That decrepit British reverence

It’s been a funny week, this week. Yesterday was the official coronation ceremony held for Charles III, the new king of Britain, and as a consequence of that we have had to deal with absurd, obsequious displays of servility to the royal family. In fact, we’re actually at a point where it’s getting repressive. Anti-monarchist protesters seem to have had their signs confiscated and been arrested by police, anti-monarchist groups seem to have received threatening letters from the Home Office, the government keeps making plans to crack down on protests while claiming to support freedom of speech, and it’s even been said that there were plans to compel everyone watching the coronation ceremony at home to publicly swear allegiance to the King, which were ultimately walked back. And of course, the BBC can’t even give you the whole story about Charles III’s coronation without facing censorship from the monarchy. Mind you this isn’t new at all. On September 12th last year, a man named Paul Powlesland was told by police officers that if he wrote “Not My King” on a blank paper sign then he would be arrested under the Public Order Act, for daring to protest the succession of Charles III.

You might wonder, is this Russia? Is this Belarus? Is this North Korea? We should be so lucky! It’s “the theatre of being British”. A miserable pageant of oppression, deceit, and waste. Oh sure, the government may not knock on everyone’s doors and make everyone bow before the King, but from what I understand that’s what they were hoping to do. There’s certainly a cult of personality around the royals that is frequently enforced and upheld by state violence. You should see the absurd depths of corruption to which the worshippers of the King descend. They are so thoroughly spiritually attached to the monarchy, that they sometimes decide that simply calling someone a racist is worse than being a paedophile. I wish I could say this was an exaggeration. Why the monarchy deserves this kind of universal deference, let alone the violence required to stop people from voicing their conscientious objection, is almost beyond comprehension. At least that’s true for me anyway, as someone who has always opposed the existence of the monarchy.

Don’t let me make bones about it. I do not question whether the monarchy can maintain its social legitimacy in the year 2023, rather I deny the right of the monarchy to exist as an insitution entirely. I do not believe, as many other young adults do, that the monarchy is simply stodgy and outdated. No, I believe that the monarchy should not have existed to start with. If one were to propose that justice exists at all, I would say the existence of monarchy is inherently unjust. It should be dissolved, their land and their wealth redistributed, and all the nations (if we still entertain the concept of nations at all) still bound to the royal commonwealth should renounce the British monarchy as free republics.

We keep talking about the “modernity” of the new king’s reign, but this is a facade. Our notion of this “modernity” consists of nothing more than the inclusion of interfaith participation in what is still an explicitly Christian ceremony, made what is still a Christian king, still sworn to the Christian God. Bear all of those basic facts in mind when you hear anyone insist that we are somehow a secular nation, despite our contrasting reality of a nation whose official head of state is also the leader of the Church of England. It is the idea that the appearance of diverse representation within the institution of monarchy will allow it to somehow transcend its conservative role in the present and its historic basis in colonial rule. “Modernity” for the monarchy is as if to say that the same royal family that presided over colonial repression and genocide against Africans is entering a new era because it includes BAME priests and interfaith leaders. Or as if the same royal family that hoards millions and millions of pounds on its own pomp and circumstance could ever be a beacon of hope for people living through a protracted cost of living crisis. As long as this is what we mean when we talk about “modernity”, then “modernity” is just a joke.

And yet this is only a pathetic progressive cover for why people here really want the monarchy: they desire the stability of power. Indeed you can see it in the way people contrast the instability of the last year of British politics, shifting between three Prime Ministers (at least two of which we didn’t even elect!) and the supposed stability of the monarchy, as if to reassert the role of the monarchy as the guarantor of order. No matter how “progressive” the monarch, monarchy is the single most conservative institution in the entirety of British political life. It is also the one institution that manages to retain official or tacit reverence, even if the British public at large increasingly either does not believe in the monarchy or simply doubts its contemporary relevance. The previous monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, become queen in 1952 and was coronated in 1953, and until her death last year her reign lasted for 70 years. For most of the British masses, this meant that Elizabeth II could be thought as someone who was “always there” in British life. For some people, her reign may have encompassed their whole lifetimes; many people might have lived and died while Elizabeth II was still queen. Her death was seen as the loss of that quasi-spiritual sense of stability, but the coronation of Charles III is seen as the renewal and continuitiy of that promise.

It’s bewildering seeing people in British media talk about the value of the monarchy as sincerely as they do. One journalist talked about how, in a world of artificial intelligence, democratic backsliding, climate change, and all manner of destabilizing changes to the world, Charles III will be working to make the case for the British monarchy as a force of “stability” in the world. There is something inherently reactionary about all of this. Think about it: the response to widespread social change (good or bad) is to cling on to the vestiges of feudal power, to the institution of uncontestable hereditary authority, and to the power of the church. But more to the point, it’s a lie. The King can do nothing in the face of the world that our media presents him as facing. Charles III cannot save liberal democracy from collapsing in on itself, he can do nothing regarding AI, he can do nothing about the United States racing towards totalitarianism, he will have absolutely no role to play in stopping the wars that are happening, and, much as I know he would like to try, he will not lead the world to a resolution of our anthropogenic ecological crisis. All King Charles III can do is keep the British masses comfortable, and therefore weak, by inculcating us with some false sense of stability and from there a false sense of hope. Politically speaking, he is only there to keep us thinking “the King is with us, God is with us”, while his goons in the British government repress anyone who openly challenges the insitution of the monarchy in civil protest.

But then we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that all of this is tied to the Traditionalist agenda that Charles III has always had, and which is once more the will of the White Lodge. Charles III has always been very explicit about his belief that the problem with modernity is that for him the modern world is out of sorts with what he takes to be the divine order (that is to say the order of God). Modernity to him as that which is cut off from “transcendence”, from some immutable principle of divine truth that is supposed to govern all things. Thus, in the face of the “chaos” of modenity, we are called to return to the “order” of God. That is the real substance of the “stability” that Charles III is supposed to embody. It is an attempt by the White Lodge, by those acolytes of the Right Hand Path, to realign the world with (as they at least imagine) the will of God, or the universal spirit of order (it really doesn’t matter what they call it, or even if they call it anything Christian).

Yes, we are indeed to remember that the White Lodge is at work again, once more striving to bring the world under their control. And in the meantime, every conceit of British society, including its reverence for the monarchy, will inexorably lead it to totalitarianism of some kind. There are many who point to a development towards fascism, and we can definitely see signs that the UK is on track to becoming something like Hungary under Viktor Orban, or even Russia under Vladimir Putin. I also seem to remember many times when the ruling Conservative Party would propose ideas that sound like the policies of Marxist-Leninist dictatorships. For example, the Welsh Conservative Party leader Andrew R T Davies called for public broadcasters to play “God Save The Queen” on TV every day. Believe it or not, something similar was actually done in the Soviet Union, where every night TV channels would shut off broadcasting and sign off with the national anthem. It’s interesting to think of the kind of culture the Conservatives seem to want.

But all the more fitting. Mark me when I say that Britain is not a free country. We never have been. And we never will be until we discard the institutions upon which we base British society, and never look back.

The myth of conservatism

Conservatism as we know it appears to be in a strange place right now. In fact, it seems that there are some conservatives in the United States who have become convinced that conservatism is dead, a failed project, no longer capable of defeating the “woke dystopia” that they fear so much or reversing what they imagine to be the triumph of progressivism. To that end, such people decide that the Right needs a new identity to coalesce around, one better suited to the new ethos that they want to emphasize; not mere preservation of that which exists, but a new project to overturn that which exists in order to restore what they believe once was. You might say, a revolution of restoration. By now we’ve probably all seen that article from The Federalist titled “We Need To Stop Calling Ourselves Conservatives”, and it probably hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice how fashy this all feels. Personally, my immediate first thought was to compare its impetus to the old movement of “revolutionary conservatism” (or “Conservative Revolution”) that existed in Weimar Germany (a parallel that perhaps bears further exploration). But I think this new position also leaves us with a lot more to say about the nature of conservatism itself. More crucially, I think this moment probably serves to expose the myth of conservatism.

The case that John Daniel Davidson makes is a straightforward one: conservatism is at best irrelevant and at worst an entirely outdated idea for the Right, “dead” in the sense that he believes it is no longer possible for conservatism to preserve the institutions of “Western Civilization” against progressive social change. Conservatism, we are told, has preserved next to nothing, and what it means to preserve is slowly and seemingly inexorably dying. The “traditions” cherished within conservatism are supposedly being relegated into the private sphere only to soon be marginalized even there, as irreligion supposedly prevails while the nuclear family and border controls supposedly fade away. It then follows from this that, according to Davidson, people who call themselves conservatives should instead embrace a new identity, one reflecting a new “radical” agenda of restorationism. This agenda would see the Right abandoning modern forms of neoconservatism and fusionism with their apparent fidelity to liberal values and “the free market” in favour of a new love for massive expansions of state intervention in social and economic life on behalf of their ideological goals.

I can’t help but note how impossible it is to remark about this position without considering the sheer divorce from reality that it involves when it comes to points of policy. Davidson talks about abortion, for instance, but the conservatives as we understand them have already acheived probably their biggest victory on this issue in decades. Just this year Roe vs Wade was officially abolished by a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices, and almost immediately after that numerous US states began tightening restrictions on abortion or banning it outright, all under the supervision of a Democratic presidency. He talks about marriage, but Republicans are already moving to try and abolish Obergefell v Hodges, and if Roe v Wade is any indication they just might get their way. He talks about the First Amendment, and if we’re being bluntly honest that concept in America is already a joke what with things like FOSTA/SESTA around, but the actual amendment is in no danger. If we assume he just means conservatives get to say what they want on social media, that is by and large not in danger and in fact the Supreme Court can effectively be said to have ruled in their favour. In fact even when it comes to “Big Tech”, we already know that a number of Facebook’s staff are actually right-wingers, and in fact right-wing sympathy appears to be so endemic on Facebook’s internal team that they fired someone for trying to expose it. He talks about the rule of law, as though the 92% of the “riots” in 2020 were not actually peaceful protests. He talks about “control over our borders”, never mind that even the Democrats are busy putting kids in cages, telling immigrants not to come to America, and constructing a wall on the southern border. He talks about irreligion, as if there isn’t still a massive and hugely-influential evangelical lobby across the US establishment, and as if 2022 wasn’t a very good year for Christian dominionists. In fact, my instincts tell me that Davidson’s article is possible in its entirety because of the momentum that the Right now has rather than its apparent decline.

And yet, even this sort of misses the point. For one thing, even if Davidson acknowledges the reality of the conservative standing and the victories that come with it, he clearly wants more. We’re talking about banning no-fault divorces, we’re talking about weaponising anti-trust laws against social media companies to break them up for not in their view sufficiently accomodating conservative ideology (again, despite conservative groups actually receiving preferential treatment on these mediums in reality), we’re talking about people being arrested and charged with “child abuse” for attending drag shows with their kids (it’s worth noting that by now all drag shows are banned in Idaho), we’re talking about doctors being arrested for administering gender-affirming care, we’re talking about teachers being arrested basically for telling their students that LGBTQ people exist. If he had his way, the Republicans would turn the entirety of the United States of America into something almost resembling a mixture of 1950s Ireland and modern Hungary, perhaps with a side-order of Russia; that means massive restrictions on social autonomy alongside financial incentives for heterosexual couples to have “traditional families”, administered by an interventionist state animated by political Christianity (possibly specifically a form of reactionary Catholicism).

For another thing, putting Davidson’s politial prescription into the context of the extant realities of US politics only deepens the sense of right-wing politics as inherently a politics of escalation. Think about it: it’s never enough for the Right even when they get what they want. The easiest way to illustrate this is on the subject of immigration. All the time the increasingly nationalistic Right joins hands in attacking the current Democratic administration for supposedly opening the borders to waves of undocumented immigration, and accusing Joe Biden of deliberately weakening border controls to replace the white Americans with non-white immigrants, supposedly making for a more reliable voting bloc for Democrats. It’s all nonsense of course, most of all because the current administration has already deported hundreds of thousands of immigrants within its first year. But again, Joe Biden can deport countless immigrants, Kamala Harris can tell many more that they are not welcome in the United States, the Democratic administration can keep detaining immigrants, separating their families out of sight, and still build the border wall probably more efficiently than Donald Trump could have done, but none of it will matter to Republicans. It’s easy to see this as mere opportunistic bickering, merely a ploy of antagonism within the context of a democratic system where such pantomimes are always necessary. But I suspect it’s more. It’s a politics of escalation, but escalation towards what? Nothing less than the total concentration of the existing hierarchy. For immigration, this means the total control of movement by the state as a way of maintaining total nativistic hegemony in the form of what amounts to a white ethno-state.

For still another thing, however, the fact that one has to make this shift in terms of a break from conservatism tells us a few things about what conservatism is. Let’s stop and think about how Davidson references conservatism in his article. He begins his article by defining the status quo of conservatism in terms of a generalized ideology of preservation; specifically, a conservative (keeping in mind this is mostly speaking to the American context) is ostensibly someone who wants to preserve the traditions of “individual rights”, family values”, “religious freedom” etc., to defend them from radical change and pass them on continuously through the generations. In practice, you can think can of much of this as meaning the preservation of the legacy of what would now be called classical liberalism, with its original emphasis on a market capitalist economy and society managed by frameworks of rights that, it’s worth remembering, were originally defined via religious terms. In a way you could say that “conservatism”, in this understanding, is still a form of liberalism. Its definition in this setting is more or less reflexive, a sort of schismogenetic response to a vast array of apparent social shifts that began within the Enlightenment.

Of course conservatism as we know it has always come with a certain ideological conceit inherited from Edmund Burke: the belief in an organic society. Although it is commonplace for conservatives to follow the fashion of Thomas Hobbes in regarding “human nature” in its uncultivated state as a morass of violent urges that, if uncontrolled by some extant authority, lead to that famous “nasty, brutish, and short” life that he talked about, Burke actually seemed to believe that civil society was the “state of nature”, and that humans are naturally inclined to reason. Civil society derives its basis from rights and morality as derived from God, humans on this basis come to know this through the refinement of nature through art and the cultivation of law, and radical change insofar as it threatens this organic basis of civil society and its resultant complexity is to be resisted. It is perhaps from this belief, though, that conservatism as we know it also derives a certain reflexive quality embued with a conceit of ideological skepticism. You may have noticed how conservatives often present themselves as non-ideological actors, as people who merely present skepticism towards larger ideological projects. But if you take into account the question of what that skepticism is based on, it becomes apparent this Burkean idea of organic civil society is at the root of it, in that the skepticism is reserved for anything deemed to be counter to the “natural law” of civil society. Still, it is reflexive tendency more than a coherent ideological program. You might even say that it is by definition reactionary.

It’s worth noting, though, that the idea of civil society as human nature has many reverberations beyond conservatism as we understand it. For one thing, Burke himself was a Whig, which could be understood as a liberal movement. For another, if we focus strictly on the idea of civil society as human nature, this in its own way is nothing other than the statement that humans are a social species for whom civil society is the organic expression of their nature. Even if stripped from considerations of God and natural law, the idea of an organic civil society as the “natural” mode of human social life is easily found quite readily among certain left-wing tendencies in politics. In fact, even within anarchism, you will find some individuals who make defenses of natural law and organic concepts of society outside of the state. Whenever someone makes the metaphor of society as a living organism, they are effectively echoing a similarly Burkean conception of the world, even if they’re also rejecting Burke’s idea of what that means. Indeed, even revolution is easily fitted into this framework as a way of renewing civil society or even restoring it.

Conservatism as we understand it is also connected to a dense set of institutions that are supposed to define this “order” of “natural law”. But even so, this also means that it’s defined mostly reflexively. Insofar as it fixates itself on the preservation of the order of things as it exists, it has no precise form. There was a time where it seemingly did not just mention wholehearted embrace of “free market” capitalism, and then there’s a time where you can’t even talk about conservatism without “free markets”. But at the core is a reflexive instinct towards the preservation of the institutions of certain “traditional” notions of civil society against social change. However, the lines are often somewhat blurred in pracitce. An idea like that sometimes carries over elsewhere as residual instincts in other ideologies. Even progressivism as we understand it can emerge as an ideological force latent with reactionary notions, and even its core mission can be understood as an economistic interpretation of the struggle to preserve civil society, even if not necessarily the “free market”. Meanwhile, you can actually find conservatives who talk in ways that almost couldn’t have less to do with the standard conservative instinct. From fringe “MAGACommunists” who insist that communism is conservative while also rambling about annihilating all restraints to human progress, to Liz Truss, the recently-departed Prime Minister of Britain, counselling the nation that sometimes radical change is necessary while ostensibly ushering the return of Thatcherism, it is indeed true that sometimes some notions of “radical change” are not actually beyond their imagination.

Conservatism then emerges in large as an instinct towards preservation in the abstract, which then emerges as one of the distinct products of the revolutions of the Enlightenment. Major social changes were being brought forth, old social orders were being dismantled, sometimes violently, traditions were being questioned, new traditions had started to emerge, and amidst all that a keen reaction emerged from the desire to preserve what was, including the traditional norms of life and the class privileges of those who came to occupy the Right side of revolutionary table. Conservatism, then, is mostly a placeholder for a broadly generalized mode of reaction, the kind that you usually find in “conservatives” as such as well as nationalists, liberals, “libertarians”, and “centrists” among other assorted reactionaries. In most cases, in modern times this does still amount to a defense of the classical liberal order, maybe with a certain appeal to ancient philosophy and Christian teaching. In a sense, it is its own myth, corresponding to what is in essence a reactionary expression of the whole order of the Enlightenment.

What Davidson wants is for the Right to move beyond that idea of its role in the world, to embrace a “revolutionary moment” in order to “restore Western Civilization”. This “revolutionary moment” has an obvious fascistic tinge to it, suggestible from his idea that the government should be utilized as an “instrument of renewal in American life”, echoing the characteristic palingenetic nationalism of fascism, as well as the co-optation of left-wing slogans and policy suggestions that could have been lifted straight out of the National Socialist playbook. But even if we don’t accept that this is the makings of a nascent fascist movement, conservatism in this setting is going to unravel into something else, something beyond the conventions of conservatism as we understand it in the US context. The term “Christian Nationalism” has been repeatedly invoked in reference to the rising American far-right, and it does make for a rather coherent encapsulation of its goals in the terms that perhaps Davidson has in mind. It’s not a particularly new idea, mind you. Theodore Beale (otherwise known as “Vox Day”), who was often referenced as a figurehead of what was once called the alt-right, has been pushing that concept for years now, possibly since at least as far back as 2015. His idea of “Christian Nationalism” is similarly predicated on the rejection of libertarianism or “free market” capitalism in favour of an authoritarian capitalist state that intervenes in the economy and public life on behalf of nativist interests.

It has often been said that conservatism is an unpopular ideology, detested by the masses, and we can safely assume that the its more reactionary cousins are unlikely to be terribly popular. But the unconscious tendencies of micro-fascism are not so marginal, and without the ecosystem of micro-fascist tendencies within the masses conservatism has no meaning, and its evolutions in the form of the larger ideologies of Traditionalism, “Christian Nationalism”, and neofascism are the concentration of these tendencies into coherent reactionary ideologies that, most crucially, do not exist solely as reflections against social change within the current order in that they outwardly embody their own definite orders of social control. This, in relation to the development of reactionary anxieties, may go some way to explaining why “conservatism”, in our time, appears to be looking more and more like fascism. And if it’s not that, then we really are just looking at reactionary expressions of the liberal status quo, bent on upholding the concentration of politics in the hands of the few while animating the latent micro-fascisms of the social order as a source of power.

All of this is good reason to emphasize that conservatism, in all of its manifestations, should not be regarded as a fine concern for aesthetic values but instead as petty reaction that should be overcome and discarded. And it’s not even much of coherent ideological worldview, but a placeholder for an amalgamation of social anxieties and interests that tend towards reaction. And perhaps it may indeed unravel over time, as the conditions of a planet barrelling towards irreversible crisis generate massive social changes that cannot simply be stalled or controlled in the fashion of “conservatism”. The Right is going to define itself in a manner most befitting the moment, as it decides that liberal capitalism is no longer congruent with its desires, goals, and interests. This invariably poses a larger threat to the struggle for autonomy, and perhaps life, than we already currently face. We may bear this in mind in the struggle that must waged, as well as the impetus of deconstruction, of profane illumination directed the current order of the world.

As this idea takes hold “conservatism” as an idea will unravel, and its placeholder status will seem all the more apparent. The hardcore Right at this stage will be recognised as a collection of ideologies that define themselves beyond it. These ideologies include a newly-defined notion of “Christian Nationalism”, as well as standard fare white nationalism, “libertarianism” (including “anarcho-capitalism”), Traditionalism, and outright fascism. All of these ideologies follow aspects of what Davidson has in mind, even if the “libertarians” would rather die than embrace “big government”. Oh but “conservatism” will always be around, in that the instinct to defend the deepest abstracted hierarchies of civil society will always arise as soon as these hierarchies are called into question. But “conservatism” writ large is a reflexive tendency towards micro-fascism, in that it is largely a placeholder for a set of instincts and scripts that eventually give rise to things like fascism or more generally authoritarianism; a byword, then, for reaction.

A very brief inquiry on The Demiurge

Even though I have written about The Demiurge in terms of how I define it in recent months, specifically within my two articles about Satanic Paganism (both the long and short versions), for some reason I felt compelled to write a much more concise presentation of the concept of The Demiurge, or at least present another way of thinking of that idea, inspired in part by discussions of “Leviathan” (specifically deriving from baedan, at least as far as I can tell). I suppose if nothing else it should also make a good opportunity to further break from some of the older Gnostic-Luciferian notions of the Demiurge associated with Carl William Hansen or to a certain extent the old Fraternitas Saturni.

In my original Satanic Paganism article, I described the Demiurge as the totality of state power and all the more social structures of control. Church, Capital, Society, Order, Authority, even “God” by some Christian-esque conception, name something of the like. I wrote that I used the term Demiurge in preference to Leviathan, since to me Leviathan as a mythical agent of chaos seemed fairly inappropriate as a reference to the totality of the process of ordering and control. The Demiurge, in both the original Platonist and later Gnostic sense of the term, is an artificer, fashioning that which surrounds him into the order under which all are to live. That perhaps suffices, but what if there’s another angle to take.

We need not necessarily depart from the idea of The Demiurge as not necessarily a distinct intelligence, but then what if that’s on the basis that it is emergent from the ordering processes? In modern occultism, there’s the concept of the egregore. An egregore is typically understood as a psychic entity or thoughtform that is created by and then influences the thoughts of multiple people, often in conscious direction towards a given purpose, although in older pre-modern occultism “it”egregore” was basically just a fancy word for angels (including fallen angels, even). In this case it’s not only thoughts, its structures. What if the Demiurge can be understood as the thoughtform of all systems of control (which we must never forget are as human as anything else), of all of the ordering processes of domination? Not the Leviathan rampaging in the sea against God and his earthly kingdom, but the great artificer, the hidden avatar of the whole process by which life is turned into order and machinery (thus paraphrasing baedan).

If there are many names for this process, are there as many names for the Demiurge itself? Is that how we understand God himself, at least in monotheistic terms? Perhaps that hues somewhere close to “soft” polytheism, and perhaps this creates its own problems. What might that mean when we understand the God of the Bible as one God among many? Perhaps the Demiurge can go by many names that we recognise in myth and religion, or perhaps the Demiurge emerges, as an egregore, emerges separately from them while taking on the attributes of various gods.

Regardless, however slice it, egregore or not, the Demiurge is in summation the representation of the sum of the processes of control that are extended over you that create World Order as we know it. In this world, those who do not tend to “order” their own lives on their own terms can find them ordered by something else, and The Demiurge is the avatar of this process as applicable to human society, turning uncultivated life into Order at large; chaos to cosmos, in a manner of speaking. It is thus among the things that we fight against. That much is ultimately what matters from an esoteric perspective.

Make Total Destroy America

Roe vs Wade was officially abolished last Friday. Almost 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to have an abortion was protected by the Constitution of the United States. Now that Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey are gone, abortion can be outright banned in several states. 13 US states are already moving to immediately ban abortion after the SCOTUS ruling, while several more states could either eventually ban abortion later or just impose stricter legal restrictions. For millions of people, it will be impossible to get an abortion without unsafe backdoor procedures. Countless people will die as a result of botched abortion procedures or having to carry ectopic pregnancies. Many more will have to suffer being forced to carry a baby conceived by someone who raped them.

This oppressive reality represents the unambiguous destruction of the reproductive rights of millions of people, and is the fulfillment of a concerted assault against them and of anti-abortion politics. Those who contented themselves with a sort libertarian halfway house position on abortion – in which one has a confused moral aversion to abortion while nonetheless opposing criminalisation on the grounds of personal freedom and harm reduction – should find themselves disabused of the ability to content themselves with such a weak position. To seriously care about freedom is to oppose criminalisation completely and entirely, and endorse full bodily autonomy on principle and without qualification. The simple truth is that it really is either this or you want the state to control that autonomy, and thus undermine the whole premise of individual liberty. Even “moderate” restrictions of abortion, whereby it is banned after some ultimately arbitrary period of time has passed, is still an unjust restriction of individual liberty in this sense. And the fact is, giving even a fraction of an inch to the anti-abortion crowd is, in reality, lending support to a kind of fascist biopolitics. Look at Mary Miller declaring that the SCOTUS ruling is a victory for “white life”, look at self-described traditionalist Christians angrily denouncing pro-choice women as “blood libelous bitches”, and look at the contingent of left-wing anti-abortion figures who clutch their pearls at their imagined “rootless society”.

But if all of this was bad enough on its own, there’s more and worse to come. It is increasingly clear that, in a larger sense, the abolition of Roe v Wade will not only affect the right to an abortion. We know that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that the Supreme Court should “reconsider” all substantive due process precedents. This includes Griswold vs Connecticut, Lawrence vs Texas, and Obergefell vs Hodges. Griswold vs Connecticut is the ruling that established the constitutional right of married couples, and later all couples, to buy and use contraceptives. Yes, you heard me: until 1965, it was illegal in some US states to buy, sell, and use contraceptives. Lawrence vs Texas established that laws against same-sex intercourse were unconstitutional. Until 2003, there were “anti-sodomy” laws all over the USA, that so-called “land of the free”. Obergefell vs Hodges established that same sex marriage was a fundamental right protected by the constitution, and that all states were required to recognise same sex marriages as a fulfilment of that right. This means that the Supreme Court could ensure that contraceptives, same sex marriage, and even same sex intimacy all become illegal again in several US states. Incidentally, right before Roe vs Wade was abolished, the Supreme Court also ruled in Vega vs Tekoh that police officers can no longer be sued for violating your rights during your arrest or a criminal trial, even if you were found not guilty of any crime.

In addition to all of this, after Roe vs Wade was abolished, conservative politicians have already begun publicly calling for more SCOTUS “reconsiderations” over the weekend and well before that. Republican Senator John Cornyn said that the Supreme Court should move to reconsider Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka. Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka was the ruling that established that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. “Reconsidering” this, on Cornyn’s terms, could mean the revival of racial segregation. In March this year, Senator Mike Braun suggested that interracial marriage should be left to individual states to decide on, which would mean that Loving vs Virginia would be overturned and it would be possible that interracial marriage could become illegal in some states. The Texas GOP recently released a platform that called for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that prevent non-white Americans from voting, while also attacking homosexuality.

What we’re looking at is the culmination of a decades-long agenda by American conservatives to roll back almost every gain made for the advancement of freedom for women, LGBTQ people, and non-white Americans, and really any American who does not conform to the expectations of their desired theocratic Christian Nationalist society. Clarence Thomas himself is a member of the Federalist Society, which was set up to promote right-wing ideas in elite college campuses and then funnel right-wing lawyers to affect their ideology through the Supreme Court. In fact, all current Republican SCOTUS justices, with the possible exception of John Roberts, are or have been members of this same Federalist Society, and they were pivotal to the legal make-up of the last couple of Republican administrations. To fulfill this decades-long right-wing agenda, all federal protections for abortion, same-sex marriage and intimacy, trans and queer people, racial equality, and universal democratic suffrage/franchise, will all be abolished, which will allow Republicans to turn as many states as they can into theocratic, biopolitically-controlled fascist states. The very move to abolish Roe vs Wade seems to have been motivated partially by concern over a “domestic supply of infants”. And it will be enforced through repressive violence, even if Democrats get elected. The Supreme Court building had snipers on the roofs before protesters could even throw the first fist or have the first club lobbed at them, peaceful protesters demonstrating for abortion rights were mercilessly beaten by police officers over the weekend, and troops of armoured and militarized cops were seen patrolling Washington DC in full anticipation of protests. At this point it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that fascism is increasingly incipient in the United States of America.

So, besides the ramifications I already talked about, what does all of this mean? To me, it means a lot of harsh conclusions and a bitter struggle. I hope it makes clear to more and more people that world-historic progress is a myth, and that you cannot expect the world to “arc towards justice” as President Joe Biden said in his inauguration speech. In fact, in the context of US history, the rights that the Supreme Court established might well be a pause in what is otherwise the domination of patriarchal white supremacy in the context of an authoritarian society. That is, unless those rights are relentlessly fought for by those who demand them. That’s the other side of this. When we say rights, we mean to establish liberty in our own jurisprudence. The repression of this freedom is, as well, the establishment of a different jurisprudence by a given extant authority. Freedom cannot be granted, it must be taken and/or fought for. History, progress, fate, God, the state, none of them will ever win liberty for you.

Staying on world-historic progress as a theme, I find myself annoyed by frequent pronouncements by progressives and others that the developments we’re seeing represent some return to the Middle Ages. America is not going back to the Middle Ages. It’s going back to the 1970s at the most recent, and to the 19th century at the furthest. For one thing, I cannot stress enough that all of the rulings being “reconsidered” addressed social conditions that persisted all through the tailend of the 20th century, though often did base themselves on 19th century laws. That means that the repressive nightmare we’re looking at is nowhere near as distant from living memory as the Dark Age America trope would have us believe. For another thing, the entire concept that life “begins at conception” as advanced by the anti-abortion movement has seemingly no evident basis in medieval theology, and is instead the product of 19th century Catholic theology and the then-contemporary secular medical establishment. Until then, Catholic theology had long established that a human fetus was not immediately ensouled before what was called the “quickening”. While abortion in itself was still legally restricted by medieval society, it was specifically punished if performed after the “quickening”, whereas pre-“quickening” abortions weren’t punished and were not considered murder. And of course, well before Christianity, abortion was not generally regarded as a homicide. There are several pre-modern texts regarding abortion practice, abortifacients were widely produced and procured for use, any legal punishment for abortion was not for murdering a fetus but for doing it against the wishes of the husband, and the whole “quickening” argument itself comes from Aristotle, who was most definitely not the only classical or ancient philosopher to reject the modern anti-choice argument. If anything it was the Enlightenment that “progressed” towards greater and more absolute restrictions of reproductive freedom. Meanwhile, the fascist biopolitics of the anti-abortion movement is inherent an expression of right-wing belief in reproductive futurity as applied to whiteness. Almost nothing expresses this more clearly than the infamous white supremacist fourteen words, which end with “a future for white children”.

But enough about that. What do we do about it all? Well, even if America insists on keeping its brand of capitalist federal democracy, I think that, at the barest minimum, the Supreme Court must be abolished. I will not be satisfied by the court being stacked, expanded, or rearranged by Democrats. Only the complete abolition of the Supreme Court will suffice – again, at the bare minimum. And it’s not just because they’re doing conservative rulings, but because this is where the investiture of jurisprudence in a handful of unelected judges to decide or affect the fate of everyone else leads to. The core concept of the Supreme Court is frankly absurd and obscene! Though, I suppose, one can make similar objections to the state itself – I would agree and advance that objection as well. But then while it sounds radical it still isn’t enough, hence “bare minimum”. While we would abolish that institution, we might still have to deal with the course of fascism now in motion, and Americans would still have to contend with the sovereignty of the federal government, and a Democratic Party that has shown, time and again, that it cannot be relied upon not make any meaningful and desirable reforms. In fact, the advance of fascism will ultimately taken as reason for the Democratic Party to insist that progressive policy ambitions be set aside for the “more immediate” goal of opposing either Donald Trump, his successor, or more generally the increasingly fascist Republican Party, thus ensuring a cycle in which reform is sidelined for the sake of party unity against the far-right, and American progressives will ultimately acquiese. It is for this reason that people like Bernie Sanders, or really any of the progressive Democrats, are ultimately unreliable.

I think that American radicals should take seriously the idea that direct action is the only way to overcome the present conditions. This is meant on revolutionary or even insurrectionary terms. Violence is the reality of the power being exercised in the jurisprudence of the establishment, and it is also the reality of the overcoming of this jurisprudence in pursuit of liberation. I have some reason to believe that a lot of American anti-fascists are indeed taking this seriously. But even if it is insisted that this is a step too far, the least that should be expected is the relentless activist disruption of the activities of the Supreme Court and the right-wing functionaries of the US state and the anti-abortion agenda. If the point is not to simply get rid of them, as would be much better for everyone, then at minimum it should be as hellishly difficult as possible for the bastards to keep doing what they want to do. If Democrats made it a point to do things like codify Roe vs Wade or went full force in campaigning for unrestricted reproductive freedoms, then even if they’re never going to be enough that would still genuinely do some good. But they can’t be relied upon. Already the best that the Democratic establishment has to offer is telling people to go vote for Democrats and admonishing people for not protesting peacefully enough. As if the American state “deserves” peace after attacking the freedoms of millions of people! I seriously think that the right course involves preparedness for, and will to, the total dismantling of the complex of American political and societal institutions as the only path out of the cycle that America is in. In other words, make total destroy.

But of course, to conclude this article, there’s the matter of what this means for our little world, for our communities. Obviously, I think that we should align ourselves with exactly that struggle of destruction and negation. Even if one cannot wage the fight, at least stand by those who will. Groups like Jane’s Revenge and all the black blocs looking to take up the fight should be supported unequivocally, while the liberals and reformists who want to stand in their way should be unreservedly opposed. Oh, and any opportunists no matter how “revolutionary” seeking to co-opt their efforts should be obstructed and humiliated for their attempts. In the meantime though, at the very least it is still important to support groups and individuals that make concrete material gains in providing or protecting access to abortion however possible. But don’t just accept anyone who presents themselves to be on your side as allies. Groups like the Boogaloo Bois, who present themselves as anti-government anarchists but are actually neo-fascists, should be opposed, and groups like The Satanic Temple, who present themselves as a beacon for reproductive rights while failing to do anything substantive for that cause and refusing to heed expert criticism on their practice, should also be rejected. We should also reject any and all responses to the abolition of Roe vs Wade that seek to reframe the carceral power of patriarchy as something that can be turned back around just to prove a point. Every liberal calling for “sex strikes”, joking about “mandatory vascectomies”, or complaining about how if men could abort we would have free abortion, all languish in erroneous and futile hypocrisy arguments, ignore the racist and eugenicist history of actual mandatory vascetomy policies, ignore the problems that they actually pose for women, and ultimately ignore transness and queerness. In fact, I am willing to go so far as to say that such hot takes are the result of an “unqueered” perspective on reproductive rights and the carceral state – that is, a perspective that is not informed by a critical understanding of queerness. For Satanists and Pagans, the nature and stakes of the struggle at hand is clear: Christian theocracy and authoritarianism is asserting itself once more, and it must be fought to the last.

If only one thing is to be made clear and internalised, it’s that America is not the “land of the free”. How could it ever claim to be, when love itself has been restricted and oppressed for so long and will be oppressed again? The only freedom that will exist in America, or anywhere, is that which is taken or fought for. And don’t ever think that you can’t do it. The Republicans by now know that almost nothing is politically impossible as long as you have the will to enact and fight for it. Charlie Kirk outright said it. Nothing is impossible for conservatives, and the abolition of Roe vs Wade under a Democratic government has shown them that. Nothing should be impossible for American radicals either. If after decades and even under a Democratic administration conservatives can succeed in turning the United States of America into a collection of fascist states, I don’t see why it’s impossible to tear their whole society down and replace it with only the void of ungovernable liberty.

Oh and just to say it right at the end: abortion is not murder. You’re just terminating an amalgamation of unconscious cells, not a lifeform in any meaningful sense. The idea that life “begins at conception” has no basis in science, philosophy, or theology, and is basically an entirely ideological moral claim. There is no credible justification for any restriction of liberty or bodily autonomy in this domain, and undermining bodily autonomy is ultimately to undermine liberty itself. On this basis, any efforts to either ban or simply restrict abortion in any country must be uncompromisingly opposed.

The contradictions of Caleb Maupin: a response to “Four Forms of Satanism”

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.

Democracy versus autocracy, or oppression versus oppression?

As the possibility of war in Ukraine gradually unfolded yesterday (as of the time of this writing, Russia has now invaded and declared war with Ukraine), with Russian and Ukrainian troops gathering in the eastern Ukraine after the sham “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk were declared sovereign states by Vladimir Putin, I caught a Twitter thread from a Finnish liberal (well, I suppose he much prefers the term “leftist”) named Janne M. Korhonen, who argued that Putin’s actions in Ukraine were part of a broader plan to undermine and ultimately bring down the European Union. Korhonen’s idea of “the left”, or what “the left” should be, of course boils down to support for Nordic social democracy, which is essentially just capitalism with a human face as guided by the ideals of an ideology of progressive welfarism, and to preserve this order he feels that Finland should join with NATO in the hopes of protecting Finland from the possibility of being drawn into a war with Russia. Suffice it say, as far as “leftism” goes this certainly is fairly weak.

I will say that there are a number of valid points that Korhonen raises when he’s talking about Russian actions within Ukraine and the reasons why Finland and the Baltic states would fear any hint of Russian aggression or even expansion in Europe. However, the part of Korhonen’s thread that I wish to bring into focus is his overall narrative that what’s happening represents a struggle between “democracy” (referring to the West, of course) and autocracy (referring to competing imperialist dictatorships such as Russia and China). I find this to merely be liberal version of a phenomenon found in some corners of the left that is referred to as campism. Campism is a vulgar form of anti-imperialist analysis that frames the world as divided between, as the name suggests, two geopolitical camps; one “imperialist”, the other one “anti-imperialist”. In contemporary Marxist or even some non-Marxist socialist movements (and honestly even some nationalist and fascist circles), this means seeing the “imperialist” camp as consisting of the West, particularly the USA and NATO, and the “anti-imperialist” camp as any nation that can be seen to actively oppose the US-NATO sphere of influence, such as Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Syria. The campist approach to anti-imperialist politics typically entails uncompromising support for the latter “anti-imperialist” camp of nations, often regardless of whether said nations could even be called socialist countries or even regardless of their actual imperialist actions (such as Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Chechnya). But of course, the liberal has their own version of campism in practice. From the liberal standpoint, if Russia is doing imperialism, then surely NATO is the anti-imperialist party in all this, regardless of the nature of Western imperialism and the atrocities involved in its continuance, and if Russia represents autocracy and authoritarianism then the West must be the party of democratic freedom, regardless of the oppressions that plague the Western world.

It is on this note that I would highlight an important and disturbing development from the so-called “leader of the free world” that is the United States of America, or more specifically the state of Texas. On February 22nd, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that, according to the Office of the Attorney General, gender affirmation surgery constitutes “child abuse” under Texas law, and further announced that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services would be directed to investigate any reported instances of children receiving gender affirmation surgery in Texas, and investigate the parents of the children who receive them. All licensed professionals and even members of the general public are now required to report to the authorities on such surgeries, and those who refuse to report to the state will be subject to criminal penalties.

What this means is that it is illegal for trans children to undergo gender affirmation surgery in order to embody their real gender identity, since Texas law deems this to be “child abuse”, and that the parents of trans children can be arrested and investigated by the state for supporting the individuality of their children, along with any medical professionals who facilitate gender affirmation surgery. This is oppression. This is oppressing people for being trans. And it’s not like this is too big a surprise considering that the same state also implemented a law that allowed basically anyone to sue anyone for providing an abortion, thus oppressing reproductive rights through the incentives of the legal system.

Some may think “at least the US isn’t Russia!”. Maybe. Technically they’re right that the entirety of the US doesn’t work the way Russia does, and even in Texas there aren’t brutal crackdowns of LGBT protests, or at least none that I know of. But even then, such an objection misses the point. Oppression is oppression, and it does not matter what form your oppression takes. And besides, Texas is not the only US state that is oppressing trans children. In Florida, schools are permitted to carry out invasive “physical examinations” of children to make sure they aren’t trans, so as to enforce a ban on trans athletes competing in sporting events. Something similar has been proposed by Republican lawmakers in Utah, who want to ban trans students from competing in sports events and enforce that ban through a commission that would examine the bodies of children to make sure they’re eligible to compete (read: to make sure they’re not trans). And even outside the issue of LGBT rights itself, are we really going to ignore the fact that certain states are trying to ban books and make it practically illegal to protest against police brutality?

The United States of America is at this point an increasingly oppressive country. Its media can’t even acknowledge the issue of trans rights, without first pointing to how Russia banned trans people from adopting children, as though you’re supposed to be grateful that you don’t live in Russia, as if you’re not supposed to see that there is more than one oppressive country in the world. In this sense, just as pro-Russian campism obscures the real dynamics of imperialism as a global system by ignoring the way Russia engages in flat out imperialist aggression, and putting you squarely on the side of authoritarianism for as long as it means opposing the USA and NATO, so too does liberal pro-Western campism obscure or even sometimes excuse the nature of oppression as it takes place in the US and similar countries, such as the oppression of trans people that can be seen at present. Besides, the American liberal may whine that Russia is worse, but this is only because they cannot conceive the American conservative constructing a more systematic and equally brutal hierarchy of oppression than what exists in Russia. Oh, and for any British liberals who might be reading this, don’t fall asleep; Britain is much nicer to trans people than America is at the moments. You won’t see too many British conservatives gas on about the way God supposedly made you, but you will see even the Labour Party support the oppression of trans people – they’ve even tried to cover it up.

To return to Korhonen’s thread, which I used as a springboard for this much broader discussion, I will say straightforwardly that one of my disagreements with Korhonen is his belief that “violence cannot build a sustainable world”. To be frank, I think that Korhonen is simply wrong here. The entire geopolitical order of liberal-democratic that Korhonen so lauds was built and maintained through violence; whether that’s the revolutionary violence that inaugurated the age of bourgeois republics in the dawn of the Enlightenment, the war and revolutionary violence that was waged against chattel slavery in order to abolish it, the violence of the police force and system of incarceration that was created ultimately to defend the privilege of private property, the war that was waged to stop Nazism or fascism from taking over the whole world, and the conflict between the West and the so-called “communist states” that led up to the so-called “end of history”, culminating in the geopolitical order we see today. And not only is the world we live in built on some form of violence or another, so were all worlds before it, and so perhaps will whatever world succeeds this one – that may well be true for communists and anarchists, since how else is the capitalist state and the global system of imperialism to be defeated? Korhonen, thus, is wrong.

And the whole reason I raise this point is that in addition to creating new worlds, it is often necessary in order to preserve life and freedom. I have said before, not long ago, that the US left should consider being prepared for all-out war with the reactionaries that are increasingly threatening their lives. In the wake of the new Texas legislation, it is not unreasonable to see similar calls for militarization in order to resist the abject oppression being put forward. Only active resistance to oppression will lead to the triumph of liberation and the defeat of oppression. “Reform”, insofar as it still maintains the mechanisms of oppression, will still support oppression. Oppression and imperialism are global systems, and should be fought on those terms. Campism, thus, means consignment to an illusory perspective of the world, which serves only to hinder the struggle against oppression on behalf of one of the oppressors.

Janne Korhonen is thus only faintly correct in framing our situation in terms of democracy versus autocracy, if we refer specifically to Ukraine versus Russia, insofar as at least in Ukraine you could vote for Zelensky or someone else and vote out whoever’s in charge. That’s not much, but the same can’t be said for Russia. But if we’re talking about some bigger narrative of the democratic West, led by America, versus Russia, as a contestation between the principles of democratic freedom versus authoritarian autocracy, that’s just detached from reality when you look at the oppression being carried out right now. Whereas Janne Korhonen would say that the world is democracy versus autocracy, I prefer to see that the world is oppression versus oppression, and the real war worth fighting is the war against the global system of oppression.

It may seem strange to discuss both the thread, the war in Ukraine, and the mounting US oppression of trans people in the same post, but in a weird way it all kind of comes together, once we try to consider the claim that we’re dealing in the world that Korhonen would hope we do. Plus, all of this is going on at the same time, and neither can be readily ignored in favour of the other. Suffice it to say this has been an eventful timeline in more ways than we might prefer.

In closing: this should go without saying, but my solidarity goes to the oppressed trans people in the United States of America, to anyone in America who plans to fight this oppression, to the people of Ukraine escaping and fighting Russian invasion, to the Russian anti-war protesters who risk being brutally curtailed by Putin’s fascist thugs, and to the working class and anarchists in Ukraine, Russia, and Russian-controlled territories who are actively fighting imperialist war and oppresion in their lands!

The problem with Canada’s response to the “Freedom” Convoy

Canada is at the moment wrangling with an ongoing protest referred to as the Freedom Convoy, which is a generally right-wing protest whose core focus seems to be on vaccine mandates and Covid-19 restrictions. For a self-described convoy, many of the protesters aren’t actually truckers, but what is true is that their protests involve blocking highways in order to try and extract concessions from the Canadian government through external pressure. Their goal seems to be the abolition of all Covid-19 restrictions in Canada.

Now, make no mistake; the Freedom Convoy protesters aren’t necessarily advancing a good cause. For one thing, their actual demands, if met, would likely only ensure that Covid-19 spreads to more Canadians and probably kills more of them, and in typical right-wing fashion they seem to lack any thought given to the question of “what about my freedom to not get Covid-19 from you?” or the fact that a lot of the oppression we’re seeing in Western countries actually seems to concern corporations forcing people to go to work even if they have Covid-19 symptoms. For another, it seems that at least a few of them might be aligned with the far-right and some of them do appear to be racist, as suggested by the appearance of swastikas and Confederate battle-flags among some of the protesters – the latter sometimes appears in other anti-vax protests outside of Canada as well as within Canada. But, while it is right to oppose the so-called Freedom Convoy, there’s also a different problem in relation to it, namely the response carried out by the Canadian government.

On February 14th, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canadian government would invoke the Emergencies Act, with the aim of expanding the powers of the Canadian police to seize the trucks of anyone participating in the protests, freeze their corporate accounts, and suspend their vehicle insurance. This also apparently meant that the Canadian government would give Canadian banks the authority to freeze the accounts of anyone suspected to have given support to the Freedom Convoy, without being required to obtain permission from the courts. Banks who decided to investigate and freeze accounts suspected of supporting the Convoy would be granted legal immunity by the government and be permitted to share more information from these accounts with the government. It was also announced that the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada would be given the power to monitor funds sent through GoFundMe and other payment providers used by the protesters, as well as crypto-currency transactions.

It’s obvious what’s happening. The Canadian government is expanding the powers of surveillance and the police and incentivizing private corporations to effectively financially punish anyone who took part in the convoy protests. It can be thought of as a soft power response, and a military dispersion of the protests does not seem forthcoming, but this is still a carceral response. The reasons for the government doing this are not especially difficult to understand. The blockades matter mostly because they present economic difficulties, preventing products from moving across the country. That said, it also seems to have impacted emergency services, often preventing them too from crossing. In any case, it is the regular functioning of the system that I suspect presents the biggest priority for the Canadian government. Whenever I hear about this, for some reason I’m reminded of the whole discourse surrounding Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain here in my country, and the various blockades that they enacted not too long ago. Although their actual reasons for protesting were very different from those of the Freedom Convoy, the former demanding immediate action to fight climate change and the latter campaigning for environmentally friendly insulation of all homes within the next few years, a lot of the social discourse and political response focused not so much on their demands but on the disruption of the economy and functioning of the system, which is then framed as an attack on the livelihoods of ordinary people. For daring to make demands of the government through external pressure, Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain were accused of “not being constructive” and “alienating ordinary people” and faced suppression by the police, and the British government expanded the powers of the police to “stop and search” protesters and enforce harsher penalties for motorway disruptions, not particularly mindful of the damage such moves would do to the right to protest.

That said, perhaps there’s a peculiar difference. For one thing, it’s said that members of the Freedom Convoy have weapons on hand. But also, the protests carried out by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain all, after some time, faced the exercise of hard power by the government, whereas this doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case for the Freedom Convoy; not yet, anyway. Indeed, at the moment it seems that there are counter-protesters in Canada that have faced getting dragged off the scene by police officers. It’s a very strange expression of the carceral state. For right-wing anti-vax protests, the government responds with what is essentially a drastic expansion of surveillance powers or the outsourcing thereof in order to financially target protesters, which will inevitably be a problem for the left should they cross their own bridge. But for left-wing counter-protests, the standard police suppression is often deployed. It can comparatively seem to some like the government’s playing nice with the anti-vaxxers, insofar as freezing their bank accounts and generally invoking emergency powers to disperse and disincentivize them was ever the “nice” response. But, this is still a broadly carceral response, one that is more versatile than certain traditional notions of authoritarianism. This carceral state employs numerous tactics, seemingly on a selective basis per the groups it targets, favouring a mix of leverage and blunt force.

It’s worth being stressed that what ultimately matters isn’t the Freedom Convoy, they’ll likely come to nothing at the end of it, but rather the nature of the state and the powers it may invoke whenever its interests and the order upon which it depends are seen to be threatened. It’s this conversation that matters, for much the same reasons that I covered in my article on Boris Johnson’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Britain. The carceral nature of the state colours everything from state responses to protest to the course of the way the Covid-19 pandemic was handled and spread across the world, and so our conversations about protest and the Covid-19 pandemic should hinge on a much larger conversation about the conditions of the carceral state. I’m inclined to think that the political climate we have surrounding Covid-19 would be very different if our governments hadn’t carefully exploited the pandemic in order to establish states of exception and control to be justified via the pandemic.

Boris Johnson is not a libertarian

All too often in mainstream British political discourse surrounding government policy as regards the still-ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as the broader Conservative Party are pursuing a “libertarian” approach to Covid-19 policy. This description is, of course, a fatuous reference to the fact that Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have been deliberately trying to avoid an increase in regulations and restrictions as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to spread through England, thus seemingly taking a laissez-faire attitude to the issue, and derives from Boris Johnson’s own apparent self-description as a “libertarian”. But what is the truth of this “libertarianism”?

I must admit that a few years ago, for some time, I had been unduly skeptical of Jeremy Corbyn on libertarian grounds, but his recent opposition to Covid passports and mandatory vaccines (for NHS workers, at least), in spite of other trends in the Labour Party and the “centre-left” has had me off guard, and gotten me curious. On December 14th 2021, Jeremy Corbyn along with several other left-wing Labour MPs, including Diane Abbott and Zarah Sultana, voted against a series of measures that including Covid passports and mandatory vaccines for NHS workers, joined by a 100-strong contingent of Conservative rebels who opposed the government on these same measures. At first I did not know Corbyn’s argument, and this made me want to hear it, but recently a Double Down News video featuring Corbyn has proven to be rather clarifying on the subject.

Corbyn’s argument is that instituting a policy of requiring Covid passports would lead to a situation in which there would be a massive databank of citizens that can be held by the state for its own purposes against their privacy and civil liberties, and his argument against requiring NHS workers to be vaccinated is that this would potentially mean losing vital staff at a time when the NHS needs all hands available to manage hospitalization of people infected with Covid-19. I must say, it’s hard to oppose this line of argument, and I find myself agreeing with it, in parts cautiously and in parts enthusiastically. And once we start from this argument, or rather the observations it speaks to, the narrative of Boris Johnson’s “libertarianism” unravels into abject falsity.

For all the predictable bromides concerning the tradition of “English liberty”, the British government has fared little better than the rest of the world in its march towards the enactment of a long-term state of exception. After sitting on its hands and waiting for Covid-19 to spread across the UK and kill hundreds of people, the government mandated a protracted lockdown over a months-long period before the summer season, the exact length depending on which part of the UK you lived in. In England, particularly, things had become so draconian that there were even reports that casual sex had been banned (outside your own home, of course). And then, in 2021, peaceful protests and vigils against police violence in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard were met with violent suppression by the police and an effort by the Conservative government to impose new restrictions against the right to protest, and thereby the basic rights to freedom of speech, expression, and assembly. So much for this “English liberty” we were all told about.

In this light, Boris Johnson can’t possibly be taken as a “libertarian” with any grain of seriousness. But then how do we make sense of his ostensibly laissez-faire approach to the pandemic as of late. Well there are a number of ways. I suspect one viable explanation is that he can’t possibly maintain a position in which to impose further restriction after he himself violated the very restrictions he imposed upon everyone else. But I have another theory. Remember that, as Covid-19 was spreading across Europe and the UK had its first confirmed cases, the government waited until the middle of March to enact any serious policies to combat, or more accurately control, the spread of Covid-19. It was in the vacuum of apparent inaction and mounting viral transmission that a repressive state of exception soon followed. My suspicion hence is that the government had deliberately arranged our extant circumstances so as to allow for the necessity of a state of exception, most likely as part of a strategy to bide time and preserve the order of uninterrupted exchange of capital and goods while the government cooked a set of restrictions to stall the virus and compensate the rich.

This understanding also applies to the proposal to require NHS workers to be vaccinated. In theory it should make sense, but in practice the logical outcome of this means that any NHS workers who, for whatever reason, have not been vaccinated will lose their jobs. The problem here is obvious: that potentially means less staff for the NHS, which means less people to perform the various functions of the NHS which it needs especially in order to manage the negative cascading effects of a pandemic. There is already a staff shortage in the NHS as it is, with thousands of workers absent because of Covid, and this has led to critical incidents in British hospitals, disruptions of vital medical functions including unloading ambulances, military personnel being deployed to plug the gaps, and a general demoralisation among remaining NHS staff. With this in mind, legally requiring NHS staff to be vaccinated in order to continue their duties could deepen the pressures facing the NHS by leading to further shortages, creating gaps that are then harder to fill, leading to a general crisis for the NHS. This, in my opinion, constitutes a direct attack on the NHS, one befitting a government that had already take many millions of pounds of money out of the NHS and continued a regime of privatisation that has been active since before Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. Incidentally, it should be stressed that privatisation has, in the years prior to the global pandemic, been pursued not only by the British government but also the government of Italy, thus eventually weakening the ability of public health services to effectively combat the pandemic.

Thus it is empirically clear what the Conservative government is doing. Far from pursuing a “libertarian” approach to the pandemic, the government is attempting to establish a biopolitically-controlled carceral state, whose order over the masses is based on a broad restriction of freedom that is itself sustained by a constant state of crisis management. This crisis management, of course, pertains to a continuous emergence, recession, and then resurgence of Covid-19, which, while obviously not created itself by the government, is facilitated by the government in that it conditions its ability to cyclically re-establish itself. There have been many voices in the political and scientific establishment

The UK is not the only country in the world where Covid-19 regulations, under the purview of certain authoritarian governments, have served as a pretext to expand the dictatorial powers of the state. In Greece, Covid-19 restrictions were invoked as a pretext for allowing the Greek police to violently suppress protests against the government and censure members of the Greek parliament. In Austria, there is already a raft of draconian restrictions being implemented, including vaccine mandate enforced by fines and police checks, and has enacted a lockdown and curfews specifically for unvaccinated citizens. In France, President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to curtail several freedoms for the 5 million French citizens who have not yet been vaccinated; although he doesn’t plan to vaccinate everyone by force, he does plan to ban unvaccinated citizens from going to restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres, and many other public venues. In the United States of America, President Joe Biden tried to implement a policy of mandatory vaccination for employees, but it was blocked by the Supreme Court. And this is to say nothing of the way China has handled the pandemic since it was still largely confined to Wuhan.

My point is that all over the world one of the main cascading effects of Covid-19 has been a raft of states of exception, countries ratcheting the expansion of authoritarian state power by using the continued presence and resurgence of Covid-19 to exercise greater authority over the citizens, and Jeremy Corbyn is right to talk about this happening, he is right to be concerned about how all of this is going to lead up to a future of police states down the line, and he is right about how none of this requries you to be an anti-vax nutjob who thinks that mass vaccination itself is just a control mechanism. If we are at all concerned about civil liberties, we would be fools to ignore Corbyn’s argument. And we should also recognize the Conservative government under Boris Johnson for what it is: an increasingly authoritarian state of exception, which should be dismantled like any other tyranny.

Now, since there’s rumours of Jeremy Corbyn starting a new Peace and Justice Party, even if it’s not going to happen, Corbyn’s talk about civil liberties honestly has me hoping that maybe his new party might be worth supporting. I mean, ultimately no party is going to deliver any country from capitalism in the long-term, and the track record for so-called communist parties is not particularly good, and I would espouse a form of anti-capitalist libertarian communist form of self-reliance that holds that even Corbyn is not the salvation people think he is, but having said all of that, if Corbyn’s Peace and Justice movement has any more of the civil liberties concerns that Corbyn seems to be expressing, then I just might be willing to support it, solely on the grounds that it might be the only chance within the British electoral system of seeing an actual civil-libertarian movement in mainstream British politics. Of course, the only problem with this is that it doesn’t matter if (1) the party never makes any siginificant victories and (2) the British union is destroyed from within as a result of Scottish and Welsh secession which I sincerely hope happens. Seriously, in all honesty, the fragmentation of the United Kingdom into small but independent nations is the one thing that might make Brexit worth it in the end, and the main reason that I don’t actually hold out hope for Labour undoing Brexit, and it’s for this reason that I personally would vote for Plaid Cymru in any Welsh elections, despite the fact that I don’t consider them to be all that left-wing, solely for the possibility of bringing about Welsh independence.

But, if Peace and Justice were to come along as an actual, then despite everything I might be inclined to support them against the Conservatives and against the Labour Party. Because let’s face it, the Conservatives are not the only carceral force in British politics, and the Labour Party has no interest in civil-libertarianism and ultimately no desire to resist the post-pandemic trend towards states of exception, rather they merely want their own, more “competent”, more “forensic”, quasi-social-democratic carceral state.

An anti-government protester photographed in London; image from South China Morning Post

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.

Some musings on protest, riots, and the Derek Chauvin trial

After about a year, Derek Chauvin, the cop whose knee led to the death of George Floyd, was put on trial for his actions and found guilty. Many arguments were heard, though Chauvin himself refused to testify on his own behalf and defend himself, and after ten hours the jury found him guilty an all three charges that he was accused of. I know it’s tempting to celebrate this as a victory for justice, and it certainly is rare to see cops involved in high-profile murders of black people actually be sent to prison. But there is still a system in place that leads to hundreds of innocent people, including African-Americans, being simply murdered by the police. In fact, in the run up to and immediately after the verdict, the American carceral state claimed yet more lives.

Mainstream liberals seem to display an appalling attitude towards human life when they talk about the verdict. I have seen many of them, especially Nancy Pelosi, talk about George Floyd as though he was a martyr of some sort, a man who gave his life for this moment, which in a way is tantamount to saying either he deserved to die or that his death was good so that police reform can be brought about. The fact that over the last year the US seems to be seeing yet more brutal slayings seems to already suggest little effect on police behaviour is to be expected. In general, this is a rather perverse manifestation of the liberal tendency to revere individuals as manifestations of a great moral arc of history, in the sense that Joe Biden put it in his inauguration speech, which obviously lends itself to a broad ignorance of the role of the system as a whole and thus prevents them from seeing politics in terms of structural problems in favour of individual personalities.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to look at the system as a whole, and Democrats don’t quite want you to do that as much as breathe after this one individual case, and that’s probably because Biden, within just a couple of months, is already funnelling $34 million in military equipment to the police, that’s more than Trump was giving out in the second and third quarters of 2020. And that’s not some right-wing talking point either. Black Lives Matter is pointing this out, and that’s something to consider when we deal in right-wing talking points that assume Black Lives Matter to be an appendage of the Democratic Party; such an appendage would not be so critical of the Biden administration on one of its key issues. The Democratic Party seems to have a lot of interest in talking about police reform, but will they abolish the 1033 program that is responsible for the increasing militarzation of police forces, which will then be deployed against protesters and kill the people under their watch?

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to be absolutely convinced not only that Derek Chauvin was innocent of at least one of his three charges but also that the trial was completely unfair and the verdict represented an attack on civilization itself. They argue this because they believe the jury was pressured into giving Chauvin a guilty verdict because, if they did not, riots would happen as a result. I’m fairly certain that not every police officer being spared prison resulted in a riot, and in this regard it’s important to bear in mind that Chauvin appears to one of the few officers who actually get convicted in cases like these. I have even seen some conservatives claim that the jurors were doxxed by the media before the verdict was given, without any proof of course but that’s just how it goes for a lot of right-wing cranks. Tucker Carlson, naturally, was absolutely distraught at the verdict, and before the verdict even happened he likened Chauvin’s treatment by the public to a lynching, a comparison so bitter and tone-deaf it leaves you wondering about the man.

When it comes to conservative talking points about civilization being destroyed, since they are very obviously trying to refer to widespread riots, you should know that there is more to the riots than they, and a lot of the media, would prefer to tell you. Someone named Benjamin David Steele stumbled onto my blog some time ago and, in the process of leaving multiple lengthy comments on various posts he alerted me to a study on last year’s protests that was done by ACLED that was apparently one of the only studies ever done of its subject. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • While there definitely were riots occuring in the US, the vast majority of demonstrations against police brutality have been peaceful, both in America and throughout the world.
  • Widespread media coverage and right-wing commentary paints a misleading picture about the nature of Black Lives Matter protests in America, spotlighting riots while failing to cover most of the peaceful protests taking place across the country.
  • To the extent that there were riots, these are actually either exaserabted or outright created by violent federal government responses rather than prevented.
  • While the majority of demonstrations against police brutality were in fact non-violent, right-wing counter-demonstrations tend to turn violent and its participants brandish weapons on the scene.

The data presented within the study, as can be seen in the link I gave, presents a picture of protest and rioting that is decisively at odds with what right-wing commentators such as Tucker Carlson would like you to believe. The media will, for the most part, only show you the viral incidents of riots which, ultimately, make up a statistical minority of demonstrations, but they won’t show you the broadly peaceful protests throughout the country as reflected by the data at hand. The “law and order” conservative would have you believe that America is descending into disorder and that this necessitates a harsh show of force by governmental authorities, but in reality such draconian and violent suppressions of protest only serve to turn otherwise peaceful demonstrations into riots. Meanwhile, many early protests were peaceful and without incident, and in some cases authorities even joined with protesters in taking the knee, and this may have ended up de-escalating tensions within communities, whereas armed federal response seems only to have escalated tensions. The conservative talks about how they are so concerned about riots sweeping the country, but not only do they not want to change the system that brings people out to protest to start with but they only seem interested in making the situation worse by curtailing your freedom to protest.

And make no mistake, that is what they’re doing. Just a few days, Florida governor Ron DeSantis (yes, the same man who may or may not have tried to call his black opponent a “monkey”) signed into law a new bill that would effectively criminalize peaceful protest with such vague terminology that whether protest can legally be had was basically up to the police. Contained within this law is a new crime banning “mob intimidation”, which in Republican parlance could honestly mean almost anything, a requirement that anyone arrested during a protest be denied bail until their first court appearance, and a clause that provides legal protection for individuals who run over protesters with their car. He seems to justify this with the Capitol Hill riots with the aim of decreasing violent demonstrations, despite the fact that Florida was host to very few riots if any. He’s so concerned about supposed riots happening in his state, but has no problem with psychopaths coming in to run over anyone who shows up to protest. All told, the state of Florida is actively silencing peaceful dissent against the state, which makes inevitable that there probably will be riots. And then there’s Kentucky from before all of this, whose state Senate wants to make it illegal to simply insult a police officer. If American conservatives want to talk destroying civilization, they should be talking about how they’re the ones doing it, because they’re the ones who want to implement authoritarian policies that will lead to more violence and not to mention turning America into a fascist country rather than actually solve problems.

But then I suppose Republicans may already be approaching fascism territory when we consider this in light of their other favorite talking point: the idea of the “great replacement”. Not too long after the Biden administration was found to be keeping immigrants locked in cages, in conditions barely any different than under the Trump administration, and after controversy concerning a new Georgia voting law that would bar people from offering food and water to people waiting in voting lines, Republicans, in truly baffling fashion, started talking about how Democrats were weak on immigration and wanted “open borders”. Tucker Carlson started ranting about how white Americans are supposedly going to be replaced immigrants, never mind, of course, that the Obama administration was infamous for having deported more immigrants than almost any other president, that he sent the National Guard to patrol the US-Mexico border, and that rather than all voting Democrat a record number of non-whites voted for Trump. Facts don’t matter to these people, only racism seems to. And let’s face it, it is racism. The Democrats if anything have been deporting and locking up more immigrants than the Republicans, or at least more than Trump ever did despite his promise to kick out 11 million immigrants, but apparently that’s not enough for Republicans, they still think Democrats want “open borders” even though they’ve not made things any easier for immigrants and certainly have not abolished ICE. So what do Republicans or people like Tucker Carlson want? Quite possibly a country where next to no immigration at all happens in the US, very probably an White Anglo-Saxon ethnostate. That’s the only reason they’re not happy with the Democrats even though if anything they’ve already been doing what Republicans would have wanted anyway for years now.

I still expect America to descend into authoritarian madness, if it isn’t broken up entirely within my lifetime. For some odd reason the “land of the free” can’t be bothered to actually live up to its belief in liberty when real pressure or crisis impose themselves upon it, and that’s important because that’s what counts more than anything. Anyone can be said to believe in anything when in comfort. It’s when the chips are down and the pressure’s on that is the real test of your convictions and values. How long are you going to hold on to them when it looks like things are going to go south for you? That’s the real test, and I think that America, for all the vaunted talk of American “ethos”, is destined to fail that test.