Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Keith Preston, of AlternativeRight.com (an online magazine for radical traditionalism), recently wrote a good summary of Crowley’s political perspective. I have been asked on a few occasions about the political philosophy of Thelema. However, I have not spent much time on the political philosophy of Crowley himself as his personal philosophy is beyond the scope of this blog. Thusly, it was good to read Preston’s brief synopsis of Crowley’s thought on the subject. I would recommend his treatment with the following clarifications:
Mr Preston refers to Thelema as a religion on several occasions. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, this is simply inaccurate. Furthermore, Thelema is not polytheistic nor pagan. It bears repeating that Thelema is an individualist existential philosophy that is distinct from occultism or sex magick or mountain climbing or all the rest of Crowley’s many and varied interests.
While essentially correct, it is important to clarify Mr Preston’s description of the “Crowleyan will” as being the only imperative in the life of a Thelemite. This is why, in contrast to Crowley’s personal politics, Thelema is a truly individualist philosophy. Thelema, as a philosophy, does not contain within itself social or political conceptions beyond those of each individual practitioner. To codify any such conceptions would be anathema to “the whole of the Law.”
Liber OZ is mistakenly referred to as The Book of the Law or Liber AL. While a simple mistake, it does betray a degree of sloppiness. Liber AL is a Class A text, meaning that it is considered one of the “Holy Books” of Thelema. Liber OZ, on the other hand, was never classified.
As I mentioned earlier, I still believe the most logical political outworking of the philosophy of Thelema is some form of individualism. However, while I have significant reservations about Mr Preston’s political commitments, his essay does two things very well. First, it illustrates the difference between Crowley and Thelema. The two are not interchangeable and often stand at odds with each other. And second, it provides the best brief account of Crowley’s political perspective I’ve encountered in quite awhile. If you’re interested in Crowley’s thoughts on the body politic, I would recommend Mr Preston’s essay.
Love is the law, love under will.