Apoliticism in the Theosophical Movement (1875-1935)

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Politics, Theosophy

A. There is a reason to be skeptical of the idea the Theosophical Movement was APOLITICAL. What some people mean by the term is centrist. If you are apolitical, it means you are a centrist to some people, but this is relative to where you live, because in the political life of Canadians, associating apolitical with centrism is odd. In the United States, there is only two dual parties: Republican and Democrat. To be in a space where you are free of politics is exactly the kind of place, the Theosophists saw their space for fraternizing to be, and it was.

We are drawing attention however to the irony. With the subjects that concern us, we are incapable of being, or affording to be APOLITICAL. ‘Ideas have consequences,’ and theosophical ideas have been used for political causes.

Q. So, then why the Theos. Soc. (1875, N.Y.) state, that they’re APOLITICAL?

A. In the Theosophical Society, theoretically speaking, there was no sectarian religion, or partisan politics. This however, did not prevent H.P.B., a very central figure in the movement from saying that Theosophy is opposed to Socialism and Communism — two socio-economic and political ideologies. She may have approved of particular individuals, but one can escape from the record of her actions and writings. The attempt to co-opt her for any political ideology wears straw-thin, besides her calling herself both a republican and democrat. What these terms meant then, are today highly partisan and extremely divisive, but we understand these terms in their origin.

K.H. and M. belonged to no political parties or political clubs, as we know of, and yet they, or their associates were involved to varying measure in patriotic and revolutionary causes during the nineteenth-century, in regards to their respective countries. There were American, Hungarian, Greek, Irish, Italian, Indian, Egyptian, Algerian, and Russian individuals involved in their cause and vision of brotherhood, which they claimed, like Giuseppe Mazzini was much bigger than any of us had an “inkling” of. So, they were nationalists, like many other liberals of the time.

Theosophists were no bayonet-carrying patriots, but several were of circles inspired by, or friends of revolutionary patriots of the time. K. Paul Johnson’s historical profiles on what he called “Oriental Masons” were more than how contemporary Theosophists portray their concerted actions. It surely could not bypass the history of Annie Besant’s nationalist involvement in colonial India. Therefore, theosophists are not APOLITICAL, nor can I promise to be. It is impossible to be APOLITICAL, and pursue national, racial, cultural and moral regeneration of the nations.

The idea in some minds that borders are just imaginary lines is a political argument. The proponents of GLOBALISM in the late 20th century argued that GLOBALISM was a biological and spiritual philosophy to give prestige, justification, and legitimacy to their ideology. Evangelical Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic attacks on Theosophy argue, just like the Italian Fascist and National Socialist governments to justify their persecution and closing orders, that the aim of Theosophy is to aid in the construction of the internationalist model of the “new world order.”

Despite H.P.B., K.H. and M. arguing, that it is the Christian orthodox beliefs that would lead to Despotism, the Theosophists warned of the dangers of a neo-Papism (the Unified Church), and from operatives in the Vatican and Bhutan. The situation behind the curtains is political, especially in the times where Christianity was a ruling governing body.

Any THEOSOPHIST can write about geopolitics, ethnicity, sciences, etc., and who said that they couldn’t when plenty have precisely, because those Adepts say these things are necessary to study to understand their ideas.

H.P.B. wrote extensively on the politics and conditions of the poor wherever she traveled, and especially concerning Russia, where she criticizes the Russian Monarchy, the Vandals, and pre-Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Concern for the well-being of your nation, countrymen and women can be a good and noble feeling, but also from our outlook, we are capable of feeling kinship beyond our national bonds. This however does not then naturally lead to the logical conclusion that we should eliminate the nation-state, or that we should govern the world as ONE and force it to be. Anyone that argues that, and tries to claim they’re apolitical and unbiased, are not speaking truthfully, and that is the irony of the situation.

We ought to be cosmopolitan PHILOSOPHERS, and friends to the nations first and foremost.

“I am confident that, when the real nature of Theosophy is understood, the prejudice against it, now so unfortunately prevalent, will die out. Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the condition of mankind. We are the friends of all those who fight against drunkenness, against cruelty to animals, against injustice to women, against corruption in society or in government, although we do not meddle in politics. We are the friends of those who exercise practical charity, who seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor. … The function of Theosophists is to open men’s hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learnt to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Second Annual Convention, American Section of the Theosophical Society)

Inez Milholland, suffragette, Washington 1913 March (Bain News Service, Library of Congress)

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