THE TWELVE TRADITIONS OF A.A.,
by A. Orange
Our common welfare should come first;
personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
I will lock arms today and move forward in the company of those who need me. I need them also.
The Promise of a New Day: A Book of Daily Meditations, Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg, Hazelden, November 4.
"I will center my thoughts on a Higher Power. I will surrender all to his power within me. I will become a soldier for this power, feeling the might of the spiritual army as it exists in my life today. I will allow a wave of spiritual union to connect me through my gratitude, obedience, and discipline to this Higher Power. Let me allow this power to lead me through the orders of the day."
Daily Reflections; A Book of Reflections by A.A. members for A.A. members, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1990, August 27, page 248.
Like Rajiv said,
Till the traditions came, AA was simply there to help those who were afflicted, or the suffering alcoholics. But this took a back seat in the traditions. Tradition One says that AA's welfare comes first. So with this tradition the most important thing, what come first in AA, is to take care of AA and not the suffering alcoholic. So whenever there is a conflict between the welfare of AA and the welfare of the suffering alcoholic, it becomes binding on the members to sacrifice the suffering alcoholic's welfare or the suffering alcoholic. What a shame!
"A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die."
is nothing but the propaganda tricks of
Arguing From Adverse Consequences
"Very bad things will happen unless you do what I want"
"If you don't join my cult, you are all gonna die!"
There is zero evidence that most of the alcoholics will die without A.A. The truth is, they do just fine alone. The vast majority of alcoholics who successfully quit drinking do it alone, without A.A. or any "support group" or any "treatment program".
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health,
performed the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related
Conditions. For it, they interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol
dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:|
"About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."
So Bill Wilson was lying when he said that A.A. must live or else most of the alcoholics will surely die. Bill just wanted his new cult to continue.
For our group purpose, there is but one
ultimate authority — a loving God as he may express Himself in our
group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do
Tradition Two says that God is the ultimate authority, as He expresses
Himself in the group conscience.
But who decides what God is expressing in the group conscience?
Obviously, it is the leaders, the old-timers who are the most-indoctrinated true believers, and who dominate the "sharing" sessions with their well-practiced raps and their standard sermons.
I want to see the proxy. Show me a signed statement from God that says,
"I hereby authorize this group of old-timers to speak for me."
It is just outrageously arrogant for the old-timers to imagine that when they open their mouths, God's opinion comes out.
I want to see the proxy. Show me a signed statement from God that says,
"I distrust those people who know so well what God
wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides
with their own desires."|
== Susan B. Anthony, 1896
The idea that the individual group leaders "are but trusted servants" is good, but unfortunately, the highest-ranking leaders at the national headquarters are
They do "govern", and even arbitrarily dictate, so this "tradition" isn't a tradition, either.
The only requirement for A.A. membership is a [sincere] desire to stop drinking.
The original form of this tradition said "sincere desire". The word "sincere" was removed from the "tradition" before the second edition of the "Big Book" was published.
This tradition has good and bad aspects. On the one hand, it is good to let anyone in who sincerely wants to quit drinking. But that also means that:
Each group should be autonomous except in
matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
While this sounds like great freedom, it has the effect of making all groups out of control. When a group goes off the deep end and becomes dominated by fundamentalists who tell the newcomers (even mental patients) not to take their medications, there is no way for the headquarters or other groups to make them stop it. When people become fanatical religious fundamentalists and actively proselytize and spread goofy theology, there is no way for the headquarters or other groups to make them stop it. When a group degenerates into an incestuous little Peyton Place, there is no way for the organization to stop it. And when the "Midtown Group" in Washington DC specializes in being a cult that sexually exploits the newcomer young women, the A.A. headquarters in New York whines and cries and wrings its hands and says that it cannot be anything because every group is independent.
Anybody can do anything, and nobody is in control.
Each group has but one primary purpose — to
carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
To carry what message?
An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or
lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise,
lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our
The small individual groups may have to live in poverty, but the A.A. headquarters doesn't believe in it. They have $6 million in the bank. They happily took more than $100,000 from the city of San Diego for holding a convention there. They have a scam going where they collect royalties on the Big Book from A.A. organizations all over the world, in spite of the fact that the copyright on the Big Book is fraudulent and invalid, and it always has been. And even if the copyright had once upon a time been valid, the A.A.W.S. headquarters staff screwed up and neglected to renew the copyright in 1983, so they really killed any chance that the copyright could be valid, and they know that.
Nevertheless, A.A. leaders and their lawyers just recently (2000 to 2003) went to Mexico and Germany and lied and committed perjury to punish A.A. members for printing their own literature, by declaring that the first edition of the Big Book was still under copyright. In Mexico, they even testified in court that the Big Book had been written just recently by a guy named "Wyne Parks" (who was apparently an A.A. office manager in New York), so the copyright was still in effect. That was a total lie.
The A.A. headquarters — the so-called "trusted servants" — actually got other A.A. members sentenced to prison for the crime of "carrying the message" to poor alcoholics.
Well, the A.A. headquarters sure has allowed "problems of money" to "divert us from our primary purpose" of spiritual aims, hasn't it? Obviously, as far as the A.A. headquarters is concerned, their primary purpose is to make more money, and they won't allow little side issues like spirituality or honesty to distract them from that primary goal.
In the background, I can hear them whining and crying that
"We had to do those things to protect our profits. Otherwise we
would go broke. That would be the end of Alcoholics Anonymous.
So the end justifies the means."
Actually, the corrupt organization called Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Incorporated in the Interchurch Building in New York City is quite unnecessary. A.A. could survive as a grass roots organization without that corporation committing crimes. In fact, "Tradition 9" says that A.A. is not supposed to be organized.
Every A.A. group ought to be fully
self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
As explained above, the A.A. headquarters has no problem with taking money from lots of outside sources, ranging from taking over $100,000 from the city of San Diego for holding a convention there, to taking trumped-up Big Book royalties from all of the A.A. organizations in foreign countries.
Bill Wilson may have been worried about "those A.A. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated A.A. purpose", but that apparently doesn't bother the current leadership, which has been keeping between $6 and $10 million stashed as a handy little "prudent reserve".
In addition, somebody commented that this "tradition" is absurd in another way. Attend a meeting of any A.A. group as a visitor. When the hat or basket is passed around to take up the collection, drop in a $10 or $20 bill. See if they tell you to take your money back because it is an "outside contribution".
Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever
nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special
This is another one of those "traditions" that has become either totally meaningless or completely hypocritical. There are zillions of A.A. members who make their livings as professional counselors, working in some detox center or treatment facility, pushing the 12-Step program on every patient they get. Hence they are getting paid for their "Twelfth Step work".
A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but
we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to
those they serve.
This is one of the most absurd of the traditions. Bill Wilson apparently did not even understand what the word "organized" meant, because he totally organized Alcoholics Anonymous while proclaiming that it shouldn't be organized.
UPDATE 2012: They reincorporated the profit-making corporation as a non-profit, so that they don't have to pay any taxes. So now it's three non-profit corporations: the publishing house Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), The General Service Organization of A.A., and The Grapevine (their magazine).
Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on
outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into
But when A.A. is criticized, they hide behind the slogan that "A.A. has no opinion on outside issues. We can't get involved in controversy."
Our public relations policy is based on
attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal
anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
Bill Wilson maintaining sacred anonymity, yet again,
not getting his name or picture publicly printed, yet again.
Bill's picture was featured in a newspaper article on alcoholism in the August 9, 1942 issue of the Knoxville Journal, during Bill's years-long "dry drunk" campaign of promotion and self-aggrandizement.
Chester E. Kirk Collection of the John Hay Library at Brown University
Also see Bill Wilson's testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, given while identifying himself as one of the two co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, and bragging about all of the great accomplishments he had supposedly made. So much for anonymity.
This is the most hypocritical of the traditions. For many years, Bill Wilson did everything in his power to promote his Alcoholics Anonymous organization, including him and Dr. Bob practicing coercive recruiting in hospitals, writing the Big Book, getting magazine and newspaper writers to publish favorable articles about A.A., traveling the country on speaking tours, grandstanding and getting his picture and story printed in the newspapers again and again. By 1944, Bill Wilson was the most famous "anonymous" person in the USA.
Then Bill and the other early A.A. members even got one member, Morgan Ryan, to go on a nation-wide radio show and praise A.A. They managed to keep Morgan Ryan sober — by locking him up — just long enough for him to appear on Gabriel Heatter's "We The People" radio program and tell all of America how a wonderful new organization called "Alcoholics Anonymous" had saved him from alcoholism, and then Morgan promptly relapsed afterwards.
Then Bill Wilson wrote this fake "tradition" and declared that A.A. was a program of attraction, not promotion. (And everybody but Bill Wilson had to remain anonymous, and get no fame or publicity or money for saving alcoholics. Bill got all of that.)
Judges and parole officers force great numbers of people into "the rooms", and the army of paid recruiters (called "counselors" and "therapists") who work in the detox facilities and treatment centers route a steady flow of newcomers into the A.A. and N.A. meetings while pretending that it is only a program of attraction.
A.A. regularly runs television commercials on late-night TV, promoting A.A. while declaring that it is only a program of attraction. Likewise, the women's auxiliary, Al-Anon, is running radio commercials while proclaiming the very same tradition.
A.A. boosters run a propaganda mill that cranks out a river of
A.A. is anything but a program of attraction.
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all
our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before
The demand for "principles before personalities" in Tradition Twelve just means that their so-called "principles" (really, practices) take precedence over your personal beliefs, morals, standards, desires, or even your personal welfare. Again, you must conform to the group. The group is more important than you are.
And once again, the wording is deceptive. The Twelve Steps are practices — the cult religion practices of Dr. Frank Buchman — not "spiritual principles". Dr. Frank Buchman started the deceptive habit of calling his cult recruiting and indoctrination practices "spiritual principles", and Bill Wilson just copied him. There are no "spiritual principles" in the cult practices of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill Wilson constantly talked about "principles", but he didn't have any.
To Bill Wilson, "anonymity" meant that he got all of the publicity, credit, fame, and glory (and money and women), while everybody else had to be faceless, nameless, invisible and anonymous, and practice "genuine humility" and quit being so "selfish and self-seeking".
Notice the cross on the wall. This photograph was very carefully staged for best effect.
Last updated 3 October 2018.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-traditions.html
Copyright © 2019, A. Orange