Hoeller makes the case for liberty based on our Hermetic, Gnostic and Jungian heritage. He notes that liberals are only concerned with freedom where it fits in with their favorite fads, the flavors of the moment being multiculturalism, feminism and environmentalism wrapped in the stifling speech codes of political correctness. He criticizes conservatives by claiming that they defend individual rights only when these do not conflict with the dogmas of the right reflected in slogans like 'family values.' Singling out one faction in the large conservative tent is a bit unfair as is ignoring the magnificent libertarian reforms of Thatcher and Reagan who had a relaxed attitude to religion and whose association with the religious right was exaggerated by the media.
The introductory chapter, Individual Soul Against Mass Mind, encompasses discussions of politics as vehicle of consciousness, antinomianism (opposition to rigid religious legalism), Jung's Gnosis of hope and the conflict of the individual with the mass. Hoeller's observations on mass-mindedness and the mass psyche correspond with and complement those of Eric Hoffer in The True Believer
whilst his analysis of the breakdown of the stable but flawed (collectivist, hierarchical & static) Christian ecclesiastical worldview (400 AD - 1600 AD) echoes the thoughts of Chantal Delsol in Icarus Fallen
where she argues that the European soul was first wounded by the loss of Christianity and then more grievously by the tragic attempts to replace it with secular salvationist creeds in the 20th century.
Other attempted substitutes included science, the arts and reason itself. Delsol elegantly likens the failure of these to collapsed cathedrals. Hoeller chronologically lists the factors that dissolved the aforementioned culture as Astronomy, Machiavelli, the Reformation, Physics, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, Charles Darwin's Evolutionary Theory and Freudian Psychology. The fruits of Freud
included the evaluation of human beings in abstract terms like adjustment, socialization, infantilism and narcissism, words that promoted the loss of individual dignity, self-esteem, optimism and creativity. The relentless assault of collectivism continues under many masks; divide & rule has acquired a new meaning as the formation of antagonistic minorities is encouraged. Politicizing ethnicity and accentuating group identity through multiculturalism, condoning barbarism & terror through moral relativism and exalting nature over human life are some prominent manifestations. The history, motives and tactics are exposed with admirable clarity by Stephen Hicks in Explaining Postmodernism
Hoeller considers insidious mass-mindedness as the most lethal danger facing our culture and society. As antidote he advocates the freedom and individualism inhering in the West's psycho-spiritual Gnostic tradition as articulated by Jung. A vital relationship exists between non-mainstream spirituality and the issue of freedom. The chapter The Gnosis Of Freedom covers definitions of liberty, the collapse of Soviet communism and Christianity's mixed record
on human rights. He explains Jung's depth psychology and the spirituality behind it, demolishing Eric Voegelin's far-fetched equation of Gnosticism with the 20th century's murderous totalitarian ideologies. These collectivist or sinisterist movements like xenophobic nationalism, marxism, fascism, socialism and environmentalism were clearly the secular salvationist offspring of ecclesiastical Christianity. They share the same structure of paradise lost through sin that must be regained through suffering that will eventually create utopia. Unlike modern Christianity, they advocate and practice human sacrifice.
Recent history has seen three main varieties of ideological tyranny: Communism, National Socialism and Islamist Theocracy. Viewing tyrants as both the pathogens and the main symptoms of psychic epidemics, Hoeller dissects their mindset & mysticism. Two types exist: (a) that established by a temporary psychic flare-up which subsequently maintains its power by force and (b) the primarily psychic type characterized by a mysterious pandemic of psychological energies that overwhelm a community. Hitler's regime was of this sort; Hoeller examines the psychological forces that drove him and his capacity for calling up projections of hatred & cruelty from the collective subconscious, noting that the German historian Ernst Nolte called Hitler a medium. Psychic pandemics
occur in societies that lack the ability to integrate opposites.
Revelatory insights into Utopian
projection, possession and the antidote of wholeness abound and Western forms of government are analyzed in terms of the Tao/Dao. The chapter on Amerindian culture, Shamanic America, is followed by the important study of opposites called Hermetic and Puritan America. It was the Hermetic influence on the US constitution that led to the separation of church & state and the three branches of government. Amongst the Founding Fathers were Judeo-Christian Theists as well as Hermetic Deists (like Benjamin Franklin). The author clearly favors the Deist side and makes no effort to conceal his distrust of Puritanism, a concept that he interprets quite literally.
In the chapter America And The New Myth Of Consciousness, Hoeller appraises the work of Joseph Campbell and in the epilogue he argues that material progress remains precarious without its moral equivalent. The enemy is extremism, whether it is that of the environmentalist of right-to-life fanatic. Both worship life unconsciously, unaware that life without consciousness is an aimless, blind force. There has to be free alchemical interaction in a process that must be permitted, not forced, to flow. He argues that Jung's spiritual-psychological approach is the most effective ideological defense of freedom as it not only encompasses both Ayn Rand's
rational materialist and traditional Christianity's metaphysical defense of liberty but surpasses both of them.
As a brilliantly reasoned argument for individual freedom from the psycho-spiritual perspective, Freedom: Alchemy for a Voluntary Society is not as easy a read as Hoeller's other books. For further insights, I refer the interested reader to the section Alternatives To Postmodernism in chapter 6 of New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality
by C. Alan Anderson and Deborah G. Whitehouse. It draws on the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. Bibliographical references occur throughout Hoeller's intriguing text and the book includes a bibliography with authors as varied as Augustine, Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, Manly P Hall, Friedrich Hayek
, Ludwig von Mises, Elaine Pagels and Frances Yates.