Marginalized people are being oppressed in the name of “freedom”

In the last couple of days something horrible seems to be happening in Italy. It seems that the Italian Senate has struck down a bill that would have made violence against LGBT people, as well as apparently misogyny and attacks on disabled people, illegal. Yeah, as hard is it is to believe, apparently violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and the disabled, as well as some attacks on women, are legal, and that was going to change if it weren’t for the Senate, which on October 27th voted by 154 to 131 to block debate on the new law. The blocking of the bill appears to have been met with a wall of applause from Italian politicians, and was spearheaded by the Italian far-right, who claimed that the law would somehow suppress freedom of expression and speech by way “homosexual propaganda” in schools. Yes, apparently, according to the far-right, the freedom to express yourself as an LGBT person without fear of being attacked by bigots with the state practically on their side is somehow a form of authoritarian oppression directed at straight people.

And who took the side of the far-right in Italy? Why, none other than the Catholic Church of course! Vatican lobbyists sought to intervene against the bill on the grounds that it would impede the church’s “freedom of thought”, somehow. Keep in mind who the current Pope is, the ostensibly LGBT-friendly Pope Francis. I haven’t seen any word of condemnation from him over this, and it’s been four days since the bill was struck down. This shouldn’t be too surprising, though. For one thing, the expectation that the Catholic Church would do an about-face on LGBT inclusion was always a fantasy, in light of the church’s historic record of bigotry and exclusion. For another thing, we know that, although Pope Francis has made many gestures suggestive of his tolerance, he is not consistently pro-LGBT, as evidenced this year by the Vatican’s decree that it will deny blessings to same-sex married couples, after Francis himself apparently endorsed same-sex civil unions – though, it might be stressed that this is not the same thing as endorsing same-sex marriage. Frankly, I never took the idea that Francis was such a progressive reformer seriously, and I will never get tired of my suspicions being right. But what do you expect of a guy who, when you get down to it, is just like every other Pope, at least when it comes to protecting children from institutional paedophilia within the Church?

Regardless, the fact remains that the Italian government will not be protecting marginalized people. If you are homosexual, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, disabled, or even just a woman, you’ll be subject to all kinds of attacks and assualts, and the government will practically defend the rights of your abusers.

Italy is not alone in developments such as these. Poland, another Catholic country, is presently debating a bill that could see LGBT Pride parades being banned, along with all other gatherings deemed to be “promoting same-sex relationships” (as if that’s supposed to be a bad thing) in parliament. One of the lawmakers arguing in the defence of “Stop LGBT” bill, Krzysztof Kasprzak, actually argued in parliament that the LGBT movement was a totalitarian, Nazi-esque movement, whose goal is to “overthrow the natural order” and “introduce terror”. The bill was also put forward by a conservative activist group called The Life and Family Foundation, which also seems to be responsible for introducing recent legislation criminalizing abortion. Also in Poland, the Polish high court ruled that EU laws violated the Polish constitution, and this includes Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union, which outlines the values of “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”, which entails that the Polish government views the obligation to uphold LGBT rights as a violation of its constitution, on the basis that the EU courst “act beyond the limits of compeences transferred by the Republic of Poland” and “illegally override the Polish constitution” by checking the legality of the appointment of judges.

In Hungary, parliament passed a law banning the sharing of information about LGBT people that the government sees as “promoting homosexuality” in schools and TV shows for minors, which is a lot like what is already the case in Russian law on the subject, and is very similar to the justification given by the Italian far-right for blocking the anti-hate crime bill. The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, also declared plans to hold a national referendum on LGBT rights next year, in which the questions are framed so as to gaslight people into hating LGBT people. These include questions on whether or not you support “sexual orientation workshops in schools without consent”, whether or not you believe gender reassignment surgeries should be made available to children, and all the more bafflingly a question about whether or not you support “minors being shown, without any restrictions, media content of a sexual nature that is capable of influencing their development” (I see someone never watched He-Man). Orban framed the entire referendum as a matter of “child protection”, arguing that “LGBTQ activists visit kindergardens and schools and conduct sexual education classes”, the suggestion being that this some kind of invasion of inappropriate sexual content in kindgardens meant to turn your children gay or something. All of this serves to conflate LGBT activism with pedophilia, an association that he’s outright trying to imprint in the minds of Hungarian voters as the referendum approaches.

You might notice something in all of this. The Italian far-right, the Polish conservative government, and the Hungarian prime minister, all share in common a bizarre kind of Orwellian doublethink which holds that freely expressing sexualities that do not conform to the heterosexual norm, or genders that do not conform to the cisgender binary, are somehow a form of fascism or totalitarian. Somehow, the anti-LGBT right-wing would have us believe that gay people, trans people, bisexuals, non-binary people, and the rest, who mostly just the freedom to express themselves openly without fear of persecution and to share the same rights as their heterosexual/cisgender counterparts, are a totalitarian movement that wants to oppress straight people, presumably by making your kids gay or trans or something. Under this twisted logic, to oppose them would mean preserving, or even rescuing, the freedom of heterosexuals and cisgender people to be who they are (the irony of such a premise is probably lost on them), which means that to curtail the freedom of LGBT people actually becomes a preserving freedom for everybody. This logic also underlies claims that the LGBT movement wants “homosexual propaganda” to fill the airwaves of children’s TV, somehow “oppressing” the natural development of straight children. Considering the frankly ambiguously homoerotic undertones of some Saturday morning shows, particularly He-Man or just about any superhero show, and the fact that I’ve not seen anyone turn out gay because of it, I think it’s obvious what the problems with this idea are. But of course, what they really mean is just the idea of cartoons or kid’s shows taking time out of their day validate the identities of LGBT people, to show them that it can be perfectly OK to be more than just a heterosexual breeder. The same goes for anti-racism. That’s why when Steven Universe or Arthur have little segments about addressing racism or black history, people who probably don’t actually watch those shows anymore or ever shriek with outrage and make claims about how yor kids are being forced to accept what is, let’s face it, not even particularly radical ideology about race. The irony of it all is that it’s one area where these people lose all self-awareness when it comes to their free market ideology (yes, they are still free-market capitalists as far as I can see, just not American free-market capitalists); after all, it is private companies doing this, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it.

Bottom line: LGBT rights are under attack in different parts of Europe, and all the more gallingly they’re being attacked under the auspices of a twisted version of freedom where “freedom” just means not having accept people for who they are.

Lilith, Satanism, and the power of detournement

Recently I have come across discussions of the familiar symbol of the upside down cross, the popular symbol of Satanism that is also not a symbol of Satanism. We all know that the upside down cross is technically actually the cross of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus who chose to be crucified upside down because felt unworthy of being crucified in the same way as Jesus, and also that St. Peter’s Cross is also traditionally a symbol of Catholicism, to the point that you find it on the seat of the Pope. Christians have typically used this fact to mock Satanists on the grounds that they merely appropriate Christian symbolism, almost parasitically depending on Christianity for its substance, as well as the heavy metal and gothic communities on the grounds of something to the tune of “trying too hard to edgy and rebellious”. But there was a take I came across on Twitter, from a user named Viv (@Continuousd3ath), that to me seems to put this old issue into perspective:

Is the upside down cross technically St.Peter’s cross? Yes. Can it still be used by Satanists as a symbol of empowerment and as a perversion of the Christian cross? Absolutely, because symbols can garner new meanings over time and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I want to use this take as a springboard for some more reflections, particularly on Lilith, but which will touch upon Lucifer and even YHWH. I wanted to wait until before I publish my big essay on Left Hand Path Paganism, which would include my way of redefining what it means to be of the Left Hand Path in a way free of the orthodoxy inherited from LaVey, Aquino and other mystic Randians, but it’s taking a long time, I’ve been convering other subjects in posts alongside that effort, and I really want to keep this discussion fresh. So, the sooner, the better. But to do that, I think it is worth bringing to the fore a concept outlined by Guy Debord, the French Libertarian Marxist philosopher and activist who was one of the founding members of the avant-garde Situationist International: the concept of detournement.

The word detournement means “hijacking” or “rerouting”, and refers to the process of integrating the artistic and cultural productions or constructions of society for the purpose of transforming them into new, and more radical (from the Situationist parlance, “superior”), constructs. In practice, this can mean taking on the language, symbols, and forms of the dominant society and subverting them, thus altering them, in a way that gives them a new, radical meaning, opposed to the status quo and the prevalent hierarchy of things. In this sense, according to the Situationist International, there is no such thing as “Situationist” art or culture, only the Situationist use of art and culture. This concept of detournement was initially developed by the Letterist International, an avant-garde art movement that was a precusor to the Situationist International, who later adapted it on their own. The opposite of detournement is recuperation, which is when the cultural or aesthetic constructions of previously radical or simply hostile movements are co-opted by the status quo or dominant hierarchy for the purpose of adapting them into forms more acceptable to society or the dominant hierarchy, or simply to neutralize them into harmless commodities so that they are no longer threatening to the status quo.

Now, what does this have to do with the upside down cross, or Lilith, for that matter? It’s best to start with the upside down cross.

Both the upside down cross and the right side up cross are traditional symbols of Christianity, with meanings that specifically affirm Christianity. But, it has also been possible to interpet the upside down cross as an inversion of the crucifixion of Jesus, since its appearance seems to be a reversal of the symbol of Christianity in the same way that the inversion of the pentagram represented the “evil” powers opposed to the “good” powers represented by the original pentagram. It might seem that such a connection was only made in the context of modern popular culture, but that is not the case. The idea of the inverted cross representing the satanic inclinations and the inversion of Christianity seems to have originated in the milieu of 19th century French occultism. This connection seems to have originated with the use of the inverted cross by Eugene Vintras, who, far from a Satanist, was a mystic neo-Catholic who led a movement centered around the “Work of Mercy”. At some point, Vintras supposedly started receiving visitations from the archangel Michael, who announced the speedy arrival of the “Third Kingdom”, the kingdom of the Holy Spirit, which, according to Vintras, was already present for his followers, which meant that they were already spiritually perfect. His disciples received angelic names, women were officiated as priests, and the traditional Catholic Mass was deemed obsolete, while Vintras himelf wore robes bearing an inverted cross, which signified the end of the “age of suffering” (represented by the regular cross) and the dawn of the “age of love”. This was no doubt a major transgression towards Catholic orthodoxy, and the church branded his sect as a “criminal association”. Eliphas Levi met Vintras once, purportedly saw an inverted pentagram on one of his hosts, and concluded that his sect was a kind of “Satanism”. His successor, Joseph-Antoine Boullan, was also accused of Satanism due to his association with Vintras and the use of the inverted cross.

Symbolism evolves over time, and previously established symbols gain a secondary meaning with time. In the context of 19th century occultism, what was a symbol of Peter’s unworthiness before his master Jesus took multiple new meanings. For Eugene Vintras, it was the inversion of the “age of suffering”, represented by the cross, and because of the transgressive nature of this meaning, it was attacked as a “Satanic” symbol by Christians, and then it slowly became a symbol of Satanism; or rather, it gained a secondary, Satanic meaning, alongside its traditional Christian meaning. Vintras took the Catholic symbol of Peter and altered it so as to give it a new, transgressive meaning. This has since evolved in a further detournement, with unworthiness before God becoming the inversion of God’s new covenant as symbolized by the cross. The reason this is considered invalid, or a theft of Christian symbolism, is, frankly, because Christianity, as the dominant overculture, is seen as something not to be tampered with, and because Christians are fully aware of the nature and power of Satanic detournement. But, of course, certain Satanists are all too happy to play the game themselves. They get heat from society because of the upside down cross, and society associates them with criminal acts because of some maniac with an inverted cross doing maniac stuff, even though the same treatment is never afforded to criminals and terrorists who brandish the regular cross, and so through a combination of this and the opportunity to exercise elitism over others, they gatekeep the symbolism of Satanism by declaring the upside down cross to be the purview of false Satanists or “edgy hipsters”. Of course, it would be wrong to say that the upside down cross is the symbol of Satanism, when the inverted pentagram and the cross of Leviathan already exist, but it is a fool’s errand to try and deny the subversive aspects of the upside-down cross in the context of a religious ideology that itself stridently inverts many of the precepts of Christianity.

But how do we get to Lilith?

Over a year ago I did a Mythological Spotlight centered around Lilith, and I believe I have had a mistaken analysis within it. It was focused on the various pop-mythological claims made about Lilith, such as that she was a dark goddess in the Mesopotamian myths, and in the process of this, I ended up treating the broad modern assessment of Lilith in the Romantic and Kabbalistic context as an intrusion upon her traditional context, that of a child-stealing demonness. But even though towards the end of that post I referred to the transformation of Lucifer and Serapis as an example of old myths gaining new forms, I somehow mistakenly decided that this did not apply to Lilith because…reasons. I was pompous then, probably carrying forward some residual elitism that was extrapolated different desires I had back at the time. If I had considered the theme of detournement carefully, in the context of the subject, it would become obvious that Lilith herself is perhaps the most radical detournement. Lilith had gone from the name of a set of child-stealing demons, to the queen of those demons, to God’s first wife, to an arch-demoness against God, and, from there, a symbol of the powerful, independent woman. The traditional context of the Abrahamic myths of Lilith is that of transgressive, disobedient womanhood, a perversion of obedient femininity, to which monstrous characteristics are then affixed to emphasize the evils of the disobedient woman. The detournement begins, actually, through the parodic context of the Alphabet of Ben Sira, which then creates space for Lilith to take on a new, transgressive, rebellious meaning. When you think about it, what could be truer to the Left Hand Path than to embrace the context of detournement against hierarchy?

Besides which, is there not an example of the reverse of Lilith’s transformation? There is. None other than YHWH! Think about it. What was YHWH before the arrival of Judaism and Christianity? A tribal god of metallurgy, war, or the wind, named Yahweh. And as he asceneded to the supreme sovereign of the Judaic religion, casting out all other gods, he ruled the cosmos of the Old Testament with wrath and revenge, spreading genocide, terror, plague, judgement, to all who opposed his rule. That reality is in stark contrast with the image of God we are still presented with. Through the New Testament, and even there it is not as though God has somehow become “less cruel”, and the later development of Christian theology and culture, God’s petulent malevolence was almost forgotten, obscured by the image of the “God of Love”, whose malevolence was then transferred onto a scapegoat: The Devil. The Devil himself more or less operates as a “Pagan” god, a divinity who, representing the “evils” of the pre-Christian world, competes with God’s power. So The Devil himself, Lucifer, became a subject of radical detournement by his admirers, and God before him was the subject of increasing recuperation by the ever-consolidating power of Christianity. Yet, these are God and the Devil as we know them. They did not remain static. Lucifer did not stay as a name for the brightest planet, and YHWH did not stay as the tribal god of metallurgy. They gained new context as tradition evolved, and that is simply the natural movement of religion.

That’s the point I’m trying to make. If YHWH can be recuperated from a warlike sky god to the benevolent “Good Lord”, and if Lucifer can go from the name of the brightest object of the sky to the name of the Devil, I don’t see why Lilith isn’t allowed to go from child-stealing demon to the emblem of subversive womanhood. And if you’re a Pagan, syncretizing the satanic figures into your practice is in no way a problem, not least because it wasn’t a problem for pre-Christian Pagan magicians to do the same for the angels and names of God.

“Lilith” by Charidimos Bitsakakis (2019)

Matthew Feldman’s terrible article about Satanism and the Left Hand Path

Before we get into the article I’m planning on responding to, I’d just like to mention that, a few days ago, E. A. Koetting has been banned from Facebook and Instagram, ostensibly after a BBC investigation “exposed” his influence on Danyal Hussein, who killed Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman last year. I don’t think it’ll do much beyond giving Koetting and his simps a reason to gripe about censorship, particularly considering that his main forum, Become A Living God, still exists, but it is what it is. That said, Koetting’s defenders did have one point on their side: there are indeed people who are using Danyal Hussein’s actions as the basis for a moral panic against Satanism, and Matthew Feldman appears to be one of them.

Writing for The Independent, Feldman’s article is titled “Nazi-Satanism is real and dangerous – and big tech has given it a platform”. Yes I’m afraid that big tech has struck again and chosen to pollute our pure and innocent ecosystem with Satanism. I’m being facetious, of course. I know what he’s talking about, and it is a real problem that we on the Left Hand Path have been fighting over for quite some time now. Feldman, however, appears to have only heard about Satanism yesterday and it fucking shows in what he writes about Satanism.

Feldman opens his article with a brief introduction to the anti-Satanist moral panic of the 1980s, and states that this was “child’s play” compared to “what was to come next”. Indeed, the problem of groups like Order of Nine Angles and their offshoots really does make all that shit about underground Satanists brainwashing and abusing children from the 80s and 90s look like a nothingburger (well, assuming it wasn’t already a nothingburger to start with), but how does Feldman discuss this? He warns us of a “new” and more dangerous breed of Satanism, which he calls “left hand path Satanism”, and, well, I think I’ll just let him take it from here:

Known as “left-hand path” Satanism, its proponents are theistic Satanists that believe self-described acts of evil can manifest Satan or his minions, like Baal or Azazel. This may sound just as fanciful as the American craze of subliminal Satanism, but it’s not.

The terminology is very curious. He speaks of a “left hand path Satanism”, as though there is presumably a “right hand path Satanism” opposed to it, or indeed, as though the term “Left Hand Path” is the name of a sect of Satanism, and in both senses he would be profoundly wrong. There is no “Left Hand Path Satanism” as opposed to “Right Hand Path Satanism”, because Satanism is, as it has defined itself, a Left Hand Path religion, at least in the most basic sense that describes the Left Hand Path. The Left Hand Path is a term that refers not to a specific esoteric sect of Satanism, but to a broad and diverse family of religious and occult belief systems and traditions who are united primarily by the pursuit of antinomianism as a path to whatever the goal of the religion is – whether that’s unity with God, attaining enlightenment, deepening the cycle of reciprocity with the gods, etc. Satanism is a part of the family of the Left Hand Path because, in all its strands, it stresses the religious identification with the antinomian character or archetype of Satan and the embrace of social non-conformity for the purposes of individual self-expression and empowerment within what is, for the most part, a religious or esoteric context. I cannot for the life of me think of any form of Satanism that could be classed as “right hand path Satanism”, although funny enough I think the more Nazi or Aryanist forms of esoteric Satanism sort of come close (for reasons that I laid out here).

As to the idea of the belief that “self-described acts of evil can manifest Satan or his minions”, he is clearly referring to the Order of Nine Angles, the notorious neo-Nazi sect that is only barely mentioned in the article. The Order of Nine Angles and its offshoots are well-known for their doctrine that holds that self-described acts of evil – meaning terrorism, random murder, rape, and racist violence – are all ways to empower the practitioner of Satanism and black magick to become a god and bring about galactic empire under the aegis of a being named Vindex. Needless to say this is not just some generic theistic Satanist belief that is universal to theistic Satanism, but is very specific to the Order of Nine Angles and its offshoots, which also happen to be reviled by much of the rest of Satanism as a movement precisely because of their alignment with neo-Nazism.

A lot of the article is spent going over some pretty basic facts, and even covers the apparent presence of a “Celtic cross” tattoo on E A Koetting’s arm. Since I didn’t cover that previously, let’s briefly get into it here for a moment. This “Celtic cross” appears to be real and seems to be a specific variation of the “Sun cross”, a fairly generic and usually solar symbol that appeared in many different variations throughout history but which was recuperated (or rather appropriated) by fascists of various stripes. A “Celtic cross”, or “Celtic wheel cross” as it appears to be for Koetting, would be basically an equilateral cross surrounded by a circle, but the ends of the cross poke out of the circle, and Koetting’s cross seems to be a white nationalist variation of the “Celtic cross”. I can only imagine Koetting thinks it’s some kind of Pagan sun symbol (he has depicted the Irish god Lugh as a sun god, despite the complete lack of any basis for this in Irish myths and tradition) but the “Celtic wheel cross” as we know it probably never appeared anywhere before the Christian era, so it would be based on Christian aesthetics rather than pre-Christian aesthetics. Of course, trust Koetting to be utterly clueless like that.

E. A. Koetting pictured here with his Christian I mean “Celtic” wheel cross tattoo, which very much resembles the “Celtic cross” used by white nationalists.

However, the main problem comes with the issue of moral panic that builds up as the article progresses. Again, let’s take a passage from the article and let it speak for itself:

All this is horrific enough. But these incitements to murder and terror are scarcely confined to the uglier corners of the internet. To this day, E. A. Koetting happily plies his Satanist grift to more than 87,000 subscribers on YouTube. These cancerous ideas are obviously metastasising. Even a few short years ago these abhorrent acts might have also been dismissed as a “moral panic”. Today they pose a terrorist threat.

Here, Feldman seems confused. He seems to assume that it is the violent acts of esoteric neo-Nazis that would be dismissed as a moral panic, rather than the attitude taken towards Satanists or the narratives constructed around them. The moral panic of the 1980s and 1990s (which, by the way, still persists albeit less pronounced, but it is certainly visible in other parts of the world) was the narratives concerning the supposed actions of Satanists. It was not the actions themselves. And to be frank, the fact that the phrase moral panic is given in quotes suggests a dismissiveness of something that, if you actually talked to some of the many non-criminal and non-fascist Satanists that are out there, you’d know is a legitimate concern. Every Satanist and left hand path practitioner has expressed some concern that the murders committed by Danyal Hussein would eventually be used as a device through which to scapegoat Satanists in general, regardless of their affiliation with Order of Nine Angles, Tempel ov Blood, or Become A Living God, and regardless of whether or not they have committed any crimes to speak of. Satanists who are concerned about living their lives free to express themselves without fear of facing persecution and marginalization are right to be concerned about getting caught in a dragnet that isn’t designed to stop when it catches the right people.

There’s something else to note about this article. This article was published just yesterday, and E. A. Koetting was banned from Facebook a few days ago. Yet Feldman does not feel content for things to stop there. He notes that Koetting still hocks his ideas on YouTube, which is owned by Google, to an audience of currently 87,000 subscribers. Then, at the end of the article, he says this:

As the murders and money stack up, the question must be posed: what next? Are we simply to await more death, or is there something proactive that governments, and concerned citizens can do? We need to start urgently asking these questions. And start demanding answers. Otherwise, quite simply, more innocent victims will die at the hands of infatuated teenagers, hopped up on neo-Nazi Satanism. This is no “moral panic”. It has, instead, become moral to panic about the platform Big Tech has given to these and other extremists. Enough is indeed enough.

The obvious question here is what indeed has to happen for Feldman to be satisfied? I mean after all, the fate of society is at stake here. What is this “something proactive” that governments should do? Who are these “concerned citizens”, and what should they do? Feldman dismisses the language of moral panic, and yet he affirms it consistently, even declaring that moral panic is justified. The risk to non-Nazi and non-criminal Satanists of being vilified in the same way as they were decades ago is not to be dismissed. The question still hangs over our heads. If it is unacceptable for us simply wait for more death, and we need the state (as well as “concerned citizens”) to be “proactive”, then what is to be countenanced for such vague ends?

If we take Feldman’s arithmetic seriously, then every 1 in 1,000 of Koetting’s subscribers takes his ideas on board and uses them as the basis to commit terroristic or sacrifical violence, meaning there are 100 people like Danyal Hussein running around at least. But Danyal Hussein, so far, seems to be a unique case, at least in the sense that he’s the only person we know to have killed for E. A. Koetting’s black magick. And Koetting has been active on social media and writing books for years now. Although Koetting’s books undoubtedly contain advocacy for ritualistic murder and violence, it seems strange that only one person turned out to commit murders inspired by his work. And if we expand to the broader phenomenon of Nazi Satanism, it is definitely a serious problem, we have some fairly high-profile murders attached to the movement and there are active cells across different countries in the world. But how many people are involved with it? There is no reliable data for membership of the O9A, it’s barely possible to estimate their actual membership let alone that of Tempel ov Blood. Some believe the O9A is the largest Satanist organization in the world, but others suggest that their actual membership consists of a couple of thousand people. But there doesn’t seem to be any concrete statistics available to confirm how many people are in the O9A. I’ve never been able to tell you how many people were members of Joy of Satan, even back in the hey day of being on Yahoo Answers where you always saw them sooner or later, and there are lots of small-time, obscure Nazi Satanist groups on the internet. O9A just happens to be the largest of them all, by a mile.

Also, I cannot help but notice the increasing conversation among white supremacy whisperers about Nazism in relation to Satanism, Paganism, and the occult, and this periodically being cited as reasons to distrust Satanism, Paganism, and occultism, all the while we never do have the same conversation about Christianity, even though there are so many white supremacists in the West who identify themselves as Christians. Look around for all the major white supremacist and white nationalist groups in the United States. If they aren’t explicitly Christian in a certain theological sense, they certainly identify with some aspect of Christian culture and aesthetics, do not demonstrate any alignment with Satanism, Paganism, or esoteric belief systems. In fact, many white supremacist movements are influenced by a religious ideology known as Christian Identity, which believes that white people as descended from Adam and Eve are God’s chosen people and that Jews and non-whites are soulless “serpent seed” descended from Satan. There are Christian nationalist groups that constantly pump out white nationalist or adjacent propaganda and, if we take the whole stoschastic terrorism shit seriously, inspire a lot more violence than E. A. Koetting ever ended up doing. The vast majortiy of Trump supporters who beat up and run over anti-fascists do so with the comfort of their belief that the Christian God is on their side – not Satan, not Lucifer, not Odin, not Zeus, just God and his son Jesus. Even the infamous “Q Shaman” who came to Capitol Hill dressed like some kind of berserker from Norse Paganism was actually, despite his audacious Viking-like appearance, a Christian who ranted about elite Democrats being Satan worshipping pedophiles, which is definitely not something a consistent Pagan would do. But despite all of that, you will never hear the same people go on and on about how Christianity has a white supremacy problem, let alone an inherent one. The irony of course is that, even as far back as the early days of Christianity, despite the Bible’s teaching that there is neither Jew nor Greek “for you are all one in Christ Jesus”, several of the church fathers were vicious anti-Semites. I’m waiting for people like Matthew Feldman to declare a moral panic against Christian white supremacy, call it by name like he does with Satanic Nazism, unless he’s afraid of alienating Christians by calling them out.

I get the facts that Feldman uses to justify his case, more than I’m sure he would understand, but if anyone should be panicking, it is we who follow the left hand path and who have striven to beat back its fascist interlocutors for years now. We have been against the O9A since long before it hit the mainstream media headlines a couple of years ago. We’ve been well aware of the O9A, as well as other neo-Nazi groups like Joy of Satan, for longer than you jackasses have, and we’ve been fighting them for longer than you have. You only care about them now that some high-profile murders have thrust them onto the spotlight in a time where anti-fascism can seem more in vogue than ever, but we have constantly fought and opposed their presence and their attempts to exert influence over our community (or so-called community anyway). It matters to us in a way that it never really did for you. We have fought them before you stepped in, and we will continue to fight them long after you and the masses end up forgetting that people like Danyal Hussein ever existed. That’s because the path taken by the children of darkness is that of an iron-fisted commitment, at least for those who have patiently understood their destiny. So while we’re always happy to welcome any ally in the fight against fascism, we don’t appreciate someone wanting to talk about occultism and Satanism in a way that suggests they’ve done absolutely no background research on the subject in order to consciously whip up a moral panic that will serve only to hurt those who sincerely wish to practice the left hand path, including Satanism, without criminality or fascism.

So please, fuck off, because we are not a part of your right hand path, and we are not pawns in your moral panic bullshit that you disguise as anti-fascism.

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Feldman’s article: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nazi-satanism-danyal-hussein-murder-b1941947.html

The death of a politician

Recently, two conservative politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, though one in particular, on my side of the Atlantic, has engendered a mainstream media conversation about violence against politicians, and this conversation has a lot of rammifications for how our society understands the realities of politics, and conveys what it wants you to understand politics as.

On Friday last week, the Conservative MP David Amess was murdered seemingly at random during a constitutency surgery (basically a one-to-one meeting between an MP and their constituents) in Leigh-On-Sea. We still don’t exactly know who killed him, but it is already being assumed by the authorities that the attack was a terrorist incident, since the investigation is being handled by counter-terrorism officers, and the apparent main suspect is an unnamed 25-year old man who happens to be of Somali heritage and who is suspected of being motivated by Islamic extremism. Exactly why that motivation would lead him to target some random MP is not yet clear. British media coverage is of course consumed by this story, and the entire British establishment and media is describing him as basically a kind-hearted patriot who just wanted to serve his constituency. What’s more, the fact of Amess’ murder has opened up discussion of the security of MPs, to the point that Priti Patel, our Home Secretary, is calling for the abolition of online anonymity in order to “protect” MPs.

It’s only natural for people to avoid speaking ill of the recently deceased, especially for family. But I believe that the way the politicians and the media are going about this makes me think, “give me a break!”, and compels me to say some things that I imagine a lot of people might not like to hear.

When it comes to politics, actions speak louder than words, and for democratic politics that tends to mean the kind of policies you work to put in place. It’s easy to forget this when our politicians tell us about the democracy “we have developed as the means of no longer attacking each other and using violence to achieve our aims”, but in reality the policies made by elected officials can represent violence in its own right. It may not be the violence of somebody getting shot or stabbed or what have you, but it is the violence of a government denying you dignity and making sure you probably die in austerity or live in tyranny – the power to do which, incidentally, is maintained ultimately by conventional violence. Structural violence is what I mean. For our purposes, let’s forego the predicted discussion about Amess’ Conservative Party and the effect they’ve had on the national level and go straight to his individual voting record, because that by itself doesn’t tell a pretty picture of the kind of politician he was.

For starters, Amess consistently voted to expand the mass surveilance of citizens by the state, such as the mass retention of internet usage by the government and the interception of communications by the government. In a few words, he voted for tyranny. He also voted against granting autonomy to the regional governments of Scotland and Wales as well as local councils, and against reforming the House of Lords to make it wholly elected. He voted against banning immigration detention for those who are pregnant and against implementing guidelines for the detention of vulnerable people, thus he voted to increase the hardship and suffering of vulnerable people under a hostile immigration system. He voted to bar people from work based on their immigration status, thus anyone just coming here looking to survive, if they didn’t come here “the right way”, are fucked. He always voted to reduce government spending on welfare benefits, including cutting Universal Credit benefits for people in paid work and cutting housing benefit. He also voted against investigating the impact of government austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality, and voted against spending money to create jobs for young people who have been unemployed for a long time. In a few words, he voted to make people poor and keep them poor. He voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act of 1998, which, among other things, protects citizens from torture and forced labour and preserves numerous rights and freedoms in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. In fact, he voted to only allow human rights grounds to be invoked to prevent the deportation of foreign criminals. He voted against plans to save the steel industry involving fast-tracking infrastructure projects, meaning he voted against anything that might have protected working class jobs and thereby their livelihoods. He voted against same-sex marriage, against making the age of consent equal for homosexuals and heterosexuals, against making it illegal to discriminate based on caste, against allowing same-sex couples to form civil partnerships in Northen Ireland, and against the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. He voted for the Iraq War, in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed based on lies, only to later criticize the Labour Party for not being able to find weapons of mass destruction. Finally, he voted against several measures aimed at curtailing man-made climate change.

All told, when it comes to his votes, what he did in government, he actually seems to have contributed to the long-term suffering of his constituents, as well as other people in Britain, as well as the long-term survival of human life and life on earth more generally. This is especially poignant when it comes to his voting record on welfare benefits, since his defence on austerity literallly constituted class warfare against the poor and the working class, many of whom depend on those welfare benefits to survive, and that goes double for the disabled, which would mean that Amess pursued policies that can be counted as structural violence against vulnerable people and the poor. On top of that he also advocated for the reinstatement of capital punishment, meaning he would have granted the state the right to execute people if he ever got the chance. But hey, I suppose he at least had the decency to oppose foxhunting and hare coursing. One must wonder if he loved animals more than his own constituents. But if you point all of that out, you’re told that all of this does not reflect Amess as a person, because “everyone who knew him” thought of him as a kind and decent person. I assume that means the politicians and his family, not everyone else. It’s all just the kind of political correctness reserved only for dead politicians, and it serves the same purpose as regular political correctness (and I mean in the old, pre-1990s sense).

The only violence that MPs want to talk about is acts of seemingly random violence towards them, violence that will easily be contained because it’s not a long-term threat to the system. They don’t want to talk about the violence that the system they uphold visits upon people every day, possibly because it’s long-term structural violence and not visceral short-term violence. The short-term threat to them is what all this talk about taking away online anonymity is all about it: curtailing your freedom to uphold their meager sense of security. And you know what? I’m gonna bet it won’t even work. Even if you take away online anonymity, I’ve seen people on Facebook advocate for violence against immigrants and non-white people with their real names and photos attached to their accounts. You don’t think some people are gonna say some shit about politicians too? Will you be able to arrest all of them? And all the while, all you’ve gone and done is ensure that people, say, trying to hide from abusive parents won’t be safe because they can’t operate anonymously on the internet. Did we forget what a lack of online anonymity means for LGBT people in repressive regimes or reactionary cultures? You could say that all the MPs are doing is furthering violence upon people who don’t deserve it in order to protect themselves from a leftfield attack.

Colin Powell is another example where honour towards the deceased is in some ways misplaced, more customary than really deserved. This is a man who sold the idea of the War in Iraq to America, on false claims of Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. He got tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed and sent thousands of American suckers to kill and die for more oil extraction and a murderous occupation overseen by the Blackwater corporation. But now that he’s dead, he’s called a warrior, a patriot, the first black Secretary of State, and a man who paved the way for Barack Obama to become the first black President, as though Barack Obama was somehow such a good president anyway. And as long as we’re talking about American war criminals who got fawning praises after dying in recent memory, Colin Powell isn’t the only one. John McCain was almost solely remembered for enduring capture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and after his death he got venerated like he was a North Korean dictator. If that was all you saw about John McCain, you might not known that he was essentially responsible for the growth of what would become the Donald Trump movement, and beyond that he was another Iraq War goon busy leading thousands to their deaths, and threw himself behind the bombing of Libya and Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen, which lead to scores of deaths and even the return of chattel slavery. When George H. W. Bush died, he received showers of sympathy and praise as a noble public servant, completely glossing over his legacy of racism and war crimes. I’m sure that when Joe Biden kicks the bucket in my lifetime he’ll be given the exact same treatment.

I think that of all people Max Stirner actually got it right when he said this: “The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual, crime.” It’s obvious if you really think about it. You’re not supposed to think of what politicians do as violence. Only criminal elements who don’t have political office get to be thought of as violent thugs, while statemen and stateswomen get to be thought of as making “hard choices” and defenders of some greater good. I’m not going to say that what happened to David Amess was right, that would be pretty callous of me. What I will say is that I won’t be crying for him, and you can’t make me, and you will not have me participate in your politically correct worship of the state and its vessels.

Left-wing superpatriotism: An infantile disorder

Yet another informative and even more necessary overview from East of Eden, this one outlining red-brown alliances in the context of the modern brand known as “patriotic socialism”. Covers people like Jackson Hinkle, Haz from Infrared, and Caleb Maupin, with Jimmy Dore and the boys from Grayzone in the fray as well, and an overview of historic efforts at red-brown alliance and far-right disruption of the left stretching far back into the 1980s.

East of Eden

The three main faces of the right-opportunist “patriotic socialist” tendency: Jackson Hinkle (left), Caleb Maupin (middle) and Haz from Infrared (right)

One aspect of sectarianism in the left is that it may reflect varying ideological or political interests. Earlier in this blog I covered an example of sectarianism which advocated for the left to police the “tankie” tendencies within our ranks in capitulation to liberal orthodoxy. Sadly, this is not the only mode of sectarianism plaguing the left. There is another form that is just as sinister, and some may even argue is even worse.

I am talking of course about the right-opportunist tendency that some have called “patriotic socialism” (which itself is but one of many terms used to described it) as representated by Caleb Maupin, Jackson Hinkle, Haz from Infrared and a number of other figures. They may refer to themselves as “populists” or even Marxist-Leninists (even though…

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Too much comfort and abstraction will kill you

I know this post is rather spontaneous, and I don’t plan on writing about the Gods and Radicals stuff for too long, or at least unless something major happens, but it seems that Rhyd Wildermuth’s article about anarchism just yesterday received a response on that very same website written by Christopher Scott Thompson, an anarchist and contributing author. The article, titled “We Are What We Always Were: A Response To “What Happened To Anarchism”“, is a sincere challenge to Wildermuth’s arguments against anarchist anti-fascism and I find that it put some real, heartfelt perspective to what Wildermuth strives to complain about, as well exposing his lies.

But, the article itself is not the main subject of this post, though the perspective it provides is a big part of what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is some reflections and perspective that was inspired by Thompson’s response.

Probably the most important point to consider from the article is about conflict, more specifically Thompson’s response to Rhyd’s points about the tactics used by anti-fascists. In response to Rhyd’s point about how it was ironic that anarchist websites got banned from Patreon and Facebook after Antifa groups “led the call” for far-right groups getting banned, Thompson argued, pretty convincingly, that even their own groups getting censored was, while bad for them, worth the risk to take out the far-right. His point was that a tactic in itself doesn’t become bad just because it can be turned against you, because the same applies for every tactic, in that there is no tactic that isn’t in some ways a double-edged sword. According to Thompson, everyone knew that this would happen, and accepted the risk on the grounds that it was worth taking the hit if it meant preventing harm being done. While I tend to be skeptical of deplatforming and definitely opposed to censorship on principle, when it comes to doxxing fascists who are about to do violence on others and bully others into committing suicide, it almost seems like there’s no reason to oppose that. I mean it’s just as Thompson says, which is more ethical? Is it more ethical to let fascists on 8chan “troll storm” Sophie Labelle into committing suicide because they didn’t like the fact that a trans person was creating comics that offended them, or is it more ethical to stop those fascists from doing that? If Thompson is right, the 8chan fascists seemed to stop harassing Sophie Labelle only after anti-fascists doxxed the people involved. I can’t help but think back to what happened to Near, the emulator developer who was bullied into suicide because they were trans and autistic, and wonder if perhaps the people at KiwiFarms might have backed off if they had the feeling that, perhaps, they would face the consequences of what they were doing? Would Near still be alive?

The perspective that Thompson offers is like a lightning bolt, it thrusts something important, but often forgotten, to the center of consciousness. From the perspective of Thompson, and the active, on-the-ground anti-fascist movement of which he is a part, it’s all about conflict, because theirs is a struggle in a real and visceral sense, one that is violent in nature in response to violence against the marginalized. For liberals, conservatives, vulgar libertarians (as opposed to radical, socialist ones), and apparently for people like Rhyd Wildermuth too, this is all just a conversation of ideas and opinions that can be hashed out intellectually. That’s in stark contrast to the anti-fascists fighting on the streets: for them, this is war.

Struggle, conflict, war, these are things that are lost to people who live in comfort and abstraction. Rhyd Wildermuth lives in the Ardennes, far away from anything happening in the United States that was once his home. Angie, his friend, is a middle class online socialite from London. Her friend, Aimee Terese is the rich daughter of a Lebanese capitalist living all the way in Australia, all the while doing nothing but incoherently rambling about the politics of a land whose people she has no real connection to. There’s all sorts of people who live, if not in comfort, then certainly in isolation from the struggle that persists at the center of the present. But if you live in relative security, comfort, alienation from struggle, it’s easy to think what you do about people who actually live in struggle and conflict, and make it their business to claw their way out rather than try to talk their way out of everything forever. And sometimes, just as is the case for the bourgeoisie, if you have comfort you’ll stoop to anything to protect it, even becoming a grotesque reactionary. I once met a guy who lived in the happiest country in the world and for him everything was about how to win debates and resolve the issues of “wokeness” to make socialism electable. The last time I saw him, he had fully embraced white nationalism. That’s what becomes of these people, because the truth is, if they’re not trying to hold on to their pre-existing biases, they have no skin in the game, and have no respect for those who do have skin in the game. Besides, all they like to do is get offended about everything and then complain about their rivals supposedly being like that. That is weakness.

Here’s something important to take away, consider it a lesson in life: never allow your struggle to be reduced to an intellectual quandary. If you do, then you’ll spend too much time trying to figure out how to solve the quandary, but all that means in practice is creating a set of rationalisations to justify yourself to others in a way that you hope your enemies will be satisfied with. They won’t be satisfied, because they never are, because that was never the point for them. Their real goal has never been to achieve resolution through reason, but instead to dominate you, gaslight you, and create insurmountable obstacles for your goals that can only be overcome on their terms, and while you never win they sit comfortably knowing that their victory is forever assured. Meanwhile the war, if it hasn’t already been ceded through intellectual compromise, is still going on all around you and your friends are dying or being brutalized, and figuring out how to rationalize yourself intellectually has solved nothing.

What has the working class ever gained by arguing that they have the right to equitable and humane living conditions, instead of fighting for those very conditions? What would Stonewall have ever gotten for the LGBT community if not for the riots of 1969? People talk about the American Founding Fathers to use them as a stamp of authority on behalf of their own positions, often for conservative goals, but you would never be able to do that if they didn’t wage revolutionary war against the British crown. Why do trans people have to debate their existence and their rights and endure the suffering of marginalization while their enemies get all the social protection and every benefit of the doubt?

Never forget what Heraclitus said, “war is common, strife is justice, and all things happen according to strife and necessity”. Struggle is real, it animates the transformation of things and of society, because Nature consists of cyclical growth and change, and therefore transformation. Life strives, therefore it fights. Therefore, the world turns. Change, justice, power, emancipation, these grow out of the barrel of a gun or the clash of a blade, or the smash of a brick, or the light of a flame. That’s also the only reason capitalism exists: it won the battle of the brutal transformation of the social order – that is what Marxists call the dialectic of history, and, I assure you, I’m convinced lately that the implications of dialectical transformation contain a grain of brutality to them. It’s also the only reason that losers get to evangelize about the greatness of civilization and progress, because they live off the fat of historic victory, turning that victory into the law of the land, and are eager to avoid losing their place.

Remember the struggle that matters, matters to you, because that knowledge at least might as well be sacred. If you lose it, you lose yourself.

Life Is A Struggle by Gustav Klimt (1903)

How Christians underestimate the sincerity of Paganism: A response to JustTheFacts

A little while ago I stumbled on a video by a YouTuber by the name of JustTheFacts, or more specifically a video he released titled “RELIGIOUS LARPERS ARE RUINING THE INTERNET AND HERE’S HOW”. From what I understand, JustTheFacts is what’s referred to on the internet as a “tradcath”, or “traditional Catholic”. These are highly conservative and often reactionary Catholics who want to “restore” a society governed by authoritarian ideas of morality under the auspices of the Catholic Church, and for the Catholic Church itself to go back to the way it was before the Second Vatican Council, which modernized liturgy by allowing Mass to be read in vernacular language among other things. Their reactionary nature also sometimes leads to them adopting a host bigoted positions, and they even have a reputation for anti-Semitism. Of course, I’m sure not all of that applies to JustTheFacts, who from what I’ve seen considers himself to be against fascism and racism, but a brief run-down what tradcaths are is worth getting into before we start.

Despite tradcaths being known for copious amounts of “larping” on the internet, JustTheFacts intends to accuse Pagans of being larpers who only abandon Christianity in favour of Paganism for political and aesthetic reasons as well as group identity instead of reason. Now granted he does criticize tradcaths for much of the same thing, but the central target appears to be Paganism and as I see it the whole point is just a slew of projections that easily apply to Christians. We’ll get into that as we go forward, but the necessary conceit that comes with this argument is that it is impossible for people to embrace a religion other than Christianity for rational, intellectual, philosophical, or really reason that doesn’t amount to some kind of show. The idea is that there can’t be any logical reasons for abandoning Christianity, and so it necessarily must be explained by certain desires such as for group identity, emotional fulfillment, and attention – because you know, it’s not like all religions have something to do with group identity and emotional fulfillment, right? That’s the thing about Christianity: sometimes, Christians like to pretend that everyone is irrationally religious except them, that they believe what they believe because of logic and reason above all and everyone else only believes what they believe for irrational, superstitious reasons or an assortment of psychological complexes that overpower rational thought.

JustTheFacts is not the only Christian conservative/traditionalist who likes to insist that every modern expression of Pagan spirituality and religiosity is inherently insincere. I remember seeing Jonathan Pageau talk about some self-proclaimed Druid he met and how supposedly this Druid “admitted” to him that his tradition was “all made-up” as though that was some kind of own for the Pagans. Christians, when they aren’t pearl-clutching over demonic threats to their faith, will take any reason they can get for Pagans to not be accepted as sincere in their faith, whereas they are far more willing to accept atheists for their sincerity for some reason.

Anyways, let’s get started with this video. He starts out by saying that he actually despises the term “Larp”, because it assumes that people always merely pretend to believe what they say they believe and this shuts down any conversation people have about each other’s beliefs. His contempt for the word “Larp” is such that he even bans the use of the word on his Discord server, which has some fairly interesting (to say the least) implications about his views on freedom of speech if I may say so. Despite this, he says that it’s important to call out people who “derive their beliefs not from reasoning but from group identity and contrarianism”, a tendency that he believes applies to most religious people on the internet today. What he might not tell you is that this includes the online Christians of the present. He claims that, while there are people that are that arrive at their beliefs based on reason, they are drowned out by people who base their beliefs on group identity and contrarianism, or more specifically for “political reasons” (we’ll get to that in a moment). Again, the same exact thing applies to Christians even if true, or for that matter especially to atheists who find themselves converting to Christianity after watching enough Jordan Peterson lectures about feminism and the Bible.

He frequently conveys his arguments through memetic imagery, a manner that definitely befits the medium, so it’s worth pointing out that the first time we see him represent Pagans in this way is through a Wojak (an ambiguous meme character originally meant to represent melancholy or regret) wearing a Nazi uniform and a shitty “Viking” helmet saying “Well, Christianity is Jewish” when asked what attracted him to Paganism, and then reacting with disdain to an atheist “soyjack” (variation of Wojak) saying “You’re an atheist too? Let’s talk about gay rights and socialism!”. Immediately the subject is engaged in bad faith. The first representation of Pagans we see in this video is a strawman built around the phenomenon of Folkist (or Volkisch) Paganism, which is a racist and exclusionary form of Paganism based around ethno-nationalist and often fascistic ideas about racial purity and bloodlines as a source of community with the gods. It’s an absurd, xenophobic idea that is rejected and resisted by the majority of the Pagan community, but this has not stopped non-Pagans from slandering Pagans as Nazis or fascists because of certain racists and bigots who, although ultimately a minority of the movement, are unfortunately prolific enough that we have to respond against their presence.

Anyways, to return to the supposed conversion to atheism for political reasons. Here’s a strange statement from him:

Since atheism is not a religion but a lack of a religion, it doesn’t validate any particular belief system and that’s not good for people that need to be 100% politics 100% of the time.

I find that many atheists do in fact validate some particular belief system over another. Namely, they validate secular humanism and dismiss almost everything else as superstition. In fact, I would think that the self-styled Catholic should already have some idea of that. Further, the implication of what he’s saying here is that atheism is inimical to politics, but while it is true that atheism in itself does not have a specific political ideology locked into it, it is simply not true that atheism gets in the way consistent politics. In fact, some of the “most political” people you will meet on the internet are atheists. And indeed, when you spend enough time being an atheist, you criticize evangelical Christians, but that means criticizing the political structures that give them power. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists have never actually gone away just because atheists “won the debate” on the internet late in the 2000s and then moved on to whining about feminism. They’re still in politics, many still control state governments and legislatures, the megachurches of course still exist, the Trump administration was full of them, and thanks to Trump the Supreme Court is filled with reactionary Christians that believe basically the same things as many televangelists at least when it comes to religious politics, and they might be in a position to overturn the rights that decades have been spent fighting for. The only thing that changed is that some atheists just stopped talking about them so they could re-enact Elevatorgate forever. And you know what? Most atheists still oppose all of that, which is rightfully so, which also means that, if anything, they’re incredibly political because you have to be in order to fight all of this bullshit.

Also, what’s a “normal pill”? And why are you supposed to take one? And why is resistance to it worthy of mockery?

JustTheFacts’ other representation of Paganism, introduced almost a minute into the ten minute-long video, is another Wojak variation, this time female, with short orange hair, glasses, holding a can of yerba mate tea, and wearing a collar that just says “Witch”. This no doubt is meant to represent the witchcraft subculture, which isn’t necessarily strictly Pagan. It exists within Paganism, does tend to overlap with neopaganism, and many modern withches align themselves with Paganism or neopaganism, but witchcraft in itself is not strictly Pagan, some witches in fact actually consider themselves Christian (I’ve covered this a year ago), and it is not a religion per se. In any case, the witch says that “we are the true opposition to Christianity”, and the Nazi Pagan says “Fool. Idiot. Degenerate.” to mock her. The impression is that there is a schism within Paganism over who is the most “anti-Christian”, which is yet another of many strawmen, since I have never seen the Pagan movement in real life operate this way.

Another strange and ignorant statement follows:

For the most part, it’s been the right wing that has departed atheism online, allowing leftists to make atheism all about them. But, it’s worth noting how some leftists have tried to create a religion from almost nothing. Most of this is contrarianism against Christianity, which is associated with the right in America, and what could possibly be more contrary to Christianity than witches.

The presumption is that leftists seek to “make atheism all about them”. What is meant by this? The impression is that atheism, heretofore an apolitical movement, was recently colonized by the left, who wanted to complete take over atheism and make 100% political, or something. The fact that many atheists throughout modern history have been some kind of leftist, and many leftists throughout modern history have been atheistic, seems to be lost on this guy. The idea that the left is trying to create a religion from nothing has no basis in reality, and is incoherent in the face of the claim that they are embracing Paganism en masse in lieu of atheism. Although, if this guy is anything like Jonathan Pageau he probably thinks nearly all of modern Paganism is just “made up” and therefore would constitute being “created out of nothing”, which only means there’s a certain “party line”, as it were, for Christian conservatives on Paganism.

Also, it may interest our resident Catholic to know that taboos against witchcraft are not the invention of Christianity or its Catholic branch. We find tablets from ancient Mesopotamia invoking the gods to banish the influences of witches, seen simply as malevolent magicians who could cast curses on people, in Greece magic was widespread but not exactly trusted (in fact, the philosophers often regarded magic, let alone witchcraft, as a fraud), and the Roman equivalent of withcraft was practiced on the fringes of Roman society, and on the fringes of the boundaries between religion and “non-religion”, and in any case was often treated as a form of superstition, which back then simply meant excessive or improper desire for knowledge. This may be because the realms of magic and witchcraft aren’t the kind of thing that are easily controlled by the cult of the state, and the ruling class, regardless of the era or religion, has the habit of despising what it cannot control. Because Christianity is ultimately a religion based on authority, divine authority albeit, this logic of state control remains embedded in its own taboos on witchcraft, although ironically the early Christians didn’t even take witchcraft seriously, let alone enough to start burning accused “witches” en masse, until the Middle Ages.

Continuing on the subject of witchcraft we get to his assessment of the role of feminism and, oh boy, is this guy stupid:

It also has the bonus effect of being against the patriarchy and women only, so people on Tumblr decided to “become witches”, as if there were any sort of witch canon or organization qualified to certify them as witches, and eventually the phenomenon spread to Reddit, resulting in WitchesVPatriarchy, a very fun subreddit to add to the pile thereof.

Witchcraft is not exclusive to women. I’m not sure how he got the idea that it was, seeing as he must have waded through a certain amount of witchy content on the internet, but it is simply not true that witchcraft consists exclusively of women. There are plenty of men who embrace the label of “witch”, rather than terms like “warlock” or “wizard” as might be expected in popular culture, and the term “witch” is actually considered to be a gender-neutral term. In fact, a surprising amount of the accused witches burned in the Middle Ages were men; although in many countries, such as Germany, most of the victims of the witch trials were women, in some countries, like Russia and Iceland, more men were persecuted for witchcraft than women were. It is not untrue, though, that there are still plenty of women who practice witchcraft, and the witch as an archetype is more strongly associated with femininity in popular culture, which is no doubt the cause of the confusion of our resident Catholic.

Gender in witchcraft is not the only basic aspect of witchcraft that JustTheFacts seems to be ignorant of. Because he is a Catholic, projects certain expectations upon all other religious movements, in this case the expecation of religious authenticity being contingent upon your faith being certified by some external authority or “canon”. Not every religion has a “canon” in the sense meant by Christians. In fact, a lot of pre-Christian traditions were built on oral cultures, meaning they didn’t have a written canon or any written texts, and tradition was something that was passed down through speech. The fact that they didn’t have “canon” in the Catholic Christian sense didn’t make them any less legitimately religious, and you don’t need “canon” to be a witch or a Pagan. JustTheFacts seems to assume that modern witchcraft as a movement was basically created by people on Tumblr, but there have been witches on the internet since long before Tumblr got off the ground, and there have been witches writing books about their craft for decades. There are still publishers that sell and distribute books on witchcraft, past and present. So on that basis, you can’t just dismiss witchcraft as some hip invention of Tumblr. All you’re doing is demonstrating your own ignorance.

Before we get to his next point, let’s address the next image sequence JustTheFacts shows, because it’s a point I really want to get into. There’s a Wojak on the left side addressing some witches, saying “so when was the last time you girls performed a sacrifice?”, and the witches respond saying “uh shit” and “are we supposed to do that?”. Being that witchcraft isn’t actually a religion, it makes no sense to assume that there be any actual normative expectations regarding the practice of sacrifice. As far as I can see, a lot of modern witches don’t practice animal sacrifice (which is the bare minimum of what JustTheFacts seems to be hinting at) and don’t expect other witches to do so, and they definitely don’t practice human sacrifice either. When it comes to sacrifice of any kind, it would probably be practiced in the context of Paganism, and even in that context the norms for sacrifice are not what they’ve been made out to be. In the ancient world, animal sacrifices were mostly reserved for festivals and some fairly specific cults. When it comes to what you might consider to be more “regular” sacrifices, the norm for that, in Greece at least, was actually vegetables. Many deities were given offerings of plants, flowers, grains and wine, not blood sacrifice. And while some pre-Christian cultures did practice blood sacrifice to some extent, in Greece and Rome human sacrifice was considered a grotesque superstition. In fact, there were some in the Greco-Roman world that argued that all sacrificial rituals served only to separate humans from the gods and argued for their abolition.

Meanwhile, if anything, Jesus Christ’s death in the context of Christianity is basically a human sacrifice performed by God to expiate the sin of mankind. The difference is that this human sacrifice is supposed to annul the need for all other sacrifices, since sin is forgiven and the door to Man’s salvation in eternity is opened. But of course, there’s also martyrdom to account for. Their lives are sacrifices to God, sacrifices made by their own hand, knowing their souls have a place in heaven in their sacrifice. The whole concept of burning heretics and witches at the stake is essentially human sacrifice in all but name. Sin was believed to invite the wrath of God, and witchcraft was seen as especially sinful, witches were believed to invite damnation into the community, while heretics would no doubt have been considered a threat to the faith of the community, the abandonment of which would incur God’s wrath. Ceremonially executing them, through burning or other means, would therefore be a means of expiating the sins of the community through sacrifical murder. Thus, Christianity, far from abolishing sacrifice, has always been a religion of sacrifice. In fact, there are apparently even animal sacrifices still practiced by Christians to this day in the village of Taybeh in Palestine, a Christian-majority village where lambs have been sacrificed since the days of Abraham himself and almost nobody there seems to have a problem with it.

In any case, the funny thing about JustTheFacts’ beliefs regarding witchcraft and paganism is that he doesn’t take too seriously the idea that the people who practice witchcraft “don’t really believe it”, but insofar as he’s prepared to grant that their beliefs are genuine, he is inclined only to admit it in terms of some kind of irony-poisoning (“we become what we pretend to be”) and, ultimately, as a surrender of reason to group identity. Because you know, Catholicism has surely never worked that way. Yes, to have any belief in either the efficacy or simple validity of magic is to completely surrender your individual reason to some group identity, whereas believing that Jesus literally raised from the dead and will come back again to fight the armies of evil is totally based on reason and not conditioned by the desire for acceptance within a group.

Seriously though, give me a fucking break with this shit! When I was a kid, I told my teachers and at least once my parents that I believed in Jesus solely on the basis that I thought I might be punished or face some negative consequence if I didn’t. And it’s not like that was natural instinct or anything, because the very first time my parents asked me to go to church (which I think was when I was around 9 years old) I said no, because, for reasons that I don’t really remember, I didn’t like the idea of going to church. I eventually did end up going to church as a kid, for a little while, but I never liked it very much, and at some point in my youth I did an amateur prayer to a Hawaiian goddess just because I liked her after reading about her in a book about volcanoes. And to be honest, I’m very convinced that I’m not really alone in that experience. How many kids, how many people, have found themselves in the Christian fold not because of their actual beliefs or reason but because of social pressure and the desire to fit in? How do you know that’s not most Christians, considering that a shit-ton of them don’t even understand the Bible they swear by? How many people have surrendered their reason and individuality to conform to the absurd rules, doctrines, and false promises of Christianity? That’s how it is with Christians, though. To attack alternative belief systems that might prove more appealling than their faith, Christians will not hesitate to project all of their failings onto other religions.

The idea that Paganism enforces belief through rigid groupthink is the apogee of the ignorant projection of Christians. The modern Pagan movement is incredibly pluralistic and there isn’t much in the way of “dogma” in the sense understood in the context of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and by that I mean the Pagan movement isn’t dominated by hegemonic thought-terminating catechisms in the way that the monotheistic religions are. In the ancient world, although the record for freedom isn’t comparable to the present, the religious landscape was a pluralistic one in the broad sense, and insofar as there definitely was religious conformity, it wasn’t necessarily because there was some kind of Pope of Paganism telling everyone what to think. Meanwhile, the entire premise of Christianity is that what you believe determines what happens to you when you die! That’s the whole reason that heresy and schisms are such a big deal in the Christian world, why entire sectarian wars have been fought, and why children are indoctrinated whenever possible. Faith in God and his son Jesus is the basic prequisite to being eligible for being saved by God and thus spared eternal damnation, and so what you believe matters if you want to preserve your immortal soul. This inevitably results in a dramatic emphasis on groupthink and intellectual conformity, especially as Christianity became more and more hierarchical and institutionalized over the course of its history. Meanwhile, the idea of a Pagan “community” is sometimes laughed off by Pagans on the grounds that there are too many differences between Pagans for something so binding to work. And yet, the Pagans all get along, they all get together, and they can talk in terms of a collective movement dedicated to the propagation of their faith.

Both Paganism and Christianity can be said to possess a “group identity” that shapes its members, and in fact, all religions can be said to have that. But some group identities are based on the idea that what you believe determines whether you live forever in heaven or die the second death, while other group identities just don’t work that way. This is not a difficult reality to make sense of, once you start to do so anyway. And talking about witches as people who surrendered their identity to some vague idea of what’s cool or aesthetic comes off as richly hypocritical, not just because he’s a tradcath and you can just as easily say people surrender their identities to the tradcath movement because of its aesthetics, but because the meme aesthetic he uses in his videos has consumed more identities on the internet than any spell of witchcraft ever will. I’m serious. I’ve made friends in some pretty scummy and contrarian corners of the internet and watched their whole personalities get dictated by memes to the point that that’s almost all they communicate in. How come that’s not such a surrender to groupthink but belief in witchcraft is? Especially when people tend to practice witchcraft without the broad ideas about religious community that are expected within Christianity? How is this not bullshit?

But in any case, JustTheFacts is not only convinced that people only believe in witchcraft because it’s cool, he also thinks neopagans are the same. He claims that most neopagans, or at least presumably contemporary neopagans, came from the neo-Nazi movement that was popular around 2013. This short-sighted and brazenly bigoted assessment would require JustTheFacts to ignore the complex history of online neopaganism prior to 2013. In reality, then as now, Nazi Pagans were only ever actually a minority within the neopagan movement as they are everywhere else, they have never represented the Pagan or neopagan communities as a whole, and all non-Folkist Pagans see them as racist assholes who abuse Pagan faith as a vehicle for their perverse, xenophobic romanticism and ethnonationalist politics, along with all the violence and genocidal terror that comes with all of that. But again, none of these facts matter to tradcaths like JustTheFacts, because they prefer an alternative history were it was Nazis who invented neopaganism as whole. To examine yet another quotation from the video:

Efforts to create a new European religion for post-Christianity have been going on since the 1800s and they’ve always been somewhat tangled between Norse paganism, Roman paganism, Hinduism and more. Back then, as now, intellectuals decided they didn’t like the principles of mercy, humility, and the meek inheriting the earth, preferring glorious conquest instead. They also didn’t like the Jews very much.

The first part of this requires us to ignore the existence of the so-called “Shelley circle”, which is to say a fairly notorious (in the eyes of 18th century bourgeois society) clique of radical liberal poets led by Percy Bysshe Shelley who all thought of themselves as some sort of pagan revivalists, seeking to revive at least what they thought was Paganism, drawing largely on what they saw in the Greco-Roman pre-Christian world. They were initially atheists, but became drawn to a kind of romantic neopaganism as an expression of a joyful, hedonistic religion guided by positive principles of natural law observable by reason, as opposed to what they saw as the misery and superstition of Christianity. Being radical liberals, close enough to whatever the mainstream left might have been at the time, they certainly harbored none of the fascistic ambitions that the Nazis had, and they weren’t all about “glorious conquest”, being more interested in free love among other things. They also weren’t anti-Semites, or at least Shelley himself wasn’t; in his works he portrays the Wandering Jew, traditionally reviled and cursed for mocking Jesus on the cross, as a heroic paragon of humble virtue who endures every curse God throws at him yet remains a kind man with an unwavering conviction.

The second part would have us thinking that it was only mercy, humility, and kindness that repelled anti-Christian intellectuals (although, in my personal opinion, “the meek shall inherit the earth” is if nothing else a big fat lie, and kind of a dangerous one too), as opposed to more philosophical concerns, most typically surrounding the nature or existence of God and the tendency of Christian societies to demand uncritical obedience to the faith. Friedrich Nietzsche, for his part, was not the anti-Semite that JustTheFacts may be trying to be imply he was. He was something of a reactionary, or at least did have reactionary leanings, at least judging by the fact that he hated the Paris Commune and disliked socialism, but he was not a fascist, was not an anti-Semite, and probably would have hated the fascists if he was alive to see them. It was only through his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who unlike her brother actually was a right-wing volkisch nationalist and anti-Semite, that Friedrich and his philosophy became associated with fascism after she edited his works to conform to her own ideology. But if we’re going to talk about humility and pride, then for my part I do oppose the Christian concept of pride as a sin, and as a matter of fact I’ve talked about here it a few months ago. In short summary, the Christians were wrong to condemn pride in itself as a sin, and the Pagans were right to elevate pride alongside humility as co-existent virtues, and the Christians should just sit there and accept it.

Also, although neopagan projects are what most people in the 18th and 19th centuries knew about practicing Paganism in a contemporary setting, it’s not true that they were the only ones practicing Paganism. In the Balkans, people were apparently still worshipping Slavic gods and goddesses like Mokosh well into the 19th century. There are also some accounts of the god Dumuzid still being worshipped in Iraq well after Islam became the dominant religion. Even in the medieval era, we see accounts of a few people in Sweden still worshipping Odin, and being executed for it. Not to mention that after Christianity took over Rome it still had a difficult time converting the rest of Europe, with priests reporting their embarassing failures to convert Slavic and Norse Pagans. All the while, there were some people in the medieval Christian world, particularly in Byzantium, who privately longed for the restoration of the pre-Christian religion, and even one attempted revolution in Byzantium by Pagan revivalists, as well as another attempt by a still-Pagan peasantry to overthrow Christianity in Hungary in 1046. The fact is that Paganism never truly was stamped out of history, despite Christian assertions to the contrary. True, it was banished from polite society and almost forgotten, but it never did die, it was only forgotten and hidden, and the neopagans and other revivalists, whether through reinvention or reconstruction, served in historical context to rediscover and revitalize Paganism, returning it to the world, evidently proving to be a source of embarassment for the proselytes of “progress”.

Now we come to a question that again betrays JustTheFacts’ ignorance. He claims to admire neopagans, even after he had already established that they were all Nazis according to him, but he asks why they don’t just be atheists instead of Pagans. The answer, according to him, is that atheism was too strongly associated with liberal academics, which supposedly these neopagans didn’t want. The obvious problem with this argument is that there are plenty of liberal Pagans who, being liberals, would have no problem with “liberal academics” or whatever he’s trying to refer to. The imagery he chooses is a Wojak (or Soyjak) again saying “You’re an atheist too? Let’s talk about gay rights and socialism!”, and the Nazi Pagan Wojak which he uses to represent Paganism says “…No”. If he were at all familiar with the contemporary Pagan or neopagan scene, he’d know that this scenario is absurd. Most modern Pagans are not against gay rights, in fact they acknowledge the tendency of Pagan myths to feature queer characters who aren’t punished for being queer, and there are a lot of Pagans who will tell you that they’re for socialism, though there are also many who disagree. In fact, one of the earliest modern Druids is a Scottish man named George Watson McGregor Reid, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was a socialist and union activist who eventually also advocated for anarcho-communism. The neo-Nazis did not “go off and make their own thing” after being sick of atheists. They already despised atheists, and their idea of what Paganism is comes from over a century of volkisch romanticism and ethno-nationalist ideology, which animated the rise of the original Nazis in Germany. But I suspect he won’t talk too much about that because some of the original volkisch ideologues were actually Christians and/or Christian occultists rather than Pagans.

So, as to the question of why they don’t just be atheists, it seems to me that the obvious answer to that question is that they simply don’t find the atheist position to be convincing, and believe in the gods or (in the case of less theistic Pagans) that the natural world is worthy of worship instead, and that they came to that conclusion on their own, in a society and culture that does not encourage Paganism. In other words, they just sincerely believe in what they believe. It really is that simple.

Now, about five minutes into the video, JustTheFacts turns his gaze towards tradcaths, regarding them as having failed to live up to the tenets of Catholicism or Christianity. For him this doesn’t actually mean “being liberal and accepting everything because it says in the Bible that you should be tolerant”, evidently a strawman concocted as a coping mechanism for how easily non-Christian leftists embarrass right-wing Christians for failing to adhere to Biblical teachings when it comes to immigration policy (see Matthew 25: 31-40 or Deuteronomy 10:19) or capitalism (see Acts 2:44). But while he insists on not referring to the practical political implications of following the Bible, he does rightly complain that modern Catholics don’t necessarily live up to “the spirit of benevolence and mercy” he attributes to Christian teaching, and it’s clear from the imagery that he’s referring to Nazi Catholics. Unfortunately for him, though, the Catholic Church has a record of assisting the Nazis in some capacity; the Pope of that time neither condemned the Nazis nor pled with Hitler to release captured Jews, the Church helped Nazis escape to South America, and the German Catholic Church openly admitted their complicity with the Nazis. So, sorry, but no dice.

The imagery he chooses is for one of his points is strange and paints an absurd picture: it’s a Wojak representing a conservative college professor saying “Today we will be learning from De Regno”, and an angry Wojak representing a left-wing student says “WHAT ABOUT DAS KAPITAL?”. I’m assuming this was in a class for theology or religious studies, so why would you ever see someone in a class about theology and religious studies complain that their professor doesn’t teach them Das Kapital? That just wouldn’t make sense, because nobody expects politics or economics to be taught in theology class, and I’ve never seen any examples of that ever happening.

In any case, here JustTheFacts attempts to explain the phenomenon of Nazi tradcaths, and let’s see how well he manages it:

Now, who are these people, exactly? Well, when some of the neo-Nazis went to paganism in order to be contrary to the Jews, some of them decided to be as contrary as possible to liberalism, and what better religion to be against liberalism than the Catholic Church, known for fighting liberalism since the French Revolution. They took a number of from Catholicism, namely the aesthetic and the hatred of Protestants, but they also brought a few things with them such as pride, wrath, and cold-hard cruelty. These people rejoice in the idea that others might be burning in hell, even though scripture explicitly tells them not to do that, they promote the idea that there is no saving their enemies and they should only ever kill them, even though scripture explicity tells them not to do that, and they exalt themselves instead of humbling themselves, even though scripture explicity tells them not to do that.

There are some pretty fair points about modern tradcaths here, I think we’ve all observed some of those and there are real tweets like the ones he showed, but there’s a few problems. He says that they brought “cold-hard cruelty” with them to Catholicism, as though the Catholic Church was never cruel at all. What do you think the Inquisition was? Or the mass human sacrifice that we call “witch burnings”? And how do you think the Catholic Church viewed the genocide of indigenous peoples in North and South America? What do you think they thought of the Catholic settlers torturing and slaughtering natives, systematically destroying their culture, and giving them plagues? Even Pope Francis could not refer to what happened in the Americas as conquest without saying “so-called”, and there are Catholics to this day that deny that there was genocide. And it’s not a thing of the past either: the Catholic Church is still responsible for the genocide of indigenous children in Canada and Catholics still try to deny that it was even genocide. It’s not like the Catholic Church wasn’t ever cruel before the Nazis or tradcaths showed up.

Also, the volkisch movement that inspired the Nazis was, in part at least, originated by Christians as well as non-Christian romantic mystics. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, one of the intellectuals most celebrated by the Nazis, was a Protestant Christian who thought that the Catholic Church was a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the “Aryan” race. Chamberlain also, like Hitler, believed that Jesus was an “Aryan” and could not have been Jewish. Chamberlain’s other major admirer, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was a Lutheran, but after World War 1 Wilhelm converted to Marcionism (an ancient and heretical dualist sect of Christianity). Wilhelm, just like Chamberlain, was also convinced that Jesus was an “Aryan” rather than a Jew. One of the fathers of Ariosophy, an esoteric belief system centered around the idea of some lost “Aryan” mysteries, was a man named Jorg Lanz-Liebenfels, an Austrain aristocrat and former monk who believed that Jesus was an Aryan who was to come and redeem the “Aryan” race after generations of interbreeding with “demonic” non-“Aryans”. You’ll notice a lot in the original volkisch movement that it tended to include people who sought to justify worshipping Jesus depsite him being notably non-“Aryan” by arguing that he was actually an “Aryan”. That doesn’t sound to me like something a Pagan would need to do, since Pagans don’t worship Jesus or support the idea that he was the son of God.

In any case, JustTheFacts goes on to round off the “character” of the tradcath he aims to describe, summarizing the archetype as a person who picks and chooses to create their own brand of Catholicism based on identifying against their enemies as much as possible as opposed to genuine belief. There is an extent to which this might be true, but it also ignores the fact that the opposition to liberalism itself derives from something other than contrarianism. If it’s pure contrarian contempt for liberalism that drives a person, then that contempt can spread in any number of directions, all filtered by any number of personal biases that already exist in your mind. The tradcath must be a tradcath because the tradcath centers tradition and authority in the abstract, even inasmuch as the tradcath may genuinely believe in Catholicism as the correct doctrine. So it is actually not because of pure contrarianism that motivates the choice to become a tradcath but instead the desire for authoritarian models of virtue to rule society, itself inspired by the fixation on hierarchical power.

And so we come to the end of the video, where we find witches, Nazi Pagans, and Nazi Catholics, side by side as though they’re equals, because they’re all exactly the same type of larper giving up their own minds to surrender to group identity. Again, as if that’s not the history of Christianity according to this gormless conservative moron. Although I must say, the big stink about tribes against tribes does sound perfectly liberal, since they’re biggest bellyachers when it comes to anyone having any sort of “group identity” and loudly asserting it, or at least in a way that bourgeois society deems offensive or degenerate. And then some spiel about how perhaps all of human history is larping, or something, but then ultimately those people don’t matter. Why even bother to make this video at that point?

So all in all I really don’t see any real substance to JustTheFacts’ argument. For one thing there’s not all that many facts involved, despite his namesake. Just keep an eye out for people who brand themselves as being almost neutral in that they’re solely interested in objective truth, but in reality are morons and liars who can’t get even remotely close to the truth and are only interested in their reactionary agenda. But the whole enterprise driven almost entirely by the idea that non-Christians are not what they say they are, do not believe what they say they believe, and cannot be doing anything except acting out a kind of deception towards themselves and others, pretending to be something they’re not. Who they really are is something that, for the Christian, is decided by the Christian, on the grounds that Christianity is just axiomatically the correct faith, as though hardwired into the human condition despite only existing for less than 2,000 years (in terms of how many years mankind, or even just civilization, has been on Earth, this is a blip). The one thing that such a worldview cannot admit is that people can sincerely believe in the worship of the gods or of nature on their own, that people can look at the progress of civilization from Paganism to Christianity and later secular atheism and decide that they prefer Paganism. Such sincerity seems to be beyond the comprehension of the Christian.

The Pagan Festival by Ada Mangilli

JustTheFacts’ video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLe9av5X60g

Is Alexander Reid Ross the CEO/dad of antifa?: On contagion, shades of grey, and the three-way fight

This is rather interesting. How have I only just discovered that transphobia isn’t the only thing Rhyd Wildermuth likes to obfuscate? Apparently he does the same thing for fascists and terrorists too? I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Cautiously pessimistic

Dear Leftists: Going on Tucker Carlson Is Not Going to Stop Imperialism -  Pacific Standard

In recent years, there have been a number of controversies on the left over the subject of “red-brown alliances”, those areas where some right-wingers attempt to recruit from, or actively cooperate with, sections of the left.

There have been many people involved in arguing against any such alliances; one of them, Alexander Reid Ross, has now gone on to working for a centrist “anti-extremist” think tank linked to various US state figures. To be clear, anyone working for the Network Contagion Research Institute has definitely crossed a line; whatever “our side” is, Ross has definitely ceased to be on it. Some of those who Ross has criticised in the past, notably Max Blumenthal, the Assadist and frequent Tucker Carlson guest, have seized on this development as a way to attempt to discredit everything he’s ever written and all the positions that he’s been aligned with.

This argument…

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Fighting an anti-“cancel culture” culture war isn’t worth defending the Inquistion

This last year has convinced me more than anything that conservative politics is entirely morally bankrupt, and their discourse on the increasingly nebulous concept of cancel culture serves as the basis of their moral decay. Earlier this year, we saw this with Republicans leveraging the non-issue of Dr Suess retracting a couple of books in order to avoid talking about why they voted against every Covid-19-related spending bill put forward and would not support a rise in the minimum wage. Now, we see this with conservative ideologues going on record to say that the Inquisition was better than modern “cancel culture”.

What I’m referring to is a Daily Wire segment in which Matt Walsh, a conservative pundit who has his own show on Daily Wire, actually argued that the Inquisition was “caricatured”, as in its crimes were somehow blown out of proportion, and that it was much better than the “cancel culture” supposedly perpetuated by “trans activists”. The following is taken from a clip shown on Jason Campbell’s tweet:

As for the videos, they demonstrate an important thing: that gender ideology, more than any other leftist doctrine, is spread and propagated by force. What you’re witnessing in videos like this is a modern form of forced conversion. Gender activists compel normal people to affirm their doctrines under threat of public shaming, loss of income, or violence, or all three in some cases. In a forced conversion centuries ago, or even today in some parts of the world, you may have been coerced into affirming their religious doctrine under threat of being burned at the stake. Now you’re coerced into affirming the doctrines of the gender cult, under threat of having everything else in your life, aside from your physical body, incinerated. Trans activists are basically what your public school history teacher told you the Inquisitors were. The difference is that the Inquisition has been caricatured. I mean, it was far more defensible than modern day cancel culture is, especially the cancel campaigns waged by trans activists. Also, in this Inquisition, of today, the Inquisitors are not trying to coerce a belief in or submission to any sort of eternal, celestial God, but rather, they themselves are the gods. At least that’s what they believe, and they want us to believe, or pretend we do. All while posturing as the victim, in an exchange that they instigate, with someone who does not want to be part of it. That’s how the game works, and it is repulsive.

So, according to Matt Walsh, “gender activists”, who are also “trans activists” (he uses those terms interchangeably and without meaning), are persecuting “normal people” (a concept equally without meaning) for crimes against the holy gender cult, which somehow involves trans people being worshipped as gods (which is basically just the same delusional bullshit that Jonathan Pageau believes), and the Inquisition of old was much better than this, in part because the people who were killed and tortured in the Inquisition were killed and tortured in the name of God instead of being cancelled by trans people, or something. Yeah. As long as that’s where we’re at now, if we’re really at the point where we’re having to talk about whether or not the Inquisition was better than “cancel culture” (a term that I despise for numerous reasons), let’s take a look at what’s actually being talked about for what they really are.

Everyone knows about the Inquistion, though not everyone has the right idea of how many people died in the Inquisition. By the year 1530, up to 2,000 people were murdered by the Inquisition, and throughout its 350 year lifespan, the Inquisition is estimated to have killed around double that number. The Inquistion is well known to have used torture in order to extract confessions, whether genuine or false, from those accused of heresy. In addition, the 1578 edition of the Directorum Inquisitorum, courtesy of Francisco Peña, advocated for the use of torture in cases of possible mental illness in order to efficiently determine whether or not the mental illness was fake or not, and it advised Inquisitors to not worry too much if the defendant died as a result of this treatment. So the Inquisition were quite prepared to kill many people under their custody if it meant stamping out heresy. On top of that, the Inquisition was viciously anti-Semitic and was a project of Catholic anti-Semitism; they burned Jews on the stake for refusing to convert to Catholicism, they persecuted Judaism to the point of mass burning copies of the Talmud, they explicitly targeted supposed Jewish influence through the conversos (meaning Spanish and Portugese Jews who converted to Catholicism), the Spanish Inquisition was started in the first place in order to target conversos in order to ensure that they were loyal to the Church, Inquisitions were ordered by Catholic monarchs specifically out of fear of “Jewish influence”, and the Inquisition was also involved in the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal.

Now, in contrast, let’s try to examine whatever incident Matt Walsh is talking about that he deemed fit to compare with the Inquisition. The clip presented by Jason Campbell comes from an 8-minute video from Matt Walsh’s YouTube channel, itself a clip from the Matt Walsh Show, in which he responds to a viral TikTok video of a trans person berating the manager at a Sonic Drive-In over their being misgendered. Yes, that’s literally all this is. Matt Walsh ranted about forced conversion and defended the Inquisition over a dispute at a Sonic Drive-In. To be more specific about what happened, Eden Torres, a trans woman, was having an argument with a Sonic manager over the fact that their staff repeatedly misgendered her, calling her “sir” when in fact she identified as a woman, after they saw her dead name (their birth name in accordance with the gender they were merely assigned at birth) on her credit card. The manager seemingly apologized, but then said that “we have employees here that are gay” as though that somehow justified her being misgendered. When Torres pointed out to the manager that she was talking about gender-based discrimination and asked the company to stop discriminating against her, the manager asked Torres if her name was feminine, and insisted that Torres was not being discriminated against when she said it wasn’t. The manager then asks what he can call Torres, Torres asks what he would assume when looking at her, and the manager told her she looks like a man, at that point Torres dismissed him and drove away.

At this point I’m not sure what world Matt Walsh and others like him, or The Daily Wire for that matter, think we live in. This isn’t “forced conversion” to some abstract, alien, authoritarian ideology. Or at least it’s not what almost anyone thinks when the words “forced conversion” spring to mind. Seriously, which do you think is worse? Being a Jew or a heretic in the Middle Ages and getting tortured or killed for not believing in the Catholic Church, or being some asshole who misgenders a trans woman and is publicly called out as a transphobe? Is the prospect that people might boycott Sonic Drive-In for their transphobia really so bad that we might compare it to the mass execution and deportation of non-Christians? Is being expected to refer to the desired pronouns of an individual really a sign of obeisance to their divinity, and is it truly comparable to the expectation to uphold the catechisms of the Catholic Church on pain of basically death? And don’t give me some bullshit about losing your jobs or having everything other than your body being incinerated, because you know that isn’t actually happening. You know, J. K. Rowling is a TERF and I see no signs of her career taking a dive after her remarks about trans people. If anything, she got a bit of a pity party going for her after some motherfucker sent her death threats. Someone who was truly expunged from society and its remit for being treated with some semblance of deceny is probably not going to be defended in that event – after all, if you were truly deemed scum of the earth by society, why should society care if you lived or died? Instead J. K. Rowling got a lot of praise from a wide variety of public figures. Recently, in fact, Dave Chapelle defended J. K. Rowling’s opinions on trans people and supposedly got a standing ovation from the audience. That’s not exactly the mark of a man shunned by society if you ask me.

If you’re at a point where you’re going to tell the whole world that thousands of people getting killed, tortured, and kicked out of a country for having the wrong religion is somehow better than being vocally condemned by the public for being a transphobe, then that to me is a sign that your discourse regarding the subject of “cancel culture” is completely fargone and unservicable to anyone. It actually calls for anyone still into this to re-examine why they’re into it or ever were into it at all, because, for all the right’s talk about left-wing snowflakes, this talk of how the Inquisition would be better than getting “cancelled” on the internet is the most cliche, pathetic, snowflake shit I’ve seen in a long time. You’re actually willing to defend people getting burned at the stake and stretched at the rack for religious reasons just so you don’t have to deal with someone calling you a piece of shit on Twitter or Facebook? What kind of weak, man-baby attitude is this?

I guess if the human body is completely worthless to you and the soul and its place in God’s kingdom is more important, then maybe from that perspective being burned alive must seem like a cakewalk. At the very least, I can sort of respect someone being so willing to face down death like that. But even then, shouldn’t your possessions mean nothing to you as well? I mean, what’s the point of worrying about losing your possessions or your job for saying what you believe in if, in the end, your soul still gets to live forever in heaven while everyone else goes to hell? And, if anything, you have less obstacles to that salvation by having less stuff and money to attach your soul to. What’s the problem? The problem, as I see it, is that this was never about standing up for your beliefs in the face of some mob, and it was never about freedom of expression or speech. It was only ever about Christian conservatives having the right to their ideas of the boundaries of gender identity going unchallenged as the default mode of social life that everyone had to conform to, not to mention Christianity as the dominant religion never being challenged. It’s about social control, not freedom.

It’s safe to say that the influence of conservatism on society has been declining in recent decades, which is obviously eroding the popular consent that conservatives need in the context of a bourgeois-democratic society in order maintain the social control that they desire. Thus, the conservatives, even when they seem to be politically ascendant, are slowly losing power. That’s why they can claim to be victims even when they usually aren’t being victimized by anyone, because conservative victimhood is the experience of the loss of power and privilege in a culture and population that increasingly despises the conservative agenda. And you know what the big joke is? Conservatives so often like to claim that modern people, especially leftists and liberals, are weak snowflakes who get assmad when life doesn’t go their way, but conservatives have always proved to be the real snowflakes, especially over the slightest inconvenience to their worldview and their social agenda. And remember, these are the same people who have been at the forefront of almost every major censorship campaign throughout the 20th century and much of the 21st century. These are the people who have sought to cancel any expressive deviation from cultural Christianity, such as how they whipped up a media circus against Rosaleen Norton, which led to police raiding her house and eventually her becoming a recluse for the rest of her life. These are the people who are now trying to turn around and act like they’re crusaders for freedom of speech and expression.

I’m sick of this shit. Tell them to fuck off, but not before you get the chance to remind them of how weak their cherished Western Civilization truly is. After all, how strong is a society that we’re supposed to believe is going to collapse if being trans is seen as a normal thing, that it cannot survive such a blow without the return of the Inquisition? Frankly, I’d say such a society isn’t very robust at all, and deserves the fate of decay.

Illustration of an Auto-de-fe held in Valladollid, Spain (1559); the Auto-de-fe was a public ceremony in which accused and condemned heretics were humiliated and executed. Jews were sometimes burned in those ceremonies for refusing to convert to Catholicism. But according to Matt Walsh, all this is nowhere near as bad as getting called out for misgendering trans people.

Something to remember about Facebook

So yesterday Facebook was hit by a major server outage which left both users and workers unable to use Facebook for about six hours. Instagram and Whatsapp, which are both owned by Facebook, were also affected and were also down for much of the evening. At the same time, or at least on the same day, it seemed the whitstleblower behind a series of leaks concerning Facebook has revealed her identity, Frances Haugen, and gave an interview on 60 Minutes to detail her grievances with the company.

When the outage happened and I looked at the coverage of Frances Haugen’s interview, I had almost thought that Facebook’s server shut down in tandem with the revelations, but it seems to me like that might have been a coincidence. But having said that, there is something I have to say about some aspect of what Haugen is trying to say.

Haugen blames Facebook for the spread of ethinc violence against Rohingya Muslims in Burma, arguing that the platform was used to “foment division and incite offline violence”, as well as attributing the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill to a change in its news feed algorithm. To be honest, when I see talk of Facebook being used to “foment division and violence”, I remember something very different from the not too distant past. I am at least old enough to remember what was called the “Arab Spring”, a succession of protests and revolutions that spread across the Arab world and resulted in the overthrow of authoritarian leaders, including Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Back then, Facebook was being praised for its role in those revolutions, spreading information that the authoritarian governments couldn’t control and leading to their downfall. That was the discourse on Facebook that I remember. Now that the same medium has been blamed for the ascent of Trump and his movement since almost immediately after his election in 2016, the exact same thing that made Facebook so endearing for the liberal consensus is now the worst thing about it.

The thing about mainstream discourse about Facebook is that liberals want everything that makes Facebook great (for them at least), but without any of the negative side-effects that necessarily come with it. They want a platform where anyone can spread information that they approve of on the back that it leads to political change they like, but without that necessarily coming with the ability to spread information they don’t like. I know the knee-jerk reaction of liberals is to talk about right-wing media and all that (as though Facebook isn’t literally controlled by right-wing tech-bros), but you should see the censorship of left-wing media that takes place. I tried to post a link to an article from People and Nature, an eco-socialist blog, to Facebook to bring attention to some much-needed and overlooked discourse about the errors of mainstream solutions to climate change, and Facebook would not let me do it because they thought it was spam. Indeed, in the run-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, several left-wing users were put on a restriction list, before outright purging left-wing accounts. Left-wing content has also been subject to “extremist content” warnings in the last few months. This is the snapshot of the sort of regime of controlled information that liberal critics of Facebook desire, and as valid as her aims might be, Haugen should be careful what she wishes for.