Tag Archives: social sciences

Opposing the System

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Opposing the System [Amazon, Local Library] by Charles A Reich.

Reich Opposing the System

Yale law professor Charles A. Reich’s best-known book is The Greening of America (1970), in which he promoted what he saw as the goals of the youth counterculture of that time. Opposing the System was written in the mid-1990s, shortly after the so-called “Republican Revolution” in US electoral politics and reflects on Reich’s concerns at that later period.

The book is a manifesto for social renewal in the US. One of its most valuable observations is that large commercial corporate entities are in fact governments, simply authoritarian ones unaccountable to the public–or even to their own shareholders in most cases. The quasi-libertarian rhetoric so common in establishment US politics and punditry reflects the functioning of a System in which private and public governmental functions are interlocked (military-industrial complex, “mainstream” media, carceral industry, etc.) to escape responsibilities and externalize/deny costs.

Every troubling symptom in Reich’s diagnosis has gotten significantly worse in the last quarter century. He doesn’t even mention climate change. The System he outlines has gotten more entrenched.

“We cannot expect to control the System unless we can place ourselves at an intellectual level above the System, where we can see the infinite other possibilities of life as well” (199). Reich makes this observation in the context of the need to restore citizenship. But he leaves unspecified how people are supposed to rise above the System. Formal education has been degraded into training, especially at the primary and secondary levels. In recent years especially, public education is under a full-scale assault, both figurative in the sense of ideologies imposed by the System on schools and teachers (including budgetary austerity), and literal in the sense of massacres and the terrorizing “drills” they inspire.

Reich’s occasional appeal to “American ideals” supposedly held by the Constitutional founders of the US rings as a little naïve, but it is understandable in the context of public persuasion. More importantly, he points out the real value and context of the aborted New Deal, and the recognition in the mid-twentieth century of the threat that has come to manifest in the System.

The book is no silver bullet, but it is something of a tonic for those of us who are caught in the cognitive dissonance that results from the massively propagandized world of what Reich calls the “Existing Map” of reality.

An absolutist, monarchical government could regularly violate the “rights” of its citizens. The despot decided what privileges each individual would enjoy—and everything according to one’s station. Moreover, if whatever you say or do is automatically scrutinized for possible subversion, what chance is there for a free society? The only recourse, it would seem—short of a revolution—is to operate in the shadows.

Terry Melanson, Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Melanson Perfectibilists absolutist monarchical government regularly violate rights citizens despot decided privileges individual enjoy only recourse short revolution operate shadows

the prudent but strict curtailment of the freedom of the press; the minute police supervision of all teachers and professors; and the ferreting out Illuminism in its most secret recesses…. The result will be that henceforth no one will be able to corrupt the opinion of the people … and that the real happiness of the people will no longer be threatened by the destruction of religion and the subversion of society.

Terry Melanson, Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Melanson Perfectibilists prudent strict curtailment freedom press police supervision all teachers professors ferreting out illuminism corrupt destruction religion subversion society

Weishaupt’s concept of virtue stems from his Rousseauian influences. Jean-Jacques Rousseau equated true virtue with the purity of mankind in its infancy before it was corrupted by civilization. This virtue was still apparent in the “savage” races still being encountered by explorers in the forests and jungles of North and South America. By comparison, the despotism of western culture, with its class structures and inherent inequality, was considered inferior and contemptible.

Terry Melanson, Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Melanson Perfectibilists Weishaupt virtue Rousseauian purity mankind infancy corrupted civilization despotism western culture class inequality inferior contemptible

The public character of its meetings, the almost infinite number of its initiates, and the ease with which they are admitted have removed from Masonry every trace of political inclination. And if an exception is made of some very few and almost unknown lodges in which the light is preserved in its purity, all the others are nothing more than entertainment centers or schools of superstition and slavery.

Terry Melanson, Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Melanson Prefectibilists public character infinite initiates removed political inclination exception few unknown preserved purity nothing entertainment superstition slavery

Rationalism swept through Germany, more especially the illusion that man’s faculty could establish and secure a single, true, and salvation-guaranteeing religion. This rationalism expressed itself in pamphlets, in systems, in conversations, in secret societies and in many other institutions. It was not satisfied—indeed it did not even bother—to deny the distinctive doctrines of the Catholic church; its basis was rather the simple assertion: nothing in positive Christianity is acceptable except its “reasonable morality,” the doctrine that God is the father of all things, and the proposition that man’s soul is immortal; what goes beyond these three assertions is either poetry or superstition or pure nonsense.

Terry Melanson, Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Melanson Perfectibilists rationalism pamphlets conversations secret societies institutions nothing acceptable except reasonable morality beyond is poetry superstition nonsense