Freemasonry and Empire 153


Five years ago I knew almost nothing about Freemasonry except that it is believed to be often a vehicle for corrupt fixes between businesses and the various arms of government, which I suspect is very probably true.  But what Freemasons did, or believed in, I had really very little idea.  Writing my book on Alexander Burnes required me to learn a great deal, because the Burnes family were not just very active Freemasons but had a profound international influence on the organization.

My conclusion about Freemasonry is that it became widely established as part of the spirit of rational enquiry that informed the eighteenth century enlightenment.  It had the same motivation as Unitarianism, which thrived around the same time  – it was striving towards a form of Deism that allowed people to move towards a belief in God while abandoning the obvious irrational mumbo-jumbo of Christian miracles and the divinity of Christ.  There are obvious parallels with the French revolutionary cult of the Supreme Being.  It was therefore very friendly to other monotheistic religions and looked to provide a kind of lowest common denominator religious synthesis.  The whole project was then dressed up in a great deal of “secret” ritual borrowed from crafts guilds.  That Freemasonry was so successful in aristocratic and educated circles was simple because it was they who also propelled the Enlightenment.

As time went on, for most members it became just a club to make good business contacts – the commitment of “brothers” to help each other in a secret society including a lot of the wealthy was originally well-intended but obviously bound to become a conduit of corruption. Most members would probably, from about 1820 on, have been very surprised by my analysis of its intellectual and religious origins.  They probably still would be today.  It’s just a club for most.

But what I was surprised to find, and of this I am certain, is that Freemasonry’s insistence that all members were equal, of whatever colour and creed, played a very important role as a counterweight to the increasing nineteenth century British Empire philosophy of racial superiority and religious and cultural arrogance.  Freemasonry actively helped turn the tide among the governing classes and directly impacted the increasing anti-colonial beliefs of the British governing classes from the 1920’s on.  A very high proportion indeed of British colonial administrators and officers were Freemasons.

We have a caricature view of Rudyard Kipling now; he was by no means the apostle of Imperialism he has somehow become in popular belief.  I know his soldier’s dialect writing is annoying.  I find it helps to speak it out loud.  But although it is sentimental, his poem The Mother Lodge does contain the germ of a very real truth about the impact of Freemasonry on the British view of race in India.  We’d say ’twas ‘ighly curious, An’ we’d all ride ‘ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva, Changin’ pickets in our ‘ead.  The same was true in Egypt, at least.  Remember many lodges operated on a far higher social level than the one described in this poem, and those too were mixed.

I appreciate this posting is going to annoy pretty well everyone.  Oh well.  No, I am not a Mason.

Humour me and read it out loud:

The Mother Lodge

There was Rundle, Station Master,
An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ ‘Ackman, Commissariat,
An’ Donkin’ o’ the Jail;
An’ Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
Our Master twice was ‘e,
With ‘im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside — “Sergeant!  Sir!  Salute!  Salaam!”
Inside — “Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We ‘adn’t good regalia,
An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;
An’ lookin’ on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquits,
Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’
Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
Of the God ‘e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots
An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird;
We’d say ’twas ‘ighly curious,
An’ we’d all ride ‘ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva
Changin’ pickets in our ‘ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service
This rovin’ foot ‘ath pressed,
An’ bore fraternal greetin’s
To the Lodges east an’ west,
Accordin’ as commanded
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an’ brown,
With the trichies smellin’ pleasant
An’ the hog-darn passin’ down;
An’ the old khansamah snorin’
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside — “Sergeant!  Sir!  Salute!  Salaam!”
Inside — “Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

I might add in clarity that I honour the various  peoples who struggled against the Empire, and who still struggle against Empires today.  I by no means denigrate their achievement.  But there is no doubt at all that the demise of most of the British Empire (sadly it hasn’t all gone yet) was hastened by the fact that the majority of the British governing classes had come themselves to believe the colonies should be free, certainly by 1945 and arguably sooner.

Unfortunately since about 1975 public opinion has been moulded into a rigid neo-conservative mindset, and neo-imperialism increasingly looks like the old variety.  If you didn’t live through it, it must be hard now to believe that the British “elite” once held quite left wing opinions, and of course some ideologically motivated would wish to deny it as not fitting their model of society.  But it was so,

 


153 thoughts on “Freemasonry and Empire

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  • Phil

    NWOPR (MI6 Lodge) Incorporated – SECRET COMMUNICATION – SingInt32015xx.666b

    Agent Murray,

    RE: Operation LONE NUTTER

    Freemasons. Left Wing Elites. Israel. Rothschild. Pyramids. Scripture. Alasteir Crowley. Adam Smith. Norman Wisdom. Bilderburg. Child Sacrifice. Tony Benn.

    A glorious cacophony! Time to plant another infowars link? You decide. More anti-nationalist nationalism required.

    Remember, we are not nutters, there is only one nutter and it’s him over there. Crush him with your air of superiority.

    END

    Do you like chocolate? They are suggesting a tasty EU nibble of a posting for you once Scotland is free. Free? Did I say free? Ha, ha. Ha ha, ha…

    XXX XX XXXXXXXXXXX

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Goss

    “I was not goading him just making an observation that since freemasonry has been mentioned he clammed up. I do not know if anything can be read into this,..”
    ______________

    Nothing at all. Sorry!

  • craig Post author

    Phil

    Not sure what point you are making. If it is that the claim that Bilderbergers eat children is nuts, yes obviously that is nuts. I have never said there is only one nutter who comments on this blog. Generally I am extraordinarily tolerant about it.

  • John Goss

    I know that the Rothschilds put money into charitable funds of all descriptions. Everything the Rothschilds do is not solely to make money but also to exert influence and sometimes even to support charities with no ties attached. Henry Rothschild, the gallery owner, made donations to Quaker meetings which apparently had no ties attached. The connections might come from earlier associations with Quaker bankers, Barclays and Lloyds. These banks no longer have the principles of the early Quakers who founded them. Similarly the Co-op Bank, which I have been with for thirty years, no longer sends out newsletters about its ethical banking practices and the Rochdale Pioneers would be turning in their graves.

    Anyway, it is very hard, even for people with the morals of Quakers, or anybody for that matter, to refuse donations, and Henry Rothschild could possibly be an exception – the white sheep of the family perhaps.

  • Phil

    Craig 30 Apr, 2014 – 6:14 pm

    “Phil, Not sure what point you are making.”

    My point is clear: to claim that the British establishment being left wing had anything to do with the decline of the British Empire is tosh. Absolute nonsense. As Empire declined, at it’s most progressive the establishment was somewhat liberal. The left wing pressure was always from outside of the establishment.

    To make such a claim for the left wing stinks of establishment rewriting history, misdescribing capitulation as gift, retreat as genorosity. It is a lie.

    “If it is that the claim that Bilderbergers eat children is nuts, yes obviously that is nuts. I have never said there is only one nutter who comments on this blog.”

    I guess now you are talking about my NWO SECRET COMMUNICATION spoofs. How did you know that was me?

    I thought they humourously made several points. About priorities of discussion, about all sort of things. However, they are not to be taken literally and they are probasbly not worth talking about. I can accept they are confused and not funny.

    “Generally I am extraordinarily tolerant about it.”

    Yes you are.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Bilderbergers eating children would be an improvement as they spend all their time, lapping up whatever the Anglo-American covert government can cook up.

    Now it’s taking most seriously Moscow being behind everything disruptive in the Ukraine. Kerry told it that NSA intercepts have Moscow ordering its forces around, the same guys who arranged the takeovers of Georgia and the Crimea.

    Seems Putin doesn’t have a clue about what NSA has been up to, even though he has taken in its most dangerous leaker.

  • guano

    “I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
    Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
    And mark in every face I meet
    Marks of weakness, marks of woe. ”

    Blake’s accurately prophecies the corporate world of our own time. The menace of land enclosures remind us of the corporate world of Europe, which Craig so much admires, that enable US neo-imperialists to buy vast tracts of agricultural land in countries like Poland.

    Freemasonry was a cult that filled the religious vacuum of the utterly corrupt Roman Catholic Church in a re-distributed Protestant world of colonial brutal force.

    I refuse to belong even to the minor freemasonries of watching TV, belonging to Linkedin or belonging to a mosque sect of Islam, everyone patting eachother on the back at the size of their address book of like-slime.

    This article by Craig says more about who he is and where he is coming from than any previous one. He always gets like this at election times. The seeking of truth and the pursuit of power are two separate and opposing forces.

    Of course the colonial indulged in leftist sentiments. The absolute wreckage of the Muslim world in the last 20 years of our lifetimes is accompanied by swathes of journalistic hand-wringing.

    Nobody should forget that it was David Cameron who ignited the fire that is the Syrian civil war. it takes an awful lot of posing in shorts and piggy-backing your daughter to school to whitewash the igniting of wars on Muslims.

    I can’t understand why Craig reads the commentary of the colonial elite upon themselves. It’s like asking Lord Hurd about the minor’s strike, or Geoff Hoon about Iraq. The man he is writing a book about was a war criminal plain and simple, and freemasonry was one of the nasty little candles of false redemption that kept them going.

  • Jives

    Anyone wanna buy a goat?

    It’s well-used and walks a bit funny but it’ll be cheaper than a lawnmower…

  • John Goss

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) ! 30 Apr, 2014 – 6:00 pm

    “Nothing at all. Sorry!”

    Craig said “No, I am not a Mason.” That is plain and simple, no riddle, and not for the first time has he mentioned this.

    I ask if anything can be read into you having deserted the blog the moment Craig mentioned Freemasonry, so what I was seeking was a straight yes or no answer to are you a Freemason?

    Nothing at all could mean you don’t want me to know, which is your prerogative. If you answer one way or another, yes or no, I will accept it. It’s hardly earth-shattering knowledge.

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    John; “Are you a Mason” Surely an answer will be given. There is extreme pride involved.

  • Phil

    Thanks Guano, you make an insightful observation beautifully. And I wish I had a garden to take on Jives’s hobbling goat.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Goss

    “I ask if anything can be read into you having deserted the blog the moment Craig mentioned Freemasonry, so what I was seeking was a straight yes or no answer to are you a Freemason?

    Nothing at all could mean you don’t want me to know, which is your prerogative. If you answer one way or another, yes or no, I will accept it. It’s hardly earth-shattering knowledge.”
    _________________

    You really are a very strange person indeed.

    I do not post anything on this thread – for which there could be several explanations.

    You – the self-proclaimed user of “Habbabreak” – are so worried by my absence that you post a comment which you now confirm was a roundabout way of asking me whether I’m a Freemason or not.

    I could just about understand why a comment (say) in favour of the govt’s economic strategy could justify the question ‘are you a Conservative’, but I’m very puzzled as to why the absence of a comment on Freemasonry should impel you to ask me if I’m a Freemason. To make an analogy: I believe you have never posted on human rights abuses in China, even in threads about human rights. Are you Chinese?

  • Fool

    “If a diamond falls into mud it remains a diamond, if dust ascends to heaven it is still dust”

    Saadi of Shiraz

    There is essential truth everywhere.

  • Dreoilin

    “It’s hardly earth-shattering knowledge.”

    Exactly. So why keep asking.

    Everyone (almost!) complains about Habbabkuk, but if he doesn’t appear, John and Mary are the first to start asking where he is.

    It’s like primary school in here.

  • Fool

    “In my 20’s I was of course, left wing. I say ‘of course’ not because everyone of my age had those views – a number of my friends did not – but because most young men who took any interest in politics, particularly European politics and the rise of fascism, were lift wing….”

    Tim Milne

    Later on he was not left wing and justifiably felt let down / betrayed by his school friend Philby, but there was a time when to be left wing was pretty much the done thing.

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    “So why keep asking.” Why is H. so insistent on answers to queries when he supplies none to questions asked of him?

    Maybe you should ask H., Dre.

  • Richard

    An interesting post and I enjoyed reading it.

    I am old enough to remember the last gasp of lefty toffs, though they have largely been written out of history now – just don’t fit the narrative, I suppose.

    Another interesting feature of the British Empire in its last years was the willingness – even the eagerness, if that’s not too strong a word – to give subject peoples a half-way decent liberal and general education. All kinds of folk from West Indians to Palestinians got a better basic education than is given to British children today.

    Finally, I don’t want to get picky, but I would take issue with the bit about “obvious” mumbo-jumbo about miracles. Obvious? Really? What is a miracle anyway? Rainfall? Mobile phones?

    Humans tend to either be theistic or atheistic. A consequence of the former is the understanding that we live in a Universe of infinite possibilities. So, while there is clearly a temptation for scriptural writers to over-egg the pudding and make claims that are untrue to beguile the gullible masses, while they ain’t necessarily so, they ain’t necessarily not so.

  • Dreoilin

    “when he supplies none to questions asked of him?”

    Neither does Mary. Two peas in a pod.

  • Mary

    After a long absence you come on and demonstrate how you are really good at stirring things Dreoilin. A lie – I have not mentioned anything here about Habbabkuk being missing.

    In any case there is already a sufficiency of vitriol coming out from other sources tonight.

  • Phil

    Mary
    “…you are really good at stirring things …there is already a sufficiency of vitriol coming out from other sources tonight.”

    Oooh ‘other sources’. No, that’s not stirring Mary, so you are not a crawling, sanctimonious hypocrite.

  • Fool

    today I eat a cake tomorrow its talking – a miracle.

    BTW The Man who would be King by Kipling is an interesting tale.

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    I often hear people involved in competitive sports give all to the glory of God when they are blessed with a victory.

    I wonder who they thank when prayer for a miracle results in a loss.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    “In any case there is already a sufficiency of vitriol coming out from other sources tonight.”

    And also from Mary, on Squonk’s blog this evening:

    “Unpleasant vitriol coming over from Phil and Guano to Craig on the freemason thread. I want to say something but don’t want to start a slanging match. I hope he is not feeling hurt.”

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    Hab; Are you high up in the Lodge hierarchy? Secretive, isn’t it?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    More parallel “discussion” from Squonk’s blog this evening:

    “I think Hab must be a Mason. His Roman-Catholic defensiveness in the past, along with his obfuscation on the question John asked is a harbinger.”

    Who cares?

    You worship him don’t you? Can’t live without him. Lay awake nights just thinking about him.

    That Habbabreak turned out just as I said it would didn’t it?”

    ___________

    The first comment comes from Ben Weedsmoker (he bogarts every joint),, and the reply is from grizzly old Fred (aka Victor Meldrew).

    Enjoy!

  • John Goss

    Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO, 30 Apr, 2014 – 8:25 pm

    Just back from the lodge 🙂

    But the answer to your question is no. I thought long and hard about it when I was approached, but thought I would research it first.

  • Clark

    I had a friend called Malcolm who was a Mason and a retired police officer; he died a couple of years ago. I think we came to be friends because we were both outsiders in our village; me for not hiding that I smoke weed, and him for being an ex-copper.

    Malcolm believed all sorts of odd things. He claimed to have seen UFOs, and panthers in the local Essex countryside. He’d often make racist or sexist remarks when speaking in general, but when he spoke of individuals he’d actually known he didn’t seem prejudiced at all. His outlook presented a confusing bunch of contradictions.

    I think probably most people are like that, but they just don’t show it so much.

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