I have just been apprised of a new development that is set to undertake within the broader Left Hand Path community. Thomas Karlsson, the Swedish occultist known for his involvement in Dragon Rouge, wrote a Facebook post on Friday announcing the birth of a Global United Nightside Movement. This is not to be taken as a pet project of his, but rather it appears to be a collaboration between Thomas Karlsson and Michael W. Ford (founder of the Assembly of Light Bearers, formerly known as the Greater Church of Lucifer), Stephen Flowers and Don Webb (two prominent and high-ranking members of the Temple of Set). It’s not strictly associated with either Satanism or Luciferianism or any specific Left Hand Path tendency per se, rather it is intended be a movement for all religions that fall under the category of “Nightside Spirituality”, otherwise known as “The Dark Path” or The Left Hand Path. With such leading lights as Karlsson, Ford, Flowers and Webb behind it, you can be assured that this is supposed to be a major project.
Right off the bat, I have a mixed opinion of this pursuit. Unity is a sorely lacking feature in many LHP circles. I’ve heard it once said that we are like a heard of cats. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that we would need to find a source of unity, and thus the idea of a Global Unified Nightside Movement has some appeal in the sense that it might seem to bring such a unity. However, I find it difficult to imagine such unity being possible in the long run. People often chalk it up to just different Satanists or different Luciferians being too different from each other, and in many ways that’s true, but in my view it comes down more to the fact that Satanism, Luciferianism, Setianism or what have you all represent movements that are distinct from each other. They can be thought of similarly to the relationship between Christianity, Judaism and Islam, or between Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism – all of them can be thought of as belonging to a loose family of faiths, whose relationship is defined by a shared common origin or a shared set of themes, tropes or philosophical and mythological frames of reference, but are ultimately distinct in content and ideology. To me as a Luciferian I find that, in the ultimate analysis, to treat me as being part of a united front with Satanists or Setians seems to be missing the point, especially given that I disagree with a lot of the doctrines from various Satanist organizations nowadays, and I’ve made clear that I do not support Michael Aquino’s particular vision of Satanism. And to be honest, I don’t think I would want to be a part of anything that would ask that I find common cause with the Order of Nine Angles and the degenerates that comprise that fascist cult. Not that I should assume that, of course, but it is worth raising as a concern as regards the theme of unity. My sense of reservation also emerges from my experience as a socialist, having entered into various left-wing spaces via the internet and observed conversations such as the theme of “left-unity”. The left has, historically, never been a united front in the same way that the right has managed to be. Throughout the history of socialism you have Marxists, utopian socialists, social democrats, anarchists, progressives (if you could call them left-wing) and other factions of the left constantly fighting each other over doctrinal differences. In Marxism itself, doctrinal division is also all too common – in my country alone, there are numerous self-identified communist parties, some of them splintering off from each other or existing as splinters from existing socialist parties, and many of them all subscribing to similar doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. Now I’m not quite saying it’s like that for LHP movements, but I derive from my knowledge of the history of socialist politics and of modern leftist spaces a sense of skepticism for any attempt of unity between wide and disparate movements.
That said, although there is little information to go on other than Karlsson’s Facebook post, I believe that there is some potential in the proposal. There is clear ambition and reflection in the project proposal, there is the desire to be a genuine, large-scale spiritual movement, which is something that I respect. There is quite a bit of emphasis on the exoteric aspect of Left Hand Path practice. What I would like to know more about, however, is precisely the exoteric side, the activity and praxis that this entails. We are invited to gather collectively as part of a larger movement dedicated to what is called Nightside Spirituality, but what we could really use is a well-defined plan of action or set of events to go on. I realize it’s early days, and I’m expecting there to be some sort of website or Facebook page or whatever to go with this project, but I still long for more information on the subject.
At the center of my desire to assess this project, however, is the nine constituents that Karlsson outlines in order to break down the essence of the movement. These constituents serve as basic points underpinning the philosophy of the movement. They are as follows:
1) Individual freedom: “The bigger the government – The Smaller the citizen.”
2) Spread the knowledge of The Nightside to those worthy.
3) Support science against superstition.
4) Be Watchmen against imperialist religions.
5) Create strong networks.
6) Inspire to Indiviuation as C.G. Jung called it.
7) preserve and relive the ancient traditions and make them adapted to our times.
8) Support each other.
9) Be loyal to our common taskmaster who has many names.
I like most of these constituents, but I think it’s worth discussing them in more detail.
I won’t lie, the first point is a real eyebrow-raiser for me, due to my familiarity with right-wing politics. Now I’m prepared to give these guys credit by pointing out that the statement “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen” could mean have a number of meanings beyond right-wing libertarianisma and conservatism, and it could just be a generic assertion of the value of individual freedom or liberty, as can be found in left-wing doctrines as well as right-wing doctrines. In fact an argument for left-wing minarchism is very much possible to make, drawing from the works of authors like Anton Pannekoek, Eric Hass, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mihailo Markovic, and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels themselves. But when I see talk of “big government vs small government”, it almost invariably comes from right-wingers, and American conservatism/libertarians in particular, and while the discussion of “big government vs small government” is often applied to discussions of individual liberty, in practice the whole point of that theme is economics, specifically the role of the state and its regulations in overseeing market forces within the context of capitalism. “Big government” usually means the expansion of government bureaucracy in theoretical context, but it also tends to . Thus I worry that there is a noticeable right-wing political flavour to this effort by Karlsson and co, which I suppose may be but a broader sign that the Randian framework of the Church of Satan is still subtly at play.
In case you may think I’m being out of line in saying this, consider two things. First, the fact that “big government vs small government” is a theme that only really appears in right-wing circles, and at that it’s mostly an American thing. I almost never encounter it outside of the US, except for in some British conservative circles, particularly the ones partial to Nigel Farage. Second, Stephen Flowers, one of the men behind this project, seems to be intensely right-wing. In his comment to Karlsson’s post, Flowers responds to the point about opposing superstition in which he singularly blames Karl Marx for what he believes to be, a sentiment that echoes the right-wing conspiracy theory known as Cultural Marxism. In fact, if you read Flowers’ book Lords of the Left Hand Path, you will find there are many times where he comments on Marx, Marxism and communism, and he makes claims about Marxist philosophy without ever citing any works from Marx or Engels or any other Marxists, or at least not directly. This is even more telling when you consider that, when he comments on the anarchists and their apparent reverence for Satan or Lucifer as literary figures, he will directly cite anarchists like Bakunin and Proudhon. Also, in the same book, there’s a section in which he accuses Marxism of being the origin of what we would call political correctness, a claim that is no different to the kind of conspiracy theories that have been bequeathed to us by people like Paul Weyrich and William Lind, the former of whom I might add was a leading figure in the conservative Christian “Moral Majority” movement. Again, no citations offered within that part of the book.
Honestly, I wonder what people are still doing talking about Cultural Marxism these days after Slavoj Zizek demolished Jordan Peterson, its chief exponent in the current decade, on the subject in their debate in April. Just for the sake of illustrating it, I will present the relevant clip from that debate below. But, I can sum it up with the following: Peterson fails to identify any Marxists that he holds to be responsible for the trend of academic postmodernism within the mainstream or for political correctness.
Anyways, returning to the constituents, the second constituent seems to show a sense of reservation regarding the distribution of knowledge. The idea seemingly is not to spread the knowledge of the Nightside to as many people as people, but only to “the worthy”. The logical questions that follow from this, of course, is “who are the worthy?”, “what determines whether you are worthy or not?”, and “what does it mean to be worthy?”, and for that matter, “worthy of whom?”. I suspect this plays into that idea of esotericism, of hidden knowledge, which I think all of us who get into Left Hand Path ideas and similar belief systems tend to be into. But I think there is this pervasive attachment to the idea of it being esoteric that misses the point: the point of being the light bringer is to reveal the hidden, and that means the esoteric no longer being esoteric, no longer hidden but instead known. No one will fear the darkness once it is brought into light. Isn’t that the point?.
The third constitutent is entirely positive and noble, and for me very befitting for those who seek to embody the Morning Star. Supersition is in no way the ally of those who seek truth and freedom, and we do not raise ourselves against the mystified reign of Yahweh only to mystify ourselves further. I think it’s worth noting that one comment to Karlsson’s post stook out in particular because it seemingly defended superstition on the grounds that the word superstition means the survival of pagan beliefs, on the grounds that the word superstition comes from the Latin words supra and stitio meaning “stay above” and “survive”, adding in a separate comment that this was the Christian meaning of the term. Of course, the word superstition originated not in Christian Rome but in pre-Christian pagan Rome, where authors such as Pliny used the term to refer to the survival of folk beliefs like divination. The similar term “superstitio” was used by Roman writers such as Tacitus to refer to religious movements that were barred by the Roman Empire, such as the religion of the druids. The concept of superstition in the Greco-Roman world also seemed to have . The Roman author Cicero used the term “superstitio” to refer specifically to fear or excessive fear of the gods, as opposed to the proper respect and veneration of the gods, for which he used the term “religio”. So in a way, when we say we oppose superstition, you can think of it not only as opposition to irrational folk belief in unfalsifiable supernatural phenomenon, but also opposition to the need to fear the gods and the unknown. This idea is completely consistent with Luciferianism in particular, and it was bequeathed to us by the Hellenists of Greece and Rome, and we would do well to learn from them.
The fourth constituent leaves me a little puzzled. What exactly is meant by “imperialist religions”? That’s another thing about this project I hope gets explained more. For my initial worries about right-wing political influence, one wonders if there’s a bit of a left-wing cue to this one. But I jest. Considering that the revivification of ancient tradition is involved in this project, I do wonder what this means for Alexander the Great (who is the subject of low-key praise in Michael W. Ford’s works), whose imperial expansion spread the Greek religion far and wide and resulted in syncretic interpretations of the Hellenic tradition. I don’t have much to go on here.
The fifth constituent is to me a genuinely positive one. It’s one of the key assurances that there will be a focus on collective solidarity, whether Karlsson and co realize it or otherwise. Exactly how this is to take shape is yet to be seen, but I think it’s safe to assume that this will involve the formation of a community of like-minded individuals. Of course this still leaves the question of whether this points chiefly to online communities or real life communities. I will find it hard to imagine that there’s much to be done in the way of real life community activity, but I do have high hopes and would like to see where this goes further. In fact, I am eager to find out whether or not the invariably social nature of this constituent and its demands leads to a collective pondering of how to interpret Left Hand Path ideas in a way that frees them from the atomizing effects of the hyper-individualism that the community often lays claim to.
The sixth constituent is interesting because it lends to itself a means to liberate the community from the egoism that was bequeathed to us by the likes of Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan, along with similar figures and movements. After all, the process of individuation is contextualized by an idea of self that is not definable as the ego, and in relation to which the ego is nothing but a diminutive aspect of the broader whole, or even an entirely illusory entity. In fact, I’ve seen interpretations of Jungian individuation as in fact not referring to the consolidation of a unique state of being but instead referring to, in a bizarre way, the attain of oneness, of initation with the whole. In any case, you cannot interpret the concept of Jungian individuation in a manner that resembles egoism, Randian or otherwise, without bastardizing it completely, and I imagine that anyone familiar with Jung’s ideas knows this, so it will be interesting to see the notions of self that emerge from the emphasis on Jungian individuation.
The seventh constituent resonates with me because I find that it aligns with the Luciferian ethos, which is all about revivifying the ancient ways in a new context, centered around the revolutionary figure of the Morning Star, or Lucifer. Of course, with the Temple of Set a big influence in Karlsson’s project via Flowers and Webb, I am rather concerned about what they could mean by “the ancient traditions”, possibly they may follow from Aquino’s fanciful fictions about the religion of Atlantis, but as it is intended to be a broad principle this might not necessarily be the case. It could simply refer to the ancient custom as defined within the Indo-European milieu, which would include Hellenism. In either case, this is a strong element of the Nightside Spirituality being defined by Karlsson, and I can definitely support it.
The eighth consitutent is benign in much the same way as the fifth one, and to me it seems to be almost the same point, a very positive one at that. We all start out msiguided, confused, and ignorant outside of our volition, and many of us lose our way. As such, a network of support which forms the basis of a community is often vital, and a good way to promote interpersonal solidarity.
The ninth constituent to me is rather mysterious. Just who is “our common taskmaster who has many names” supposed to refer to? I have to guess it is the name of a deity or a force of some kind, which leads me to suspect the influence of theism, but I can’t quite say for sure. So for now, I’m just going to have to ponder on what was meant by that statement.
And that’s all there is so far on the Global United Nightside Movement project. I’m eager for more information on the project, and I wait patiently for the opportunity to learn what my place in it might be.