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George Orwell on W. B. Yeats as Occult Fascist

William Butler Yeats, 1865–1939

227 words

“W. B. Yeats” (1943)

“Translated into political terms, Yeats’s tendency is Fascist. Throughout most of his life, and long before Fascism was ever heard of, he had had the outlook of those who reach Fascism by the aristocratic route. He is a great hater of democracy, of the modern world, science, machinery, the concept of progress—above all, of the idea of human equality.”

“How do Yeats’s political ideas link up with his leaning towards occultism? [. . .] To begin with, the theory that civilisation moves in recurring cycles is one way out for people who hate the concept of human equality. If it is true that “all this,” or something like it, “has happened before,” then science and the modern world are debunked at one stroke and progress becomes for ever impossible. [. . .] Secondly, the very concept of occultism carries with it the idea that knowledge must be a secret thing, limited to a small circle of initiates. But the same idea is integral to Fascism. Those who dread the prospect of universal suffrage, popular education, freedom of thought, emancipation of women, will start off with a predilection towards secret cults. There is another link between Fascism and magic in the profound hostility of both to the Christian ethical code.”

The full text is online at: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/o79e/part20.html

 

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