You Are Now Remotely Controlled: Surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth (NY Times 24/1/20)

You Are Now Remotely Controlled

Surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth.

By Shoshana Zuboff
Ms. Zuboff is the author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.”

Jan. 24, 2020

The debate on privacy and law at the Federal Trade Commission
was unusually heated that day. Tech industry executives “argued that they were capable of regulating themselves and that government intervention would be costly and counterproductive.” Civil libertarians warned that the companies’ data capabilities posed “an unprecedented threat to individual freedom.” One observed, “We have to decide what human beings are in the electronic age. Are we just going to be chattel for commerce?” A commissioner asked, ‘‘Where should we draw the line?” The year was 1997.

The line was never drawn, and the executives got their way. Twenty-three years later the evidence is in. The fruit of that victory was a new economic logic that I call “surveillance capitalism.” Its success depends upon one-way-mirror operations engineered for our ignorance and wrapped in a fog of misdirection, euphemism and mendacity. It rooted and flourished in the new spaces of the internet, once celebrated by surveillance capitalists as “the world’s largest ungoverned space.” But power fills a void, and those once wild spaces are no longer ungoverned. Instead, they are owned and operated by private surveillance capital and governed by its iron laws.

The rise of surveillance capitalism over the last two decades went largely unchallenged. “Digital” was fast, we were told, and stragglers would be left behind. It’s not surprising that so many of us rushed to follow the bustling White Rabbit down his tunnel into a promised digital Wonderland where, like Alice, we fell prey to delusion. In Wonderland, we celebrated the new digital services as free, but now we see that the surveillance capitalists behind those services regard us as the free commodity. We thought that we search Google, but now we understand that Google searches us. We assumed that we use social media to connect, but we learned that connection is how social media uses us. We barely questioned why our new TV or mattress had a privacy policy, but we’ve begun to understand that “privacy” policies are actually surveillance policies.

And like our forebears who named the automobile “horseless carriage” because they could not reckon with its true dimension, we regarded the internet platforms as “bulletin boards” where anyone could pin a note. Congress cemented this delusion in a statute, Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, absolving those companies of the obligations that adhere to “publishers” or even to “speakers.”


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Only repeated crises have taught us that these platforms are not bulletin boards but hyper-velocity global bloodstreams into which anyone may introduce a dangerous virus without a vaccine. This is how Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, could legally refuse to remove a faked video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and later double down on this decision, announcing that political advertising would not be subject to fact-checking.

All of these delusions rest on the most treacherous hallucination of them all: the belief that privacy is private. We have imagined that we can choose our degree of privacy with an individual calculation in which a bit of personal information is traded for valued services — a reasonable quid pro quo. For example, when Delta Air Lines piloted a biometric data system at the Atlanta airport, the company reported that of nearly 25,000 customers who traveled there each week, 98 percent opted into the process, noting that “the facial recognition option is saving an average of two seconds for each customer at boarding, or nine minutes when boarding a wide body aircraft.”

In fact the rapid development of facial recognition systems reveals the public consequences of this supposedly private choice. Surveillance capitalists have demanded the right to take our faces wherever they appear — on a city street or a Facebook page. The Financial Times reported that a Microsoft facial recognition training database of 10 million images plucked from the internet without anyone’s knowledge and supposedly limited to academic research was employed by companies like IBM and state agencies that included the United States and Chinese military. Among these were two Chinese suppliers of equipment to officials in Xinjiang, where members of the Uighur community live in open-air prisons under perpetual surveillance by facial recognition systems.

Privacy is not private, because the effectiveness of these and other private or public surveillance and control systems depends upon the pieces of ourselves that we give up — or that are secretly stolen from us.

Our digital century was to have been democracy’s Golden Age. Instead, we enter its third decade marked by a stark new form of social inequality best understood as “epistemic inequality.” It recalls a pre-Gutenberg era of extreme asymmetries of knowledge and the power that accrues to such knowledge, as the tech giants seize control of information and learning itself. The delusion of “privacy as private” was crafted to breed and feed this unanticipated social divide. Surveillance capitalists exploit the widening inequity of knowledge for the sake of profits. They manipulate the economy, our society and even our lives with impunity, endangering not just individual privacy but democracy itself. Distracted by our delusions, we failed to notice this bloodless coup from above.

The belief that privacy is private has left us careening toward a future that we did not choose, because it failed to reckon with the profound distinction between a society that insists upon sovereign individual rights and one that lives by the social relations of the one-way mirror. The lesson is that privacy is public — it is a collective good that is logically and morally inseparable from the values of human autonomy and self-determination upon which privacy depends and without which a democratic society is unimaginable.

Still, the winds appear to have finally shifted. A fragile new awareness is dawning as we claw our way back up the rabbit hole toward home. Surveillance capitalists are fast because they seek neither genuine consent nor consensus. They rely on psychic numbing and messages of inevitability to conjure the helplessness, resignation and confusion that paralyze their prey. Democracy is slow, and that’s a good thing. Its pace reflects the tens of millions of conversations that occur in families, among neighbors, co-workers and friends, within communities, cities and states, gradually stirring the sleeping giant of democracy to action.

These conversations are occurring now, and there are many indications that lawmakers are ready to join and to lead. This third decade is likely to decide our fate. Will we make the digital future better, or will it make us worse? Will it be a place that we can call home?

Epistemic inequality is not based on what we can earn but rather on what we can learn. It is defined as unequal access to learning imposed by private commercial mechanisms of information capture, production, analysis and sales. It is best exemplified in the fast-growing abyss between what we know and what is known about us.

Twentieth-century industrial society was organized around the “division of labor,” and it followed that the struggle for economic equality would shape the politics of that time. Our digital century shifts society’s coordinates from a division of labor to a “division of learning,” and it follows that the struggle over access to knowledge and the power conferred by such knowledge will shape the politics of our time.

The new centrality of epistemic inequality signals a power shift from the ownership of the means of production, which defined the politics of the 20th century, to the ownership of the production of meaning. The challenges of epistemic justice and epistemic rights in this new era are summarized in three essential questions about knowledge, authority and power: Who knows? Who decides who knows? Who decides who decides who knows?

During the last two decades, the leading surveillance capitalists — Google, later followed by Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft — helped to drive this societal transformation while simultaneously ensuring their ascendance to the pinnacle of the epistemic hierarchy. They operated in the shadows to amass huge knowledge monopolies by taking without asking, a maneuver that every child recognizes as theft. Surveillance capitalism begins by unilaterally staking a claim to private human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Our lives are rendered as data flows.

Early on, it was discovered that, unknown to users, even data freely given harbors rich predictive signals, a surplus that is more than what is required for service improvement. It isn’t only what you post online, but whether you use exclamation points or the color saturation of your photos; not just where you walk but the stoop of your shoulders; not just the identity of your face but the emotional states conveyed by your “microexpressions”; not just what you like but the pattern of likes across engagements. Soon this behavioral surplus was secretly hunted and captured, claimed as proprietary data.

The data are conveyed through complex supply chains of devices, tracking and monitoring software, and ecosystems of apps and companies that specialize in niche data flows captured in secret. For example, testing by The Wall Street Journal showed that Facebook receives heart rate data from the Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, menstrual cycle data from the Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, and data that reveal interest in real estate properties from — all of it without the user’s knowledge.

These data flows empty into surveillance capitalists’ computational factories, called “artificial intelligence,” where they are manufactured into behavioral predictions that are about us, but they are not for us. Instead, they are sold to business customers in a new kind of market that trades exclusively in human futures. Certainty in human affairs is the lifeblood of these markets, where surveillance capitalists compete on the quality of their predictions. This is a new form of trade that birthed some of the richest and most powerful companies in history.

Credit…Illustration by Erik Carter; Photograph by Getty Images
In order to achieve their objectives, the leading surveillance capitalists sought to establish unrivaled dominance over the 99.9 percent of the world’s information now rendered in digital formats that they helped to create. Surveillance capital has built most of the world’s largest computer networks, data centers, populations of servers, undersea transmission cables, advanced microchips, and frontier machine intelligence, igniting an arms race for the 10,000 or so specialists on the planet who know how to coax knowledge from these vast new data continents.

With Google in the lead, the top surveillance capitalists seek to control labor markets in critical expertise, including data science and animal research, elbowing out competitors such as start-ups, universities, high schools, municipalities, established corporations in other industries and less wealthy countries. In 2016, 57 percent of American computer science Ph.D. graduates took jobs in industry, while only 11 percent became tenure-track faculty members. It’s not just an American problem. In Britain, university administrators contemplate a “missing generation” of data scientists. A Canadian scientist laments, “the power, the expertise, the data are all concentrated in the hands of a few companies.”

Google created the first insanely lucrative markets to trade in human futures, what we now know as online targeted advertising, based on their predictions of which ads users would click. Between 2000, when the new economic logic was just emerging, and 2004, when the company went public, revenues increased by 3,590 percent. This startling number represents the “surveillance dividend.” It quickly reset the bar for investors, eventually driving start-ups, apps developers and established companies to shift their business models toward surveillance capitalism. The promise of a fast track to outsized revenues from selling human futures drove this migration first to Facebook, then through the tech sector and now throughout the rest of the economy to industries as disparate as insurance, retail, finance, education, health care, real estate, entertainment and every product that begins with the word “smart” or service touted as “personalized.”

Even Ford, the birthplace of the 20th-century mass production economy, is on the trail of the surveillance dividend, proposing to meet the challenge of slumping car sales by reimagining Ford vehicles as a “transportation operating system.” As one analyst put it, Ford “could make a fortune monetizing data. They won’t need engineers, factories or dealers to do it. It’s almost pure profit.”

Surveillance capitalism’s economic imperatives were refined in the competition to sell certainty. Early on it was clear that machine intelligence must feed on volumes of data, compelling economies of scale in data extraction. Eventually it was understood that volume is necessary but not sufficient. The best algorithms also require varieties of data — economies of scope. This realization helped drive the “mobile revolution” sending users into the real world armed with cameras, computers, gyroscopes and microphones packed inside their smart new phones. In the competition for scope, surveillance capitalists want your home and what you say and do within its walls. They want your car, your medical conditions, and the shows you stream; your location as well as all the streets and buildings in your path and all the behavior of all the people in your city. They want your voice and what you eat and what you buy; your children’s play time and their schooling; your brain waves and your bloodstream. Nothing is exempt.

Unequal knowledge about us produces unequal power over us, and so epistemic inequality widens to include the distance between what we can do and what can be done to us. Data scientists describe this as the shift from monitoring to actuation, in which a critical mass of knowledge about a machine system enables the remote control of that system. Now people have become targets for remote control, as surveillance capitalists discovered that the most predictive data come from intervening in behavior to tune, herd and modify action in the direction of commercial objectives. This third imperative, “economies of action,” has become an arena of intense experimentation. “We are learning how to write the music,” one scientist said, “and then we let the music make them dance.”

This new power “to make them dance” does not employ soldiers to threaten terror and murder. It arrives carrying a cappuccino, not a gun. It is a new “instrumentarian” power that works its will through the medium of ubiquitous digital instrumentation to manipulate subliminal cues, psychologically target communications, impose default choice architectures, trigger social comparison dynamics and levy rewards and punishments — all of it aimed at remotely tuning, herding and modifying human behavior in the direction of profitable outcomes and always engineered to preserve users’ ignorance.

We saw predictive knowledge morphing into instrumentarian power in Facebook’s contagion experiments published in 2012 and 2014, when it planted subliminal cues and manipulated social comparisons on its pages, first to influence users to vote in midterm elections and later to make people feel sadder or happier. Facebook researchers celebrated the success of these experiments noting two key findings: that it was possible to manipulate online cues to influence real world behavior and feelings, and that this could be accomplished while successfully bypassing users’ awareness.

In 2016, the Google-incubated augmented reality game, Pokémon Go, tested economies of action on the streets. Game players did not know that they were pawns in the real game of behavior modification for profit, as the rewards and punishments of hunting imaginary creatures were used to herd people to the McDonald’s, Starbucks and local pizza joints that were paying the company for “footfall,” in exactly the same way that online advertisers pay for “click through” to their websites.

In 2017, a leaked Facebook document acquired by The Australian exposed the corporation’s interest in applying “psychological insights” from “internal Facebook data” to modify user behavior. The targets were 6.4 million young Australians and New Zealanders. “By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and internet activity in real time,” the executives wrote, “Facebook can work out when young people feel ‘stressed,’ ‘defeated,’ ‘overwhelmed,’ ‘anxious,’ ‘nervous,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘silly,’ ‘useless’ and a ‘failure.’” This depth of information, they explained, allows Facebook to pinpoint the time frame during which a young person needs a “confidence boost” and is most vulnerable to a specific configuration of subliminal cues and triggers. The data are then used to match each emotional phase with appropriate ad messaging for the maximum probability of guaranteed sales.

Facebook denied these practices, though a former product manager accused the company of “lying through its teeth.” The fact is that in the absence of corporate transparency and democratic oversight, epistemic inequality rules. They know. They decide who knows. They decide who decides.

The public’s intolerable knowledge disadvantage is deepened by surveillance capitalists’ perfection of mass communications as gaslighting. Two examples are illustrative. On April 30, 2019 Mark Zuckerberg made a dramatic announcement at the company’s annual developer conference, declaring, “The future is private.” A few weeks later, a Facebook litigator appeared before a federal district judge in California to thwart a user lawsuit over privacy invasion, arguing that the very act of using Facebook negates any reasonable expectation of privacy “as a matter of law.” In May 2019 Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, wrote in The Times of his corporations’s commitment to the principle that “privacy cannot be a luxury good.” Five months later Google contractors were found offering $5 gift cards to homeless people of color in an Atlanta park in return for a facial scan.

Facebook’s denial invites even more scrutiny in light of another leaked company document appearing in 2018. The confidential report offers rare insight into the heart of Facebook’s computational factory, where a “prediction engine” runs on a machine intelligence platform that “ingests trillions of data points every day, trains thousands of models” and then “deploys them to the server fleet for live predictions.” Facebook notes that its “prediction service” produces “more than 6 million predictions per second.” But to what purpose?

In its report, the company makes clear that these extraordinary capabilities are dedicated to meeting its corporate customers’ “core business challenges” with procedures that link prediction, microtargeting, intervention and behavior modification. For example, a Facebook service called “loyalty prediction” is touted for its ability to plumb proprietary behavioral surplus to predict individuals who are “at risk” of shifting their brand allegiance and alerting advertisers to intervene promptly with targeted messages designed to stabilize loyalty just in time to alter the course of the future.

That year a young man named Christopher Wylie turned whistle-blower on his former employer, a political consultancy known as Cambridge Analytica. “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles,” Wylie admitted, “and built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.” Mr. Wylie characterized those techniques as “information warfare,” correctly assessing that such shadow wars are built on asymmetries of knowledge and the power it affords. Less clear to the public or lawmakers was that the political firm’s strategies of secret invasion and conquest employed surveillance capitalism’s standard operating procedures to which billions of innocent “users” are routinely subjected each day. Mr. Wylie described this mirroring process, as he followed a trail that was already cut and marked. Cambridge Analytica’s real innovation was to pivot the whole undertaking from commercial to political objectives.

In other words, Cambridge Analytica was the parasite, and surveillance capitalism was the host. Thanks to its epistemic dominance, surveillance capitalism provided the behavioral data that exposed the targets for assault. Its methods of behavioral microtargeting and behavioral modification became the weapons. And it was surveillance capitalism’s lack of accountability for content on its platform afforded by Section 230 that provided the opportunity for the stealth attacks designed to trigger the inner demons of unsuspecting citizens.

It’s not just that epistemic inequality leaves us utterly vulnerable to the attacks of actors like Cambridge Analytica. The larger and more disturbing point is that surveillance capitalism has turned epistemic inequality into a defining condition of our societies, normalizing information warfare as a chronic feature of our daily reality prosecuted by the very corporations upon which we depend for effective social participation. They have the knowledge, the machines, the science and the scientists, the secrets and the lies. All privacy now rests with them, leaving us with few means of defense from these marauding data invaders. Without law, we scramble to hide in our own lives, while our children debate encryption strategies around the dinner table and students wear masks to public protests as protection from facial recognition systems built with our family photos.

In the absence of new declarations of epistemic rights and legislation, surveillance capitalism threatens to remake society as it unmakes democracy. From below, it undermines human agency, usurping privacy, diminishing autonomy and depriving individuals of the right to combat. From above, epistemic inequality and injustice are fundamentally incompatible with the aspirations of a democratic people.

We know that surveillance capitalists work in the shadows, but what they do there and the knowledge they accrue are unknown to us. They have the means to know everything about us, but we can know little about them. Their knowledge of us is not for us. Instead, our futures are sold for others’ profits. Since that Federal Trade Commission meeting in 1997, the line was never drawn, and people did become chattel for commerce. Another destructive delusion is that this outcome was inevitable — an unavoidable consequence of convenience-enhancing digital technologies. The truth is that surveillance capitalism hijacked the digital medium. There was nothing inevitable about it.

American lawmakers have been reluctant to take on these challenges for many reasons. One is an unwritten policy of “surveillance exceptionalism” forged in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when the government’s concerns shifted from online privacy protections to a new zeal for “total information awareness.” In that political environment the fledgling surveillance capabilities emerging from Silicon Valley appeared to hold great promise.

Surveillance capitalists have also defended themselves with lobbying and forms of propaganda intended to undermine and intimidate lawmakers, confounding judgment and freezing action. These have received relatively little scrutiny compared to the damage they do. Consider two examples:

The first is the assertion that democracy threatens prosperity and innovation. Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt explained in 2011, “we took the position of ‘hands off the internet.’ You know, leave us alone … The government can make regulatory mistakes that can slow this whole thing down, and we see that and we worry about it.” This propaganda is recycled from the Gilded Age barons, whom we now call “robbers.” They insisted that there was no need for law when one had the “law of survival of the fittest,” the “laws of capital” and the “law of supply and demand.”

Paradoxically, surveillance capital does not appear to drive innovation. A promising new era of economic research shows the critical role that government and democratic governance have played in innovation and suggests a lack of innovation in big tech companies like Google. Surveillance capitalism’s information dominance is not dedicated to the urgent challenges of carbon-free energy, eliminating hunger, curing cancers, ridding the oceans of plastic or flooding the world with well paid, smart, loving teachers and doctors. Instead, we see a frontier operation run by geniuses with vast capital and computational power that is furiously dedicated to the lucrative science and economics of human prediction for profit.

The second form of propaganda is the argument that the success of the leading surveillance capitalist firms reflects the real value they bring to people. But data from the demand side suggest that surveillance capitalism is better understood as a market failure. Instead of a close alignment of supply and demand, people use these services because they have no comparable alternatives and because they are ignorant of surveillance capitalism’s shadow operations and their consequences. Pew Research Center recently reported that 81 percent of Americans believe the potential risks of companies’ data collection outweigh the benefits, suggesting that corporate success depends upon coercion and obfuscation rather than meeting people’s real needs.

In his prizewinning history of regulation, the historian Thomas McCraw delivers a warning. Across the centuries regulators failed when they did not frame “strategies appropriate to the particular industries they were regulating.” Existing privacy and antitrust laws are vital but neither will be wholly adequate to the new challenges of reversing epistemic inequality.

These contests of the 21st century demand a framework of epistemic rights enshrined in law and subject to democratic governance. Such rights would interrupt data supply chains by safeguarding the boundaries of human experience before they come under assault from the forces of datafication. The choice to turn any aspect of one’s life into data must belong to individuals by virtue of their rights in a democratic society. This means, for example, that companies cannot claim the right to your face, or use your face as free raw material for analysis, or own and sell any computational products that derive from your face. The conversation on epistemic rights has already begun, reflected in a pathbreaking report from Amnesty International.

On the demand side, we can outlaw human futures markets and thus eliminate the financial incentives that sustain the surveillance dividend. This is not a radical prospect. For example, societies outlaw markets that trade in human organs, babies and slaves. In each case, we recognize that such markets are both morally repugnant and produce predictably violent consequences. Human futures markets can be shown to produce equally predictable outcomes that challenge human freedom and undermine democracy. Like subprime mortgages and fossil fuel investments, surveillance assets will become the new toxic assets.

In support of a new competitive landscape, lawmakers will need to champion new forms of collective action, just as nearly a century ago legal protections for the rights to organize, to strike and to bargain collectively united lawmakers and workers in curbing the powers of monopoly capitalists. Lawmakers must seek alliances with citizens who are deeply concerned over the unchecked power of the surveillance capitalists and with workers who seek fair wages and reasonable security in defiance of the precarious employment conditions that define the surveillance economy.

Anything made by humans can be unmade by humans. Surveillance capitalism is young, barely 20 years in the making, but democracy is old, rooted in generations of hope and contest.

Surveillance capitalists are rich and powerful, but they are not invulnerable. They have an Achilles heel: fear. They fear lawmakers who do not fear them. They fear citizens who demand a new road forward as they insist on new answers to old questions: Who will know? Who will decide who knows? Who will decide who decides? Who will write the music, and who will dance?

Shoshana Zuboff (@ShoshanaZuboff) is professor emerita at Harvard Business School and the author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.”

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Trump administration proposes Social Security rule changes that could cut off thousands of disabled recipients

Trump administration proposes Social Security rule changes that could cut off thousands of disabled recipients

by Alfred Lubrano
Updated: December 12, 2019

The Trump administration is proposing changes to Social Security that could terminate disability payments to hundreds of thousands of Americans, particularly older people and children.

The new rule would change aspects of disability reviews — the methods by which the Social Security Administration determines whether a person continues to qualify for benefits. Few recipients are aware of the proposal, which is open for public comment through January.

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Critics of the plan liken it to the administration’s efforts to cut food stamps, among other entitlement programs, with insufficient information offered to explain curtailing benefits.

Social Security officials declined to comment. For years, Republicans have argued that Social Security benefits need to be reined in to save money.


The new rule, advocates for low-income Americans say, is just a way to push people off the disability rolls.

“I have serious concerns about this proposed rule,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), adding that it “appears to be yet another attempt by the Trump administration to make it more difficult for people with disabilities to receive benefits.”


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In a similar vein, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Northeast Philadelphia Democrat, said, “These changes seem arbitrary, concocted with no evidence or data to justify such consequential modifications. This seems like the next iteration of the Trump administration’s continued efforts to gut Social Security benefits.”

Typically, Americans who are too physically and/or mentally impaired to work may be eligible for one of two kinds of benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).


While SSDI is for people who have worked at least 10 years, SSI is for low-income recipients who have seldom, if ever, been employed.

More than 16 million Americans receive either SSDI (8.5 million) or SSI (8 million). SSI benefits can run to $770 a month; SSDI payments, which are based on lifetime earnings, can range from $800 to $1,800 monthly, government figures show.

Merely getting benefits is an extraordinarily difficult task, often taking years and requiring applicants to compile reams of documents, then state and restate their cases in front of hearing officers, adjudicators, and judges.

Explaining the proposed rule change, Kathleen Romig, a senior policy analyst and Social Security expert at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning nonprofit in Washington, said, “Parts of what’s happening are mystifying. And it’s very complicated.”

The new rule is “the government trying to kick us out of SSI,” said Jahan Johnson, 34, a single mother of three children — two of them on SSI — in Northeast Philadelphia. Johnson, who is bipolar and suffers from scoliosis, is also on SSI.

“What they’re doing is wrong, and making life harder.”


Jahan Johnson, a single mother of three, gets disability benefits. The process “is a burden,” she said.

Those already receiving disability benefits are subject to so-called continuing disability reviews, which determine whether they are still deserving of compensation for an injury, illness, or other incapacitating problem as their lives progress.

Not everyone gets reviewed within the same time frame. A person with a grave illness such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) is placed in a category called “Medical Improvement Not Expected,” and is subject to review every five to seven years.


A low-birth-weight baby, on the other hand, is categorized as “Medical Improvement Expected,” and the case is reviewed every six to 18 months, because growth and change are anticipated, Romig said.

A third category is “Medical Improvement Possible.”

All three categories are based on existing medical standards meant to help officials decide whether benefits are still warranted, said Kate Lang, senior attorney at Justice in Aging, a Washington-based nonprofit that focuses on health benefits for low-income older adults.

The proposed rule change would create a fourth category: “Medical Improvement Likely,” which would mandate disability reviews every two years, creating an additional 2.6 million reviews over the first 10-year period.

An estimated 4.4 million beneficiaries would be included in that designation, many of them children and so-called Step 5 recipients, an internal Social Security classification, said Jennifer Burdick, supervising attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia.

When applicants try to receive disability benefits, they either have one of a list of specified medical impairments, or they suffer from a combination of disabilities that make working difficult or impossible, Burdick said. The latter group are Step 5 and are entitled to SSI or SSDI benefits, according to federal law.

They are typically 50 to 65 years of age, in poor health, without much education or many job skills. They often suffer from maladies such as debilitating back pain, depression, a herniated disc, or schizophrenia.

The inclusion of Step 5 people in the “Medical Improvement Likely” category appears to make little sense, advocates for recipients say.

Medical conditions generally deteriorate as already unhealthy people age, and no evidence exists that such beneficiaries are “likely” to improve, Burdick said.

Labeling them that way is “a radical departure from past practice,” she said. “There’s no medical or scientific basis to say they’ll get better.”

Compelling Step 5 recipients to be reviewed every two years shows “a hostility toward the basic Social Security Act, which takes a holistic view of the individual,” said Jonathan Stein, a former Community Legal Services attorney who is working with Burdick.

He said he believes the ultimate aim of the rule is to review Step 5 recipients so often that they ultimately lose their benefits because of the difficulties complying with the review process.

“There’s an underhandedness to this,” Stein said. “It’s ideological, not based on medicine or science.”

Lang, of Justice in Aging, said simply, “They’re out to shrink the rolls. And they’re setting people up to not comply.”

Stein cited writings by Mark Warshawsky, deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the Social Security Administration, who has often proposed eliminating the criteria of older age, low education, and unskilled work experience in determining eligibility for SSI and SSDI.

And in March, the conservative Heritage Foundation, which often provides underlying rationale for Trump administration policies, released a statement that said, “Factors of age, education, and experience do not and cannot cause workers to be disabled from performing all work …. Only physical and mental conditions … should qualify individuals to receive disability insurance benefits.”

Asked about the appearance of taking benefits from vulnerable Americans in an election season, Lang replied, “I don’t think they care about the optics very much. They’re just focused on saving money.”

Posted: December 12, 2019 – 5:00 AM
Alfred Lubrano | @AlfredLubrano |

Israel y Los Golpistas Bolivianos (La Jornada Mx 10/1/20)

Israel y Los Golpistas Bolivianos
Maciek Wisniewski*
Mario Payeras (, el histórico comandante de la guerrilla guatemalteca, apuntaba que en realidad los movimientos revolucionarios en Centroamérica no confrontaban a los corroídos regímenes dictatoriales sino a consejeros israelíes, taiwaneses y estadunidenses en guerras de baja intensidad y contrainsurgencia. El papel de Israel en sostener las sangrientas camarillas allí ha sido particularmente nefasto. Cuando el propio Washington retiró oficialmente su apoyo ante las crecientes denuncias de violaciones de derechos humanos en Guatemala, Tel Aviv fue más que contento de llenar el vacío y actuar como su “ proxy”. La asistencia, el armamento −“‘testeado’ en Líbano y en territorios ocupados en contra de los insurgentes”− y otras tecnologías israelíes ayudaron a suprimir la guerrilla urbana y rural junto con sus bases de apoyo mayoritariamente indígenas. Los generales guatemaltecos, siguiendo a sus instructores, implementaron la estrategia de tierra arrasada −igualmente testeada en Medio Oriente: destrucción de comunidades enteras, desplazamiento forzoso− hablando abiertamente de la palestinización de los mayas (sic) ( En El Salvador, Israel proporcionó armas y entrenamiento al ejército y escuadrones de la muerte a cargo de múltiples masacres. Su tecnología de espionaje fue usada para vigilar y asesinar a los opositores ( Desde aquel entonces –y ya en otro contexto para los movimientos sociales− esta asimetría estratégica se ha extendido globalmente con nuevas doctrinas del Pentágono y la guerra al terrorismo (

Hoy en Honduras post-golpe (2009) plagado por represión y asesinatos de líderes sociales, la asistencia israelí −venta/modernización de armamento ( y un inédito envío de mil tropas para entrenar a sus pares hondureños en tareas de antiterrorismo y de cómo frenar la migración (sic) (−, sirve para sostener el régimen ilegítimo de Juan Orlando Hernández, su narco-Estado ( y a reprimir a sus críticos ( Lo mismo –otro capítulo de la histórica complicidad de Israel en apoyar a los regímenes fantoches− está por ocurrir en Bolivia.

Semanas después del derrocamiento de Evo Morales, el ministro de Interiores del gobierno de facto pidió la asistencia de Israel para luchar en contra del supuesto terrorismo de izquierda −grupos vinculados con Maduro y los narcotraficantes, un bizarro link que existe sólo en la imaginación de los golpistas− que trae caos al paísLos invitamos a que nos ayuden, ellos están acostumbrados a tratar con los terroristas… ( ). No importa que los que trajeron caos a Bolivia han sido los propios putshistas. No importa que los verdaderos terroristas hayan sido las fuerzas del orden amotinadas que desataron una barbarie en contra de los opositores al golpe. El terrorista no. 1 es por supuesto Morales –que por su parte criticó la ayuda del gobierno sionista de Israel en la criminalización de la izquierda en Bolivia (− y a quién el nuevo gobierno prohibió por decreto volver a postularse abriéndole una causa por… terrorismo y financiamiento al terrorismo (sic). ¡Cómo todo hace “ click”! Así en los próximos meses, aparte de más represión, el MAS no sólo confrontará las maniobras judiciales y electorales de los golpistas, sino también –como los movimientos centroamericanos en los 80− a consejeros israelíes en una guerra híbrida e irregular.

Más allá del vasto conocimiento de Israel en reprimir a la insurgencia que le resulta atractivo al nuevo régimen autoritario boliviano, su solicitud también tiene sentido por otro lado: dado que el golpe de Bolivia tiene tintes supremacistas y racistas apuntando a revertir los años del empoderamiento indígena y a recolonizar la esfera pública, la experiencia de Israel en colonizar a Palestina, de llevar a cabo un genocidio y limpieza étnica ( ), suprimir a los nativos y su cultura y estar a cargo de un régimen racista y segregacionista ( viene muy a propósito (

A parte de dar un revés a las políticas anticolonialistas y antimperialistas del gobierno anterior, la extrema derecha también dio un giro a la política exterior. Una de sus primeras decisiones fue restablecer las relaciones diplomáticas con Israel que fueron rotas por Morales en 2009 tras la masacre israelí en Gaza (Plomo Fundido). En 2010 su gobierno reconoció formalmente a Palestina como un Estado y en 2014 –tras otra masacre en Gaza (Borde Protector)− denunció a Israel ante la ONU por terrorismo de Estado. Todo esto ocurre en medio de un fuerte empuje de Israel que busca −en sintonía con la administración de Trump− poner fin a la cuestión palestina y anexar los territorios ocupados, tratando de sumar apoyo diplomático a esta violación del derecho internacional. En la región, los primeros países que se lo ofrecieron son exactamente éstos cuyos ejércitos y escuadrones de la muerte Israel venía entrenando en el marco de la lucha estadunidense en contra del comunismo: Guatemala –como la única hasta ahora, aparte de EU− ya trasladó su embajada a Jerusalén. Honduras −que también recibió asistencia en los 80 para no volcarse a la izquierda− ya lo reconoció como la capital de Israel y prometió hacer lo mismo ( El mismo precio por sostener su régimen pagarán pronto los golpistas bolivianos.

* Periodista polaco

Burroughs On Scientology (Los Angeles Free Press 3/6/70)

Australian Critics of Scientology
This page maintained by David Gerard.

Burroughs On Scientology

Los Angeles Free Press, 06 Mar 1970

In view of the fact that my articles and statements on Scientology may have influenced young people to associate themselves with the so called Church of Scientology, I feel an obligation to make my present views on the subject quite clear.

Some of the techniques are highly valuable and warrant further study and experimentation. The E Meter is a useful device … (many variations of this instrument are possible). On the other hand I am in flat disagreement with the organizational policy. No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought. Suppose Newton had founded a Church of Newtonian Physics and refused to show his formula to anyone who doubted the tenets of Newtonian Physics? All organizations create organizational necessities. It is precisely organizational necessities that have prevented Scientology from obtaining the serious consideration merited by the importance of Mr. Hubbard’s discoveries. Scientologists are not prepared to accept intelligent and sometimes critical evaluation. They demand unquestioning acceptance.

Mr. Hubbard’s overtly fascist utterances (China is the real threat to world peace, Scientology is protecting the home, the church, the family, decent morals … positively no wife swapping. It’s a dirty Communist trick … national boundaries, the concepts of RIGHT and WRONG against evil free thinking psychiatrist) can hardly recommend him to the militant students. Certainly it is time for the Scientologists to come out in plain English on one side or the other, if they expect the trust and support of young people. Which side are you on Hubbard, which side are you on?

This statement which appears in my forthcoming book The Job needs considerable amplification. I quote from Freedom Scientology number 11 … (no date) PSYCHIATRY No. 1 – beliefs and aims.

An expose of this weird cultPsychiatry: n. a medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of mental Illness and defect and, by extension, of many personal problems of personal adjustment. Historically, psychiatry grew up within the framework of medicine and dealt with the medical care of the mentally ill. As the Science and art developed, much of its treatment was not specifically medical, and any of those treated were not (in, any ordinary sense of the word) ill, either somatically or mentally. The practice of psychiatry is thus often indistinguishable from that of other specialties that deal with problems of psychological adjustment. The term medical psychology is fairly descriptive of the practice of psychiatry but not of the curriculum for training in that field, which seldom includes any background in psychology of normal people – adj. psychiatric.

‘Mental Health’ began promoting and organizing itself after the Second World War. Various mental health groups, societies and committees were set up throughout the world, and pronouncements made as to the future of civilization.

Dr. Brock Chisholm was at that time a prime mover in these organizations. His own pronouncements are of interest – even if they sound unbelievable.

1945 – ‘Let us accept our own responsibility to remodel the world’ and the remodeling plan is basically very simple. The way to prevent future wars is world government – established by developing world citizens with a ‘state of emotional maturity’ achieved, as Chisholm put it, by ‘the re-interpretation and eventual eradication of the concept of right and wrong which has been the basis of child training …’

Chisholm knew this couldn’t be done overnight. People tend to cling to their old ‘prejudices about national patriotism, individualism, loyalty to family and friends and their devotion to ‘narrow’ religious dogmas. ‘There is something to be said for … gently putting aside the mistaken old ways of our elders … If it cannot be done gently, it may have to be done roughly or even violently.’

‘We have swallowed all manner of poisonous certainties fed us by our parents, our Sunday and day school teachers …’

‘If the race is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil it must be the psychiatrists who take the original responsibility.’

‘We should begin to teach psychology in the first year in school, at about 5 or 6 years of age, before their ability to think has been entirely spoiled.’

‘… to root out and destroy the oldest and most flourishing parasitical growth in the world, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’

Ten years later Dr. Chisholm was still talking … ‘A man who fathers six children is an indifferent fellow who has ignored his responsibilities as a citizen of the world. There is nothing admirable in competing with rabbits …’

These are the views of one of the world leaders in the weird cult of psychiatry. Chisholm is not alone – read Julian Huxley’s views on God. ‘The advance of natural science … has brought us to a stage at which God is no longer a useful hypothesis. A faint trace of a cosmic Cheshire cat. But the growth of … knowledge will rub even that from the universe – I do not believe in the existence of a god or gods.’

These are not just isolated views. The Kinsey report reached a conclusion on homosexual molesters of children that such molesting may have contributed favorably to later socio-sexual development, and further states that pre-marital sex relations of women help females to adjust emotionally to various types of males – and in hospitals, psychiatric courses have included these teachings:

‘Pre-marital and extra-marital relations may be quite useful in establishing good ‘mental hygiene’, and that masturbation is all right in adolescents, but is ‘wrongfully’ frowned on in later life.’

The psychiatrist does not stop there. There is one other piece de resistance tucked away that he has been trying to get introduced for years. It is the ‘Alaska Mental Health Bill.’ It is the most authoritative, undemocratic suggestion to appear so far from the cult of psychiatry. This is what it sets out to do.

A large area in Alaska should be set aside for the ‘treatment’ of ‘mental’ prisoners from other states in the U.S.A. Commitment of ‘patients’ may be upon ‘written application of an interested party’, or may be by ‘any health, welfare or police officer …’ Proceeding for commitment may be held in private without event the ‘prisoner’ being notified of such hearings, RULES OF EVIDENCE DO NOT APPLY AT SUCH HEARINGS.

This means that you could be lying in bed at night, be awoken by the ‘authorities’ and be sent straight to Alaska, whether you object or not. Your ‘case’ has already been heard, without your knowing anything about it, and a decision taken that Alaska is the place for you. And what works in the U.S.A. will work in other countries.

It is a matter of historical record that Scientology Organizations have fought this Bill in every country since it was first announced. They will continue to do so, because the freedom of human rights for each and every individual is at stake. There are already several cases of people who have ‘disappeared’ because of political controversy – and they can be removed because of their so called ‘irrational’ behavior, or their sanity discredited or being ‘mentally unbalanced.’ Doctor H.A. Overstreet has listed the new style ‘symptoms’ of mental illness in his book ‘The Great Enterprise – Relating Ourselves to Our World.’ He writes:

‘A man … may be angrily against racial equality, public housing, financial and technical aid to backward countries, organized labor and the preaching of social rather than salvational religion … such people may appear ‘normal’ in the sense that they are able to hold a job and otherwise maintain their status as members of society: but they are, we now recognize, well along the road toward mental illness.’

There we have it. Modern ‘psychiatry’ and ‘mental health’, as promoted by the Chisholms, the Overstreets and the Huxleys is completely anti-Christ and subversive. No wonder ex-Detective Superintendent Fabian of the Yard has described it as ‘the biggest hoax of the century.’ Summing up the views of this cult, as expressed by its own leaders, it can be clearly seen –

Psychiatry denies God.
Psychiatry ridicules the Bible and its teachings.
Psychiatry advocates promiscuous sexual behavior and perversion.
Psychiatry attracts national sovereignty and personal loyalties.
Psychiatry wants to commit ‘patients’ without a fair hearing.

There are, however, many sincere, dedicated and public-spirited people who work for ‘mental health’ on the public level, and are not aware of the weird cult they are actually involved with. That is why this series will appear – responsibility is being accepted for publicizing the facts.

(Next edition: Psychiatry No. 2 Murder by ‘Treatment.’)

Note: Not all psychiatrists are bad. Many would like to reform the practices inflicted by the few on the many. We shall publish their views.

Now what is all this flap about psychiatrists? At worst psychiatrists are the defenders of the establishment ‘adjusting’ or coercing ‘deviants’ back into socially accepted norms. At best they urge a more liberal and humane approach to human problems and may even clash with the establishment. The Mental Health psychiatrists for example put a block into Nixon’s stiffer drug laws. Doctor Chisholm seems to me to be making very good sense. The concept of national boundaries, of NATIONS is of course the war formula. Dogmatic RIGHT and WRONG is the tool of psychological enslavement used by all establishments. I did not know that Julian Huxley had taken up the study of medicine and obtained a licence to practice psychiatry. When I last visited his home he was a 19th Century Darwinian biologist and not at all subversive. I am quite sure the Special Branch does not keep a man on him. Kinsey, when I knew him, was a statistical psychologist with no pretensions to psychiatric qualifications. ‘A man may be angrily against racial equality, financial and technical aid to backward countries, organized labor ETC.’ Translate: ‘A man can be a decent church going cop loving creep doesn’t want any Niggers in his union … Why are we giving away good American dollars to a lot of immoral foreigners?.. As for Hippies, dope freaks and long hairs I say shoot them so who cares? Well a decent-Wallace folk like that could suddenly be kidnapped off to Alaska brain washed castrated by international Communistic psychiatrists.’

“Most of them psychiatrist fellers is Jews ain’t they Clem?”

“Sure are. The Jews don’t believe in Christ, Luke. I read about it in my Masonic home work.”

All this is uneasily reminiscent of the Protocols of Zion and the Volkischer Beobachter. (The Protocols of Zion is an anti-Semitic forgery first published in St. Petersburg in 1903. In 1921 the Protocols were established as a forgery. The Nazis insisted that the Protocols were genuine and produced this document in support of their anti-Semitic measures. Anti-Semitic propaganda poured out of the Der Sturmer and Der Volkischer Beobachter daily cartoons of hideous Jews raping Christian girls and eating Christian babies as they plot world conquest. The Protocols outline the following steps in the master plan … Fomenting world wide subversion and undermining authority by fostering liberal ideas, breaking down the family by encouraging every sort of license, permissiveness and immorality, undermining and discrediting religion. Gentiles are to be encouraged to be atheists. Gentiles are to be encouraged to be atheists.) We can read and appreciate Ezra Pound’s poetry without sharing his political views. Can we make a similar distinction between Mr. Hubbard’s publicly expressed opinions and the technology and practice of Scientology? No, we cannot.

A separation between Mr. Hubbard’s work and his opinions is ruled out by Mr. Hubbard’s grandiose claims … ‘Galaxy upon galaxy billions of light years away have no bridge no route to freedom … Scientology is the one and only road to total freedom and total power … Scientology has the answers to all the problems of the universe including the method of solution’ … When the Founder, Controller and Guardian of the ‘road to total freedom’ starts spouting John Birch talk, his road is called in question and we have every right to ask precisely what his ‘method of solution’ is. If Mr. Hubbard were content to be a technician who has made some important discoveries we could afford to ignore his personal opinions. When he sets himself up as the savior of all possible universes we cannot. The shoddy presentation, the reactionary opinions, the preposterous claims, the atrocious writing are so immediately repellent that few intelligent people can be persuaded that Scientology is worth a second glance. And should anyone wish to make an objective evaluation, he would find it difficult to do so owing to the structure of the Scientology Organization. To begin with, the techniques actually in use are not described in Mr. Hubbard’s books. To learn these techniques one must take courses at a Scientology Center. And one does not simply pay the tuition, obtain the materials and study. Oh no. One must JOIN. One must ‘sign up for the duration of the universe’ … (Sea Org members are required to sign a billion year contract) … The advanced courses are not only unpublished but ‘confidential’, and any student revealing this material is subject to expulsion and exclusion from further training. These materials can only be obtained by undergoing the training and the conditions for training laid down by Mr. Hubbard. In order to gain access to the materials of the Clearing Course, I had to undergo a series of Security Checks (at my own expense of course) carried out on a lie detector … (‘Do you have any doubts about Scientology? Do you have any unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard? Do you know any Communists personally? – No one asked whether I knew any CIA men personally – Are you connected to a Suppressive Person? … A Suppressive Person is anyone in disagreement with Scientology … Are you here for any other reason than what you say you are? Do you consider these security measures unnecessary? ETC. for twenty three hours) … You have to swear and believe on some level that the organizational policy is correct and that the materials are as Mr. Hubbard says they are before you can see them. It’s like a physicist saying ‘you can’t see my formula unless you first agree that they are correct sight unseen.’ The practice of Security Checks has been discontinued. However, anyone expressing doubts about Scientology would find himself excluded from the advanced courses. And the practice of assigning ‘Conditions’ is still in effect. These conditions, ‘Non-existence’, ‘Liability’, ‘Treason’, ‘Doubt’, are assigned for misdemeanors and crimes against Scientology. A student assigned to an advanced condition must wear a dirty grey rag around his arm, may not bathe, shave or change his clothes, must remain on the premises, must perform manual work, deliver a ‘paralyzing blow to the enemy’, admit his errors and petition every member of the center for forgiveness. Does Mr. Hubbard seriously expect mature scientists, artists, and professional men who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields to submit to this prep school nonsense?

Furthermore, whole categories of people are automatically excluded from training and processing and may never see Mr. Hubbard’s confidential materials: Suppressive Persons, that is anyone who has ever publicly attacked Scientology together with all their families and connections. Anyone ‘sitting in judgment on Scientology.’ Anyone who has come to find out ‘if Scientology works.’ No one who has used cannabis within the last six weeks or LSD within the last 3 months may be processed. Such are the unique difficulties encountered by anyone who wishes to inform himself on the subject of Scientology.

As to my personal evaluation, after six months of study: I would not be writing this article unless I was convinced that Scientology is worth serious consideration. I feel that I have benefited greatly from Scientology processing. In an earlier article in Mayfair I said that Scientology can do more in ten hours than psychoanalysis can do in ten years. For what this is worth I still think so. Scientology is incomparably more precise and efficient than any method of psychotherapy now in use. But unfortunately, Scientology has duplicated some of the basic errors of conventional psychotherapy. Any aberration that effects the human mind must have a three dimensional coordinate point in the human nervous system. Otherwise it could not producer an effect any more than a television or radio broadcast could be seen or heard without a receiving set. When Western psychiatrists turned away from Pavlov’s lead and postulated Super Egos, Ids and Complexes without locating these entities in the human nervous system they foundered in mystical abstractions. And where, for that matter, is Mr. Hubbard’s Reactive Mind? (When I suggested that the Reactive Mind must be located in the hypothalamus my suggestion fell on unresponsive ears. Mr. Hubbard is not interested in suggestions. He states flatly that he has never known any suggestion from a student to contain the slightest value.)

The Reactive Mind, as set forth by Mr. Hubbard in the Clearing Course, is a model control instrument well worth the attention of anyone who is looking for inner freedom. Familiarity with this artifact gives one a considerable emancipation from crippling automatic reactions. Mr. Hubbard places the Reactive Mind in unimaginable antiquity, thus making any examination of its origin impossible. In view of a dim rusty label ‘Made in USA September 17, 1889,’ I cannot go along with this. My guess is that this control artifact was set up around the turn of the century. That is was largely the work of one man. That its purpose was and is to keep people enslaved on this planet, to block the exploration of space and to ensure a parasitic ersatz immortality for the founder and his confederates. As long as anyone reacts to the Reactive Mind, HE is there. I have, in fact, an identical picture of this man. He was neither very famous nor completely obscure. He was neither very rich nor poor. He was probably a mathematician, perhaps a composer of music, almost certainly a Mayan scholar. The tip off came from the Mayan codices. To summarize my personal impression: I feel that Scientology has scratched some surfaces and turned up some leads. Experimentation and research carried out by workers in the fields of electronics, virology, cybernetics, biology, and operant conditioning could result in revolutionary advances.

Mr. Hubbard says that the mere sight of his confidential materials would make any WOG – (His revealing term to designate those unversed in Scientology) – violently sick. I can claim some experience and skill in the scrivener’s trade, but I could not undertake to write a few words guaranteed to make any appreciable number of readers physically sick. So, if this claim is justified, it is certainly a matter for investigation. I am sure that volunteers in abundance would step forward. Who would pass up an opportunity to read such potent prose? A headache or a cold or the loss of the last supper is a small price to pay. This is not a frivolous suggestion. If words can make people vomit how are these particular words effecting the vomiting centers in the hypothalamus? Or is this claim put forward to give his followers a feeling of importance and to justify rather substantial fees? Only an actual test can give us the answer.

If the Scientologists persist in a self-imposed isolation and in withholding their materials from those best qualified to evaluate and use them, they may well find themselves bypassed. Mr. Hubbard says he wants recognition for his discoveries. Well, let him then show his confidential materials free of charge and without any restrictions to qualified workers in other fields. He says he has the road to freedom. Others have been a long time on that road. At the Edinburgh Writer’s Conference in 1952 Alex Trocchi coined the phrase ‘astronauts of inner space.’ Let him show his confidential materials to the astronauts of inner space: Alex Trocchi, Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, to anthropologists like Castaneda and shamans like Don Juan. Let him show his material to mathematicians, computer programmers, biologists and virologists, to students of language like Marshall McLuhan and Noam Chomsky. Let him show his material to those who have fought for freedom in the streets, Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Abbie Hoffman, Dick Gregory, to the veterans of Chicago and Paris and Mexico City.

Above all, young people have a right to see his materials. So let him set up a center and give his processing and materials free of charge and without restrictions of any kind to anyone under the age of 35. If he has what he says he has, the results should be cataclysmic. And the mass application of other techniques now available should produce even more interesting results. In my forthcoming book, The Job, I describe the experiments of doctor Neal E. Miller who has taught rats to lower blood pressure, reduce rate of heart beats, control digestion and breathing and brain waves. He has taught rats in one hour to do what yogis take 20 years to learn. Anything a rat can do you can do better, as subsequent experiments with human subjects have demonstrated.

Quote from TIME, July 18, 1969, page 59 … ‘Through the cerebrospinal nervous system, the mind is able to dominate much of the body, how a man walks, talks, etc. But the body’s glandular and visceral processes, run by what the scientists call the automatic nervous system, have long been considered beyond the reach of conscious control. Now though, experimental psychologists have proved that the body’s automatic nervous system can be taught.’

The results of such experiments tend to support the theory of mind over matter so long ridiculed by modern science. “People are reexamining old concepts like mind/body dualism” says Dr. Bernard Engel of the National Institute of Child Health in Baltimore. Engel’s work in “automatic shaping” has enabled him to alter heart rates, and rhythms to alleviate irregular heart beats and high blood pressure. Other researchers have proved that man can learn to control even such functions as sweating, blood pressure, intestinal contractions and brain waves.

The vistas are staggering. Dr. Joe Kamiya of the Langley Porter Neurological Institute in San Francisco, who has experimented with conscious regulation of brain waves, looks forward to the day when men will have “an internal vocabulary, a language he can use to explain more effectively and completely how he feels inside. In time we should be able to talk fluently about feelings such as brain wave production, blood pressure and so on.”

In one test eight of ten subjects were able to control the tone, emitting or suppressing brain waves as requested. Dr. Peter Lang has applied automatic learning to control the human heart rate. The subject becomes able, as Lang puts it, “to drive his own heart.”

“Man may be able to control his internal processes, to relieve insomnia, regulate digestion and improve sexual response.”

But, warns Dr. Neal Miller of the Rockefeller Institute … “The question now is whether automatic learning can be effective enough. We don’t know yet.”

Well, why not find out? Let’s condition people on an assembly line to control brain waves and bodily processes. This could lead to complete mood control. Any trip you want without drugs. Both psychiatric and Scientology processing are based on the assumption that a conflict brought into conscious focus loses power. Undoubtedly it does lose power temporarily. This method is rather like mending an interminable fence that keeps falling down behind you. So, instead of directing attention to the brain waves that accompany conflict, why not direct attention towards the brain waves that accompany calm and relaxation? Millions of people emitting alpha brain waves could cool the whole scene. Instead of going where the trouble is, why not go where the trouble isn’t? It is time to get down to the bioelectronics of the actual brain mechanism and tune conflict out.

In his book, The Teachings of Don Juan, Castaneda described hallucinogenic drugs of devastating potency, drugs unknown to modern science. These drugs should be investigated and made available.

Unimaginable extensions of awareness are now possible in terms of existing techniques. Let’s set up a center where all these techniques are pooled and interchanged. Let’s explore and chart inner space. Your inner space belongs to you. It is time to demand what is yours and to challenge anyone who claims to have knowledge of inner space to come out and show what he has.

This brain wave control is not property. Alpha waves are the waves of sleep and dream, a relaxed calm state of mind. So we hold Alpha Festivals where 400,000 brains get together and emit alpha waves. Many other brain waves can be isolated and subjects trained to emit them. Any kind of wave you want. Find a wave you like and emit it. Epileptic fit waves if your thing is fits. And the ever popular sex waves. Emit pot waves and put the narcs out of business. The Woodstock Festival portends a new mass consciousness. This consciousness with the mass emission of brain waves can produce far reaching effects. Everywhere people pool their funds and buy an encephalographic unit. Tinkers make their own. Whole cities are dreamy and somnolent with alpha waves. Sex wave orgies sweep the world. You can feel the aura of an epilepsy fit for miles; horses paw the ground, and dogs howl. There are pop festivals to rock and roll brain waves. Peace, love, and beauty waves engulf the cops. They are throwing away their guns. A blizzard of sugary benevolence about to blow. The president calls for a nationwide alpha day. The ESP waves have been isolated. Mass telepathy breaks out. Any waves you like.


Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left Hand Sex Magic

Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left Hand Sex Magic
© Nikolas and Zeena Schreck


“A Love Cult”

with permission
“A Love Cult”
Beginning left-hand path sex magicians may be inspired by this book to form their own groups for the investigation and practice of erotic alchemy. We discuss some of the considerations that should inform the development of one’s own sex-magical society in the last section of this study. But there could be no better illustrative preamble to some of the practical problems that can potentially arise in sex-magical groups than a brief overview of Jack Parsons’ involvement with the O.T.O. Agape Lodge. Men and women of the sinister current may sincerely seek liberation from the limitations of societal and personal sexual politics. But once the organizational factor enters the picture, as the chronicle below makes clear, you must be prepared to encounter such pashu behaviors as possessiveness, power struggle, and the hypocritical pretense that every ordinary expression of lust is of a “spiritual” nature.
In March of 1941, Wilfred T. Smith, the expatriate Englishman authorized by Crowley to lead the Agape Lodge in Los Angeles, reported to the Great Beast concerning a new O.T.O. initiate. Of the 26-year old, Smith wrote: “I think I have at long last a really excellent man, John Parsons. And starting next Tuesday he begins a course of talks with a view to enlarging our scope. He has an excellent mind and much better intellect than myself…John Parsons is going to be valuable.” This was welcome news to Crowley, long dissatisfied with the work of his Californian disciples, who he dismissed as mere “fans.” Only six years before his death, and in poor health, the Beast was anxious that a new generation of Thelemite leadership arise to carry on his mission.

Another member of the Agape Lodge, the silent film actress Jane Wolfe, who had studied with the Beast in Cefalu, was equally impressed by the newcomer, writing of Parsons in her magical diary that “I see him as the real successor of Therion [Crowley’s magical name].”

Based on such enthusiastic reports, Crowley began to consider Parsons as the logical leader of the Agape Lodge, increasingly distancing himself from Wilfred Smith, whose abilities he had long held in question. Just as Parsons had showed an early brilliance in science, conversing authoritatively as a teenager via telephone with the great German rocket scientist Werner von Braun, so had magic been a life-long fascination for the prodigy. In 1927, at the age of 13, according to his The Book of Antichrist, Parsons attempted to evoke the Devil to visible appearance, an operation that he claimed was met with success, although he rebuked himself for “showing cowardice when He appeared.” Parsons’ apparently sincere acceptance of the Devil as a literal being with whom man can communicate differed sharply from Crowley’s relative disinterest in the Satanic mythos. The modern reader, accustomed to the prevalence of superficial, trendy youthful Satanic posturing in our time must keep in mind how unspoken a thing Satanism was in the America of the 1920s. That the adolescent Parsons would have explored such arcane realms without the encouragement of the kind of mercantile occult subculture that exists today clarifies just how far from the norm he was, even at the beginning of his initiation.

The literary agent Forrest J Ackerman, who included L. Ron Hubbard among the many authors he represented, knew Parsons in the 1940s from their mutual membership in the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Ackerman described Parsons to us as “a Howard Hughes type, tall, slender, dark, good-looking.” Along with his wife Helen, also an aspirant to the O.T.O, the young, attractive couple injected some gladly received new blood to the sex magickal circle.

With his vigorous intelligence, natural inclination for magic, and scientific approach to initiation, the rocketeer appeared to be the potential leader that Crowley and the failing O.T.O. had long sought. But from the first, Parsons showed an independent streak ill-suited to the hierarchical and doctrinaire structure of Crowley’s O.T.O.. Although he accepted Thelema unreservedly as the foundation of his religion, and admired Crowley as his “beloved father,” Parsons took a far more creative, forward-looking view than his Lodge fellows, who went strictly by the book (of the Law).

Odd though it may seem considering Crowley’s own unrestrained sexual appetite, the reportedly charismatic Smith’s tendency to seduce almost every willing female member of the Lodge particularly rankled the Beast. One of the sisters of the Lodge whom Smith took as his mistress was Helen Parsons. This affair, true to the Thelemic injunction that “there shall be no property in human flesh” was engaged in with John Parsons’ knowledge and agreement. The younger man viewed Smith as a paternal mentor – even as the “Avatar of a God” – and was loath to interfere with his True Will, even if his own marriage were to suffer as a consequence. This cultivated overcoming of societally conditioned sexual jealousy was part of Parsons’ effort to liberate himself with the mores of his time and upbringing, and remained a central aspect of his approach to sex magic. But his tendency to be vulnerable to exploitation in this regard would prove to be a perilous theme in his abbreviated life. In any event, Parsons turned his amorous attentions to his wife’s younger sister, Sara Northrup, known as Betty, who also joined the O.T.O.

Parsons later interpreted this incident as a turning point in his erotic initiation, writing of himself in Analysis by a Master from the distance of the third person: “Betty served to effect a transference from Helen at a critical period. Had this not occurred your repressed homosexual element could have caused a serious disorder. Your passion for Betty also gave you the magical force you needed at the time, and the act of adultery tinged with incest, served as your magical confirmation in the Law of Thelema.”

Crowley, struggling for survival in dire war-time London, was less forgiving when he heard of these far away Californications, which he felt reduced the ideal of sexual initiation to a banal soap opera. In one of many scolding letters to Smith, Crowley accused him of providing the O.T.O with “the reputation of being that slimy abomination, a ‘love cult.'” Since Crowley had been accused of much the same thing for the past twenty years, we must imagine that this sudden outbreak of puritanism in his old age was merely a ploy to depose Smith, whose increasingly authoritarian guidance of the Lodge was inspiring sedition among the already feud-riven brothers and sisters of Agape.

Crowley installed Parsons as the acting master of the Lodge, despite the Beast’s accurate observation that he was “very young and easily swayed by passing influences.” Complicating this accession to power over the Lodge was Parsons’ tenacious devotion to his excommunicated predecessor Smith, whom Crowley had pronounced persona non grata. Parsons’s young wife Betty apparently despised Smith, which must have exacerbated the already existing tensions considerably.

Parson’s early interest in Satanism and the darker expressions of the divine had always separated him from the more conventionally benevolent magicians in the Lodge. Now he began to develop an ominous reputation, enhanced by his fascination with the evocation of demonic entities via Voodoo and the more malevolent manifestations of witchcraft, practices almost entirely unknown to Americans in the 1940s. Agape Lodge members wrote to Crowley in England to complain that their new leader’s experiments were creating a sinister atmosphere in the communal house where meetings were held. Parsons seemed uninterested in undertaking the duties of the Lodge, as his focus shifted away increasingly from the performance of orthodox Crowleyan rituals in favor of more personal sex-magical adventures.

He even dared to reprimand Crowley himself, complaining that the Beast’s rather sadistic treatment of the disgraced Wilfred Smith was unfair. As protest, Parsons resigned from the O.T.O. in 1943, an event Crowley recorded in his diary, with a typically misogynist snipe at Parsons’s wife: “Letter of resignation from puppy Jack; his snout glued to the rump of an alley- cat.” Despite his anger at this insubordination, the Beast persuaded Parsons to remain in the fold, which tells us something of the admiration he must have held for his promising if refractory student, who many still considered a likely successor to the Thelemic throne. Although he remained the nominal head of the Lodge until as late as 1946, Parsons’ growing fascination – one might even say obsession – with the seductive feminine mystery of Babalon was to lead him to a heresy that would finally cause him to characterize the O.T.O. as “an excellent training school for Adepts, but hardly an appropriate order for the manifestation of Thelema.” As must happen with any true magician, Parsons graduated from apprenticeship in a dogmatic school to remanifestation as his own independent entity.

And as is the mark of the left-hand path initiate, it was the fascination exerted upon him by a woman who led him gloriously astray. Not just any woman, but Inanna, the Great Whore of Babylon, her ancient allure risen again in a desert far from the sands of Iraq.

© Nikolas and Zeena Schreck
temple of set
by Alex Burns ( – December 17, 2002

2002 Schism: The Storm Awakens
Left Hand Path institutions often have a history of confrontations between individualist practitioners of different worldviews. The Temple of Set is no exception. High Priest Don Webb stepped down, and, on 9 September 2002, was succeeded by High Priestess Zeena Schreck. Six weeks after the Helsinki Conclave (September 2002), Zeena, Magister Aaron Besson, Magister Nikolas Schreck, and Magister Michael Kelly all resigned on 8 November 2002. Four Priests Alfred Rodriguez, Kevin Rockhill, Jared Davison and Richard Gavin also resigned. Temple of Set sources have claimed that eighteen Initiates have resigned while others have estimated the number at closer to sixty (including several Orders, Elements, and members of the Adept and Setian degrees).
The formation of any new magical group usually creates a period of inter-group conflict between the old and new. Michael Kelly’s document Four Horsemen (11 November 2002) was posted by others in doctored form on the alt.satanism newsgroup (13 November 2002). An early draft of a Frequently Answered Questions document defines the new and as-yet unnamed group as ‘. . . a loose confederation of Setian Teachers and Students, an alliance of Orders.’ The group has eschewed the Temple’s administrative and non-profit structure, as well as its degree system and titles. ‘We Work together through mutual respect and interest, not through any organisational limitations or restrictions,’ the FAQ document states. Finally, its founders have sought to avoid the “magical society” structure of post-Theosophy groups: the confederation is ‘an ongoing Magical Working in which we may participate, a living, dynamic and evolving thing.’
After a period of custodianship and transition, the Council of Nine, the Temple of Set’s oversight body, ratified the nomination of Dr. Michael A. Aquino on 9 December 2002 as the new High Priest of Set.

Public Research Sources
While the long-term implications of this schism are still unfolding, interested parties can check out a growing collection of public material on Left Hand Path practices and traditions. Neville Drury’s Occult Experience book (New York: Avery Penguin Putnam, 1987) and documentary film features an extensive interview with the Aquinos. Larry Kahaner’s Cults That Kill (New York: Warner Books, 1989) contrasts Setian philosophy with ‘occult crime’ distortions during the 1980s Satanic Ritual Abuse cycle. Dr. Stephen Edred Flowers’ Lords of the Left Hand Path (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 1997) remains the most authoritative and academic study of dissent and antinomian spirituality; Nikolas Schreck’s Flowers From Hell: A Satanic Reader (London: Creation Books, 2001) collates key literary texts. Don Webb’s Seven Faces of Darkness: Practical Typhonian Magic (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 1996) and Uncle Setnakt’s Guide to the Left Hand Path (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 1999) offer a postmodern and practical approach to Left Hand Path initiation. Nikolas Schreck’s The Satanic Cinema (London: Creation Books, 2001) offers a self-critique of Devil as Satanic archetype in historical film. Two books, Dr. Stephen Edred Flowers and Crysta l Dawn’s Carnal Alchemy (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 2001), and Nikolas and Zeena Schreck’s Demons of the Flesh (London: Creation Books, 2002), reveal Left Hand Path practices of sado-magical and tantric sexuality.

Review by Alan Cabal NEW YORK PRESS Jan 15 2003

Demons Of the Flesh
by Nikolas and Zeena Schreck

Say the word “magic” and most people immediately think of Houdini or Penn & Teller. The other image that comes to most people s minds is that of the contemporary consumer occultist, waving an edged weapon or a stick in the air above a pot of burning herbs while chanting nonsense syllables by candlelight in a deluded effort to compel some hobgoblin to deliver that winning Lotto ticket, that hot babe or the head of an enemy on a silver plate. “Magical thinking” is repeatedly cited in the DSM IV-R as a symptom of mental illness. In that context, there is an inherent flaw in the perception of cause and effect not unlike the defective reasoning that leads primitive people to religious faith. The idea of magic as a tool of radical self-transformation doesn t occur to very many people.
Utter the phrase “sex magic” and the response of most will be a titillated smirk and a vision of wild orgies. A few who have managed to plow through any of the handful of obscurantist texts on the subject might get a visual of some joyless ascetic sweating bullets as he strives to avoid having an orgasm. Until this year, the only truly lucid book on the subject was Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger s Sexual Secrets, first published in 1979 and rereleased with additional color plates in a 20th-anniversary edition. That book has sold more than a million copies and it s a fine introduction to the subject, but it s also hopelessly vanilla, mired as it is in a white-light Weltanschauung.
Now two authentic enfants terribles of the Satan Circuit have published the definitive guide to sexual alchemy, Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left Hand Path Sex Magic (Creation Books, 398 pages, $19.95). Authors Nikolas and Zeena Schreck have been major players on the Dark Side of the Street for decades. Zeena was born into it: as the daughter of misanthropic con artist Anton LaVey, she was the first child baptized into his cash-cow Church of Satan. She parted company with her father and his enterprise (which she now refers to as the “Crutch of Satan”) sometime before her mother, Diane Hegarty, finally got sick of the bitter old coot s abuses and sued for divorce, driving the Church of Satan into bankruptcy.
Nikolas wandered onto the scene freely and of his own will, as the saying goes. I first met the couple in Oakland, CA, in the early 80s, at a party hosted by an officer of Aleister Crowley s OTO. I had my doubts about them then, owing to their association with Boyd Rice, the Nazi performance artist. Nikolas and Boyd worked together with the band Death in June and then had a fairly nasty falling-out on the heels of a performance event staged in San Francisco in 1988. Besides his Nazi leanings, Boyd was toadying up to Anton in the old mans dotage in a blatant (and ultimately futile) attempt to capture the brand name. Recently he’s become a monarchist and seems to be attempting to claim the throne of France.
Nik and Zeena went their own way. Disinclined toward adjusting to other people’s paradigms, they founded their own occult school, the Werewolf Order, an interesting musical endeavor called Radio Werewolf, and opened a terrific shop specializing in morbid curios and books on Hollywood Blvd. called Hellhouse of Hollywood, replete with a wax museum depicting various infamous characters with narration by their friend Christopher Lee. They also produced a marvelous CD of Mr. Lee singing songs associated with darkness and villainy.
Nik has authored a fine book on Satan and Satanism in the movies and edited a nifty collection of Satanic essays, poems and stories and a great collection of the wit and wisdom of Charles Manson. He also directed a documentary film, Charles Manson Superstar (currently available on DVD), which contains the best interview with Charlie I’ve ever seen. It s unique in the fact that Nikolas knows enough about his subject to ask the right questions.
Most recently, the couple parted company with the Temple of Set just six weeks after Zeena was appointed the organization’s High Priestess. It seems to have been a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. They currently reside in Berlin.
Demons of the Flesh is a complete and thorough presentation of the history and techniques of radical self-transformation and enhancement through the practice of sacramental sex. The book is divided into three main sections covering the better known Eastern Tantric practices, the hermetic Western methods and a tutorial on the practical application of the methods described. The nature of magic is clearly stated by the authors in the very first chapter, as they introduce the reader to the Vama Marga Tantra of India:
“It is a keystone of our understanding of magic s underlying identity with maya that magic is not a comfortable niche to be settled into forever. Instead, it is a transitional vehicle, a means to an end. Magic can be the awakening agent that frees its practitioner from certain illusions, allowing the flash of insight that transcends all philosophical inquiry. Through magic, the mind can learn that there is not one indisputable reality. There is an endless multiplicity of realities… The direct confrontation with maya that sorcery allows might be said to be magic s primary objective. It is this confrontation that permits the sorcerer to viscerally understand how deeply his or her shifting subjective overlays influence that which he or she perceives an understanding that may hasten the transformation of human sentience to divine consciousness.”
They also emphasize the need for “hands-on” instruction, so to speak. Book learning can only take one so far in these matters:
“The left-hand path is a physical discipline that must be personally taught by a male or female guru from a lineage of teachers competent to instruct the initiate. The aspiring student of the left-hand path often spends many years in the quest for the teacher most suited to initiate him into the lineage of adepts. Indeed, Tantra is adamant that initiation can never be learned from books, and that second hand knowledge can never lead to direct realization of the self. The Tantric left-hand path mistrust of book learning, or pustake likita, goes so far as to warn that the goddess Shakti, the informing divine power presiding over the practice, curses all who try to take a short cut to initiation through the written medium… The left-hand path is defined by its manifestation in worldly deeds, and as such is better understood as a way of life rather than a faith or an abstract system.”
The Schrecks have been around the block a few times, and have more than a few pithy things to say about the Western tendency to exploit this phenomenon for petty personal gain. They offer an excellent critique of Aleister Crowley and the various museum-piece fraternities dedicated to preserving his legacy. Crowley is probably the best-known Western practitioner of sex magic, but his various personal pathologies and his inability to control them did a great disservice to the technology. There are numerous admonitions and warnings scattered throughout Demons of the Flesh, especially as regards the kind of parasitic exploitation that was Crowley s specialty.
This is the Schrecks most refined and accomplished work. Meticulous research, extensive citations of original source documents and a witty, modern approach including the latest clinical research on the physiological effects of these practices enliven this book and place it at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in the subject. It presents not merely history and technique, but a worldview and a way of life, a path to personal liberation much needed in a world that increasingly resembles the “Black Iron Prison” of Philip K. Dick’s less pleasant revelations. Extreme conditions require extreme responses.
Volume 16, Issue 3


“The Road To Hell”

“The Road To Hell”

$500,000 in Department of Defense Funding to Kansas University for Mapping of Communally Held Indigenous Lands in La Huasteca and Oaxaca, Mexico

by Simón Sedillo
November 26th, 2007

$500,000 in Department of Defense funding is being made available to the Department of Geography by the Foreign Military Services Office (FMSO), based out of Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth County, Kansas. Geography professors Jerome Dobson and Peter Herlihy explicitly acknowledge the security and intelligence ramifications of their project, the Bowman Expeditions, citing the geo-political and cultural effects of the “neo-liberal property regime.” The home of the FMSO, Fort Leavenworth, was the command center of the western front during US expansionism into native lands in the early 1800s as well as the epicenter of the War Departments “control” over native populations after the civil war. Today, the FMSO focuses on emerging and asymmetric threats to the national security of the United States of America, which is a red flag as to their intentions in funding the Bowman Expeditions.

US military intervention in Mexico has seen a steady increase in the last decade, and now is set on a fast track through Plan Mexico, which like Plan Colombia, justifies further military funding for the “war on drugs.” The racist history of colonial rule and territorial occupation continues with a whole new set of conspirators seeking economic gain and academic notoriety. The maps produced by this project are not just of the physical landscape, but rather more intentionally of the cultural resistance to displacement. Through the rhetoric of unbiased science, and geographic exploration, the Bowman expeditions are actively paving in Mexico, the road to hell.
Kansas University
Lawrence, Kansas

“The Bowman Expeditions”

Quoting from the Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas (

• The prototype for the Bowman Expeditions already is under way in the remote regions of Mexico.

• The research is supported by more than $500,000 from the Department of Defense through the Foreign Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth. It involves researchers from KU, Kansas State and institutions in Canada and Mexico.

• The teams are tracing the transfer of property from communal “ejido” lands to private property, a process legalized by a change in the Mexican Constitution in 1992.

• Program Co-Director Peter Herlihy believes the PROCEDE, the Program for Certification of Ejidal Rights and Titling of Urban Patios, has caused a silent revolution. “I would say this is the most significant land tenure change in any Latin American country since colonial times,” he said.

• The researchers have traveled to La Huasteca in the state of San Luis Potosí and Oaxaca. They have taught the residents cartography and used their knowledge to develop maps of the area. Theyre gathering information about property, demographics and who buys and who sells each parcel of land. They share what they gather with the residents, but Herlihy also sees other uses for the information. Much of the ejido land is forested, he said, thus the fate of the land has implications for environmental conservation. And the land changes also affect immigration, he said

• Geoff Demarest, bureau Americas analyst in the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, said he hopes to see more projects like the one in Mexico. And a second team is planned to conduct research in the Antilles. “We live in a world where we’re now admitting that the knowledge base upon which the government makes decisions could be improved,” Demarest said.

Quoting the Mexico based project website for the Bowman Expeditions, “Mexico Indigena“, at:

excerpt from July 2006 preliminary report:

• In 2005, University of Kansas geographers Jerome Dobson and Peter Herlihy began an international collaboration with the American Geographical Society, the US Foreign Military Studies Office, and the Mexican Universidad Autnoma de San Luis Potosí (UASLP) to bring together students and faculty from four universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to create a comprehensive national-level geographic information system (GIS) database that focuses on how neoliberal changes in Mexico’s property regime will affect indigenous culture and land use.

• Project PI Jerry Dobson conceived the broad idea of the project because he, like many others, was troubled over US intelligence failures and related conflicts around the globe.

• The prototype research project, called México Indígena, is directed by Co-PI Peter Herlihy, and demonstrates how good old fashioned regional geography can be re-tooled with digital technologies and humanistic methodologies. Dobson’s notion was embraced and supported by the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) in nearby Fort Leavenworth from the start.

• The research team’s two goals were: 1) to develop a prototype for obtaining, interpreting and presenting current geographic information on a country from open source, publicly-available GIS data of all kinds; and 2) to determine, develop, and further research a topic having a significant connection to security and defense issues. Indigenous land tenure and radical neo-liberal property regime changes are the specific topic the project team has explored while constructing a broader GIS of Mexico.

• The project team is clear, on the one hand, that no single template can reflect the differences existing between the research conditions found in one country and those in another. On the other hand, the team believes that their experiences in implementing the first FMSO global GIS place-based field research project can provide useful guidance for structuring future projects, helping insure the success of the broader FMSO program to extend these projects around the globe. It truly is worth the investment!

Dobson claims that he is aware of the implications of the technical advances of his science with regards to what he calls geoslavery, or the abuse of geographic data to control populations, yet he contradicts himself in his own public defense of this science, claiming the need for more geography in the intelligence community. Dobson convinced the Department of Defense to fund the Bowman Expeditions with the intelligence and security implications in mind. As a geographer, Dobson must be very aware of the dangers of this information in the hands of military officials wishing to quell popular resistance to US corporate and political interests in Mexico. Cultural geography, unlike sociology, acknowledges with no objectivity the clear pitfalls of capitalist imperialism, and its detrimental effect on indigenous farm-working communities throughout the global south. If this were just a geographical survey of a cultural phenomenon to aid a community in surviving neo-liberalism intact then we could all applaud Dobson’s efforts, but his funding source exposes a more sinister monster behind his scientific rhetoric.

From the School of the Americas to Forth Leavenworth

Fort Benning
Columbus, Georgia

This November 16th and 17th, the 18th annual vigil at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia was held. The SOA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is infamous for training Latin American militaries in “counter-insurgency tactics.” The School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) has been organizing the vigils for the last 18 years to protest a number of atrocities, which the SOA has been directly linked to, among them the murder of 4 American Catholic nuns, Arch-Bishop Oscar Romero, and 6 Jesuit Priests all in El Salvador. The SOAW website includes declassified copies of training manuals used at the SOA, which include unlawful and immoral counter-insurgency tactics such as rape, kid-napping, disappearance, torture, political and media manipulation, as well as propaganda. Vigil organizers list Argentina – Bolivia – Brazil – Chile – Colombia – El Salvador – Guatemala – Haiti – Honduras – Mexico – Peru – Paraguay and Uruguay as some of the countries, which have SOA graduates. The SOAW links major human rights violations to SOA graduates. Vigil organizers have always insisted that the SOA is not the only school of this sort, and that other military institutions throughout the US and the world may very well be engaged in similar training tactics.

One example is Fort Huachuca, in the state of Arizona. Since 2004, there have been allegations that Fort Huachaca has been linked to the teaching of abuse or torture techniques that were used in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. In October 2007, two Roman Catholic priests were sentenced to 5 months imprisonment for having knelt in prayer inside the installation after authorities refused to accept a letter from them making a link between Fort Huachaca and torture training. (

Though the SOA is most notable for training soldiers from Central and South America, the school has shown a steady increase in Mexican graduates. states: “The sudden rise in Mexican graduates corresponds to the growing movement for economic justice in Mexico. In the first 49 years of the School, Mexico sent very few students 766 totalto be trained at the SOA. That number escalated sharply in 1996 and rose to 333 students in 1997, 1,177 in 1998 and close to 700 in 1999.”

“The School of the Americas is part of a larger project to protect and defend U.S. corporate interests in Mexico at the expense of workers and indigenous peoples. The movement to close the School of the Americas is an important expression of solidarity with the Mexican people.” Eduardo Diaz, Mexican labor leader.

Fort Leavenworth
Leavenworth County, Kansas

For 30 years, Fort Leavenworth was the chief base of operations on the Indian frontier. During the Mexican American War, Fort Leavenworth was the outfitting post for the Army of the West. For three decades following the Civil War, Fort Leavenworth was the epicenter of the War departments control of the Native American population.

Today, the Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) is a research and analysis center under the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Deputy Chief of Staff G-2 (Intelligence). FMSO manages and operates the Ft. Leavenworth Joint Reserve Intelligence Center (JRIC) and conducts analytical programs focused on emerging and asymmetric threats, regional military and security developments, and other issues that define evolving operational environments around the world.

In allotting over $500,000 in DOD funding, funneled directly through the Foreign Military Studies Office, to map communally held indigenous lands, it is clear that the DOD is identifying Mexico as a staging ground for emerging and asymmetric threats. What is curious however, is that The Bowman Expedition’s initial focus in the Huasteca, has now shifted to Oaxaca, as opposed to one of the states which have outspoken armed insurgencies taking place, such as Chiapas and Guerrero. The LJ World article states, “The teams are tracing the transfer of property from communal “ejido” lands to private property, a process legalized by a change in the Mexican Constitution in 1992.” The fact is that, in 1992, then Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari broke Mexican federal law by revoking Article 27 of the Mexican constitution. Article 27 established permanent communal (ejido) land grants to Mexico’s 10 million indigenous peoples. These land grants were not reservations, but large parcels of land fought for by the indigenous during the Mexican Revolution of 1910 under the auspices of Emiliano Zapata. Gortari revoked article 27, effectively privatizing these communally held lands in preparation for the necessary structural adjustments imposed by the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In the eyes of the Mexican federal government, as well as Canadian and US officials, these communally held lands had to be privatized in order to allow for “foreign investment” and the deregulation of natural resource exploitation. The rhetoric used by the Mexican program PROCEDE, the Program for Certification of Ejidal Rights and Titling of Urban Patios, to convince indigenous farmers to allow these lands to be privatized, was that now, for the first time, farmers would have a title to their land, and could do with it as they wished. Immediately after the revocation of article 27, several less than silent revolutions began to brew throughout indigenous communities in Mexico. Most notably are the armed uprisings in Chiapas, by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and in Guerrero by the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR). These two, as well as other armed and unarmed groups, responded to the privatization of communal lands on several grounds.

The granting of land titles was not intended to liberate the land for the people to own and control, but rather to pave a path towards indigenous communities selling their traditional lands and handing them to foreign investors. Before the revocation of article 27 the Mexican federal government would engage more blatantly in the use of military force and state sponsored brutality to displace communities from land wealthy in natural resources or of strategic importance to the US political economy. The signing of NAFTA would put the world’s eyes on Mexico and therefore would require new, and more creative methods of community displacement, land grabbing and natural resource exploitation. First off, with land titles, indigenous farmers who were once bound by their communities to keep and work lands for and by their indigenous peoples, could now be persuaded to sell these lands. Yet privatizations would not be enough to persuade sufficient numbers of farmers to give up their livelihood and traditions. Therefore, a second and more insidiously neo-colonial aspect of PROCEDE is the granting of overlapping land titles to neighboring communities or tribes, which if they were not already feuding over territorial limits, they most certainly would begin to feud now. PROCEDEs exacerbation of existing feuds and the creation of new feuds over territorial limits would not satisfy the need for communally held lands to be made available for foreign investment. This brings us back to the role of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth County, Kansas, and to the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, in Columbus, Georgia. The rhetoric behind the role of the North American Free Trade Agreement was that of democratization, therefore the use of the military to enforce the necessary structural adjustments and land displacements in order to prepare Mexico for its bright new future, as a “developing” nation, would no longer be openly palatable. The role of the Foreign Military Services Office in identifying “emerging and asymmetric” threats in Oaxaca, Mexico is chilling to say the least. Fort Leavenworth has a vast array of knowledge with regards to how neo-liberal changes in Mexico’s property regime will affect indigenous culture and land use. As an outpost for the western expansion into native lands for over thirty years, and as an epicenter for the “control” of the native peoples, the military base must have acquired some knowledge on the political, economic, social, cultural, psychological and spiritual effects of displacing indigenous peoples from their land, by any means.

The Greatest Threat to the Security of the United States of America

There is nothing surprising about the involvement of the Foreign Military Services Office (FMSO) in assessing emerging and asymmetric threats to the United States neo-liberal agenda around the world. However, what is striking here, is what the FMSO qualifies as an emerging or asymmetric threat. In general, asymmetric threats are terrorist groups, or armed insurgent groups, but the FMSO’s extension of the classification of “asymmetric” to “emerging”, encompasses much more than terrorist and armed insurgent groups. The extension of asymmetric to emerging, inherently includes social movements themselves as threats; the Oaxacan Peoples Popular Assembly (APPO), its member communities and organizations being no exception. So what is it that is so threatening about social movements in Oaxaca to the United States? The same thing that was so threatening about Native Americans resisting displacement from their lands by force to meet the needs of the growing white settler population. The popular social movement within the APPO, its communities, and its member organizations is indigenous at its root. Over 3/5 of Oaxaca’s municipalities are governed by traditional indigenous methods of self-governance. These methods of government pre-exist communism, anarchism, socialism, democracy, and any of the other Eurocentric political ideals which dominate the geopolitical landscape of our world today. The traditional forms of government delineated by the indigenous principles of unity and resistance, which were synthesized by the Zapatista National Liberation Army, permeate throughout Mesoamerica, and not just Chiapas.

The Zapatistas presented the world with seven of these principles, and left the notion of them, as a guiding path towards the rediscovery of other “lost” Mesoamerican principles. In June of 2006, at the onset of a popular uprising in Oaxaca, Mexico, the APPO made clear to the world that they too would aspire to these principles as the foundation of their proposed popular assembly, declaring publicly, as the EZLN’s Sub-Comandante Marcos had years earlier, that the APPO would “lead by obeying.”

The greatest threat to the neo-liberal political economy is not terrorism, nor armed insurgency, nor drugs. It has always been and continues to be, grassroots community based organizing for self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-determination, self-empowerment, and self-defense. In Mexico, as throughout the growing popular movements brewing all over Latin America, this type of organizing can be broken down to just one word: “autogestion.” Autogestion is the greatest threat to neo-liberalism, and its benefits to the American people. When communities whose role within the neo-liberal political economy is that of a slave, a servant or worse yet, a disposable variable, begin to organize for self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-determination, self-empowerment, and self-defense, that is the greatest threat to the security of the United States of America. In fact it is the only thing that has ever truly been considered a threat.

To have a blatant military response to this type of threat has become less and less workable for the United States, and during the 80s and 90s the US government has exponentially increased strategies for low intensity warfare in order to erode the support base of popular social movements who challenge the neo-liberal political economy. Today, as the US did in Colombia, President Bush is requesting additional anti-narcotics funding for Mexico through “Plan Mexico“, dubbed the “Merida Initiative” to avoid the negative connotations associated with the absolutely unsuccessful Plan Colombia. Again the threat to US corporate interests in Mexico, as in Colombia, are not drugs or drug dealers, but popular resistance to land displacements. In the case of Mexico, the Mexican military becomes the executer of US military operations in Mexico, receiving 80% of its financing and training support directly from the US government. The Mexican military then outsources brutality to the Mexican Federal Preventive Police and the various paramilitary forces found throughout the Mexican territory including, but not limited to, vigilante groups, trained death squads, and militarized civilians carrying out atrocities disguised as agrarian land disputes.

A profoundly depressing part of the story is how many Americans would be “surprised to hear” that this is “still going on.” Worse yet, are the “good intentions” of academics who like to play at sciences without really evaluating the consequences of their research. In 2002, one Oaxacan farmer asked and expressed to me: “Do Americans really think that the peace, comfort, tranquility, and prosperity they enjoy today has come about without grave consequences to the communities whose back, sweat, and blood has been and continues to be used to fuel this machine? Do Americans not realize that their peace, is our terror? And if they did, would they care?”

The U.S. Military’s Mapping of Mexico’s Indigenous Communities

The U.S. Military’s Mapping of Mexico’s Indigenous Communities
March 25th, 2009

On October 23, 2006 the Lawrence Journal World or LJ World published an article which silently uncovered a funding scandal within Kansas University, in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2005, the university’s department of geography received at least $500,000 in Department of Defense funds to map communally held indigenous land in the states of San Luis Potosi, and in Oaxaca, Mexico.

As a result of this original story, on November 26th, of 2007 published a feature follow up story on the funding scandal titled “The Road to Hell”, which elaborates on the the potential dangers of this type of militarily funded mapping project. Since the publication of this 2007 article, myself and a growing number of community members and students from both sides of the U.S. Mexico border, have engaged in several extensive investigations into the details of this particular research project. Our growing concern has revolved around, academic ethics violations due to improper transparency with communities about the research funding, and serious U.S. Army violations of Mexican sovereignty, and of indigenous autonomy. Our collective research over the last year has resulted in several key pieces of irrefutable evidence, demonstrating both academic ethics violations, and serious violations of Mexican sovereignty and indigenous autonomy.
The Scandal:

Kansas University Geography professors, Peter Herlihy and Jerome Dobson received the funding for their mapping project, named the Bowman Expeditions, from the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) located at the Fort Leavenworth U.S. Army base in Leavenworth, Kansas. The Mexican incarnation of the project is named “Mexico Indigena” and began mapping in 2005 in an indigenous region known as “La Husteca”, which is partially located in the state of San Luis Potosi, and then moved their operation to the state of Oaxaca amidst the statewide popular uprising of the APPO – Oaxacan Peoples’ Popular Assembly, in 2006.

On the 14th of January, 2009, UNOSJO, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca, released a communique in which the organization expresses concerns of BioPiracy in the Mexico Indigena mapping project, and claims that communities were deceived, having no idea that a primary funder of the project was the FMSO. UNOSJO cites a clear lack of transparency and additional suspicions of implications related to the US Army’s controversial Human Terrain Mapping System. Indeed there is very compelling evidence that the FMSO is engaging in what they themselves define as “Civil Information Management in Support of Counterinsurgency Operations.”

The Official Responses:

After the initial article was published, the Mexico Indigena team released an official response to concerns raised by the military funding. Since then the scandal has ballooned, and several Oaxacan indigenous communities and organizers are demanding answers. Why were they not told about the military funding? What will the maps be used for by the military?
Is any of this ethical at all?

In the face of these very serious international concerns, The Mexico Indigena Team, KU Geography professor Jerome Dobson, and the American Geographical Society (AGS), of which Dobson is the president, have all three released separate statements about the situation. All the statements claim transparency, ethical standards, and the best of intentions for the indigenous populations being mapped. The AGS takes it a step further and denies any involvement in the US Army’s Human Terrain Mapping System.

The Contradictions:

First off, the Bowman Expeditions are aptly named after the father of American imperial geographic exploration and imposition, Isaiah Bowman. A new biography about Bowman by Neil Smith, “American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization”, provides us with a closer look at a very racist, and arrogant academic who used his science and the academy to advance imperial political and economic impositions around the world. Smith cites that Bowman captured several indigenous Quechua, and used them as pack animals during his explorations in Peru, which lead to the “discovery” of Machu Pichu. This is just one example of many in Smith’s book about Bowman, which illusrate the geographer’s arrogant nature.

UNOSJO cites that neither they, nor the communities they represent, were ever made aware of FMSO funding behind the Mexico Indigena mapping project. At a second UNOSJO press conference on February 19th, 2009, Aldo Gonzalez added that originally several Oaxacan communities had denied the Mexico Indigena mapping project in their territory because someone noticed a FMSO logo on some of the sample maps that were displayed to promote the project to communities. Aldo goes on to show that in UNOSJO communities, the maps that were shown to promote the project no longer had the FMSO logo, and at no point was this funding source ever mentioned to them.

On The Mexico Indigena project summary reports published in 2008, project coordinators clearly express time and time again, “We (the Mexico Indigena Team) continue to explore how best to display the complex geospatial data needed for understanding the “cultural landscape” or “human terrain” in a web-accessible, easy–to-use format.” Also on KU geography professor Peter Herlihy’s web page, it clearly states, “Our multi-scale GIS database aims at crafting the digital cultural landscape (so-called “human terrain”) of indigenous Mexico.”

Mexico Indigena team members have traveled to Colombia with FMSO agents. In Colombia, the counter insurgency and strategic military uses of this type of mapping project can not be disguised as altruistic, or otherwise intended. No one can possibly imagine happy little mapping in Colombia by the hands of the US Army. Either the Mexico Indigena team is lying or they are playing dumb, but the implications and intentions of the mapping project could not be any more self evident.

The Demarest Factor:

The Bowman Expeditions received their grant from the FMSO at Fort Leavenworth. The official assigned to the Bowman expeditions is Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest. Demarest is the IberoAmerica researcher at the FMSO. During a 23-year military career, Dr. Demarest served in multiple assignments in Latin America and is also a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, the Defense Attaché Course, Foreign Area Officer’s Course, Defense Strategy Course, Defense Language Institute, and others. He has written numerous articles dealing with internal conflict including “The Overlap of Military and Police Responsibilities in Latin America.” Dr. Demarest’s first book, Geoproperty, considers property ownership as an issue of national security and strategy. His areas of academic interest include emerging threats and responses, new strategic alignments, military history, and international law. Dr. Demarest holds a Ph.D. in International Studies from the Denver University Graduate School of International Studies, a J.D., has practiced as a civil attorney and lectures on the legality of espionage.

The Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), is a research and analysis center under the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Deputy Chief of Staff G-2 (Intelligence). FMSO manages and operates the Ft. Leavenworth Joint Reserve Intelligence Center (JRIC) and conducts analytical programs focused on emerging and asymmetric threats, regional military and security developments, and other issues that define evolving operational environments around the world. Asymmetric threats are defined as terrorist organizations and guerrilla insurgent army’s, while emerging threats are being defined as social phenomenon and in particular, social movements.

Six declassified essays published by Lieutenant Colonel Demarest of the FMSO are the best evidence of sinister intentions for the Bowman Expeditions. Demarest’s essays, “Expeditionary Police Sevice” [1], “Tactical Intelligence and Low Intensity Conflict” [2], “The Strategic Implications of International Law” [3], “Mapping Colombia: The Correlation Between Land Data and Strategy” [4], “Geopolitics and Urban Armed Conflict in Latin America” [5] and “The Overlap of Military and Police in Latin America” [6] directly contradict any of the primary intentions made public, or ever expressed by the Mexico Indigena team, the Bowman Expeditions, or the American Geographical Society. Demarest also published an entire text book titled: “Geoproperty: Foreign Affairs, National Security and Property Rights”, which is available for anyone to purchase for around $150. It is this text that thoroughly expresses Demarest’s attitude toward the military uses of the Bowman Expedition’s Mexico Indigena project. A seventh essay by the FMSO’s Major José M. Madera, United States Army Reserve titled “Civil Information Management in Support of Counterinsurgency Operations: A Case for the Use of Geospatial Information Systems in Colombia” describes with utmost specificity, the counterinsurgency and intelligence uses of open source GIS information, land data, for what the FMSO calls “Civil Information Management.” It is important to note that the bulk of the information provided by these texts, is in reference to the use of geographic data for ongoing US Military operations in Colombia. This military operation is financed by U.S. taxpayers through a funding packet known as Plan Colombia. Recently the U.S. government has voted to fund a similar operation in Mexico, known as the Merida Initiative. Communities and organizers in Mexico have dubbed the Merida Initiative, “Plan Mexico.” Both of these funding packets use the excuse of narco-terrorism, to further militarize communities. Plan Colombia has shown little to no results in the last ten years.

These FMSO essays, and Demarest’s text book on the matter, expose a very particular and sinister military ethic, attitude and strategy with regards to the control of large populations of poor people, indigenous people, and the disenfranchised in general. These specific attitudes include the systematic devaluation of any forms of indigenous self governance and self determination. Cultural identity as a whole is regarded as an impediment to prosperity. In particular, traditional forms of communal land usage and rights, or in Demarest’s words “informal land use”, is specifically cited as the primary impediment to progress, and security. In particular, the Demarest essays cite that informal property ownership in either rural or urban settings is the breeding ground for criminal or insurrectionary activity.

The solutions provided by Demarest to the security dilemma of “Informal Land Use” and poverty in urban or rural settings, is the systematic devaluation, segregation, and criminalization of these communities. Such communities include everything from “shanty towns” on the edges of an urban metropolis, to communally held indigenous farmland, or even urban ghettos with rows of rental property. In this worldview of the dispossessed, Demarest assesses poor communities as deserving of a systematic segregation because of their propensity towards criminal activity and self organizing. He specifically cites concerns about the criminality of large areas of the dispossessed, as they become separately governed autonomous zones. Demarest even admits that though this perception, attitude or strategy may not be as openly acceptable any longer in the US, it makes absolute sense to employ it heavily upon the people of Latin America. However, it is painfully obvious that the attitudes and strategies expressed by Demarest relate directly to systems of urban displacement, or gentrification, within the United States as well.

Demarest asserts that the privatization of property is the key to stability, prosperity, progress, and security in Latin America, and that formal land titling leads to effective government control of the land and its inhabitants. In Demarest’s approach to property and security, existing private property of real value, must be made secure from nearby and potentially unsettled poor communities, through a phenomenon he describes as the “architecture of control.” He concludes that unregulated and informally used land must be privatized, and titled for security and prosperity to take place. Through Demarest’s strategic analysis of private property, the communally held lands of indigenous farmworkers in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the rented property of the working poor in Los Angeles are impediments to progress, development, and security. Demarest cites the 1992 LA riots, as a success story of “the architecture of control”, wherein the financial district was effectively able to seal itself off from the rioting masses, and suffer minimal high value property damage.

From the protection of existing valuable real estate to the systematic displacement of poor communities in order to gain formal ownership and titling of their “informally” owned territory, Demarest places the Bowman Expeditions, the Mexico Indigena Project, the KU Geography professors, and the American Geographical Society in a very uncomfortable ethical pickle. Furthermore, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest, and the FMSO, put the entirety of U.S. Academia in an ethical quagmire requiring immediate resolution.

A question about ethics for everyone, not just soldiers and academics:

Today, under a new and historical presidential era, US citizens are in a very unique position to reflect upon the immediate past and identify a series of great American mistakes. However easy it may be to point at the arrogance and volatility of the Bush administration, it is always challenging to ascertain the culpability of average everyday citizens, ranging from apathy, to arrogance, and everything in between. Some Americans protested lightly, and symbolically resisted the global atrocities and national defamation caused by the Bush presidency. Many more US Citizens hid behind the embarrassment of a federal government willing to engage in clearly unethical and unintelligent political, economic, and military strategies that have ultimately proven to be absolute failures for the American people. These failures have disproportionately affected the poor, while profiting and benefiting tycoons and their corrupt institutions. The entire world, with varying levels of access to education and information, recognizes that it is not OK to disregard national sovereignty, it is not OK to impose a single worldview or political economy, it is not OK to engage in preemptive military activity, and it is not OK to gather intelligence in violation of basic human and community rights. No matter how glaring George Bush’s excesses and crimes may be, the American people, more so than just their new president, still hold a serious responsibility to themselves and the world to be accountable for what has happened, for what is to happen next, and for how they are never going to allow these things to happen again. Americans owe it to themselves to save their own face.

The ethics of military funding for academic research may seem blatantly obvious to anyone with any sense of territory, sovereignty, autonomy, communality or self determination. Unfortunately after generations of constant war and fear mongering, it is clear that it has become more difficult for the American people to grasp this simple contradiction. No matter where one may lean on the subject, this particular case is a clear violation of some very basic ethical research standards for any educational institution. US Citizens, and academics in particular, should be very alarmed at the perception this incident, and incidents like it, will give the world about American researchers, and citizens in general. Can the American people afford any more global disdain for their country?

I normally would not be inclined to discuss or debate the ethics of any sort of military activity in which the United States of America is engaged in. My particular concern is the way in which, this fighting force has become less defensive and increasingly preemptive and offensive. For me personally this is a source of great national embarrassment. But for arguments sake, and just for a hypothetical moment, allow me to defend a nation’s right to defend itself. Shouldn’t the right of all nations, and more importantly of all communities, to defend themselves, be guided by a strict adherence to a set of norms, accords, and ethical standards which do not infringe on basic rights such as sovereignty, autonomy, self determination, self governance, cultural identity, and of course territory?

The Bowman Expeditions, the Mexico Indigena mapping project, and the American Geographical Society are directly aiding the FMSO in the gathering of preemptive military intelligence, in violation of Mexico’s national sovereignty and indigenous autonomy. More importantly, this type of intelligence gathering is a direct threat to the Mexican peoples’ personal and collective right to self determination. It is no coincidence whatsoever, that the Mexico Indigena team and the FMSO chose Oaxaca, Mexico as a “prototype” location for their Bowman Expeditions in the summer of 2006. They chose to map “informally owned” indigenous territories in a state amidst a popular social uprising with a very strong indigenous base.

The attitudes expressed in the seven FMSO essays attached to this article, and in Demarest’s book “GeoProperty”, clearly demonstrate a systematic devaluation of indigenous culture and identity, with a particular disdain demonstrated for indigenous or popular self determination, self sufficiency, self reliance, and more specifically self governance. Furthermore, the FMSO shows a deliberate intention to segregate, marginalize, and criminalize large portions of human society simply because they are poor. To the FMSO, it is imperative that territory and space occupied informally by the poor, be privatized and regulated in order for progress and security to be harvested. In the face of this military, political and economic strategy, it is no wonder that millions of indigenous and peasant farm workers, students, housewives, mothers, children, workers, and communities all over the world, are beginning to organize and train in a variety of different strategies for the self defense of their sovereignty, autonomy, territory, identity, and self determination.

End Notes:

The following articles are in PDF

1. Expeditionary Police Sevice
2. Tactical Intelligence and Low Intensity Conflict
3. The Strategic Implications of International Law
4. Mapping Colombia: The Correlation Between Land Data and Strategy
5. Geopolitics and Urban Armed Conflict in Latin America
6. The Overlap of Military and Police in Latin America

Other FMSO essays related to Mexico:

7. Law Enforcement and the Mexican Armed Forces: New Internal Security Missions Challenge the Military
8. US-Mexican Border Security: Civil-Military Cooperation
9. Mexican Security
10. Insurrection: An Analysis Of The Chiapas Uprising
11. Mexico’s Other Insurgents
12. Mexico’s Evolving Security Posture
13. Mexico’s Multimission Force for Internal Security
14. The Death Cult of the Drug Lords Mexico’s Patron Saint of Crime, Criminals, and the Dispossessed


México Indígena page at

Dr. Zoltán Grossman’s website on the Geographic Controversy over the Bowman Expeditions / México Indígena:

The World Was Not Enough – Christian Parenti’s review of Neil Smith’s book on Isaiah Bowman, American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 11:46 pm and is filed under México Indígena. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

7 Responses to “The Demarest Factor: The Ethics of U.S. Department of Defense Funding for Academic Research in Mexico”
Jen, says:
27 March 2009 at 3:01 AM
Wow. I hope the schools where these people are associated, besides the military people, will review their positions/tenure and funding.

Luis Fernando says:
27 March 2009 at 9:01 AM
Trabajo bien hecho

el pinche simon says:
27 March 2009 at 9:31 AM
The Association of American Geographers (AAG) Had its annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this past weekend. KU Professor Jerome Dobson of the Bowman Expeditions, was attempting to get, elected the President of the AAG, and was voted down. The following is a transcript of a public conversation held between an AAG memeber and Jerome Dobson, at a presentation at this years conference by Dobson.

GROSSMAN: Yeah, I have a question of Dr. Dobson, as you know, there’s been alot of ah back and forth over whether particular communities in Oaxaca were informed of the Army funding and participation in your research team by the Foreign Military Studies Office, and in the Indigenous People’s Specialty Group, we’ve gathered documents and posted documents from both sides of the debate, including many of yours, and um we received a letter from the um Municipal Authority of San Miguel Tiltepec on March 17th in which they say, this is the police chief, the commissioner of communal goods that say that they weren’t adequately informed and are asking for cease and desist and return of the data, just wondering if you want to comment on that specific..

DOBSON: I was, in some of the villages, I was not in Tiltapec, there’s no question in my mind that people knew where the funding was coming from, now, that was clearly communicated to key people do they want to say that now, apparently not. Uh, my reading of what happened is this: some very courageous people in those villages took a step forward, they used this opportunity to advance their villages, to improve their technical skill, to get the data they wanted and then when it became a controversy, that put pressure on them to deny that they knew where the money came from. And, I I know Peter Herlihey is one of the finest people in our discipline. I know he did what he was supposed to do when I was there I saw him, a-and here, I saw him bend over backward to do what was right and to inform people. We had conferences there, we carried people with us from all from DOD and from the department of state with us when we were in the field there was no attempt to hide and I think there was an active attempt to tell them who we were and what we were there for. Uh, I know that in Colombia for example, I went there and presented the case why we were there, what we were interes– what the Bowman expeditions were all about, and both sides accepted that there. So I’m I’m just befuddled by why this has reached this point, Uh I know that the initial charges by Aldo (SP) Gonzales were false, I know that , uh but the uh later subsequent events are, yes

GROSSMAN: Have you seen this particular letter, and there was a press conference on Youtube, I have copies of it for people

DOBSON: I’ve seen the video of the press conference


DOBSON: of the presence of the discussion by the commissario oh uh you know, ah Tultepec, ah, but I also know what was happening when we were there and Peter was there, not not in that village, but I saw what happened in other villages I know Peter is to be trusted, so if he said it, I believe it.

StaN says:
27 March 2009 at 11:33 AM
Bien hecho, es hora de madrear a esos culeros…

Peter Veeck says:
27 March 2009 at 4:04 PM
I wonder if the good old English Commons are classified as dangerous informal breeding grounds by Demarest.

Antonio Gonzalez says:
28 March 2009 at 8:20 AM
Lo que resulta increible es que el gobierno y el pueblo mexicano las actividades de quienes son en principoio un enemigo potencial y no que
yo lo digo , hace poco el gobierno norteamericano especulaba con la intencion de invadir el territorio mexicano, entonces les estan permitiendo
colectar informacion sobre el terreno con un evidente proposito militar, no se puede confiar ni en Universidades ni en tipos que se digan son
o parecen ser cientificos, en el pais del norte todo el universo profesional trabaja para las agencias militares y de inteligencia. Los mexicanos
se han dejado embaucar sobre algo que es mas que sabido en todo el mundo. Quien puede pensar en buenas intenciones de parte de estas
gentes que provienen de un pais extremadamente racista, que interes pueden tener estas personas por los indigenas mexicanos sino para
buscar su exterminio preocupados por su elevado numero ante una eventual ocup[acion de su territorio. Pensar otra cosa es de tontos.

Ian says:
1 April 2009 at 7:32 AM
I personally know several KU people, both Mexican and American, involved in this project, including Peter Herlihy, who is a current professor and advisor of mine. To state that he, or the other KU researchers, would engage in a years-long project to conspiratorially strip indigenous Mexicans of their land and rights is an outrageous claim. Many KU personnel associated with this project have lived in Mexico on and off for years and decades, with the campesinos, in the mountains, in villages, in cities, and in the jungle. They have the utmost respect for Mexican culture and indigenous cultures. Some have actively promoted the maintenance of traditional indigenous culture in the face of neo-liberal reforms.

Broadly painting these academics as part of a North American conspiracy is easy, alarmist, and attracts readers; it is also irresponsible. Additionally, the claim that this project was timed to coincide with APPO activities is a bit of a stretch. Sedillo fails to mention that the research was being done in Oaxaca state, but not in Oaxaca de Juarez. In any case, Sedillo states that they intentionally moved their operations in order to be closer to APPO activities. So, what were they doing with APPO? Sabotaging the movement? Funneling US funds to anti-APPO paramilitary? Sedillo should not just make an ominous implication without providing a little bit of evidence. These academics are simply conducting fieldwork, not seeking to emulate Kermit Roosevelt.

Fundamentally, whose responsibility is it to inform and be informed of the source of funding? The researchers or the researched? Herlihy personally told me how the village leaders were aware of Department of Defense funding. Why did they wait until the end of the mapping to be offended by it? Why didn’t they ask more questions sooner (or decline permission) if it was so offensive? If the DOD funding was so secretive, why was the information simply made available on the Lawrence Journal World’s website and the Bowman Expedition’s website? A simple Google search would have revealed any suspicious relationship.

I conducted research on business development in Oaxaca in the summer of 2008. Was it my responsibility to inform all of my research participants of every facet of my funding, such as who funded my grant and who donates money to the University of Kansas? Should my research be suspect because I was studying commercial business development at the exact time that the Guelaguetza was being commercialized? (Actually I eschewed the commercial Guelaguetza and went to the Guelaguetza Popular).

Yes, it is true that the US government has historically been irresponsible, unethical, and immoral in achieving its goals (which have frequently been based on arrogance, greed, and racism). Should we be skeptical of US military activities in foreign countries? Yes. Is it possible that sometimes in connecting certain clues and evidence together to uncover a grand conspiracy we are simply wrong, no matter how much we would love to believe in the conspiracy? Yes. Is it appropriate to broadly stroke all those involved as “culeros”? No.

By the way, many people at the University of Kansas (including some associated with the Bowman Expedition), KU’s Center of Latin American Studies (of which Peter Herlihy is a faculty member), and KU’s Latin American Solidarity have sincerely enjoyed Simon Sedillo’s presentations and “Un poquito de tanta verdad.” I am sure that the University will continue to invite him to present his ideas and work, as they have frequently done in the past.

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The Babalon Working of Jack Parsons by Michael Staley (Starfire 1989)
The Babalon Working
Michael Staley

If there is a pantheon of personalities in the recent history of Thelema, then Jack Parsons can be regarded as one of the most glamorous. Perhaps a special glamour attaches itself to those who die young, and in rather mysterious circumstances. Parsons was 37 years old when he died, and regarded by many as Crowley’s most promising pupil. He seems to have regarded himself as being Crowley’s “Magical Son”, often addressing Crowley in his letters as “Most Beloved Father”, and signing them “Thy Son, John”. Crowley, whilst having a high regard for Parsons, appears not to have reciprocated the relationship [Additional remark by P.R. Koenig: Crowley addressed Friedrich Mellinger as his “beloved son” and signed his letters to Mellinger with “a Father’s Blessings”]. Having by that time seen many potential successors come and go, he perhaps wished to defer judgement and allow events to take care of the succession.

Parsons was by profession a brilliant scientist, specialising in the area of explosives and jet fuel. It was as a scientist that he was first attracted to Thelema. One of the most disheartening things about Thelema is how often people seem to confuse it with Crowleyanity, the cult of personality. Contrary to the opinion of detractors such as Symonds, it is evident that Crowley could not take seriously those who made this mistake. There is the oft-quoted passage from The Winged Beetle where he speaks scathingly of those who “… come to worship Crowley”. Parsons certainly seems to have been devoted to Crowley. His writings, though, reveal that he was more interested in exploring and developing the ramifications of Thelema. Thus he neither confused Thelema with Crowleyanity, nor regarded Crowley as being central to it. In this alone, his work is therefore of special interest to us.

Probably the incident best known amongst occultists about Parsons is the Babalon Working, which took place in 1946. He was assisted in this by L.R* H*** – the future founder of Sc*** – and Marjorie Cameron, who later married Parsons. In the course of this Working Parsons received a text of seventyseven short verses which purported to be a communication from the goddess Babalon. One of the early verses also claims it to be the fourth chapter of The Book of the Law. This claim was a matter for contention amongst Parsons’ peers, to say the least. They saw no need for a fourth chapter, let alone one which was channelled through someone as capricious as Jack Parsons. However, Parsons remained steadfast in his championing of the claim, and there is no doubt that he viewed the Babalon Working as the most important event in his life – much as Crowley regarded the Cairo Working as being the climax of his life.

Parsons, however, was no usurper or heretic. To him, the claim was rooted in the succession of the Aeons. In this scheme of things, it seemed to him a necessity that the Aeon of Horus be fulfilled by a passive complement to Horus, and he saw this complement as being the force glyphed by the goddess Babalon. This goddess is very prominent in the Thelemic pantheon of deities. She is the apotheosis of the Scarlet Woman, who is accordingly her avatar or incarnation. On one level the complement or polarity is subsumed as Atu XI, “Lust”, in which Babalon and the Beast are conjoined. This symbolises, amongst other things, the harnessing of the sexual drive for magical and mystical ends. This relationship is explored in Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice, in which the Babalon Working is firmly rooted.

The purpose of the Babalon Working was the earthing of the force of Babalon to produce an avatar, incarnation or Daughter of Babalon. This would redeem and bring to fruition the Aeon of Horus, or so Parsons thougth. At the same time, it seems that Parsons expected the manifestation to be imminent; if this were so, then he was to be disappointed. Soon after the Working, however, H*** ran off with Parsons’ girlfriend and a great deal of his money. Reduced though he was to living in abject poverty, it still took a while for Parsons to accept that he had been defrauded by his erstwhile magical partner – the man whom he had described to Crowley as “… the most Thelemic person I have ever met …”. How he proceeded to deal with the situation has been recounted at length elsewhere. Afterwards, Parsons had no further contact with H***, although he must have been aware of the blossoming of H***’s subsequent career.

The Babalon Working and its aftermath finally convinced Crowley that Parsons, his potential notwithstanding, was “… a weak-minded fool …” and henceforth he viewed him as one more failure. Parsons, however, continued to regard himself as Crowley’s apostle, and had some eventful years before his explosive end in 1952. He remained deeply enamoured of Babalon – some might say obsessed. The expected Daughter of Babalon did not, though, manifest. He had been told that she would come to him bearing a sign that he alone would recognise. On the other hand, he had also been told that he would become “living flame” before Babalon incarnated; and it was this latter prophesy that proved to be chillingly correct. On the afternoon of 17 June 1952 Parsons dropped some highly unstable explosive, and died of horrific injuries an hour later.

After his death, Marjorie Cameron took up his mantle to some extent. A 1955 review of Kenneth Anger’s film “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome”, in which she featured, referred to her as “… Crowley’s self-confessed successor-elect, Mrs Cameron Parsons, Californian widow of the Beast’s own ‘godson’.” There is also a reference to her in Ithell Coiquhoun’s The Sword of Wisdom as heading something called “O.T.O. Lunar Lodge” in California around 1960. Details about Parsons have, however, remained scant, and his surviving works are still largely unpublished. Perhaps the best account given to date is included in The Magical Revival by Kenneth Grant. It is to be hoped that someone will attempt a thorough study of Parsons before too long, since his work merits attention.

The core of this issue of Starfire is a presentation of The Book of Babalon [not on-line], which is largely an account of the Babalon Working. In the course of the Working, he was told to prepare a book of instruction for the expected incarnation or Daughter, who would initially be tutored by him. Whether or not he actually fulfilled this requirement, a complete Book of Babalon does not survive. Most of the surviving work is here presented. Some of this material has been in circulation previously, but in a form that is at times corrupted. Its presentation here, therefore, is something of a restoration, minor though these restorations have been.

As well as an account of the Working, The Book of Babalon was to have included an extended essay of several sections, dealing with various aspects of Babalon and the purpose of the Working. Most of this material has been lost, and two sections of the remainder have been retained for this edition. They are the Foreword, which Parsons addressed to the expected Daughter, and which contains some useful background information; and a piece entitled “The Star of Babalon”, printed here as an addendum, [ not on-line] giving additional information as it does on the nature of Babalon.

The account of the Babalon Working is interesting, and consists of three sections. The first is an outline of the Operation which Parsons devised and performed as an elemental summons. This is followed by Liber 49, the text of seventy-seven verses which he received in the Mojave desert. Some of the early verses of this text are missing, since a page of the original manuscript was lost. Verse ten is published correctly for the first time: the word ‘perilous’ was misread by the original typist of the manuscript as ‘penelous’, and the error has remained ever since. This correction has been validated from an unpublished essay, incidentally, where Parsons gives the correct rendition. The third section is an account of the ritual work arising from the instructions given in Liber 49. The invocations used in these rituals derived, for the most part, from various passages in Crowley’s writings. The Enochian Call of the Seventh Aire was also used, and is here given in a corrected form, rather than the corrupted rendition given in the typescript upon which this edition of The Book of Babalon is based. An invocatory poem called “The Birth of Babalon” ends this section; it may well be incomplete, however. Finally, Parsons seems to have decided to delete certain parts of the text, and the consequent omissions are denoted by asterisks.

In order to set The Book of Babalon in some sort of context, it is preceded by an introductory article on Parsons, entitled Belovèd of Babalon. This gives an account of Parsons’ magical development, a consideration of the background to the Babalon Working and its aftermath, and subsequent events in the last few years that remained to Parsons. An appendix to the article sets forth some extracts from Parsons’ writings, in order to give a flavour of the range and style of his writing. No attempt has been made, in the course of this introductory article, at an evaluation of Parsons. Such an evaluation is clearly beyond the scope of an introduction, and must be reserved for future issues of Starfire.
Belovèd of Babalon
An introduction to J.W. Parsons

John Whiteside Parsons was born on 2 October 1914 in Los Angeles, California. His mother and father separated whilst he was quite young, and Parsons said later that this left him with “… a hatred of authority and a spirit of revolution”, as well as an Oedipal attachment to his mother. He felt withdrawn and isolated as a child, and was bullied by other children. This gave him, he thought, ” …the requisite contempt for the crowd and for the group mores …”. Parsons was born into a rich family, and sometime in his youth there was what he referred to as a loss of family fortune. This loss must only have been a temporary one, though – perhaps caused by the break-up of the family – since in the 1940’s he inherited from his father a large, Victorian-style mansion in the well-to-do area of Pasadena. During adolescence, Parsons developed an interest in science, especially physics and chemistry, and in fact he went on to develop a career as a brilliant scientist in the fields of explosives and rocket-fuel technology. His achievements as a scientist were such that the Americans named a lunar crater after him when they came to claim that territory for their own. Appropriately enough, Crater Parsons is on the dark side of the moon.

Parsons made contact with the O.T.O. and the A.’.A.’. in December 1938, whilst visiting Agapé Lodge of the O.T.O. in California. He was taken along by one of his fellow scientists. At that time Agapé Lodge used to give weekly performances of the Gnostic Catholic Mass, seeing this as both a sacrament and a recruiting front. Agapé Lodge was by then a moderately thriving and expanding concern, having been founded in the mid-1920’s by Wilfred T. Smith, an expatriate Englishman. Smith had many years earlier been an associate of Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad) in Vancouver, Canada. Crowley seems to have had, at least to begin with, a high regard for Smith, and expected great things of him. Over the years, however, he grew increasingly disillusioned. Crowley felt that the O.T.O. should have flowered in California, given imaginative leadership. Smith was simply not capable of delivering, he thought, and perhaps even deliberately impeding things. By the time that Parsons joined the Lodge in 1939, together with his wife Helen, relations between Smith and Crowley were already in terminal decline, and Crowley was casting around for someone else to take over headship of the Lodge. One of the items in the Yorke Collection at the Warburg Institute is a collection of over 200 letters exchanged between Growley and Smith, in which the steady decline in their relationship is starkly illustrated.

At this time, the Lodge was firmly in the grip of Smith and his mistress, Regina Kahl. They were very authoritarian, and ruled things with the proverbial rod of iron. At the weekly performances of the Mass, Smith was the Priest and Regina Kahl the Priestess. The Parsons were initiated into the O.T.O. in 1939 and like many entrants of the time they took up membership of the A.’.A.’. as well. Jack Parsons took as his motto “Thelema Obtentum Procedero Amoris Nuptiae”, an interestingly hybrid phrase which conveys the intention of attaining Thelema through the nuptials of love; the initials transliterated into Hebrew give his Magical Number, 210. He seems to have made quite an impression on his fellow members. Jane Wolfe, who had spent some time with Crowley at Cefalu, was an active member of the Lodge at the time. The following entry is from her Magical Record during December 1940:

Unknown to me, John Whiteside Parsons, a newcomer, began astral travels. This knowledge decided Regina to undertake similar work. All of which I learned after making my own decision. So the time must be propitious.
Incidentally, I take Jack Parsons to be the child who “shall behold them all” (the mysteries hidden therein. AL 1,54-5).
26 years of age, 6’2″, vital, potentially bisexual at the very least, University of the State of California and Cal. Tech., now engaged in Cal. Tech. chemical laboratories developing “bigger and better” explosives for Uncle Sam. Travels under sealed orders from the government. Writes poetry – “sensuous only”, he says. Lover of music, which he seems to know thoroughly. I see him as the real successor of Therion. Passionate; and has made the vilest analyses result in a species of exaltation after the event. Has had mystical experiences which gave him a sense of equality all round, although he is hierarchical in feeling and in the established order.
Jack Parsons seems to have had something of a reverential attitude towards Smith, perhaps seeing him as some sort of father figure – the relationship between them seems to have had that sort of ambiguity. In later years, he described how he felt an alternate attraction and repulsion where Smith was concerned; and Smith, whatever his limitations and faults may have been, was evidently a charismatic man. Parsons, for his part, evidently made a strong impression on Smith. In a letter to Crowley during March 1941, Smith wrote as follows:
… I think I have at long last a really excellent man, John Parsons. And starting next Tuesday he begins a course of talks with a view to enlarging our scope. He has an excellent mind and much better intellect than myself – O yes, I know it would not necessarily have to be very good to be better than mine …
John Parsons is going to be valuable. I feel sure we are going to move ahead in spite of Max Schneider’s continual efforts to discredit me. He still exhibits your letters as proof that I am a number one son of a bitch. I thought you were going to write to tell him to clamp down …
The last sentences in this quotation throw light on an important factor in the affairs of Agapé Lodge – the turmoil and personal friction that was a constant emotional backdrop, and which seems finally to have invalidated all their efforts. The Lodge was constantly riven by personal feuding and upheaval, and Crowley’s influence over the course of events seems in reality to have been marginal. The nucleus of Agapé Lodge was some sort of forerunner of a hippie commune. Apart from anything else, Smith appears to have regarded the women members of the Lodge as constituting his personal harem, and of course this added to the friction. Crowley was in correspondence with many of the members at this time, and seems to some extent to have encouraged people to tell tales on each other. No doubt he saw it as a good way of keeping in touch with what was going on, but it tended to inflame the widespread personal clashes that were going on. He did try to make openness and honesty a policy – laying down a rule that if A wrote to B attacking C, then A was duty-bound to copy the letter to C as a matter of course. This seems to have happened but rarely, however.
In his attempts to assert his authority over the Lodge generally, and Smith in particular, Crowley was frustrated by the loyalty – despite all the bitchiness around – to Smith and Kahl. On the face of it, he should have been able to exert his authority easily enough. Karl Germer, his trusted right-hand man, was in New York; whilst his colleague from the Cefalu days – Jane Wolfe – was a member of the Lodge. Jane Wolfe was the same age as Crowley, but she was very weak and indecisive. Reading about the course of Agapé Lodge during the 1930’s and 1940’s is a bewildering experience. The whole thing, despite the glamour that time and mystery now lend it, seems to have been a mess. It is as well for us to bear in mind that Jack Parsons – his obvious gifts notwithstanding – was part of this melodramatic flux and flow.

Although Crowley grew increasingly despairing of and impatient with Smith, and saw all too clearly the need to replace him as head of Agapé Lodge, the problem for Crowley – quite apart from how to get rid of Smith – was with whom to replace him. In the course of a letter to Crowley of March 1942, Jane Wolfe made her recommendations:

Incidentally, I believe Jack Parsons – who is devoted to Wilfred to be the coming leader, with Wilfred in advisory capacity. I hope you two get together some day, although your present activities in England seem to have postponed the date of your coming to us. Jack, by the way, comes in through some inner experiences, but mostly, perhaps, through the world of science. That is, he was “sold on the Book of the Law” because it foretold Einstein, Heisenberg – whose work is not permitted in Russia – the quantum field folks, whose work is along the “factor infinite and unknown” lines, etc. You two would have a whale of a lot of things to talk over. He and Helen are lock, stock and barrel for the Order.
By 1943, Crowley appears to have decided that some definite course of action was necessary to get rid of Smith, and that his continued presence in the Lodge was harmful. In a letter of May 1943, to a member called Roy Leffingwell, he wrote:
I think that Smith is quite hopeless. I am quite satisfied with what you say about his reactions to your family. It is all very well, but Smith has apparently nothing else in his mind. He appears to be using the Order as a happy hunting ground for “affairs”. You say the same thing, and I have no doubt that it is quite correct. I think we must get rid of him once and for all; and this will include the Parsons, unless they dissociate themselves immediately from him, without reservations.
At this time Helen Parsons was having an affair with Smith, and also supplanting Regina Kahl as Priestess in the public performances of the Gnostic Mass. Jack Parsons retained his strong feelings of loyalty towards Smith, although perhaps a little confused by events. Crowley, determined to get rid of Smith, viewed with concern the extent to which Parsons – of whom he seems to have held a high opinion – was under the spell of Smith. Whilst having a high regard for Parsons, Crowley was also keenly aware of his faults, which he hoped Parsons would outgrow in the course of time and experience. In view of subsequent events in the life of Parsons, these perceptions are interesting and important. Once again, they can best be conveyed, perhaps, by extracts from several letters that Crowley wrote. in a letter of July 1943 to Max Schneider, we read:
As to Jack: I think he is perfectly alright at the bottom of everything; but he is very young, and he has at present nothing like the strength to deal with matters within his jurisdiction objectively.
In the course of a letter to Jane Wolfe, in December 1943, Crowley made the following assessment:
Jack is the Objective (Smith is out, an affaire classée: anybody who comunicates with him in any way is out also; and that is that, and the best plan is to sponge the whole slate clean, and get to work to build up Thelema on sound principles. And no more of this brothel-building; let’s use marble, not rotten old boards!). Jack’s trouble is his weakness, and his romantic side – the poet – is at present a hindrance. He gets a kick from some magazine trash, or an “occult” novel (if only he knew how they were concocted!) and dashes off in wild pursuit. He must learn that the sparkle of champagne is based on sound wine; pumping carbonic acid into urine is not the same thing.
I wish to God I had him for six months – even three, with a hustle – to train in Will, in discipline. He must understand that fine and fiery flashes of Spirit come from the organization of Matter, from the drilling of every function of every bodily organ until it has become so regular as to be automatic, and carried on by itself deep down in the Unconscious. It is the steadiness of one’s Heart that enables one to endure the rapture of great passion; one doesn’t want the vital functions to be excitable.
In February 1944 he wrote in somewhat similar spirit to Mr and Mrs Burlinghame, who were Lodge members:
… I am very glad indeed of your offer to co-operate practically in any way possible. I have left Jack Parsons in charge; he is quite all right in essence, but very young and easily swayed by passing influences. I shall look to you to help in keeping him up to the mark.
And more expansively, in the course of a letter to Jack Parsons himself in March 1946:
I am particularly interested in what you have written to me about the Elemental, because for some little while past I have been endeavouring to intervene personally on your behalf. I would however have you recall Levi’s aphorism “the love of the Magus for such beings is insensate, and may destroy him”.
It seems to me that there is a danger of your sensitiveness upsetting your balance. Any experience that comes your way you have a tendency to over-estimate. The first fine careless rapture wears off in a month or so, and some other experience comes along and carries you off on its back. Meanwhile you have neglected and bewildered those who are dependent on you, either from above or from below.
I will ask you to bear in mind that you have one fulcrum for all your levers, and that is your original oath to devote yourself to raising mankind. All experiences, all efforts, must be referred to this; as long as it remains unshaken you cannot go far wrong, for by its own stability it will bring you back from any tendency to excess.
At the same time, you being as sensitive as you are, it behoves you to be more on your guard than would be the case with the majority of people.
Resolved though Crowley was to get rid of Smith, it was a long and difficult manoeuvre, and had to be approached piece-meal at first. Many of the Lodge members remained loyal to Smith, and were reluctant to see him go. Smith was only to happy to hang on, in the hope that what he saw as “popular opinion” would persuade Crowley to retain him after all. Throughout all this, Smith seemed unable to understand the depths of Crowley’s hostility towards him; his letters to Crowley of this period carry the tone – whether implicitly or explicitly – of some wretch having to bear the gratuitous beatings of his master. Some sort of dual authority apparently operated between Smith and Parsons for a while – to the reluctance of Parsons, himself still very much a Smith loyalist. Eventually, Crowley seems to have hit upon rather a novel way to remove Smith: he declared that Smith was the avatar of some god, and should go away on a Magical Retirement until he had realised his true identity. To this end, Crowley wrote a document of instruction for Smith to follow, Liber 132. Smith made an attempt at this Operation, but had no joy at all in plumbing the depths of his divinity. It seems doubtful if Crowley intended him to; I have seen a letter from Crowley to an American correspondent at the time, in which Crowley came as close as he could to admitting the Machiavellian thrust of the whole affair.
The way was now clear for Crowley to appoint Parsons as head of Agapé Lodge. If he had hoped that the Lodge would be more stable without Smith in charge, however, he was wrong. Smith continued to live there for some time after, despite all attempts by Crowley and Germer to declare him a leper, contact with whom would warrant immediate expulsion. Parsons remained unhappy at what he considered to be the unjust treatment of Smith. In late 1943 he wrote to Crowley attacking him on this point, and offering his resignation. Crowley’s esteem of Parsons may be guaged from the fact that he decined to accept the resignation, and asked Parsons to reconsider. Parsons agreed to remain as head of the Lodge.

Parsons had by this time inherited a large, Victorian-style mansion from his father, in a well-to-do area of Pasadena. He needed to rent out some rooms in order to make ends meet, and he scandalised the neighbourhood by ensuring that only bohemians and the like were accepted. By the summer of 1943 Helen had had a child by Smith, and divorce was in the air. Jack Parsons took up with Helen’s younger sister Sara Northrup, known as Betty. This time was one of turmoil for Parsons. We can get a glimpse of it from a document he wrote some years later, Analysis by a Master of the Temple, where he speaks of himself in the third person. It includes the following allusion to this time:

Betty served to effect a transference from Helen at a critical period. Had this not occurred, your repressed homosexual component could have caused a serious disorder. Your passion for Betty also gave you the magical force needed at the time, and the act of adultery tinged with incest seemed as your magical confirmation in the Law of Thelema.
We get a further glimpse of Parsons’ uncertainty in the course of a letter from Jane Wolfe to Crowley, early in 1945. She wrote:
Last evening, when Jack brought me these various papers for me to post to you, I saw, for the first time, the small boy, or child. This is it that is bewildered, does not quite know when to take hold in this matter, or where, and is-completely bowled over by the ruthlessness of Smith – Smith, who has a master-hand when it comes to dealing with this boy.
However, Parsons was also beginning to be seen in something of a sinister light. In the course of a letter to Karl Germer, Jane Wolfe wrote about a strange atmosphere that was manifesting. The following comes from the end of 1945:
There is something strange going on, quite apart from Smith. There is always Betty, remember, who hates Smith. But our own Jack is enamoured with Witchcraft, the houmfort, voodoo. From the start he always wanted to evoke something – no matter what, I am inclined to think, as long as he got a result.
According to Meeka yesterday, he has had a result – an elemental he doesn’t know what to do with. From that statement of hers, it must bother him – somewhat at least.
Phyllis Seckler, from whose account this passage of Jane Wolfe’s has been drawn, adds her own memories to this:
Meeka also reported to i-ane that another two persons always had to do a lot of banishing in the house. They were sensitive and knew that there was something alien and inimical was there. When I had been there during the summer of 1944, I also knew there were troublesome spirits about, especially on the third floor. It got so I couldn’t stand being up there, and a friend of mine couldn’t even climb the stairs that far, as the hair on the back of her neck began to prickle and she got thoroughly frightened.
Into this maelstrom came a very fateful contact. In August 1945 Parsons met L.R** H***, the future founder of Sc***, who at that time was known as little more than a writer of pulp stories and something of an eccentric. At the time that he met Parsons he was a naval officer on leave, and Parsons invited him to stay at his house for the remainder of his leave. They had quite a lot in common. Parsons was very interested in science-fiction, as was H***. H***, for his part, was interested in psychism and magic. As anyone will know who has read the critical biography of H***, Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller, he was a very bizarre character indeed. For all his charisma, charm and eccentricity, H*** appears to have been little other than a confidence trickster, and from his point of view Parsons was just one more victim to be exploited. There is a certain parallel with Parsons’ relationship with Smith – the more so because H*** and Betty started a passionate affair. In spite of this, Parsons’ admiration of and enthusiasm for H*** remained unabated. In a letter to Crowley of late 1945 he wrote:
Although he has no formal training in Magick, he has an extraordinary amount of experience and understanding in the field. From some of his experiences I deduce that he is in direct contact with some higher intelligence, possibly his Guardian Angel … He is the most Thelemic person I have ever met, and is in complete accord with our own principles … I think I have made a great gain, and as Betty and I are the best of friends there is little loss. I cared for her rather deeply, but I have no desire to control her emotions, and I can, I hope, control my own. I need a magical partner. I have many experiments in mind …
The “magical partner” is a reference to H*** – not to a shakti or Scarlet Woman, as might at first be supposed. In January 1946 Parsons devised an Operation to, as he put it, “… obtain the assistance of an elemental mate”. The core of this Working consisted of the utilisation of the Enochian Tablet of Air, or rather a specific angle of it. This was to be the focus of VIII* sexual magick, with the purpose of giving substance to the elemental summons. Parsons continued with this for eleven days, evoking twice daily. He noted various psychic phenomena during this period, but felt discouraged by the apparent failure of the Operation. However, success followed several days later. In his own words:
The feeling of tension and unease continued for four days. Then on January 18 at sunset, whilst the Scribe and I were on the Mojave Desert, the feeling of tension suddenly stopped. I turned to him and said “it is done”, in absolute certainty that the Operation was accomplished. I returned home, and found a young woman answering the requirements waiting for me. She is describable as an air of fire type with bronze red hair, fiery and subtle, determined and obstinate, sincere and perverse, with extraordin ary personality, talent and intelligence.
During the period of January 19 to February 27 I invoked the Goddess BABALON with the aid of magical partner (R** H***), as was proper to one of my grade.
In case any reader has just beamed down from another planet, perhaps it should be mentioned that the “young woman” referred to was Marjorie Cameron. The more romantic amongst us will perhaps be disappointed to learn that she seems to have existed prior to Parsons’ elemental summons. She and Parsons married in October 1946; and the certificate gives her age as then 24, her birthplace as Iowa, and her profession as an artist. At one time she had served in the U.S. Navy. At the time of this Working she was on a visit from New York, where her mother lived, and she returned there after the Babalon Working for a while.
The passage by Parsons just quoted is a striking one, for several reasons. It is notable that, even with the advent of Marjorie Cameron, he continued to regard H*** as being his magical partner. I don’t think that Parsons ever considered that he had conjured her from thin air, so to speak. However her appearance is accounted for – synchronicity, sheer coincidence, magical manipulation of events, or whatever – is irrelevant. The aim of the Operation as a whole was to invoke Babalon, and obtaining the services of a suitable Scarlet Woman by elemental summons was – at least at the time – a means to this over-riding end. This needs to be borne in mind, because otherwise there is a temptation to see Parsons and Cameron as constituting the love-story of the century; in fact, the relationship was rather more complex than that.

At the end of February 1946, H*** went away for a few days. Parsons went back to the Mojave Desert and invoked Babalon. He gives no further details of this, unfortunately. All he does say is that during this invocation “… the presence of the Goddess came upon me, and I was commanded to write the following communication …”. This communication, which purports to be the words of Babalon, consists of 77 short verses. Whether it was direct voite, trance, or inspired writing, he does not say. The answer probably lies in his Magical Record for this period, but as far as I know it has not survived.

This communication of 77 verses he entitled Liber 49. He does not explain the title, but no doubt considered such explanation unnecessary, since 49 is a number sacred to Babalon. Chapter 4,9 of Crowley’s The Book of Lies is a panegyric to Babalon. The connection is evident in The Vision and the Voice, in which Babalon is a strong and alluring current, and indeed the core of the series of visions. In the account of the 27th Aethyr the symbol of Babalon is given as a blood-red Rose of 49 Petals – red with the blood of the saints, who have squeezed every last drop into the Cup of Babalon. In the afore-mentioned 27th Aethyr we read:

O Mother, wilt thou never have compassion on the children of earth? Was it not enough that the Rose should be red with the blood of thine heart, and that its petals should be by 7 and by 7?
Crowley’s note to this adds:
This is the use to which Babalon puts the blood of the Masters of the Temple (see 12th Aethyr) to vivify the rose of eternal creation; i.e. the attainment of the Master of the Temple fills the world with life and beauty …
Since it casts further light on the symbolism of Babalon, and shows how firmly rooted this Babalon Working is in The Vision and the Voice, it will be useful to quote one further passage, this time from the account of the 15th Aethyr:
There appears immediately in the Aethyr a tremendous column of scarlet fire, whirling forth, rebounding, crying aloud. And about it are four columns, of green and blue and gold and silver, each inscribed with writings in the character of the dagger. And the column of fire is dancing among the pillars. Now it seems that the fire is but the skirt of the dancer, and the dancer is a mighty god. The vision is overpowering.
As the dancer whirls, she chants in a low, strange voice, quickening as she goes: Lo! I gather up every spirit that is pure, and weave him into my vesture of flame. I lick up the lives of men, and their souls sparkle from mine eyes. I am the mighty sorceress, the lust of the spirit. And by my dancing I gather for my mother NUIT the heads of all them that are baptised in the waters of life. I am the lust of the spirit that eateth up the soul of man. I have prepared a feast for the adepts, and they that partake thereof shall see God.
Now it is clear what she has woven in her dance; it is the Crimson Rose of 49 Petals, and the Pillars are the Cross with which it is conjoined. And between the pillars shoot out rays of pure green fire; and now all the pillars are golden. She ceases to dance and dwindles, gathering herself into the centre of the Rose.
Parsons spent the rest of his life devoted to Babalon – some would say that he became obsessed by Her.
Liber 49 contains instructions for the earthing of this Babalon current in the form of an avatar, daughter or manifestation of Babalon, who was to appear amongst us. It would seem that Parsons was expecting a full-blown incarnation, and not simply the inauguration of a force. The second verse of the text declares it to be the fourth chapter of The Book of the Law, and it is worth quoting this verse in full:

And this is my book, that is the fourth chapter of the Book of the Law, Hé completing the Name, for I am out of NUIT by HORUS, the incestuous sister of RA-HOOR-KHUIT.
In terms of content, level of inspiration, and style, Liber 49 is nothing like The Book of the Law; and on this basis alone, the claim can be looked at askance. We could expect, I think, that a fourth chapter would evince some sort of continuity with the three chapters received by Crowley, and this is not at all evident in Liber 49. However, the key to the claim lies in the reference, in the quoted passage, to “the Name”. The name is Tetragrammaton, IHVH; and the “Hé completing” is the Hé final. On this basis, Parsons considered it axiomatic that Father-Mother-Son, IHV, was incomplete without the Daughter, the Hé final; this he considered to be Babalon, the natural complement of Vau, the Son, Horus. Consideration of this is, I can appreciate, something of a hiccup to a straight narrative of Parsons and the Babalon Working. However, it is so central to his thinking that it really ought to be outlined now.
I can best give the flavour of this by quoting a couple of passages from one of his essays that has yet to be published. He discusses the break-up of patriarchy in the dawn of the twentieth century, and the beginnings of a new age – the age of Horus. The nature of this is seenas disruptive, bringing confusion and terror. He instances two terrible wars, the atomic bomb, and an increase in epicene and homosexual tendencies. He continues as follows:

But the great event of the aeon, which will bring with it the possibility of redemption to the whole of the western world, has not yet been made manifest. We, who contain the knowledge of this event among Ourselves until the time is right, and who were in fact the instruments of its gestation, give these present indications.
The Aeon of Horus is of the nature of a child. To perceive this, we must conceive of the nature of a child without the veil of sentimentality – beyond good and evil, perfectly gentle, perfectly ruthless, containing all possibilities within the limits of heredity, and highly susceptible to training and environment. But the nature of Horus is also the nature of force – blind, terrible, unlimited force. That is why the West stands in imminent danger of annihilation. That is why the West also stands in the possibility of the most rapid and tremendous evolution that the world has ever known. The balance must be love and understanding, or else all else fails. Now We have said enough for this place.
Then let the student read and meditate upon the ritual of Horus, constructing take total nature of Horus out of the polyphony of the component concepts. And, if he dare, let him invoke Horus and partake of the power and energy that is his right under the New Aeon. And let him also consider the love whereby Horus may be fulfilled and dignified; and meditating on this, let him provision and invoke that which is to come.
There is another passage from this same essay which may be helpful. It summarises his ideas about Tetragrammaton and its bearing on a complement to Horus or Vau:
Among the ancient Hebrews the name of God was … IHVH. This is perhaps the most magnificent formula ever devised for symbolising at once the whole process of nature and the highest secrets of magic. Yod symbolises God as the primal father, the solar-phallic creative will, or fire. Hé symbolises God as the mother, the feminine generative principle, the passive will, or water. Vau symbolises God as the son, the male child of the father and mother, the will. to go, air. Hé final symbolises God as the daughter, Babalon, She who is to come, earth, the virgin who unites with the father, stimulates him to reactivity, and begins the generative process all over again. The cycle is closed, the process is eternal, and contains within itself the seeds of all possibility.
I haven’t come across any material written by Parsons prior to the Babalon Working. However, the probability must be that ideas similar to this – the need for a complement to Horus – were on his mind before 1946.
A few days after receiving Liber 49, Parsons put in hand the ritual preparations as indicated in the text. Again in his own words:

On March 1 and 2, 1946, I prepared the altar and equipment in accordance with the instructions in Liber 49. The Scribe, R** H***, had been away about a week, and knew nothing of my invocation of BABALON, which I had kept entirely secret. On the night of March 2 he returned, and described a vision he had had that evening, of a savage and beautiful woman riding naked on a great cat-like beast. He was impressed with the urgent necessity of giving me some message or communication. We prepared magically for this communication, constructing a temple at the altar with the analysis of the key word. He was robed in white, carrying a lamp; and I in black, hooded, with the cup and dagger. At his suggestion we played Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead as background music, and set an automatic recorder to transcribe audible occurrences. At approximately 8 am he began to dictate, I transcribing directly as I received.
H***’s vision sounds a bit too glib to me. It sounds rather like he’d seen a copy of The Book of Thoth Atu XI, Lust, showing the Whore astride the Beast. There would have been at least one copy of The Book of Thoth around Parsons’ place, I would have thought. Interestingly, in spite of H*** being referred to as “the Scribe”, it was H*** who was giving utterance to “astral communications”, and Parsons writing them down. As far as the Babalon Working is concerned, H*** is the joker in the pack, the factor infinite and unknown. His whole career, both before and after his involvement with Parsons, shows him to have been a confidence man par excellence. Events after the Babalon Working, when he effortlessly swindled Parsons out of thousands of dollars, demonstrate that Parsons was as readily taken in as anyone. It is surely legitimate for us to wonder, therefore, to what extent H***’s undoubted talents for deceit – both of himself and of others – coloured the whole Working. This is not to invalidate it, or to declare it abortive, but to sound a cautionary note. After all, Edward Kelly seems by some accounts to have been a person of dubious repute, to put it mildly; but this does not automatically negate the worth of the Workings which he conducted with John Dee. There is another interesting parallel between H*** and Kelly, as we shall see later.
The Workings arising from Liber 49 continued for several nights, and they contained instructions for further rituals. These rituals were intended to facilitate the earthing of Babalon. Some of the communications received in the course of these Workings are of a fierce, intense beauty, as a few excerpts will illustrate:

She is flame of life, power of darkness, she destroys with a glance, she may take thy soul. She feeds upon the death of men.
The first ritual. Tomorrow the second ritual. Concentrate all force and being in Our Lady BABALON. Light a single flame on Her altar, saying: Flame is Our Lady, flame is Her hair, I am flame.
Display thyself to Our Lady; dedicate thy organs to Her, dedicate thy heart to Her, dedicate thy mind to Her, dedicate thy soul to Her, for She shall absorb thee, and thou shalt become living flame before She incarnates. For it shall be through you alone, and no-one else can help in this endeavour.
The rituals used included, for the most part, passages adapted from Crowley’s works. For instance, there is material drawn from The Gnostic Mass, The Vision and the Voice, and Tannhäuser. This is not plagiarism on the part of Parsons. The rituals had to be drawn up quickly, and these passages were to hand. Parsons had a beautiful and lucid writing style of his own, and would have been more than capable, in different circumstances, of devising his own invocations.
Some of the communications received in the course of the Babalon Working have very forceful sexual expression, bordering on the rapacious. Consider, for instance, this passage:

In verse seven verses of seven lines, seven magick words. Stand and chant seven times. Envision thyself as a cloaked radiance desirable to the Goddess, beloved. Envision Her approaching thee. Embrace Her, cover Her with kisses. Think upon the lewd lascivious things thou couldst do. All is good to BABALON. ALL.
Then rest, meditating on this:
Thou as a man and as a god hast strewn upon the earth and in the heavens many loves. These recall; concentrate, concentrate each woman thou hast raped. Remember her, think upon her, move her into BABALON, each, one by one, until the flame of lust is high.
Then compose a verse of undetermined lines on this, to BABALON. This verse shall be used in worship when She appears.
Then meditate upon thy desire, think upon Her, and, touching naught, chant these verses. Recall each lascivious -moment, each lustful day, all set then into the astral body, touching naught.
Preserve the material basis … The lust is Hers, the passion yours. Considert the Beast raping.
Leave thy casual loves – all belongs to BABALON, thy lust is BABALON’S. She is with thee three days. The sign is Hers, secret, and no man knows its correspondences. Guard.
We should be wary of seeking to draw too close an analogy between differing systems, and particularly between deities from those systems. Bearing this in mind, however, an analogue does suggest itself between Kali and Babalon; perhaps Babalon is more sexually loaded. In any case, all are aspects of the One Goddess, and Babalon is a particular aspect of Nuit. Verse 22 of the first chapter of The Book of the Law says “Now, therefore, I am known to you by my name Nuit, and to him by a secret name which I sh all give him when at last he knoweth me …”. This secret name was the correct spelling of Babalon, which was given to Crowley whilst he was scrying the 12th Aethyr; until then, he had been using the Biblical form – “Babylon”. By Gematria, Babalon enumerates as 156; and in a note to his account of the 12th Aethyr Crowley tells us that “the formula of 156 is constant copulation or samadhi on everything”. It is the blind, sexual passion that carries all before it – dionysian. There is a close connection between Babalon and Pan. In a note to the account of the 2nd Aethyr, Crowley observes:
From this it would appear BABALON (who is speaking through one of her ministers) is the feminine (or androgyne) equivalent and not merely the complement of Pan. This is shewn in many of her images.
This is echoed elsewhere by Parsons, who wrote:
But I say that that perfect image in the heart of man is patterned by the awful lust in space-time that shapes all women, the insatiable and eternal lust of Pan that is BABALON.
After the Babalon Working had been concluded, all that Parsons could do was watch and wait. He had been told that the Operation had succeeded, that conception had occurred, and that in due course the avatar or Daughter of Babalon would come to him, bearing a secret sign that Parsons alone would recognise, and which would prove her authenticity. H***, though, had rather more mundane considerations on his mind, and several weeks later he and Betty absconded with a vast amount of Parsons’ money. This amounted to many thousands of dollars as an investment in Allied Enterprises, a fund set up by Parsons, Betty and H***, and into which Parsons was pursuaded to sink most of his savings. Parsons eventually managed to track them down, and recovered a fraction of his money after taking legal action. Parsons had no further contact with either H*** or Betty after this.
He was, though, beset with other problems. Preoccupied with the Babalon Working as he had been, he had neglected his duties towards Agapé Lodge and its members. This was perhaps the final straw for many of his peers. I get the impression that many of them considered him something of a primadonna, were tired of his waywardness, and saw an opportunity to cut him down to size. The various members of the Lodge never seemed to have much compunction in telling tales on each other to Crowley, and he received reports from several different sources on this latest escapade of Jack Parsons. From these reports, Crowley concluded that Parsons’ flaws had finally overcome his promise, and that Parsons was a gullible fool beyond redemption. He was, furthermore, infuriated by Parsons’ intimations that, in the interests of secrecy, he could not provide a full account of what had transpired during the Babalon Working. Parsons was suspended from his position as head of the Lodge, and departed soon after.

It is hard to know in greater detail just what did go on at this time. I have seen a letter which Crowley wrote in January 1946 – some weeks prior to the Babalon Working – in which he names someone other than Parsons as Grand Master of Agapé Lodge. Be that as it may, I have also seen a reference to Parsons being called to account, at a special Lodge meeting, over certain things with which his colleagues were unhappy – such as coming up with a text which purported to be the fourth chapter of The Book of the Law, an act of heresy for which he was lucky not to be burnt at the stake. It is certain that he departed the O.T.O. at around this time, though he continued to regard himself as a member of the A.’. A.’. He remained on friendly terms with many of his colleagues, and he continued to correspond with Germer until his death.

Not so with Crowley, however. Crowley must have been bitterly disappointed with Parsons. He had had a high regard for his abilities, as well as a keen awareness of faults such as impulsiveness and recklessness – faults which, as Cmwley now saw it, had led to an inevitable downfall. Two short letter extracts show tffis- di~ointment – both, as it happens, to Louis T. Culling. In the course of a letter dated October 1946, he said:

About J.W.P. – all that I can say is that I am sorry – I feel sure that he had fine ideas, but he was led astray firstly by Smith, then he was robbed of his last penny by a confidence man named H***.
His last words are in the course of a letter of December 1946:
I have no further interest in Jack and his adventures; he is just a weak-minded fool, and must go to the devil in his own way. Requiescat in pace.
Although Parsons and H*** went their separate ways after the court settlement, that is not quite the end of the story as far as H*** is concerned. Mention was made above of a further parallel between H*** and Kelly. In the course of a letter in January 1950, Parsons drew attention to an interesting similarity. In the course of the Babalon Working, the rituals included the Enochian Call of the Seventh Aire. This was in line with a passage in Liber 49, where Parsons was urged to “… seek me in the Seventh Aire”. Parsons continued:
I have the text of Dee’s skrying in the Seventh Aire, which as he said “… so terrified me that, beseeching God to have mercy upon me, I finally answer that I will from this day forward meddle no more herein”. The voice, speaking from Kelly, resulted in a sinister dissociation of Kelly’s personality. The parallel with my own Working with Roi is appalling. After this Kelly robbed Dee, absconded with his wife, and developed a criminal confidence career. This is the voice:
I am the Daughter of Fortitude, and ravished every hour from my youth. For behold, I am Understanding, and Science dwelleth in me; and the heavens oppress me. They cover and desire me with infinite appetite, few or none that are earthly have embraced me, for I am shadowed with the Circles of the Stars, and covered with the morning clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in myself. The Lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beasts of the field understand me. I am deflowered, yet a virgin; I sanctify, and am not sanctified. Happy is he that embraceth me: for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of pleasure. My company is a harmony of many symbols, and my lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not. Purge your streets. O ye sons of men, and wash your houses clean; make yourselves holy, and put on righteousness. Cast out your old strumpets, and burn their clothes, and then I will come and dwell amongst you, and behold, I will bring forth children unto you, and they shall be the Sons of Comfort in the Age that is to come.
In view of the fact that this MSS was unknown to H*** and I, the parallelism is really extraordinary. I have found another prophecy in Khaled Khan, which I shall send later …
Quite how much of this is true, I don’t know. The passage as quoted in the letter does differ in some ways from the passage as published in Meric Casaubon’s selection of the Dee diaries, “A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed For Many Years Between Dr John Dee and Some Spirits”, published in 1659. For instance, the concluding phrase “… in the Age that is to come” does not appear. Also, I have yet to ascertain how true the account is of Kelly’s exit from Dee’s life and his subsequent career. Nevertheless, it is an intriguing thought that H***’s life could have been disrupted through the Babalon Working. After reading the critical biography about H*** (Bare-Faced Messiah, by Russell Miller) it seemed to me that the time with Parsons was a definite watershed for H***. Prior to it, he seemed basically a colourful, mendacious eccentric; after it, he seemed to slide into ***. There is no sharp dividing line, but the difference is clear.
In 1969, the “Sunday Times” newspaper published an article on the lines of “Founder of Scientology involved in Black Magic”, in which they recounted details of the Babalon Working. The article was based on details gleaned from the Gerald Yorke Collection at the Warburg Institute, to which the reporters had gained access. Hubbard instituted legal proceedings for libel, and the “Sunday Times” for reasons of their own decided not to fight it. Subsequently, Yorke withdrew from the Warburg those papers relating to the Working. They were, incidentally, returned some years ago, following Yorke’s death, but are under a 25-year seal. At the time of the action, the Church of Scientology made a statement alleging that Hubbard had been sent in as an FBI agent to break up a “Black Magic group” which had included several prominent scientists. The operation had, they continued, succeeded beyond the wildest expectations: he rescued a girl that they were “using”, and the group was dispersed and never recovered.

The activities of Parsons during the next few years are not at all clear. I have only been able to catch glimpses through letters and the like. In 1948 Parsons lost his security clearance to perform classified government defence work, and for a man of his profession this was the virtual withdrawal of his livelihood. This action was stated to be “because of his membership in a religious cult … believed to advocate sexual perversion … organised at subject’s home … which had been reported subversive”. Parsons commented later that he was suspended on charges of belonging to the O.T.O. and circulating Liber OZ. Parsons defended himself in closed court, and the charges were dropped. In the meantime, Marjorie Cameron left him; their estrangement lasted several years. What lay behind this rift I do not know, but it did seem final at the time. In the document referred to earlier, Analysis by a Master of the Temple, he makes the following allusion – again, he is speaking in the third person:

Candy appeared in answer to your call, in order to wean you from wetnursing. She has demonstrated the nature of woman to you in such unequivocal terms that you should have no further room for illusion on the subject.
The suspension and inquisition was my opportunity – one of the final chains in the link. At this time you were enabled to prepare your thesis, formulate your Will, and take the Oath of the Abyss, thus making it possible (although only partially) to manifest. The exit of Candy prepares for the final stage of your initial preparation.
“Candy” is short for Candida, the Magical Name of Marjorie Cameron. There was a reunion in late 1949 or early 1950, and they resumed living together as man and wife.
As mentioned earlier, Parsons still considered himself a member of the A.’. A.’. In December 1948 he took the Oath of a Magister Templi, and the name Belarion, Antichrist. This oath was taken in the presence of Wilfred T. Smith, with whom he had evidently retained some sort of relationship. In 1949 he issued The Book of the Antichrist. This is a short text, and in it he relates how he was stripped of everything that he had and was, and then rededicated to Babalon. This was, he considered, a recharging of the current generated by the Babalon Working. He also pledged that the work of The Beast 666 would be fulfilled, and he seems to have seen that work as being, at least in part, a subversion of Christian ethics. He further prophesied that within seven years Babalon would manifest, so bringing his work to fruition.

In September 1950 his employment at Hughes Aircraft Corporation was terminated. He was found to be in possession of a number of classified documents – several of them, as it happens, being co-written by him and dating from his days at Cal. Tech. A lengthy investigation by the State Attorney followed, in which the FBI were involved. Parsons, it emerged, was hopeful of finding employment in Israel. To this end he was seeking to pursuade them of the case for building a jet-propulsion factory complex, and had been using the documents for background information. It was eventually concluded that there were insufficient grounds for prosecution, many of the documents containing information that should by then have been declassified anyway. However, there were repercussions. The Appeals Board, who had reinstated his security clearance in March 1949, informed him that in their view he no longer had the requisite honesty and integrity; accordingly, the clearance was again withdrawn in January 1952. This would have been the end of Parsons’ career in that particular scientific area.

From some incomplete essays that survive from this period, it seems that Parsons was working towards building up some sort of teaching Order with a Thelemic core, but relating to paganism and witchcraft, and was preparing papers of instruction for such an Order. By profession he was now building his own chemicals practice. He had sold the main part of his property – the mansion itself – for redevelopment some time earlier, and occupied the coach-house. The garage he had converted into a laboratory, equipped with chemicals and equipment. There was a plan to move to Mexico for a while, both to pursue mystical and magical research and to further his chemicals practice. He and Cameron had actually vacated the coachhouse, and Parsons went back and forth over the course of several days, moving out his chemicals onto a trailer. On one such visit, on the afternoon of 17 June 1952, he dropped a container of fulminate of mercury, a highly-unstable explosive. The resulting explosion was powerful and devastating, destroying most of the coachhouse. Parsons was seriously injured; horrifically enough, though, he was still conscious when his rescuers got to him. He died an hour later, in hospital.

Controversy has remained over his death. Many regarded it as highly unlikely that a scientist of his experience could so mishandle such a powerful explosive. During those last days he wrote what was probably his last letter, to Karl Germer.

It is bizarre, and merits quoting in full, since it perhaps casts light on his frame of mind at the time:

No doubt, you will be delighted to hear from an adept who has undertaken the operation of his H.G.A. in accord with our traditions.
The operation began auspiciously with a chromatic display of pschosomatic symptoms, and progressed rapidly to acute psychosis. The operator has alternated satisfactorily between manic hysteria and depressing melancholy stupor on approximately 40 cycles, and satisfactory progress has been maintained in social ostracism, economic collapses and mental disassociation.
These statements are mentioned not in any vainglorious spirit of conceit, but rather that they may serve as comfort and inspiration to other aspirants on the Path.
Now I’m off to the wilds of Mexico for a period, also in pursuit of the elusive H.G.A. before winding up in the guard (room) finally via the booby hotels, the graveyard, or — ? If the final, you can tell all the little practicuses that I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
No one. Once called 210.

The manner of Parsons’ death brings to mind the association of Babalon with flame. The lengthy passage quotet earlier from The Vision and the Voice uses the idea of flame, as did the material communicated during the Babalon Working. The passage “…for She shall absorb thee, and thou shalt become living flame before She incarnates…” is particularly haunting. In some of his letters written in the years after The Babalon Working, Parsons seemed to be expecting a violent death, and he almost certainly had this and similar passages in mind. A fragment survives from an earlier version of The Book of Babalon, which is interesting in this connection:
… because of this mystery BABALON is incarnate upon the earth today, awaiting the proper hour for Her manifestation. And this my book, that is dedicated to Her, is preparation and a portent for that time. And in that day my work will be accomplished, and I shall be blown away upon the Breath of the Father, even as it is prophesied. And thus I labour lonely and outcast and abominable, and he-goat upon the muck heaps of the world. Yet am I content with my lot, since though I am clothed with barncloth, yet shall I come in power and purple, for of this also am I contemptuous. Yea, I am.
Whatever the truth of this matter, Jack Parsons has remained over the years a, figure of fascination to many. I have attempted in the course of this essay to summarise the events of the last fifteen or so years of his life. A more considered evaluation of his life and work requires a lot more research and experience, and remains a labour of love for someone. To that person, Belovèd of Babalon is offered as a foundation.

with permission:
STARFIRE I,3, 1989
BCM Starfire
London WC1N 3XX
More on Parsons by Nikolas and Zeena Schreck: Demons of the Flesh
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As Honduras Collapses, Its People are Forced to Flee (CounterPunch 12/31/19)

As Honduras Collapses, Its People are Forced to Flee


Honduras is collapsing. The thousands of migrants who flee every day are direct testimony to a political, economic and social crisis that the world ignores and the U. S. government seems bent on perpetuating. Instead of examining the crisis behind the exodus, the Trump administration has set an intercontinental human trapline that captures thousands of the world’s poorest and most persecuted men, women and children, and then converts their suffering into campaign fodder.

Until the Ukraine gamechanger came along, this seemed to be working as the central message of a candidacy that proclaimed white supremacy a valid political platform. Since the whistleblower exposé, the Trump re-election campaign has had to pivot to spewing lies about Joe Biden and fending off impeachment But unless he goes down, sooner or later he´ll return to slandering immigrants and issuing racist warnings of the “invasion” from the south.

Meanwhile, almost no-one is asking why so many people leave. Donald Trump portrays Honduran and other Central American migrants as global gold-diggers, looking for a way to scam an overly tolerant United States. Anyone with the slightest familiarity with what migrants go through, abandoning their homes and facing the physical and psychological dangers of the migrant trail, immediately and correctly dismisses this explanation.

The Mexican government has emphasized going to “the root causes” of migration, which it defines as underdevelopment, and a democratic congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi in August recently used the same language. But what are the ‘root causes’? What really motivates so many people to leave, when their chances of making it to relatives and new lives in the United States are so low? When the cost of the journey—in all senses—is so high?

The Real Roots of Migration

I went down to Honduras to ask grassroots leaders these questions. Also, to find out what’s behind the rise in the popular movement over the past year and, most of all, whether it can provide a way out of the downward spiral the country has been in since the coup of 2009. I found a country facing an acute crisis on all levels—a political crisis of legitimacy that has destroyed faith in the leaders and led to violent repression of protest as the government implodes, an economic crisis with over 60% of the population living in poverty and extreme poverty, and a crisis in security as organized crime groups control urban territory, corporations take over resources, and corrupt security forces and paramilitaries routinely attack the citizenry with practically no legal consequences. There is also a deeper, more ineffable crisis: many Hondurans see no future in their own country.

Bartolo Fuentes is a migrant organizer who accompanied the first large caravan that left San Pedro Sula in October of 2018, picking up thousands of Hondurans and later Guatemalans before arriving at the Mexican southern border. He dismissed another common explanation for why people leave, one espoused by both Trump and the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that traffickers are responsible for convincing people to leave.

“That’s absurd, if they just ask the migrants in Tapachula (Mexico’s southern border) how they got there, what motivated them to leave, they’ll realize that here there’s terrible hunger, people don’t have a way to make a living, and worse, they don’t have any hope that things will get better,” Fuentes stated. “The people leave because in Honduras they can’t resolve the basic problem of survival. Other countries need to understand that it’s not outside agitators or instigators that are prodding the people to leave, it’s hunger, it’s despair, it’s the lack of opportunities. The way things are, Hondurans aren’t going to stop leaving any time soon.”

He and many others also cite as causes the everyday violence and death threats for the slightest of offenses—a young woman who rejects the advances of a local gang leader, a taxi driver who can no longer pay the weekly extortion fee, the mother who shields her young son from forced recruitment into gangs, and the child himself, growing up with too many images of loved ones murdered or filled with fear. The list of what makes one a target in a land where the law has no inhibiting influence whatsoever goes on and on.

10 Years After the Coup

According to former president Manuel Zelaya, the current crisis has been a long time in the making—since 2009 when he was kidnapped and forcibly removed from office in a military coup. Despite widespread international condemnation of the coup, he was never restored to power in a return to the constitutional order. Instead, the illegal coup regime organized elections to whitewash its crime with the help of the U.S. government. Under successive illegitimate governments, democratic institutions became tools for private national and transnational interests.

“This has created more migrants, more poverty, greater corruption, more looting and an increase in drug trafficking because, put simply, there’s a popular phrase that says ‘when the river is muddied, it’s the fisherman’s gain’, Zelaya told me in his office in the opposition LIBRE Party headquarters.

“And we’re facing a reality—the global economic system of the transnationals generates privatizations, impositions of the International Monetary Fund and more poverty. With the lack of opportunities, the people flee, it’s not that they migrate– they flee –from the lack of opportunities and the misery in our country.”

Zelaya’s reflections on what happened after the coup lead straight into the protests happening today. After the coup, Honduras became the training ground for extreme forms of neoliberalism. It encouraged transnational investment in megaprojects that displace rural communities and cause entrenched conflicts. The foreign debt burgeoned from $3 billion to more than $9 billion in ten years. The rightwing president Juan Orlando Hernandez, has faced numerous corruption scandals and massive protests following the 2017 presidential election. In that election, JOH first stacked a court that then gave him a green light to go against the constitution and run for re-election, then he stole that election, shut down the vote count and declared himself the winner. Since then, the Honduran people have not stopped protesting. and the IMF signed a stand-by agreement with his administration for $311 million in May, signaling further privatization. The nation increasingly depends on remittances from the thousands who fled.

In early 2019, a law and then a series of presidential decrees opened up health and education services to private sector investment and management. The medical profession, unions and farmers, teachers and students hit the streets to protest the privatization measures and forced the government to roll back some, but not all, of the reforms. Under the leadership of the head of the Medical College, Dr. Suyapa Figueroa, the growing popular movement refused to back down. The Platform for the Defense of Health and Education was formed out of the people’s gut reaction to the wholesale delivery of the country to private interests and international capital. The privatization of health struck a nerve.

“The population was outraged because the situation that most harms them is the fact that the government had completely abandoned the issue of health. We always had shortages in hospitals, but never to the point where these shortages were constant, and we believe that these shortages were on purpose to cause the dterioration of the public health systme to justify passing health services provison to the private sector,” Dr. Figueroa explained.

Today, the Platform for the Defense of Health and Education is the backbone of Honduras’ resistance movement. While strengthening its specific demands for accessible, free-of-charge public services, its main demand is the immediate resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH, by his initials).

A Narcostate?

That day might be closer than anyone expected. Hernandez was cited as a co-conspirator in the drug-trafficking trial of his brother, Tony. Tony Hernandez was extradited to the United States under terms his brother passed into law, in part to guarantee US support for his bid for power. The District court filing states that Juan Orlando used illegal drug money to finance his campaign and maintain his power.

On October 18, th court convicted Tony Hernandez on four counts of drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons and making false statements to a US official. For the Honduran opposition, the trial meant that the accusation that Honduras is a “narcostate”, with the president at the head of it, was proven in a US court of law. It was huge news—not so much the revelation of the president’s involvement, but the fact that it became part of evidence in a US court that validated the information. Pressure to oust JOH increased and the grassroots movement gained momentum.

The mounting evidence of corruption and illegal activity against JOH should be ample reason for the US Congress to reconsider its strategy in Honduras. Trump announced plans to cut off aid to the country, and other Central American nations, for not doing enough to force their citizens to remain exposed to the violent situations the U.S. government helped create. His announcement caused a stir in Washington and the press, but the aid suspension never happened. Instead aid has continued, largely to repressive military and police and border programs that exacerbate rather than address the real problems.

Inexplicably, many progressive politicians and Washington NGOs protested the original announcement of suspension of aid to Honduras, with little explanation of how aid to an illegitimate and unpopular government in crisis would help the country. US aid historically– and especially under a Trump administration– has never been impartial or beneficent to the receiving Central American countries. All the Honduran grassroots leaders I talked to were very clear—U.S. aid props up the JOH government and works against us.

Trump later reversed himself and promised to restore aid, mostly for security measures to contain migration. And now the U.S. government has a new way to spend taxpayer money and ruin lives. On Sept. 25, Trump convinced a very vulnerable Juan Orlando Hernandez to sign a “Safe Third Country”agreement. This agreement forces asylum seekers from other countries passing through Honduras to seek asylum there rather than continuing northward, despite the fact that Honduras is the nation that expels more people than any other country in the Hemisphere. As crazy as it sounds–and it is–the Honduran president quickly agreed, amid speculation that the negotiation included some sort of immunity or conditions of a cushy exile probably in Florida should that become necessary (potentially allowing him precisely what the U.S. government is so bent on denying ordinary Hondurans). JOH is teetering on the edge of a precipice, with the accusations of drug trafficking, abuse of power and corruption hanging over his head and a huge part of his own citizenry calling for his resignation on a daily basis.

Instead of turning a blind eye to the Honduran crisis, Congress should stop propping up a man his own people call a dictator. As the Honduran government continues to attack protestors and target activists, it should quickly approve the Bertha Cáceres Act, named for the feminist environmental activist murdered for defending a river slated to be dammed. The Act calls for the immediate suspension of security aid.

For those of us who have worked for decades on Central American solidarity, for the hundreds of thousands of Hondurans living in the United States and for new generations of activists involved in migrants’ rights, social justice and foreign policy, the plea is to stand up with and for the Honduran popular movement. Honduras has been the worst-case scenario of broken rights, outright U.S. intervention and ruinous capitalist economic policy. The Honduran people have had to fight so hard for so long. By joining grassroots and international pressure, the people could finally win their nation back from the corrupt oligarchy that has hijacked it.

Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built : “Facebook appeals to your lizard brain — primarily fear and anger…” (NY Times 4/2/18)

Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built

Jim Steyer, left, and Tristan Harris in Common Sense’s headquarters. Common Sense is helping fund the The Truth About Tech campaign.

By Nellie Bowles
Feb. 4, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build.

The cohort is creating a union of concerned experts called the Center for Humane Technology. Along with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, it also plans an anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign at 55,000 public schools in the United States.

The campaign, titled The Truth About Tech, will be funded with $7 million from Common Sense and capital raised by the Center for Humane Technology. Common Sense also has $50 million in donated media and airtime from partners including Comcast and DirecTV. It will be aimed at educating students, parents and teachers about the dangers of technology, including the depression that can come from heavy use of social media.

“We were on the inside,” said Tristan Harris, a former in-house ethicist at Google who is heading the new group. “We know what the companies measure. We know how they talk, and we know how the engineering works.”


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The effect of technology, especially on younger minds, has become hotly debated in recent months. In January, two big Wall Street investors asked Apple to study the health effects of its products and to make it easier to limit children’s use of iPhones and iPads. Pediatric and mental health experts called on Facebook last week to abandon a messaging service the company had introduced for children as young as 6. Parenting groups have also sounded the alarm about YouTube Kids, a product aimed at children that sometimes features disturbing content.

“The largest supercomputers in the world are inside of two companies — Google and Facebook — and where are we pointing them?” Mr. Harris said. “We’re pointing them at people’s brains, at children.”

Silicon Valley executives for years positioned their companies as tight-knit families and rarely spoke publicly against one another. That has changed. Chamath Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist who was an early employee at Facebook, said in November that the social network was “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”


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The new Center for Humane Technology includes an unprecedented alliance of former employees of some of today’s biggest tech companies. Apart from Mr. Harris, the center includes Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook operations manager; Lynn Fox, a former Apple and Google communications executive; Dave Morin, a former Facebook executive; Justin Rosenstein, who created Facebook’s Like button and is a co-founder of Asana; Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook; and Renée DiResta, a technologist who studies bots.

The group expects its numbers to grow. Its first project to reform the industry will be to introduce a Ledger of Harms — a website aimed at guiding rank-and-file engineers who are concerned about what they are being asked to build. The site will include data on the health effects of different technologies and ways to make products that are healthier.

Jim Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense, said the Truth About Tech campaign was modeled on antismoking drives and focused on children because of their vulnerability. That may sway tech chief executives to change, he said. Already, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, told The Guardian last month that he would not let his nephew on social media, while the Facebook investor Sean Parker also recently said of the social network that “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Mr. Steyer said, “You see a degree of hypocrisy with all these guys in Silicon Valley.”

The new group also plans to begin lobbying for laws to curtail the power of big tech companies. It will initially focus on two pieces of legislation: a bill being introduced by Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, that would commission research on technology’s impact on children’s health, and a bill in California by State Senator Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat, which would prohibit the use of digital bots without identification.


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Mr. McNamee said he had joined the Center for Humane Technology because he was horrified by what he had helped enable as an early Facebook investor.

“Facebook appeals to your lizard brain — primarily fear and anger,” he said. “And with smartphones, they’ve got you for every waking moment.”

He said the people who made these products could stop them before they did more harm.

“This is an opportunity for me to correct a wrong,” Mr. McNamee said.