Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blavatsky, the Swastika and the Nazis

Replying to some online critics of his new book, Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality (Tarcher 2012), Gary Lachman posts the following in the comment section of the web magazine Reality Sandwich:

It’s a shame that much of the conversation about HPB in this thread has been devoted to the musty old myths about her links to National Socialism. They are very tenuous indeed, and in many ways amount to the fact that she used the swastika and wrote about race. The swastika we know has been in use for millennia, by peoples as far apart as North America and India; we may as well say that Native American Indians were proto-Nazis because they used it. More to the point, some - and I repeat some - of HPB’s ideas were co-opted and embellished by undeniably creepy people in Austria and Germany in the early part of the last century. HPB did indeed write about race, but so did Francis Galton and his cousin Charles Darwin, and later people like H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Rudolf Steiner, and many others did as well - very nice and intelligent people in fact. In the vast corpus of Blavatsky’s writings - and just having written a book about her I have become quite familiar with them - race plays a relatively small part, and the tiny fraction she devotes to it has sadly become inflated to gargantuan proportions by hyper-sensitive and sensational attacks on her.

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