[Marxism] Walk like an Egyptian

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 8 17:58:00 MDT 2004


Walking Like an Egyptian
the American Destinies of a Revolutionary French Secret Society

(a paper presented at the Association for Esoteric Studies by our own 
non-esoteric comrade.)

by
Mark A. Lause

For better or worse, the subject here is the stuff of legend.  From the 
days of the French Revolution, some conservative conspiracy theorists on 
both sides of the Atlantic have urged Draconian measures to repress 
secret plots against the status quo lurking beneath the seemingly 
harmless façade of freemasonry.   For early American Federalists, fear 
of the Bavarian Illuminati had helped inspire passage of the 1798 Alien 
and Sedition Laws; this initial decision to brush aside constitutional 
liberties in the name of national security contributed mightily to the 
success of the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans and the emergence of 
a political party system in this country.  A generation later, the 1826 
kidnapping and disappearance of William Morgan, a freemason who planned 
to publish the secrets of the order fueled a massive Antimasonic 
movement, which helped reorganize that party system into the Democratic 
and Whig rivalry.  Up to our own times, official panic over the possible 
presence of unseen enemies has made major contributions to the shaping 
of our history.

Scholars have built a respectable literature about conspiratorial secret 
societies that deals rather dismissively with such legends.  Quite 
correctly, they describe the major political importance of secret 
societies as providing sufficiently plausible justifications for those 
in power eager to repress without actual proofs of wrongdoing.[1]  The 
general consensus seems to be that such conspiracies did not exist, that 
those which did were not very important, and, if they were, they were 
not important in the United States.

Nevertheless, there was at least one kernel of truth in the shadows of 
suspicion.  Certainly, the tangled history of freemasonry has largely 
mirrored the political and social views of those drawn to the craft, and 
some of those drawn to the more peculiar pseudo-Egyptian forms of the 
order reflected views that were accordingly distinctive.  A generation 
ago, Boris I. Nicolaevsky demonstrated that, in fact, the nineteenth 
century Order of Memphis actually did mask the ongoing revolutionary 
activism of French radicals both at home at abroad, strikingly so in the 
case of émigré circles at London.  Moreover, in 1856, this same 
revolutionary Masonic order reached America, which, at the same time, 
saw the rise of many French-speaking sections of the the International 
Association, the International Workingmen’s Association, and other 
radical labor currents.   This paper explores the translation of 
Egyptian rite freemasonry into an American organization, with an eye to 
filling in some missing features in a nascent American Left.

full: http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Quad/6460/WalkingEgyptian4.html

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