Politics and the Occult, By Gary Lachman

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The Independent Culture

Gary Lachman has certainly done his research. This history of how the occult has influenced national politics – and not just wacky, fascist politics but mainstream and progressive political movements too – includes detailed discussion of the ideas of Johann Andreae, Dr John Dee, Francis Bacon, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Comenius and the rest of the gang, not forgetting the alchemists, Gnostics, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, and our mysterious friends the Knights Templar. It could be fascinating, but the prose is stodgy, and the actual aims of these secret societies, where revealed, are often uncontroversial and bland – to create a better world, that sort of thing.

It's never entirely clear whether Lachman believes that occult study is a real means of acquiring knowledge, providing an alternative to "the hard-nosed empirical approach [of] science". This book offers no evidence that it is; but then doubts are raised about Lachman's commitment to rationality when he claims that "in 1960, aliens took an interest in US politics and backed a candidate for the presidency".

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