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W. B. Yeats's A VisionExplications and Contexts$
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Neil Mann, Matthew Gibson, and Claire Nally

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780983533924

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780983533924.001.0001

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date: 25 April 2017

The Political Occult

The Political Occult

Revisiting Fascism, Yeats and A Vision

Chapter:
(p.329) The Political Occult
Source:
W. B. Yeats's A Vision
Author(s):

Claire V. Nally

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780983533924.003.0014

This essay addresses W. B. Yeats’s fascism with specific reference to Theodor Adorno’s works “Theses against Occultism” and The Authoritarian Personality. Yeats’s role in the Blueshirt movement is considered alongside the Vision Papers and especially his Avatar figure, which has much in common with Oswald Spengler’s idea of the rise of Caesarism. Yet, whilst Yeats is often overt in his support of a despotic and tyrannical mode of government, he also defends personal and spiritual liberty through his idea of the Thirteenth Cone, which features in A Vision. The essay argues that Yeats sought to maintain a contradictory occult theory which problematizes any strict definition of his politics: he defended the rights of the individual whilst simultaneously supporting anti-democratic policy. Thus, Yeatsian occult doctrine is revealed to espouse neither democracy nor fascist authoritarianism exclusively, but rather seeks to oscillate between two contradictory ideologies.

Keywords:   authoritarianism, A Vision, blueshirts, fascism, Oswald Spengler, Theodor Adorno, W B Yeats

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