NEW AGE FASCISM by Val Dobson
(originally published in 2 parts in Noname 2 & 3 – 1988)
Earlier this year an article entitled “Are Such Things Done On Albion’s Shores?” appeared in New University News (the magazine of the New University Project). Jenny Goodman related how a woman (whom she did not name) was harrassed, threatened over a number of days, and finally beaten up, at the Oak Dragon Music & Dance camp in July ’87. The violence was committed by members of the Atlantis Commune for no better reason (according to Dr. Goodman) than they disliked what this woman had been saying about them.
Outraged exchanges of letters have since ensued and another side to the story has emerged. For a start, Dr. Goodman was not the neutral observer she presented herself as, but was actually the woman who was beaten up. Also, she had been doing rather more than say a few nasty things about Atlantis – she & they had been carrying on a longstanding feud, and the previous year she had made allegations that had led to one of the Atlantis children being removed by the Social Services. (The child was eventually returned, after Atlantis had bought over an English psychologist to prove that the mother was caring and competent and that the child had not been subjected to the alleged emotional abuse.) And, as my article on Atlantis (see link, left) shows, the Atlantis people prefer to tackle personal disputes in a very direct and physical manner.
However…the rights and wrongs of this particular incident is not what I want to write about. what caused my greatest concern when I read the NUN article was the reaction of the Oak Dragon people to the verbal and physical aggression taking place at one of their camps.
When Dr. Goodman told the Camp leaders that she felt threatened and intimidated, she was told (by three different people) “It couldn’t happen here”, “It’s your own stuff” and “Have you tried the Bach remedy for fear?” (!!!) In addition, when she tried to express her fears at the Camp pow-wows (where everybody is encouraged to voice opinions and feelings), she was told: “Take your negativity and bury it in the ground.”
Negative comments of any kind from anyone appeared to be heavily discouraged at the pow-wows in fact; Peace & Love seemed to be the compulsory party line. There was no acknowledgment that anything could possibly be wrong with the running or basic philosophy of the Camp, nor any sign that camp leaders should take any responsibility for people’s physical protection. What could possibly happen at such a spiritual gathering?
What DID happen was that Jenny Goodman, her warnings and her requests for protection ignored, finally got beaten up. True, the beating was not all that severe – she was left badly bruised, shaking with shock, her glasses deliberately smashed. But that it should happen at all, at a spiritually-oriented camp, where Peace and Love is the order of the Day?
The attack happened when most people (including the organisers) were absent for the day. The few witnesses did not intervene – they were frozen with shock, unable to believe the evidence of their ears and eyes. When the organisers returned and learned what had happened, they approached Dr. Goodman – not to offer apologies, reassurance and comfort, but to lecture her on “victim conciousness”!
“We all create our own reality” she was told, “You have created this yourself, it’s obviously part of your karma, but we really wish you hadn’t manifested it on our field”! They asked her to leave; when she said she wanted to stay for the remaining two days, she was asked not to speak about it anymore. If she continued to feel distressed, she was told, she should go to the other end of the field with a friend and have a ‘therapy session’ about it; it was her own pain, her own problem. talking about it any more would be “stirring up trouble.”
But what about this gang of thugs that had threatened and beaten her, she asked. Were they being asked to leave? “Please do not call Atlantis a gang of thugs, came the reply, “They are our friends.” Later she asked one of the organisers: “And what about ‘victim conciousness’? Were the Native American Indians, the peoples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately responsible for their own suffering?”
The reply was: “Ultimately, yes. The victims were responsible.”
And that is the conerstone of New Age thinking – that we are each of us responsible for everything that happens to us, that when we get beaten up, killed or whatever, it is all due to our karma and we deserve it all. That is what I mean by the title of this article, and I shall be exploring ‘New Age Fascism’ in more depth in Noname 3.
The ‘New Age’ movement grew out of 19th century Theosophy, especially the writings of HP Blavatsky and Alice Bailey. Their philosophy is that basically the whole of existence is tightly organised from above, with everything and everybody separated into groups and hierarchies on both the material and spiritual levels. You can move up the hierarchy towards the ultimate goal of union with the Light only if you follow all the rules, which essentially mean that you have to give up all concern with material things and concentrate on your own spiritual development. Karma is extremely important; people are born with advantages or disadvantages, and meet with success or failure, not because of chance or society but because they are carrying good or bad karma from previous lifetimes.
That is, somebody who is healthy and happy in this lifetime was a good little boy or girl last time around; somebody who is poor, starving or handicapped did something awful in their last few lifetimes and is having to work off the bad karma that they have accumulated.
There is therefore little point in helping such people get over their disadvantages – it would mean both you and they getting stuck in the material level instead of the both of you evolving spiritually.
There are other questionable beliefs in New Age mysticism. Blavatsky taught that mankind was divided into five “root races”, the most spiritually and physically evolved of which is the Aryan race – her books were very popular with the Nazis!
New Age writing is also full of patriarchal imagery; Mankind (sic) is directed from the spiritual planes by a ‘Brotherhood’ headed by the ‘King’ or ‘Lord’ of the World. It is, of course, union with this all-male spiritual club that everyone is supposed to be aiming for.
There is a constant emphasis, too, on Light; places like Findhorn are ‘Centres of Light’ receiving instructions from the ‘Brotherhood of Light’ who are serving the ‘Lord of Light’. But where, you wonder, does that leave the Lady? There is very little said about darkness, or the female component of humanity. New Age philosphy would prefer to ignore that minor abberration of Creation – it is all Light, goodness and positive vibrations.
It could be fairly argued that Blavatsky, Bailey and the other early Theosphists were simply writing as products of their time – white, upper-class Western Europeans – and that modern New Age thinkers have moved on. But how about this little gem:
“All spiritual societies are hierarchical. They cannot function in any other way. It is obvious that in conducting the affairs of a spiritual society, one would not turn to those who are least attuned…The point of entry for this energy (New Age) is through a being known as Lord of the World. He is also called the King or Head of the Hierarchy…The seeds of the beginning of this flowering (of the New Age) were planted a very long time ago…when the sons and daughters of the great Manu of the Fifth Root Race, the Aryan race, found their forms and emerged from their cradlelands in distant Asia to build towards their revelation, in future time, of a yet newer race…Findhorn is a training ground, a homeland for the Brotherhood from which our colonial ships may go forth again…”
This piece of wisdom was published in 1980 by one David Spangler. His works are published and distributed by the Findhorn community and are required reading for all New Agers. They never question these, or similar, views because these teachings are all ‘channelled’, that is they come from some diembodied spiritual being on a higher plane and so cannot possibly be wrong. Such passive acceptance of dogma is a standard trademark of all fascist-based cults and groups. Like the Moonies for instance – they believe that the Reverend Moon is a divine being who speaks total truth. Just like the New Agers with their Brotherhood, just like the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester with his God the Father, just like the People’s Temple followers with their Jim Jones, just like the Sh’ite Muslims with their Ayatollah…
Maybe it seems a long way from all that to the Oak Dragon camps, but the same pattern is there…
Historical notes: at the time of writing the above (in 1988), the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester was an evangelical Christian who made no secret of his beliefs.
The People’s Temple was an American Christian sect founded by Jim Jones in the 60s that moved en mass to an isolated commune in Guyana in 1974; in 1978 Jones persuaded/forced nearly all of his 900 followers there to join him in drinking poisoned orange squash.
The Oak Dragon camps are no longer running, the group behind them having apparently split acrimoniously in the early 90s.
Since 1988, I have helped to organise a number of weekend camps, similar to the Oak Dragon Camps; reading again about this particular camp, with my new knowledge and experience, has shocked me even more. Camp organisers have a responsibility, both moral and legal (Dr Goodman had strong grounds for taking legal action against the Oak Dragon organisation), for the safety and security of campers. That responsibility extends to listening to people’s concerns, constantly looking out for potential trouble, being prepared to physically eject troublemakers and never leaving the campsite without at least one organiser to look after things. If you ever book a place in such a camp, first ask the organisers about what measures they have in place to keep campers feeling secure and safe.