Sean Gabb has reprinted a piece he wrote about the famous British occultist Aleister Crowley, and I found it amusing reading, although perhaps Crowley fans will be less pleased. Sean finds Crowley "less interesting than those who think him interesting," and find few signs that Crowley's occult abilities actually did Crowley much good. Sean writes, "He quickly ran through the fortune his parents had left him. He spent his last years in poverty. Long before he died, he had begun to resemble the mug shot of a child murderer." Well, Crowley wouldn't be the first writer who "spent his last days in poverty." Perhaps there are other measurements of success.
In any event, Sean turns from Crowley himself, arguing that there are two main strands in the opposition to the New World Order." One group, Sean says, believes in going back "to the pre-modern sources of wisdom – whether these are religious or ethnic, or frankly mystical." The other group consists of scientific rationalists, and that is the group in which Sean counts himself: "I believe that most philosophical and political wisdom is to be found in Epicurus, Sextus Empiricus, Bacon, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, John Stuart Mill, and the others of their kind. There are valuable insights beyond this progression. But these are the writers who asked the questions that matter."
If there really are such two distinct groups, then I guess that I, like Sean, fall into the second one. But it seems to me that Robert Anton Wilson was a member of both groups. On the one hand, he was something of a mystic, if an agnostic one, and certainly found more in the writings of Aleister Crowley than Sean finds. But on the other hand, Wilson was certainly something of a John Stuart Mill sort of libertarian; his political writings seem to fall into that tradition. (And perhaps it would be misleading to just assume that anyone interested in Crowley would be a mystic in the usual meaning of the term; RAW seemed to be interested in magick as a form of neuroprogramming and thought astrology was bullshit.)
But perhaps Sean has hit on something. Many of the magick fans among RAW's readers do not seem interested in libertarianism, while many of the libertarians who like RAW are not particularly interested in magick. Perhaps only a minority of RAW fans have a deep interest in both? Or am I giving short shrift to the fact that many RAW fans are interested in magick AND support civil liberties? RAW had so many interests that it cannot be expected that everyone who is, say, interested in James Joyce will also be fascinated by Beethoven, or by the theories of quantum mechanics. Well, read Sean's piece and see what you think.