NEW ACROPOLIS (Religious Movement)

Founder: Jorge Angel Livraga Rizzi Country of origin: Argentina

Jorge Angel (Giorgio Angelo) Livraga Rizzi (1930-91), an Argentina-born schoolteacher of Italian origin and nationality, established an association known as New Acropolis in 1957 in Buenos Aires, introducing it as ‘a classic school of philosophy’. Between 1957 and Livraga’s death in Madrid, in 1991, the association expanded throughout Latin America, and achieved some success in Europe, although it never had a large following in North America. The international headquarters were moved to Bruxelles in 1990 and then to Spain, under the leadership of Delia Steinberg Guzman (while Livraga’s widow, Ada Albrecht, founded the rival Fundacion Hastinapura).

New Acropolis is now active in forty two countries, with some 20,000 members. In some countries, including France and Belgium, it has become quite controversial as a ‘right-wing’ and even ‘fascist’ organization. Writings by Livraga dating back to the 1960s (some of them denounced by the current leadership as apocryphal) have been quoted in support of the thesis that New Acropolis criticizes modern democracy, and advocates authoritarianism based on the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato (428/427347 BC). In the 1990s, the French branch, which had been specially targeted by anti-cult campaigns (see Anti-Cult Movement), made some efforts to rid itself of right-wing extremism and distance itself from politics. Outside France, old tirades by Livraga are more easily forgotten, whilst New Acropolis activities supporting emergency relief, archaeology, the preservation of cultural and historical monuments, and ecology, are widely appreciated.

New Acropolis particularly resents being called ‘a religion’ or ‘a cult’ (see Cult and New Religions), and insists that philosophy and religion are indeed different. Livraga’s thinking is in fact quite complicated and eclectic. It calls for a renewed appreciation of classical Greek philosophical thinking, although its classicism is interpreted through the lenses of modern Western esoteric teachers such as Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831-91) (see Blavatsky, Helena), who founded the Theosophical Society, and Rene Guenon (1886-1951). The movement teaches that awakening is possible, and that its tool is a sacred tradition which lies behind all individual traditions and religions, a philosophia perennis in the sense of Guenon, although it was expressed with admirable precision by Greek philosophy, and particularly by Plato. Both Christianity and modernity are seen, from this point of view, as involving some decadence, and New Acropolis is often critical of modern organized religion and the Christian churches. An Age of Aquarius is approaching, but its beginnings will be harsh and difficult, rather than the easy triumph of peace as promised by the New Agers (see New Age Movement). Human rights are seen as a central point of the New Acropolis cultural plan, with the figure of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), the philosopher critical of Roman Catholicism burned at the stake in Rome in 1600, being frequently mentioned. New Acropolis, thus, is able to advocate both a criticism of modernity and an appreciation of quintessentially modern values.

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