We don’t usually associate the gritty business of politics with the occult, but esoteric beliefs have influenced the "destiny of nations" since the time of ancient Egypt and China, when decisions of state were based on portents and astrology. Gary Lachman shows how occult ideas continue to shape modern political philosophy. He also asks whether the separation of church and state characterizing modern political philosophy should be maintained. Other topics include:
The occult roots of America and the French Revolution in Freemasonry. How nineteenth-century spiritualism empowered the women’s rights movement by giving women a voice. The influence of early Theosophists H. P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Henry Steel Olcott on the rise of Indian nationalism; how Theosophy helped stop the spread of communism. The watershed of World War I, which brought about the rise of right-wing occult streams that led to Germany’s National Socialism; the truth about Hitler’s belief in the occult; Gurdjieff and the swastika. The dawning of the Age of Aquarius; levitating the Pentagon in the 1960’s. The millenarian politics that seem to inform the U.S. struggle with Islamic terrorists; fundamentalism and the fear of uncertainty. From the first Queen Elizabeth’s Dr. Dee to Ronald Reagan’s astrologer, Lachman’s view is fresh and conscientious, avoiding wild speculation, proving him of the best and most intelligent writers on these matters in the English-speaking world.
The invisible Rosicrucian brothers of the seventeenth century, the “Unknown Superiors” of high-grade Freemasons, French utopian occultists, and Traditionalists of the twentieth century trace a continuous tradition of esoteric idealism applied to political thinking. Gary Lachman offers a panoramic spectacle of occultists and millenarian visionaries who seek to translate an absolute gnosis into a radical programme of regeneration.
—Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Professor of Western Esotericism, University of Exeter
Gary Lachman's latest book presents the Western esoteric tradition as a richly detailed parade of characters, seething with political ambitions, follies, even infamy. He teaches by example that to understand their psychology and historical contexts is far more useful than moralizing or partisan reactions. The result is a profound questioning of the very basis of politics—including one's own.
—Joscelyn Godwin, Ph.D., author of Arktos and The Golden Thread
It is unusual for a book on the occult to be not only brilliant and serious but also highly readable; Lachman has done it with ease and grace.
— Colin Wilson, author of The Occult and Mysteries