(07/28/1943) Grady McMurtry to Aleister Crowley

1803rd Ord S&M Co. (Avn)
68th Service Group
APU 182, Unit 1, % Postmaster
Los Angeles, California
July 28, 1943

Dear Sir and Brother,

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

The time has come, the Walrus said – and at the strangest place. It seems that a soldier in the field will sometimes spend 10% of this time digging in, 10% of his time doing the fighting and dying and 80% of his time waiting for something to happen. Of course, as this is only playing tin soldier no one gets hurt. Much. Except by accident or should tempers get too hot when opposing armies meet. But the desert is a great crucible – literally and figuratively. Also “if, under the night stars of the desert thou presently burnest thine incense before me, etc”. Assume the lotus position, pay your respects to the White Lady of the Night, let the breath of the evening (80°) whisper by, listen to the coyotes, speculate on how many rattlesnakes there are per square mile in the vicinity, hone your hunting knife down to a more razor edge with a slab of carborundum, and, refreshed by meditation sleep the sleep of the just – crucified. I hope we come to England. I would like to get in on the big push from there and then go on to India and China.

Pleasant speculation but to the task at hand. The inquiry into, and of, certain principles of the Order as I understand them: There is a “natural” aristocracy known as “Kings”, all others are dogs, empty headed Athenians, morons, bullet headed Americans (The Spirit of Solitude), (also known as the dregs of humanity (Eleusis), stupid and malignant insects, etc. which doesn’t interest me. What does interest me is the method of determining who are “Kings” and who are “Dogs”. So far as I can determine you consider the ideal system to be a condition of economic scarcity wherein we would have craftsmanship as opposed to mass production, feudalism as opposed to democracy, scarcity instead of abundance (of the economic necessities of life), whoredom instead of chastity, etc. Now wait a minute, don’t blow a fuse. For your writings also indicate that every man and every woman is a star (which is the essence of true democracy), chastity is as desirable as whoredom, that the noble should overshadow the base (which, in human values, can only be complete when the mass of humanity is collectively raised to such a high level of economic independence that they can afford to allow their more noble tendencies to assert themselves and can never truly be so long as the majority grub for a living, thus always subordinating their true will to the necessity of keeping alive – (the editor)), and by all means that we should “gather goods and store of women and spices”, etc. To the uninitiate this no doubt would represent a chaos of confusion – to him who would integrate all data it is a cosmos of truth, and to him who would stand aside and be skeptical it is a wonderland of questions. And as long as I can ask all of my questions before having my ears batted down I shall do just that.

The corruption of humanity is due to the overwhelming of the noble by the base, the replacement of craftsmanship by mass production? Malarky. Humanity may be corrupt, it may ever be bestial, but whether it is any more corrupt today than it has ever been I doubt very seriously. Craftsmanship is a method of producing goods, almost invariably limited by the number of craftsmen to a small portion of the demand. If the supply should, through a freak of circumstance, exceed the demand, the supply must be immediately restricted until a scarcity again exists to protect the craftsmans’ investment in time and labor else, in a surplus, his product would sell at a loss. Or so the history of economics attests. Mass production is another method of producing goods. Its products can be shoddy – and those who have exploited this faculty for profit have given it that stigma – but it is not necessarily so. No matter to what ends “business” men may turn the miracle of mass production the truth yet remains as one simple statement – mass production is a method of producing goods. Well trained management and labor, machinery made by the master craftsman, proper materials – and that which is mass produced will be all that is desired. And what is desired? The necessities of life. And thereon hinges the greatest miracle of all time in the slow upward climb of humanity. For when we have reached a state of technological advancement whereby less than 10% of the population of a nation can (by supervision of machinery, not actual labor directly expended upon the end product) produce the necessities of life (food, housing, clothing), or, to put it another way, when 80% of the population working 10% of their time (or less) in the same occupation, and this abundance of mass produced goods can be given to the public (of the nation, not the world, at the moment) then we will have a solid foundation for the advancement of humanity. Immediately the question – who gives a damn about humanity? let 90% of the “malignant and stupid insects” knock themselves off. Who cares? Well, for some selfish reason I do. And I do mean selfish. Strictly. It is all very well for a Commander in Chief to throw men by the hundred thousand into a battle so that his cause may triumph, to establish a principle, but it would be rather futile for him to do this with absolute foreknowledge that by this very act he would accomplish nothing and his cause would be doomed. You speak happily of the fact that “It may quite soon become impossible for mass production to be continued at a profit”. May, hell, it’s in the cards. It is really very simple. From the U. S. Statistical Abstract, circa 1940, we find the following information. Year – 1919, % of goods produced – 100% (an arbitrary figure taking into consideration all known consumer goods produced in the U.S. in 1919), man hours used – 29 billions; year 1929 (boom year), goods – 129%, MH – 22B; year 1932, goods – 100%, MH – 14B; year 1937, goods – 159%, MH – 19B; year – 1939, goods 160%, MH – 8.8B. It is all very simple, and it is all very deadly, and your mysticism doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it. Put those figures on a graph. You will see something in human that is unique. Never before in the history of mankind, no matter what Golden Age you trot out, has there been such a phenomenon, i. e., such a decline in the amount of work done to bring about such an increase in production. The same thing approached from different angle. From the dawn of human history until 30 years ago it took at least 80%, sometimes more, of a nations’ people working all the time to keep the population even partially supplied with the necessities of life plus a small trickle of luxuries (furnished by your beloved craftsmen) for the ruling classes. On such a slender margin was culture carried down the ages. No wonder it took Mankind thousands of years to get someplace. In most parts of the world that 80% still goes, most of the troubles of the modern industrial world can be traced to the failure to recognize the fact that this percentage has been reversed. In America it has been reversed within the last generation. Now 10% of the population working full time can and does supply the American people with the necessities of living. (Dean Whitmore, President of the American Chemical Society) This is probably the main reason why the German High Command has, in two wars, so fatally underestimated our ability to mass produce. It isn’t necessary for us to have the bulk of our nation producing the needs of life. Ah yes, but that is just where your boil is. You prefer “honest porridge” to “cereals out of a can”. May I take it that this means that man must earn his living by that most honorable of offerings – the sweat of his brow? If so I will be surprised. Can your “honest porridge” escape referring to anything else than the hard, physical work necessary to produce the ingredients thereof? And does not your “canned cereals” refer to machine produced foods – “Pies Just Like Mother Used to Try to Make – Never Touched By Human Hands”? I infer that it does, if so – then the majority of humankind must forever be chained to the earth, enslaved to the whims of the element for their fate and fortune, allowing the advance of culture to flow along as a small trickle at the largess of philanthropists and kings. And, again I say, Malarkey. You have proclaimed the Aeon of Horus. I proclaim the Aeon of abundance! To hell with the niggardliness of nature – let culture run rampant. He who would sing – let him sing, he would paint, sculpt, draw, carve, write, learn, love, live, play, rest, work – as he will. Yes, that is liber Oz but can’t you see that we can never have it until man is in control of earth and not the earth in control on man? and that man can never control the earth – conquer the mundane plane – without the tools of technology? and that the tools of technology are, by their very nature, products of mass production? let us relegate the production of the necessities of life to its true place in the scheme of events – a mere incidental to full living. I suspect that one of your withering replies will be – “who cares – only a small percentage of the populace is capable of that sublimity of spirit and fortitude of character to attain the Great Work anyway”. Sure now and we’re agreed. Do you think I actually care a fig for these prunes? Don’t be a chump. But this I do know. That if these prunes are living in a culture of abundance – I will be too. And should I prove out to be as “natural {can’t read next words — ED} come seven – I could pursue my studies and live my life in my own way.

And you may wonder – if this is the way I think then why am I so all fired hep on being a soldier? Well, that too is simple. You are an Englishman. You England even if the English are a bunch of “empty headed Athenians”. I am an American. And I love America. Imperfect as we are, crude, cruel, crapulous. I know that we have here on the North American Continent the technology, brains, and resources to set up a civilization whose culture, power and knowledge has never even been approached. Not Democratic, not Communist, not Fascist, not Feudal, not Monarchy, not anything that has ever been seen on the face of Mother Earth – the natural synthesis of a culture of abundance. Abundance not only of food, housing, and clothing – those would become trivia – but of learning, arts, research, exploration, science and – living. And that is why I take so earnestly to being a soldier. I am willing to fight and kill so that a true civilization might have a chance to come into being. You will find all this in a lot less words in “Spirit of Earth”. This is also what I was referring to in “The Great Chipmunk Experiment”. Wilfred (when I was in contact with him) was always burbling happily about “that place in the country – where we could stock up – and let the world go to hell”. Poor chump. As if tho if the king pins were pulled out from under our economy it wouldn’t drag him down too.

Resume: You would just as soon live the “simple” life, let the slaves labour, and let those few who are capable of being individualist enough rise above the herd on the wings of Will. I object that (1) you will have more people of a higher caliber (mentally and physically) with more consumer goods produced by mass production and therefore a bigger herd out of which more “kings” can rise, (2) a higher standard of life for the herd means a higher standard of living for the freaks, (3), if ever “homo superi” is to come into being, as opposed to “homo inferi”, he would hardly be satisfied with an agrarian culture (incidentally – Nietzsche was a piker), (4) you have always appeared to consider women as nothing more than interesting playthings – that is something that I would like to put to the test. Remember the free mothers of Karnak? Have you ever thought of what woman might be like if a nation of them were rendered economically independent of men? Sure, you would have your clinging vines, and emotionally unstables – but most of them? I rather expect that it might take some mighty good men to persuade a lot of them that they should do their share to perpetuate the race. Of course I could be wrong. Want to experiment? (5) I say craftsmanship is just another method of producing goods – it has lots of uses, and that (6) a complete industrial collapse in an economy such as ours would be more than a catastrophe – it would obliterate the population of this continent. I may not like the people here but at least they are fellow Americans which is more than I can say for the rest of the world – I do intend to live here for some time – and I am not interested in being obliterated in such an avoidable accident. Also (7) one DeMolay was enough.

Seems that I have overshot my mark a bit on the original theme but once started the letter wrote itself. From your high and mighty perch you may be able to puncture my arguments at will or consider the while episode as irrelevant. I have tried to stick to generalities, except for certain statistics, as otherwise I would be writing a book. If you consider my conclusions and opinions as erroneous I would appreciate a letter giving me the whyfore. If you wish me to go into greater detail on any particular I would be glad to do so.

Love is the law, love under will!

Fraternally in the Bonds of the Order,

Grady L. McMurtry
1st lt., Ordance

{poems enclosed:}
The Rebel Soul
An Apish God
This I remember
As Above

Note: Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, August 2000.

(07/28/1943) Grady McMurtry to Aleister Crowley #1 (07/28/1943) Grady McMurtry to Aleister Crowley #2 (07/28/1943) Grady McMurtry to Aleister Crowley #3

Note: Thank you to William Heidrick for making these images available.