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Liberty, Fraternity, Equality

The organized, powerful Anti-Masonic crusade which M as launched soon after World War I by Chief of Staff Erie von Ludendorff, to explode over Germany with astounding rapidity and to be one of the principal Nazi weapons, placed its principal reliance (though not its only one) on the charge that Freemasonry was a disguise for the Jews who were plotting to overthrow Christian civilization. In France, on the other hand, the Anti-Masonic movement from the Abbe Barruel to Bernard Fay, implemented by Pope Leo's Bureau, placed its reliance on the charge that Freemasonry was a conspiratorial political revolutionary movement, and that it had designed and led the French Revolution between 1787 and 1791, though it also made use of the Jewish myth as well. There was in both these Anti-Masonic camps what the old theologians would have called "a tendency to lie"; there were also, especially in the French one, a great deal of "inveterate ignorance."

There was an ignorance about modern history. There was an ignorance about the French Revolution itself. But the complete ignorance about Freemasonry is proved by the fact that the French Anti-Masons from Lco XIII on down (he was Italian himself, but was for two decades in control of the French crusade) have taken it for granted that the Revolutionary motto "Liberty, Fraternity, Equality" was also, and for centuries had been, the motto of Freemasonry. This identification of the Tenets of our Craft with the Revolutionary motto was a revelation of ignorance; because no intelligent man could have made it except out of his ignorance of the known, documented history of Freemasonry. That known, documented history makes it abundantly clear that neither in 1791 nor in any year before or since has Freemasonry ever acted on the revolutionary motto of liberty, fraternity, equality; or ever dreamed of doing so; or ever can do so in the future without destroying itself. Each of the words of the French motto had a Revolutionary connotation. In the Revolution "equality" was doctrinaire, meant "leveling," meant to reduce each and every man to the same equation, and in its logic implied some form of communism, or at least a commune; Freemasonry has never taught or practiced equalitarianism, communism, or leveling; on the other hand a Lodge is an order; in it, members are not foot-loose or free to say or do what they please, but each one is in a fixed place or station, and everything goes according to Rules of Order.

The Revolutionary "liberty" also was doctrinaire, and became "libertarianism"; no such thing as libertarianism has ever been taught or practiced in a Lodge; nor is the word ever employed; it is the word "free" that is used in the Craft, and by "free" is meant no slavery, no serfdom, but citizenship and responsibility. In "fraternity" there is not so great a difference as between Freemasonry and the Revolution, yet what difference there is, is significant; generally, the Revolutionary "fraternity" sought to abolish distinctions and differences tn order that men could associate freely with each other, whereas Freemasonry has always assumed that distinctions and differences exist but that they never need interfere with brotherliness, neighborliness, friendliness, and are false and unjust if they do.

This is not to say that the Fraternity had ever been opposed to the French Revolution, any more than it was opposed to the American, Russian, Mexican, and Chinese revolutions; and many Masons in their capacity as citizens have both believed in and worked in each of them; it only means that Masonry does not involve itself in any political or economic revolution, whether radical or reactionary (for a revolution may, like the Nazi one, be reactionary); and it does not borrow doctrines from outside but has doctrines of its own, understands and practices them within itself and according to its own definitions; imposes them on its own members but does not presume to impose them on non-members, least of all on any government or country.

It is invariably futile to attempt to identify Free masonry with any cult, movement, crusade, religion, reform, or revolution which may arise around it; with an incorrigible stubbornness it adheres to its own Landmarks, through thick and through thin rides on its own keel, and if its own Lodges or members go astray they are mercilessly cut off. Masonic students know what came of the attempts in England to identify Freemasonry with Kabbalism and with Rosicrucianism, of attempts in France to identify it with the Knights and the Crusades, of the attempt here in America to win it over to the Ku Klux Klan, to identify it with Theosophy, and the (commercialized) attempt to identify it with American "Rosicrucianism. " It keeps its oven identity. During the past eight or more centuries it has worked in, entered and remained in, and emerged from, scores of revolutionary changes, some of them world changes; but it has not re-written its Old Charges.

For generations it worked in the midst of Roman Catholicism, but has no trace of that denomination in its teachings; for some two centuries it was girded around by Tudor absolution, but did not become absolutist; then it worked amidst the Church of England, but did not sign the Thirty-nine articles, and among dissenters, but did not become a sect; it is now immersed in industrialism and capitalism and politicalism, but as far as its Landmarks are concerned might as well be working in the midst of Chinese gilds or Arab sheep-herders. Those who in Europe between the two World Wars tried to charge it with having fomented the French Revolution or to connect it with an imagined Judaic plot, revealed themselves in the very act to stand in an invincible, at least an inveterate, ignorance of its history and its principles.

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