What Magic Comes From This Unrest?

What Magic Comes From This Unrest?

What I like about chaos magic is that it is unashamedly a child of revolution.

It is the spooky corner of the creative protest that emerged with punk into Thatcher’s Britain, frozen by strikes, stricken by unemployment and recession… An orphan of the winter of discontent.

Like punk, it is called working class because it is fiercely anti-classist and anti-authority. (The working class label is problematic in both cases because all revolutions to date have begun among the bourgeoisie as they tend to be the most educated.)

Chaos magic began by utterly rejecting metanarratives because wherever you find metanarratives you tend to find that someone is being paid and it probably isn’t you.

As postmodernism discovered, metanarrative rejection is not without its own complications.

But you can draw a clear line between economic disruption and the subsequent emergence of a new philosophical worldview.

This has always been the case, of course. Acute economic disruption leads to new and unpredicted occult forms. (Hoodoo anyone?) Europe saw the same thing with the collapse of the Roman Empire, the First World War, the Norman invasion of… well, everywhere. And you tend to see a new form of magic emerge on just one side. It’s usually the oppressed side but not always. (In England at least, Spiritualism took hold among the gentry first.)

The imminent civil unrest facing the First World -and particularly Europe- is substantially different.

What magic is going to emerge from an economic disruption that doesn’t fissure along working/middle class lines but rather runs through the whole society like cracks in an eggshell?

And from what corner is it going to emerge when the soon-to-be-oppressed are our former oppressors? It turns out public sector employees now make more than private sector employees. Leaving aside the terrible long-term economic implications that such a scenario brings, they’re going to protest. They’re the oppressed now. These aren’t Northern miners getting shafted as the Iron Lady begins the unenviable -yet ultimately necessary- task of breaking the unions’ stranglehold.

What magic comes from this? My guess, based on broader behavioural changes that we advertising folk monitor closely, would be some kind of hybrid zero-waste/ultra-minimal/gnostic reconstruction. Small will be good. ‘Artisanal magic’ will be good. Authority will be tolerated because it is inevitable but it will not be heeded because it is always lying. (Archons again. This is where I get the gnostic bit from.) Think of it like an Arts and Crafts Movement of the soul but without the rosy view of the past. It will be personal rather than political.

But again, we’re very much in Black Swan territory here, so my guess is just as useless as yours.

The end of cheap energy. The end of cheap money. The end of jobs-for-life. The end of cradle-to-grave welfare. Widespread disruption to essential services. An utterly and permanently abandoned global generation.

Whatever happens, this will get very interesting before long.


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  1. 1

    You’re such a charmer Gordon! You make me almost look forward to doom and disaster. Almost.

    Funnily enough, I actually see some of the characteristics you describe in your projected future magic movement in the things emerging from my current practice, or at least what I strive for. Perhaps I’m not the only one.
    Scribbler´s last blog post ..I forgot to give credit

  2. 3

    I’ve worked both in the public and private sectors. I can say without a doubt the public sector is harder. The private sector has one goal, profits. The public sector has todo the following, provide services the private sector can’t do for a profit, under unbelievably shifting and conflicting regulations, while being told to ‘run it like a business’. If you make a mistake in the public sector, they call it an error. In my line of work, the call it fraud. No kidding. There is no word for mistake or error. It is either correct or it is fraud.
    Robert´s last blog post ..A Lesson of Focus

  3. 4

    @Robert Interesting. I would probably dispute your reading of accountability between public and private sector but I suspect that has a lot to do with the way different countries are run. The British public sector never ceases to astound me with its cost and inefficiency. And yet nobody gets fired for bringing a project in two years too late and £50 million over budget. *cough* Transport for London *cough*

    I didn’t believe it till I got here.

    Regardless, I pointed it out only to highlight its implications for a shrinking tax base. A growing public sector built in a shrinking private sector is a recipe for some serious diminishing returns and, ultimately, a crash.

    I’m not in the least bit anti-public sector. I just don’t like crashes. :)

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