Why IP matters in the occult

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

It’s really irksome when I encounter male Thelemites espousing some Libertarian ideals and going on about how “you don’t own ideas” but then turn around and accuse an author of plagiariam (say, Donald Michael Kraig). Even if the plagiariasm is true, I have to wonder why they first act like plagiarism should be taken as some sort of compliment for helping to spread ideas using their infamy. Make up your minds, already.

Yeah, they’re spreading someone else’s ideas, alright. For a profit. For the purpose of monopolizing them. And this is part of the “might is right” philosophy as well as being materialistic, something that doesn’t jive with spirituality.

 I have a radical fucking idea: How about giving credit where credit is due?

Look, I know that corporations aren’t people. I understand they don’t have rights. And I know that ideas should have merit on their own. But I’m talking about actual people, now. Let me explain why this matters:

Cultural appropriation

and

Historical revisionism

Now, it can’t be denied that the interaction between cultures is going to result in the exchange of ideas. And no one culture can lay a claim to coming up with wings on sculptures or things like that. However, consumerism uses harmful stereotypes about indigenous peoples and other minorities in order to sell their products, like the Aunt Jemima syrup, Halloween costumes, Americanized Mexican food, or knockoff indigenous headdresses. These are believed to be authentic representations by the people who consume them. There are also blackface frat parties, and white actors who play characters of other races. It’s white supremacy in disguise.

Women and minorities have had their ideas stolen. Not little tidbits here and there, but large chunks of information. To go back to corporations, they lay claims on copyrights. Sometimes people who invent or discover things may actually come up with the same idea around the same time; then, it’s a matter of who is the fastest, or the more powerful/wealthier. With historical revisionism, white men (usually Europeans) have been the main authorities for science, philosophy, math, psychology, the occult, etc.

Now, you could argue that as long as the message is getting across, then why does it matter who is bringing it? Except many times it doesn’t make it; we’ve lost knowledge. The mainstream history we are presented is incredibly biased and one-sided. Society follows suit by silencing the voices of women and minorities or simply ignoring them altogether, because men (especially straight white men) are the ones with enough “class” status that they are recognized as human by default. They tend to be wealthier, better educated, and seen as “nice guys.” Even if women and minorities end up saying or inventing the same thing, the men will be taken more seriously and considered to have done it better. Yes, I’m arguing that plagiarism can even be done out of hostile intent, like jealousy. It’s a power grab as well as a lack of personal creativity; it reeks of not having integrity, either.

And in the occult, a similar thing happens: Occultists romanticize other religions and cultures of the past and present them ahistorically, expecting to be believed as gospel truth – and probably guilt-tripping women into being sexually available to them. For example, the idea of “sacred” or “temple” prostitution (see also here) which is probably no more accurate than the Bible is, but either one uses the appeals to popularity and tradition; they are mythical lies or a game of telephone used to promote an agenda. Original works get edited by the groups controlling the publishing (this is now extending to Liber AL). Women and minorities are scared away due to the lack of diversity. Why would they want to participate in groups who are going to steal their thunder? If I’m going to read a book directed towards a predominantly female audience, chances are I’ll prefer a female author, and (if possible) the author to have collaborated with other females. I don’t want to associate with a group or individuals who just pay lip service about women while non-platforming them. To be fair, it’s not just men who do this; women can do it as well, usually in association with men.

You could conclude that what I am describing are lies by omission and half-truths when people slap their own names on others’ works or cherry-pick them for their own financial gain. Or that the idea of property itself is used to abuse power (over those who do not have property) rather than having communal knowledge and possessions. You wouldn’t be wrong on either of these points, either. Competition is theft.

In short, the struggle for recognition is a self-defeating uphill battle; like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down again. This is heterosexism, white supremacy and male supremacy in action. Thelema being a philosophy – even a movement of the New Aeon – that is supposedly counter-culture, I would think people can be better than that, and make the choice to not plagiarize.

Love is the law, love under will.

Soror DLCTP

Sol in 2 degrees Taurus

Luna in 10 degrees Aquarius

dies Martis

An CX

EDIT 4/27/14: So it turns out that if you know of an author that has engaged in plagiarism, you can complain to their publisher. If you don’t even make the effort to do so, then people will (justifiably) accuse you of being a rumor-mongerer. 

I understand many people still feel the need to play the game, i.e. writers who are making a living or trying to earn some good side money from writing, so they have to look out for people plagiarizing them, and even (in most cases) speak out against pirating (even though it’s copying, not theft, and most of the profit probably goes to the publisher). That’s okay too; they are trying to get by in the world. It’d be great if we could indeed have “free ideas,” but it doesn’t work that way. Under capitalism and our very heavily consumerist American culture, such a concept is exploited by the wealthier/more powerful classes. It is the case that the Caliphate OTO is going to present an edited version of Liber AL vel Legis (specifically condemned in the same book!) And one of the characteristics of a narcissist or egotist is copying someone else and taking credit as if it were their idea.

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About Cammy

female artist knitter bookworm 34 years old bisexual spiritual atheist 420 friendly traveler occasional poet i have 3 blogs - 1 for poetry, 1 for politics and 1 for spirituality. anything else you want to know, take the time to get to know me and ask. concern trolls need not apply.
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