I have been meaning to write this article since last month, after I encountered a video published by Caleb Maupin titled “Four Forms of Satanism: A Marxist View”, in which Maupin attempts to define Satanism on his terms for his audience. But, at the time, I was still working on my article on my developing philosophy of Satanic Paganism, and above all else I wanted to complete that article and resolve the desire that animated that work, thus my writing was devoted entirely to that article as well as the abridged version I wrote immediately afterwards. But now that both articles are finished, I can now bring you a response to Caleb Maupin’s video, even though it’s a month late.
I’ve talked about Caleb Maupin before, three months ago, in the context of conspiracy theories and Satanic Panic in relation to the Ukraine-Russia War, but let’s briefly introduce Caleb Maupin for the purpose of this article. As many of you probably already know, Caleb Maupin is a prolific socialist journalist (and I use both terms loosely here) who works for Russia Today, a news station owned and controlled by the Russian government and which is thus a platform for Russian state propaganda. Of course, Caleb really doesn’t like it when you call him a Russian asset, and was outraged when his Twitter account got labelled Russian state-affiliated media. Caleb seems to operate as a Marxist-Leninist, and certainly invokes Marxist theory in his various arguments about socialism, but in practice he mixes his “Marxism” with pro-American conservative populism, the neofascism espoused by Lyndon LaRouche, and the Eurasianist neofascist ideology of Aleksandr Dugin, so in practical terms he is perhaps more accurately referred to as a “left-fascist” or “red-fascist”. His particular brand of “anti-imperialism” leads him to uncritically support for dictatorships such as Russia and China, even to the point of defending the idea that there will be billionaires in a socialist or communist system, and he is prepared to defend rank anti-semites such as Louis Farrakhan on the grounds that he sees them as “anti-imperialists”. In fact, as you’ll see, Caleb Maupin himself is actually grotesquely and notoriously anti-semitic. His current project seems to be the Centre for Political Innovation, a think tank that serves mostly as a vessel to transmit his own brand of left-right confusionism and rehabilitate the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche. It is probably fair to say that Caleb Maupin, the CPI, and their supporters represent a minor tendency within “The Left” as a whole, but they are building a network of parasocial influence through which to disseminate their ideas, including fascistic conspiracy theories, and so it is somewhat important to address Caleb Maupin’s claims about Satanism.
Now, to start with, I think it’s best for me to offer a definiton of Satanism for our purposes, before we get into how Caleb Maupin tries to define it. Satanism, broadly speaking, is a religious and philosophical or magickal belief system based most specifically in a conscious relationship to Satan, either as a conceptual archetype or an actual being, grounded in a egoistic philosophy of transgressive individuation and self-realization, in more magickal forms aimed at the apotheosis of the individual. By my understanding, Satanism is an egoistic religious philosophy whose goal is the liberation of human consciousness through the practice of negation, meaning the negation of the boundaries of egoistic consciousness, so as to light the Black Flame of active negativity and attain individual apotheosis. It is to identify with Satan, the eternal rebel and the lord of Darkness, and his path lit by the Black Flame in order to join the war of all against all on your own side against all that is put over you. That’s my definition of Satanism. But what is Caleb Maupin’s definition?
To summarize Caleb’s basic premise before we dissect his arguments, the idea seems to be that there are four distinct types of Satanism, which seem to differ in their content. The first of these is called “Constructive Satanism”, which Caleb seems to define as essentially just when any form of constructive criticism happens within any organisation. The second of these is called “Adolescent Satanism”, by which Caleb seems to mean either juvenile rebellion or any form of social contrarianism. The third of these is called “Ideological Satanism”, which seems to refer to a more concrete doctrine of Satanism but is in reality just a construction of every ideology that Caleb doesn’t like which is only tenuously linked to any extant Satanism. The last of these actually doesn’t seem to have a name but seems to be Caleb’s way of referring to some vague feeling of hopelessness and self-loathing, possibly even a suicidal ideation, which attacks all positive or affirmative aspirations or ambitions. On its own all of this must already sound pretty ridiculous, but I assure that there is more to what you’re about to see than just what has been presented here – and trust me, it only gets more absurd from here.
On “Constructive Satanism”
We can begin, appropriately, with Caleb’s discussion of the “first definition of Satanism”, which of course he calls “Constructive Satanism”. Right off the bat, we are treated to a very strange argument for this concept. We’re told for starters that every religion has some concept of “good and bad” or “good and evil”, despite the fact that this isn’t really true when you look at the old polytheistic religions, Buddhism, arguably Hinduism, Shinto, Wicca, Thelema, or probably any non-dualistic religion. That doesn’t really have to do with anything, but soon enough Caleb gives us an explanation of the role of “The Satan” in the Book of Job, in which “The Satan” is one of God’s angels who tests your loyalty and your faith, and, according to Caleb at least, brings you hardship and criticizes you in order “reveal who you really are” and “test your strengths”. It’s not a totally inaccurate understanding of the Jewish conception of “The Satan”, but I think he misses the point. The purpose of “The Satan” is specifically to oppose, and indeed the term “Satan”, literally meaning adversary, was used not only in reference to angels but also humans who opposed you in some way, and in Jewish theology this was indeed a functionary of God’s order, but it was less about self-improvement by helping you work on your flaws and more specifically about testing the extent to which you remained faithful to God. But regardless, from this starting point “Constructive Satanism” is defined as essentially just what happens when in an organization there’s someone pointing out flaws and “troubleshooting worst case scenarios”, and when people who care about you criticize you to stop you from going astray or something.
Absolutely none of this is connected to any extant tradition of Satanism. There’s a loose interpretation of “The Satan” from the Book of Job that extrapolates from the core concept some spiel about how every organization needs a critic, but no example of any form of Satanism that emphasizes this theme is ever mentioned. It’s basically just some archetypal image of Satan that Caleb Maupin seems to have synthesized or probably picked up from gods know where. The “Constructive Satanist” here is just someone whose job it is to criticize things and reveal flaws with things in order to point our problems that need to be addressed. I suppose this is almost taking the phrase “devil’s advocate” literally. It’s a very reductive interpretation of the term “Satan” in its etymological meaning, and to be honest it’s very weird that Caleb Maupin thinks there needs to be a special position in society or organizations whose specific role is to criticize the way things are when anyone and probably everyone can do that, and if anything you could argue that in a “functioning society” critique would be universal instead of an exclusive profession. But hey, I guess that’s just authoritarianism for you; only approved people can criticize the regime, and everyone else is just supposed to nod along and bow. While Caleb offers no examples from Satanism to support “Constructive Satanism” as a definition of Satanism, he instead uses the story of the emperor with no clothes to illustrate the problems of not having “Constructive Satanists” around. Then, in a bizarre turn, he tries to argue that Abraham Lincoln was somehow a “Constructive Satanist” on the grounds that Lincoln was “basically an agnostic” and was known in Illinois for visiting local churches to debate pastors about the Bible. Yes, apparently Satanism is nothing more than just having any skepticism about the Bible whatsoever and debating Christians about it.
Curiously enough, however, during the course of his argument, Caleb takes the opportunity to criticize the Soviet Union by saying that it “fell to the sound of applause”. What he means by this is that, as he says, in the Soviet Union every leader since Joseph Stalin would be applaued for basically every pronouncement he gave, no matter how right or wrong-headed, by the Soviet bureaucracy including future successors, which meant that after Nikita Khrushchev took over and denounced Stalin’s regime the same people who praised Stalin turned around and praised Khrushchev for it, and so on and so forth with each leader until the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. The fall of the Soviet Union cannot singularly be blamed on this trend, but it is worth pointing out that, insofar as you can quite rightly and deservedly make this criticism of the Soviet Union, the problem for Caleb Maupin is that to take this criticism seriously requires admitting that the Soviet Union was dictatorship. I mean think about it: if it’s true that nobody in the Soviet bureaucracy ever criticized any of the Soviet leaders, and that everyone applaued each leader for every pronouncement, why do you think people within that system would be compelled or inclined to simply applaude every pronouncement rather than disagree? It’s because you’re in a system where that sort of disagreement is literally punished by the state which dictates that you ultimately cannot go against the leadership. Even Khrushchev, framed as the arch anti-Stalinist, still brutally suppressed dissent. But if you were to try and get Caleb to think about it that way, I’m sure all he’d do is yell at you and accuse you of being a fascist for tarnishing a state that he insists lead the global struggle against Nazism (never mind that Soviet leadership ultimately credited American aid with the very possibility of being able to fight and defeat the Nazis). Oddly enough, though, he eventually admits that the Soviet Union dragged dissident elements away in the middle of the night, and I say “oddly enough” because for all that he’ll still defend the legacy of the Soviet Union from people who view it as a murderous dictatorship, often specifically from such charges! But the operative point here seems to be that the reason the Soviet Union collapsed, rather than anything to do with the weight of its own systemic contradictions as a gerontocratic dictatorship that was crawling away from anything remotely resembling “socialism” for decades, was because of a lack of “Constructive Satanism”, by which Caleb means nothing more than a lack of debate within the Soviet bureaucracy. Of course, like any Leninist, he attributes this solely to the multiple invasion attempts against the burgeoining USSR, despite his account being that these problems continued well past any danger of frontal invasion, and of course completely overlooking any argument that might point out that there is no inherent reason for a country to be “forced” to suppress literally any party comrade who goes against the leadership let alone to go on to invade other countries like Georgia, Czechoslovakia, or Afghanistan, as though the Soviet Union had no agency to not do any of those things. Left out of this conversation, of course, is the working class of the Soviet Union, along with the people of the lands the Soviet Union came in and took over. Debate, as far as Caleb Maupin is concerned, is a privilege of the powerful, we might as well say a small class of people who hold authority over the masses, while those ruled by the so-called “Communist” Party have no right to debate on its agenda.
In any case, though, for all that I can say about his arguments about the Soviet Union, there is still no link between any of this discussion and any extant and conscious tradition, expression, or definition of Satanism. The only thing Caleb ever ties this notion of “Constructive Satanism” back to is the Hebrew conception of “The Satan” that he then twists into some abstract discussion of the need for constructive crticism or nitpicking for the good of society or an organization, but besides sort of missing the significance of Jewish theology in this regard, this simply misses the point of what Satanism is. The Negativity embodied by Satan, as understood in Satanism, is not some socializing form of critique, some troubleshooting functionary of the order of things. It is a universal attack on the order we put over ourselves, it is an affirmation of the freedom of egoistic consciousness through the negation of control. This negativity cannot be encapsulated in the mere function of an advisor who points out the flaws of the system so as to ultimately preserve its perpetuation, because this negativity is based in the destruction of systems and the totality of conditions.
On “Adolescent Satanism”
Moving on from there we come to the “second definition of Satanism”, which of course is called “Adolescent Satanism”, or as he initially calls it “Teenage Satanism” or simply “Contrarianism”. Now, I’m actually sure a lot of Satanists are somewhat familiar with some idea of “teenage Satanism”, by which we typically mean some disassociated act of malicious violence or “criminality” carried out by angry contrarian teenagers who may or may not attach some Satanic imagery to it in order to give some quasi-religious aura to their crimes. Of course, such a phenomenon is not limited to teenagers, there are plenty much less sound adults who do similar and sometimes worse things, and the media is happy to help them attach Satanism to their crimes, while almost never attributing Christianity to the actions of Christian killers no matter how many times they say that they are killing people in the name of God and his Son. But, when Caleb Maupin says “Teenage Satanism”, he simply means a type of behaviour where people “just want to break social norms” in order to go against authority and “assert their individualism”. Similar to the previous “definition”, this is one of those things that loosely plays into certain attributes of Satanism or Satanists, but is altogether separated from any conscious Satanism. In fact, just as before, Caleb Maupin never refers to any examples of any extant or self-defined Satanism embodying what he describes. Instead, the first thing he talks about is how he thinks communist movements end up “indulging the forbidden” as a response to the demonization of “communism” in the United States. “Communism”, Caleb tells us, is “Satan”, or “forbidden” in American society. There is of course some truth to this, but then you have to remember that, by “communism”, he means state socialists or state capitalists such as Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, all the various leaders of “actually existing socialist” countries who used to have their own major bloc of geopolitical power against “the West”; and let’s face it, in an age where the Cold War has long since ended, the “red menace” is a largely vestigal aspect of bourgeois propaganda, though still trotted out to some extent when the “leftists” appear to be gaining ground. Even when discussing China as a threat in some way, it’s usually the hard right more than anyone else that likes to emphasize the so-called “communism” of China.
An important point to address here is Caleb’s assertion that, because the United States of America is, as he says, “the capital of capitalism” and “the world center of anti-communism”, communists “embrace the opposite of what they are told”. There is an extent to which this is true, but it all depends exactly what you’re being told. The majority of mainstream discourse concerning “communism” would tell you that communism is nothing more than when you have a one party dictatorship that assumes control of all aspects of the economy as well as political and social life and transforms all private or personal property into state property. When Caleb says that Western communists embrace the opposite of what they’re told, this is accurate, but that’s to the extent that they reject that entire concept of “communism”, and with it whatever beady-eyed authoritarianism that Caleb Maupin would advocate for. Instead, many of the people who become interested in communism do so on the understanding that communism means that private property and capitalism is abolished in order to create a stateless, classless, moneyless society. Other serious communists take this further, understanding that communism is the movement of the abolition of the totality of the existing conditions, and that a communist society means a free association of people who, without the rule of the state or hierarchy or capital, interact with one another to fully develop themselves in any way they want. These people typically also reject the legacy of the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, or any of the countries Caleb upholds because they were not only authoritarian but also not even close to what communism is. There are, however, some self-styled communists who do not follow this pattern, and instead reject entirely any suggestion that the old red bloc and similar countries were oppressive, authoritarian, or even bad, and take for granted that these were “communist” countries despite not actually having the conditions of communism, take the way they organize society as “communism”, and then embrace this model as the model they believe will solve all the world’s problems. These people are often referred to as “tankies”, and fortunately it seems that they probably don’t comprise the majority of today’s radicals.
But what exactly does all of this have to do with Satanism? Caleb asserts that contemporary communists take the opposition of the US narrative to the point of taking on “a childist, adolescent” character, and the reason he refers to this as “Satanism” is because, to him, it is similar to “the teenager who starts wearing a pentagram necklace and starts listening to Ozzy Osbourne” This person is “literally a Satanist” according to him. I would have thought that, in the decades since heavy metal became the cultural phenomenon that it is now, we all came together and understood that listening to Ozzy Osbourne does not make you a Satanist, no matter how many Satanists (myself included) happen to like Ozzy Osbourne. But apparently it’s Satanism, because to him, under this “definition” of Satanism anyway, you can be a “Satanist” simply by making aesthetic declarations of rebellion against authority and breaking from the conventions of your parents. Under this same “definition”, a young person becoming a Buddhist or a vegetarian is thus “being a Satanist” insofar as “Satanism” is simply an assertion of individuality in contradiction to society at the time; such a statement would have us ignore the fact that most forms of Buddhism (at least in its “orthodox” form) are actually diametrically opposed to Satanism while vegetarianism, though not exactly popular, is very compatible (and some might even argue more consistent) with the teachings of Christianity. “This is not politics, this is emotion”, we are told, as though emotion does not involve itself with “politics” at all, and as though Buddhism, vegetarianism, or for that matter Satanism, or any expression of individuality at all is invalid merely because it is “feelings”, as though the emotional capacity of humans is somehow inferior to some disembodied rationality that is somehow divorced from this very same emotional capacity.
Caleb then goes on to at last give what he sees as a concrete example of “Teenage Satanism”, but once again it’s not actually a form of Satanism. Instead it’s “the 1960s left”, by which he seems to mean the American counterculture of the 1960s and its general alignment with left-wing political movements. I’m pretty sure that most hippies in the 1960s would have rejected any suggestion that they were Satanists, and I know for a fact that Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan that arose in the 1960s despised hippies almost as much as they despised Christianity, but I’m also sure that this inconvenient reality doesn’t quite matter to Caleb. Caleb tells us a story about someone he once knew from that decade; a communist who, as a young woman, got involved with the anti-war movement, supposedly because she liked it when the protestors broke windows, confronted police officers, and chanted “smoke dope, get high, all the cops are gonna die!”. Caleb frames this as the dominant message of the 60s counterculture for some reason, no doubt intending to depict hippies as terrorists, and he relates to us the apparent existence of a left-wing organization in New York that called themselves The Motherfuckers. This seems to have been a real organization, apparently an anarchist group who incorporated Dadaism and the ideas of Situationist International. Caleb claims that they got their name from the comedian Lenny Bruce saying “This is a stick-up! Up against the wall motherfucker!”, but this doesn’t seem to be true and in fact they actually got it from a poem written by Amiri Baraka. But the operative point seems to be that shouting “Up against the wall! Motherfuckers!” is “Satanism”, somehow, because, again, “Satanism” in this setting is just when you openly confront authority. Again, this is take one aspect of what makes Satan who he is and Satanism what it is while divorcing it from any conscious relationship to Satan as an idea, and thereby missing the point of Satanism.
What I find to be an amusing contradiction within Caleb’s idea of “Teenage Satanism” is his account of an anti-war/anti-imperialist group he refers to as The New York City Committee To Support The Vietnamese (I swear I can’t actually find anything about this group anywhere). The communist woman Caleb talks about apparently joined this group because they “walked through the streets of New York waving the flag of the enemy”, supposedly they really did march across New York City waving the Vietnamese flag and chanted “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh! The NLF is gonna win! Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh!”. Now Caleb actually likes it when people chanted this, but for him the difference is that she didn’t mean it and just chanted it to be “bad”, whereas according to him other people who chanted it really meant it. Could we argue that, from a certain point of view, or at least from the perspective of power, the difference doesn’t matter that much? In fact, simply “going against what you have been told”, by Caleb’s standards, does that not animate the very “anti-imperialist” movement that he stands by so resolutely. Consider the Center for Political Innovation’s first conference in Austin, Texas, this year, of which Caleb Maupin was a part. Not only did they raise the flags of both the United States of America and the Soviet Union at the same time, they also displayed the flag of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic as well as the Z symbol that was found on Russian tanks and currently used to signify support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In practice, this sort of politics tends to play out as simple identification with the perceived enemies of “the West”, and Caleb, very strangely for his particular brand of “patriotic socialism”, is just happy to cultivate this sense of identification. In fact Caleb Maupin vocally supported the pro-Russian separatists in Donbas and the Russian army as the invasion of Ukraine began. In fact he had his own fanatical slogan: “Donbas Lives Matter!”. His Center for Political Innovation has also been seen holding rallies in support of Russia, in which they display the flag of Russia as well as the flag of Donetsk and the Z symbol, while also displaying pro-Russian slogans. Is Caleb Maupin not a “Satanist” by his own definition? He would say no, but that’s only because he claims he believes in the Russian cause “against imperialism”. In reality he simply takes the side of Russia and Donbas because it’s the apparent enemy of Western imperialism. It is contrarianism by any measure, except only that Caleb refuses to recognize it as such. The difference between his politics and the “not real politics” he attributes to “Teenage Satanists” is quite simply that Caleb decides that he is not a contrarian, that he is not merely “identifying with the enemy”, and it seems to me that this difference is ultimately decided by the proposal that the “Teenage Satanist” takes joy in his simple opposition while Caleb at least ostensibly refuses such joy. But if you are a revolutionary (and, I assure you, Caleb Maupin by his own consideration is not) then what is the point in not deriving joy from the overthrow of the existing conditions, and with it the casting off of oppression? What a poor revolution it is that cannot embody jouissance? In this sense, “Teenage Satanism” is definitely not a form of Satanism, not in any historical, contemporary or serious sense, but I am quite sure that Satanism, at least on my terms, embraces the idea of deriving jouissance from the act of resistance itself.
On “Ideological Satanism”
Now we come to the “third definition of Satanism”, which Caleb refers to as “Ideological Satanism”. I will establish here and now that this is the only part of the video in which Caleb even tries to connect what he’s saying about “Satanism” to any actual extant form of Satanism, but even then it’s very tenuous and brief, and much of his definition is still hardly connected to Satanism. This is also the section where, I assure you, things seem to get really “interesting” if you know what I mean.
First, Caleb brings up the Church of Satan, briefly, and then mentions Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, only to seemingly shift focus away from LaVey himself in order to focus on Ayn Rand, who he refers to as one of LaVey’s favorite authors. Now, there is a small connection to Satanism in that Anton LaVey did describe his form of Satanism as “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added”. But, for other people who have encountered Caleb Maupin and his work, they may have noticed that Maupin sometimes has a fixation on Ayn Rand in particular, among other intellectuals he seems to count as part of the “forces of darkness”. In his book Satan At The Fountainhead, ostensibly a book about the influence of so-called Israel Lobby in foreign policy, Caleb denounced Ayn Rand as having “no grounds to define what it means to be an American” as a Russian-born Jewish atheist who was not born in the United States, accused her of conspiring to overthrow the then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and at times he even refers to her by her birth name, Alysa Rosenbaum, instead of Ayn Rand, in what appears to be an obvious ploy to accentuate her Jewish identity as a negative so as to indicate her Jewishness itself as a form of villainy. In fact, this is not his only instance of fairly open anti-semitism, and there are in fact some people who reckon he is more anti-semitic than even the notorious white nationalist Nick Fuentes. In any case, it seems that Caleb’s discussion of Ayn Rand ultimately overshadows any discussion of Anton LaVey, and as he goes on he quotes the last part of Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, Atlas Shrugged, as what he believes to be the distillation of “doctrinnaire Satanism”. The quote seems to be from John Galt’s speech and it goes like this:
Your acceptance of the code of selflessness has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he’s keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab. You know that you can’t give away everything and starve yourself. You’ve forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it’s your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn’t built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth. Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors.
And then he skips ahead to what appears to be the last line of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt’s “oath”, “I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.”. “Selfishness as a virtue”, Caleb Maupin decries with utmost self-assurance. In fact, he categorizes that John Galt speech as a “rejection of morality”. From a certain point of view, it may be possible to concur, but based on my familiarity with the philosophy of Objectivism it actually seems that the aim of Rand and her followers was in fact to create a different and new code of morality, one that just happened to center an enclosed, rational, acquisitive ego, a thereotically ideal capitalist subject, at the center of its ethical considerations. The Randians, perhaps much unlike Anton LaVey and his antecedents, would if anything go out of their way to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of objective morality, just that they think that they can base that objective morality on the precepts of capitalist acquisition (reified of course as “rational self-interest”) and obviously without any recourse to God or to any religious concept of what morality is. Of course, let’s not be too charitable to Rand here, because in many ways her philosophy is still incredibly foolish, misguided, appears to have destructive and oppressive effects on the world, and is ultimately, insofar as it can be counted as “egoism”, in truth a very narrow-minded and shallow form of egoism when compared to the philosophy of someone like Max Stirner; not to mention, let’s make no mistake, Ayn Rand herself was a cruel-minded and disgusting person who lauded colonial genocide and happily counted the murderers of children as her idols. But with that said let’s take note of Caleb Maupin’s characterization of the John Galt speech. He regards it simply as “evil”, on the apparent understanding that it teaches against empathy and against helping others. Not inaccurately, though, Caleb refers to it as “the ideology of capitalism”, though in reality Randian free market fundamentalism is only one of the many ideologies with which capitalism supports itself. We in bourgeois society merely single it out because it is more honest in its alignment with the interests of the concentration of capital and more brazen in the rejection of any obstacles to it, while the subtler and more cunning forms of capitalist ideology, which assume the form of the very opposite of Randian morality, often go unchallenged even by progressives.
There is a lot we can say about Caleb Maupin’s overall assessment of this expression of capitalist ideology, but a lot of that is what can also be said of Ayn Rand’s version of “egoism”. Caleb complains that capitalism as Ayn Rand’s “unknown ideal” positions a society where untrammeled “greed” nourishes the world, and that the problem of contemporary society is that greed is in some way suppressed or simply discouraged. For Caleb, greed is bad, for Ayn Rand, greed is good, but altogether neither of them understand anything. Taking communism seriously means understanding that, even on Marxist terms, the self-interest of the proletariat is the actual “mass progressive force”. The working class, conditioned as a labouring class, have done nothing but sacrifice their labour and its fruits so that others, more specifically capitalists, may benefit from it, to the point of their impoverishment via surplus extraction, so the revolution of the proletariat is in fact the pursuit of self-interest on class terms; the workers revolt so that they might restore what is rightfully theirs, which has hitherto been stolen from them and whose theft has always been legitimized with some “greater good”. “Greed”, in this setting, is in fact the weapon against the “greed” of the ruling class. For Caleb, whose “socialist” instincts are ultimately guided by FDR’s fanciful “war on want”, this is an unthinkable statement of immorality against morality, but for Ayn Rand, the rightful greed of the working masses cannot be recognized as greed or egoism because to her the masses are somehow incapable of the greed displayed by those few capitalist adventurers that are her ideal individualist. Both are wrong, and Caleb’s critique falls short because of it, because his “Marxism” is not “materialist” enough to realize the egoism of communism.
In any case, Caleb continues to rail against his construction of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and declaring it to be “Political Satanism” or “Doctrinnaire Satanism”, which I suppose is accurate if you consider Anton LaVey himself to be the sole expression of Satanism (and, of course, he wasn’t). It is “ideological capitalism”, and “anti-moralism”, the latter of which is funny because some observers would describe Karl Marx as “anti-moralist”. But the funny part is that Caleb also describes this construction as “what most of the elite in the United States believe”. This is where the real meat of Caleb’s thesis starts to present itself. Now Caleb claims that Ayn Rand is merely what the elites present to the masses, business majors, “edgy teenagers”, and the right-wing talk radio scene, while their “real” philosophical foundation, shared with the “more educated” strata of society, is Friedrich Nietzsche. Basically, his conspiracy theory is that Nietzsche is “the more sophisticated Ayn Rand”, and that the elites water down Nietzsche’s philosophy through Ayn Rand for the masses to consume. The fact that Nietzsche’s books are readily available for just about anyone to read and purchase is the most obvious problem with this thesis that Caleb simply does not care to grapple with. Caleb goes on to characterize Nietzsche, or more specifically via his book Beyond Good and Evil, as arguing that Christian teaching is a form of slave morality, whuch is thus contrived in order to console the weak, in contrast to the “master morality” which “worships strength”, supposedly embodied by the ancient Romans and Greeks who supposedly lived only for their own pleasure. Caleb claims that Nietzsche argued for a return to “might makes right” and “greed is good”.
Before we go any further, let’s stop and assess what Beyond Good and Evil says, to see if Caleb Maupin got anything right about it. From the start of the book, Nietzsche makes clear his opposition to all forms of philosophical dogmatism, describing all philosophical dogmatizing as “the infantile high-mindedness of a beginner”. When addressing egoism versus altruism, Nietzsche seems to consider that a hard opposition between the two is the creation of metaphysicians and argues that altruism actually bears an insidious relationship to egoism, and suggests that a new class of dangerous philosophers will arrive and be able to deal with this possibility. That doesn’t sound much like how Ayn Rand frames egoism and altruism. He did say that a “noble soul” accepts its egoism, though. Part of Nietzsche’s criticism of Christianity, and a lot of religion in general including Buddhism, is that he thought that these religions inculcated contentment with the harsh realities of the world and its order by placing them within “an illusory higher order of things”, but he also considered religion a means by which philosophers could educate and through which some people could elevate themselves to authority. It is true, though, that Nietzsche regarded Christianity as the worst of major religions, on the grounds that he believed it turned the human species into a herd animal, inverted all love for earthly things, and “turned all evaluations upside down”. As much as Caleb would disagree with that assessment, Caleb would make the same “turning all evaluations upside down” argument against what he deems “the Synthetic Left”. Regarding master morality and slave morality, in Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche actually seems to count charity or compassion as part of “master morality” on the grounds that he thought that the noble person would help the unfortunate out of an urgency created by an excess in their power. A tad naive on his part, I’d say, but it does punch a hole in Caleb’s idea that Nietzschean master morality was simply “might makes right” or “greed is good”; in fact it’s not obvious that this is relevant to the content of Beyond Good and Evil at all. Indeed, Nietzsche is not only not “anti-moralist”, he seems to concern himself with the subject of the cultivation and detoriation of moral values in a societal context; an arguably genuine “anti-moralist” would declare all talk of morality to be talk of fiction, and I am not convinced that Beyond Good and Evil really proposes this. For whatever else can be said of Beyond Good and Evil, I am fairly confident that Caleb Maupin is probably distorting its content.
It is on the subject of master morality that we discover another contradiction in Caleb Maupin’s thinking. Because, in spite of his defense of Christianity from the charge of slave morality and his condemnation of the constructed ideology of master morality, Caleb himself is a supporter of a kind of fascistic “master morality”, and nowhere is this more evident in his discussion of supposed “Odinist values”. Caleb has repeatedly stressed the virtues of what he refers to as “Odinist values”, by which he means the influence of a supposed “Germanic pagan ethos”. Of course, the irony of all this is that Caleb is, per his own description, a Christian. “Odinist values” in his parlance seems to just mean some abstract belief in the hard work of the individual, in self-sacrifice, grit, determination, “motor-mindedness” and entrepreneurialism, which, it is supposed, can come with an opposition to oversensitivity and weakness. Forgetting for a moment that almost none of this has anything to do with the actual pre-Christian Germanic religion or the actual character of Odin (Caleb in fact bases his entire idea of who Odin is on the work of Thomas Carlyle rather than any actual historical material on Norse/Germanic polytheism), if we understand master morality by Caleb Maupin’s definition, by which he means a glorification of strength at the expense of empathy, his own construction of “Odinist values” seems like it could be taken as an example of “master morality” by his terms, and yet he embraces it. On the other hand, it may be relevant to consider another interpretation of master and slave morality. What if appeals to “hard work” are a form of slave morality, imploring a person to consider that they will ultimately be rewarded if they obey their capitalist masters for long enough while heeping scorn and suspicion on anyone who suggests that perhaps this might just be a senseless grift? Still, the fact that Caleb Maupin has elsewhere stressed the idea that socialism should be associated with strength by appealing to the glories of the various authoritarian leaderships of figures like Joseph Stalin suggests that he leans on the side of “master morality”, which makes it all the stranger that he should condemn Nietzsche’s work.
Caleb ties the philosophies of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche together simply by how, in his view, they both casted “the People” as their enemy. On the basis of this, and after rambling about Nietzsche’s hatred of the Paris Commune, Caleb then goes on a bizarre pivot to discuss Leo Strauss, an influential neoconservative intellectual, and how he apparently is an exponent of “Political Satanism”. Caleb talks about how Leo Strauss argued that all the “great philosophers” had been persecuted throughout history and for this reason “wrote in code” so as to hide “what they really said” from “the rabble” who would “punish” them if they wrote without such “code”. He then goes on to say that this belief is animated by a broader belief that the intellectuals have always lived in fear of “the rabble”, supposedly just like Ayn Rand’s character John Galt or Nietzsche’s opposition to the Paris Commune, which is thus, according to Caleb, part of the belief system of “Doctrinnaire Satanism” which he claims believes that there are “chosen ones” who sit at the center of the elite and must be protected at all costs from “the rabble”. While it seems that Leo Strauss did espouse a belief that what he called “esoteric writing” was a widespread practice in philosophy, it would be a distortion on Caleb’s part to assume that the utility of “esoteric writing” concerns merely the protection of the elite from the masses. In fact, the practice can become very relevant in the context of totalitarianism, in which case the philosopher is not simply “protecting himself from the rabble” but instead concealing their real values from a totalitarian government that would have abducted and murdered them for going against the government’s ideological narrative. It seems telling that Caleb has not considered this possibility, and instead prefers to think only of “the elites” versus “the people”.
Then Caleb claims that Strauss argued that propaganda was needed in order to control the citizenry, supposedly modelled after his favorite show Gunsmoke, supposedly for the purpose of getting the masses to think of politics as just “good versus evil” so that they don’t rise up against the elites. Where even to begin with this? For starters, Strauss liked Gunsmoke because to him it was a great representation of the Hobbesian concept of the “state of nature”, not because it was some convenient narrative of “good versus evil”. Second, the whole delineation of politics along the lines of “good versus evil” via propaganda is exactly Caleb Maupin’s own enterprise. Remember, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, he literally described the Russian army and the pro-Russian separatists as the forces of good and the government of Ukraine and its allies as the forces of darkness allied with Satan. Remember that he describes a whole group of economists as “forces of darkness” set against an “inherently moral and religious” American people. For Caleb to attribute such thinking to Leo Strauss is entirely an act of projection, and, even if it wasn’t, the whole concept has nothing to do with Satanism. Satanists, if anything, tend to strive to break the power that the notion of good versus evil has over human consciousness, and to us the arts of negativity and subversion are ways of acheiving just such an end, so even if Caleb was correct about Leo Strauss, this would make Leo Strauss an opponent of Satanic liberation instead of its ally. Besides, as a man who forthrightly hated atheism and seriously considered the value of religion even as he was not an orthodox believer, Strauss would have opposed the sort of Randian or Nietzschean rejection of religion that Caleb assigns to “Doctrinnaire Satanism”.
Despite these facts, however, Caleb weaves together a constructed ideology of “protecting the freedom of the elites from the persecution of the rabble” as the ideological core of both neoconservatism and the so-called “Synthetic Left”. “Synthetic Left”, of course, is a term that Caleb Maupin created as a catch-all term for any expression of left-wing politics that opposes his own brand of socialism, with specific attention to online left-wing commentators such as ContraPoints and Vaush (who he namedrops at the very end of his video), with whom he has a frankly unhealthy obsession. Caleb claims that the Congress for Cultural Freedom was created to funnel money to “anti-communist” left-wing intellectuals who criticized American society while also criticizing the Soviet Union (the horror!). He names Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, and Herbert Marcuse as examples of “anti-communist” left-wing intellectuals. That Herbert Marcuse was himself a Marxist probably doesn’t bother Caleb much when making his arguments. In fact none of the individuals he names seem to have ever actually been affiliated with Congress for Cultural Freedom; the particular claim that Marcuse was affiliated with them seems to have originated in the LaRouche movement. What Caleb especially opposes about these intellectuals is how, according to him, they “reinterpreted” the concept of fascism away from Marxist orthodoxy (which he dubs the “scientific view” of fascism). Caleb asserts the “orthodox Marxist” view that fascism is essentially a crisis of capitalism and its resolution by the bourgeoisie (or one faction thereof) through authoritarian measures and the mass mobilization of the population to drive down living standards in the hope of stablizing capitalism. To summarize, this is the doctrine that “fascism is capitalism in decay”, as Lenin put it. Forgetting for a moment the simplicity and problems with this definition that could be discussed, the opposing perspective that Caleb constructs from “left-wing anti-communists” is that fascism is “when the rabble get together and start persecuting the intellectuals”. Caleb cites Fascinating Fascism by Susan Sontag and Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt as accounts of this definition of fascism, but this doesn’t seem evident in these works, or at best it’s a grotesque over-simplification. Sontag presents fascism as a totalitarian exaltation of the community carried out at the expense of rationality and individuality, while Arendt also largely (though not always) defines fascism in terms of totalitarianism. Ironically enough, the way Hannah Arendt refers to fascism as “the alliance of the Mob and Capital” in The Origins of Totalitarianism is actually rather well-aligned with the way Caleb Maupin seems to define fascism, and it seems obvious that the only reason he would not assume so is because Arrendt dare call it “the Mob”.
Of note is the way Caleb talks about Susan Sontag refers to communism as “fascism with a human face”. I see everything wrong with taking such statements at face value, but for this reason it’s worth noting that Caleb doesn’t seem to care to present her reasons for saying that. He doesn’t care about the fact that, by the time she was making those remarks, Poland had been repressing opponents of the pro-Soviet regime there, in a manner that she compared to right-wing repressions elsewhere. Her point is that the type of governance traditionally attributed to fascism is also very much possible within the “communist” or Marxist-Leninist framework, and this leads her to believe that democratic governance is not possible in that framework because of its denial. Caleb seems to dismiss this point, and derides Susan Sontag for referring to communism as “the most successful form of fascism”, but in so doing this Caleb ends up defending reactionary dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi as “communists”. Now, I don’t agree at all with Susan Sontag’s description of communism, for the simple reason that I don’t recognize the countries Sontag is clearly referencing as “communist”, but Caleb Maupin defending Hussein and Gaddafi as “communists” despite the fact that both leaders were openly anti-communist is a pretty easy way to prove her right, in my opinion.
The actual connection to Satanism is still incredibly thin if present at all, but we ostensibly see another contradiction in Caleb’s thought through his description of “Doctrinnaire Satanism”. He tells us that, at its core, “Doctrinnaire Satanism” believes that humans are evil. The problem there is that it’s Christianity that believes human nature is basically evil. Part of the core of Christian philosophy, and the very reason for Jesus Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, is that humanity has been corrupted by sin ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Now, I acknowledge that there are certain interpretations of Christianity that differ from this basic throughline, but it is baseline Christianity nonetheless, and for Caleb Maupin to imply that he opposes this is necessarily to imply that he is going against the basic core of Christianity, while still claiming to be a Christian. And yet, it is clear that Caleb means something else. By “human beings are evil”, he means the idea that “human beings are the problem”, and then, by implication, the idea that humans beings are animals. Satanists don’t tend to agree that humanity is necessarily “evil” or “the problem”, but if there’s one thing Caleb actually gets right about at least many Satanists, even if not all of them, it’s that we regard homo sapiens as another species of animal. Satanism, both LaVeyan and non-LaVeyan, tends to recognizes humanity as animals, and Caleb, naturally, as a Christian, has a problem with this conception. You see, in the opinion of Caleb Maupin, human beings are not animals. His argument for why human beings are not animals, while almost certainly a diversion from our main subject matter, does allow us the opportunity to address a sort of baseline Marxist conception of species-being relevant and discuss broader questions of what makes a human human in this setting.
Caleb refers to Friedrich Engels’ essay The Part Played by Labour in The Transition from Ape to Man (which he seems to have referred to “The Role of Labour in The Transition from Ape to Man”) so as to point to the argument that human beings are separate from animals not because of civilization (“an ant farm is a civilization”), not because they use tools (“you can see different animals using tools”), and not because of language (“some people argue that animals have a kind of spoken language”), but rather because humans supposedly have the unique ability to manipulate the environment around them. Caleb says that animals can only interact with their environment, whereas humans make the environment serve them, they master the environment around them. That does indeed seem to be Engels’ basic thesis, which is summarized by Engels as the following:
In short, the animal merely uses its environment, and brings about changes in it simply by its presence; man by his changes makes it serve his ends, masters it. This is the final, essential distinction between man and other animals, and once again it is labour that brings about this distinction.
There is an obvious problem with this idea. Humans are fundamentally distinguished from animals by their ability to manipulate their environment. The problem with this is that there’s many other species of animal that have done the same. Termites take the soil around them and mix it with saliva and shit in order to construct termite mounds, in this manipulating their environment in their own service. Ants similarly construct and carve through the soil around them in order to create the colonies in which they live. Beavers take branches and logs from trees in order to create dams, and in so doing manipulating and restructuring the enivronment around them in order to serve them in some way. In directly manipulating their respective environments, by this definition, we could say that ants, termites, and beavers are also human beings. But Caleb would say the difference is that humans also “constantly reinvent the way they interact with the environment”, meaning that while animals build their mounds and dams the same way for thousands and thousands of years, humans by contrast have gone from hunter gatherers to space travel and iPhones in just a few thousand years. On this basis, “there is something unique about mankind”. But is this not simply saying that what is unique about humanity is only its products? The difference then is merely iteration and what is produced, but the core trait is in no way unique to the human species, and is found in other animal species. In this sense, we would find reason to question the truth of this concept of species-being, or labour as human nature; and that’s really what this is, it’s essentially just the standard Marxist argument for what is otherwise just another appeal to “human nature”, the naturalizing basis of an only questionably natural civilization. Well, it’s almost standard Marxism, until Caleb adds the idea of humans being “endowed by their Creator” (there’s that familiar rhetoric from the Declaration of Independence, odd for a Marxist-Leninist wouldn’t you say?) with special abilities that make them separate from other species, thus we seem to have gone from the standard Marxist argument of labour as species-being to some kind of Christian argument about how God is the source labour’s power to transform the environment. The idea of labour as human nature, in itself, is also very questionable, at least when we get into our concept of what labour is. Labour is a social activity and this activity is essentially work, and work is not something that humans actually inherently want to do; it’s something that we are made to do or which we might be persuaded to agree to do. The idea that we could refer to such a relationship as “human nature” is laughable, because, if we take “human nature” seriously, we would define it as something that is constant prior to, beyond, and beneath the structures that we socialize ourselves into and which cannot be altered by our conscious efforts, and work simply cannot be described as such a thing.
In any case, Caleb believes that labour as Man’s ability to dominate and constantly reinvent the environment around them is the fundamental distinction of mankind from the animal kingdom, and, according to Caleb, the “Doctrinnaire Satanists” disagree with this premise. If they do, they’re quite right to, because it seems obvious that humanity does not actually control nature as much as they think. We certainly have no control over the Sun, the weather, the tectonic plates, the tides, or indeed the consequences of anthropogenic climate change. Even Engels, in the same essay Caleb cited, admitted that humans do not actually “conquer” nature the way that Caleb puts it or in the way that the standard Marxist doctrine might imply. Engels said thus:
Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who spread the potato in Europe were not aware that with these farinaceous tubers they were at the same time spreading scrofula. Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature – but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.
Nonetheless, Caleb specifically points to Anton LaVey’s belief that Man is just another animal, in LaVey’s words, “sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours” (Caleb paraphrases this but it is esssentially the same quote). This is indeed quoting Anton LaVey, and it’s also practically the only time in this entire video that Caleb ever actually does quote LaVey or discuss what he or the Church of Satan actually said. For most of the rest of his section on “Political/Ideological/Doctrinnaire Satanism”, there is no discussion of any extant Satanism, not even LaVeyan Satanism, and instead all discussion of so-called “Doctrinnaire Satanism” is actually practically a discussion of liberalism (in fact later on he literally does just call it “Doctrinnaire Liberalism”) or just the various ideologies and philosophies that Caleb Maupin simply doesn’t like, which is then presented as one monolithic ideology of “the elites must construct a society that protects the intellectuals from the rabble”, which of course is not an actual, serious ideology but instead a nonsensical populist construct. In this absurd ideological amalgamation, Caleb derives a worldview that promotes elitism and misanthropy, opposes compassion and empathy, views collective solidarity as totalitarianism, and dictates that a small elite must rule the world while the masses must be prevented from challenging the power of the elites. Telling, of course, is the part where Caleb talks about how “the elites view people coming together as totalitarianism”, because the simple truth is he probably defends the totalitarianism that people like Hannah Arendt point to. In fact, it is probably not for nothing that Caleb is much friendlier with actual self-described fascists than with leftists who are consciously anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian. Caleb opposes anti-totalitarianism on principle, as is certainly evidenced by his defense of totalitarian regimes, and does not appear to deny a link between totalitarianism and his desired form of politics even as he dismisses allegations of totalitarianism, which leads us to think that he is probably a supporter of totalitarianism, on principle.
There is an irony in Caleb’s spiel about the value of law, to the point of him even literally quoting the US State Department when it says “when law stops, tyranny begins”. The irony being that Anton LaVey, as a man who established himself as a law and order ideologue, would likely have felt the same way. But the other irony is that in this sphere Caleb reiterates what is fundamentally a conservative worldview: law is the source of freedom, only laws and morals protect the “weak”. This would require us to forget the many ways in which the law was arrayed against the “weak”, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the powerless etc, and the many hypocrisies of our so-called morality. The law protects old ladies from people strong enough to beat them up and take their purses, never mind why they should do so, but what is the law? None other than an organization of force capable of overpowering said criminals. Law does not supercede power; in truth, law is built on the power of the state’s exclusive monopoly on violence. How else does law get its power, if not the ability to enforce it through violence or the threat thereof? Even more egregious here is his apparent belief that it’s because of the law that your boss has to pay you a minimum wage. The times that the working class had to organize and fight, and risk being bashed by the long club of the law, in order to get such concessions from the ruling class in the first place are mentioned only so as to make the point that without the law their boss could do whatever they wanted. But it’s not without the law that the boss could pay his worker’s nothing but rather because of it, and it is because of law and its basis in the exclusive monopoly of violence that the whole system of wage, currency, and class that produces the conditions of exploitation even exists! Such an analysis, however, is simply too materialist for him. Instead Caleb prefers to speak of socialism or communism as a means to be “even more civilized than capitalism”. What a truly horrifying notion! Why would you wish for such a thing, knowing what the “civilizing” power of capitalism is, and what maintains it! No, I am being too presumptuous here; he very obviously doesn’t know in the sightest the true nature of this power. If he did, perhaps he would join me in calling for its total destruction, instead of masturbating to the thought of reaching a “higher order of civilization”, which, in truth, would be nothing more than a new order of oppressive waking nightmares.
There is something that needs to be said about Caleb’s construction of the “Satanic worldview”, especially of the fact that he frames it as the worldview of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, Susan Sontag, Irving Kristol, the “Synthetic Left”, and the right-wing all at once. Somehow people who critique and oppose capitalism are actually pro-capitalist and on the same side as right-wingers who hate them and probably want them to die. Every political force that Caleb hates somehow supports the same ideology. He reckons it’s because of this ideology that neoconservatives want America to invade “anti-imperialist” countries in order to install societies organized along the lines of this ideology, while he says the “Synthetic Left” regard any sort of collective unity or marching in unison or populism as fascism, dismiss communists as red-brownists, dismiss “class struggle” as “class reductionism”, supposedly in rejection of Marxist materialism, while regarding the United States and social media as the good guys and Russia, China, and Venezuela as the great world-historic villains. Utter nonsense. But according to Caleb, they all share the same “Satanic ideology”, and not only that but so do Wall Street, London, Paris, “the German bankers”, the London Stock Exchange, Harvard University, Yale University, all somehow believe. We’re left with the impression that the whole complex of bourgeois economic power, the whole spectrum of politics within capitalism, promotes Satanism and is controlled by the “elites” who want to suppress the masses and protect a special group of people through that suppression. This looks quite a bit like standard conspiracy theories about “Satanic elites” ruling the world, and it definietly amounts and builds to this. So it’s probably no surprise, then, that, as usual, this conspiracy theory places Jewish people at the center of its woes.
Think about all of the people Caleb has mentioned so far as exponents of “Doctrinnaire Satanism”. Most of them happen to be Jews. There’s Ayn Rand, for starters, and I’ve already explained Caleb’s anti-semitic fixation on Ayn Rand. There’s also Leo Strauss, who Caleb accused of wanting to brainwash the masses with propaganda about good versus evil to protect the elites, and he happened to be of Jewish heritage. Same with Irving Kristol, who Caleb mentioned briefly as one of the teachers of “Satanic” neoconservatism. Susan Sontag, whom Caleb derided for her left-wing opposition to totalitarianism, also happened to be of Jewish heritage. In fact, with the exception of Mary McCarthy, all of the left-wing “anti-communist” intellectuals Caleb mentions happened to be Jews. It makes you wonder, why did Caleb Maupin select these people specifically. He only talks about Susan Sontag and Hannah Arendt in some detail, while Mary McCarthy and Herbert Marcuse are just mentioned as people supposedly affiliated with the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Indeed, Irving Kristol is only mentioned once in the entire video. So just how is he relevant to all this? As for “the Synthetic Left”, in a book titled BreadTube Serves Imperialism, whose admirers include the Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, Caleb argues that “BreadTube” (basically just an assemblage of left-wing YouTubers) as we know it was created by a man named Steven Hassan, a famous cult deprogramming expert who happened to be Jewish. There’s a clear pattern emerging in the way Caleb constructs his enemies. In fact, in his article about “Odinist values”, Caleb refers both explicitly and implicitly to the Jewish backgrounds of neoliberal economists such as Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. Consider also how, in the past, Caleb openly talked about the idea of there being a “Satanic cabal of bankers” in the world. When examined in this context, it seems very self-evident that Caleb is arguing for an anti-semitic conspiracy theory in which Jewish “elites” are supposedly trying to spread “Satanism” and brainwash the masses in order to somehow prevent “socialism” or “communism” from being established. This, of course, comes as no surprise to a lot of people who’ve been examining conspiracy theories about Satanism for a while now, though I imagine Caleb Maupin would be furious about the suggestion. He certainly gets very angry if you suggest that his ideas have any commonality with fascism, as those who make the suggestion end up being accused of somehow trying to incite violence against him.
On “The Fourth Form of Satanism”
Finally we come to the “final type of Satanism”, the “fourth definiton of Satanism” if you will, for which it seems Caleb Maupin has no name. He says that it is not blatant, but it is “within all of us”. This is because it is “the part of yourself that is working against you”. Already this seems like yet another very loose interpretation of the fact that “Satan” means “adversary” in Hebrew, but which again misses the point. Very simply, Caleb describes it as “a voice in your head that gets in your way and says “There is no hope””. Or it interrupts your morning and tells you things like “what’s the point?”, “there’s no hope”, or “everyone’s against you”, or how it says “everyone’s gonna laugh at you”, “that’s stupid”, or “you’ll never succeed” when you want to accomplish something. This seems less like Satanism and more like a whole range of emotions mostly characterized by what we would call self-doubt, or arguably even depression. It certainly feels like he’s talking about depression when he brings in phrases like “you have no future”, “you have no value”, or “no one cares about you”. These can sound like things a person tells themselves when undergoing a profound state of despair or depression, possibly even a state of suicidal ideation. I have to be honest, I think there’s a grotesque side to it. Here it just seems like he’s trying to construct Satanism as some abstract synonym for anything bad, and in the process it seems like it’s just exploiting psychological suffering by treating it as some sort of religious type. Literally, the more he describes this “fourth form of Satanism” the less it seems like he’s talking about Satanism and more like depression, suicidal ideation, or perhaps a more generalized mode of psychological suffering or dysfunction that Caleb obviously doesn’t know much of how to talk about. At one point he refers to it potentially driving people to drug abuse in order to “silence that voice with drugs”. Then he compares it to the voice of an abusive parent, or abusive partner, or the result of a traumatic experience or hostile external conditions. Simply put, this “form of Satanism” is really just Caleb’s way of referring to the part of your soul or psyche that is actively trying to kill you, seemingly just for the sake of doing so. He thinks that that part of you is pessimism, which he seems to equate with depression.
This really is something that, on its own, should be addressed, because I’m just going to be straightforward about this: being a pessimist is not the same thing as being depressed. Pessimism is simply a way of saying that the negative tends to predominate things. It is usually interpreted as an emotional state where you don’t believe anything positive will happen to you, but there’s also philosophical pessimism which is generally a way of referring to a collection of philosophies that hold that suffering adversity, or meaninglessness pervade the cosmos in some way. In the Surrealist movement there is also a concept referred to as the “organization of pessimism”, by which Pierre Naville and Walter Benjamin meant a fundamental mistrust in the reconciliation of classes and in the hope of the positive reformation of the social order. I argue that such a perspective is actually the wellspring of the liberation of human consciousness, unfettered by the hopes generated by futurity. Depression isn’t any of this. Depression isn’t just when you feel sad about life or pessimistic about the world. Depression is an illness, not just a mental illness but a physical one. Depression is caused by adverse changes in the human brain, such as an undesired change in the functioning of neurotransmitters, and it actually has physical symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, decreased appetitie or a lack of or even excess of sleep, it can also increase your further susceptibility to illnesses or adverse physical conditions. Even on an emotional level, being depressed isn’t just when you’re sad, it’s more like when your body and your mind seem to be pressing down against you, like a weight beneath which you’re trapped. It’s not a simple matter of a “negative mindset” that can be changed with enough application, it’s something that often actually requires treatment. Caleb should really not be treating these concepts as though they are interchangeable, because this is a gross (but sadly all too common) misuse of clinical terminology, and its application here serves only to exploit real suffering in order to service some fake ideological construction.
Ultimately it seems that Caleb’s “fourth form of Satanism” probably shouldn’t even be termed “Psychological Satanism” or “Internal Satanism”, because as far as he is concerned, the “fourth form” is simply depression. Depression, here, is framed as “a destructive impulse within ourselves”. I would say that any scientific or professional assessment of depression simply wouldn’t agree with Caleb here, and they certainly wouldn’t have any time for anyone seeking to classify depression as a form of “Satanism”. The obvious problem with Caleb’s argument is that, by classifying depression as a “form of Satanism”, it thereby classes depression as some sort of religion or philosophy, which it simply isn’t. And it’s not something that can be batted away by platitudes such as “the best cure for it is other people”, especially when you establish that “other people” are just as well the cause as the supposed cure. Caleb blames the rise of “this fourth form of Satanism” on the purported rise of isolation. “Satanism”, thus, is blamed on loneliness. But it’s honestly such a convenient talking point when you think about it. We are told of our rapid isolation in the face of a reality defined by a rapid increase in our global interconnectivity. Even if you’re alone in “the real world”, it’s very possible to find arguably more acquaintances than you’ll ever have outside the internet, even if you never meet them. Some people even eventually find love halfway around the world. It’s pretty hard to take that as anything other than a sign of how increasingly connected we all are, and that connectivity has many blessings and many horrible curses attendant to it, like with many things in the world. I frankly don’t see what it is about merely socializing with others that has this inherent power to destroy pessimism or depression. If anything, it’s just as well possible that people can become pessimistic in their time with other people, for varying reasons, ultimately probably not reducible to people in themselves. Some people can live in solitude and even find it far healthier for them, even if most people don’t. The simple truth is that everyone is different, and it’s for this reason that there is no model of human nature, whether it’s “human beings are naturally acquisitive” or “human beings are inherently social” that can really do people any justice.
At the very end of the video we are told that Caleb’s discussion is merely the “opening remarks” of a broader presentation of Satanism. If that’s true, I honestly can’t say I look forward to any future content from Caleb on the subject of Satanism. Caleb proclaims that this is probably the first time you’ve ever heard a Marxist analysis of Satanism. I sincerely doubt that this is in fact the first time a Marxist has ever discussed Satanism in any capacity, but if it really is the first dedicated Marxist discussion of Satanism, then I’m sorry to say that the worst discussion of Satanism that I have ever seen was producd by a Marxist. Or, well, a very strange Christian populist fascist version of a Marxist I should say. Either way, I’m sure you get my point: if this really is the “first Marxist analysis of Satanism”, and I sincerely doubt that it is, it’s also the worst analysis of Satanism I’ve ever seen. Every single category of Satanism that Caleb constructs is entirely based in his own ideological construction, with almost no reference to any extant tradition of Satanism. Even his discussion of “Political/Ideological/Doctrinnaire Satanism” is largely based on his own construction and conspiracy theory, and the actual teachings of Anton LaVey are barely explored, and only serve as a basis from which he extrapolates a much larger and overshadowing anti-populist ideology he created himself to attribute to “the elites”. It’s all complete bullshit that has nothing to do with anything, and despite this Caleb seems entirely convinced that this is an accurate description of Satanism, or politics more broadly!
All I can say to make sense of the way Caleb frames Satanism is that it is ultimately consistent with the way the Russian establishment often likes to. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the concept of terrorism itself is described as “Satanism”. In fact, in a 2014 article written by a man named Yuriy Porodnenko for the website of the Ukrainian branch of the Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti, which can apparently be found on the Pravoslavie website, we can find the exact same analysis of Satanism that Caleb Maupin makes. According to Porodnenko, Satanism is the prevailing ideology of the Western bourgeoisie, was for all intents and purposes invented by Ayn Rand, and supposedly has been espoused by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Alan Greenspan. “Satanism” here is essentially used as a synonym for right-wing free market capitalist orthodoxy, not unlike the way Caleb Maupin defines “Doctrinnaire Satanism” as “the ideology of the elites”. Porodnenko also repeatedly refers to Ayn Rand by either her birth name or “Rand-Rosenbaum” similar to how Caleb Maupin did it in Satan at the Fountainhead. In this sense, there is a significant overlap between Caleb Maupin’s presentation of Satanism and the way Satanism has been presented in Russian state media, and since Caleb Maupin works for Russian state media (Russia Today) I think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that he may have developed his views on Satanism with the influence of Russian state media talking points.
This concludes my late response to Caleb Maupin’s video. I do not look forward to the possibility of having to write about Caleb Maupin’s views on Satanism again.