Spiritual But Not Religious in 2012 – XX

The link between mass-movement mysticism and social freedom is currently being confirmed in an interesting new way.

After the so-called “Arab Spring”, nascent Egyptian democracy is foundering on cue. The recent elections sometimes look like being the country’s last for another few decades as the Muslim Brotherhood (funded by my country in earlier times, BTW) reveals ideocratic tendencies. Extremists are already talking about knocking down Egyptian monuments as the Taliban knocked down Afghan ones — yes, that would include the sphinx and pyramids. Down the straight track of knives we roll once again.

Step forward the Sufis. In challenging the Muslim Brotherhood, they are politically mobilising in a way they never have before. They are probably the biggest denomination of Abrahamism to have a strong interest in the mystical. Most SBNRs who hear Pir Zia Inayat Khan recognise a brother.

The future of SBNR may bear some similarity to this pattern. SBNR has never gathered democratically and was always too rhizomatic to count itself as a “movement” at all, but it may yet prove to be a bulwark against some sort of viciousness. After all, it cannot survive without the civil liberty that birthed it. Especially if it can get rid of its reliance on mini-monomyths, it’s a potential defender of that liberty against macro ones.

In this next age, Abrahamic extremism of two different types will probably cast a considerable shadow over America and Europe, trying to fulfil its ideocratic destiny. It won’t be the only contender for the title of official freedom-limiter. It was always envisioned — by me and by William Irwin Thompson, anyhow! — that the lifeboats carrying the precious cargo of real human endeavour and thought across that heaving main would be SBNR lifeboats, some of them at least.

We shall see, but it still looks that way to me.


I’ll have to take a little break right now, wishing everyone else a nice time with their particular brand of break. Enjoy the moment of Nothing Happening later today as well. :)

Two posts left in this series for mopping up — next post will be on the 26th.

The technology of our industrial civilization has reached a peak in putting a man on the moon, but, as the ancients knew, the peak is also the moment of descent.

— William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History (1971)


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