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23 Books for Counterculture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards

We are a nation created by generations of religious whack-jobs who just wanted to live strangely, create stuff, and be left alone! Version 1.0

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

October 20, 2012 - 3:00 pm

I guess it’s to be expected – that the cool grew up to be square. Hell, even evangelicals are hipper than liberals now. (I used the word Hell deliberately, even though it isn’t cool.)

Now here’s the thing: Liberals are beginning to realize they’re not hip anymore. They won’t admit it, but they do. Witness Obama’s behavior with the press. He’s sweating like Nixon – and that’s definitely not hip. (On second thought, Nixon was finally hipper than Obama.)

And Jay Carney? Would you call him hip? And what about Biden? Has there ever been a soul so square?

What makes modern liberalism the mess that it is today is that it is mainly composed of people who desperately wanted to be cool in high school – wanted to be Abbie Hoffman or Eldridge Cleaver – but never were. Their longing – this need to be Abbie – has clouded their thinking and their ability to perceive reality, placing us all in a mess along with them.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan became a conservative.

– PJ Media CEO Roger L. Simon, June 19, 2012

“He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will, too. I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we’ve gotta … name this condition that he’s going through… I think it’s called Romnesia,”

– President Barack Obama, October 19, 2012

Of course we’re down to the final months of the president’s term, as presidents…

(LAUGHTER)

…as President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room with everyone in white tie and refinery, you have to wonder what he’s thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute.

(LAUGHTER) ….

And by the way in — in the spirit of Sesame Street, the president’s remarks tonight are brought to you but the letter ‘O’ and the number $16 trillion.

(LAUGHTER)

– GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, October 18, 2012


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Previously at PJ Lifestyle we’ve discussed the phenomenon of the “crunchy conservative,” the individual who embraces politics and values commonly associated with “the Right” while living a more natural, “hippie” lifestyle stereotyped as a monopoly of those on “the Left.”

But libertarians who prefer raw milk and organic food aren’t the only oddballs smashing the stereotype of what a “Bitter Clinger” actually looks like. Here are three more political-cultural hybrids:

Counterculture Conservative

Someone with classical liberal politics and outside-the-mainstream art tastes, lifestyle choices, diet, fashion sensibilities, sexual preferences, or religious beliefs. Often times this mindset comes as a result of a political shift to the Right later in life.

Archetypal example: New Media troublemaker and publisher, the late Andrew Breitbart (whose memoir appears second on the list.)

Tea Party Occultist

One who identifies with both the founding fathers’ Enlightenment politics and Masonic spiritual values — and perceives the relationship between the two. Religious Liberty requires a government based in Political Liberty and a military to defend it from barbarian idolaters who would take away both. Alternative definition: one who identifies with both the “Right-Wing” Tea Party movement and the Right-Hand path of the Western Mystery Tradition, adequately defined here by Wikipedia:

The Right-Hand Path is commonly thought to refer to magical or religious groups which adhere to a certain set of characteristics:

  • They adhere to social conventions and avoid taboos.
  • They divide the concepts of mind, body and spirit into three separate, albeit interrelated entities.[3]
  • They adhere to a specific moral code and a belief in some form of judgement, such as karma or the Threefold Law.[3]

(See the rest of the Wikipedia entry for a list of various religions and mystical groups characterized as Right-Hand.) Even within the magical world those on “the Right” cherish the Rule of Law, while those on “the Left” embrace anarchy.

Archetypal example: James Wasserman, author, book designer, and a “founding father” of the modern revivals of the mystical secret society the Ordo Templi Orientis and its religion Thelema. (Wasserman’s new memoir begins the list and four more of his books also appear.)

Capitalist Wizard

One who understands the magical abilities of the free market to create value, wealth, and prosperity out of nothing but hard work, great ideas, and good luck. In free societies you really can wave your wand and turn lead into gold. All wealth begins when the entrepreneurs who will someday create it first dream and then put pen to paper to lay out their plan. Writing creates wealth. The ridiculous level of comfort in our society today — our government can afford to pay for the luxury of a cell phone for “poor” people — could happen because hundreds of years ago men wrote that the pursuit of happiness was an innate right.

Archetypal Example: Walt Disney. What began as imaginations in his head and sketches of a mouse would one day become a billion dollar multimedia empire with DisneyLand — our Mecca — as the permanent celebratory reminder of how the imagination can manifest mental and spiritual wealth into the material world.

One can note that these categories each correlate with one of the three values of the American Trinity identified and defined by Dennis Prager in his book Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. Counterculture conservatives embody Liberty, Tea Party Occultists emphasize In God We Trust, and the Capitalist Wizards live E. Pluribus Unum in both theory and practice.

These three categories also have their natural opponents, of whom more will be said later in the list when appropriate:

  • Counterculture Conservatives Vs Cultural Marxists.
  • Tea Party Occultists Vs Nazi Mystics.
  • Capitalist Wizards Vs Corporatist Sorcerers.

My intent with this list is to compile an annotated bibliography of sorts — a collection of books on a variety of subjects and genres that when put side by side can manifest fresh connections and new ways of looking at the world so we as individuals can solve our problems and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

Future editions will include additional categories and authors, as well as expanded entries for the books and authors already included. (Please leave suggestions of who should appear in future updates. And if you leave an especially strong comment then I might include it in the next edition.) This first list comprises only a bare bones beginning for defining these three emerging traditions. Perhaps 100 more titles await in my mind for potential inclusion and with input from PJ Lifestyle’s readers that number can grow.

Here are the various sections of the list for your browsing convenience so you can jump to the subjects or authors who are of most interest. However, I’ve still written this extended article (really more of a free e-book before the election) with the traditional intent that it should make the most sense read beginning to end… that is, if it ends up making any sense at all — which is not something I can guarantee… Caveat Emptor…

Part I, Autobiographies: Forging Counterculture Conservatism In The Center of the Fire

Part II, History: The Temple of Solomon and the Foundations of Western Civilization

  • Abraham, The Patriarch as Original Counterculturalist.
  • Also: the truth about the Muslim occultists who tried to separate Islam from Shariah and their hidden role in shaping Western Freedom.

Part III, Polemics: A Moonchild of Aleister Crowley and Ann Coulter

  • “Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other, responsibility. Both edges are exceedingly sharp and the weapon is not suited to casual, cowardly or treacherous hands.” — Jack Parsons

Part IV, American Exceptionalism: The Secrets Embedded Within The Fourth Great Western Religion

Part V, Media: Douglas Rushkoff and Programming Internet Magic

Part VI, Science: Howard Bloom and the Modern Alchemical Marriage of Secularism and Spirituality

  • What does it mean to understand Mother Nature as “a bloody bitch?”
  • And what does it look like when an atheist proves that God exists not as a noun, but as the Kabbalists always said, a Verb?

Part I: Autobiographies

1. In The Center of the Fire by James Wasserman

Original Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Official Description:

In this daring exposé by a survivor of a unique era in the New York occult scene, James Wasserman, a longtime proponent of the teachings of Aleister Crowley, brings us into a world of candlelit temples, burning incense, and sonorous invocations. The author also shares an intimate look at the New York Underground of the 1970s and introduces us to the company of such avant-garde luminaries as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Harry Smith, and Angus MacLise. A stone’s throw away from the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol’s Factory, William Burroughs’ “bunker,” and the legendary Chelsea Hotel was a scene far more esoteric than perhaps even they could have imagined.

When James Wasserman joined the O.T.O. in 1976, there were fewer than a dozen members. Today the Order numbers over 4,000 members in 50 countries and has been responsible for a series of ground-breaking publications of Crowley’s works.

The author founded New York City’s TAHUTI Lodge in 1979. He chronicles its early history and provides a window into the heyday of the Manhattan esoteric community. He also breaks his decades of silence concerning one of the most seminal events in the development of the modern Thelemic movement — detailing his role in the 1976 magical battle between Marcelo Motta and Grady McMurtry. Long slandered for his effort to heal the temporary breach between the Orders of A.’.A.’. and O.T.O., James Wasserman sets the record straight. And, he meticulously chronicles the copyright contest over the Crowley literary estate–of which he was an important participant.

This is also a saga with a very human tableau filled with tender romance, passionate friendships, an abiding spiritual hunger, danger, passion, and ecstasy. It also explores several hidden magical byways including the rituals of Voodoo, Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism. Finally we are given a bird’s eye view of the 1960s hippie culture and its excesses of sex and drugs, and rock n roll–along with the personal transformations and penalties such a lifestyle brought forth.

Reconstructed from personal memories, magical diaries, multiple interviews, court transcripts, witness depositions, trial evidence, and extensive correspondence, this book elucidates a hitherto misreported and ill-understood nexus of modern magical history. It also shares tales of a mythical moment in American life as seen through the eyes of an enthusiastic participant in the hip culture of the day.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

James Wasserman’s memoir accomplishes an elegant feat by juggling three narrative threads: A) his own personal transformation from socialist hippie drug addict in the late ’60s to gun-toting, libertarian family man and influential elder statesman of a new religion, B) the legal and personal battles surrounding Aleister Crowley’s copyrights and the leadership of the Ordo Templi Orientis – the same emotional intensity that inspires one to build religious movements also pushs others to tear them apart C) the professional transformation from clerk at Weiser’s Book Store to acclaimed book designer, author, and talking head in Discovery and History channel documentaries. These three threads of course connect with our three CounterCon movements.

In describing the ideological and biographical aspect of Wasserman’s memoir, a good comparison is to PJ Columnist Ron Radosh and his memoir Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left. Radosh and Wasserman played comparable roles in their respective movements of the New Left and Thelema, each acting as movement historian and subtle observer of behind-the-scenes events and the larger-than-life, legendary personalities.

And both made their journey from left to right one step at a time over the course of many decades. For Wasserman disillusionment from the organized left came in the late ’60s while working in Washington D.C. on civil rights and antiwar issues. (He realized that the leaders of the movement admitted they didn’t care if the communists won in Vietnam — or that communism was even a bad thing.) But this just knocked him into more than a decade of wandering around the 1970s New York occult scene. It wouldn’t be until decades later when several life events would deliver the rightward kicks needed for him to eventually come out vocally as an advocate of political liberty. The one that I’ll emphasize here: during the mid-’80s Wasserman decided to purchase a gun to protect himself from some of the crazier individuals in the darker corners of the Occult underground. He realized that he bore the responsibility to protect his family and that he could not rely on anyone else.

It’s one thing to live a happy little counterculture existence prancing around in a circle, casting spells and dropping LSD. But the reality is there are evil people out there who don’t want us to have this freedom. If we want to live as counterculturalists then conserving our liberty means having a bigger gun than the other guy, the skill to hit him when we fire, and the courage to pull the trigger before he does. And of course this same principle applies whether the bully is a thug wanting your wallet or a despot enriching uranium.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

Aleister Crowley — the founder of Wasserman’s religion of Thelema and the most influential occultist of the 20th century — has a really bad reputation. Much of this is his own fault but his enemies did a smear job on him that makes today’s mainstream media look as benign as internet comment trolls. Even still today most of the time when mentioning Crowley’s name in an article someone will show up in the comments to insist that he was a child molester and Satanist who drank blood and performed human sacrifice. (Roger L. Simon mentioned the connection between Crowley and Walter Duranty in his speech opening the Duranty awards — subjects to be explored in more depth in future editions of this list as I do more research.)

This has its benefits for a young religion; it’s much better if the founder is a jerk who’s very difficult to like. That way the ideas and spiritual teachings have to fall or stand on their own and you’re less likely to idolize the founder and emulate his life.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” remains the most well known tenet of Crowley’s system of Thelema and most widely misinterpreted. Those who just “dabble” in Occultism as a kind of revolt against the “establishment” Judeo-Christian tradition think that it means “Do whatever you want is the only law you have to live by because you’re a superman better than everyone else. So you can cheat and party and live the life of a hedonist.” (That certainly sounds to be the Duranty reading of it.) People just assume that because Crowley lived as a libertine for periods of his life that sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, racism, Satanism, and anti-Christian rhetoric were natural outgrowths of the religion he founded.

But that’s not the case. And you see it in the lives of people like Wasserman who find God and make themselves better people through nontraditional religious practices. Thelema isn’t a license to be an evil person. The operative word most misinterpreted is “WILL” and it translates the command more like this: “Find your True Will and then pursue performing it with all of your being.” How does one find his True Will? What does that even mean?

The answer is more mundane than those with the Crowley “Great Beast” caricature in their head may suspect. Crowley wrote in Magick Without Tears:

It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple.

True Will = The Will of God, or God’s plan for you on this earth, which we can find out through invoking angels to tell us and then transform us into the people God wants us to be.

Those thinking that the world of the occult is an escape from the Judeo-Christian tradition are in for a shock should they delve deeper. The reality is that Crowley-influenced occultism relies heavily on Jewish and Christian traditions. Don’t believe me? Wasserman’s previous book, The Temple of Solomon: From Ancient Israel to Secret Societies, featured later on the list, spends almost 400 pages making the argument.

What this means is that it’s time for occultists and those of “alternative” spirituality to recognize that they too are a part of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage — and have a responsibility to participate in defending it from the genocidal antisemites who want to conquer us all. We’re all Jews. Anyone who regards the Bible as a net positive for humanity, worth defending — regardless of their specific beliefs about the meaning of the words written in it — counts as a Jew. And everyone who struggles with God is Israel.

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

Also tucked into Wasserman’s memoir the reader finds the inspiring story of his multifaceted career in book designing, publishing, writing, and editing. Wasserman played a vital role in the publication of much of Crowley’s work today, perhaps of most importance being Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck in 1977, for which he also wrote the instructions. (This is my favorite Tarot deck.) Wasserman also produced a stunning edition of The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day. The books he design have an elegant, authoritative quality to them. Spring for the hardback of In the Center of the Fire instead of the Kindle edition.

The important piece to grasp here is the role of writing as it relates to Wasserman’s spirituality and politics. When he founded a new OTO lodge in New York City the name he selected was TAHUTI. Likewise his memoir today is published by Ibis Press. TAHUTI, also known by his Greek name Thoth, was the Egyptian god of the scribes, the inventor of magic, writing, science, peacemaking, and a central figure among the Western Occult tradition:

When we spend our entire lives breathing air how often do we stop and think about the atmosphere we’re stuffing into our lungs? Do we even remember that there’s stuff called air surrounding us? And having always lived in text-based, book-based societies, can we comprehend what it would be like to live in a world without the written word as the common bridge between minds?

Writing is both a technology and a process for analyzing the world; and upon it sits in delicate balance Western Civilization’s liberty-based religious culture, political system, and wealth-generating economic engine. Now with his memoir Wasserman can look back and see the truth of this occult theory as he manifested it over the course of his own life: Through the acts of writing and publishing the world can be transformed. Cast a spell and you can shape the world as you Will.

Through the memoir of another counterculture conservative publisher, lost too soon, we see a concrete example of how to implement this principle to address our dire political situation today…

2. Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart

Publication Date: April 15, 2011
Official Description:

Known for his network of conservative websites that draws millions of readers everyday, Andrew Breitbart has one main goal: to make sure the “liberally biased” major news outlets in this country cover all aspects of a story fairly. Breitbart is convinced that too many national stories are slanted by the news media in an unfair way.In Righteous Indignation, Breitbart talks about the key issues that Americans face, how he has aligned himself with the Tea Party, and how one needs to deal with the liberal news world head on. Along the way, he details his early years, working with Matt Drudge, The Huffington Post, and so on, and how Breitbart developed his unique style of launching key websites to help get the word out to conservatives all over. A rollicking and controversial read, Breitbart will certainly raise your blood pressure, one way or another.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

I reviewed Righteous Indignation here and wrote about the death of Andrew Breitbart here (focusing on his vital contributions to living counterculture conservatism here.) For the purpose of this list, the aspect of Breitbart’s memoir worth emphasizing is his precise targeting of the enemy. In the chapter “Breakthrough” he provides a succinct summary of…

The Cultural Marxist

For counterculture conservatives the culture is a method for the individual to make himself and his family better people. The task of making a better world begins with the self. Cultural Marxists pursue the opposite: every aspect of culture and every institution must be hijacked and subverted to make other people better by enlightening them to the truths of socialism. Archetypal example and theoretician: Antonio Gramsci.

They too believed that through hijacking the writing of culture, one could transform the world. And they were right. Here’s Breitbart explaining, the section on Cultural Marxism begins at about 3:40…

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Cultural Marxists devoted decades to slowly infiltrating the publishing industry. But they did not anticipate the role technology plays in transforming culture.

Conservatives don’t have to worry about retaking the cultural institutions that Marxists conquered. We’re perfectly capable of magically building our own replacements, as PJ Media’s CEO revealed in his memoir, republished last year as Turning Right at Hollywood and Vine...

3. Turning Right at Hollywood and Vine: The Perils of Coming Out Conservative in Tinseltown by Roger L. Simon

Republication Date: February 8, 2011 (First published in 2008 as Blacklisting Myself)
Official Description:

An Academy Award–nominated screenwriter and a mystery novelist, Roger L. Simon is the only American writer to pull off the amazing trick of being profiled positively in both Mother Jones and National Review in one lifetime. The stunning story of his political odyssey is told in this memoir, where Simon recounts his migration from financier of the Black Panther Breakfast Program to pioneer blogosphere mogul beloved by the right as a 9/11 Democrat. But Simon is beholden to neither right nor left in this tale of Hollywood chic run a muck, as he talks out of school about his adventures with, among many others, Richard Pryor, Warren Beatty, Timothy Leary, Richard Dreyfuss, Woody Allen, and Julian Semyonov, the Soviet Union’s version of Robert Ludlum and also a KGB colonel who tempted Simon to join the KGB himself. Among the topics covered along the way:Is there a new blacklist in Hollywood, this one targeting conservatives?

Simon’s red-carpet tours of the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union with Hollywood screenwriters and famous mystery novelists.

Why Al Gore’s documentary on global warming didn’t deserve the Oscar on artistic grounds alone; and why the Academy’s voting system is so corrupt.And, as they say, there is much, much more besides.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

When I reviewed Roger L. Simon’s memoir for Big Hollywood in July of 2011 I emphasized this quote as my favorite. It serves as another definition of “Counterculture Conservative”:

What I am left with is a collection of ideas with which I have dabbled throughout my life, never fully discarding any of them, even though some are completely contradictory of others. I regard Marxism, Freudianism, libertarianism, laissez-faire capitalism, Zen Buddhism, Quaker pacifism, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, that whole galaxy of isms, as arrows in a quiver to be drawn at will, depending on the adversary or the necessities of the situation. That may sound dangerously close to yet another ism—cultural relativism—but I assure you it is not. I do think there is almost always a good and evil, a right and wrong—although often you have to look closely—and the relativist view of the world is at best lazy and at worst a stalking horse for fascism. Those arrows in my quiver are no more than an arsenal for helping me find that elusive truth. And perhaps for taking action. Sometimes one is not enough. Sometimes I don’t need or want any of them.

“I do think there is almost always a good and evil” = the single most important idea a human being needs to have in their head in order to survive in the real world.

Roger continues to challenge himself religiously and intellectually, as this must-read recent post shows: Why I Fasted on Yom Kippur for the First Time in Twenty… or Is It Thirty… Years

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

In September I celebrated my one year anniversary of editing full time for PJ Media. Since starting I’ve tried to learn as much as possible from my wiser, more experienced editorial colleagues, especially Roger. Questions on my mind as I pondered my primary task of expanding and growing our readership: What already made PJM successful? What formula did Roger concoct up in his writing office up in the Hollywood Hills that had drawn me and so many others to the publication in the first place? Because it seemed that all that needed to be done was unlock this formula, pinpoint the aspects of PJM that worked and bring them out more to new audiences. But what was the spell?

The answer stares out on every page of Turning Right at Hollywood and Vine. From writing award-winning novels to Oscar-nominated screenplays on to leading PJM to popularity and influence in the blogosphere today, Roger accomplished it all through diligently developing his mastery of the Writer’s Craft. The secret to creating wealth, value, and a life of happiness: dedicate yourself to becoming great at something and then practice it every day. Then just continue to grow and evolve your skill for a continually changing world.

In future editions of this list I’ll include a section discussing some of the books and techniques Roger recommends for improving as a writer.

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Having considered three histories of individuals we now turn to the broader historical narrative of the development of Western Civilization…

Part II: History

4. Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House by Ken Goffman and Dan Joy

Publication Date: September 13, 2005
Official Description:

As long as there has been culture, there has been counterculture. At times it moves deep below the surface of things, a stealth mode of being all but invisible to the dominant paradigm; at other times it’s in plain sight, challenging the status quo; and at still other times it erupts in a fiery burst of creative–or destructive–energy to change the world forever.

But until now the countercultural phenomenon has been one of history’s great blind spots. Individual countercultures have been explored, but never before has a book set out to demonstrate the recurring nature of counterculturalism across all times and societies, and to illustrate its dynamic role in the continuous evolution of human values and cultures.

Countercultural pundit and cyberguru R. U. Sirius brilliantly sets the record straight in this colorful, anecdotal, and wide-ranging study based on ideas developed by the late Timothy Leary with Dan Joy. With a distinctive mix of scholarly erudition and gonzo passion, Sirius and Joy identify the distinguishing characteristics of countercultures, delving into history and myth to establish beyond doubt that, for all their surface differences, countercultures share important underlying principles: individualism, anti-authoritarianism, and a belief in the possibility of personal and social transformation.

Ranging from the Socratic counterculture of ancient Athens and the outsider movements of Judaism, which left indelible marks on Western culture, to the Taoist, Sufi, and Zen Buddhist countercultures, which were equally influential in the East, to the famous countercultural moments of the last century–Paris in the twenties, Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, Tropicalismo, women’s liberation, punk rock–to the cutting-edge countercultures of the twenty-first century, which combine science, art, music, technology, politics, and religion in astonishing (and sometimes disturbing) new ways, Counterculture Through the Ages is an indispensable guidebook to where we’ve been . . . and where we’re going.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

The key insight in reconciling counterculture and conservatism comes when we define the term historically, beyond just the caricature of the 60s hippie counterculture.

A counterculture is just any group of people who choose to reject some aspect of a dominant culture and then live peacefully in opposition to it. The Jews were a counterculture. So were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. So were the Christians in ancient Rome. So were the Pilgrims. And the Transcendentalists. And the Mormons.

Counterculture Through the Ages presents an alternative way of understanding the West: what if “Western Civilization” was actually just the compilation of all the best countercultural ideas that worked? What if Western Civilization wasn’t really about places or people or things but about a process to understand ourselves, one another, and our purpose in the world? And how do we figure out what that purpose is?

5. The Temple of Solomon: From Ancient Israel to Secret Societies by James Wasserman

Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Official Description:

A fully illustrated history of the Temple of Solomon

• Examines the Temple of Solomon in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and Apocryphal writings

• Explores its role in the founding of Freemasonry, the legends of the Knights Templar, the doctrines of the Kabbalah, and the teachings of Islam

• Explains the sacred nature of the Temple Mount–the site of the Temple of Solomon–and the secrets that may still be hidden there

• Richly illustrated, including many photos and images from rare archives

The spiritual heart of many esoteric societies, the Temple of Solomon was located atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site venerated by the three great monotheistic religions as the intersection of Divine and human. Built by King Solomon at the peak of ancient Israel’s power, the Temple of Solomon housed the golden Ark of the Covenant in its Holy of Holies, a sacred chamber where one could communicate directly with God. Centuries after the temple’s destruction, the Temple Mount was used as the headquarters for the Knights Templar during the Crusades, and countless legends have come down through the centuries about the secrets they may have uncovered there, including discovery of the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant.

Richly illustrated with biblical and Masonic illustrations, photographs, and ancient and modern paintings–many from rare archives–this book explores the Temple of Solomon in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and Apocryphal writings as well as its role in the founding of Freemasonry, the legends of the Knights Templar, the doctrines of the Kabbalah, and Muhammad’s visionary journey from the Temple Mount through the heavens. Seeking to understand the powerful desire of many religions and secret societies to re-create the temple through ritual and prayer, James Wasserman explains why it was built, the magical forces King Solomon may have used in its creation, what its destruction meant for Jews and Christians alike, and why the Knights Templar as well as several modern secret societies named their orders after it. Detailing the sacred architecture of this perfectly proportioned mystical edifice through words and art, the author reveals the Temple of Solomon as the affirmation of God’s presence in human affairs, the spiritual root of Western culture, and an important monument to the Divine nearly forgotten in today’s secular times but sorely needed to bridge the divide between our ancient past and our spiritual future.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

We need a place to go to be with God. We need to designate time and a place where we take a break from just trying to survive and instead work to transform ourselves into better, happier, strong, holier, more Godly people. That’s why we all — whether Jewish, Christian, secular, or mystic — need a Temple. Yes, a physical place to separate ourselves so we as individuals can take time to acknowledge, confront, and repair our own brokenness. That’s the essence of counterculture — recognizing the spiritual emptiness of a more dominant culture and then rejecting it to retreat to holiness.

Later on in the list, in the portion on the founding of America, David Gelertner’s Americanism reveals how the religious dissident’s drive for the freedom to worship God in his own way fueled the colonization of America. What were they after? A place where they could build their own temples in imitation of the Jews of the Old Testament.

Why Tea Party Occultists and Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

The frequency I hear the question only makes it more depressing: “How come you’re always going on about Israel and antisemitism when you’re not Jewish?”

A sign at an Occupy rally.

Nazi Mystics

To the Islamists enforcing Sharia law in the Muslim world the witch and the sorcerer deserve execution as much as the Jew, the apostate, the heretical Muslim, and the homosexual. Here’s a sign from an Occupy rally that expresses a variation of the same “The Jews and the Masons are Trying to Enslave the World” conspiracy theory popularized by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, a perennial bestseller in the Muslim world too.

Christianity, Americanism, Occultism, Classical Liberalism, Science, Rational Thought, Capitalism — these are all just expansions beginning with the foundation of the Torah. Thus the modern day Nazi Mystics, those who combine antisemitism with spirituality, hate all of them. Archetypal example: Derrick Bell, Critical Race Theory founder, gnostic, Barack Obama mentor, and author of Afrolantica Legacies. (Future editions of this list will feature more books on antisemitism, racism, and Nazism.)


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Next, a book revealing the hidden history of a heretical Muslim sect persecuted by the same ideology America and Israel fight today, James Wasserman’s The Templars and the Assassins.

6. The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven by James Wasserman

Publication Date: April 1, 2001
Official Description:

• An examination of the interactions of the Christian Knights Templar and their Muslim counterparts, the Assassins, and of the profound changes in Western society that resulted.

• Restores the reputation of the secret Muslim order of the Assassins, disparaged as the world’s first terrorist group.

• Dispels many myths about the Knights Templar and provides the most incisive portrait of them to date.

A thousand years ago Christian battled Muslim for possession of a strip of land upon which both their religions were founded. These Crusades changed the course of Western history, but less known is the fact that they also were the meeting ground for two legendary secret societies: The Knights Templar and their Muslim counterparts, the Assassins.

In The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven, occult scholar and secret society member James Wasserman provides compelling evidence that the interaction of the Knights Templar and the Assassins in the Holy Land transformed the Templars from the Pope’s private army into a true occult society, from which they would sow the seeds of the Renaissance and the Western Mystery Tradition. Both orders were destroyed as heretical some seven hundred years ago, but Templar survivors are believed to have carried the secret teachings of the East into an occult underground, from which sprang both Rosicrucianism and Masonry. Assassin survivors, known as Nizari Ismailis, flourish to this day under the spiritual leadership of the Aga Khan. Wasserman strips the myths from both groups and penetrates to the heart of their enlightened beliefs and rigorous practices, delivering the most probing picture yet of these holy warriors.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

Of the five Wasserman books on this list, The Templars and the Assassins, A) Took me the longest to read and process, B) Contains the highest density of information, C) is the most important of his books to read because D) it acts as the bridge tying together his themes and E) providing the most accessible summary and definition of Western Occultism I’ve yet encountered in my decade of dabbling.

What is Occultism? The mystical rituals developed within Paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all integrated together. Wasserman effectively argues that the moment in human history when this started to happen was during the Crusades. Templar Knights took the mystical rituals they acquired from the Assassin communities with whom they had made treaties. They then combined them with their own practices — this being the basis for the Templar persecution and the end of the order. Templar Knights fleeing then taught and reinvented these practices, which emerged during the Renaissance as Freemasonry, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, Neo-Platonism, and Alchemy. It was during this bloody transition from the Medieval world of the inquisition to the modern world of the Bill of Rights that the vital link between religious freedom, political freedom, and the right to bear arms appears most obvious.

So it makes sense that Templars and the Assassins would have a companion. The first book introducing the next section — our celebration of the polemicist in defense of freedom — is Wasserman’s collection of essays, The Slaves Shall Serve: Meditations on Liberty.

Part III: Polemics

7. The Slaves Shall Serve: Meditations on Liberty by James Wasserman

Publication Date: February 1, 2004
Official Description:

A battle is raging for the soul of America, and it is of critical interest to the survival of freedom worldwide. Our nation is surrendering its fundamental values of individual responsibility and self determination. Domestically we exchange our privacy and autonomy for the chimera of security; internationally we abdicate our ability to act in our national interest. Why are we squandering the precious jewels of the greatest political experiment in human history? What actions can thoughtful citizens take to protect and regain their personal freedoms? This important collection of essays is supplemented by lengthy appendices containing the primary reference materials that underlie the author’s bold assertions. Readers will fearlessly explore the modern plague of collectivism, especially as embodied by the United Nations; learn the true political, historical, and spiritual roots of the September 11th attacks; revisit the Waco massacre without averting their glance; witness the cynical manipulations of the civilian disarmament movement; and be invited to contemplate the role of transcendent values in the battle to preserve and maintain freedom.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

This engaging companion to The Templars and the Assassins features seven essays from Wasserman integrating his occult spirituality with his political conservatism. The subjects covered include an explanation of his own transition from Left to Right, a summary of ideological struggles over the past 300 years, a non-crackpot analysis of what the Clinton administration did at Waco in 1993 (worth reconsidering in these days of Fast and Furious), 9/11 remembered, gun rights, and the need for belief in transcendent values. One hundred pages of three appendices support the essays — the full text of the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights juxtaposed with the UN Charter, Convention on Human Rights, and other documents. Wasserman annotates, pointing out the key differences.

Also included is Liber Oz, which Wasserman describes as, “a statement published by the English master Aleister Crowley during World War II,” and which “presents what I consider to be the ideal statement of the political rights of any individual courageous enough to live up to the responsibilities that freedom entails.”

Future editions of this list will include more books by and about Crowley. The Templar heretics of the Middle Ages unified the mystical traditions of Paganism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Crowley took over where they left off, integrating the Renaissance traditions, Eastern mysticism and science into his own system of Scientific Illuminism which operated under the motto, “Our method is science, our aim is religion.”

We can use the scientific method to see which religious rituals work to accomplish their objective of making us better, happier, stronger, smarter, more Godly people. No religion has a monopoly on effective rituals.

8. Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword by John Whiteside Parsons

Publication Date: 1989
Official Description:

John Whiteside (Jack) Parsons (1914-1952) was a rocket scientist, occultist and member of Agape Lodge of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis. His eloquent writing on the human condition and the crisis in American society convey passion, intelligence and deep conviction. Written around 1950, these essays are now, decades later, still strikingly prophetic. His introductory essays on magick and witchcraft are classics of lucidity. This volume makes available for the first time all of Parsons’ surviving essays, edited by his wife and student, Cameron, in collaboration with Frater Superior Hymenaus Beta, the head of O.T.O.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

Jack Parsons was one of Crowley’s most devoted practitioners of his magical system. He too embraced Crowley’s radical individualism and understood the connections to political liberty. His essay Freedom is a Two-Edged sword sets the standard for the pro-American, anti-Marxist, anti-Fascist, classical liberal, counterculture polemic. It reverberates with Parson’s distinct prose. Here’s an excerpt from a passage some might find still relevant more than 60 years later:

Freedom is a two-edged sword. He who believes that the absolute rightness of his belief is an authority to suppress the rights and opinions of his fellows cannot be a liberal. Liberalism cannot exist where it violates its own principles. It cannot exist where the emergency monger or the utopia salesman can obtain a suspension of rights, whether temporary or permanent. Liberty cannot be suppressed in order to defend liberalism.

If we are to achieve a democracy, the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of states must be openly defined and ardently defended. It is inconceivable that men who fought and died in a war against totalitarianism did not know what they fought for. It seems a fantastic joke that the institutions they believed in and defended have turned, like a nightmare, into home-grown tyrannies. A generation went down in blood and agony to make the world “safe” but the evil that makes the world “unsafe” still goes undefeated, plotting new sacrifices of misery and blood. The guilt lies not entirely with the warmongers, plutocrats and demagogues. If a people permit exploitation and regimentation in any name, they deserve their slavery. A tyrant does not make his tyranny. It is made possible by his people and not otherwise.

Much of our modern thought is characterized by pretenses and evasions, by appeals to ultimate authorities which are non- liberal, superstitious and reactionary. Often we are not aware of these thought processes. We accept ideas, authorities, catch- phrases and conditions without troubling to think or investigate and yet these things may conceal terrible traps. We accept them as right because they have a surface-level agreement with the things in which we believe. We welcome the man who is for liberalism, against communism, without troubling to inquire what else he is for or against. In our blindness we leave ourselves open to exploitation, regimentation and war.

9. Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons by George Pendle

Publication Date: February 6, 2006
Official Description:

ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED IN PASADENA EXPLOSION screamed the headline of the Los Angeles Times. John Parsons, a maverick rocketeer who helped transform the rocket from a derided sci-fi plotline into a reality, was at first mourned as a scientific prodigy. But reporters soon uncovered a more shocking story: Parsons had been a devotee of black magic.

George Pendle re-creates the world of John Parsons in this dazzling portrait of prewar superstition, cold war paranoia, and futuristic possibility. Fueled by childhood dreams of space flight, Parsons was a leader of the motley band of enthusiastic young men who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a cornerstone of the American space program. But Parsons’s wild imagination also led him into the occult- for if he could make rocketry a reality, why not magic?

With a cast of characters including Howard Hughes, L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert Heinlein, Strange Angel explores the unruly consequences of genius.

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

In future editions of this list I’ll move this title to a collection of biographies (and also compare it with a competing book, Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons). But I chose to include this thoroughly-researched biography here because Parsons the occultist and Classical Liberal needs to be understood also in the context of Parsons the major rocket scientist, Parsons the wealthy self-made entrepreneur, Parsons the countercultural inspiration to science fiction authors, and Parsons the psychologically disturbed fool fighting personal demons, conned out of his savings by a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard. All of these pieces need to be understood as interrelated. We need to learn from the mistakes of those who came before us — including how to recognize and fight demons, the subject of Ann Coulter’s 2011 book Demonic

10. Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America by Ann Coulter

Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Official Description:

The demon is a mob, and the mob is demonic. The Democratic Party activates mobs, depends on mobs, coddles mobs, publicizes and celebrates mobs—it is the mob. Sweeping in its scope and relentless in its argument, Demonic explains the peculiarities of liberals as standard groupthink behavior. To understand mobs is to understand liberals.

In her most provocative book to date, Ann Coulter argues that liberals exhibit all the psychological characteristics of a mob, for instance:

Liberal Groupthink: “The same mob mentality that leads otherwise law-abiding people to hurl rocks at cops also leads otherwise intelligent people to refuse to believe anything they haven’t heard on NPR.”

Liberal Schemes: “No matter how mad the plan is—Fraternité, the ‘New Soviet Man,’ the Master Race, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Building a New Society, ObamaCare—a mob will believe it.”

Liberal Enemies: “Instead of ‘counterrevolutionaries,’ liberals’ opponents are called ‘haters,’ ‘those who seek to divide us,’ ‘tea baggers,’ and ‘right-wing hate groups.’ Meanwhile, conservatives call liberals ‘liberals’—and that makes them testy.”

Liberal Justice: “In the world of the liberal, as in the world of Robespierre, there are no crimes, only criminals.”

Liberal Violence: “If Charles Manson’s followers hadn’t killed Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, Clinton would have pardoned him, too, and he’d probably be teaching at Northwestern University.”

Citing the father of mob psychology, Gustave Le Bon, Coulter catalogs the Left’s mob behaviors: the creation of messiahs, the fear of scientific innovation, the mythmaking, the preference for images over words, the lack of morals, and the casual embrace of contradictory ideas.

Coulter traces the history of the liberal mob to the French Revolution and Robespierre’s revolutionaries (delineating a clear distinction from America’s founding fathers), who simply proclaimed that they were exercising the “general will” before slaughtering their fellow citizens “for the good of mankind.”

Similarly, as Coulter demonstrates, liberal mobs, from student radicals to white-trash racists to anti-war and pro-ObamaCare fanatics today, have consistently used violence to implement their idea of the “general will.”

This is not the American tradition; it is the tradition of Stalin, of Hitler, of the guillotine—and the tradition of the American Left.

As the heirs of the French Revolution, Democrats have a history that consists of pandering to mobs, time and again, while Republicans, heirs to the American Revolution, have regularly stood for peaceable order.

Hoping to muddy this horrifying truth, liberals slanderously accuse conservatives of their own crimes—assassination plots, conspiracy theorizing, political violence, embrace of the Ku Klux Klan. Coulter shows that the truth is the opposite: Political violence—mob violence—is always a Democratic affair.

Surveying two centuries of mob movements, Coulter demonstrates that the mob is always destructive. And yet, she argues, beginning with the civil rights movement in the sixties, Americans have lost their natural, inherited aversion to mobs. Indeed, most Americans have no idea what they are even dealing with.

Only by recognizing the mobs and their demonic nature can America begin to defend itself.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

I began my review last year of Demonic,

2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”

-Mark 5:2-9

Ann Coulter begins her newest polemic with this quotation from the Gospel of Mark, immediately capturing the reader’s attention and setting the tone for her most elegant, sophisticated, and literary work to date. Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America is Coulter’s exorcism of the dark spirits hidden within the political Left. The bestselling author combines insights in mob psychology, the history of the French Revolution, and the theology of evil to illuminate the political challenges of the day. Even those who have studied the Left in depth will be startled by the clarity and originality of the argument she methodically demonstrates over 300 packed pages.

Coulter uses Gustave Le Bon’s 1896 The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind as the foundation of her analysis. She notes as evidence of the book’s accuracy that both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini used the text not to understand mobs but to incite them. Throughout Demonic she returns to the influential text and applies its analysis to the union mobs of Ohio, the Obamacare mobs, the progressive conspiracy mobs, and the Bush Derangement mobs. World War II’s totalitarian dictators aren’t the only ones reading from Le Bon’s playbook to harness the power of a mob to push forward an intolerable political agenda.

In the ancient world what we now recognize as psychological disorders were once understood as demonic possessions. That metaphor deserves reconsideration. What if one understood “demon” as “a collection of chemicals in one’s brain that precipitate destructive behaviors”? Then its opposite comes into focus: the “angel” as the self-initiated, biochemical alignment of emotions that makes someone a better person.

The magical idea is that through writing and speaking we can invoke gods, angels, demons, and whatever we want as tools to change ourselves and others. Words properly applied can inspire hatred or transcendent love. Powerful speakers know how to pour either into desperate hearts and minds:


*

The most famous role of the Egytian god of writing and magic, Tahuti, is recording the weighing of the heart after death:

In our Christianity-based society we’ve come to know a reinvention of the struggle to balance one’s internal scales. The personal demon sitting on one shoulder and Holy Guardian Angel on the other:

Psychology as it relates to the development of America will emerge as one of the themes in Part IV, American Exceptionalism. (And future editions of this list will include more books by psychologists.)

Part IV: American Exceptionalism

11. The Secrets of Masonic Washington by James Wasserman

Publication Date: November 26, 2008
Official Description:

A fully illustrated guide to the Masonic origins and present-day Masonic sites of Washington, D.C.

• Provides a walking tour of the Masonic sites and symbols of the city

• Explores the critical role of Freemasonry in the founding of the United States

• By the author of The Templars and Assassins

In this guide to the Masonic underpinnings of America’s capital, James Wasserman reveals the esoteric symbols and the spiritual and visionary ideas that lie hidden in the buildings, monuments, and physical layout of Washington, D.C. His walking tour of these Masonic sites includes both the expected and unexpected–from the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Building to the Federal Reserve complex, National Academy of Sciences, and the Library of Congress. Each location includes descriptions, interpretations, and explanations of the Masonic symbols and ritualistic meanings hidden within its structure, all illustrated with contemporary color and historic black-and-white photographs.

Wasserman explains the purpose behind putting these symbols and Masonic designs into the capital and how all these monuments fit into the spiritual vision held by the founding fathers. He reveals the prominent role that Freemasonry played in the 18th-century Enlightenment movement and shows how in the New World of America, free of monarchy and aristocracy, the ideas of the Enlightenment were able to flourish. This illustrated guidebook to the Masonic secrets of Washington, D.C., provides valuable insights on the founding of America. It will be welcomed by students of esoteric art and symbolism, admirers of American history, and devotees of Dan Brown novels and National Treasure movies.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

I recommend reading Wasserman’s historical books in the order presented on the list: first The Temple of Solomon: From Ancient Israel to Secret Societies, then The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven, and third The Secrets of Masonic Washington. They tell the story of the Western Mystery Tradition from its origins in the ancient world of the Old Testament up through the founding of America.

In understanding the link between the mystical practices of Western religion and the American system of governance we come to see that the process for creating a great person mirrors the method of building the greatest nation in history. American Exceptionalism means that the United States of America is unique; that the system of ideas and values institutionalized in the Constitution is the best. And by “best” I mean objectively, empirically this political ideology called classical liberalism and its accompanying religion of ethical monotheism and the system of government that sprang forth from them on the American continent produce greater happiness, prosperity, and freedom than any other. It accomplishes this through balancing conflicting interests against each other so that no individual’s or group’s inner demons can enslave anybody else permanently. Thus, it is the right of every human being on the planet to live free under a system of government approximating ours in their own land. Every human being deserves to have their rights protected — including their ability to seek the Transcendent God as they see fit. We as human beings are all born ignorant and weak and we must turn to the collective wisdom and history of humanity for guidance if we are to balance our conflicting natures and desires on the scale.

That’s what religion — be it the traditional Judeo-Christian variety, Freemasonry, or the modern electric counterculture conservatism I’m describing on this list — is all about. Why practice a religion? Because doing so will produce long-term happiness. Through providing structure and meaning to our daily lives and a source of guidance during difficult times, religious systems act as additional weights to help balance the uneven scales of our hearts.

The final Wasserman book on this edition of the list illustrates how much the founders of our country understood these principles and modeled not just themselves but our nation on them. One of the central teachings of the Western Mystery Traditions describes the understanding of the four symbolic elements and their representations in nature: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. These are not to be understood in their literal formulations but as metaphors for how God creates — how energy transforms into matter, how nothing becomes something — and how we can imitate His example and take personal responsibility for creating our own lives. (They also correlate with the Tetragrammaton, an important subject to be explored more in writing about future books added to the list…)

Occultists learn to use these symbols as metaphors for personal transformation in rituals — hence the importance of the Tarot cards for use in meditation and prayer. Wands, Cups, Swords, and Disks correspond with each of the elements which also correspond with different parts of our lives: Will, Emotion, Intellect, and the Physical World. Right-Hand mystical practices and their traditional religious counterparts each provide methods to balance these conflicting impulses.

This method mirrors the American government’s system of checks and balances: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial — each eventually balancing the other out. And also, of course: Federal, State, Local. This structure adapts the mystical balancing of conflicting natures in the individual and broadens it into an organizing method for managing the conflicts of human civilization as a whole. Creation comes in the friction of conflicting values, but we have to have a system in place to catch the sparks and manage the heat and light produced. This is what it means to institutionalize the American Trinity as defined by Dennis Prager: Liberty, In God We Trust, and E. Pluribus Unum.

Wasserman reveals that amongst the many Masonic statues and architecture throughout Washington D.C. the four elements appear more than once. Here’s the best example:

As Above, So Below.


*

The next two books pick up on the story of how the Western Mystery Tradition continued to evolve in different directions after the founding of the United States.Why do we hear so little about freemasonry today? Why do so few people participate in Masonic groups? For much the same reason there why are so few Jews and so many Christians. Because with the founding of America and the ratification of the Constitution, Masonry’s ideas and principles won that era’s culture war, became the new mainstream and then spun off into new groups with different names and variations of the teachings. Religious tolerance is now just the expected, default position instead of something radical as it was during 1770s. We don’t need Free Speech clubs anymore where people can come to speak their minds freely. The First Amendment made all of US territory a Masonic temple where everyone can speak.

David Gelernter reveals another side of this story with the long evolution from 16th century Old Testament Puritanism to 20th century secular Americanism, what he calls “the fourth great western religion.”

And Mitch Horowitz shows another variation of the path, how homespun mysticism and occultism in the frontiers merged with the capitalistic instinct to invent the self-help industry in the first half of the 20th century.

12. Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion by David Gelernter

Publication Date: June 19, 2007
Official Description:

What does it mean to “believe” in America? Why do we always speak of our country as having a mission or purpose that is higher than other nations?

Modern liberals have invested a great deal in the notion that America was founded as a secular state, with religion relegated to the private sphere. David Gelernter argues that America is not secular at all, but a powerful religious idea—indeed, a religion in its own right.

Gelernter argues that what we have come to call “Americanism” is in fact a secular version of Zionism. Not the Zionism of the ancient Hebrews, but that of the Puritan founders who saw themselves as the new children of Israel, creating a new Jerusalem in a new world. Their faith-based ideals of liberty, equality, and democratic governance had a greater influence on the nation’s founders than the Enlightenment.

Gelernter traces the development of the American religion from its roots in the Puritan Zionism of seventeenth-century New England to the idealistic fighting faith it has become, a militant creed dedicated to spreading freedom around the world. The central figures in this process were Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, who presided over the secularization of the American Zionist idea into the form we now know as Americanism.

If America is a religion, it is a religion without a god, and it is a global religion. People who believe in America live all over the world. Its adherents have included oppressed and freedom-loving peoples everywhere—from the patriots of the Greek and Hungarian revolutions to the martyred Chinese dissidents of Tiananmen Square.

Gelernter also shows that anti-Americanism, particularly the virulent kind that is found today in Europe, is a reaction against this religious conception of America on the part of those who adhere to a rival religion of pacifism and appeasement.

A startlingly original argument about the religious meaning of America and why it is loved—and hated—with so much passion at home and abroad.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

The people who first came to the American continent from Europe were Christian radicals escaping persecution, wanting to live in a land where they could worship God as they saw fit in their own temples. They were just imitating the words written in their Bibles, the stories of ancient Hebrews fleeing Pharaoh in Exodus. We are a nation of dozens of countercultures all stitched together on this basic premise of freedom from tyranny. In this vigorous, engaging collection of historical, polemical essays Gelertner shows how successive generations of American presidents performed a magickal act: they secularized Zionism to create Americanism.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

Harry Truman’s understanding of America in these terms had profound effects in the real world:

Future editions of this list will include more books on Israel and Zionism… A fact of note: rocket scientist occultist Jack Parsons planned to relocate to the recently-created state of Israel before a mysterious explosion killed him in 1952…

13. Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation by Mitch Horowitz

Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Official Description:

It touched lives as disparate as those of Frederick Douglass, Franklin Roosevelt, and Mary Todd Lincoln–who once convinced her husband, Abe, to host a séance in the White House. Americans all, they were among the famous figures whose paths intertwined with the mystical and esoteric movement broadly known as the occult. Brought over from the Old World and spread throughout the New by some of the most obscure but gifted men and women of early U.S. history, this “hidden wisdom” transformed the spiritual life of the still-young nation and, through it, much of the Western world.

Yet the story of the American occult has remained largely untold. Now a leading writer on the subject of alternative spirituality brings it out of the shadows. Here is a rich, fascinating, and colorful history of a religious revolution and an epic of offbeat history.

From the meaning of the symbols on the one-dollar bill to the origins of the Ouija board, Occult America briskly sweeps from the nation’s earliest days to the birth of the New Age era and traces many people and episodes, including:

• The spirit medium who became America’s first female religious leader in 1776
• The supernatural passions that marked the career of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith
• The rural Sunday-school teacher whose clairvoyant visions instigated the dawn of the New Age
• The prominence of mind-power mysticism in the black-nationalist politics of Marcus Garvey
• The Idaho druggist whose mail-order mystical religion ranked as the eighth-largest faith in the world during the Great Depression

Here, too, are America’s homegrown religious movements, from transcendentalism to spiritualism to Christian Science to the positive-thinking philosophy that continues to exert such a powerful pull on the public today. A feast for believers in alternative spirituality, an eye-opener for anyone curious about the unknown byroads of American history, Occult America is an engaging, long-overdue portrait of one nation, under many gods, whose revolutionary influence is still being felt in every corner of the globe.

Why Tea Party Occultists and Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

This book contains all kinds of historical nuggets but the one worth understanding for the purpose of this list is the real secret behind occultism — what all the spells and magic wands and tarot cards and general silliness is really all about.

I’m not sure when I made the connection on my own — perhaps around the time when The Secret came out in 2006 — that “occultism” was really just self-help strategies with religious props. In Occult America Mitch Horowitz shows how this developed in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries. Mystical and occult ideas sold heavily as mail order programs with promises of techniques that could transform the individual’s life and manifest wealth from nothing. And some of them worked. So to expand their appeal authors reinvented them in a secular context. And behold the modern self-help genre.

Today when John Hawkins submits his self-help articles to me for PJ Lifestyle, pieces with titles like 5 Simple Mind Hacks That Changed My Life and 4 Crucial Techniques for Reprogramming Yourself into A Better Person, he’ll lay out his own variations of common personal improvement strategies that worked for him and I’ll recognize their parallels in my own mystical practices. Likewise, when Dr. Helen recommends career and self-help books like Robert Greene’s Mastery one has to work hard to ignore that the methods for mastering a skill and career are the same ones that Aleister Crowley and other occultists explain for becoming a Master of the Temple.

As hokey and even crackpot as some self-help literature can be, the central premise remains sound: the root of changing the world is changing yourself, and the root of changing yourself is gaining control of your mind and thoughts. (Future editions of the list will include more on this subject…)

The next book shows why this has becomes such a necessary cornerstone of American Exceptionalism, a vital counterbalance to one of the surprising side effects of immigrant nations…


14. The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America by John Gartner

Publication Date: March 1, 2005
Official Descriptions:

Why is America so rich and powerful? The answer lies in our genes, according to psychologist John Gartner.

Hypomania, a genetically based mild form of mania, endows many of us with unusual energy, creativity, enthusiasm, and a propensity for taking risks. America has an extraordinarily high number of hypomanics — grandiose types who leap on every wacky idea that occurs to them, utterly convinced it will change the world. Market bubbles and ill-considered messianic crusades can be the downside. But there is an enormous upside in terms of spectacular entrepreneurial zeal, drive for innovation, and material success. Americans may have a lot of crazy ideas, but some of them lead to brilliant inventions.Why is America so hypomanic? It is populated primarily by immigrants. This self-selection process is the boldest natural experiment ever conducted. Those who had the will, optimism, and daring to take the leap into the unknown have passed those traits on to their descendants.Bringing his audacious and persuasive thesis to life, Gartner offers case histories of some famous Americans who represent this phenomenon of hypomania. These are the real stories you never learned in school about some of those men who made America: Columbus, who discovered the continent, thought he was the messiah. John Winthrop, who settled and defined it, believed Americans were God’s new chosen people. Alexander Hamilton, the indispensable founder who envisioned America’s economic future, self-destructed because of pride and impulsive behavior. Andrew Carnegie, who began America’s industrial revolution, was sure that he was destined personally to speed up human evolution and bring world peace. The Mayer and Selznick families helped create the peculiarly American art form of the Hollywood film, but familial bipolar disorders led to the fall of their empires. Craig Venter decoded the human genome, yet his arrogance made him despised by most of his scientific colleagues, even as he spurred them on to make great discoveries.While these men are extraordinary examples, Gartner argues that many Americans have inherited the genes that have made them the most successful citizens in the world.

Why Tea Party Occultists and Counterculture Conservatives and Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

America really is a nation of crazy people — crazy for God, crazy for building big things, crazy to protect our Right to Live Free. And psychologist John Gartner explains why. The personality type that chooses to risk everything to reinvent themselves in a new land is abnormal. Gartner argues that America as an immigrant nation has a higher number of bipolar, hypomanic personalities:

A small empirical literature suggests that there are elevated rates of manic-depressive disorder among immigrants, regardless of what country they are moving from or to. America, a nation of immigrants, has higher rates of mania than every other country studied (with the possible exception of New Zealand, which topped the United States in one study)…. While we have no cross-cultural studies of hypomania, we can infer that we would find increased levels of hypomania among immigrant-rich nations like America, since mania and hypomania run together in the same families.

I’ve wandered across America’s religious, cultural, and political landscape and wherever I’ve stumbled some variety of this kind of high-energy American madness has emerged. I’ve seen first hand in micro the big pattern that Gartner sketches in the macro from Columbus to DNA splicing. The same dramatic, mood-swinging personalities seem to fuel all of America’s innovations on every front cultural, political, economic, science or religious. James Wasserman’s memoir In The Center of the Fire catalogs his experiences with plenty in New York City’s occult scene, illustrating our second president’s warning:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net.”

– John Adams

What has enabled America to thrive is that traditional values based in the Bible have expanded beyond their religious roots into the secular religion of Americanism and the practical techniques of self-help to counterbalance and unify the sometimes demonic excesses of the American immigrant temperament. An apocryphal story from America’s founding, one that inspired the 20th century’s greatest President Ronald Reagan, articulates this value of Freedom enabled through our trust in the Divine.

15. The Secret Destiny of America by Manly P. Hall

Republication Date: September 18, 2008 (originally published in 1944)
Official Description:

Back in print at last, America’s place in the essential progress of civilization is emphasized as the story unfolds of how our continent was set aside for the great experiment of enlightened self-government. Drawing upon often neglected fragments of history, evidence is presented which indicates that the seeds of this plan for the founding of America were planted one thousand years before the beginning of the Christian era. Whether discussing the symbolism of the Great Seal of the U.S.S or the mysterious stranger who swayed the signers of the Declaration of Independence, here is a book sure to fascinate. It shows how the brilliant plan of the ancients, concealed from the common view, has survived to the present day and will continue to function until the great work is accomplished.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

I don’t take the factual claims of this book too seriously. It’s more a collection of myths, prophecy and folklore rather than a serious argument that the creation of America is actually a centuries-long plan of a secret brotherhood of mystical initiates guiding humanity back to God. This is the equivalent of a secular theology to the secular religion Americanism

But Ronald Reagan certainly took the values seriously, as Occult America author Mitch Horowitz wrote for the Washington Post:

In a speech and essay produced decades apart, Reagan revealed the unmistakable mark of a little-known but widely influential scholar of occult philosophy, Manly P. Hall. Judging from a tale that Reagan borrowed from Hall, the president’s reading tastes ran to some of the outer reaches of esoteric spiritual lore.

Hall, who worked in the Reagans’ hometown of Los Angeles until his death in 1990, attained underground fame in the late 1920s when, at the age of 27, he published a massive codex to the mystical and esoteric philosophies of antiquity: The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Exploring subjects from Native American mythology to Pythagorean mathematics to the geometry of Ancient Egypt, this encyclopedia esoterica won the admiration of readers ranging from General John Pershing to Elvis Presley. Novelist Dan Brown cites it as a key source.

After publishing his great work, Hall spent the rest of his life lecturing and writing within the walls of his Egypto-art deco campus in L.A.’s Griffith Park neighborhood. He called the place a “mystery school” in the mold of Pythagoras’s ancient academy. It was there in 1944 that the occult thinker produced a short work, one little known beyond his immediate circle. This book, The Secret Destiny of America, caught the eye of the future president, then a middling Hollywood actor gravitating toward politics.

Hall’s concise volume described how America was the product of a “Great Plan” for religious liberty and self-governance, launched by a hidden order of ancient philosophers and secret societies. In one chapter, Hall described a rousing speech delivered by a mysterious “unknown speaker” before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The “strange man,” wrote Hall, invisibly entered and exited the locked doors of the Philadelphia statehouse on July 4th, 1776, delivering an oration that bolstered the wavering spirits of the delegates. “God has given America to be free!” commanded the mysterious speaker, urging the men to overcome their fears of the noose, axe, or gibbet, and to seal destiny by signing the great document. Newly emboldened, the delegates rushed forward to add their names. They looked to thank the stranger only to discover that he had vanished from the locked room. Was this, Hall wondered, “one of the agents of the secret Order, guarding and directing the destiny of America?”

At a 1957 commencement address at his alma mater Eureka College, Reagan, then a corporate spokesman for GE, sought to inspire students with this leaf from occult history. “This is a land of destiny,” Reagan said, “and our forefathers found their way here by some Divine system of selective service gathered here to fulfill a mission to advance man a further step in his climb from the swamps.”

Reagan then retold (without naming a source) the tale of Hall’s unknown speaker. “When they turned to thank the speaker for his timely words,” Reagan concluded, “he couldn’t be found and to this day no one knows who he was or how he entered or left the guarded room.”

Reagan revived the story in 1981, when Parade magazine asked the president for a personal essay on what July 4th meant to him.

….

It is Hall’s language that unmistakably marks the Reagan telling.

Biographer Edmund Morris noted Reagan’s fondness for apocryphal tales and his “Dalíesque ability to bend reality to his own purposes.” Yet he added that the president’s stories “should be taken seriously because they represent core philosophy.” This influential (and sometimes inscrutable) president of the late-twentieth century found an illustration of his core belief in America’s purpose within the pages of an occult work little known beyond its genre. Lucky numbers and newspaper horoscopes were not Reagan’s only interest in the arcane.

Future editions of this list will feature more titles by and about both Hall and Reagan. Master of the Mysteries: The Life of Manly Palmer Hall will be included. Hall’s life story when juxtaposed with the mystical traditions he promoted — and his frequent failures to live them himself — reveals the power these ideas can have when practiced consistently.

The last 2 sections — Media and Science — each focus on books by two thinkers whose ideas have most shaped my understanding of what it means to be a Capitalist Wizard creating something out of nothing.

The books of Doug Rushkoff and Howard Bloom make up the last 8 titles…

Part V, Media:

Click here for the biography of media theorist, author, documentary filmmaker, and journalist Doug Rushkoff. I’ve followed his work since discovering him in 2003 courtesy of the Disinformation media company’s books and DVDs. We met in 2005 when he came and gave a talk at Ball State during my undergraduate years. We’ve stayed in touch over the years and he’s remained friendly and encouraging even though I know he doesn’t agree with most of what I write and probably even less of what I edit.

Rushkoff doesn’t fit on either Right or Left. He’s a counterculture intellectual in the tradition of his friend, the late Robert Anton Wilson who also filled himself with ideas from all over the place. And here’s some that I’ve taken away from his books over the last few years and re-purposed for myself.

16. Testament by Douglas Rushkoff

Graphic Novel Publication Date: July 26 2006-August 19, 2008
Official Description:

From the imagination of best-selling author Douglas Rushkoff, one of the most iconoclastic and acclaimed minds of our era, comes a graphic novel series that exposes the “real” Bible as it was actually written, and reveals how its mythic tales are repeated today.

Grad student Jake Stern leads an underground band of renegades that uses any means necessary to combat the frightening threats to freedom that permeate the world. They employ technology, alchemy, media hacking and mysticism to fight a modern threat that has its roots in ancient stories destined to recur in the modern age.

Why Tea Party Occultists Should Read It:

Testament is a 22-issue comic book series published by DC’s mature Vertigo imprint. It’s not yet available as one single volume but perhaps someday this criminally underrated series will be reissued as such and receive the recognition deserved. Currently, four trade paperbacks collect the series of Rushkoff’s juxtapositions between graphic Old Testament stories with a dystopian future narrative. The series argues that the stories of the Bible provide the universal archetypes of our lives. The tales of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses — all the biblical characters — continually reoccur over and over again throughout human history and personal experience. And the more we start to recognize and understand it the more we can make the right choices this time around, hacking the narrative and rewriting the stories so as not to repeat the same mistakes as the Biblical characters who lived and wrote The Story the first time around.

Testament features nudity, profanity, and death, serving up an important reminder that we don’t hear enough: The Bible is really about sex and violence.

Specifically, it’s about the ancient Israelites’ battles with nature-worshiping death cults who practiced human sacrifice and ritualized sex slavery. In the ancient world worshiping Moloch meant throwing a human being — often a child — on the fire. Worshiping Astarte meant paying for sex with one of her priestesses. She literally was the goddess of prostitution. And the Old Testament is just one long story of the Jewish people continually drifting back to idolatry and sex worship. It’s actually pretty embarrassing.

When one understands this then it makes perfect sense why today most self-identified Jews in this country today remain slavishly loyal to the Democratic Party and progressivism while only the more conservative and Orthodox Jews stand with America and Israel against the Islamic Jihad. That’s just the status quo — at any given time vast numbers of Jews will live enthralled to idolatry, denying the transcendent God of their ancestors.

All that’s really changed today are the names of the gods and the rituals. But the fight remains the same against those who treat other human beings and themselves like objects instead of living people created with rights, and dignity, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “stamped in the Divine Image.”

(Future editions of the list will have more on the subject of slavery, both ancient and modern, as well as abolitionism.)

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

What is a media theorist with books about internet counterculture, Generation X, and viral media doing writing a comic about the Bible? Jews studying the Torah, and later Christians reading their Gutenberg Bibles, functioned in Western Civilization as the original form of media analysis. Through studying the juxtaposition of the myths, histories, poetry, and wisdom of the Bible we learn a method for how to analyze and understand the world. The more one understands, the more connections one can make, the more value out of nothing one can manifest into existence.

But we must understand that the same magical methods of creation can also be used for destruction. Rushkoff’s next big project after Testament would reveal the capitalist wizards’ natural enemies, those who had learned to use language and writing not to create laws to protect the individual and his property rights, but to subvert them and steal from the fruits of his labor.

In Life Inc. we confront Capitalism’s evil twin Corporatism and learn the secrets of how it functions today…

17. Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back

Publication Date: June 2, 2009
Official Description:

This didn’t just happen. In Life Inc., award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and scholar Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. Indeed, as Rushkoff shows, most Americans have so willingly adopted the values of corporations that they’re no longer even aware of it. This fascinating journey, from the late Middle Ages to today, reveals the roots of our debacle. From the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self; from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking; from the birth of the modern, self-interested individual to his exploitation through the false ideal of the single-family home; from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of MySpace–the corporation has infiltrated all aspects of our daily lives. Life Inc. exposes why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business. Most of all, Life Inc. shows how the current financial crisis is actually an opportunity to reverse this six-hundred-year-old trend and to begin to create, invest, and transact directly rather than outsource all this activity to institutions that exist solely for their own sakes. Corporatism didn’t evolve naturally. The landscape on which we are living–the operating system on which we are now running our social software–was invented by people, sold to us as a better way of life, supported by myths, and ultimately allowed to develop into a self-sustaining reality. It is a map that has replaced the territory.

Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc. shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

As Capitalist Wizards create value out of nothing, their opponents do the opposite: stealing value from those who have already created it.

Corporatist Sorcerers

Those who use free market magick to manipulate the government into redirecting other people’s wealth into their pockets or passing laws to protect their business interests. They are the modern day descendents of King George III. Just as the British empire issued chartered monopolies to grant the exclusive right to do business in territories, today’s Corporatist Sorcerers work with corrupt politicians in both parties to rewrite laws in their favor while conning the American people out of millions, even billions of dollars.

Archetypal Example: Solyndra.

As Investor’s Business Daily editor Terry Jones says in the PJTV video below, when big business and corporations get into bed together it’s the American people that get screwed.

*

But we have the power to program a better world into existence, as Rushkoff’s next book explains.

18. Program or Be Programmed

Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Official Description:

The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: It’s here; it’s everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? “Choose the former,” writes Rushkoff, “and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make.”

In ten chapters, composed of ten “commands” accompanied by original illustrations from comic artist Leland Purvis, Rushkoff provides cyber enthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe.

In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age––and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries. This is a friendly little book with a big and actionable message.

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

Program or Be Programmed offers a series of insights for understanding the programmed reality of our new media world. It’s among the internet and technology books that has proven most practical in my profession as an editor of New Media publications. Regularly in discussions and email exchanges I’ll reference points from it to advocate for directions to develop the website.

*

Surviving and thriving in the New Media economy today requires one to learn how to recognize the flaws and biases programmed into our digital world so we can then take advantage of them to accomplish our own goals of creating value and wealth.

19. A.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division

Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Official Description:

The Adolescent Demo Division are the world’s luckiest teen gamers. Raised from birth to test media, appear on reality TV and enjoy the fruits of corporate culture, the squad develop special abilities that make them the envy of the world — and a grave concern to their keepers.

One by one, they “graduate” to new levels that are not what they seem. But their heightened abilities can only take them so far as the ultimate search for their birth families leads to an inconceivably harrowing discovery.

Written by Douglas Rushkoff, world-renowned media theorist, Frontline TV correspondent and author (Ecstasy Club, Media Virus and Program or Be Programmed, TESTAMENT), with full color art by Goran Sudzuka and Jose Marzan Jr. (Y: THE LAST MAN).

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

A.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division, Rushkoff’s newest published work, integrates together the themes and styles of the three previous titles and also Digital Nation, the documentary he contributed to in 2010 for Frontline:


*

There’s a new generation rising and from my vantage point among it we resemble what Rushkoff depicts in his parable. Looking back on Rushkoff’s work he has a prophetic quality, the subjects of his books often predate the mainstream conversation by years. In the early ’90s he wrote about the possibilities of the Internet, predicting its direction. He all but invented the concept of viral media. And now Corporatism has become a more common term as Tea Party conservatives have grown more attuned to the role of corporations working hand-in-hand with the Democratic Party and community organizing activists to cause the economic crisis of 2008.

But prophecy isn’t anything supernatural. It’s just the application of the techniques previously described: pattern recognition, self control, and an understanding of history. Grasp the truth about human nature and learn the lessons of history and one can foresee what will happen in the future. And more importantly: one can take the responsibility to influence the world so that Good ultimately triumphs over Evil and humanity as a whole can evolve into closer union with the Divine.

In the four published books of Howard Bloom, the last author on this list, we see the call to take control of our future through understanding the past come alive in an exciting merging of science, history, philosophy, and the long overdue marriage of secularism and spirituality.

The last four books provide innumerable tools as Bloom wields the Scientific Method like a blade, chopping new paths as we continue our rise up from the jungle, back to God…


Part VI, Science

I also first encountered Howard Bloom’s ideas through Richard Metzger’s Disinformation TV show. The video interview I saw with Bloom was once relegated to an obscure DVD, now like everything else it’s available for all on YouTube. (Kids nowadays are so spoiled!) Here’s the first half now and the second comes at the bottom of the page.

*

[Small but relevant anecdote: at the time when Metzger interviewed Bloom in the video above, he lived as a capitalist running his own promising new media publishing company. He advocated his own variety of Gen-X hipster libertarian corporate counterculture. Referring to corporate sponsorship and angel investors, his mantra was, "If they give, you should grab." All that changed for him after the economic crisis. In 2009 Metzger announced his conversion to Orthodox Marxism at the popular tech blog Boing Boing.

I always hoped someday to meet Metzger and thank him for introducing me to counterculture, the occult, chaos magic, and writers like Rushkoff and Bloom whose ideas changed my life.  The only time we've crossed paths was when I commented on a post here at his new leftist counterculture blog Dangerous Minds, warning him that he'd been duped by a propaganda video produced by a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The comments have since been scrubbed -- we got into a pretty heated argument -- but I seem to recall it ending with him calling me an asshole, banning me from commenting further, and refusing to consider anything I might say after I identified as a colleague and supporter of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Oh well, maybe if we bump into each other another decade down the line he'll be over his Marxism; people can change after all...]

20. The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History

Publication Date: March 13, 1997
Official Description:

The Lucifer Priciple is a revolutionary work that explores the intricate relationships among genetics, human behavior, and culture to put forth the thesis that “evil” is a by-product of nature’s strategies for creation and that it is woven into our most basic biological fabric.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

The difference between what we call “Right” and “Left” in America today ultimately boils down to one disagreement: does evil exist? Are there acts which are objectively evil or is something evil only if a person or culture deems it evil?

What is evil? Where does it come from? Howard Bloom is an atheist and science his religion but he comes to the same conclusion as the ancient Israelites writing the Torah, just updated for the modern vernacular: Mother Nature is a Bloody Bitch. Evil acts are side effects of our innate impulses, hardwired into us from millennia of evolving up from bacteria. It remains our responsibility as individuals to learn to conquer these demons left over from mankind’s rise out of the jungle.

And that includes for the authors writing about them. The overall theme of this list has been personal transformation. And looking back on where Bloom was more than a decade ago compared to today shows how far he’s come. In the second half of his interview with Metzger, Bloom at times sounds like one of the New Atheists. By the time we come to Bloom’s most recent book released in August, The God Problem, we’ll see how far he’s come — and why.

21. Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century 

Publication Date: September 2001
Official Description:

“As someone who has spent forty years in psychology with a long-standing interest in evolution, I’ll just assimilate Howard Bloom’s accomplishment and my amazement.”-DAVID SMILLIE, Visiting Professor of Zoology, Duke University

In this extraordinary follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom-one of today’s preeminent thinkers-offers us a bold rewrite of the evolutionary saga. He shows how plants and animals (including humans) have evolved together as components of a worldwide learning machine. He describes the network of life on Earth as one that is, in fact, a “complex adaptive system,” a global brain in which each of us plays a sometimes conscious, sometimes unknowing role. and he reveals that the World Wide Web is just the latest step in the development of this brain. These are theories as important as they are radical. Informed by twenty years of interdisciplinary research, Bloom takes us on a spellbinding journey back to the big bang to let us see how its fires forged primordial sociality. As he brings us back via surprising routes, we see how our earliest bacterial ancestors built multitrillion-member research and development teams a full 3.5 billion years ago. We watch him unravel the previously unrecognized strands of interconnectedness woven by crowds of trilobites, hunting packs of dinosaurs, feathered flying lizards gathered in flocks, troops of baboons making communal decisions, and adventurous tribes of protohumans spreading across continents but still linked by primitive forms of information networking. We soon find ourselves reconsidering our place in the world. Along the way, Bloom offers us exhilarating insights into the strange tricks of body and mind that have organized a variety of life forms: spiny lobsters, which, during the Paleozoic age, participated in communal marching rituals; and bees, which, during the age of dinosaurs, conducted collective brainwork. This fascinating tour continues on to the sometimes brutal subculture wars that have spurred the growth of human civilization since the Stone Age. Bloom shows us how culture shapes our infant brains, immersing us in a matrix of truth and mass delusion that we think of as reality.

Global Brain is more than just a brilliantly original contribution to the ongoing debate on the inner workings of evolution. It is a “grand vision,” says the eminent evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, a work that transforms our very view of who we are and why.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

In Global Brain Bloom continues to compare the story of humanity’s cultural evolution up from barbarism to modernity with the biological development of life and with the behaviors of the primitive organisms from which we evolved. He argues that conventional evolutionary theory — survival of the fittest — is only part of the story and fails to account for an awful lot of strange behavior. We also function as part of groups, and groups of organisms evolve too.

Bloom calls these groups of organisms that act together “superorganisms.” It applies in both the micro and the macro. (As Above, So Below, again.) One example of a superorganism is the human body. Bloom explains how our bodies function not as one individual but as a vast network of organisms working together. All throughout our bodies untold numbers of bacteria wage war on our behalf, assisting us in our digestion and many other essential tasks.

But it’s when Bloom’s concept applies to the macro superorganism that it becomes a useful too for us. The Superorganism model Bloom depicts in Global Brain applies to business, families, states, religious and political movements, and yes, countercultures. The same patterns of information gathering and processing that we find in bacteria colonies and honey bees we see in our bigger human creations of the viral spread of ideas and culture.

And the more we understand the patterns, the more we can manipulate them to our own benefit, survival, and further evolution.

*

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

I’ve found Bloom’s model of warring superorganisms a useful metaphor when trying to make sense of the chaos of my daily political media world. When we start thinking of the organizations and movements we’re apart of as superorganisms then we can analyze them through a new paradigm and identify the hidden sources of potential problems. If a superorganism fails to continue to evolve and thrive then the reason may be identical for why a sick organism dies: one infected organ can sabotage the whole body. In the same way, just one component of a business or organization needs to be failing for it to eventually bring down everyone.

Bloom identifies five essential components for every superorganism to have to survive. If the business or group endeavor you’re in is failing then a potential cause is because something’s amiss in one of these areas: “conformity enforcers, diversity generators, inner-judges, resource shifters, and intergroup tournaments.” Whether you’re managing a household, a corporation, or an online publication you’re going to need to have these elements managing information and making decisions.

Again we see the Masonic Principle, that through understanding and balancing conflicting elements we chart a new path to happiness and prosperity in a constantly changing world.

But in Bloom’s third book, Mother Nature strikes back, refusing to allow mankind a steady path of upward progress, intentionally upsetting the scale to provoke new somethings out of nothing. The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism appeared in November of 2009 as many continued to hunt for scapegoats as to who actually deserved blame for causing the 2008 economic crisis.


22. The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism

Publication Date: November 24, 2009
Official Description:

Is global capitalism on its last legs? Is the era of American leadership over? Has the West begun a decline into a new Dark Age? Does American civilization deserve to survive? These are the unnerving questions raised by the Great Crash of 2009.

Visionary thinker Howard Bloom has a radically new answer. In The Genius of the Beast, the author of the acclaimed books The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain, insists that global society has only begun to realize its full potential. Bloom argues that there’s a hidden mandate beneath the surface of capitalism: It’s struggling to whisper and rumble its message to you and me. That hidden imperative can lift us from economic crisis, can make us a leader in the next-generation economy, and can dramatically upgrade our ability to empower our fellow human beings. Bloom sees crisis as opportunity, opportunity for the whole human race.

In more than eighty short, fast chapters, insights appear suddenly, like the quick bursts of flashbulbs. The Genius of the Beast takes the reader on a sweeping tour of human history, from the Stone Age to the present. Every chapter conveys a radically new way to see the astonishing mechanism we call “Western Civilization.” Bloom marvels at how humans have turned toxic waste into food and fuel, trash into treasure, and garbage into gold. He shows how we’ve produced material miracles based on immaterial things passion, persistence, and fantasy. Bloom shows that what many regard as the end is just the beginning. The beginning of something you’ve never before imagined.

Bloom explains why the secret to capitalism’s next great leap does not lie in new financial tricks, but in tapping things right under our noses in radically new ways that is, tapping our imagination, our desire to feel useful, our desire to help others, and our desire to be recognized for contributing to the welfare of humanity. The key to next-generation capitalism, writes Bloom, lies in a big-picture view that’s utterly unlike anything you’ve previously perceived. A big-picture view that will startle you. A big-picture view with which you can ignite the world, get a new handle on your life, and help transform society.

This brilliant, inspirational work of daring ideas and breath-taking research offers more than hope. It offers unseen levels of understanding. Understanding that can literally redefine what it means to be a human being.

Why Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

Human evil is not the only tool that Mother Nature uses to make life more chaotic and stressful, forcing us to evolve and change into more advanced species and cultures to survive. The other is the Boom and Bust pattern, the Beast we can harness as soon as we realize he’s there.

In Genius of the Beast Bloom argues that the Bears and Bulls, the Rise and Fall of the business cycle is not a result of conspiratorial actors (blame the Fed, the Left, the Right, the Jewish-Illuminati conspiracy or whoever the bogeyman of choice is). If it was then why do we see the same economic patterns throughout Western Civilization going back to ancient Rome? Why does the pattern appear in the rise and fall of animal herds?

Because Booms and Busts serve the same purpose of forcing the members of a superorganism to change course and innovate in a new direction. Responding to the cruelty and unpredictability of Mother Nature drives humanity’s evolution. (And the side effect of these evolutions and innovations is that the quality of life for everyone rises.)

For a Capitalist Wizard to effectively manifest value from nothingness he must recognize the Wave, learning to see where the booms and busts are coming so he can shift his resources accordingly.

23. The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates

Publication Date: August 24, 2012
Official Description:

There’s a secret hidden in a mathematical nugget called Peano’s Axioms. Is Peano’s mystery the key to the cosmos?

The God Problem tackles the question of how a godless cosmos creates; of how a universe without a bearded and bathrobed god in the sky pulls off acts of genesis. And it pursues the riddles behind five mildly flabbergasting heresies:

  1. a does not equal a
  2. one plus one does not equal two
  3. entropy is wrong
  4. randomness is not as random as you think and
  5. information theory is way off base.

Says The God Problem:

God’s war crimes, Aristotle’s sneaky tricks, Galileo’s creationism, Newton’s intelligent design, entropy’s errors, Einstein’s pajamas, John Conway’s game of loneliness, Information Theory’s blind spot, Stephen Wolfram’s New Kind Of Science, and six monkeys at six typewriters getting it wrong. What do these have to do with the birth of a universe and with your need for meaning?  Everything, as you’re about to see.

In The God Problem you’ll take a scientific expedition into the secret heart of a cosmos you’ve never seen. An electrifyingly inventive cosmos. An obsessive-compulsive cosmos. A driven, ambitious cosmos. A cosmos of colossal shocks. A cosmos of screaming, stunning surprise. A cosmos that’s the biggest invention engine — the biggest breakthrough maker, the biggest creator — of all time.

One critic has suggested that The God Problem may be a great book on a par with Darwin’s Origin of the Species and Newton’s Principia Mathematica.

Why Counterculture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards Should Read It:

This book is the motherlode, bringing together everything discussed on this list in ways that I’m still trying to understand.

The God Problem took me off guard when I started it last year. Having plowed through Bloom’s four previous books (the three mentioned and also his mind-blowingly scary, yet-to-be-published manuscript on Islam) I expected a repeat of the pattern, that I’d be done in a few weeks. But The God Problem rises onto a whole other level of sophistication and complexity. It’s a year later and I’m still scaling the 575 page mountain of a book, Bloom’s biggest, most wide-ranging, and advanced. Is the book bad? Is that why it’s taken me so long? Not at all, it’s just much denser in its ideas than anything Bloom has ever done so the effect is I have to read the text more slowly — the more beautiful the scenery the more time one takes to explore.

Also Bloom spends significant time detailing the development of science and mathematics — my two weakest subjects in school. It’s a great joy to finally begin to start grasping these concepts at more fundamental levels when an entertaining teacher like Bloom can present them integrated within the context of human history and show how we can use them as tools within our own lives since the same universal patterns of creation and destruction that appear above also manifest in all of our hearts.


A more in-depth survey of The God Problem‘s scientific heresies coming soon…

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Have any other suggestions for books to add to this collection? Are you an author or publisher of a book that should be on this list? Like to share your story of being a Tea Party Occultist, Counterculture Conservative, or Capitalist Wizard? Please comment below, email me at DaveSwindlePJM{@}gmail.com, or say hi on Twitter @DaveSwindle.

Some of the authors who I hope to include on future editions of the list: Thomas Sowell, Robert Anton Wilson, Dennis Prager, Matthew Vadum, Phyllis Chesler, Leszek Kolakowski, Stanley Kurtz, Kay Redfield Jamison, Marshall McLuhan, Reinaldo Arenas, Whittaker Chambers, Israel Regardie, Ray Kurzweil, Daniel Pipes, Allan Bloom, Paul Johnson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, George Gilder, M. Scott Peck, Aleister Crowley, William F. Buckley Jr., Ben Shapiro, and Ayn Rand.

Also: J. Christian Adams, Barry Rubin, David P. Goldman, Ron Radosh, Roger Kimball, VDH and all the other PJ Columnists’ books offer important insights. And, of course, Instapundit Glenn Reynold’s An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths will need to find its proper spot on the list too.

And further subjects that I intend to explore more for inclusion in the future: Christianity, Judaism, Eastern Religions, Futurism and Technology, Marxism, Racism, Islam, Paganism, Ancient Cultures, Cults, Political Ideology, Sex and Marriage, War, the US Military, Feminism, Masculinity, Chivalry, Biographies, and Economics. Anything else I’m forgetting?

Oh, and one last thing, for those wondering why this series begins with a list of 23 books

*****

Shutterstock image in logo courtesy Chris Modarelli

More at PJ Lifestyle from David Swindle on religion and counterculture:

The Waiting for ‘Superman’ of the New Atheists

7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for WTHR.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.
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