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‘Witchcraft is the tool of the oppressed class’

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On Monday, a left-wing website decided to give socialists a new tool to use in their war against the free market: witchcraft, spells, and hexes. The Real News Network – which bills itself as a source of “verifiable, fact-based journalism” that presents “effective solutions and models for change” – ran as its lead story “Witchcraft, Anarchy and the Rise of LeftTube.”

The Baltimore-based Real News operation regularly interviews thoughtful, if extreme, leftists. But today the online network hosted a 23-minute discussion with “Angie Speaks,” a “libertarian socialist” and YouTube “video essayist” with an exotic accent that comes and goes.

The YouTuber who says she lives in London denigrates the fact that corporations have a presence on social media, saying that interacting with a personification of them online is “almost like an occult force.”

It is not clear why she makes such a negative connotation, since she has glowing things to say about the occult in her online videos. Indeed, in one recording she traces the Alt-Right to occultism … while striving to underline she means no offense to occultists.

Instead, Angie Speaks asks the workers of the world to unite around their Himalayan salt lamps.

“Witchcraft is the tool of the oppressed class,” Angie affirms during the Real News interview, in which the camera captures what appears to be a witchcraft altar next to her bed.

“Do you think engaging with Earth goddess religious traditions could vitalize the Left?” asks interviewer Taya Graham.

Speaks says she has found that paganism enhances her political struggle.

“There’s a lot of truth to be unearthed within spirituality, especially because spiritual traditions have always been linked to the fight against capitalism and the fight against coercive systems,” spake Speaks.

In her telling, slaves in the New World who were oppressed by Church and State, turned to “things like Santeria, things like Vodun [voodoo], or here things like Wicca, which has a very strong through line with women’s movements and feminism. It was sort of a reservoir of strength and a reservoir of all the things needed to keep one’s soul intact.”

This is an accurate description of neither spirituality nor economics.

If pantheism is a reaction to missionaries and markets, Angie Speaks does not explain why it predates both Christianity and capitalism. (Nor was she asked.)

Speaks attempted to bridge this gap in one of her videos, tracing the history of May Day celebrations from paganism to Communism (using, in part, footage from the original version of The Wicker Man.) Paganism, she said, represented the proletariat’s primordial drive for hedonism, especially sexual promiscuity, in defiance of Puritan mores.

As worker interest in those pursuits flagged (for reasons she does not explain), the celebration was adopted by the global Marxist activists – or, as she describes them, “certain workers who kept the tradition alive as an act of rebellion against the new and emerging forces of capital. May Day became synonymous with the spirit of revolution.”

She tied pagan libertinism to Marxist violence. “Whisperings of the old, wild, and primal stirred as numerous revolutionary events unfolded on May Days throughout history,” she said. The tradition of the Soviet Union parading its army and tanks through the streets on May Day in a mass show of force, with the unspoken threat of subjugating the world to the “inevitable arc of history,” was not mentioned. (For those who find that video too convoluted, she attempted to explain her theory again in an incomprehensible parody of Twin Peaks.)

Angie Speaks adds her dubiously accented voice to the chorus of leftists trying to redefine socialism as an endless orgy. Ash Sarkar has tried to brand her ideology “fun Communism,” while Aaron Bastani longs for the coming of “Fully Automated Luxury Communism.” But this requires more than a little sleight-of-hand.

On Monday, Speaks denied that Maoist China and Soviet Russia practiced real socialism; they were “more akin to state capitalists.” Her form of anarcho-socialism would not use the means of the state to achieve a stateless society, she said. In that case, she may wish to look at an historical example of an unsuccessful voluntary society, ironically enough involving the Pilgrims. Plymouth Rock began as a collectivist commune, and nearly ended in disaster.

Marxism in its various guises inevitably leads to misery and privation, because it does not understand the human person and the motives that impel him to act.

Angie Speaks’ interview is illuminating, at a time when democratic socialists declare that Jesus was a socialist and Jesuit magazines proclaim a “Catholic Case for Communism.” Speaks reveals what the progressive vanguard thinks of such contrived economic and theological nonsense.

The invocation of pre-Christian gods to man the barricades against capitalism should remind us all of the stakes of this argument. There is a genuine spiritual struggle in the battle for human flourishing.

You can watch the video interview below:

(Photo credit: An iconic depiction outside the church at Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, warning against the use of witchcraft. Martha Forshyth. This photo has been cropped and modified. CC BY 2.5.)

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Rev. Ben Johnson Rev. Ben Johnson is Senior Editor at the Acton Institute.

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