Some of our readers have brought up the concern that propaganda may not be what Aleister Crowley really needs at this time. Our candidate, however, would disagree:
“Of course, it is understood that the first interest of the Order, after its actual necessary expenses have been defrayed, is propaganda and publicity.” — Aleister Crowley in a letter to Charles Stansfeld Jones, Sol in Aquarius, An. xiv
“I hope you are keeping up open propaganda work with great vigour. I think it would be good plan to get the Lodge to work in some way or other every night at purely missionary work …” – Aleister Crowley in a letter to C.S. Jones, Sol in Virgo An. xii
The word, “propaganda,” comes to us from a shortening of the Latin phrase, Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, that is, “congregation for propagating the faith,” a committee formed by Gregory XV to supervise foreign missions. (Etymology of propaganda)
It is hardly fair of us, however, to ignore the real point of this concern over propaganda: that it may not be a good idea at this time to draw so much attention to this character, who called himself The Great Beast, who was a legendary “drug fiend” and who was arguably racist, sexist, and abusive. Well, there is more to Crowley than all that, and this is exactly the issue.
In our opinion, Aleister Crowley is a prophetic figure who represented the totality of this New Aeon, in all its fascinating beauty and terrifying atrocity. We can learn from Crowley’s successes as well as his failures. We can speak frankly about his flaws; we can discuss his ideas and determine for ourselves whether we agree or disagree; we can applaud his efforts in some cases, and condemn in others. Our readers are, like us, adults who can take in all the information and make an informed opinion about Aleister Crowley, the man.
There are after all more than one kind of propaganda. On one hand, any efforts to spread information through pamphlets, slogans, sound bites, platforms and so on can be called propaganda, as efforts to persuade and influence. At the same time, many of us know the word in its pejorative sense of misleading people into accepting an idea based on misinformation, lies by omission, appeals to emotion rather than reason, and so on. Even Crowley recognized this difference, and made a point to criticize what he called “dishonest propaganda”:
“We therefore insist on everyone learning to read, with the result that their minds have been unsettled, clouded, confused and filled with falsehood by cheap fiction, sensational nonsense and deliberately dishonest propaganda.”
Much dishonest propaganda has been spread about Aleister Crowley, in his own time as well as in the tabloid journalism of today. This will not stop as long as people do not investigate for themselves, and as long as they rely on newspapers, cheap fiction, and sensational nonsense to get their information. Similarly, taking a cautious approach, downplaying or even covering up Crowley’s failures is also a form of propaganda, and not the good kind.
Our campaign is an attempt to draw more attention to the actual writings of Aleister Crowley, rather than putting our own spin on things; to encourage literacy about his life and works; and to promulgate Aleister Crowley’s core philosophy, the Law of Thelema, which guarantees the absolute liberty of the individual. As he learned from the Wizard Amalantrah 729:
“[The best methods of spreading the law are] … By writings of wisdom. By extremely [magnetic] word under guidance of [Aiwaz]. By works of creative temperance. By active propaganda. By indications. By making alliances. By founding colonies. By transmitting the influence. By exercise of compassion. By interpreting of dreams. By Bread.”
Whether propaganda is really the best approach is a matter of opinion, of course, and we respect those who may disagree with us. In our opinion, propaganda will occur with or without our efforts, and The Spectacle will always produce plenty which denigrates the legacy of Aleister Crowley.
It’s time for a different kind of propaganda: one which encourages literacy and does not appeal to emotions or deceptively omit facts. We are confident this campaign will cause more people to use teh google and perhaps if they have some intelligence, stop relying on their evangelical pastor to learn about Crowley’s life and works.