A real transformation of economics first requires its voluntary death
“All of the greatest religions speak of the soul’s endurance beyond the end of life. So what then does it mean, to die?”
– Eisenheim, The Illusionist
Our world is dominated by an idea. That by performing evil actions, good will come of it.
It is the black sheep, the dark one of twins. They are the descendants of a higher idea, which is the wellspring (wyllspring; “to wish, will”) of a current of ideas known as apotheosis.
To become a god. Release from earthly life, ascension to heaven; death. In other words, a transformation. Elevation to a transcendent position. The apex, culmination, or climax of something; the highest point in its development.
It is also the name given to the idea of a “latent entity that mediates between our psyche [soul] and our thoughts”. Freudian psychology refers to this entity by the concepts of id, the ego, and superego. This is misleading, and an inversion, as we will see. The true mediator is known by the Wise as the Conscience.
The realm of human existence and daily striving known as economics has been dominated for the past quarter millennium by this dark idea of evil acts resulting in “the greater good”. Until this idea is exorcised instead of being exercised, there can be no genuine progress, no true evolution, no real transformation of economics.
This idea is false. It is an enchanting deception. It enchants by granting licence to our lower instincts, in the full knowledge (of the Wise, the Adept, and the Magus) that repeated actions form habits. By encouraging, by tempting us with the licentious idea that we can act on our lower, darker instincts, our ‘animal spirits’, in the interests of a “greater good”, the Magus of Evil Will knows that our conscience will be destroyed. Death by a thousand cuts. Not only will we (and society) not be transformed for the good by evil actions, on the contrary, our conscience becomes increasingly desensitised, inured, and in a sense dead to the harm caused by our evil actions. We are only drawn onwards and downwards, ever deeper, into ever greater acts of evil.
In his magnum opus Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1855), nineteenth century French occult magus Eliphas Lévi explains an eternal truth, one that centuries of “thinkers” have ignored, or swept under the magic carpet of economic theory (emphasis mine):
Not only do the wicked torment the good, but unconsciously the good torture the wicked. The gentleness of Abel was a long and painful bewitchment for the ferocity of Cain. Among evil men, the hatred of good originates in the very instinct of self-preservation; moreover, they deny that what torments them is good, and, for their own peace, are driven to deify and justify evil. In the sight of Cain, Abel was a hypocrite and coward, who abused the pride of humanity by his scandalous submissions to divinity.1
The true Magus, whether of Good or Evil Will, knows that we cannot transcend evil by practicing it. We can only destroy our conscience, creating for ourselves an illusion of evil’s non-existence; becoming, as Lévi eulogises, a “free man” having “liberty” from the “servitude of conscience”. In precisely the same way that practicing evil actions forms evil habits, the practice of good actions forms good habits. Any notion of an inverse correlation is, simply, a lie. If we wish to experience more good in this world, then we must practice the good, and cease from practicing the evil.
But I digress.
While some still debate whether mainstream economics has taken Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” metaphor in The Wealth of Nations (1776) out of context, other, and I would argue, more influential early thinkers in the field once known as Moral Philosophy2 cannot be doubted in their clarity of expression.
In his Discourse on the Nature of Pleasures and Pains (1773), Italian Enlightenment philosopher, economist, and member of the Milanese nobility Pietro Verri stresses the positive function of pain. While pain is not good in itself, Verri says that “pain is the moving cause of all mankind” and so “good is generated by evil”.3
Fellow Italian Giammaria Ortes appears at a casual glance to reverse the order of causation. Or does he? In Della Economia Nazionale (1774) he writes that “The wealth of a nation corresponds with its population, and its misery corresponds with its wealth. Diligence in some compels idleness in others. The poor and idle are a necessary consequence of the rich and active.. .”4
A defrocked Camaldolese monk, libertine, and contemporary of another infamous Italian monk, the magician, alchemist, occultist and swindler Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, the Venetian Ortes is a most interesting, though lamentably lesser known figure in the history of economic philosophy. Karl Marx exalts him in Capital as “an original and clever writer”, “one of the great economic writers of the 18th century.”5 As we will see, his ideas, while undeniably “clever”, are not original. They are very ancient. Their origin, transmission, and far-reaching influence on humanity’s body politic should – like the study of cancer – compel our undivided attention.
If Ortes were living in our time, we would most likely see him employed in a “leading university”, an international money-lending institution like the IMF, or a neoliberal “think tank”. Many of us would, not inaccurately, refer to him as a shill for the oligarchy. Others of us, even less charitably, might call him a Useful Idiot for the 0.01%. Ortes was “closely associated with one of the most important salons or ridotti of the Venetian aristocracy”, the conversazione filosofica e felice (“philosophical and happy conversation group”), “the ideological arm of a closely allied group of Venetian oligarchical families.”6
From the beginning of his magnum opus, Ortes presents an argument that can only be useful to those wishing to promote the convenient-for-oligarchy idea that sovereign (i.e., papal; today, government) intervention can not contribute to material progress for humanity. Ortes provides a rhetorical segue echoing down to our time in the “Don’t tread on me!” anti-government howlings of libertarians, laissez-faire capitalists, Ayn Rand acolytes and others of similar ilk, by the simple expedient of insisting on the futility of any efforts to do so:
[N]ational economy is a matter which cannot be improved in any way by any particular action, and all attempts by persons seeking to organize national economy according to a better system, as regards provision or increase of goods, have to end up as useless efforts.7
Instead of projecting useless systems for achieving the happiness of people, I shall limit myself to investigating the reasons for their unhappiness.8
In the eighteenth century Age of ‘En-light-enment’, as in all ages, it was of course rather easier to “happily” spout let-us-do-nothing arguments for the status quo when your snout had been buried deep in the oligarchy’s trough.
Over one hundred years before Léon Walras, the alleged pioneer of the idea of “competitive equilibrium” and what has come to be known as the General Equilibrium Theory of neoclassical economics (1874), Ortes promoted the core idea of universal equilibrium, a zero-sum ‘higher’ unity arising from the antagonism of opposites – an ancient occult magic belief system – as a rationalisation for the alleged inevitability of inequality in social wealth, all under the guise of what Marx styled a “general natural law”9 (emphasis mine):
In the economy of a nation, advantages and evils always balance one another: the abundance of wealth with some people, is always equal to the want of it with others: the great riches of a small number are always accompanied by the absolute privation of the first necessaries of life for many others.10
The good therefore, understood as the possession of goods in excess of what is needed, can only be expressed between the individual and the commonality as the number zero, and since there is an inevitable lack of goods for some if these are to be abundant for others, this good can only appear as a mixture of economic good and evil, which tends neither to one nor to the other, or as the vector sum of forces which, operating with equal energy in different and opposite directions, destroy each other and resolve themselves into nothing.11
The observant reader will note the remarkable analogue of Ortes’s theory to a host of widely accepted general equilibrium economic beliefs in our day, such as “perfect markets”, and the fundamental ‘laws’ of supply and demand. Perhaps the most important analogue however, is to the assumptions of financial intermediation theory; a primary rationalisation – most useful for money-lenders – for the pretence that banks and debt don’t matter, since banks, according to the theory, act only as mediator between two opposites – savers and borrowers.
You may detect more than a hint of the idea of deification, of man becoming a god (apotheosis) manifesting in this self-serving theory of bankers being a kind of Kristos, an invisible mediator between God (good, wealthy) and man (evil, poor).
However, as proven empirically for the first time in modern history by Professor Richard Werner12, the real truth is that, progressively, slowly but surely, over millennia, ‘alchemists’ have apotheosised a now “Too Big To Fail” global domination system wherein they – the ‘Masters of the Universe’, ‘doing god’s work’ – represent something even greater than just a deified and transcendent, mediating Man-God. Instead, with the 1971 closure of the “gold window” backing (i.e., materially limiting the issuance of) the $USD as the world’s reserve currency, the 0.01% now represent an analogue to the very apex of the Trinity – the Infinite Creator Himself.
Readers of my earlier essays on the ancient origins and fraud-enabling ‘magic’ of double-entry bookkeeping (here, here, here) will also note the precise analogue of Ortes’s “vector sum of forces” theory to the symbolic representation of what I have christened the Paradox of Opposite Perspectives (POOP, or POP) embedded in double entry bookkeeping-based ‘money’ creation ex nihilo (“out of nothing”):
The primeval sages, when seeking the First of Causes, beheld good and evil in the world; they considered the shadow and the light; they compared winter with spring, age with youth, life with death, and their conclusion was this: The First Cause is beneficent and severe; it gives and takes away life. Then are there two contrary principles, the one good and the other evil, exclaimed the disciples of Manes. No, the two principles of universal equilibrium are not contrary, although contrasted in appearance, for a singular wisdom opposes one to another. Good is on the right, evil on the left, but the supreme excellence is above both, applying evil to the victory of good and good to the amendment of evil.
Omnipotence is the most absolute liberty; now, absolute liberty cannot exist apart from perfect equilibrium. Magical equilibrium is hence one of the first conditions of success in the operations of science, and must be sought even in occult chemistry, by learning to combine contraries without neutralising them by one another. Magical equilibrium explains the great and primeval mystery of the existence and relative necessity of evil. This relative necessity gives, in black magic, the measure of the power of demons or impure spirits, to whom virtues practised upon earth are a source of increased rage and apparently of increased power.13
Ortes had first written on general equilibrium and the zero-sum antagonism of equal and opposite ‘forces’ twenty years earlier (1754), in a short tract titled Calcolo de’piaceri e de’dolori della vita umana (“A Calculation of Pleasures and Pains of Human Life”). Here we find another quite remarkable analogue to el modo vinegia (the “Venetian Method”) of double-entry bookkeeping.
Academic Marco E. L. Guidi provides us with an invaluable summary (emphasis mine):
Ortes’s exposition moves from a set of hypotheses on [the] human body and on the relation between the physical and the moral constitution, which seem to be derived from Cartesian philosophy. There is also a strong analogy between Hobbes’s and Ortes’s explanation of the origin of sensations. The body is made by more or less elastic fibres and by fluids. When all fibres are in a steady state, fluids freely circulate within the body. This circular flow equilibrium goes along with a state of psychical indifference: a state which seems to be more hypothetical than actual, but nevertheless possible. The contact of human physique with external objects alters the state of fibres, overtending or overrelaxing them, and necessarily driving to a disorder in the circulation of fluids, felt by the mind as pain. Pleasure in [sic] nothing else than the impression produced by a contrary movement of fibres, reestablishing the original state (Ortes 1754: 288-89). This restoration can have two possible effects: either pleasure disappears with the new equilibrium and indifference is felt by the mind (Ortes 1754: 289-90), or the contrary movement which had produced pleasure continues beyond the point of equilibrium, thus altering the state of fibers and producing new pains (Ortes 1754: 292). Therefore, pleasure has a quantitative limit given by the amount of pain it removes. One of the examples given by Ortes is the same that manuals of microeconomics often give to explain to undergraduate students the meaning of Gossen’s laws: hunger which becomes indigestion once the satiety point is reached (Ortes 1754: 307-8). On the contrary, there are no limits to the extent of pain: every pain has a “fecundity” of its own, to the extent that the disorder in fibres can be communicated by fluids to other fibres, and so on in a chain reaction effect.
The assertion that the state of tranquillity can be altered only by pain (Ortes 1754: 307) leads Ortes to conclude that every kind of pain is a positive sensation, whereas pleasure should be defined as a negative sensation, i.e. the reduction of pain (Ortes 1754: 305).
Ortes’s originality can be found in the statement that pleasure is not a condition of tranquillity but a quantity of movement which restores tranquillity.14
For readers who may be unfamiliar with the rules of double-entry bookkeeping, the following chart shows how the entries made on a Balance Sheet are precisely analogous to the rationale of Ortes’s circular flow equilibrium theory of hedonistic calculus.
It requires but a little reflection to see clearly what Ortes was trying to do. By proposing a theoretical correspondence of a universal trinity of paired opposite ideas – physical Pleasure and Pain; the Abundance and Want of material “good” (i.e., possession of wealth); and the moral opposite ideas of Good and Evil – the debauched monk and Venetian oligarchs’ ideological thinker was, from at least as early as 1754, trying to quantify, that is to say, to measure morality.
It is important to note that Ortes sought to measure morality – a perspective of the Higher (non-physical, spiritual) world – by means of hypothetical a priori analogues drawn from the (necessarily finite; that is, limited) perspectives of the Lower world. In other words, Ortes was projecting analogues drawn from the material microcosmos on to the immaterial macrocosmos.
Today, economists do exactly the same thing, in projecting microeconomic analogues (“principles”, “laws”) into macroeconomic models. As the king who is claimed to have received the Wisdom of God and is reverenced to this day in the symbolic Double Triangle of Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun”:
Mercurius Trismegistus begins his admirable symbol known under the name of the “Emerald Table,” by this threefold affirmation: “It is true, it is certain without error, it is of all truth.” Thus, in physics, the true confirmed by experience; in philosophy, certitude purged from any alloy of error; in the domain of religion or the infinite, absolute truth indicated by analogy: such are the first necessities of true science, and Magic only can impart these to its adepts.
As we have already said, according to the sole dogma of the Kabbalah, that which is in visible nature reveals that which is in the domain of invisible nature, or secondary causes are in strict proportion and analogous to the manifestations of the First Cause.
Nature also has four motions produced by two forces which sustain each other by their tendency in an opposite direction. Now, the law which rules bodies is analogous to that which governs minds, and that which governs minds is the very manifestation of God’s secret – that is to say, of the mystery of the creation.
As we have already said, there are two palmary natural laws – two essential laws – which, balanced one against another, produce the universal equilibrium of things. These are fixity and motion, analogous to truth and discovery in philosophy, and in absolute conception to necessity and liberty, which are the very essence of God.
Does not human life present itself also under these four phases or successive transformations – birth, life, death, immortality? And remark here that the immortality of the soul, necessitated as a complement of the tetrad, is kabbalistically proved by analogy, which is the sole dogma of truly universal religion, as it is the key of science and the universal law of nature.
Every individuality is therefore indefinitely perfectible, since the moral order is analogous to the physical, and since we cannot conceive any point as unable to dilate, increase and radiate in a philosophically unlimited circle.15
It should not escape our notice that embedded in Ortes’s moral calculus there are two rather tempting ideas; a paradoxical duality that, from a ‘higher’ perspective, can be seen as a unity of opposites; one that again represents a powerful analogue to the Paradox of Opposite Perspectives in double-entry bookkeeping. These two ideas would doubtless serve as a soothing salve for the seared consciences of the merchants and money-lenders of the Venetian oligarchy: for the wealthy, “the possession of goods in excess of what is needed” actually represents a return to the original state of man (freedom from pain/evil; perfect equilibrium; the number zero; a god-like state of psychical tranquillity and indifference); for others, pain (e.g., the pain of debt) should be thought of as a positive (‘credit’) “movement” or sensation.
Following this chain of reasoning/sophistry then, it is not too difficult to see how, some 250 years on, we find ourselves observing tens of millions actually believing that their favourite “Prosperity Gospel” televangelist, “Christian” businessman, or “conservative” politician simply must be a good man – “approved of God”, indeed – by virtue of his enormous wealth.
According to Jane Gleeson-White (Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance), “Our modern urge to measure everything dates back to the late Middle Ages when a ‘radical change of perception’ took place in which mathematics, Venetian bookkeeping, and [monk, magician] Luca Pacioli played a key role. .. [O]nce you can measure something, then you have a quantitative or numerical representation of your subject which you can manipulate and experiment with, no matter how great its errors or omissions.” 16 (emphasis mine)
In other words, what you can measure, you can control. At least, you can con-vince yourself (and others) that it is so. After all, it does appear to be so with material examples of measurement; why not with the immaterial as well? Indeed, have not the Ancient and Wise clearly advised that the earthly is a mirror (though darkly) of the heavenly? “That which is above is like or equal to that which is below,” say the magi.17
It stands to ‘reason’ then, that if you can find a way, by analogy, to measure morality – if you can measure Good (“God”) and Evil (“Satan”) – then you can control, that is, attain power over the forces of Good and Evil.
Hedonistic (or “felicific”) calculus is usually attributed to the English philosopher, legal scholar, and founder of so-called “utilitarian [i.e., useful] ethics”, Jeremy Bentham. His efforts, like those of Ortes, can hardly have failed to find favour with the money-lending oligarchy. Indeed, we must acknowledge the great historical significance of the sublime eloquence and cunning casuistry of Bentham, in something other than its useful role in the promotion of his utilitarian calculus. It was also the catalysing force for the final capitulation of the remaining vestiges of sincere community-spiritedness within elite opinion, with regard to the traditional legal restrictions on the practice of usury (since Bentham, conveniently and happily rebranded under the more ‘positive’ appellation of “interest”).
In Defence of Usury (1788) he argued against “the Impolicy of the Present Legal Restraints on the Terms of Pecuniary Bargains”. Bentham basically opined that what had been considered legal protections against the predations of money-lenders – protections proven to be a genuine necessity for millennia of human history – are instead “Restraints to the Progress of Inventive Industry”.
Liberty, you see, must include a “right” for “free” individuals to offer and/or accept an offer of usurious (etym., a serpent’s biting) “bargains” with other “free” individuals. As usual with Benthamite notions of “useful” ethics, this nod and a wink to evil is allegedly for the greater good. In this especially egregious example of casuistic reasoning (also known as “special pleading”) for the inversion of traditional moral values, serpentine “pecuniary bargains” are now necessary for the greater good of “Progress of Inventive Industry”.
Usury – like the “positive” pain of Ortes – is a “necessary evil”, don’t you see? It is actually “good” for “progress” toward the apotheosis of Inventive Industry. Without the disequilibrating pain of compounding debt, we would have no incentive to work, to constantly “invent” new (or copied) products and services and convince others (by fair means or foul) to buy them (whether needed or wanted or not). In other words, without the “necessary evil” pain of debt that, having “a ‘fecundity’ of its own”, is constantly growing in a “chain reaction effect” (i.e., compounding “interest”) – a type of pain that has no quantifiable limits, according to Ortes, economics textbooks, and many economists – without this “necessary evil”, we would have no ongoing need to compete with each other for money, or to seek “pleasure” (the “reduction of pain”) in the acquisition of money, and so, in the repayment of debt to the money-lenders, spend our lifetimes in a great apotheotic quest – to restore ourselves to our original “higher” equilibrium state of perfect tranquillity.
Clearly the much-lauded Jeremy Bentham was not so great or original a thinker as some have chosen to believe. A sophist, casuist, and intellectual enabler of the money-lending class would appear to be a more accurate appellation. Indeed, it has been soundly argued that “in the entire school of British Philosophical Radicalism after the time of the American Revolution – including Malthus, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), James Mill (1773-1836) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) – there is virtually nothing that cannot already be found in Ortes. The British empiricists were, as usual, obliged slavishly to plagiarize their decadent Venetian originals.”18
Karl Marx offers us a further insight into the “Enlightenment” world of the British empire, where we see that indeed nothing has changed; then, as now, public opinion was invariably moved by the tide of eloquent but unoriginal plagiarists shilling for the oligarchy (emphasis mine):
If the reader reminds me of Malthus, whose “Essay on Population” appeared in 1798, I remind him that this work in its first form is nothing more than a schoolboyish, superficial plagiary of De Foe, Sir James Steuart, Townsend, Franklin, Wallace, &c., and does not contain a single sentence thought out by himself. The great sensation this pamphlet caused, was due solely to party interest. The French Revolution had found passionate defenders in the United Kingdom; the “principle of population,” slowly worked out in the eighteenth century, and then, in the midst of a great social crisis, proclaimed with drums and trumpets as the infallible antidote to the teachings of Condorcet, &c., was greeted with jubilance by the English oligarchy as the great destroyer of all hankerings after human development. .. With the exception of the Venetian monk, Ortes, an original and clever writer, most of the population theory teachers are Protestant parsons.19
If Bentham et al merely re-presented ideas that had first been advanced by Ortes when Bentham was still a child, then where did he get them from? Although praised by Karl Marx a century later as “an original and clever writer”, we have now seen that Marx’s acuity with regard to Malthus seemingly abandoned him with regard to Ortes; the Venetian “charlatan and mountebank” had promoted little more than eloquent self- and banker-serving analogies to the Venetian Method of double-entry bookkeeping.
Around the turn of the 16th century and the high point of the Hermetic Reformation20, better known to us today as the humanist Renaissance (“rebirth” in French), Europe’s most famous living artist, the genius Albrecht Dürer produced a masterful work entitled Allegory of Eloquence*.
A curator at the British Museum informs us that Dürer’s treatment of the subject is “based on a sketch by Hartman Schedel after an antique bas-relief, in his ‘Collectanea’. Schedel’s source for this was the Italian antiquarian and epigraphist, Cyriacus of Ancona (c. 1391-1450). In the legend, used by the ancient Greek satirist Lucian, Hermes (or Mercury) is described ensnaring his audience with the golden chain of his eloquence.”
The trickster god referred to in an early Arabic source on alchemy as “Hermes, the Sage, the Babylonian”21, is depicted by Dürer consistent with classical Greek and mystery school tradition: rising on winged feet, wearing a winged traveller’s hat and bearing in his right hand the double serpents and baculus of the caduceus, symbol of universal generation, eternal life, and universal equilibrium. Over his head shines a six-pointed star, representing the Double Triangle and Keys of Solomon, the “magical law of two forces constituting universal equilibrium”22. Golden chains extend from Hermes’ tongue to the ears of his listeners, including a cleric, a soldier, and a nobleman wearing the familiar tall hat (later silk top hat) satirised throughout the capitalist era to the present day as a quintessential symbol of the oligarchy – that is to say, of the upper class, big business, and bankers.
An inscription in Greek above his captive audience reads: “Hermes, the son of Maia, the son of Zeus, Three Times Great, helper, strong, shining light, who works through law, shepherd, slayer of Argo, with a baculus of gold, herald of the gods, diviner, bearer of fortune, hegemon, who makes profits, a thief, a merchant, who is in the marketplace.”
Eliphas Lévi explains what is the secret of the allegory of Hermes’ golden chain (emphasis mine):
To make the Magic Chain is to establish a magnetic current which becomes stronger in proportion to the extent of the chain.
The Great Work in Practical Magic, after the education of the will and the personal creation of the Magus, is the formation of the magnetic chain, and this secret is truly that of priesthood and of royalty. To form the magnetic chain is to originate a current of ideas which produces faith and draws a large number of wills in a given circle of active manifestation. A well-formed chain is like a whirlpool which sucks down and absorbs all. The chain may be established in three ways – by signs, by speech and by contact. The first is by inducing opinion to adopt some sign as the representation of a force. .. Once accepted and propagated, signs acquire force of themselves.
Printing is an admirable instrument for the formation of the magic chain by the extension of speech.
The magic chain of speech was typified among the ancients by chains of gold, which issued from the mouth of Hermes. Nothing equals the electricity of eloquence. Speech creates the highest intelligence in the most grossly constituted masses. Even those who are too remote for actual hearing understand by sympathy and are carried away with the crowd.
Two things, as we have shown, are necessary for the acquisition of magical power – the emancipation of will from servitude and its instruction in the art of domination.
We have already said that the devil is not a person. It is a misdirected force, as its name indicates. An odic or magnetic current, formed by a chain of perverse wills, constitutes this evil spirit, which the Gospel calls legion, and this it is which precipitated the swine into the sea – another allegory of the attraction exercised on beings of inferior instincts by the blind forces that can be put in operation by error and evil will.
All enthusiasm propagated in a society by a series of communications and practices in common produces a magnetic current, and continues or increases by the current. The action of the current is to carry away and often to exalt beyond measure persons who are impressionable and weak, nervous organisations, temperaments inclined to hysteria or hallucination. Such people soon become powerful vehicles of magical force and efficiently project the astral light in the direction of the current itself; opposition at such a time to the manifestations of the force is, to some extent, a struggle with fatality.
Hence there are two kinds of bewitchment, voluntary and involuntary; physical and moral bewitchment may be distinguished in like manner. .. Bewitchment by means of currents is exceedingly common, as we have observed already; morally as well as physically, most of us are carried away by the crowd.
The great work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will, assuring him universal dominion over Azoth and the domain of Magnesia, in other words, full power over the universal magical agent.
This solar agent subsists by two contrary forces – one of attraction and one of projection, whence Hermes says that it ascends and descends eternally. .. To be acquainted with the movement of this terrestrial sun in such a manner as to be able to take advantage of its currents and direct them, is to have accomplished the great work and to be master of the world. Armed with such a force you may make yourself adored; the crowd will believe you are God.23
It should be fully apparent by now that these two “contrary forces” of “attraction” and “projection” are simply eloquent metaphors for money-lending; the ‘Magical Art’ of “projecting” and “attracting” money.
Indeed, in a chapter entitled “Mastery of the Sun”, Lévi informs us that (emphasis in original):
The work consists entirely in projection, and projection is accomplished perfectly by the effective and realisable intelligence of a single word. There is but one important operation, and that is sublimation…24
The thoughtful reader should need no reminder that “Magical equilibrium is one of the first conditions of success” in the great work, and that this ‘magic’ is achieved specifically by “learning to combine contraries without neutralising them by one another”. In other words, by working (like Hermes) “through law” to ensure the “attraction” of payment of compounding usury, in addition to the “neutralising” repayment of the original “projection” of the principal.
In The Eternal Hermes: From Greek God to Alchemical Magus, Antoine Faivre provides an important detail concerning the magnetism of “Hermes in the Western Imagination”. He informs us that the French Renaissance humanist writer and monk François Rabelais “knew that Pan was descended from Hermes and Penelope, and had heard tell of the oracle of Hermes at Pharae” (emphasis mine):
Ludwig Schrader has furnished an excellent study of this subject, his interest being particularly in Panurge. .. Panurge can be identified with Hermes.
Panurge is not only connected to the tradition of Hermetic magic: he also has something of the humanist Hermes, the savant of his time. This does not prevent him from being at the same time a sort of alchemist, for he claims to possess the Philosophers’ Stone: “I have a philosophical stone which sucks money out of purses as the magnet attracts iron.” And in his speech in praise of debtors, he speaks of the “joy of the alchemists when, after long labors, great care and expense, they see the metals transmuted in their furnaces.”25
In my forthcoming book I present a controversial yet robustly-evidenced argument: that the fundamental principles of economic theory and practice – the ‘laws’ of supply and demand, market equilibrium, ‘rational’ self-interest, ‘utility’ (“pleasure”) maximisation, hedonistic calculus, and more – are all derived from the “universal science” of Hermetic-Kabbalist Luciferianism.
This whirlpool of ideas is perhaps better known to us today under the rubric “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” of twentieth century occultist and “Wickedest Man in the World”, Aleister Crowley.
George Cooper (Money, Blood and Revolution) recently observed that “One of [Thomas Kuhn’s] greatest insights came in recognising how paradigm shifts are usually led by laymen and resisted by the incumbent experts who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. When new thinking is needed, Kuhn showed the experts are usually intransigent, dogmatic and unwilling to objectively criticise their own ideas.”26
In a similar vein, Eliphas Lévi warned that “it is weariness and danger to strive against the fluidic currents stirred up by chains of wills in union. .. The man who is eccentric in his genius is one who attempts to form a circle by combating the central attractive force of established chains and currents.”27
Quite so. No matter how compelling the evidence, no doubt there will be not inconsiderable resistance to my argument that not only economic theory but also a multiplicity of widely-held philosophistries including dialectics, humanism, secularism, liberalism, materialism, evolutionary theory, political science and sociology, are all linked by a golden chain of eloquence veiling a universal temptation – the Pride-ful idea of self-directed apotheosis (“progress”) through values-inversion and practicing evil – passed down through time by the keepers and manipulators of the “universal wisdom” and their Magic Chain of “impressionable and weak” Useful Idiots of “perverse wills”.
American historian and philosopher of technology Lewis Mumford says that the ultimate values of the capitalist era – Power, Profit, Prestige – can all be traced back to Egypt (emphasis mine):
Within a few centuries, the new capitalist spirit challenged the basic Christian ethic: the boundless ego of Sir Gales Overreach and his fellows in the marketplace had no room for charity or love in any of their ancient senses. The capitalist scheme of values in fact transformed five of the seven deadly sins of Christianity – pride, envy, greed, avarice, and lust – into positive social virtues, treating them as necessary incentives to all economic enterprise; while the cardinal virtues, beginning with love and humility, were rejected as ‘bad for business,’ except in the degree that they made the working class more docile and more amenable to cold-blooded exploitation.
In sum, where capitalism prospered, it established three main canons for successful economic enterprise: the calculation of quantity, the observation and regimentation of time (‘Time is Money’), and the concentration on abstract pecuniary rewards. Its ultimate values – Power, Profit, Prestige – derive from these sources and all of them can be traced back, under the flimsiest of disguises, to the Pyramid Age. The first produced the universal accountancy of profit and loss; the second ensured productive efficiency in men as well as machines; the third introduced a driving motive into daily life, equivalent on its own base level to the monk’s search for an eternal reward in Heaven. The pursuit of money became a passion and an obsession: the end to which all other ends were means.28
I argue that the chain of transmission of this magnetic “current of ideas” can be traced back through the adepts of the Art of Alchemy to its earliest recorded origin in the Sumerian-Semitic cult worship of Inanna-Ishtar, the androgyne goddess of Love and War, whose priesthood and royalty strove after ultimate god-like power over the elements – and of course, their fellow man – via esoteric knowledge, self-deification, and the symbolic manipulation (through ritual inversion of values) of the ‘universal’ paradox of achdut hashvaah or coincidentia oppositorum, the Unity of Opposites (emphasis mine):
It is well established that the beginnings of science in general started in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and from thence they were transferred into Greece. It is useful therefore to investigate the beginnings of chemistry in these two ancient civilizations since this may reveal to us the origin of several theoretical concepts in both alchemy and chemistry.
The Babylonians believed that the universe originated from water. They noticed also that the universe contains opposite elements. Thus there is day and night; light and darkness; male and female; hot and cold; wet and dry. There is also the good and the evil, and in general, there is for every feature an opposite one. It is also possible to divide matter into two opposite elements, and from these two opposite elements everything can be generated.
The Babylonians were keen observers of the stars; and from their early history they believed that the gods are in control of the planets. They believed also that the sun, the moon and the other planets [CM: five then known; with sun and moon, seven “gates”] have influence on what happens on earth. This was the beginning of astrology. The influence of the planets involves metals; thus sun influences gold, and the moon influences silver, and the other planets control the remaining metals. This linkage between the planets and metals was the biggest contribution of the Babylonians to alchemy or the Art.
The principle of the two opposites of the Babylonians was inherited by Greek philosophers who were thinking about the nature of matter and whose theories were based in part on the Babylonian concept.29
Central .. to the Mesopotamian perspective is the existence of antitheses and contradictions, the delicate balancing of order and disorder.30
The Babylonian elites’ quest continues to this day, mirrored in post-Renaissance humanism’s continuing belief in the doctrine of progressive transformation towards individual, social, economic, and political apotheosis; not by force of Conscience, guiding man’s exercise of willpower to progressive growth in the practice of good and cessation of the practice of evil, but by force of human Ego, directed by “enlightened” human Intelligence – possessed only by an elite cabal of fully “liberated” “priesthood and royalty”, of course.
Same as it ever was.
In her introduction to Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth, the “gifted storyteller and professional folklorist” Diane Wolkstein discusses the legend of Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld, the earliest written evidence for a preoccupation with apotheosis. Her words hint at the magnetically-attractive power of this idea; the notion of the rebirth to deity, through Self-empowerment, and a dead-conscience attitude of “whatever it takes” (emphasis mine):
I read Inanna’s descent again and again. I was drawn to the story of a woman who gave up, at seven successive gates, all she had accomplished in life until she was stripped naked, with nothing remaining but her will to be reborn.31
How positively inspiring!
Unfortunately, Wolkstein herself has been bewitched by the magnetism of clever sophistries passed down through the aeons by the purveyors of the golden “chain of perverse wills”.
The Inanna myth says no such thing:
The moral which an ancient hearer of The Descent of Inanna might take away from it, far from a `symbolic journey of the self to wholeness’ is the lesson that there are consequences for one’s actions..32
Indeed, Wolkstein’s own representations of co-author Samuel Kramer’s original translations of the Inanna myth, are the strongest evidence giving the lie to her enchanted enthusiasms. Rather than Inanna being the powerful independent “liberated” heroine exalted by modern feminists, a Queen who impliedly saved herself through her “will to be reborn”, the story as rendered by Wolkstein herself irrefutably evidences the fact of Inanna being saved from the Underworld by the intervention of a pair of genderless golems (“demons”33), two androgynous mediators representing a unity of opposites sent by her Father … and even then, she was not permitted to leave without providing “someone in her place”:
From under his fingernail Father Enki brought forth dirt.
He fashioned the dirt into a kurgarra, a creature neither male nor female.
From under the fingernail of his other hand he brought forth dirt.
He fashioned the dirt into a galatur, a creature neither male nor female.
He gave the food of life to the kurgarra.
He gave the water of life to the galatur.
Enki spoke to the kurgarra and galatur, saying:
“Go to the underworld,
Enter the door like flies.
Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, is moaning
The queen will be pleased.
She will offer you a gift.
Ask her only for the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall.
One of you will sprinkle the food of life on it.
The other will sprinkle the water of life.
Inanna will arise.”
The kurgarra and the galatur heeded Enki’s words.
They set out for the underworld.
Like flies, they slipped through the cracks of the gates.
They entered the throne room of the Queen of the Underworld.
The corpse was given to them.
The kurgarra sprinkled the food of life on the corpse.
The galatur sprinkled the water of life on the corpse.
Inanna was about to ascend from the underworld
When the Annuna, the judges of the underworld, seized her.
“No one ascends from the underworld unmarked.
If Inanna wishes to return from the underworld,
She must provide someone in her place.”34
But again, I digress.
Some scholars believe that the ceremonial inversion of values practiced by the Inanna-Ishtar cult may have served a positive social purpose (“They remind us of the existence of rule”35). However, later initiates in the mystery school religions came to believe in apotheosis by “education of the will” in habituated evil acts; that only in this way is it possible to achieve “emancipation of the will”, to “liberate” the “Absolute Reason” of the Individual from “the servitude of conscience”.
“What is this?”
She was told:
“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned.”36
Outside of the initiatory mystery schools in Freemasonry et al, and secret societies for future US presidents at Yale University, within the realm of economics there has in recent times perhaps been no finer example of the magnetic power of eloquence to deify and justify (“rationalise”) acts of evil, deaden the Conscience (“liberty”), and convince the “impressionable and weak” of the ‘relative’ merit of inverting the moral order in the interests of attaining “the greater good” of illusory utopian aspirations, than the words of economist John Maynard Keynes in his aptly titled Essays on Persuasion (emphasis mine):
I see us free, therefore, to return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue – that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanour, and the love of money is detestable, that those walk most truly in the paths of virtue and sane wisdom who take least thought for the morrow. We shall once more value ends above means and prefer the good to the useful. We shall honour those who can teach us how to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well, the delightful people who are capable of taking direct enjoyment in things, the lilies of the field who toil not, neither do they spin.
But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.37
Robert H. Bork (The Antitrust Paradox) wrote that “One of the uses of history is to free us of a falsely imagined past. The less we know of how ideas actually took root and grew, the more apt we are to accept them unquestioningly, as inevitable features of the world in which we move.”
Indeed. So let us conclude back where we began.
Not only the realm of economics but indeed our entire world of ‘thought’, is now dominated – possessed, if you will – by an idea. That by slowly killing our Conscience in a death of a thousand cuts, through repeated, habituated, sometimes enchanted but often plain willful acts of evil, somehow a “greater good” will come of it.
The lesson drawn from deep dark history and the earliest written records of humanity, the lesson that I aim to prove beyond all shadow of doubt in my forthcoming book, is that this idea is false … and the truly Wise have always known it to be false.
It is a deliberate manipulation. An inversion of the truth.
A wise old prophet said:
Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever and shrewd in their own sight!38
Perhaps we should leave the final word to the Babylonians themselves. In the Descent of Inanna, we are told that as she languished a corpse on a hook of the wall of the Underworld, her faithful servant Ninshubur – “my constant support, my sukkal who gives me wise advice, my warrior who fights by my side” – following Inanna’s instructions given her “If I fail to return”39, went to the temple of Enlil, and prayed to the Air god to save her:
“O Father Enlil, do not let your daughter
Be put to death in the underworld.”
Father Enlil answered angrily:
“My daughter craved the Great Above.
Inanna craved the Great Below.
She who receives the me of the underworld does not return.
She who goes to the Dark City stays there.”40
UPDATE 17/4/2017: Added quotations, footnotes 32 and 33
- Eliphas Lévi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, (AE Waite 1896 ed.), p.132
- Michael Hudson, Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to ibn Khaldrun, Counterpunch (June 24, 2016)
- Marco E. L. Guidi, Pain and Human Action: Locke to Bentham, (1994), p.17 – Guidi examines theories of human action based on pain and pleasure from Hobbes to Pareto with particular reference to Verri and Ortes. He posits that what has been viewed as a single or ‘sensationalist’ tradition was in fact the result of two different approaches to analysis of human decisions. He contrasts these as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ hedonism (emphasis mine): “Pain and pleasure are for Hobbes (1588-1679) the result of the interaction between two causal mechanisms: the action of external bodies on senses, and from there to the head and to the heart, and the “vital movement” of human body. The confrontation of these causal mechanisms takes place in the heart. Pleasure is experienced when the external causation seconds the internal movement, while pain is the result of the clash between the two mechanisms. However, pain and pleasure are not passive sensations. Human bodies react to the influence of pleasurable and painful events, and are urged to approach the objects which are pleasant, or to escape from those which are unpleasant (Hobbes A: 49-50)1. For this reason, the prime mover of action are inclinations and adversions, i.e. “foreseen and expected” pleasures and pains (Hobbes B: 147; C: I.vi).” p.4
- Karl Marx, Capital, Vol 1 chap XXV sec 4
- ibid., n.6
- W.H. Tarpley, Giammaria Ortes: The Decadent Venetian Kook Who Originated The Myth of “Carrying Capacity”
- Giammaria Ortes, Della Economia Nazionale, (Milano: Marzorati) edited by Oscar Nuccio; quotation from W.H. Tarpley
- Giammaria Ortes, Della Economia Nazionale; quotation from Karl Marx, Capital, Vol 1 chap XXV sec 4, n.26
- Karl Marx, Capital, Vol 1 chap XXV sec 4
- Giammaria Ortes, Della Economia Nazionale, (Milano: Marzorati) edited by Oscar Nuccio, p. 45; quotation from W.H. Tarpley
- Richard A. Werner, Can banks individually create money out of nothing? — The theories and the empirical evidence (2014)
- Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual (AE Waite 1896 ed.), pp. 46, 74-75
- Marco E. L. Guidi, Pain and Human Action: Locke to Bentham, (1994), p. 8
- Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual (AE Waite 1896 ed.), pp. 28, 34, 52, 55-56, 337
- Jane Gleeson-White, Double Entry: How The Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance (2013)
- Eliphas Lévi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, (AE Waite 1896 ed.), p.44; cf. “‘That which is above equals that which is below,’ says Hermes.”, p. 38
- W.H. Tarpley, Giammaria Ortes: The Decadent Venetian Kook Who Originated The Myth of “Carrying Capacity”
- Karl Marx, Capital, Vol 1 chap XXV sec 4, n.6
- James D. Heiser, Prisci Theologi and the Hermetic Reformation in the Fifteenth Century, 2011
- Vladimír Karpenko, Alchemy as donum dei, HYLE – International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 4 (1998), No. 1, pp. 63-80 – “In the Tenth Discourse of his treatise Al-Fihrist, An-Nadim (A.D. 987) writes, after the introductory basmallah, about the origin of alchemy [§ 1]: ‘The adepts of the Art of Alchemy, … assert that the science of the Art was first discussed by Hermes, the Sage, the Babylonian …’.”
- Eliphas Lévi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, (AE Waite 1896 ed.), p. 291
- ibid., pp. 52, 99-100, 106, 129, 229-230, 260-261, 263
- ibid., p. 335
- Antoine Faivre, The Eternal Hermes: From Greek God to Alchemical Magus (1995), pp. 36-38
- George Cooper, Constant Reformation, Equitile Investments, (July 2016)
- Eliphas Lévi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, (AE Waite 1896 ed.), p. 101, 129
- Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine (1967)
- Ahmad Y. al-Hassan, Arabic Alchemy ‘Ilm al-San’a: Science of the Art; History of Science and Technology in Islam
- Rivkah Harris, Inanna-Ishtar as Paradox and Coincidence of Opposites; History of Religions, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Feb., 1991), p. 267
- Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Kramer, Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (1983), p. xvi
- Joshua J. Mark, Inanna’s Descent: A Sumerian Tale of Injustice (2011), http://www.ancient.eu/article/215/
- Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Kramer, Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (1983), p. 64, 67-68
- Rivkah Harris, Inanna-Ishtar as Paradox and Coincidence of Opposites; History of Religions, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Feb., 1991), p. 274, n.70; quotation from Umberto Eco, “The Frames of Comic Freedom” in Carnival!
- Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Kramer, Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (1983), p. 56-60
- JM Keynes, ‘The Future’; Essays in Persuasion, pp. 371-372, Norton and Co Edition, New York, 1963
- Isaiah 5:20-21, The Amplified Bible
- Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Kramer, Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (1983), p. 53
- ibid., p. 61
* Dürer’s Allegory of Eloquence brought to my attention by Dr. Omar Zaid, published in his paper The Subversion of Reason, SSRN-id2658998 – https://zaidpub.com/