A Satisfying Takedown of “aStrOloGy iS A gAtewaY tO fAscIsm”

Not long after Mercury stationed retrograde in Scorpio, Twitter user @mechapoetic tweeted the following statement:

Consider the hornets nest kicked. Fascism is:

“a political philosophy, movement, or regime…that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

Prominent historical examples of fascism and fascist leaders include Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini. No one wants to be called a fascist, even when they start fitting the definition. But acknowledging astrology is valid is not a gateway to fascism.

The claim has no historical evidence.

We can find the presence of astrological ideas or astrological practices in virtually every civilization in every time period we know of, from cavemen tribes to monarchies to modern western democracies, in innumerable cultural, religious and political contexts. This suggests that astrology is able to operate within or alongside many different kinds of beliefs and societies and is not necessarily specifically tethered to fascist/authoritarian/totalitarian regimes. This does not mean astrology itself is a gateway to fascism as much as astrology could be a tool leveraged in support of fascism, as well as against fascism, or in support of or against many different movements. In this light, the idea that astrology should be specifically linked to fascism is basically meaningless.

The claim assumes that astrology is exclusively deterministic.

The secondary claim assumes that astrology is exclusively deterministic. The question of determinism in astrology (the so-called “fate vs free will” debate) is far from settled and positions will greatly vary from astrologer to astrologer. While some degree of determinism is inherent in the astrological premise, there is no evidence that this necessarily leads to support for fascism. For example, science is far more explicitly deterministic than astrology and science itself is not inherently fascistic even if it too could be repurposed towards those ends. Cough, eugenics, cough.

A slightly better version of this argument would be to say that astrology is a gateway to fascism because an exclusively deterministic astrology is antithetical to democratic participation, because all elections would be astrologically “rigged”. This is absurd however, because political science is similarly deterministic in that it makes electoral projections based on a number of variables. It is unreasonable to assume that political scientists who think elections are predictable do not participate in voting. In a similar way, it is unreasonable to assume that astrologers who think events and personalities are predictable do not try to change the course of events or change who they are in their own lives. So yeah, astrologers vote.

Even if one has a more strictly deterministic perspective on astrology, because of our linear experience of time, the present moment appears imbued with possibilities, to act accordingly is a natural instinct. We are at least granted the convincing illusion of free agency even if our fate is ultimately the same, à la Oedipus. Life comes at us too fast to consciously live every second upon astrological considerations. At a certain point you just have to act according to your best judgment as if you do have free will for better or worse, astrology be damned.

People who acknowledge the validity of astrology don’t fit the profile of people susceptible to fascism.

The single greatest predictor of whether someone is susceptible to fascism is how authoritarian they are. Authoritarian traits broadly correspond with blind allegiance to strong leadership, strict observance of hierarchy and a heightened in group/out group consciousness which is usually evidenced by scapegoating of minority groups. While there are liberal variations on authoritarianism, even a cursory examination of authoritarian attitudes suggests they are more closely associated with the right wing, and bear a close resemblance to the Trumpian variety of conservative politics today. Sorry, the truth hurts.

In social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory, his research consistently identifies liberals as highly prioritizing morals of care/harm and fairness/inequality, while conservatives comparatively care much more about loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion and sanctity/degradation than liberals do. It is the conservative instinct towards the observation of authority, attachment to hierarchy/order and distrust of minority groups that makes them much more likely to be authoritarian and consequently more likely to be potential fascists.

While I have some issues with the question “Is astrology scientific?”, this 2014 study found that it is actually American liberals and Democrats who are more likely to read horoscopes and acknowledge the validity of astrology. It is far more likely then that the milkshake-throwing anti-fascist acknowledges astrology than the star-spangled fascist. This is true on an anecdotal level as well. The vast majority of astrologers I know are progressive and belong to non-privileged groups, all of whom are personally endangered by the rise of fascism. The idea that the strongest adherents of astrological thinking would endorse fascism when it threatens their own existence is utter codswallop.

A better argument one could make that astrology is a gateway to fascism is that it could be used to unduly discriminate against people based on their natal chart. However, upon closer examination, discrimination based on one’s natal chart doesn’t make a lot of sense even from an astrological perspective. Some people have great natal charts but their timelord sequences or transits show that they do not necessarily get the chance to take advantage of it. Other people have poor charts but their timelord sequences/transits make the most of what their charts have to offer.

The multivalency of astrological archetypes can make it difficult to differentiate between whether someone engages in the most positive or negative versions of those archetypes. Someone may express both extremes over the course of their lifetime, so it could depend on where they are in their lives. Those natal charts also exist in the context of national charts or other cycles. Depending on one’s cultural environment, a natal chart that may be feared and seen as destructive in one culture could be useful and celebrated in another. Essentially, there are too many variables to consider to truly discriminate against someone based on their natal chart.

Another better argument one could make that astrology is a gateway to fascism is that it could prompt racist neo-phrenological thinking because of astrological correspondences with one’s appearance. The kernel of truth in this argument is that most of the relevant literature in circulation is from western astrological traditions and are unfortunately Caucasian-centric. It is a fault of the societies it came from, not astrology itself. But the primary reason that this is not a good argument is that one’s race or gender can not be determined from one’s natal chart. The good news is that as astrology has resurfaced in modern multiracial societies, astrologers of all races are discovering the more general astrological correspondences with appearance that can encompass all races and genders rather than being exclusively tied to a particular race or gender. It is important that astrologers be extremely discerning and aware of these issues when making astrological associations with appearance.

The biggest reason that astrology is not a gateway to fascism is that when done properly within a good metaphysical framework, it is actually a gateway to its opposite. Astrology can be an antidote to divisions of sex, gender, race, class, nation, etc., because it treats everyone as being born under the same sky. Each person has an individual natal chart based on the time and place they were born, regardless of who they are, where they are from, what they look like, etc. Each chart shows one’s best and worst potentials, their hopes and joys, their fears and their pain. It forces us to understand and see people as people even if we can’t agree with them, and at times we may even recognize ourselves in others in ways that we never would have otherwise. This kind of awareness erodes in group/out group thinking. This should reinforce one’s desire for a more free, open and safe society for all, all of which is incompatible with fascism.

@mechapoetic, here’s the gateway to your seat. Take it.

5 thoughts on “A Satisfying Takedown of “aStrOloGy iS A gAtewaY tO fAscIsm””

  1. Obvi A. Alias

    No historical evidence? fascists loved deterministic mysticism to the point that there was a fucking school of fascist mysticism. Specifically Hess and Himmler, as well as other Nazi elites consulted with astrologers regularly. Also Nice fucking stupid Venn Diagram that pretends there isn’t a real contingent of leftists that find the kind of pro astrology thinking fostered in liberal circles disturbing, this post is a joke.
    Meanwhile I don’t know how you can come to the conclusion that people that believe in astrology aren’t authoritarian, when tons of modern astrology followers will literally for example not allow certain star signs to be roommates with them.
    By all means keep practicing astrology as a hobby, but don’t act like it has any place in leftists politics, and don’t be surprised that principled leftists have a distaste for it as they do with most liberal new age trash.

    1. Patrick Watson

      Hey, thanks for your comment. Your first two sentences indicate you must have missed the paragraph after the header about no evidence. To summarize: Astrology has existed alongside numerous ideologies and religions so to say it’s specifically fascist is meaningless. I suppose breathing is a gateway to being a Nazi because they did it too?

      A Venn diagram is not exactly a PhD dissertation. I don’t pretend there aren’t leftists against astrology. In the diagram I’d think anti-astrology leftists would fall under parts of “skeptics” and/or “hot take twitter”.

      I’d agree that making those kinds of determinations or recommendations about roommates purely based on astrology isn’t the smartest thing. In my own work I certainly don’t try to promote astrology divorced from reason or even science (to as large extent as possible given the different metaphysical frameworks in play).

      I’d have to think about what role it could/would/should have in politics if any. If nothing else, for a skeptic it may be worth considering the potential strategic role astrology could have. I’m not surprised at all that people hate it, both on the left and the right. The left tends to think it’s dumb and doesn’t work whereas the right tends to think it works but it’s evil. I’m over it. I may be an astrologer but I am not anti-science, and I may not be religious but I am not anti-religion. I’ve had these arguments over and over again and it’s very rare that people even understand their own epistemological/ontological/metaphysical assumptions enough to compare them to others to have a productive discussion.


  2. American “liberals” are in fact just as if not more likely to be “authoritarian” (in the original way that Adorno, the guy who associated authoritarianism and fascism, meant it) as Trump supporters. Astrology is not just fascist because of the focus on determinism or inborn characteristics, but it is part of the fascist mindset, to appeal to mysticism as an explanation for one’s problems/actions. It is functionally analogous to appealing to Jewish conspiracies to explain the bad state of the economy. Read Adorno’s essay “The Stars Down to Earth”. The ostensible progressives who are pro-astrology ARE in fact, the exact profile of people susceptible to fascism: neurotic reactionaries. The same type of people to support the state crushing civil society, (i.e. anti gun, anti freedom of speech) which is the definition of fascism. The same type of people who are romantic anti-capitalists (actual marxism and leftism is pro-capitalism, actually read Marx) i.e……Nazis. The same type of people who believe in race essentialism and racism (i.e. “critical race theory” which is not critical theory). Yes, the “anti” fascists are fascists, people on the left have been writing on this phenomenon for decades. Again, Adorno did. Bordiga did. Even Hannah Arendt of all people wrote about the seeming totalitarian nature of American “anti-racism”. The “progressives” and “leftists” in the street are clearly fascist minded, desiring violence against their political opponents and supporting the state and corporations crushing civil society.

    Yes, astrology is fascist. Yes, liberals and democrats are more likely to be fascist. Sorry to actually say things that are true.

    1. Patrick Watson

      Hi John, thanks for reading. I took the time and read Adorno’s essay. I can’t say I understood every sentence, but I did detect a lot of assertions about astrology one would only make in ignorance of the subject, as is very typical of skeptics. I think it is far too broad a brush to cast any non-empirical ideas (“appeal to mysticism”) as inherently fascist. Progressive, anti-fascist movements for advancing human rights often have mystical, religious or spiritual tenets at their core. Unfortunately, these can also be the basis of many conflicts, so clearly this is part of human nature and probably more complicated than “mysticism is fascist”. His and your comparison of astrology to anti-semitic conspiracies is at once insulting but it is at least hilariously ridiculous. This is a big ask, but consider reading Richard Tarnas’ “Cosmos and Psyche”. At the very least, if you like philosophy, you may also enjoy Richard Tarnas’ “Passion of the Western Mind”. As for the rest of what you said, I just have to say you may want to take a break from Fox News for a bit. I reject your assertions and I’m not convinced you’re correct at all, and I don’t expect you to be by what I’ve said either.

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