, lecturer, leader - is already, and increasingly, an activist for the Mainstream Ideology. " This has been the case for some time now and what it tells me is that their spiritual awareness is only understood and expressed within the confines of their worldly ego.

Bruce Charlton said...


True. But, nonetheless "spiritual awareness ... only understood and expressed within the confines of ... worldly ego" would still have seemed something very surprising and difficult to comprehend fifty plus years ago.

I don't think people *then* would have guessed that so many human beings could exist in this extreme form of mental division, on what seems like a permanent basis.

Colin H. said...

Would you say something similar happened to the Buddhist & Hindu trend from 60/70/80s?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Colin - Yes - my general point is that everything went the same way.