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These two pages of misinformed history and opinion on Freemasonry, are ably refuted in Supplement to Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by H. L. Haywood. Volume III, A to Zuni Indians. Chicago : The Masonic History Company, 1958 pp. 1315-16.
Lewis Mumford on Freemasonry
In short, the theoretic war between the individual and the state was abated in practice by the universal growth of new corporate organizations which covered every aspect of life.
By an even greater irony the agitation for the abolition of corporate privileges was itself partly the work of a new association, the Order of Free-Masons, which was sedulously patterned after the ancient guilds, and which even professed to trace its history in more or less unbroken line back to the workmen originally engaged on Solomon's Temple. In 1717 the first Lodge of Masons appeared in London: Paris followed in 1725, Philadelphia in 1727, St. Petersburg in 1731. In one aspect, masonry may be regarded as a rationalist attempt to counter Jesuitism; but its other mission was to provide a bond between the members of the middle classes at a time when all other bonds were being loosened by immigration across the political frontiers of nations and the social frontiers of classes.
Masonry was romantic, indeed neo-gothic, in its ceremonial: its initiation ritual was an earlier return to a fantastie Middle Ages than "The Castle of Otranto" and Walpole's domicile on Strawberry Hill. But at the same time Masonry was an expression of the humanitarianism, the rationalism, the cosmopolitanism of the Age of Enlightenment. It used secret methods and promoted public aims: it revived moribund rituals and spread progressive ideas: it appealed to sentimental tradition and the past, but worked for innovations, hoping for nothing but good in the future. Lessing saw in the Masonic movement an organization capable of transcending local differences between states, classes, nations, churches: but though its membership grew steadily, it would seem, until the twentieth century, and though it fostered many imitators, it did not succeed in the self-imposed task of creating an artificial religion of humanity.
Mid the flux of migration and revolution, the Masons established an organization of comradeship and mutual aid. To keep their fellowship from being too nebulous, the secret orders attached themselves to the modern practice of life insurance: on the lowest terms they promised their members a decent burial and a friendly helping hand for the survivors of the departed. The spread of these orders went along with the spread of life insurance, foreign travel, and international salesmanship: the Rotary International was perhaps the last large effort to sustain the original impulse of Masonry, with more public forms and more vaguely innocuous objectives. For a time, Masonry became a rival to that other universal institution, the Roman Catholic Church: in France and even in Italy a formidable rival. But secular forms of fellowship, through trade unions, Chambers of Commerce, and many other forms of association sapped the importance of the mystical fellowship of the Masons themselves: so that it was their secrecy, even more than their actual power, which caused the totalitarian governments in our day to single them out promptly for a killing blow.
But unfortunately Masonry had the weaknesses of a detached rationalist ideology: it was not quite a religion, not quite an appropriate form of international union, not quite a full-fledged life insurance association, not quite an effective political instrument—and therefore it never developed into the social agency some of its founders in the eighteenth century fervently hoped it would become. It was, from the beginning, a sort of post-ecclesiastical museum piece: a hybrid of romanticism and revolution which, like the mule, remained sterile....
The common belief in salvation by political reform was not due alone to the pretensions of the absolute state: it was partly the result of the fact that the reformers, with disarming simplicity, traced all the evils of life to the corruptions of political government. This was a natural reaction to tyranny. Those who live under bad laws and irrational procedures are inclined to exaggerate the beneficent powers of good laws: they are like a lame man with an excruciating toothache, who should fancy that if his tooth were treated he would also find himself endowed with new powers of locomotion. After a century or more of unscrupulous industrial exploitation the Working Men's Association, in their petition to the newly crowned Queen Victoria, attributed the evils of their lot to "the corruptions of government, and the defective education of mankind."
Even the Marquis de Mirabeau, politically a fairly sober man, simplified both the source of abuse and the ease of correction when he said: "The more I ponder over the abuses of society and the remedies suggested, the more convinced I am that it needs only that twelve principles expressed in twelve lines should be firmly fixed in the head of the Prince or his minister and carried out in detail to set everything right and to renew the age of Solomon." Some of that simplicity, some of that headlong hope, lay at the bottom of the whole revolutionary movement, both in politics and in industry: it has become part of the weak utopian heritage of our own time.

The Condition of Man, Lewis Mumford. New York : Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944. hc. 457 pp. 15.5 cm. x 23.5 cm.. pp. 312-13.


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