Story of an Emperor:
Jorge Angel Livraga Rizzi
Founder of New Acropolis

by Miguel Martínez
(“Religioni e sette nel mondo”, Sept. 1997)

English version

Russian version. This translation first appeared on
the only critical site dedicated to the
collection of accounts and documents regarding New Acropolis.

At the end of this page, you will find a note explaining the relationship between this article and the articles on CESNUR and Introvigne which appear in this same website.



Thus Jorge Angel Livraga ("JAL"), founder of the International Organization New Acropolis (IONA), signed a letter to me in 1989, the "Thirty-Second Triumphal Year". New Acropolis (NA), established in 1957, currently has about 10.000 members in around sixty countries, including Italy. I was a member of this organization for fourteen years, and left it in 1990.(1)

new acropolis israel

Members of New Acropolis - Israel play the shofar

NA presents itself to the public in different ways in each country (it may be anything from a "school of philosophy" to a "natural conservationist movement") and has been able to develop very successful public relations (for example, an enthusiastic review of one of its conferences in L'Osservatore romano, 14/15.11.83.). Speakers at activities organized by NA in Italy have included journalist Paolo Guzzanti, historians Sabatino Moscati and Franco Cardini, philosopher Antimo Negri, ethnologist Vittorio Lanternari, WWF president WWF Fulco Pratesi. In 1996, NA managed to organize a conference at the University of L'Aquila (in central Italy) with journalist Massimo Fini, Jesuit father Giuseppe De Gennari and the professor and national leader of the Party for Communist Refoundation, Alfonso Gianni; while a round table organized by in Rome was attended by Vera Slepoj, chairperson of the Italian Federation of Psychologists, and Manuela Falcetti, journalist of the public TV network RAI.  

jorge angel livraga rizzi

Jorge Angel Livraga Rizzi

During recent years, NA has launched many initiatives for "fighting cults" and "against racism" (including "pilgrimages" to Auschwitz). A sticker of NA shows a hammer smashing the word "Racismo" onto an anvil, with the words "An initiative for the European year against racism".

These activities stand out in surprising contrast with a series of article which came out in the press all around Europe.

At the international conference of CESNUR in Amsterdam (August 7-9, 1997) a certain Maria Dolores Fernández-Fígares was scheduled to speak about "New Acropolis." The conference was supposed to host talks about, not by cults; but a group of Dutch intellectuals discovered that the speaker was one of the top leaders of New Acropolis herself, so her name had to be taken off at the last minute (this did not prevent a member from an aggressive psychotherapy cult Verein fur Förderung Menschenkenntnis, VPM, from holding a speech claiming that there was an "international conspiracy" afoot against the group, inspired by the deceased regime of East Germany, no less).

The Founder  

To the general public, the founder of NA is presented as an "Argentine student who got together with other students interested in philosophy" to set up a circle of people who wanted philosophy to have an application to daily life.(3) The official texts list a series of Livraga's books, the enormous amount of lectures he made and a series of academic-sounding titles (4).

Those more closely involved in the group are told of a "Plan of the Masters" and of a period when Livraga was supposedly "locked into a crypt", becoming an "Accepted Disciple". AThe "Axe Carriers", members who have sworn to devote themselves entirely to the organization, (5) are given a bullettin called Almena; in the first issues, Livraga wrote a series telling his own story. 

The only really important qualification any cult leader enjoys of course is the one he has inside the cult itself: the "revelations" and charisma his followers believe he has. However, this qualification is of no interest to those who do not belong to the cult. An organization at this point could decide to mention the founder in public as little as possible. However, founders see their organization as an extension of their own ego, so they have to appear as if they were the very heart of the movement. The leaders of the organization therefore are forced to present the founder in all their publications. In some cults, the charisma of the leader is exteriorised: in the Raelian Movement, for example, the supposed meeting of the founder with extraterrestrials, and his messianic identity, are not a secret.  

NA, on the other hand, works hard to present a respectable public image. So the founder/leader receives a very vague biography, consisting mainly of rather dubious titles - this is what the cult thinks the "world" appreciates. In a movement which has long outgrown family size, the leader-founder becomes a remote icon. His followers, as they rise in the hierarchy of the organization, discover the "mysteries" of the life of the founder step by step. These mysteries are taught both by word of mouth and in writing, and more as mythology than history.

However, these myths can help us to understand some important mechanisms in cult-building.

Jorge Angel Livraga Rizzi was born in Argentina in 1930. It was till an optimistic country, where an immigrant who managed to escape impoverishment could be quite successful. His ancestors came from Italy (in the '80s, this allowed him to get Italian citizenship): his father's family from Livorno Ferraris near Vercelli, his mother's from the hinterland of Liguria.

It is interesting to see how the legend spread among French anarchist circles that Livraga was a "Nazi war criminal who escaped to Argentina" at the end of the War. Already Aristotle had said that our idea of the unknown is always based on what we know, and cults are generally invisible to us unless we can connect them to something else we know, even if the connection is false. The construction of our image of a group is based on access to a socially acceptable marker (like "ecology" or "anti-racism"), its destruction on association with some negative marker (like "Nazism"). Unfortunately, the actual reality of the cult stays invisible.

Livraga used to tell of an ancestor of his father, who lived in the 19th Century, popularly called "El Maghin", who used to show off his paranormal powers, including that of flying for short distances, for money. The parish priest challenged "El Maghin" to fly down from the roof of the Cathedral in Milan. While the priest prayed for him to fall, "El Maghin" did manage to fly, but finally fell dead on the ground in front of the Duomo.

Livraga's father was an atheist, an anarchist and an anti-clerical (the latter appears quite clearly in the story of "El Maghin"). Working as an engineer, he became quite rich and lived in a large house in the very centre of Buenos Aires. A very macho figure, who had a cult for physical prowess, he wanted his son to grow up as a "real man". Young Livraga appears to have had a good deal of affection for his mother, who however appears to have lived her whole life very much in the background(6).

Although much in his autobiography in Almena is quite clearly invention, two factors emerge: the harshness of the father and the loneliness of the son. The covers of Almena are all devoted to the ominous figure of an armoured warrior, with a shield and an axe in his hands and wings, reminiscent of US comics (actually, these figures are part of a long Theosophical tradition).

The drawing represents a vision which Livraga had as a child, when he fell seriously ill. (7). A sort of angel is supposed to have appeared to him in his feverish state, allowing him to recover.

Livraga may have intended to copy the story of Damodar K. Mavalankar, an early Theosophist who used to tell how he fell ill of consumption at the age of six; during an attack, a splendid figure, dressed in white appeared to him, letting him drink out of a cup and promising to heal him(8).

Jorge Angel's father taught the young boy - still only a child - how to use firearms, drive fast and hunt. Jorge Angel claims that he felt only disdain for other human beings: he preferred to stay with animals. His love for animals - doubtless genuine - became an important feature in his life. He gave up hunting (but not shooting). He claimed that his father found a way to get him into the cages at the zoo with wild animals in order to "harden his character", and that he was quite happy with them. One can feel a certain resemblance with the autobiography (certainly largely invented) of Ron Hubbard, who loved to show himself off as a "real man".

Livraga quite proudly wrote of how, when his father sent him to the public school (although very rich, his father did not want to send his son to a Catholic school), he would get off the car, driven by the family driver, and throw candy on the ground in order to enjoy the scene of his very poor schoolmates fighting to get hold of them.

Some time in his early childhood, he claims to have hypnotized his grandmother's hens. It is interesting to note that Madame Blavatski claims to have hypnotized pigeons as a little girl. One wonders: a similar character, or a late attempt to cast his own biography in the mould of that of his "Teacher"?

Livraga and National Socialism

During the war - which took place when Livraga was between nine and fifteen years old - his sympathies first went to the Allies, also due to the antifascist tendencies of his father, then towards the losing side. However, there are not many references to national socialism even in the most inside literature of the group.

This fact is important, because the main accusation against NA is that it is an extremist organization, especially with reference to its three sections collectively called the "Living Forces" (Fuerzas Vivas).

NA's reactions to these accusations were ambiguous. In Italy, such accusations were repeatedly denied(11), whereas in France the organization claimed that these were "internal matters." Speaking before the Belgian parliamentary committee on cults (December 6th, 1996), Fernando Fígares, the national leader of NA, gave what one can hardly call very direct replies to the questions posed by the committee(12). The most common reply simply consists in claiming that the two main leaders of the organization (Delia Steinberg Guzmán and the French director, Fernando Schwarz) are "Jews" and that the movement has offices in Israel(13).  

NA certainly lacks two basic features of National Socialism: German nationalism and anti-Judaism. Imaginings about a Brown International - a mirror of the older Jewish-Masonic International - are not a useful tool for analysis, since the premise is the existence of a single top leadership (14) above hundreds of organizings which are actually in constant conflict among each other and led by people who would never accept orders from others(15). Of course, temporary alliances are quite possible among extremist groups, whether cults or political organizations (one can think for example of the alliance between New Acropolis; definitely "far Right-wing" French neo-Druids; Scientology; the Bahà'ì; the Mormons; certain evangelical groups; "Reverend" Moon's church/company, and some French "libertarians" against the study of the French parliament on cults).

The inside courses of New Acropolis are largely based on an imaginary "history of the human races" and the (internal) objective of the organization is to create the "Sixth sub-race of the Aryan race". However, these bizarre notions - which can be read in much of the internal material of the organization - do not have their roots in National Socialism; rather, they are a perfectly orthodox derivation of the 19th Century teachings of Madame Blavatsky(16).

In any case, the fact that the "race of the future" is being prepared, ready for the incarnation of the "highest examples of mankind", shows that the organization does not merely intend to defend today's "races":

"I want my National Commanders to realize that they are not leading the 'chosen race', because no chosen races exist. They are only leading a few seeds of the Sixth Sub-race, together with a large amount of dung… but dung is fertilizing, and the seeds need it."(17)

Livraga and the Theosophical Society

Livraga's father died when his son was fifteen. In their patriarchal family, Livraga took on the leadership of the women of the house. His father's death was a serious blow. In trouble at school, he began to look for help with his English courses. He attended private lessons with an aged German, a certain Schmidt (there is no reason to believe he had anything to do with National Socialism. In any case, we are just before and not after the fall of National Socialism), who began to tell him about his supposed trips to Tibet and about the principles of theosophy.

In public, New Acropolis does not claim to derive from the Theosophical Society. In its articles of associations, here is how New Acropolis defines its "Three Principles":

a) establish a nucleus of universal brotherhood, beyond every distinction of religion, sex, social condition or colour;
b) promote comparative study of religions, sciences, arts and philosophies;
c) study the unexplored laws of nature and the latent capacities of man.

Rather meaningless words, useful however for showing the public a reassuring face. Here however are the "Three Principles" of the Theosophical Society:

1) The formation of a universal human brotherhood without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
2) The encouragement of studies in comparative religion, philosophy and science.
3) The investigation of unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man(18).
To appreciate the enormous impact of the Theosophical Society (ST) on contemporary culture, we need only think of the many widespread beliefs which we owe to it: Atlantis, astrology, reincarnation, the existence of "races" on other planets, the "psychic" value of a vegetarian diet, chakras, the mysteries of Tibet and of the Great Pyramid, to mention only a few(19). The New Age is largely original Theosophism in a new edition.

Livraga decided to visit the large offices of the Argentine Theosophical Society, set up in 1920. He felt an immediate dislike for the people there: "badly dressed old men" (elegance was always an obsession for him), ignorant and superstitious. He plunged however into an active engagement, founding the "Argentine Theosophical Youth", a militant movement within the Society. At the same time, he became involved in several political youth movements of the anti-Perón right (he always was hostile to Peronism) and the Argentine occultist milieux (he also bought some mail-order initiations from the AMORC), especially the "Escuela Científica Basilio", which he was briefly a member of, before tiring of its alleged paranormal phenomena.

Livraga studied letters and philosophy, then entered the history and history of art faculty of Buenos Aires university; however, his dream was to become a physician, making use of "occult science." A theosophist suggested he write to the President of the Society, Jinarajadasa. He did so, and was greatly surprised to receive an answer and definite advice on what to do.

Using Jinarajadasa's written instructions, Livraga (who had inherited a certain manual skill from his father) rebuilt the home cellar. He painted phosphorescent stars on the ceiling, Egyptian divinities on the walls and had his mother sew him a white dress. For some time, he "sealed" himself in this crypt. The acropolitans who were not allowed to read Almena were told that he closed himself into the crypt for years, but actually he himself writes that he went in and out, even taking exams at the University.

In the cellar, he claims to have gone through out-of-body experiences and to have met "the Masters K.H., S., M." (the entities that Madame Blavatski had channelled). When he came out, he started living a normal life again, lighting a cigarette (he would always smoke, though moderately).

One day, the new president of the Theosophical Society, Nantiloka Sri Ram ("the only Initiate I ever met") came for a short trip to Argentina and revealed to Livraga that he had deceived him, letting him think he could become a doctor, studying "in the Orient." Without knowing it, Livraga was the "last disciple of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society", with an enormous task ahead of him. As Plato said, history is a tale of progressive political degeneration: government by the wise was replaced by government by the warrior caste, then by the merchants and finally by the masses. To stop this process, which had by now reached its penultimate stage, the "Masters" who secretly govern the world first created the Theosophical Society, but it had failed their mission; the last hope was to be a movement decided by Sri Ram, but founded by Livraga. A movement which would be part of history, rather than merely esoteric. The objective: stop the ascent of the brute masses to power, and "reopen the gates of the Mysteries", so the New Man could incarnate on earth.

Sri Ram had tested three disciples, who did not know each other: Livraga and two others, one - oddly enough - in Perugia, Italy. The others had failed, and this was why he was chosen. I cannot of course say whether this story is true or not. I do have a postcard which Livraga once sent to the leaders of the organization, where one can see the youthful Livraga together with Sri Ram on one part of the card, on the other acropolitans of today shouting furiously, in between the one word IMPERIO! (Empire!)

The birth of a movement

NA presents itself as an "original" organization for reasons of public relations. Actually, Livraga never claimed that he wanted to create a new movement, but simply intended to revive the theosophical project of his "Maestra", Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. What was original was the militant method used, for the first time, to spread theosophy(20).

Livraga started to seek disciples, using the typical systems of political movements: he invested everything he had to print a magazine and to plaster Buenos Aires with the posters of Nueva Acrópolis. He even went so far as to sell his most precious belonging, his car. He became a taxi driver, sometimes working in 24-hour shifts, reading Epictetus and caressing his pistol as he waited for clients.

We were told these stories, so that we "would sacrifice ourselves, just as he did", and also to justify his standard of living: our leaders told us that "Livraga went through enough hardship when he was young, now it is your turn".

During a meeting for leaders held in Italy, during the '80s, Livraga spoke in Spanish, while the Italian National Commanders translated. At a certain point, he mentioned how he "used to work for the Argentine secret service". Noticing the embarrassment of his translators, he said "Tell them what I said!" With us, he claimed to have had contacts with the Argentine military, including an officer who was a high-ranking Freemason.

Livraga took on a new name, the acronym JAL, with which he was always called inside the organization. Three-letter acronyms are typical of the Theosophical Society, starting from the founder, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky ("HPB"; but one can also remember "LRH", Lafayette Ron Hubbard, in a non-theosophical context).

The picture of his life which Livraga wanted his followers to know kept the presence of his wife, Ada D. Albrecht, completely out of view. The only mention in Almena is negative: Livraga boasted of his own strict chastity, indeed of his complete lack of interest in "animal functions". Ada D. Albrecht (who had the easy acronym ADA), a beautiful woman of German origin, was the true soul of New Acropolis. The couple shared tasks: Livraga became "World Commander - Organization Area", Albrecht the "World Commander - Teaching Area".

While Livraga drew up grandiose plans which had little to do with reality, Albrecht created a seven-year system of courses and a large section of practices, called "psychology", which probably had their origin in the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. Albrecht was a person with a certain degree of culture, which she also imposed on her disciples (who were forced to read Kant and Freud, among others).

New Acropolis started to expand into other Latin American countries in the '70s.

Around 1973, in Montevideo, Livraga wrote the Leader's Manual, a text providing political instructions (for example, when a branch of the organization met with internal problems, he suggested creating an artificial enemy, "for example dialectical materialism"; meaning Communism, and invited the Security Corps to provide strike-breaking squads). More or less at the same time, another Acropolitan leader suggested setting up a "pilot experiment": taking over one country, and creating the "Platonic dictatorship" described by Livraga in his Ideal Político("Political Ideal"). Such a happy example would soon be imitated elsewhere. Livraga rejected the idea, and decided to spread New Acropolis throughout the world in a more cautious manner. In any case, no attempt was ever made to put Livraga's political "ideals" into practice.

During those early years, Livraga became friends with an old European nobleman, who owned a noteworthy collection of archaeological items. Livraga claimed he could drink any amount of alcohol without getting drunk (he once asked us whether we knew any rich person willing to place bets on who would be the last to get drunk). He would get the old man to drink, and then made him give him items from his collection. This is how Livraga's hobby of collecting archaeological pieces started.

jorge angel livraga jal

Livraga and Albrecht soon came into conflict. First of all, Livraga's "Master", we were told, was "Egyptian", Ada Albrecht's "Indian"(22).

While Livraga plotted with the military, Ada appointed a former prostitute as "National Commander" of Argentina, as a challenge to prejudices. Nobody could accuse the lady of anything except her past, however Livraga found Ada's action intolerable. However, he had to keep his peace: the great majority of Acropolitans were enthusiastic about Ada's strong personality, and only a few followed him. On the surface, all appeared to be normal: the bulletins published the writing and the personal symbols of both (the head of a cat, the Egyptian goddess Bastet, for Ada, that of the night jackal Anubis for Livraga).

Livraga however knew that her personal charisma was effective only where she was physically present, whereas in a wider environment, his organizing skills would prevail. This was why he sent his first disciples to Spain, following them shortly after.

The organization was quite successful in Spain, the Acropolitans managed to establish a good network of contacts, and were granted 99 years' use of a large castle at Riba de Santiuste in the desert area near Sigüenza.

The young Acropolitans poured out a lot of sweat to put the castle in proper condition. In a meeting near L'Aquila in Italy, around 1983, Livraga told us how the new members were brought to work at the castle until they fell on the ground out of tiredness; then they saw the young men of the "Living Forces" of the group who went on working, and would ask, "where do you find the strength to go on?" The young men would point at the symbols on their armbands.

One of the guests at Santiuste was a lion, a present to Livraga. The Spanish law, which set down that lions should be without claws or teeth, was disposed of by inviting the inspector to check personally whether the lion was compliant or not. Years later, the lion was shipped to Africa to a centre specializing in putting animals back into their natural habitats.

During this period, Livraga made his first trip to Egypt. A trip which took place in a highly idealized atmosphere, but which was actually identical to the trips taken every year by millions of tourists: a cruise along the Nile, a 5-star hotel with a view on the Great Pyramid and a tour on a sailboat. Livraga loved to tell coy autobiographical stories - "when you are ready, you will know more", was a favourite expression of his. This manner of telling stories, typical of all occultists, is highly effective. An incredible tale is not imposed, but seems to be granted reluctantly, letting the listener believe that even stranger things lie in store. He would speak of a "Column of Light" near Luxor, which he visited regulary, and of a previous incarnation as an Egyptian priest, persecuted by the monotheist Ikhnaton (23).

During that incarnation, Livraga is supposed to have committed some misdeed which he is still being punished for by having to work hard to implement the plan of the gods. Another supposed incarnation was in Barcelona, in the physical body of a certain De Las Casas, (an ancestor of the friar who denounced the Spanish atrocities in Mexico), who lived in the 13th Century. Livraga used this pseudonym in the magazine of the Spanish branch of the organization whenever he had to express a violently political opinion (often against the Basque independence movement).

In the meantime, Ada Albrecht had established a meditation centre in Buenos Aires and had called upon all the branches of the organization loyal to her (most of those in Latin America, plus Canada and Australia) to contribute financially. The press in Venezuela revealed that minors had run away to Argentina to work unpaid in the centre. At the same time, Ada had chosen to be a radical pacifist. She had set up a chain of vegetarian restaurants and had forced the greatest possible dishonour on the "Security Corps" of Buenos Aires: they had to throw their machine guns one by one into the town sewers. At the same time, she gave a definitely Indian appearance to the movement, virtually abolishing all political and military aspects.

The birth of an empire

In 1981, NA's "International Meeting" was held in Rome; the author, then Chief of the local branch of Syracuse, in Sicily, attended.

After his entrance - dressed in a purple imperial robe - Livraga seated himself under a great canopy at one end of the long table of leaders, and announced that Ada Albrecht had been expelled. At the same time, he forbade "double command": many countries or local branches had been founded by couples, who shared tasks. Under the new rule, one person became subject to the other (in most cases, but there were many exceptions, it was the wife who became the subordinate of her husband). This often led to couples breaking up. What mattered was that nobody should have any interest or tie other than with the organization.

The Rome meeting was a turning point, described in a "decree", binding on every branch in the world. The text gives an idea of Livraga's style:

WE DECREE: 1.- That the Supreme Commander and Founder JAL takes on every power inside "OINA" which had hitherto been held by the [joint] World Command.
2. - That the said World Command no longer exists, since the former World Commander A.D.A. has been deprived of every power inside the IONA due to her real incapacity to exercise such powers [...]. All her former Titles and Honours will be given back to her at the time of her death, unless she express a contrary intention.
3.- That the National Structures and Acropolitan people who do not agree with the above must leave IONA. The National Commanders and those not attending [this meeting] will have the following time to reflect before taking a decision: FORTY-NINE DAYS.
4.- Within the time laid down under item 3, oaths and engagements of loyalty to the IONA and to the Supreme Commander JAL must be renewed. Those who do not do so will be considered not to belong to the IONA, and will be replaced within the shortest possible time by Faithful Idealists [...]

WE DECREE: The declaration of a State of Emergency within the IONA [...]

1) All the names, salutes and symbols used publicly and within the organization will be kept.

2) IInside the organization, the term "Empire" may replace the term "Movement" if suitable(25).

The term "Empire" is certainly an intentional reference to the Roman Empire. But above all, there were occultist associations(26).

For us, "Empire" was the opposite of "tyranny". It was a pyramid and hierarchical structure ("Hierarchy comes from Greek and means 'Holy' and hence 'natural' order) which however had the purpose of assisting the growth of each individual part. Like the human body, governed by a head, the future Acropolitan state would also have had a single guide, but this guide would have permitted and aided the potential for development inside each race and individual. The term was used quite freely: even with new members, one would speak of a "Philosophical Empire", so-called because "we speak many tongues and have many cultures, but only one Ideal".

The majority of countries followed Livraga and not Ada Albrecht(27).

Drugs and books

Livraga's time was shared out travelling to various countries, according to the number of members they had. He spent about half the year in Spain, in his flat in the Madrid offices, at the castle at Santiuste or writing on the Balearic islands, a guest of Toni Alzina, an acupuncturist specialized in lasertherapy, who had been the president for some time of the European Lasertherapy Federation. Livraga taught him to diagnose illnesses "on the basis of people's auras". In the late '70s, Alzina cured Elena Ceausescu, the wife of the Rumanian dictator. We were told that Elena came to Spain with two aeroplanes, one for herself and her attendants, the other for her personal belongings. Alzina was then charged with founding the Seraphis Centre, the nucleus of a "future esoteric medicine"(28).

My respect for the World Commander was considerably weakened when a person very close to Livraga told me that the Commander constantly took medicine, including a product - chemical or natural, it is hard to say - which the Acropolitans called "the bomb" because of its stimulating effects (drug use, or abuse, was also a feature of the founder of Aum Shinrikyo, of Ron Hubbard and of Rajneesh). A Spanish leader who left the organization told the press about the "small blue pills which Livraga constantly took", and also claimed that Livraga used to shout at anybody who dared disagree with him. Actually, I never saw Livraga lose his self-control, perhaps because I never saw anybody disagree with him. Where he definitely did shout was in his angry articles(29). QThese articles were so violent that we had to censor them when presenting them to the new followers.

Towards the end, Livraga wrote a book a year, three bulletins a month, a torrent of "decrees" and notices. Some of his books were novels for public consumption - their poor style is reminiscent of the writings of an even more prolific author, Ron Hubbard.

Particularly embarrassing for what styled itself as an "environmentalist and cultural association" was Livraga's book, The Spirits of Nature, dedicated to a gnome who was a personal friend of the author. The book provides advice on how to visualize elves and fairies (the material is basically taken from old Theosophical texts, especially the very creative writings of "Archbishop" Leadbeater, famous for his trip to Mars, where he discovered that the inhabitants wear metal shoes). As often happens, the needs of the local leaders - careful not to damage the association of the image - clashed with the founder's megalomania; the leaders performed some interesting callisthenics to present the book as a "text on ecology".

Every month, Livraga would write long letters to each "National Commander", even of countries which had only one member, paying great attention to detail and order, but also revealing a trait common to other cult leaders: a verbosity resembling automatic writing. He demanded an answer to every letter:

Each National Commander from whom the Supreme Commander has not received a letter, a telegram or a phone call for over 30 days will be fined $50 USA for each omission(30).
He travelled constantly. In Italy, in 1987, hosting him for ten days cost about ten million Lire, including the trip, a five-star hotel and the purchase of archaeological items with which he would stuff his enormous metal suitcase. Nothing extraordinary, perhaps, but raising the money was painful addition to all the other expenses for his followers - students, unemployed or underemployed.

The low social level of his Italian followers was a constant problem for Livraga: his disdain for the poor (a line of thought which has some illustrious precedents in Theosophy) blended with the very practical need of finding people able to support the organization financially. He loved to repeat that "those who are poor in this incarnation will also be poor in the next", and constantly told us stories about rich disciples in other countries.

The addenda to the Decrees of 1985 provided instructions to leaders who were supposed to host Livraga; the text provides an interesting picture of his character. His hosts had to take him to the hotel, open his luggage, hang up his clothes and then take him to the office of NA, where he would "ritually salute the Eagle".

"He does not like to have flowers or plants in the place he sleeps, nor does he like people to smoke there". The hotel must be between 3 and 5 stars, "with lights running properly".

"The World Commander does not like collective or multitudinous meals [...] he prefers his disciples to share his ideology, not his table." "Wherever he is, he always eats the same food [...]. His cuisine, basically, is the 'Italian' cuisine. He does not drink aperitifs or enjoy complicated meals, or meals with many courses. Generally, he eats a first and a second course. He drinks wine and beer [...] he does not like oriental food, and he finds Indian, Arab, Chinese, Japanese food, and so on, impossible to eat." Since he travels all the time, one must not give him statues or pieces of furniture: personal items are acceptable as gifts. "If he wants anything else, he will make the fact known on his own". "After lunch, he usually rests a few hours. He may go to bed late, but since he spends almost the whole night reading, one must in such cases avoid organizing activities which will involve him in the early morning."
The instructions end with these words:
Do not try to understand what was said above mentally; just obey, with the greatest good will and efficacy. The World Commander cannot be explained. Only my successor will be able to understand what I understand and live through.
Livraga had two hobbies: arms of every kind (he even boasted of having had his friends in the Spanish army lend him a tank, which he drove for a few hours at top speed on the highway) and collecting archaeological items(31). A whole floor of the Madrid offices was turned into the "Museo Rodrigo Caro" with thousands of items "contributed" by the Acropolitans of the whole world. He would spend hours polishing them one by one. For him, they were charged with the past, with ancient rituals, especially those coming from places of worship which had not yet been contaminated by Christianity. Some (especially the small heads of the Egyptian-Hellenistic god, Seraphis) were also employed in the ceremonies.

After Livraga's death, the Spanish police broke into the NA offices in Madrid, on a complaint by the Italian tax police (Guardia di Finanza). While La Repubblica in Italy titled "A gang of archaeological thieves broken up - THE MULTINATIONAL OF STOLEN TREASURES", El País in Madrid (May 5th, 1993) wrote that

Among the items discovered - which date from the 11th to the 4th Century BC and which come from illicit excavations in different countries around the world - are Etruscan, Roman, Greek, Pre-Columbian, Chinese and Indian items. According to the police, two paintings hang in the hall: a Tiepolo representing an old man with a white beard, and another of the Venetian school of the 15th Century, entitled la Maddalena.

The note of the police - which emphasized the incalculable value of many of the items - specificied that the raid took place on the 30th of last month, on an Italian request authorized by a judge in Madrid. A note of the Italian Guardia di Finanza, published yesterday in Rome, says that the floor was the office of a cultural association "run by a teacher of Argentine origin", according to the Efe agency. The note said that this operation broke up an international gang dealing in archaeological items, under the cover of a cultural association.

The Spanish police says that - along with 42 items identified by the Italian police - other Spanish archaeological items were discovered, of unknown origin.

NA however claimed that the collection was quite legal.

The personality of a founder

Livraga was tall, thick-set, with crew-cut fair hair. His moustache was cut in the same manner as Hitler's, a fact hidden by the lack of any other resemblance between the two. His eyes were emerald green. However, it was hard to see them, since he wore glasses, but especially because he never looked people in the eye. We were told that this was courtesy on his part, since he wanted to avoid hypnotizing us or watching our aura; in any case, the impression was ambiguous and evasive.

Many stories were told about his "powers", and the very fact that he did not mention them increased their importance. I personally saw only two events, which I make no claim to try to explain. Once he raised his hand at one end of the hall of the Rome office, after a ceremony, and a candle fell down on the floor at the other end. Another time, we served him coffee in the Milan branch, and the cup - resting on a piece of furniture - started to tremble visibly as he brought his hand close to it. Small things, and in any case we were also taught that such powers meant nothing.

Livraga, we were told, would constantly lapse into a state where he saw the history of the places he was going through, or the history of objects he had contact with. This state was also shared by other Acropolitans, especially those who had been trained in Argentina or in Spain. Maria Paz de Benito, the Austrian director, told me that all her life she had dreamt of a place which turned out to be the island in the Tiber river in Rome, but at the time of the Romans.

It is interesting to see how Madame Blavatsky used to describe her own condition:

[the following is a re-translation from Italian]

When someone called me by name, I would open my eyes hearing him, and would be myself [...]. But when they left me alone, I would fall back into my usual, half-dreaming sate, and go back to being somebody else [...]. I only had a slight fever, which would devour me slowly, but inexorably, day after day; I lost my appetite completely [...] I even stopped eating for a week, except for a little water; and within four months' time, I had turned into a living skeleton. When somebody would interrupt me, pronouncing my present name, while I was the other me and was speaking in my dream life, if, for example, I was in the midst of a sentence where I was speaking or listening to those who were with my second me, I would open my eyes to answer to my name, answering reasonably and understanding everything, since I never raved [...]. I was in another, far-away country, I had a completely different individuality from my own, without any relation to my real life(32).

Could it be that certain practices used inside the Theosophical Society cause similar conditions, at least in sensitive individuals? Personally, like most Acropolitans, I never went through such dissociation. It is however at least curious to note that both the founder of the Theosophical Society and the founder of NA, as well as the founder of NA in Italy and several Italian members of the group, lived through such experiences.

Livraga's whole life was official: his contact with us, during his trips, consisted mainly of the speeches and the answers he gave to our questions during the meetings. With us, he spoke a mixture of Spanish and his childhood Italian. Even his Spanish was elementary, his words each carefully chosen so that everybody could understand.

He spoke little of ideas; most of the time, he told anecdotes about himself, with considerable sense of humour and an enjoyable mimicry. Few people today still have the skill of telling a story, and for many of us this was his main virtue. Every story he told us hid a message. He would say, "You have to make a little theatre, boys, you must not take this life too seriously. Think of the early Christians, they did not have any ideas, they did not even really have a religion, so they started being martyrs, and that is how they conquered the world. We too need martyrs! I want Acropolitan martyrs!"

He had a smooth and persuasive voice.

Once, the issue arose of an Acropolitan who lived together with a woman just a few years older than himself, in a small town in the province. The problem was not the affair as such, but the damage it inflicted on the "image of the movement." Livraga paused for a moment, then with a soft voice and considerable poetry, told us of Plato's notion of souls, moving us all and convincing us that love was beyond any public judgement. Then he suddenly said, "but this is not how JAL thinks, I make people work and make Acropolis until they are too tired to think of anything else".

During the first years, in Argentina, in a course called Dialectics, Livraga used to amuse himself by engaging in discussions with his leaders, where he would bring them to the point where they were unable to prove the existence of God, of the soul or even of the room they were debating in.

Many anecdotes gave the idea that he was a person of immense culture. "How does the myth of JAL arise?", he would say of himself. "It is quite simple: I speak about everything, about engines or about Marcus Aurelius or about politics or astronomy, it depends who I have in front of me". Actually this culture was something of a smokescreen. One evening, at dinner, he told us about his trip to still-Communist Yugoslavia (this was around 1983) and everything seemed quite plausible and exciting, until he told us how he had seen red flags and portraits of "their Chief of State, Andropov" everywhere. Andropov at the time was chief of state of the USSR, a country with which Yugoslavia had quarrelled thirty years before.

He would sleep little, and irregularly. Our leaders would tell us how his "Masters" had ordered him to get up and work every time he woke up.

Livraga used to live completely isolated from the real world. He would sleep in hotels, seeing only the Acropolitan leaders of the higher levels (themselves rather isolated from the world), and would be received by the "Living Forces." His greatest contact with the world was when he would take walks on his own to visit monuments (he would spend hours at the Pantheon) and museums. Physical weakness and strength blended together in him. I remember his excitement when he was given a pair of boxing gloves; yet I also remember how he would have to be driven by car even for very short distances. With us, he often complained of his many ailments, especially - since 1988 - the gout which affected a foot. Our "National Commanders" used to tell us that he was something of a hypochondriac, and was able to move around more than he thought (hypochondria was also a feature of Hubbard).

Day after day, his diet would consist of polenta and Bologna ham. He enjoyed drinking wine and liquor (although the statement I read in Spain that he "drank brandy all the time" was probably an exaggeration by the journalist, rather than by the witness who told the story).

1987 was the "Thirtieth Triumphal Year of New Acropolis", and Livraga had it called the "Jubilee Year", proclaiming the "Decree of Grace Beta". Since "this is the JUBILEE YEAR and Our will", Livraga ordered that every Acropolitan who had been subjected to less than seven years' exclusion or suspension, as long as they had "properly undergone at least one third of their sentence", could ask to be allowed back in.

The beginning of the "jubilee" was celebrated in the house he had been born in, in Buenos Aires, transformed into the local office of NA. Livraga celebrated the ceremony wearing a mask representing the head of the Egyptian god Anubis, made by the Acropolitans of Venice.

From anti-Communism to anti-Catholicism

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 also meant the end of anti-Communism. A new enemy, different from the old "dialectical materialism", was needed: the religion of El Flaco ("the skinny fellow"), as Livraga (when speaking among us) used to call Jesus. At the same time, several articles had come out labelling NA as a neo-Nazi cult.

Livraga told us how he had paid a private detective agency to discover who was behind this "libel", and had found out that it was the Catholic Church, especially Opus Dei. Something quite unlikely, since most of the articles were written by journalists who were basically antifascist, not Christian.

Livraga however convinced himself that the "Polish pope" (guilty, among other things, of the population explosion due to his stand on birth control) was terrified of the advance of the "Giant of History", NA. This was a return to an old idée fixe of the Theosophical Society.

This fixation took shape as the "Operation Giordano Bruno". A title associating a figure dear to the occultist milieu with a typical term of Livraga's military jargon.

All over the world, the Acropolitans had to mobilize to defend "the freedom of scientific research" against "every kind of religious fanaticism." Each office had to purchase a bronze statue of Giordano Bruno (provided, with a catalogue and photos, by a Spanish laboratory belonging to the organization). For the fourth anniversary of the death of Giordano Bruno

We want a statue in every city where NA is present, or at least a public plaque in smaller towns, to be put to remember the existence of this heroic predecessor of modern science and of the free possibility of publishing the results of his research, something every man and every woman has a natural right to(33) .
The immediate objectives of this plan were revealed in the same issue of Almena:
Collect thousands of signatures to put up a statue to Giordano Bruno in the name of freedom of expression and scientific information; seek the support of local government, and university, political, religious, scientific and artistic groups, so they work together and actively share in collecting the signatures and then, or at the same time, the money needed to, and to obtain a public park: as a spiritual exercise, go from house to house - or as best suited - to collect the signatures, the support and the money needed; share actively in carrying out propaganda on TV, radio, press, "sandwich men" holding posters, promoting demonstrations in the streets, murals and every other way to make the people aware of the need to prevent a future of horror and persecution, on the basis of an exaltation of the martyr Giordano Bruno; in those few cities where there are already statues of this victim of fanatical ignorance, a campaign must be made just the same to place a plaque or a bronze wreath in his honour, and the Female Brigades can cover his statue with flowers and wreaths(34).
The activities were to peak on February 17th, 2000 with an international demonstration in Piazza Campo de' Fiori in Rome, where Bruno had been burnt at the stake, beneath his statue.

The last item however was the most important one:

This should help to show the world that New Acropolis is not a political or religious cult, and that it is ready to defend a noble cause, in this case the right of every scientist to publish the results of his research, without suffering imprisonment, torture or death for this reason [...]. Why do we pick this person, and not any other equally worthy one? The real answer is that we have to begin with somebody, and today it is not Stalin or Hitler who are threatening the world, but the Holy Office, or its equivalent in the various religions, which promote - whatever words of compromise they may use in public - the persecution of writers, terrorist outrages, genocidal bombings of civilians and interference in the fields of science and politics, with their 'taboos' which interfere with individual and collective, family and social freedom.
Here starts a new adventure!
Your Supreme Comander [M.M. Mando M´ximo]
." Apart from the dubious notion that scientific research is being threatened today, it is interesting to see how this "Operation" is both a means of self-defence based on aggressive self-victimization, and a return to old theosophical and Masonic notions(35) which make it hard to identify NA as an extreme right-wing movement tout court.

Death of an emperor

Livraga died of an ictus in Madrid on October 7th, 1991. We do not know whether his last will was complied with:

"[At the death of the Supreme Commander] there shall be 5 consecutive days of homage, which every Acropolitan may share in. The sarcophagus with the body shall be guarded constantly by shifts of 4 Axe-Bearers and representatives of the 3 Living Forces. The catafalque shall be covered by the Flag of Acropolis, with stripes of the colours of each national flag of the countries where the IONA is present. The Supreme Symbol of the Solar Eagle shall be at the head. Incense shall be kept burning, and appropriate classical music shall play sweetly. This shall be followed by two days of prayers and ceremonies for the Axe-Bearers only, directed by the Guardian of the Seals. At the end of the seventh day, the body in the sarcophagus shall, if possible, be cremated. The ashes shall be kept in a pyramid-shaped bronze urn, in order to place them one day in a future 'Pantheon'. In the meantime, they shall be kept in a hidden and safe place. Should this not be possible, the ashes shall be cast to the wind at dawn(36).

After the body of the deceased World Commander has been cremated - or buried, should cremation not be possible -, the new World Commander shall be proclaimed publicly and shall Swear as World Commander. Afterwards, every Commander attending shall swear to obey him, and a 'Roman Toast' will be held to celebrate the succession to the Empire(37).


The first reflection has to do with the question that everybody asks about founders of a cult: do they believe in it themselves? Or, as is often suggested, is it merely an original way to make money?

The "truth" which Livraga often liked to speak of, has different aspects. In the first place, there is a theosophical "truth," a series of doctrines for which he is not of course responsible, although he was responsible for adopting them as his own faith and hence as that of the movement he set up. This doctrine had definite teachings about reincarnation and "human races", and one typical consequence of accepting this doctrine is that the "innermost" Acropolitans believed they were the reincarnation of ancient Atlantideans.

But did Livraga also believe what he told about himself? Probably to a large extent, no. He himself was the first to tell us to "make theatre", and to insist that any means was acceptable to accelerate the growth of the movement, basing himself on Blavatsky's teaching, according to which people not "mature" enough to understand the truth should be lied to. Truth is not merely a question of presence, it is also a matter of absences: and here the enormous amount of elements not mentioned or hidden for reasons of opportunity inside the organization (starting from such simple facts as the failure of a lecture to attract many listeners, to the disappearance of the very co-founder of the group) shows that falsification is intentional (we leaders inside the movement were of course active accomplices to this).

However, in another way, Livraga probably "believed." Believed he had an extraordinary mission, which gave him the right to tread on other people; and he probably also had great difficulty distinguishing between fact and fantasy. Here his followers, ready to satisfy every desire of his, of course played their part.

I was able to see how important this folie à deux could be while following the progressive transformation of a leader of NA, an extraordinarily intelligent, sensitive yet determined woman, who had sacrificed her physical and even her mental health to the organization. She would fall regularly into a state where she would see the "gods" and the "masters" demanding greater sacrifices from her. One of the episodes which turned me away from the movement was when, during a ceremony, I saw this woman throw herself at the feet of Livraga, tears streaming down her face as she cried, "Father, father, I'll get a castle for you". While Livraga looked on the scene, unmoved by what he must have thought was merely a homage due to his person.

A second reflection involves the complicated relations between the founder of a cult and his followers. One must start out from the fact that the founder sees in his group an extension of his ego, inseparable from himself. He sees those who belong to it as his own "disciples"; having brought them into life himself, their life - like their death - belongs to him.

This "truth", slowly descending into and integrated by the soul of each disciple, becomes his life inside the group and makes him feel a hero/actor at the very same time as he gives up everything - including himself - in order to integrate other people who only this way can be rescued from a world which has no more truth in it to offer.

This self-denial, this life of strict poverty, which an outside observer will see as "Franciscan humility" is actually what gives meaning to the life of the acropolitan, and thus becomes a reason for raving pride. "Raving" in the sense of out of touch with the surrounding reality, which has now become almost invisible.

Critics easily lose sight of the interpersonal relations inside large organizations (a splendid exception is Jerry Bergman, The Problem of Mental Health and Jehovah's Witnesses. Clayton, CA. Witnesses Inc., 1992); while other merely analyze the "teachings of the founders" as if these were the sole reality of the organization. But this easily turns into apology pure and simple, because the delusion according to which a group is nothing but "the founder plus his ideas" is exactly the picture a cult wants to give of itself (but very different from actual life inside the group).

Livraga did not have ten thousand disciples (or about five thousand at the time of his death): he only had a few dozen, the people who attended his courses personally, or in any case had a direct relationship with him. These people found other "disciples", who in their turn found themselves others. The movement thus can be understood only by studying the role of these many intermediaries (in any "pyramid sale" system, the officers are more numerous in the end than the footsoldiers), who usually saw the founder for a few hours only every year, in very formal circumstances.

Livraga's character was more a hindrance than a help to the spread of the movement. While the "intermediate" lecturers often fascinated their audiences, Livraga made quite another impression.

On November 10th, 1986, the Italian leaders managed to fit him into the list of speakers at the conference at the end of noteworthy campaign for cleaning Rome, organized jointly by NA and the daily Il Messaggero (which for thirty days had given free advertising space to the cult), held at the Sala della Protomoteca on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, and attended by politicians, state-funded researchers of the CNR, environmental scholars and journalists (including Andrea Todisco, director-general of the Ministry of the Environment and Vittorio Emiliani, director of Il Messaggero).

As the politicians spoke, the youth of the "Living Forces", communicating by radio with each other, formed an only too obvious bodyguard. When Livraga's turn to speak came, he left his audience uncertain whether to laugh or not, as he started speaking of the "Eagles of Immortal Rome" and said, "I, a philosopher, call on you young people to follow these gentlemen", pointing at the startled group of politicians.

The blend of misanthropy, vanity and luxury which were characteristic of Livraga made him hard to present to the "disciples", just as his irate, over-simple and superficial writings were silently censored.

The few people "able to understand" Livraga were however quite ready to melt away before him. And this became their main tool for acquiring new followers: more than the words, what convinced people was their obvious good faith, the rigour and the courage of people living adventurous and difficult lives to spread the organization.

One must not underestimate will power. Acropoli was built by its leadership, who sacrificed their physical health, and often their mental health as well, to perform Livraga's orders. The branches had difficult histories: the founder of the branch in Grenoble, in France, lived for months in a cave since he did not have the money to rent a room. Ordinary hunger was quite routine. Contrary to common opinion, it is the leaders who give the most, since not too much could be demanded from the new followers, and because the whole machinery worked on the basis of the example given by those on the top to those below.

Understanding the importance of the intermediate leadership also helps to solve the question of how a movement can survive the death of its founder: the disappearance of a remote totem, immortal in any case, does not change a pyramidal mechanism which is already running.

In Italy only the very top leadership had a personality cult for Livraga. We used to say that without him, no "Acropolis" would ever have existed; they used to whisper tales, some saintly, some amusing, about him. We would often repeat his jokes and anecdotes, trying vainly to imitate him. We often found his manners a problem, since we risked losing our "disciples" on account of them. Basically, people were a little afraid of him.

The mentality elsewhere was quite different. The bulletin of NA in Peru displayed a childish drawing of three acropolitans, dressed in the uniforms of the Living Forces, their arms outstretched in the Roman salute and in large letters, the words "AVE, FATHER JAL". The Peruvian Commander used to collect every object which had to do with him (for example, a glass from which he had drunk) and put it in a showcase.

Although some acropolitans told me that "in his heart, JAL does not love these things", he certainly did nothing to discourage them. One need only think of his decrees simply signed "YO" ("I").

At the same time, an understanding of the role of the intermediate leadership must not make us forget that we are speaking of a totalitarian system. In a pyramid structure, the life of the disciple is radically conditioned by progressive isolation, controlled by the whole mechanism. Every human relationship is hierarchicised through the introduction of a never ending series of degrees and tasks. Everyone is always "above" somebody (whom one must inspire with one's example, never allowing oneself a human weakness or a doubt), yet "below" somebody else (towards whom one must always show one's best face); people of the same degree meet only during carefully controlled events. This means that there is not only isolation from the outside world (often denounced by cult critics), but also nearly total isolation inside the group: internal communications are nearly always expressed exclusively by triumphal accounts of activities or rhetorical greeting cards.

In this kind of solitude (which, after an initial euphoria quickly leads to depression, despite obligatory smiles), even the leader is at the mercy of the organization, and information about his behaviour immediately goes up the hierarchical chain, to the top which can decided to expel him at any moment.

Expulsion is just as serious as exile used to be in ancient times: the person is usually not so young, but has learned little of any practical use except the art of speaking in public; and every reference point is lost, like the native Americans who, deprived of every orientation, simply sat down on the roadside and died.



(1)   The organization later told the press, at different times, that I was an "Islamic fundamentalist", a "Right-wing extremist" and "close to anarchist milieux". My career in the organization shows that the top leadership trusted me fully, and the fact that I chose freedom placed the leaders of the organization in the unenviable position of having to explain the errors of leaders who tended to think of themselves as infallible.
The information in this article is based partly on documents which I have, partly on personal recollections, which are however backed by the recollections of other former members. In any case, they refer exclusively to the situation of NA before 1990.

(2)  Tiempo, 13.5.85; Garbo, 17.6.85; Faszismo, 11.92; La Voz de Galicia, 11.6.93.

(3)  Interview with Livraga in Messaggero Veneto, 21.1.1984.

(4)  Some of these titles had been awarded by the "International Moctezuma University" of the Spanish self-styled Aztec Emperor Guillermo Grau; others had been granted by the controversial "Burckhardt Academy."

(5)  These receive an insignia in the shape of a fasces. In order to prevent any law suits, let us say that the resemblance of these to the francisque of the Vichy regime or to the fasces of the French Grand Orient is mere chance.

(6)  AIn the 1980's, I sometimes had to take the letters her son wrote to her from Rome to the mailbox. He used to tell us that she had no idea whatsoever of what her son - by now over fifty - was up to, but that she always told him to put on a sweater when the weather got cold.

(7)  Of course I am merely referring Livraga's claims.

(8)  Mameli-Morelli, Damodar. Il Maestro per l'Età dell'Acquario, Bresci, Torino 1978.

(11)  The latest version of the Articles of Association of the Italian branch of NA, dating back to the mid-'80s, speaks of three inside organizations which provide volunteer and ecological services, with uniforms described as being "like those of the fire brigade." However, the testimonies about paramilitary organizations inside NA date back to many years before the Italian organization decided to go into "volunteering" or "ecology." Identical testimonies come from France and Spain, where the organization became interested in ecology even later.

(12)  President: "It seems your movement has a very structured hierarchy?"
FF: "Mr President, you know how powerful words can be …"
When the President quotes from texts attributed to NA which explicitly mention the Security Corps, the hierarchy, the uniforms and the Roman salutes, Fígares first answers by saying that "these were texts which were stolen from our files"; immediately after, he says "we formally deny these documents are ours" and then finishes by saying "they were notes taken by a student of ours" during a meeting of NA in Uruguay in 1969.
Presidente: "Do you also deny that the Roman salute is used inside NA?"
FF: "QNow here we are talking about beliefs… if you are interested, I shall reply on this topic, which falls within the domain of beliefs and ritual gestures."
Actually, Fígares never answered, merely changing the subject.

(13)  This is totally irrelevant. For example, a letter signed by Schwarz (and never denied by him) appeared on the French press, ending with a peremptory greeting in the name of the god Hermes; one need merely glance at the Encyclopaedia Judaica, s.v. 'Herem', to see that polytheism implies automatic exclusion from the Jewish community. What is strange is how the Israeli government tolerates an organization accused throughout Europe of being 'Nazi'. Some people have associated the legalization of NA in Israel with the important role played by one of the main leaders of NA inside the French military aeronautics industry, but of course the connection is hard to prove.

(14)  A recent book is Il Quarto livello by the former judge Carlo Palermo who associates cults, banks, neonazis, "muslim sufis" in a single conspiracy directed by… "Venetian aristocrats." The idea is taken lock stock and barrel from the fantasies of Lyndon LaRouche, a US "guru" accused in his turn (wrongly, as a matter of fact) of being "one of the main leaders of the black [fascist] international" (for example in Claudio Fracassi, Il Quarto Reich).

(15)  Similar reflections may also be referred to other groups. The "Communism" of reverend Jones, the author of the mass suicide of Jonestown has often been pointed out; but this ideological addition does not mean that Jones would ever have been ready to act next to or on behalf of other movements, nor did it in any way affect the actual equality of the members of the organization, which therefore is a cult in the fullest sense of the word.

(16)   The "Aryan Race" includes "Europeans" but also Jews and Indians, whereas it does not include the Chinese or the Japanese, or especially the blacks, the lowest stage of mankind in the "great chain of evolution."

(17)  Jorge Angel Livraga in Mandos, n. 43, "XXXI Triumphal Year" (1990). The press secretary of NA in Italy acknowledged this text, but explained it away as follows: "it means that one always hopes that in the future there will be people more capable than we are. Livraga used to use strong expressions, when necessary. The meaning is that an idea needs to be nourished, and that each of us is, in a sense, a fertilizer. This is what is meant by dung." (Claudio Robimarga, interview with La Nuova Venezia, 22.11.91).

(18)  Note on the Theosophical Society, on Glossario Teosofico di H. P. Blavatsky, Ed. Sirio, Trieste, 1967. The first edition of the "Three Principles" spoke of Aryan philosophies and sciences.

(19)  For example, the very ancient "science" of astrology was nearly extinct when it was proposed once again, in a completely different manner, by the founder of the TS, Madame Blavatsky.

(20)  MaMassimo Introvigne, one of the few Italian authors to have written about NA, ignores this fundamental aspect. He takes as a significant text an article which appeared in France (a local attempt to express theosophical contents in intellectual terms), and Livraga's book The Spirits of Nature. Actually, the whole ideology of NA is already present in the Theosophical classics of the late 19th Century.

(21)  Livraga also made the unlikely claim that Pinochet had offered him the Ministry of Education in Chile. Livraga claims he rejected it since he wanted the Ministry of the Interior, in order to "solve" the Communist problem once and for all.

(22)  The term "Egyptian" (hard to reconcile with what Livraga himself wrote in Almena, where - apart from the ghostly figures of "K.H., S. and M.", the only "Master" appears to be an Indian, Sri Ram) is very ambiguous (and reminiscent of the "Gran Cofto d'Egitto", Cagliostro from Palermo).

(23)  The recent archaeological hypothesis according to which the beautiful Nefertiti, his wife, might actually have been a ma was picked up by some acropolitans, who characteristically blended esotericism with barracks talk, saying that Ikhnaton was a maricón.

(24)  The last article was actually written by an outside personality, the director of an obscure centre for racial purity; but each of these articles was approved by Livraga who was in Madrid most of the year and very interested in the magazine.

(25)  Art. 1 and 2 of the Decree of the World Commander 7 of 1981.

(26)  One of Blavatsky's "Masters" was "Imperator", and Imperator is also a rank in today's Rosicrucian groups (the occultist Sedir, in his History of the Rosicrucians, for example, says that " a tradition states that the Imperator still exists today; his function now is political").
In early French Freemasonry, the higher degrees were a "Council of the Emperors". Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, seems to have preferred a female version; according to Jon Atack (A Piece of Blue Sky, Carol Publishing Group, New York, 1990, p. 101), he once claimed to have written Dianetics in three weeks under dictation from an entity styling itself "Empress."

(27)  A few months later, Ada Albrecht set up her own organization, the "Hastinapura Association", present at first only in Latin America, but recently also established in Spain. On this organization, you can find two critical pages ( and (, both in Spanish.

(28)  We were told that the name Seraphis referred to the ancient Egyptian divinity. But in one speech, Livraga said that it was actually Blavatsky's entity, , "Master Seraphis" (or "Master S."), supposed to live in the Himalayas and whom Livraga claimed to "know personally."

(29)   In a typical article in El Bastión Livraga defended Blavatsky against her "calumniators", including the Italian author Julius Evola, whom he described as a "fanatic Catholic intégriste." The pagan Evola had actually quarrelled with Mussolini, rejecting the Concordat as an unacceptable compromise with Christianity.

(30)  Decree of the World Commander 14, 1973. Livraga, when imposing fines, would sway between dollars and Swiss francs, depending on which exchange rate was more favourable to him.

(31)   The arms discovered by the police in the branches in Greece or by the journalist Pepe Rodríguez in the castle of Santiuste were probably more recreational than practical.

(32)  A.P. Sinnett, La vita straordinaria di Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Roma, 1980, p. 81.

(33)  Almena, n. 81, 15.05.89.

(34)  LThe statue, built by a Masonic architect and inaugurated by the Roman lodges in an imposing ceremony on June 9th, 1889, is honoured today by flowers laid by the anarchists and the rationalists; however, the Female Brigades of NA are those who lay wreaths most regularly on the monument.

(35)  For example Annie Besant, second president of the TS, claimed to be the reincarnation of Giordano Bruno.

(36)  Decree of the World Commander, 5, 2b, 1981.

(37)   Decree of the World Commander, 5, 2d, 1981. The "Roman toast" meant drinking down a glass of wine, on the bottom of which was written the name of a Greco-Roman divinity. The name was held to be a meaningful sign.

FINAL NOTE Many people are aware of the dispute between Massimo Introvigne, director of CESNUR ("Centre for the Study of New Religions") and our website, a dispute which has touched on a very wide range of topics.

However the basic reason the whole dispute began should not be forgotten: Massimo Introvigne had published a study on "New Acropolis", a small group with several unusual features for a "cult." The purpose of the study was to show that former cult members who criticized the groups they had belonged to are actually "professional enemies" who underwent something quite like brainwashing by so-called "anti-cult movements":

"However, the apostate -- having joined an oppositional coalition fighting the organization -- would claim that he or she was a "victim" or a "prisoner" who did not join voluntarily. This, of course, implies that the organization itself was the embodiment of an extraordinary evil."

I was the only "apostate" (as Introvigne labels critical former members) mentioned by name, and in the context of a series of demonstrably false statements about a legal action submitted against me by New Acropolis.

Therefore, the sentence I quoted above appears to describe my personal history and my ideas.

A more detailed analysis of the methodological and factual errors committed by Introvigne can be found on this same website.

Basically, Introvigne' study:

  • attempts to demonstrate that those who were members of a cult often have positive memories of their experience. This is totally irrelevant. What matters are the facts and the documents which former members present describing the cult. In other words, a hundred happy customers of a butcher cannot deny the snapshots taken by a former employee clearly showing that what is sold as beef is actually stray cat.

  • presents a totally misleading picture of the nature of New Acropolis

  • Presents a misleading - and sometimes deliberately false - picture of the opinions and statements of the only former member mentioned by name, Miguel Martinez.

There are two possibilities. Either Introvigne was profoundly misinformed (and this would be quite serious in a study claiming to be "scientific") or else he was in bad faith.

To answer this doubt, here is a text I wrote and published in the review Religioni e sette nel mondo (Bologna, year 3, number 3, September 1997). Introvigne's study came out several months after this article. Now, Religioni e sette nel mondo is the only publication in Italy to deal with "cult" issues, and Introvigne himself had been for some time on the board. So we can take it for granted that Introvigne read my article.

This article presents documentation which clearly contrasts the description Introvigne provides of New Acropolis. At the same tim, what I say here clearly has nothing to do with the description Introvigne gives of "apostates."

This article was published over three years ago, in a review which is certainly read by every group rightly or wrongly suspected of being a "cult", and its contents were never denied by New Acropolis. In any case, my purpose here is not to criticize New Acropolis, an organization which I consider to be basically harmless, if only because of its small following, but to reply to Massimo Introvigne. I shall of course be glad to publish any comments or opinions by representatives or members of the organization. While people like Introvigne who know nothing about New Acropolis, condemn what I write, this article has received favourable comment not only from former members of New Acropolis, but also from a currently quite active "Acropolitan", who wrote to me "Since you wrote the only text I know that criticizes NA without using evident lies and with reasonable wording and arguments, you earn some respect!"

I have made a few cuts, but have not changed or added anything.

Miguel Martinez, January 2001

P.S. See also the note on the relations between the Theosophical Society and New Acropolis.

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