Drowning in Magic

In last week’s post, I presented an interpretation of Freudian psychology as the re-discovery of the Magical Consciousness in the West. Freud said all societies are based on the repression of instincts and drives. But if those instincts and drives represent primal energy, when that energy is channeled into the structures of society it becomes Magic because Magic is, by definition, the channeling of energy. When society channels Magic energy, it is called exoteric. When the individual channels energy, it is called esoteric.

Although I hadn’t realised it at the time, this interpretation also fits with developments in modern physics eg. mass and energy are different manifestations of the same thing. Materialism and Magic are then also different manifestations of the same thing. In any case, we are here using the Magic (energy) lens rather than the materialist one which is still the default option in the modern West.

Dude, it’s totally magic

For most of human history, the Magical energy available to any society was limited by the lack of “connectivity”. One way to view the Church in Europe (and prior to that in the Roman empire), was as a network which spanned across geographical and political boundaries and channelled Magic energy. That would explain why the Church used that network to actively suppress folk magic. It didn’t want the competition. The Church’s Magical power was allied with political power up until the 19th century. Some materialist cynics might say the Church was the propaganda arm of the State. To paraphrase Napoleon, religion was the only thing stopping the public from defenestrating the 1%.  

A Labour Day parade

The 19th century was the turning point when the Magical power of the Church began to wane and the State gained ascendancy. It’s not a coincidence that this was the time when the labour movement began. As the Church yielded it’s power over the public, other actors stepped in to fill the void. We can explain all this in materialist political terms in the way Marx did. But this neglects the extent to which modern politics is based on Magical power. The ability to form groups and channel energy into votes is what drives a democracy. The practical aspects of doing so require Magic. That’s why the Communist Manifesto was needed alongside historical materialism.

So, we end up at the start of the 20th century with two Magico-political power bases in Labour and Capital. This dynamic began to dissolve after WW2. Partly this was because labour had won a number of concessions from capital that eased the pressure (energy) in the political sphere. But there were a couple of other important trends.

One was the advent of consumerism and this is where we see the applied Magic of modern marketing via Edward Bernays as discussed in the last post. The workers were no longer to be beaten into submission on the waterfronts and picket lines. Rather, they would be turned into consumers via the Magic of modern advertising. All this was paid for by Capital who were the ones selling the products and so stood to benefit from the arrangement. In the process, however, marketing turned from an appeal to reason to an appeal to unreason i.e. Magic. The success of the new system meant that increasing amounts of Magic were practiced in the guise of a “free market economy”.

The consumer economy and its associated marketing Magic further reduced the Magical energetic base of the labour movement. The appearance of Blair, Clinton and Keating as leaders of the labour parties in the 90s was actually the official symbol that it was all over. Those supposedly labour leaders promptly implemented the neoliberal economic agenda. It took about 20 years, a very short time in historical terms, for the blowback to manifest as Trump and Brexit. But by then it was too late.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this was also the era of “spin” in politics. Not that politics had been a bastion of moral purity before that, but that there was a noticeable, shall we say, loosening of moral restrictions at this time. But spin is just the use of the same applied Magic that had already been shown to work in the consumer economy in the realm of politics. Some have called this the “post-truth” era of politics. But in our terminology, it’s the Magical era. Combined with the already high levels of Magic practiced in the market economy, this extra dose of Magic into the public discourse seems to have come mostly at the expense of rational discussion. Then came the next development really changed the equation: the internet.

In some ways, the internet follows the other development in the post war era that we can analyse using the Magical lens; namely, the rise of pop culture; aka sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. This was a bottom-up, grassroots Magical movement that allowed four working class lads from Liverpool to become the Beatles and a talented but disorganised dropout from America to become Jimi Hendrix. Although not many people would have thought about it this way, the movement was predicated on the same kind of esoteric spirituality that had become popular in the 19th century. It was a kind of personal magic. As Frank Zappa noted, the record company capitalists had no idea what was going on but they were happy to let it happen as it earned them small fortunes. They owned the infrastructure. The energy, the Magic, came from the people on the scene. This same pattern would later be reproduced on the internet especially in rise of social media.

Grunge was the last gasp of rock’n’roll

Rock’n’roll died shortly after the internet arrived and not just because people now pay more attention to uploading selfies of themselves at a gig than they do to the music. There’s an obvious economic reason which is that the internet destroyed the monopoly of the recording labels on the distribution of music. Without that control on supply, the market was flooded, the price went down and a classic race-to-the-bottom quickly ensued.

From a Magical point of view, what happened was the dissipation of energy. The old record label system channeled the energy coming up from the grassroots music scene. When that system fell apart, the energy was dispersed and the power disappeared. The same thing happened to any other domain that was predicated on the exchange of information. The one that has had perhaps the most profound effect on the public discourse was the disappearance of the news media as the (genuine) fourth estate. Again, this was due to a collapsing business model caused by the loss of monopoly on supply but, in magical terms, we think of it as a dispersal of energy.

Beginning in earnest in the early 90s, the bottom-up movement that had manifested as post war pop culture was channelled into the internet. Steve Jobs is the best representative of that development because the early internet and computer practitioners were tied up quite closely with other esoteric, bottom up movements that were taking place. Jobs was hanging around with the hippies in northern California talking about systems thinking and open source software.

He went on to develop the iPhone and become a squillionaire. Did he sell out? Did he open the door to a tidal wave of narcissism? Maybe. But is Jobs really to blame? You can do all kinds of things with your iPhone. You can use it to watch porn or post videos of yourself dancing half naked on TikTok, or you can use it to dictate the next War and Peace. The fact that most people use it for the former and not the latter is not really Jobs’ fault. One thing the internet and iPhone did achieve was to network together billions of people around the world and that has had massive Magical ramifications.

With the Magical collapse of labour that became official in the early 90s, the political situation in all western countries was that there was no longer a single difference between the two major parties. Most countries became essentially one party states. Meanwhile, the public was no longer divided but had become a single mass of consumers. The Magical techniques that had worked so well in selling products now became ubiquitous in the political sphere. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, what all this amounted to was an enormous amount of power (Magical energy) suddenly concentrated in the hands of the western “elites”. To say that the power went to their heads is an understatement.

A key point to bear in mind is that the elites have been practising a form of Magic that had been accidentally discovered through Freudian psychology. But they don’t call it Magic. They call is marketing or public relations or spin or nudge units or whatever. The typical conspiracy theorist explanation is that they are all psychopaths who are using manipulative tactics to confuse and deceive the public. No doubt some of them are psychopaths. But if we think about this in Magical terms and we assume none of them know what they are doing when it comes to Magic, then another possibility opens up: they are possessed by their own Magic.

The robotic hypnosis of a Justin Trudeau with his ever-perfect, so serious, speech intonation or a Jacinda Ardern with her automatic “smile” or here in Victoria with our very own political terminator, Dictator Dan Andrews, betray all the hallmarks of Magical possession. Modern politics has become based almost entirely on Magic to the exclusion of reason and logic. Why else would politicians continually back projects that have no chance of working (like stopping a respiratory virus with an experimental vaccine). This would make them not just psychopaths, but imbeciles too.

[Edit: since writing this I’ve realised I need to distinguish between two definitions of “psychopath”. The one I used in the above paragraph is the standard definition in our culture: the calculating but morally reprehensible person who feels no empathy. The second definition is the one I am implying in this article in general: a person overtaken by magic and therefore not operating either at the level of soul (psyche+pathology) or reason (Mental Consciousness). I probably should have called this post “Redefining Psychopathy” as that would fit with the redefinition of psychology].

Politics is now nothing more than a power game and Magic is power. But when you practice politics as nothing more than a power game, when you are willing to say anything, absolutely anything, to hold onto power, you must give up any last vestige of the Mental Consciousness, which is to say any last grasp you might have on reason, logic and law. That seems to me to be a pretty good description of where the leaders of most western nations are right now.

Thus, we have one form of Magic which is the top-down Magic of the elites channelled mostly through the mainstream media which is now owned by the state, the corporations and the billionaires, the only entities in society who still pay for its services. The other primary form of Magic rests with the public via the internet. This is the personal, esoteric Magic that began in earnest with post war pop culture. The way in which this energy is channelled is the same as the old recording industry model. The capitalists own just the infrastructure i.e. the social media platforms, the search engines and the server farms. The energy comes from the ground up. This energy is mostly dissipated in narcissism but the networking effects of the internet allow for new, uncoordinated, decentralised blow ups.

These blows up look a lot like the kind of positive feedback loops we saw in the boom-bust cycles of 19th century capitalism. From the point of view of Mental Consciousness, they look crazy and irrational and that’s because cause and effect goes out the window. Nobody could have predicted that The Beatles would become The Beatles or that James Marshall would become Jimi Hendrix or that Apple Computers would become the biggest company in the world. Similarly, nobody could have predicted that Trump would become President or that a supposedly new cold virus discovered in China would lead to the entire global economy being turned on its head.

None of these can be analysed logically, rationally and causally. But the Magical doesn’t care about logic and reason. It just cares about energy and how it is channeled. The internet is the new medium through which that channeling occurs. Trump could never have won without the internet and corona could never have occurred without the internet. It took network effects, the random conglomeration of individual energy into a giant snowball of energy channeled through the internet, for these things to happen.

In the Trump presidency, we saw the bottom-up magical forces of the internet defeat the top-down magical forces of the elites and this is why the elites proceeded to have a total freak out and be reduced to blubbering incoherency. Corona also had all the features of a bottom-up Magical event again driven through the internet where daily case counts and videos of people supposedly collapsing on the street in China or whatever else. It’s not hard to see that Trump’s opponents saw what could be done with the situation early on and started pouring petrol of the fire. The role of the Church once was, theoretically, to be the fire brigade to try and control such magical energetic outbursts. But there is nobody to do that nowadays.

Where will things go from here? Is the west going to devolve completely into the Magical Consciousness? Perhaps. The problem is that you can’t run an advanced industrial economy that way. You need at least a modicum of Mental Consciousness for that to work. But the advanced industrial economy underpins modern society, including the internet. If it goes away, so does the Magic. We’ll discuss that more in the next post.

33 thoughts on “Drowning in Magic”

  1. “People do not have ideas: ideas have people.” – Carl Jung. Our petty pseudomedical dictators are not possessed by Magic, they are ideologically possessed as the hell-dwelling human wrecks that Jesus cast demons out of. There was nothing Magical about millions of Germans accustomed the the railroading of human vermin to death camps. Only psychopaths can imagine replaying that today on a global scale, especially over a largely harmless flu. Mass formation and Girardian scapegoating and blood sacrifice are not Magic but the highest form of evil, which is only ever human when psychopaths think they tinker with Magic. Right hemisphere defective nerds like Gates may not appear to satisfy the clinical definition of psychopath but the combined apotheosis of capitalist greed and the ideology of exceptionalism, with its legacy of eugenicist fantasy, or the evangel of transhumanist augmentation, make for a “magic” more evil still than all our previous historical demons combined.

  2. Ugo – thanks a lot.

    Des – I think we’re saying the same thing. When ideology is not understood using the reasoning faculties of the mind (what I’m calling Mental Consciousness), it becomes nothing more than buzzwords and propaganda. What I’m saying is that buzzwords are actually a form of Magic: you tie the sound and the visualisation of the word to “energy”.

    “Safe and effective” is a great example from the last two years. Those words have technical, epidemiological definitions that we can establish and test for. But the way they were used by politicians had nothing to do with science, but with Magic. The question is, do our politicians any longer know the difference?

  3. Simon, have you seen this?

    “We need a word for this new illness, which exclusively affects members of Team Reality:

    It is a low- to medium-grade anxiety disorder caused by the realization that the bureaucrats and politicians who are nominally in charge do not really know what they’re doing, cannot read or understand data, and will not course correct in response to new information.”

    https://alexberenson.substack.com/p/covid-has-caused-a-new-psychiatric/comments

    Sounds kinda like what you’re saying. 😉 And BTW, J&J (Justin & Jacinda, that is) freak me out…

  4. Irena – how about Peter Principle-itis? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle

    I’ve seen the Peter Principle at work in my career. One case that always stands out in my mind was a total narcissist and complete moron who is, last I heard, now a C-level manager at one of Australia’s biggest corporations.

    I’m not surprised about the bureaucrats and politicians. I always assumed they were morons. The best defence against them has always been a robust civil society but that civil society just rolled over during corona. In particular, the doctors, nurses and lawyers who should have been raising hell. That’s the part that worries me more as those are the people who keep the lights on.

  5. @Simon

    I guess I’ve reached the point where I simply don’t trust “those people” to successfully pull off any kind of large scale project. Would something like the Apollo program be possible today? Probably not.

    The problem is clearly multi-causal. Sure, part of it is the Peter Principle. But don’t you think there’s been a general loss of competence as well? Maybe that’s a consequence of the fact that many more people go on to secondary and higher education, and that leads to a decrease in standards. Or maybe it’s because careers are no longer life-long, and so jobs go to people with less and less experience (but fancier and fancier degrees…). But yes, what you call magic certainly plays a role. The media/Twitter hysteria turned out to be a lot more dangerous than da virus. That general sort of thing will probably continue. Yesterday, perhaps unwisely, I got myself entangled in a discussion about nuclear with someone on Substack. Incredibly safe. Incredibly plentiful. Or so he (I think it’s a he) would have me believe. Lemme guess. Safety standards are comparable to those at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (i.e. usually works fine, until it doesn’t), and if there’s an oops, Twitter will cause panic that will cause more damage than the oops did (I can imagine them trying to evacuate a major metropolitan area because of a minor accident).

  6. The workers were no longer to be beaten into submission on the waterfronts and picket lines. Rather, they would be turned into consumers via the Magic of modern advertising. All this was paid for by Capital who were the ones selling the products and so stood to benefit from the arrangement

    It is this “All this was paid for by Capital…” – what is partial and half-true – at best…

    Actually, “All this was paid for” – by trading fossil fuels under the doctrine of what’s called “supply and demand” – not on the basis the fuels are truly – finite.

    In fact, Karl Marx has failed to identify – how his working class will persist after coal mines deplete?

    Karl Marx was the person who has given the term – Capitalism – a substance by imagining Communism – a contrast – the storyline that our Western Civilisation then took and made up of it the events – of the 20th Century and after.

    Having Marx entirely dismissing fossil fuel Energy resources being finite -is what has made our Western Civilisation jumping and dancing all along – declaring – Energy is not an issue in the future for humanity – humans have Capitalism and E=mc^2 – what’s else humans fear…

    By the 1950s, our Western Civilisation was done with the Energy Question – todate, nobody could scale up significantly the steam turbines much bigger than those utilised in coal power plants, if at all – no matter what the fuel is used instead of coal – nuclear or natural gas…

    That was enough and final evidence, beside tonnes of others, that E=mc^2, like Marx Communism, is – actually – flawed – at core…

    Full of civilian habitants – Mosul, Raqqa, Aleppo and many other cities in Iraq and Syria were destroyed in the past few years – to the ground – using no more than $100-a piece Kalashnikovs, RPGs and some Howitzers.

    Watch on the internet how their ruins look like – no less shocking than those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Civilian causalities in them exceeded those of Japan – without any Manhattan Project and trillions of dollars spent on nuclear programmes.

    Even nuclear weapons prove challenged in what destruction they can cause as – compared to other weapons that you can buy in Iraq today – sold to the public along vegetables – if you don’t want to get them for free – when one joins a militia…

    “The workers were no longer to be beaten into submission on the waterfronts and picket lines” – but fossil fuels-rich nations are being systemically destroyed for their resources – since 1914 – non-stop – from Iraq to today Russia and Ukraine…

    The Internet, making the masses effortlessly recognising E=mc^2 – is a Magic that needed rivers of blood and misery of whole nations – all the last 100 years – and counting.

    All finite fossil fuels were burned in the process – are now gone in vain – forever…

    Remembering E=mc^2, the Internet, iPhones – will not a substitute for fossil fuels – as they severely vanish by the hour…

    Humans cannot manufacture Energy – there will be no Magic that changes this law – ever .

    Energy, like time, flows from past to future

    Wailing.

  7. Irena – I recall a time, maybe it was a couple of years ago, when nuclear just re-appeared out of nowhere in the discourse. I guess some people realised that adding more renewables without associated baseload power would bring down the grid and so nuclear came up as a “non-emitting” baseload option. Personally, I’d take my chances on carbon emissions over radioactive waste but there you go. What’s the situation in Czechia in relation to energy? Seems that Europe is in for a tough winter. Are you stocking up on candles and blankets?

    EnergyAndEntropy – I think Kurt Vonnegut said it best – “Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.”

    It is interesting, though, that the increase in Magical energy has tracked physical energy. We would assume that the latter “caused” the former but it could just as easily be the other way around.

  8. @Simon

    Yeah, I’d rather take my chances on carbon emissions over radioactive waste, too. But the thing is, it’s not either/or. They/we will burn all the fossil fuels that can economically be burned. Nuclear is in “addition to,” rather than “instead of” carbons.

    As for Europe/energy: yeah, well, things aren’t looking too hot. I’ve been buying myself some warm clothes. A warmer blanket is on my shopping list (I’d better hurry up). Maybe I should get some candles, too. I am renting a one-bedroom: relatively large living room (with a kitchen), plus a small-ish bedroom, but the bedroom contains a desk, so I can spend all my time there if I want/need to. My plan is to heat only the bedroom in the winter (I have electric heating). I only need to be in the living room when I’m cooking, standing next to the stove (=heat).

  9. Hi Simon,

    The subject of ‘will’ has been on my mind over the past few years. The great risk with magic directed outwards is that the person projecting that energy comes under their own spell. And as time goes on, the person loses what little free will they once had, or at best the scope is reduced. There’s blow-back too.

    The tool of magic from my perspective is best employed upon yourself, or for a higher spiritual purpose. That way you avoid the pitfalls and traps, but people can give it a go and try to effect change in others, if they want. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it does seem to be a pervasive force in our culture.

    You’re right, many politicians have chose rightly or wrongly to go down that path. If that’s an option, it kind of displays a very weak hand.

    As always, you are rattling our brains! 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  10. RE “The typical conspiracy theorist explanation is that they are all psychopaths who are using manipulative tactics to confuse and deceive the public. No doubt some of them are psychopaths. But if we think about this in Magical terms and we assume none of them know what they are doing when it comes to Magic, then another possibility opens up: they are possessed by their own Magic.” and “This would make them not just psychopaths, but imbeciles too.”

    This shows your lack of good understanding of what psychopaths are. Being “possessed by their own magic” is a major trait of psychopath. Imbecility, too, is innate in psychopathy because it’s a form of insanity.

    By FAR the most vital urgent and DEEP understanding everyone needs to gain is that a mafia network of manipulating PSYCHOPATHS are governing big businesses (eg official medicine), nations and the world — the evidence is OVERWHELMING and TOTALLY IRREFUTABLE (study the scholarly essay “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room”… https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html ).

    And psychopaths are typically NOT how Hollywood propaganda movies have showcased them. And therefore one better RE-learns what a psychopath REALLY is.

    But global rulership by psychopaths is only ONE part of the equation that makes up the destructive human condition as the article explains because there are TWO pink elephants in the room… and they’re MARRIED (see cited source above).

    Isn’t it about time for anyone to wake up to the ULTIMATE DEPTH of the rabbit hole — rather than remain blissfully willfully ignorant and play victim like a little child?

  11. Irena – you might want to inspect the windows and doors to see if they are sealed too (and seal them if necessary). The good news is that a small but well sealed and insulated room can be heated surprisingly effectively just from the human body heat plus a few electrical devices and cooking appliances.

    Chris – I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. The politicians didn’t create the corona hysteria. My recollection was that they were trying to talk it down early on but the “will” was coming from the public. So, I think you’re right but the problem is with our entire culture which no longer practices any kind of spirituality and therefore has no training at all in channeling Magical energy and so it just floats around grabbing onto anything.

    Andrise – you’re right. I missed the obvious opportunity to redefine the word psychopath. Ironically, this would have fitted with the theme of my last few posts which is that modern psychology is just the re-discovery of the Magical Consciousness. So, within that framing, I would define psychopath as “a person overtaken by Magical energy and therefore not operating either at the level of soul (psyche+pathology) or reason (Mental Consciousness)”.

  12. Simon,

    Interesting post, I liked your framing of magic and civilization as a channeling of eros for a society wide project, it made me think of the relatiobship of magic and civilization in a new way.

    Do you think economics may be a form of magic too? My understanding is that the magical takeover of politics is a symptom of the takeover of what Michael Sandel calls “market values”. In a functional society, buying and selling are transactions that coexist with other forms of cooporation, but in a market society, everything is up for sale.

    For example, in the past the energy of votes was exchanged for taking actions in the interests of the constituate. Today, it seems votes are being sold, both metaphorically and literally, to someone who will provide you with an emotional need, so most people pick a party like they pick a shampoo in the supermarket rather than engage in a civic way.

    Could the infiltration of magic into politics be because of the infiltration of the market into politics, and what we are seeing is the energy of markets in a place where it does not belong?

  13. Bakbook – that’s an interesting question. Money is a proxy for energy, both physical energy (electricity, oil etc.) and Magical energy (propaganda, advertising, marketing). Corporations and billionaires have acquired so much “energy” that they override the energy of the public. That also fits into the Trump/Brexit phenomenon where somehow the energy of the public defeated the energy of money. But you also make a good point that people don’t invest any personal energy into politics. Very few people are members of a political party or have any direct involvement in politics. So, the public doesn’t put any energy in and therefore the politicians don’t offer them anything either.

  14. Simon – thank you for another fascinating post, and I am particularly looking forward to the next one. While I agree that the likes of Jacinda and Justin employ their PR magic to get elected and then to achieve public consent for their policies, I don’t really see them as the ones who actually develop those policies. As I see it the policies are prepared by bureaucrats and guided by the need to keep global capital happy (Blackrock, Vanguard, WEF etc). As such we have people operating almost exclusively under the deficient Mental-Rational consciousness employing practitioners of Magic to implement their choices. To me our current problems stem from the inability of the Mental-Rational consciousness, which always wants to use step-by-step chains of logic, to deal with complex time-dependent systems for which a more Integral approach is better suited.

  15. Simon – my recollection re corona hysteria is that, from the outset, the media sensationalised each case or outbreak while only giving a voice to health ‘experts’ who emphasised the threat of death or permanent debility, & in consequence I saw normally reasonable & intelligent people react w/ fear & start to narrow their focus down to self-preservation to the exclusion of other priorities, instead of asking sensible questions. So the ‘will’ was coming from those controlling media content.

    My understanding of psychopaths is that they’ve suffered extreme &/or prolonged abuse early in life, & in consequence haven’t developed a capacity for intimacy. If they’ve learned that being vulnerable means getting tormented, used etc., their only protection is power, i.e., the exercise of will. Apparently there’s a genetic factor too, but if one or both parents are themselves psychopathic, it’s likely their offspring will suffer abuse. So to me psychopathic behaviour often seems to demonstrate the dominance of reason to the exclusion of feeling.

    My experience of practising magic involved the focusing of intent energised by intense positive emotion. (A kind of behind-the-scenes version of what some performing artists do…?) From which perspective I can get how a psychopath w/ their powerfully repressed feelings could be totally taken over & driven by all that negative emotion if their reasoning process gave them a compelling goal.

    Sorry if I’ve entirely missed your point.

  16. Simon,

    Would Jung say there is some kind of merchant archatype, who, just like the warrior represents the energy of war, represents the energy of money?

  17. William – I agree. I think Goethe pointed out that science was already moving away from a holistic discipline in his day. So, I think the deficient Mental Consciousness actually becomes Magical in the sense that people might know the mathematical formulas or theories but they have no gnosis, no lived experience of science. The formulas then become nothing more than Magic spells. I think that’s true of the leaders and bureaucrats who probably simply don’t have time to acquire gnosis even if they wanted to. Then you get the extra layer of Magic that comes when the marketing people get told to sell the ideas to the public.

    Shane – I suppose a politician is practising will-to-power as a profession so becoming a psychopath is an occupational hazard in that field. Not to mention that you’d have to suppress your emotions just to last 5 minutes in the job. But I guess the point I was making was that as a culture we are practising magic without knowing it. Almost by definition that makes it black magic and guarantees that it will come back on you.

    Bakbook – interestingly, the modern decadent businessman stereotype is typically analysed using the Warrior archetype. The shadow form of the Warrior is using power for personal gain. A bit like the businessman who couldn’t care less what they are buying and selling as long as they make money.

  18. I wonder if major new religions are being born as we speak. They may be very minor at this point, though. But old religions are largely dead (though their corpses haven’t necessarily been buried yet), at least in the West. This goes both for Christianity, and for “religions” such as communism. So now there’s all this free-floating psychic energy, channeled by Twitter in unpredictable ways, leading to some pretty dumb outcomes. But how long will it take before it organizes itself into something more permanent?

    The hunger is definitely out there. I think people crave the old grandiosity. mRNA shots were supposed to be our generation’s moonshot. That worked out really well, didn’t? It occurs to me that the nuclear crowed is playing a similar game. I wrote above that I got entangled in a discussion about nuclear on some Substack. I said deindustrialization was inevitable, with or without nuclear. Result? “The only unsustainable part is IF and ONLY IF despicable and devious people like yourself, monsters, can succeed in their continued blockade against Nuclear power.” (Yes, direct quote. And I also got accused of wanting to kill children.) The interesting thing about this is how much it resembles religious fervor (of a salvationist type, in particular). It’s like having a furious preacher scream at you about the fires of Hell because you told him that Heaven didn’t actually exist, or that Jesus wasn’t actually born of a virgin.

    As it happens, I doubt the nuclear cult will last that long. (Note: not all proponents of nuclear power are cultists. It’s a subset.) The West has largely lost its capacity to execute large projects(*), and building even just one nuclear power plant is a huge project. Imagine building hundreds, which is what these people would like to do. So, I think they’ll yell for a while, and then, perhaps within a decade, it’ll end. However, we’re likely to get more and more cults of a broadly similar type, and one of them may eventually turn into a major religion.

    As for Twitter et al: I rather suspect they’ll axe it before too long. It generates too much unpredictable behavior.

    (*) Speaking of which, as you said: “Is the west going to devolve completely into the Magical Consciousness? Perhaps. The problem is that you can’t run an advanced industrial economy that way.” Yup. At best, we’re scrambling to maintain the stuff built by the previous generations. Even that is a challenge.

  19. Simon – Interesting, I have a thought on that – I’d like to point out that up until the eve of the first world war, many European heads of state, mainly monarchs, were wearing military uniforms in public. Today, even the few remaining monarchs like the queen of England and the king of Spain (who is in fact a military officer in NATO), seem to prefer suits. It’s as if in the past they wanted to look like warriors protecting their nations, but today they want to look like CEOs.

  20. Irena – that’s literally the subject of my next post. I’m not sure it will manifest as religion, however. At least, not the kind we recognise. That Substack sounds like fun 😛 So, apparently there’s a whole class of people now who think that if you disagree with them you want grannies/babies/puppy dogs to die. It’s the kind of argumentation you might find in a primary school playground. Which is pretty much what Twitter is too these days. Just graffiti on the bathroom wall.

    Bakbook – yes. And politicians even talk like businesspeople too. You might hear the phrase “Australia is open for business” or the prime minister is the “CEO of Australia”. I don’t know when all that started. Maybe some time in the 80s? We had the whole obsession with the “economy” thing. It makes sense. The US empire has largely been run on the soft power of money and markets rather than military power so the top dogs wear suits and not military uniforms.

  21. Dear Simon,
    I came across your post through Ugo Bardi’s blog. I found it thoughtprovoking and insightful. “The limits to growth” was written 50 years ago and its simple message was that the dominant economic paradigm based on (magical) neoclassical economic thinking was unsustainable since it did not account for limited resources nor for the complex interactions between factors such as ecological damage, food production, industrial output or population growth. The MIT team recommended systemic changes to prevent collapse of industrialized societies. As we know, neoliberal politicians did nothing of the kind and the world economy has been following their ‘business-as-usual’ scenario towards inevitable collapse. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen said essentially the same thing, but invoking the often forgotten issue of entropy in economics (which accounts for energy dissipation). Degrowthers further add the issues of externalization of ecological and social impacts by mainstram economists. They also emphasize the role of marketing and of credit in feeding our consumerist and wasteful economic system.
    I would like to call your attention to the concept of Wetiko/Wendigo invoked by some authors to describe the current ecocidal and sociopathic trend which characterizes the collective psychosis that affects (or rather, infects!) mainstream politicians and the wider society. Please check e.g. the books “Columbus and other cannibals” by Jack D. Forbes or Paul Levy’s “Dispelling Wetiko”, and the following more recent articles published in Kosmos journal: https://www.kosmosjournal.org/article/seeing-wetiko-on-capitalism-mind-viruses-and-antidotes-for-a-world-in-transition/ and https://www.kosmosjournal.org/kj_article/searching-for-the-anti-virus-covid-19-as-quantum-phenomenon/
    Looking forward to reading your next post.

  22. Hey mate,

    great post as usual, and now that you extended the definition psychopath i am in full agreement.
    Is this maybe not simply a case of civilisations being self limiting? A negative feedback loop that eventually terminates it?
    On the subject of the elite freak out, did you see sam harris on triggernometry? Interesting insight into the minds of one of them. He does not even seem to realise the insanity of the position he presents calmly and with a friendly face. A great example of a psychopath. At least other psychopaths had the decency to screw up their faces and shout and properly impersonate the demons they were posessed by. But maybe that is the nature of our demons. Passive agressive with an infuriating smile and a soft voice.

  23. Alvaro – thanks a lot for those links. Wow. I only had a chance to skim read but both of those ideas are ones I’ve been pondering; in particular the idea of viral disease, whose cause and effect relationship has always been problematic, as a magical/energetic phenomenon. It also seems that most cultures practicing what I have been calling the Magical Consciousness also practice(d) some form of cannibalism of the dead as a way to imbibe the life force so that’s another “coincidence”.

    Roland – what i’m finding fascinating is that some explanations of the meaning of quantum mechanics sound almost identical to magical/occult theory. For example, instead of matter moving around in a void, there is the concept of a giant sea of energy and matter is just the longer-lived structures that stand out from the flux. In other words, energy is what is “real”. But that’s basically what the Magical Consciousness assumes. So, now physics itself starts to sound like Magic.

    I saw a few minutes of Harris. It was like an almost exact replica of the great passage from the book “A Man for all Seasons”:

    William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

    William Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

  24. I think QM goes even deeper. It is not matter or energy that is fundamental. Maybe consciousness is, maybe it is something we cannot even imagine. Maybe there is nothing fundamental? turtles all the way down?

    “The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter…we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter”

    James Jeans

    Why should reality be intelligible to a bunch of apes?

    with harris, the first few minutes were enough. I watched about 20 mins and after maybe 3 mins it was all rinse and repeat, but i thought it a valuable insight into TDS in it’s final stages,
    I can see the A Man for all Seasons connection. There really is nothing new under the sun

  25. Roland – true. I think it’s a problem (and probably not a coincidence) that these ideas have come into the culture via postmodernism where they get written off as the delusions of the arts and not “real science” (where “real science” means classical physics). Somehow, we end up with the worst of postmodernism and completely outdated ideas of what science is (especially in biology/medicine).

  26. Energy is what’s ‘real’ before we undergo educational brainwashing. 🙂 So, is Magical Consciousness another term for describing an infantilised culture?

  27. Shane – not at all. We have to distinguish between deficient and proficient (in Jungian terms shadow and positive) culture. I think we’re partly seeing deficient Magical Consciousness in that people are mucking around the Magical without knowing what they are doing. At the same time, I think the deficient Mental Consciousness becomes a kind of deficient Magic in that a lack of gnosis with logic and science turns those domains into nothing more than magic spells. Again, “safe and effective” is the classic example here. In the absence of a technical understanding backed up by actual empirical research, it’s nothing more than black Magic.

  28. Simon, maybe I’m getting hung up on semantics, but if a magic spell is designed to produce a specified result & it doesn’t, isn’t the ‘magic’ factor irrelevant (whether the spell or practitioner are at fault)? And isn’t ‘safe & effective’ w/r/t vaccines (& lots else on the market!) just magical thinking: a normal developmental stage (Santa, Easter Bunny etc.) that if it persists beyond adolescence, may attract a psych label? While ‘black magic’ is what conspiracists say the satanic elites are practising, w/ the implication that they’re having some success? Which doesn’t make sense: we’ve left Magical Consciousness, as it once existed, behind & can’t unbreak the egg, hence the attraction to substitutes like VR etc.?

  29. Shane – I’m making the claim that Magic is fundamental to any society. Thus, there is a basic element of Magic always present. Once upon a time we had contained the Magical, but in the post war years we have increasingly indulged in it. So, I think Magic can and does still work but only by bypassing the conscious mind (Mental Consciousness). That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe there are some things that can only be done with Magic. But if we revert much more to Magic then society as we know it is simply going to disappear.

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