The Valentinian God and Gnostic Luciferianism

I must admit, seeing Christopher Williams (serpentchrist69) with his take on Gnostic Luciferianism left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. I have to say, what I feel inside me tells me that the inner Satanist has not died, and may still have been alive for some time. I do legitimately worry for the direction of contemporary Luciferianism if it is truly eager to accept what is still Christian mysticism to the point of even rejecting the rebellion against God so characteristic of Luciferian mythos. And yet this on its own is perhaps not doing things justice. No, I think what is need is to address the ideas that seem to be going into this new synthetic project, and in order to do so, let’s go to the root. Christopher Williams seems to take as his basis for Gnostic Luciferianism the Valentinian sect of Christianity. Very well, let us address the doctrine of Valentinus. Or more specifically, the role of God and the Demiurge, who are once again to be considered distinct in the vein of much of Gnostic tradition.

In assessing the doctrine of Valentinus, it may help us to consult the Gnostic Society Library for their summary of Valentinian theology. I aim to summarize even this over the course of this article so as to give commentary.

Valentinus seems to have believed that Jesus expounded a set of esoteric teachings that were passed on to his disciples in secret and which Jesus concealed from the public by speaking in metaphors and parables. For Valentinus, this esoteric doctrine represented the essential key to understanding Jesus’ message, but it could only be revealed to the “spiritually mature”, because it would only be meaningful to them and everyone else would treat it as nonsense. If you’ve ever recognized this in vaguely cultish pronouncements found in contemporary New Age or esoteric movements, that’s probably because Valentinus and others like him in the “Gnostic” Christian movement may have pioneered such an approach in ancient Rome.

God, according to the Valentinians, is an infinite, incomprehensible being, who cannot be known directly, defies all descriptions, and is the origin of all things. But for a being without description, this God is described as androgynous, and possessing “masculine” and “feminine” aspects. God, or the Godhead, manifests through a process of “self-unfolding” into the multiplicity of being, which nonetheless retains unity. God’s male and female energies act in conjunction to manifest themselves in the form of The Son, who in turn manifested himself twenty-six spiritual beings referred to as Aeons, who exist within God but also somehow possess some degree of independence and separation from God, which led to them feeling incomplete. Because of this, the Aeon Sophia sought knowledge of the supreme parent. She attempted this by thinking alone, but this apparently was impossible, and she split into two halves, the “lower” of which descended in exile to the physical world, here a place of deficiency, suffering, and imperfection. Meanwhile, the Son gave the Aeons gnosis of their origins in God, after which the Aeons celebrated and then integrated into the body of the Son, who then became the Saviour, meant to be the bride of the fallen Sophia.

Sophia, while in the physical world, suffered from illusions, underwent a conversion, and pled for salvation. In response, the Savior and his angels descended from the Pleroma to the physical world in order to impart gnosis of God to Sophia and free her from the suffering of that world. Sophia then produced spiritual seeds in the image of the divine retinue, representing the presence of spirit in all Christians. In her quest to understand God, Sophia also ended up creating the Devil, who the Valentinians interpreted as a personification of the illusion that characterises the physical world, out of ignorance and suffering, as well as the Demiurge, referred to as the Craftsman, who fashions the material world in the image of the Pleroma and represents the soul born from Sophia’s conversion. These two beings, together with the spiritual seed personified in Sophia herself, are the three substances that Sophia created in her quest to know God.

In Valentinian cosmology and theology, the creation of the material world is seen as necessary in order for the spiritual seeds created by Sophia to grow, develop, and mature so that they could rejoin the Pleroma, because even though Sophia herself is no longer ignorant, ignorance itself still remains. This as it happens meant that, in Valentinian ethics, marriage and child-raising were also thought to be necessary, and hence justified, as is presumably much of “normal” human life except for wealth and worldly authority. The Valientinians were different from many other Gnostics in that they had no issue with the form of the physical world, since it was meant to reflect and preserve the image of the Pleroma, and instead focused their attention on the perceived substance of the material world, which they believed was suffering borne of separation from God. The Demiurge/Craftsman created human beings, including Adam and Eve, thus he serves as the parallel to the God depicted in the Bible, or at least the Old Testament. The Demiurge/Craftsman, ignorant of his mother Sophia, thinks that he is acting alone and is thus the one true God, but his actions are actually guided in secret by Sophia and the Saviour. Jesus is, in a sense, the physical manifestation of the Saviour, incarnated on earth in order to bring gnosis of God to humanity by joining the spiritual seeds with the angels. Although Jesus was born human as the son of Mary and Joseph, when he was baptised the Saviour descended into Jesus’ body and Jesus was “reborn”. The divine Jesus experienced every human emotion, including every suffering, but only the physical human Jesus suffered pain and death on the cross, and when the body of Jesus died, the divine Jesus rose from the body and ascended, and after this he appeared to his disciples to instruct them about “the Father” for eighteen months. Even after this, he is believed to have appeared to people in visions.

Valentinian Gnosticism is, like all of the other historical schools of Gnosticism, a sect of Christianity, and like any other Christian sect the ultimate goal is the “redemption” of humanity. For the Valentinians, this meant attaining a state of gnosis which sees them joined with an angel who accompanies the Saviour. This leads to a recognition of their spiritual nature which frees them from ignorance and suffering, which is the “true” resurrection from death, one which does not take place after death but instead takes place in this life, in the here and now. The enlightened Christian ascends above the Demiurge/Craftsman and all the powers of the world in order to join with Sophia, the Saviour, and their angel and become part of the Pleroma.

So, what to make of it all? God is beyond description, and I doubt the Valentinians would have described him as a being in the strict sense. Yet, God necessarily has some kind of teleological process or consciousness behind him. He manifests in a process of unfolding towards multiplicity. To what end is not obvious, but it seems that there would be some kind of end. But all is contained within God, who himself is not contained. This is not unlike the doctrine presented in Acts, and in the same sense leaves essentially no free will for God’s creation. I would suppose this means that the creation of the Devil and the Demiurge resulting from the fall of Sophia, the fall itself, and the separation of the Aeons from God via their origination is indeed bound to happen by God. So, thus, is the suffering of humans. All is within God, contained within God, and thus nothing is outside of God, which means that the physical realm in all its sufferings, even though ostensibly separated from God, happen within and because of God. In a sense, God remains responsible for the sufferings. To what end? If the Saviour is meant to be taken as an aspect of God, formed from God’s energies, then the Saviour incarnating and experiencing human suffering through the body of Jesus means an aspect of God manifesting so as to allow God to experience said suffering in order to spreading gnosis to humans. But that also means God ushering in countless generations of suffering or setting it into motion before and after that point, since nothing can happen outside of God, since all things are contained within God.

Once a link between the Valentinian concept of God, with its apparent monism, and the apparent pantheism of Acts, it becomes apparent that Valentinian theology is actually not a million miles away from New Testament theology, with the key difference that it centers a doctrine of redemption that hinges on attaining gnosis so as to allow the ultimate excarnation of the soul from the material world. It could be argued that Valentinian Gnosticism is the more “quintessentially Christian” of the “Gnostic” sects, though that’s somewhat pointless considering all of the “Gnostic” sects were without exception sects of Christian mysticism. We can assume that, just as in regular Christianity, God has a plan for everything, including every successive being become more separated from him as they are born, but it doesn’t seem like there’s an apocalypse involved, no final holy war leading to a thousand year kingdom. Instead, God just wants you to know God, and the material universe, with all of its suffering, is necessary in order for humans to know God, and the origination of everything is contained within God. So God has everyone suffer and wail in ignorance just so that they might eventually come to know him. As in regular Christianity, God can’t not be responsible for evil and suffering, since even Sophia bumbling it into existence is his will, and this time there is no satanic scapegoat to hoist all agency of evil onto. It may not seem sadistic in the same way as in normal Christianity, but it’s still a pretty sick game God plays.

Lucifer, of course, or at least a being named Lucifer, plays no role in the Valentinian cosmology. You could interpret Lucifer as being the Devil in line with mainstream Christianity, but the Valentinians would have made no reference to it. So Lucifer entering into a Valentinian Gnostic framework is necessarily a modern, contemporary innovation, and Christopher Williams’ Lucifer doesn’t seem to be a Jesus figure. He’s instead framed as the adversary of the Demiurge, which itself is framed as the divine personification of the ego, the force that separates creation from God, which is nonetheless seen as necessary. In the original Valentinian cosmology, the Demiurge/Craftsman struggles against the Devil, leading the “archons of the right” in constant war against the “archons of the left” who are led by the Devil. The Valentinian Demiurge is still a servant of God, albeit an unwitting one, but his forces and their power still cannot save the soul because they are imperfect. The difference with Christopher’s framework, I guess, is that the Valentinian’s ultimately regarded the Devil as evil as did every other Christian, whereas Christopher doesn’t. His God’s game is still a sick one, just that God’s shadow, or rather the shadow of the Demiurge comes into focus as an essential part of the work of the true God. Thus, Christopher’s Lucifer serves God, rather than rebels against it. Unsurprisingly, this Luciferian also doesn’t oppose authority, or even hierarchy, all that much, and even seems to endorse authoritarianism and hierarchy as something that society “needs”. I suppose I can’t have expected much else from someone who is decisively of the authoritarian branch of communism, as opposed to the libertarian one.

Recently, Christopher Williams has posted yet another article elaborating his concept of Gnostic Luciferianism, and because of this it’s worth exploring the beliefs presented. Williams again distinguishes himself from the “dark fetishism” (on which point he simply has no leg to stand on when considering what his practice of witchcraft actually looks like), “valorisation of trauma”, and “personal toxicity” attributed to the contemporary Left Hand Path, in favour of a “more mature” Gnostic Luciferianism based on the doctrine of Valentinus, with trappings of Hermetic Qabalah and Traditional Witchcraft, focused on “spiritual wholeness” and “embodied liberation”. As far as its actual tenets are concerned, this involves a sort of pantheistic belief that reality consists of “One Divine Essence” (which already seems to recall the Christian belief in One True God), manifesting as a diversity of forms that are actually vibrations of energy experienced as pure consciousness (this honestly seems like New Age shit). This is also meant to entail a fundamental unity of spirit and matter, symbolized by Baphomet, which also seems to means that both “scientifically verifiably natural laws” and “Divine Laws” are aspects of the “Divine Will” (read: God). Lucifer and Lilith are the central deities worshipped as complimentary aspects of “Divine Will” and spiritual guides for humanity; Lucifer, thus, is an aspect of God rather than a rebel against God, and in fact he is “the dark and radiant Gnostic Christ”, while Lilith is the “the dark and radiant Gnostic Sophia”, the former being the destroyer of illusion and liberator from social condition and the latter being “the dark womb from which all things spring”. Lucifer here is not to be identified with Satan, except in the sense that this is his role from the standpoint of the Demiurge, here an embodiment of the ego; thus, Lucifer is only Satan insofar as he is the adversary of the ego. Williams’ idea of Gnostic Luciferian morality centers around enabling others to realize their “Divine” nature and act accordingly as part of a cosmic process of “unfolding”, which ultimately comes down to the idea that “You are and always have been utterly Divine, whole, and perfect right from the start, you need only taste and see”, and places blasphemy and ritual transgression as acts that practically express the idea that all things are divine in a way that also breaks down social conditioning and redirect the power of the prevailing institutions towards the use of the magician.

A lot of this really has little to do with Valentinian Gnosticism, but the influence is definitely there, and it basically anchors Williams’ conception of Gnostic Luciferianism insofar as it assumes that the whole universe and everything in it is just God unfolding itself and realizing its own perfection and fullness – it’s just that this version comes mixed with witchcraft, a certain variation of Left Hand Path esoteric philosophy or at least its original Tantric root, and arguably a set of conceptions familiar to the New Age but which otherwise probably have a very different source. Such a worldview obviously has no place for the conception of the individual as something “above and outside of social context” or “rejects any sense of social obligation to other Divine beings”, whatever any of this actually means substantially for individual freedom. But here we come to the same problem, and it’s the same problem with basically all of pantheism. Williams’ Gnostic Luciferian may not lash out against God and said Gnostic Luciferian still cries out against the world of oppression, a world that seeks to enslave. The problem there is that even this world is God’s world, since all things are God and all events are just the processes of God insofar as they eventually arc toward’s God’s own unfolding and self-realization. Your oppression, then, is once again ultimately the machination of the same God whose feet you once again prostrate before and who you merely give a new and more respectable name so as not to sound anymore Christian than it already is. Indeed, through the logic of this form of pantheistic monism, it literally cannot happen outside of God, outside of Divine Will. Literally everything is “Divine Will”, even your own oppression, even the separation of successive beings from the Pleroma, even the condition of ignorance that must be transcended in order to regain unity with the fullness of divinity. Ultimately you’re being asked to abandon your much more sensible wrath against God in order to worship a new conception of God, in which everything is God desiring to “unfold” himself and this still means God sets all suffering and tyranny into motion because of it, because it cannot be any other way since everything happens inside of God’s being and unfolding.

But anyway, that’s about what I have to say about Valentinian Gnosticism at least insofar it relates to certain new developments of Gnostic Luciferianism. I once again express my fondest hope that this doesn’t become the norm for Luciferian movement or even all that big a branch thereof, because I hate to say it but if it is then what’s even the point of the Luciferian movement existing?

A 19th century Russian Orthdox depiction of “Holy Wisdom”

A Brief Summary of Valentinian Theology: http://gnosis.org/library/valentinus/Brief_Summary_Theology.htm

The problem with liberal Christianity

Contrary to what some of us might have assumed, the Western world does not live in a “post-Christian” era. Not yet, anyway. Christianity is still the dominant religion in Western countries and composes much of the prevailing superstructure of bourgeois society in its religious aspects, as well as festering in the background of some of the more secular mythologies prevalent in the West. In the case of the United States of America, it’s not even the fact that Christianity is more “moderate” or “progressive” nowadays (such that it ever was anyway), as reactionary Christian nationalism continues to grow ever stronger, forming a key plank of the increasingly radical right which now threatens to install a fascist dictatorship in the White House via coup d’état. In addition to this, we can see that Christian creationism, far from having been consigned to the dustbin of bad ideas, is still alive and continues to enjoy a sizeable platform via well-funded propaganda outlets such as Prager “University”, and there are attempts in parts of America to ban books that are deemed “homosexual material”.

Christian hegemony is alive and well, but virulent reactionism is not the only way that Christianity tries to preserve its hegemony. Sometimes Christianity is defended by liberal and progressive or even leftist voices, both Christian and secular, who advance that all of the hallmarks of reactionary Christianity are little more than misinterpretations of the “true” Christianity, which is held to be much more progressive. Similar efforts are directed towards Islam in response to prevalent racism against Muslims, which can lead to people forgetting that Islam, in all reality, isn’t much more progressive than Christianity in many aspects. In both cases there’s often a great deal of special pleading and creative interpretations of scripture involved, and in this regard the focus of this article is Christianity.

One of the core problems with Christianity’s attempts to engage with the modern world regards the Christian attitude towards homosexuality. Christian opinion of homosexuality has been historically, and consistently, negative, and therefore homophobic. Many contemporary Christians may today be fairly tolerant and even accepting towards LGBT people, and increasingly so, but the idea of “hate the sin not the sinner” is still trafficked to this day. There are those who insist that Christianity is not actually homophobic because, among other things, Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Stephen Colbert, a Catholic liberal, is known for popularizing this idea to liberal audiences. The first problem with this is that at face value, at least, this establishes only that Jesus had nothing to say, and consequently that Jesus cannot defend homosexuals or their human rights. The second problem with this is that Jesus made it explicitly clear that he did had no intention of overturning the law of the Old Testament or the word of its prophets, saying “I did not come to destroy them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Old Testament law is painfully clear on the subject of homosexuality, and in this regard it’s worth addressing the arguments made in defence of Biblical scripture as not inherently homophobic.

For our purposes, let’s consult the Human Rights Campaign (which, by the way, endorses anti-LGBT politicians while claiming to defend LGBT rights) for a summary of the arguments against attributing homophobia to the Bible. One argument is that the injunction in Leviticus that “man must not lie with another man” is that it “coheres with the context of a society anxious about their health, continuing family lineages, and retaining the distinctiveness of Israel as a nation”. The problems with this should be fairly obvious. For starters, this doesn’t change the explicit nature of “man must not lie with another man”, just that perhaps tells us a little something about the origins of monotheistic homophobia. Second, if the context for it is “anxiety about health”, that definitely doesn’t reduce the homophobia. Depending on what’s meant by health, all it establishes is that the ancient Israelites probably considered being gay itself to be a health risk, which is still in itself homophobic. So is the idea that being gay presents a threat to “the distinctiveness of the nation”. In other words, it’s still homophobic, and the homophobia comes with a bit of nationalistic moral panic behind it. 1 Corinthians 6:9 is explained as “more than likely about the sexual exploitation of young men by older men”. Well “men having sex with men” really says nothing about the age of the men in question. To be blunt, it could be any men in any age dynamic. Indeed, does tying homosexuality to pedophilia not service reactionary homophobia? 1 Timothy 1:10 refers quite explicitly to “those practicing homosexuality” alongside “the sexually immoral”, and it rather does stretch credulity to assume that this is only referring to some elite Greek practice of pederasty. Paul’s homophobic comments in his letter to the Romans are described as “part of a broader indictment against idolatry and excessive, self-centered lust that is driven by desire to “consume” rather than to love and to serve as outlined for Christian partnership elsewhere in the Bible”. This is still homophobic. It still means that homosexual sex, when portrayed in the Biblical context, is portrayed as a negative, more specifically as a sort of giving in to “self-centered” passions which itself is framed as a punishment from God for the crime of worshipping any gods other than God.

A lot of the argument hinges on the idea that the authors of the Bible had no idea what “sexual orientiation” in our modern use of the term was, but this is a bit like saying that tuberculosis actually didn’t exist until the 19th century simply because it wasn’t called tuberculosis until then, even though it had otherwise existed for centuries under many different names. In fact, when it comes to the issue of trans rights, the line that the authors of the Bible had “no concept of trans people” is curiously not employed, and instead it is recognized that being trans has been real and recognized in various ways for centuries. Another refrain would be that the Bible doesn’t condemn loving (presumably in the emotional or Platonic rather than physical sense) same-sex relationships, which is just nonsense. Even if the Bible says nothing about non-sexual homosexual relationships, it’s still rather clearly hostile to same-sex relationships whenever they come up, even if that’s mainly the sexual sense. But besides, why would the difference matter so much? If you’re condemning homosexual sex because it’s homosexual, and presumably not heterosexual sex in the same way, the condemnation emerges from the premise that homosexual sex “goes against nature”, which is simply homophobia. Paul is rather explicitly clear about men “abandoning natural relationships with women” in favour of “lust for one another”, and Romans 1:27 (which the Human Rights Campaign barely examines) explicitly states that men who did this would “receive the due penalty” for it, and that is exactly how the fathers of the Christian church have interpreted homosexuality; as an unnatural lust. If that was the wrong interpretation, then that just means that everyone in the early Christian movement somehow misinterpreted an otherwise LGBT-positive message supposedly inherent in the Bible, which would be interesting considering that as far as I can see none of the church fathers or even many “Gnostics” ever expressed tangible opposition to, say, John Chrysostom’s declaration that gay people were “an insult to nature”. And even if the Bible doesn’t say that essentially emotional, platonically romantic gay relationships are a sin, so what? It never affirms such relationships, and again, that’s important. If you want to be LGBT-positive, you have to affirm the validity of same-sex relationships as being valid in and of themselves, which neither Jesus nor anyone in the Bible ever does. The argument that God “wouldn’t judge” on its own just doesn’t cut it, and at any rate has little to do with the scripture upon which Christianity is necessarily based. Besides, if you want to affirm loving relationships, you have to affirm the sexuality of these relationships as well, since that is an inseparable part of it at least for many relationships.

If the best that Christianity can say for itself is that the Bible hates it when gay people have sex but not when they love each other emotionally, then that’s just the same thing as when conservative homophobes say that they only hate it when gay people “act on their desires”. If any form of love between LGBT people is endorsed, if we take the Human Rights Campaign seriously, it’s a fundamentally reified, abstract, and de-sexualized love, which is legitimated not of itself but as a representation of marriage between Christ and the Church, or as a vessel through which God’s “love” is fulfilled; LGBT love is thus, from the Christian standpoint, legitimated only insofar as Christ or God are legitimated, not because it is valid on its own, because in Christianity everything is validated only through God. Luke 15 is brought up as somehow evidence that the Christian God had already accepted LGBT people into his communion, which is hardly evident in that text. If anything, if there’s supposed to be a reference to homosexuality in there, what do you think the chance is that it’s not the “sin” referred to by the son who confessed before his father and before God. Remember also that Jesus said “go and sin no more” to a woman who was about to be stoned for supposed adultery. It seems evident that this is to be taken as a counsel to not repeat any behaviours deemed sinful, which has implications for homosexual sex which is still repeatedly regarded by the Bible and the church fathers as sinful.

Another appeal to scriptural gaps can be found in relation to the argument regarding “gender complementarity”, which conservative and homophobic Christians base in the Book of Genesis’ statement that God created a sexual or gender binary that is then used as an argument against gay marriage; in other words, the classic homophobic “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” canard that was once frequently trotted out by the Christian right. The counter-argument summarized by the Human Rights Campaign is that the account says nothing about gender and does not say that God only created the gender binary. That might be a point to made regarding the inclusion of trans, intersex, and non-binary people, but addresses nothing about gay marriage. Again, so? The Bible also never actually affirms the idea that gender is not a binary, and, again, that is important since you can’t build a consistent LGBT-positive worldview based on the fact you merely (or rather ostensibly) say nothing about it; especially when there’s still explicit homophobia in the mix.

And why don’t we apply this to other aspects of the Bible as well. Like, for instance, the Biblical stance on slavery. Although Christianity is often popularly associated the movement to abolish chattel slavery, the Bible not only does not oppose slavery, it actually seems to support slavery, and not only that it also seems to offer counsel on how the slaves should obey their slave-owners and how slave-owners should treat their slaves. Luke 12:47 counsels slave-owners to beat their slaves if they knowingly disobey their commands, and that slave who disobeys unwittingly is still to be beaten, just a little more mercifully. In Exodus 21:20-21, it is counselled that a slave-owner is to be punished if they beat their slaves to death, but if the slave survives the beating and recovers after a few days then the slave-owner would not be punished for it. This is a pretty clear endorsement of slavery and the abuses inflicted through it. Now we could talk about the context of the time in which it was written, which is to say a time in history where slavery was widespread and considered a matter of course even by the victims of slavery, but does this change the content of the pro-slavery verses or the fact that the Bible never challenges the system of slavery? No, it doesn’t. Likewise, what changes about the verses in which homosexual sex is expressly condemned by appealing to the context of the times, or asserting that the authors of the Bible had no concept of homosexuality in their time?

The way the issue of trans rights in the Bible is covered isn’t too much better, even though you can argue that there’s actually a better case for trans-inclusion in the Bible than for particularly enligthened attitudes towards gay people and women – which if we’re honest is kind of saying something weird. A verse apparently used by transphobes to justify their bigotry against trans people is Psalm 139:13-14, which states that God knitted the individual person together in their mothers’ womb. For the Christian transphobe this verse is taken as proof that God fixed the individual gender identity of each person before birth, thus supposedly invalidating trans identity. But in the argument given by the Human Rights Campaign, we’re told that this verse is supposed to mean that God lovingly created everyone such that every part of them was created with dignity, and that there was no textual basis for excluding gender identity. Besides the problem that some might argue that God just gave them the wrong body by, say, giving men the bodies of women thus leading them to be assigned female at birth when really they’re not (I suppose admitting that would raise serious problems for the concept of divine omniscience), and besides the other problem of what happens when children are born with terrible genetic disorders and this is to be interpreted as being “lovingly made”, it doesn’t seem all that clear that the Bible actually does affirm trans identity or the idea that gender identity itself is not a binary. The closest we come to a Biblical affirmation of trans identity is through the eunuchs. On the one hand, Deuteronomy 23:1 says that “men with crushed or severed genitals” may not enter the “assembly of the Lord”. On the other hand, Isaiah 56:4-5 seem to suggest that eunuchs who sufficiently serve God will receive a monument and name “better than sons and daughters” and a name that shall not be cut off, which seems to suggest some special place in God’s eyes. Thus we see that the Old Testament has a rather internally contradictory stance on the role of eunuchs; they can’t enter the “assembly of the Lord”, but at the same time if they serve God loyally God will give them everlasting names and monuments. That said, it is not like the practice of eunuchry is thus endorsed by the Bible, and the law of Deutoronomy is still pretty explicit against eunuchs. The difference is that, in Isaiah, God offers an abrogation of that law on the condition that the eunuchs sacrifice their own prerogatives on behalf of conscientious obedience in keeping God’s Sabbath. On a semi-related note, Deuteronomy, specifically Deutoronomy 22:5, also forbids the practice of cross-dressing. This verse is usually one of the only verses that transphobes can theoretically point to in order to justify their bigotry, and when applied to trans people problems obviously abound. It is textbook transphobic bigotry to assume that trans people are merely “dressing up” as the gender they “aspire to be”, as opposed to outwardly confirming their real inward gender identity, so there isn’t much reason to assume that cross-dressing in itself can be taken as a reference to being transgender. On the other hand, a lot hinges on whether or not the Bible actually affirms the inward gender identity of trans people, which there’s no explicity sign of anywhere in the Bible, and meanwhile the Bible contains legal condemnations of men who castrate themselves and engage in homosexual relationships with men, both of which are practices that, in a lot of the ancient world, were taken as signs of a man casting off his maleness and embracing femininity, thus crossing traditional lines of gender identity.

In Matthew 19:12, Jesus doesn’t seem to condemn eunuchs, and even referred to those who made themselves eunuchs in service of heaven. But, there’s a complication. Firstly, the context of Matthew 19 as a whole is that Jesus is talking about marriage and divorce. Jesus says in Matthew 19:4 that God created humans in male and female, citing Genesis 1:27 to that effect, which at least could conceivably be interpreted as endorsing a gender binary, and in a broader context this is meant as an argument by Jesus against divorce. Jesus argued that Moses merely permited men to divorce their wives because their hearts were hard, and that this was not originally the case, further stating that if a man divorces his wife then, unless he does it in response to “sexual immorality”, he is committing adultery. Second, where the eunuchs come in is that they are among the people who cannot be given to marriage and thus cannot “accept this word”. I shouldn’t really need to explain that being trans does not or at least should not render you incapable of matrimony, but more to the point several Biblical commentaries suggest that eunuch here, or more specifically those who make themselves eunuchs in service of heaven, is likely meant as a reference to celibacy, self-denial, and self-mortification, rather than the castration practiced by the eunuchs. Indeed, the Pulpit Commentary suggests that it cannot refer to literal “excision”, since this is apparently deemed contrary to the order of creation as established by God. Origen, who was accused by Eusebius of having castrated himself, explicitly advocated against literal interpretations of Matthew 19:12 as a counsel to actually castrate yourself. Given this, it’s very unlikely that the Biblical attitude to gender affirmation surgery would have been particularly positive, and there is certainly no express affirmation of the practice that can be pointed to anywhere in the Bible, on top of which it’s reasonable to assume based on the moral condemnation of self-castration and Augustine’s hatred of the priests of Cybele that such a practice would have been condemned as an attack on God’s order.

Through all this let’s return to the subject of Old Testament law and Jesus’ relationship with it. From the perspective of Judaism, the law of the Old Testament was the law set to the Israelites by God, as part of the covenant they made with said God, which the Israelites needed to follow in obedience to God in order to cultivate righteousness and atone for the sin that humanity inherited from Adam and Eve. Jesus was pretty clear on the point that he had no intention of overturning that law or the word of the old Hebrew prophets. That means that the law about how eunuchs wouldn’t be admitted into the assembly of God, the prohibition of homosexual sex, the prohibition of cross-dressing, the rules regarding slavery let alone the very existence of slavery, all of this Jesus had no intention of challenging or abolishing, since his stated mission was to “fulfill” the law and the prophets. So even if he said nothing about LGBT people, that doesn’t matter because he isn’t standing up for them either, since he has no intention of challenging the prohibitions that would have oppressed them.

The ultimate thing to remember is that liberal and progressive efforts to rehabilitate Christianity as a progressive force are essentially a form of Christian apologetics. Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that exists to intellectually defend the Christian faith against objections from various sources. For the early Christian movement, this tended to mean defending the faith against criticism from polytheists as well as defense against accusations of various (often lurid) wrongdoings levelled against Christians. In a more general and traditional sense, it can mean defending Christianity by giving a theoretically rational reason to believe in God or accept the claims of Christian teaching, as well as address serious questions regarding the role that evil and suffering plays in the creation of an otherwise “benevolent” God; in this sense, theodicy (the philosophical vindication of God) functions as a branch of apologetics. But while the usual brands of apologetics have often proven unfashionable, progressive apologetics seems to be popular. And it is apologetics in the most basic sense, just that in this case Christianity is being defended against arguments that Christianity is inherently bigoted, which would undermine the moral legitimacy of the faith. It’s all part of defending Christianity in much the way that it has always been defended, and in the modern context it serves as a way to forestall Christianity’s inevitable demise.

The final point to make as regards progressive apologetics concerns God himself, and strangely enough I find myself seeing it come up from self-described Luciferians. A Gnostic Luciferian who goes by the handle serpentchrist69 objects to the description of God being a tyrant by suggesting that such a description speaks more to the people writing the Bible being problematic than the being inspiring said writing, which is to be balanced against the perceived “good” within the text, and that to call God a tyrant is simply an oversimplistic kneejerk reaction. Well, perhaps it’s worth looking at what God does throughout the Bible. The Old Testament begins with God punishing Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of a tree that probably wouldn’t even be in the garden of Eden if not for him in order to prevent Adam and Eve from joining the gods and becoming immortal. He then declares all the other gods to be unworthy of worship, promises to turn women who aren’t traditionally submissive into burnt deformities, interferes with human free will by hardening people’s hearts, and in this way ensuring the continued persecution and suffering of his own believers, as well as the suffering and deaths of innocent Egyptians, and has repeatedly ordered the genocide and enslavement of non-believers, not to mention all the prohibitions we discussed before. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the idea that the soul will be thrown into a lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels if he does not sufficiently believe in God or his son, and that the world will eventually end with a gruesome Judgement Day in which those who believe will be saved while the unbelievers will be ground in a wine-press by angels or simply damned until the end of the age. It also affirms not only the absolute authority of God but also, based on that, the legitimacy of all earthly authority, which must be obeyed without question. In this context, we can easily see how the picture of God as a tyrant forms on the basis of the scripture devoted to him. You can argue that it’s all just a flawed interpretation of an ineffable divine being forged from the understandings of people with old attitudes, but then it’s impossible to parse God’s actual character this way, and this hardly even gets into how the God who we’re meant to assume is still all good even if his scripture gets him wrong lets suffering and evil run rampant in his own creation or is actively responsible for it as the creator of everything. Besides, a similar argument can and has been made in the context of the gods of polytheism. God’s not special, in this regard.

Here’s the thing: if you give God an inch, he’ll take the whole nine yards. We already saw what happened when even non-Christian progressives put their faith in Pope Francis or more specifically the hope that maybe he’ll reform the Catholic Church to make it more inclusive and accepting, and then it never happened. Instead the church still refuses to support gay marriage, and pushed for the Italian government to not prosecute anti-LGBT hate crimes. The icing on the cake is that there’s still no actual action on the rampant institutional child abuse within the church, and under Francis’ tenure more revelations of more ecclesiastical abuses of children have emerged.

And here’s the other thing: why should we want this? Why should we want a more benign and progressive way to serve YHWH when the point should be to be free from the rule of God and his son? Why should we depend on God to justify the rights of marginalized people when their existence should derive validity from itself and thus their liberation counts for more? Why does society need to defend the legitimacy of Christianity, or at least more particularly the Catholic Church, so badly? Is the thought that perhaps the world might leave Jesus behind, let alone in favour of either the Devil or the gods of old, so unbearable? I think that there seems to be a “need” among certain people to maintain in themselves the idea of Christianity as some sort of positive and even progressive force, rather than question the reason why it merely appears munificent and then freely abandon Christianity. The world, it seems, cannot yet come to grips with the idea, or indeed the reality, that Christianity is a false hope that was cruelly inflicted upon the world.

The last thing I want to say concerns the very Christianized direction being introduced by the Gnostic Luciferian Christopher Williams (a.k.a. serpentchrist69), since it kind of touches into the realm of apologetics I’m discussing here, and to be honest I couldn’t be asked to delegate these matters to a separate article. He appears to see his Luciferianism as a synthesis involving Christianity, his form of Gnostic Luciferianism based on the Valentinian sect of Christianity, which holds the Demiurge to be ultimately a valid part of the cosmos, and insists that God should not be seen as a tyrant. In this, he frames the opposition to Christianity, and any attendant attraction to Satanism, as essentially just a kneejerk response motivated by trauma experienced by the oppression of the church and its authorities. It’s a very American perspective, obviously, not without a modicum of merit, and yet I think it fails to consider that not everything about how people receive and react to religious ideas is about trauma, and not everyone despise Christianity because they were hurt in some way by their Christian parents or community. I was born in a country where people are fairly tolerant when it comes to religion. My parents were and still are Christians but they were never fundamentalists about it (not always really devout for that matter) and they seemed to tolerate people who weren’t straight. But all the same, I never liked Christianity in the overall, and when I was a kid my only connection to Christianity consisted of doing one or two prayers to Jesus to save the rainforests and telling a teacher I believed in Jesus to avoid punishment, meanwhile I refused to go to church the first time I was told to. My hatred of Christianity does not come from trauma. It comes from Christianity. And frankly, I find the more progressive apologia that appeals to trauma in order to make its adherents sound like they “understand” you is actually more annoying that conservative Christian proselytism. The conservative Christian is undeniably toxic and authoritarian, but this new shit where you act like the only thing wrong with Christianity is your parents hurt you in the name of God is an insidious mode of condescending obscurantism, in which you think you can ignore everything wrong with God and his creeds by reducing all objection to it as a mere trauma. Well not every conversation about religion is about trauma let alone some stupid rhetoric about “healing”. To be honest, I don’t think I like what you’re doing, Christopher. You may call yourself a Luciferian, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing so, but as far as I’m concerned the form of Luciferianism you espouse and the way you talk about much of the Left Hand Path, and the things you accuse us of, puts you alongside the dogs of the Christian church, just that you prefer to recuperate the power of transgression in service of God. It’s nothing but liberal Christianity, which is to say a way of restoring or perhaps renewing the hegemony of Christianity, whether that’s in the vain hope of “transcending” it or not.

Why should we pretend that we have no problem with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam just because a couple billion people happen follow these religions, or more accurately are blindly conditioned into it? If your response to Christianity is to perform meaningless apologetics to coddle the masses rather than liberate them then you really have no issue with Christian hegemony except that it’s not sufficiently open to change. Well I don’t care if Christianity “changes”, because my desire is for it wither away, and for mankind to abolish it in themselves of their own free will.

Joe Biden and Pope Francis (image taken from Getty Images)

Nazism is not, and never was, Pagan

You are all probably all too familiar with the creeping presence of esoteric fascism and folkism within alternative religious communities and subcultures, and how frequently this is used by outsiders to attack our validity. You probably also have some idea about the problem of NSBM in the black metal scene, and if you’ve been reading this blog lately it’s a problem I’ve been giving a lot of focus to in recent years. Our communities have a great need to fight this problem, and to do so, we must challenge a very pernicious myth about the Nazis: namely, the myth that the Nazis were anti-Christian Pagans. It seems to me that this myth is at the root of the phenomenon of certain esoteric Nazi or fascist enterprises as well as the spread of neo-Nazi folkist Paganism and the idea of NSBM. To give an example of what I mean, remember that there are Nazi black metal musicians, such as Anthony Mignoni from the band Seigneur Voland, who praised Adolf Hitler for his supposed “will to found a neo-pagan empire in Europe”. And do I really have to say anything about Varg Vikernes alone? What I’m trying to say is that a lot of all this comes from a residual mythology that casts the Nazis as Pagans looking to overturn the Christian world order, and this mythology serves as a way for Nazis to try and exploit certain themes within Paganism, occultism, and the Left Hand Path for their own purposes. But, as you will see, the whole idea that the Nazis were esoteric Pagans is a lie.

If there is one thing that I think dispels the idea of Nazism being Pagan more than anything else, it would probably be the opinion of none other than Adolf Hitler on the subject of Pagan revivals. It is popularly claimed that Hitler extolled the value of Christianity in public, while also denouncing Christianity as a religion based on weakness even as he praised Jesus as some sort of honorary Aryan, and that the Nazis were some sort of almost uniquely anti-Christian powerhouse (I say “almost uniquely”, given that the other 20th century anti-Christian powerhouse commonly referred to is the Soviet Union). The presence of volkisch ideology and the pretences to Germanic paganism within the Third Reich, combined with Hitler’s supposed disdain for both Christianity and atheism, has led some to believe that he was some sort of avatar for the revival of Paganism, as has been the contention of Christian intellectuals and commentators. Carl Jung’s essay on “Wotan” as an archetype of wild ethno-nationalist frenzy and irrationalism has been influential in generating a supposed link between Germanic neopaganism and Nazism, and meanwhile a whole generation of pretentious Christian intellectuals have further poisoned the well with their own nonsensical pronouncements on the subject. But what did Hitler actually think of Paganism of any sort, and what was the actual religious alignment of Nazism as a whole?

In his Table Talks, Hitler described the re-establishment of the worship of pre-Christian Germanic deities as “foolish” and said that the old pre-Christian mythology “ceased to be viable when Christianity implanted itself”. In other words, Hitler considered Christianity to be superior to Paganism, which is on its own all the confirmation you need at least that Hitler wasn’t a Pagan. But, there’s more. In Hitler: Memoirs of a Confident, which was published by Otto Wagener in 1985, Wagener recounted that Hans Schemm, an esteemed Nazi educator and Gauleiter (regional leader), expressed his frustration at people who espoused “a lot of nonsense talked about blond men, about the Nordic race, about the cult of Wotan and the spirit of the Edda”, likely referring to certain neopagan elements of the Nazis, accused them of creating inferiority complexes and inspiring hatred among non-blond Germans and from there promoting division between Germanic and non-Germanic peoples (the irony of this coming from a Nazi officer has to have been lost on both Schemm and Hitler). Hitler interrupted by saying that he expressly and repeatedly forbade expressions of neopaganism within the NSDAP, mocking what he dubbed “All that rubbish about the Thing places, the solstice festivals, the Midgard snake, and all the rest of the rubbish they dredge up from the German prehistory!”. After this, Schemm further denounced the “solstice festivals” he heard about as being propagandistic rather than atavistic and jeopardizing the “Volk community”, Hitler then agreed and asserted that “We Germans in particular must avoid anything that works to create even more divisiveness”. Wagener recounted that he feared that the “Old Germanic Festivals” were increasingly reshaping the mission of the Hitler Youth somehow. Hitler apparently also stated that he had no issue with Christmas, instead objecting to the association of Christmas with pre-Christian nature worship, and asserted that he did not want to rob the Christian church of its holy day, though he then ultimately told his advisors not to worry about the festivals, claiming that he thought that whatever brought the Hilter Youth closer to “the godhead” was good and that whatever separated them from it, “even if it was a Catholic priest”, was bad.

Keep in mind that Schemm was very much a Christian, and in fact his notable slogan was “Our religion is Christ, our politics Fatherland!”, clearly suggesting his belief that Nazism was a Christian ideology. If Hitler and the NSDAP were such militant neopagans that would exclude or even liquidate Christianity from their Third Reich, Hans Schemm would probably not have the official status he did within the NSDAP. Instead, in reality, the Nazis honored Schemm after his death in 1935 by naming entire schools and streets after him, and he was evidently important enough for the Nazis that Hitler personally ordered a surgeon to fly to Bayreuth in an attempt to save him from the injuries that Schemm received in the plane crash that killed him. As it turns out, for a supposed anti-Christian, Hitler seemed to value certain Christian officers while ridiculing his more “neopagan” subordinates.

The Nazis are fairly notorious for their seeming and widely mythologized interest in the occult, even despite the fact that the Nazis, when they entered power, criminalized even volkisch mystic organizations. The reputation of the Nazis as occult obsessives can be traced in large part to Heinrich Himmler, the Waffen SS commander who was known for an interest in esotericism and self-declared non-Christian status. Himmler, however, was not much of a Pagan, if it could even be said that he was a Pagan at all. He had an interest in incorporating solstice celebrations into the SS, but this same SS was modelled on the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits, which tells me that he was simply layering ostensible Pagan custom onto what was ultimately an organization inspired by Christianity. Apparently he sought to challenge the customs of Christianity on the grounds of his own synthetic occult belief system, but there is no evidence that he ever worshipped any pre-Christian gods or that he was a polytheist, animist, nature-worshipper, or anything usually defined as part of the spectrum of Pagan religiosity. Himmler was quite explicit in saying that being in the SS means to believe in “a God Almighty who stands above us” and accepting the doctrine that God created the earth, the “Fatherland”, and its “volk”, and that he sent Adolf Hitler to earth, and further insisted that anyone who did not believe in God was unsuitable for SS membership and should be considered “arrogant, megalomaniacal, and stupid”, all of which is more consistent with a very volkisch interpretation of Christianity than any concept of Paganism. Himmler may have formally left Christianity or at least the Christian church, but he still believed in some religious premises that were rather close to Christian doctrine. If we are to take his apparent non-Christian status seriously, you could say he ascribed to a kind of Latent Christianity.

Some within the SS seem to have sought after the existence of a “true Christianity”, which they believed to have originated in Atlantis, which they believe was inhabited by “Aryans” who practiced monotheism. Himmler is also known for establishing the Ahnenerbe, a branch of the SS dedicated to exploring parts of the world in search of esoteric secrets that would “prove” the superiority and lineage of the “Aryan race”. But Hitler himself had no interest in these expeditions, and if anything he mocked them, lamenting that under Himmler’s watch “we might as well have just stayed in the Church”. In fact, for a German volkisch nationalist, Hitler really didn’t seem to appreciate Germany’s past. He denounced ancient Germans for “living in mud huts” while their Roman counterparts were “erecting great buildings”, and derided Himmler for apparently digging up ancient Germanic villages to reveal a past that Hitler considered embarrassing because he considered it inferior to Greece and Rome, who he thought had “already reached the highest stage of culture”.

Furthermore, the supposedly “Pagan” National Socialists declared from the beginning that they saw themselves as a Christian movement and not a Pagan one. In the NSDAP Party Program of 1920, the Nazis emphatically stated in Point 24 that their party represented “positive Christianity”, while of course claiming to demand freedom for all religious confessions; at least, so long as they “do not endanger its [the state’s] existence of conflict with the customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race”. The Nazis chose “positive Christianity”, effectively a volkisch interpretation of Christianity, as a representative of the “customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race” (Germans at that time consisted mostly of Christians), and as a vehicle through which to oppose “Jewish materialism”. “Positive Christianity” can be thought of as a highly revisionist form of Christianity (which, don’t get confused, is still a form of Christianity; we’re not doing the “No True Christians” fallacy here) meant to present a “true” or more authentically “Aryan” form of Christianity. This meant removing any trace of Jewish influence, including much of the Old Testament, from Christianity, recasting Jesus Christ as an “Aryan” warrior instead of King of the Jews, and reframing the Christian conception of the struggle of Good versus Evil as a struggle being “Aryan” light and “Semitic” darkness, thus pitting Germans and Jews against each other in a racialist holy war. Many Christians in Germany, far from being repelled by Nazism, actually embraced Nazism and its “Positive Christianity” as an affirmation of Christian values against secular uncertainty, and although some churches opposed Nazism (these were grouped together as the “Confessing Church”) and faced persecution because of it, many other churches, clergymen, and ordinary Christians remained complicit with the Nazi regime, and after the fall of Nazi Germany, Christianity in Germany struggled with the silence they demonstrated during this period.

Several Nazis held to the idea of “Positive Christianity” in some form. Artur Dinter, the Gauleiter of Gau Thuringia, formed a religious organization called the “Spiritual Christian Religion Community” (later renamed the “German People’s Church”) in 1927, which sought to divest Christianity of its Jewish influences and establish National Socialism as an expressly religious movement dedicated to Christianity. Dinter and Hilter did oppose each other, but this is because Dinter’s goals conflicted with Hitler’s own plans to present the NSDAP as neutral on religion. Dinter did not believe that Jesus was a mere political centerfold, rather he indeed believed in the doctrine of Jesus as the only incarnated spirit who never “misused his free will to sin”. He also opposed the Old Testament because it was “too materialistic”, and believed that its expurgation would reveal the “true” teachings of Jesus. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi arch-propagandist, was also a religious Christian. Goebbels believed that the idealized “struggle” against Jews upheld by Nazism was also a struggle between God and the Devil, he considered God to be on the side of Adolf Hitler, he believed that God was absolute and that nothing existed outside of God, he loved the New Testament and read the Sermon of the Mount every evening, and he even believed himself to have conversed with Jesus Christ. True, he did have anti-clericalist tendencies, but this is only to the extent that he thought Christianity was in need of renewal and that its churches and “false priests” have failed. Dietrich Klagges, a prominent Nazi educator and friend of Goebbels, emphasized the divinity of Jesus and wrote a whole book expounding what he believed to be the meaning of the Gospel. Walter Buch, one of the most powerful officials in the Nazi Party, likened the aims of Nazism to the struggle of Jesus, and upheld Point 24 of the 1920 NSDAP Party Program as “the cornerstone of our thinking”, thus he seemed to affirm Positive Christianity as the core religious ideology of Nazism.

Adolf Hitler himself can ultimately be characterized as a volkisch Christian, despite all common assertion to the contrary. For one thing, Hitler believed in Jesus Christ, just that he believed Jesus was an “Aryan” instead of Jewish. Indeed, Hitler proclaimed Jesus to be “the true God” and “our greatest Aryan leader”, and declared that the “true message of Christianity” could only be found in Nazism. For another thing, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that it was the duty of the “folkish-minded man” to fulfill “God’s will” and not let it be desecrated, on the grounds that it “gave men their form, their essence and their abilities”, and he proclaimed that anyone who “destroys His work” is “declaring war” on God’s will and creation. Hitler also referenced the myth of the Garden of Eden by stating that “Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise”. He believed that Jews were “alien” to “true Christianity” because of their supposed materialism, and considered violence against Jewish people to be “fighting for the work of the Lord”. In 1919, Hitler wrote an unpublished tract in which he advocated for the “purification of the Bible”, that is to say the expunging of the Old Testament from the Bible, which was not only a cornerstone of revisionist Nazi Christianity but also an idea held by nationalist and volkisch Protestant theologians such as Adolf van Harnack before the NSDAP was even born.

Thus, Hitler, like many of the rest of his Nazi compatriots, was a volkisch Christian, one who believed in a “true” Christianity that he thought was obfuscated by the Old Testament, and thus wanted to get rid of everything about Christianity that he thought was too Jewish to represent the teachings of Jesus. And let’s make no bones about it, it’s an absurdly revisionist take on Christianity, it almost certainly seems heretical when put next to the more mainstream forms of Christianity, and its premises stem less from scripture and more from the racist volkisch mysticism that sprung up in Germany in the 19th and early 20th century, but it was nonetheless a form of Christianity, and particularly a representation of volkisch, nationalist Protestanism. It has often been claimed that Hitler was an atheist, but this is without basis as has already been discussed. He may certainly have thought of himself as anti-mystical and anti-clericalist, but when you consider that he believed himself to be an exponent of “true Christianity”, that is to say an “authentic” and “Aryan” Christianity not represented by the churches, then his opposition to the Church could be seen to have more or less the same basis as Goebbels’ Christian anti-clericalism. Hitler hated the Catholic Church, for instance, because of what he believed to be its “elaborate Jewish rites”, suggesting his belief that Roman Catholicism was a Jewish revision of Christianity.

There’s nothing about any of this that could be classed as “Pagan” except from the standpoint of Christians who will deem anything they don’t like to be “Pagan”, and none of it is without precedent in Christianity. For starters, the idea of Roman Catholicism as a “Jewish” religion is lifted straight from Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who claimed that the Roman Catholic Church preached a “Judaized” form of Christianity that had no resemblance to the supposed “true Christianity”, which he believed was established by an “Aryan” Jesus Christ, and that the Catholic Church did this as part of a conspiracy to destroy the “Aryan race”. Hardly a Pagan thing to long for the re-establishment of “True Christianity”. There’s also a very ancient precedent that to the Nazi enterprise of “de-Judaizing” Christianity in Marcion, a Christian who argued that the God of the Old Testament was actually an evil and false deity whose punitive nature stood opposed to the “true” God of the New Testament who represented love. And of course, it is impossible to overlook the influence of Martin Luther, the anti-semitic father of the Protestant Reformation, in shaping Nazi ideology. In fact, the Nazis themselves took Luther’s infamous tract On The Jews And Their Lies and displayed it prominently wherever they could, and repeatedly expressed their affinity for Luther’s anti-semitism, even comparing Hitler himself to Luther and hoping to “witness his [Luther’s] reappearance”. So what we get in terms of the religious underpinnings of Nazism is, in all reality, a form of Protestant Christianity that carries on the basic premise of Marcionite Christianity while recodyifing that in terms of struggle between two races as opposed to dualism between two versions of God, and all filtered through the revisionist volkisch ideology that was contemporary to the Nazi movement.

There’s also the matter of Hitler’s beliefs concerning the afterlife. Hitler apparently rejected Hell, denounced it as a barbaric doctrine, and instead subscribed to an annihilationist perspective in which those who would be damned to Hell would instead simply fade into oblivion. But this annihilationism is not some “Pagan” idea, and in fact it is a development of Christian theology whose supporters base their claims on Biblical scripture, and it is not without supporters among modern Christians. Moreover, annihilationism itself seems to go all the way back to early church fathers such as Tertullian. Meanwhile, Hitler does appear to have believed in some concept of Heaven, and at least nowhere in Mein Kampf or anywhere else do we see any sign of Hitler rejecting the idea of a heavenly afterlife. There also doesn’t seem to be any major evidence that Hitler rejected the belief in an immortal soul, despite what certain historians appear to have thought.

It is popularly assumed that Hitler actually hated Christianity behind closed doors, and that he wanted people to choose between being German and being Christian on the grounds that he supposedly thought they could not be both. The problem with this should be obvious. If Hitler seriously thought that you had to choose between being German and being Christian, while favouring the former over the latter, he would have at least required members of his Nazi Party to renounce Christianity before becoming members. But this is clearly not the case, as many Nazi officers, including the most powerful, were expressly religious (albeit volkisch) Christians. Moreover, Hitler would have to have required all of Germany’s Christian population to renounce Christianity in order to prove their loyalty to the German state. But this doesn’t seem to have happened either. And Hitler, as the one man who had the absolute power override all decisions and impose his own without objection, could conceivably have turned Germany into either a volkisch neopagan state or a state atheist regime (like the Soviet Union and other Marxist-Leninist countries) through sheer imposition of his dictatorial will via the Fuhrerprinzip alone. But the only Christian churches Hitler persecuted were those who publicly criticized Hitler and refused to comply with the Nazi state. Every other chruch was allowed to exist through their complicity with the Nazi state, and the majority of Nazi German citizens were some form of Christian, suggesting that the Nazi state did not seek to eradicate Christianity and replace it with some form of “Paganism”, since otherwise the Nazis would have just ordered the mass deconversion of Germany’s Christian population. The one source for the claim that Hitler was privately anti-Christian is Hitler Speaks by Hermann Rauschning, which is considered dubious scholarship and even outright fraudulent, and its author, while claiming to have had several meetings and coversations with Hitler, was only ever a Nazi Party member for two years (from 1932 to 1934) and his sole importance to the party was as administrator of the Free City of Danzig. Being a conservative reactionary, Rauschning’s primary objection to Nazism was that he believed it was a “nihilist” and anti-Christian revolution that supposedly destroyed all traditions and ceased to be nationalist, and argued for the restoration of the German monarchy as the sole alternative to Nazism.

But in any case, Hitler Speaks is not considered to be an accurate account of Hitler’s views and words. Rauschning also seems to be cited in arguments that Hitler was possessed by demons and that this explained his evil actions, so….make of that what you will! And so, it is best to reject the claim that Hitler privately hated Christianity as a concoction of Christian conservatives seeking to assert the moral inscrutability of Christianity. Furthermore, Hitler expressly denounced any enterprises that harkened back to Germany’s pre-Christian past in Mein Kampf, where he described neopagans as “the greatest cowards that can be imagined”, mocked any ideas of “old Germanic heroism” as well the “dim pre-history” of the Germanic peoples, and accused neopagans of running away from “every Communist blackjack” while preaching struggle at the same time. So Hitler was pro-Christian, albeit in a very revisionist way, and anti-Pagan.

There is one important detail we should note, however. Hitler seems to have insisted that the Nazi Party, as a political apparatus, should not specifically be a formal religious movement, This meant Hitler sometimes conflicted even with devout Christians in his movement, such as Artur Dinter, since they wanted the Party to be a more avowedly religious movement. It is easy to come away thinking that Hitler meant his movement to be an entirely secular one because of this, but since the NSDAP Party Program explicitly stated a commitment to “Positive Christianity”, this is likely not the case. And besides, the Republican Party in the United States of America is not, in the strict sense, a religious movement in the sense that Artur Dinter would have wanted the NSDAP to be, yet it clearly operates along the lines of religious politics, in that it premises its political ideology on the perceived rightful governance of America by a Christian moral order. In fact, the whole concept of opposing certain churches because of their “foreign” character is not unfamiliar to right-wing opposition to certain sects or religions on the grounds of their “foreign” nature in the present as is found in modern Christian nationalist movements.

The supposedly “Pagan” Nazi Germany also seems to have venerated the Christian Frankish king Charlemagne, who destroyed the sacred Irminsul and massacred thousands of Saxons in Verden as part of his campaign to make the Saxons convert to Christianity. Curiously enough, there has been division about Charlemagne within the pre-Nazi volkisch movement and even among Nazis, but Charlemagne was celebrated by the Nazi German state in the form of a huge commemoration event in 1942 to mark the 1,200th anniversary of the birth of Charlemagne. There was also a whole unit of the SS that was named after Charlemagne to honour him as a “pan-European Germanic hero”. Alfred Rosenberg opposed the veneration of Charlemange, and argued that his Saxon enemy Widukind should be honored instead of Charlemagne, but he was privately told by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels to cease his public condemnations of Charlemagne, suggesting that the Nazi leadership favored the Christian king. Of course, from Goebbels’ standpoint, it was all to remain in alignment with popular opinion, which of course favored Charlemagne. This isn’t a surprise when you understand that the majority of the population of Nazi Germany self-identified as Christians, and particularly favoured Protestant Christianity. There’s no record of anyone in Nazi Germany outside maybe a handful of Nazi officers ever supporting or practicing any form of Paganism. Furthermore, it seems that the time of the Weimar Republic was seen by many German Christians of the time as a direct assault on God’s order, due to the secularism of the Weimar government and its attendant, or at least relative, de-privileging of Protestant Christian imperatives. This sense, combined with the “war theology” embraced by nationalistic Protestant theologians, which saw God favoring Germany in an interventionist quest to “liberate humanity from materialism” and establish his order, did not require much effort to transform into a theological imperative for “Aryan Christianity” to triumph against “Jewish materialism”.

On Alfred Rosenburg, we should note that it is true that he opposed Christianity, but for an apparent supporter of “Paganism”, his actual beliefs don’t seem all that “Pagan”. He believed in a monotheistic God who created mankind and divided its constituents into a hierarchy of separated races and imbued the “Germanic Nordic Aryan” with a unique soul corresponding with the Platonic ideal of humanity. He seemingly did call for the abolition of Christianity in the sense that he wanted Nazi Germany to replace all crosses with swastikas, the Bible with Mein Kampf (which, as I’ve established before, was not a non-Christian book), and the dominon of the National Reich Church of Germany over all churches, and he did call for a “new religion of the blood”. And yet he still denounced Jews specifically for their hatred of Jews and identified them with the Antichrist. In many ways Rosenberg’s views on Jesus and Christianity were not so different from Hitler’s. He believed that Jesus was the true god of the Europeans, rejected all notion that Jesus was Jewish, and argued for the replacement of mainstream Christianity, which he deemed both false and outdated, with “Positive Christianity”. He viewed Jesus as a superhuman mediator between mankind and God and as the biggest “storm” against “Jewish nature”. At no point is Rosenberg shown to refer to multiple pre-Christian gods, or make reference to any individual pre-Christian gods, except for when he is referring to the Norse god Odin as an example of a Christian quest for the kingdom of heaven within as referred to by Jesus. At his most “anti-Christian”, Rosenberg was actually more specifically anti-Catholic in practice, and meanwhile he praised the Christianity advocated by Marcion, who argued that the God of the Old Testament was the false God and the God of the New Testament was the true God. He may have opposed the veneration of Charlemagne, but this alone is not sufficient evidence that he was a “Pagan”, and in his light even his desire to replace the symbols and text of Christianity can be seen in keeping with the contention that these were symbols of an old and “false” Christianity to be replaced by a new and “true” Christianity.

If you were a Pagan or a believer in some other alternative religion and you lived in Nazi Germany, you would probably have been prosecuted by the Nazi state, and then probably thrown into a concentration camp like what happened to Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses there. Although some Nazi officers were allowed to hold some ostensibly non-Christian views, practicing occultism or pursuing occult interests outside of the SS was not permitted. Friedrich Bernhard Marby, a German occultist who sought the revival of pre-Christian Germanic religion, was arrested by the Nazis for being an unauthorised occultist whose ideas “brought the holy Aryan heritage into disrepute and ridicule”. His colleague, Siegfried Adolf Kummer, was arrested for the same reason. From there Marby apparently spent eight years in concentration camps until his release in April 1945, while Kummer’s fate is still a mystery. Erich Ludendorff’s Tannenbergbund, a volkisch nationalist organisation which expected its members to abandon Christianity in favour of a volkisch brand of Nordic polytheism, was banned by the Nazi government in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler took power. It’s not clear why the Tannenbergbund was banned, but I think it might have had something to do with Ludendorff having fallen out of favour with the Nazi establishment after previously having helped the Nazi Party rise to prominence. Ludendorff’s wife, Mathilde von Kemnitz, attempted to insert a new anti-Christian religion that involved polytheism and nature worship into the Nazi movement, but her efforts were rejected by Hitler, who thought she was delusional. Ludwig Klages, a philosopher who espoused his own unique and rather abstract form of Romantic neopaganism, was disliked by the Nazis and denounced by the Nazi press due to his denunciations of National Socialism, and in 1938 his writings were banned by the so-called “neopagan” Alfred Rosenberg on the grounds that they were too “hedonist” for him. The Germanic Faith Community, a Germanic Pagan revival group founded by the artist Ludwig Fahrenkrog, faced several restrictions to their freedoms when the Nazis took power; they were no longer allowed to hold public meetings, they were barred from using a swastika as their symbol, since this had now become the official symbol of the Nazi Party, and in 1934 Fahrenkrog’s paintings were forbidden from exhibition by the Ministry of Propaganda.

A major exception to this trend, of course, was the volkisch neopagan German Faith Movement, but while it did seemingly advocate for the return of polytheism and purported pre-Christian rituals, it also apparently included a syncretism of Christian rituals as well alongside non-Christian counterparts. Its founder, Jakob Hauer, hoped that his own particular brand of Hinduism-inspired occult volkisch neopaganism would be adopted as the official religion of Nazi Germany. But this never happened, and in 1936 Hauer left the movement and abdicated its leadership, though he did become a member of the NSDAP the following year. Otto Sigfrid Reuter, as an NSDAP member and volkisch ideologue honored by Nazi academic institutions, would also be an exception to the trend of neopagans being persecuted or ignored by the Nazi state. Little is known about the Indepedent Free Church, founded by Friedrich Hielscher to express a more or less polytheistic belief system built around a belief in both God and the pre-Christian Germanic gods, though it seemed to continue existing. That said, Hielscher and other Independent Free Church members, along with his church itself, were involved in the underground anti-Nazi resistance movement, for which Hielscher was arrested by the Nazis in 1944.

Turning away from the subject of Paganism in strict terms, we should note that several occult organisations were suppressed under Nazi rule. Fraternitas Saturni, the Luciferian magical order that broke away from Ordo Templi Orientis, was banned by the Nazi government in 1936, and its leader Eugen Grosche was arrested and bound for a concentration camp, before an apparently sympathetic officer helped him get released and get out of Germany. Ordo Templi Orientis itself was banned by the Nazi government, and so were Aleister Crowley’s books and the religion of Thelema as a whole. Karl Germer, who was the head of the OTO, was arrested by the Gestapo on Hitler’s orders in 1935 and was sent to the Esterwegen concentration camp, but was temporarily released later that year upon his case of blood purity being put before Nazi authorities. Ernst Schertel, an occult philosopher and sexual liberation activist notable for his book Magic: History, Theory and Practice, although he apparently did send a copy of his book to Adolf Hitler, was himself arrested by the Nazis, imprisoned for seven months, and had his doctoral degree revoked. Other occultists, even racialist ones, had been banned, apparently as early as 1934, and it is alleged that the occultist Franz Bardon was interned in a concentration camp by the Nazis for three months in 1945. Many forms of magic and alternative spirtual practice, such as witchcraft, astrology, fortune telling, and spiritual healing were all banned by the Nazi government, while Freemasonry in particular was viciously persecuted by the Nazis who thought that they were allies of a Jewish conspiracy against Germany.

Sometimes it’s claimed that Schertel in particular represented a direct link between Hitler and the occult, and thereby establishing the occult and even supposedly “Satanic” heritage of Nazism, based on the fact that Hitler apparently annotated his copy of Magic: History, Theory and Practice. But having examined the book, or at least the annotations, in light of the wider history of Nazism and its broad Positive Christian agenda, I honestly don’t see much reason to assume that the annotations meant anything for the ideological substance of Nazism. The sole annotation mentioned by Timothy Ryback, the author of Hitler’s Private Library, was “He who does not have the demonic seed within himself will never give birth to a magical world”. There is also no clear idea of how it connects back to the ideological formation and political practice of Nazism, nor can we determine the extent to which Hitler was actually interested in the ideas contained within Schertel’s book. Given that Hitler banned several occult groups and the practice of magic (except for certain Nazi officers like Heinrich Himmler), and that the Nazis arrested Schertel himself, it’s highly unlikely that Hitler gained any real respect for occultism as a result of reading Schertel’s book, and it seems obvious to me that Hitler likely treated the book as merely a piece of curiosity. If Hitler did derive anything substantial from it, it’s not clear what, and perhaps we may never actually know if the book was ever really influential at all. Though, even if it was, it was surely not nearly as infuential on Hitler as the prevailing volkisch Protestant ideology of his day. And to be quite honest, anyone who thinks that Hitler was some sort of esoteric Satanist is operating in complete ignorance of what Nazism stood for and who the Nazis were.

And of course, atheists and secularists were also criminalized by the Nazi government. In 1933, the Nazi government banned all “freethinking” and atheist organisations. One of these was the German Freethinkers League, a forum for atheists and materialist thinkers which was shut down in 1933, on Hitler’s orders and on the demands of Christians within Nazi Germany. Hitler also opposed secular schools on the grounds that all moral instruction had to emerge from religious faith (which, in practice, meant Hitler’s revisionist Christian faith). This is rather strange for a supposed atheist, as Christians often claim Hitler was, to do.

All of this paints a rather clear picture of the reality of the religious identity of the Nazi movement and the Nazi state. Although certain people of various stripes, ranging from Christians to certain anti-Christian neo-Nazis, want to believe that Hitler was this great rupture of anti-Christian revolution in the midst of Christian Europe, this is a myth that has no bearing on reality, and not only that it seems to actively distort and misconstrue reality in service of its own pre-determined conclusion of history. The actual reality of Nazism is that it was a movement that sought to construct its totalitarian state along the lines of a religious volkisch ideology whose prerogatives constituted the realization of the “true” Christianity. In essence, this was a revisitionist Christian project which saw itself as simultaneously restoring and renewing Christianity, simultaneously creating a new Christianity for a new era and restoring the “true” substance of the teaching and cultus of Jesus, by purging anything about Christianity that they felt was too Jewish or too materialist for them. The ultimate religious goals of Nazism consisted of bringing all German Christians into a single new Christian church in line with the new volkisch ideology, waging total holy war with Jews and Communists who they believed to be the forces of the Antichrist come to wage war with God, and in realizing the “true Christianity” that was supposedly contained in their volkisch interpretation of Christianity, by recreating the Bible and the major edifices of Christianity in the image of what they believed to be this “true Christianity”; even if, in practice, this could just as easily be said to be their own image. Insofar as they attacked Christianity, beyond the broader rammifications of their volkisch revisionism constituting a severe heresy against the Christian church, the Nazis preferred simply to attack the “Confessing Churches” who opposed them, while content with the other churches who complied with or supported them. And while Christianity was more or less still instituted and supported within Nazi Germany, we know that Paganism, atheism, occultism, and alternative religious/spiritual beliefs were attacked and often banned or persecuted by the Nazi government.

Take stock of what that means, as it is all too relevant for those in alternative subcultures, occultism, neopaganism, and Satanism and the like who seem willing enough to embrace some form of neo-Nazism. They are only rehashing the same fantasy that Heinrich Himmler had back in his day, when he thought that he might some day replace Adolf Hitler as Fuhrer and perhaps steer Nazi Germany away from Christianity. Now, just as then, this is an illusion. If the Third Reich were to be restored tomorrow, or if a new neo-Nazi regime were to be established, then they would be persecuting “degenerate art” as well as all expression of alternative religion and belief just as before. If you’re a metalhead (including a black metal enthusiast), a goth, a punk, even a skinhead, an occultist, a mystic, a Pagan, a Satanist, or anything like that, no matter how racialist you are, then a new Nazi government would curtail your freedom, imprison you, and/or throw you straight into one of their concentration camps alongside Jews, other non-white/non-“Aryan” people, LGBT people, the disabled, and political dissidents. It’s not for nothing that many neo-Nazi movements are still their own brand of Christian as opposed to being neopagans. If you support Nazism in any way, all that means is you’re selling who you are and your own kind to a Christian fascist agenda in the name of your own meaningless hatred against certain people. Whether you’re doing this because you got convinced that Nazism was good or because you just want to be a contrarian, do us all a favour and follow your new leader.

But why does this idea of the Nazis as some kind of neopagan occult empire persist even if the facts contradict it? The answer, in my opinion, is not very complicated. It’s obvious to me that Christians need the myth of Nazism as a sort of Antichrist state in order to save the legacy of Christianity from being forever damaged by its role in the development of Nazism and in facilitating the Third Reich. It seems that, in strict terms, much of our ideas about the religious identity of Nazism are propagandistic, the work of certain wartime figures looking to juxtapose the otherwise Christian Nazi state against the Christianity of contemporary Western liberal democracies by casting the Nazis as adherents of an esoteric Pagan revivalist religion. But I think, at root, the most basic motivation comes from the fact that Nazi Germany was such a systematically malevolent and sadistic state, and Nazism so seemingly alien to the “values” of the Western world (I mean, unless you count the fact that the Nazis were inspired by the practices of American colonialism and racism as well as that of the British Empire), that it could not possibly reflect the supposed Christian message of love, universalism, and salvation. In other words, Nazism appeared to be so evil that surely it couldn’t possibly be Christian, even though that is what the evidence bears out.

It appears that Christians are not the only ones who are convinced of this myth. Indeed, the idea of the Nazis as being a force of sheer anti-Christian power and archetypical evil seems to have echoed throughout our culture as a memetic presence, to the point that it is sometimes internalized by some who seek to oppose and rebel against Christianity. It’s the reason why certain ideas of embracing Nazi aesthetics as a form of transgression could be found in the early days of the modern Satanist movement, it’s ultimately the reason of why Nazi occultism sometimes finds its way in Left Hand Path circles and the reason why Nazi Satanism is a thing at all, and it’s part of the reason why Nazi aesthetics are sometimes taken up in transgressive subcutlures as a means of rebelling against bourgeois society. In this sense, it is also the reason why black metal sometimes finds itself struggling with the influence of Nazi bands, even despite the fact that Nazism, at its root, is built on a Christian ideology.

It is thus clear what is to be done in order to overcome the problem of creeping Nazism in the Left Hand Path circles as well as the problem of folkism and NSBM. For one thing, resisting fascism means taking an explicit and active anti-fascist stance of some kind, and it has to be more than liberal objection to the extremity of fascism. Rather, it must devote itself to a full conceptual opposition to Nazism and fascism, which stems from the full acknowledgement of what Nazism and fascism are at their root. For any movements dealing with a creeping fascism problem, this means that there needs to be a commited opposition to capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, statism, authoritarianism, hegemony, LGBT-phobia, bourgeois-patriarchal morality, and other forms of bigotry, and thus it also means that trying to remain “apolitical” in the sense of a general stance is strictly impossible, since maintaining a committed anti-fascist opposition is an inherently political act. For our task, we are also charged with deconstructing the inherited dysfunctional myths we have concerning the religious basis of Nazism, as well as deconstructing folkist ideology of both the past and the present. To put it plainly, the problems we face require us to ruthlessly attack the premise that the Nazis were an anti-Christian or “neopagan” or occult movement at every chance we get, armed with the facts of history on our side. All of this is vital for us on the Left Hand Path, Pagan and similar milieus for our struggle against fascism, since it means attacking the myths that are used to legitimate its presence, and refusing to brook any elements who would allow the infiltration of fascism into our communities.

Additionally, if there are supposed anti-fascists who seem to be on our side of the struggle only to then turn around and accuse us of being fascists because of Paganism, then we cannot call them friends or comrades, and if anything they might just be our enemies. It is empty to profess opposition to religious bigotry only to turn around and insist that you are a fascist simply for brandishing ancient runes (and I’m talking about the actual Germanic runes, not the symbology that was created or adapted by the Nazis) or wanting to re-establish the worship of the old gods. If there are those who insist the contrary, then they are against us, and they operate under the same bias that is used to obfuscate the volkisch Christian roots of Nazism, and practically operate in service us the same myth invented by the Christian establishment, even if their actual guiding myth might be the abolition of all religion on the grounds that religion itself is somehow fascist or reactionary.

In summary, the big picture is clear. Nazism is not Pagan, and never was Pagan. Nazism is a political movement that derives a religious basis and justification in the idea of “Positive Christianity”, which is a revisionist and folkist form of Christianity that sought the emergence of a new Christianity, which is also meant to be the “true Christianity”, which is thus “freed” from its supposed Jewish trappings. This idea emerges from a line of volkisch/nationalist Protestant theology, and has its predecent centuries earlier in Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic writings and in the radically dualist Christianity of Marcion. Paganism only represented a minority of Nazis, and otherwise it was generally banned and persecuted, while occultism had no substantial influence on Hitler’s ideology, was mostly the reserve of the SS, and was otherwise banned and persecuted. Ideas of Pagan or occult Nazism are the product of a sort of post-war mythology that sought to make sense of the horrors of Nazism by presenting them as the metaphysical enemies of “Western”, here meaning Christian, civilization. This myth has been internalized in certain areas of modern Western occultism and folkist neopaganism, but it is a myth all the same, one that is at odds with and in opposition to reality. Therefore, the nature of our struggle within Paganism, occultism, Left Hand Path spirituality, and any and all subcultures that are adjacent to them, against fascist/Nazi creep consists in part of an active assault against the erroneous Christian mythology that has sought to assert the moral superiority of the Christian faith by trying to frame Nazism as the product of rival creeds.

We must be uncompromising in this battle, or we will fall.

Image from @WolfJointAktion on Twitter

The bizarre politics of the Psychedelic Movement

I like to think of myself as both a weirdo and a connoisseur of weird shit, and I think my nearly ten years of writing here speaks for itself, so I thought I’d take it upon myself to explore what is definitely one of the strangest parties I’ve seen in British politics: the Psychedelic Movement.

Psychedelic Movement, not to be confused with the psychedelic counterculture movement of the 1960s, is one of those third parties that is currently running a candidate Southend West, the same constituency that was previously represented by David Amess until he was murdered in October last year, as part of a by-election set to be held on February 3rd. The Psychedelic Movement probably won’t win, in fact I’d be surprised if they managed to get any more votes than some of the far-right parties also running, and indeed, with all the other more mainstream parties (including Labour) abstaining this race, I think that Conservative Party victory is an absolute certainty. But they stick out like a green thumb, if you know what I mean, so let’s see what they’re all about anyway.

If you’re thinking that these are basically fun-loving anarchist types who just want to legalize psychedelic drugs, that would only be partially correct. For one thing, they’re not anarchists. For another thing, their actual political ideology is really incoherent, and in some ways it’s actually kind of reactionary. It seems to be the pet project of a man named Jason Pilley, and seems to have been around since 2017. As the name of his party suggests, Jason devotes much of his social media presence to opposing the War on Drugs and advocating for the legalization of cannabis and other drugs. So far, so good. He also opposes the Conservatives (or what he calls “the Corporate Right”) for wanting to sell off the NHS, has spoken in favour of constructing a Hindu temple in Southend West, and incorporates esoteric imagery into his campaign material. That’s nice! But he also seems to be one of those conservative populists who likes to share articles from the very-definitely-unbiased New York Post to argue that Black Lives Matter are a scam, rants about Facebook being “finished” (yeah, any day now) and encourages people to join them on Gab instead (what could possibly go wrong?), in fact he seems to have stopped using Facebook entirely since May last year because of it, and he’s one of those shitheads who hates the left for the supposed “deconstruction of notions of family, discipline, punishment, ethics, etc, without the construction of anything better”. That’s really cringe. He also blames China for supposedly plaguing everyone with Covid-19, but then also says that Covid-19 is just “one poxy germ” and mocks the idea that it could “bring the world to its knees”. So in other words, China created Covid-19 and spread it throughout the world, but then Covid-19 is basically nothing. One might ask what exactly is the point of blaming China at that rate. Oh, and did I mention that he’s a fan of that racist football hooligan Tommy Robinson (real name: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon)? Because it seems that he most certainly is, and appears to have written a whole book where the second half is about Tommy Robinson.

The upcoming by-election is not Jason Pilley’s first go at running for office. In 2019, he ran as an MP for Rochford and Southend East during that year’s general election. He ran under the Psychedelic Future ticket, and came in dead last. He only won 367 votes, a whole 0.8% of the votes. I can imagine that his performance in the Southend West by-election won’t be much better.

But now, let’s focus on the Psychedelic Movement’s program for society, or at least their constituents. This can be assessed from their most recent election manifesto, which seems to have been posted on January 11th on Jason Pilley’s WordPress site. Let’s look at each point of his programme in order.

We will dig up the dullest roads and stick allotments there instead. Schoolkids across all school years will be given land and taught to grow food for themselves and their family.

This sounds nice, and I do rather like that in this way they mean to instill self-sufficiency in people from a young age, but I can’t for the life of me figure out if this policy method seems feasible. I’m also wondering where that land is going to come from, and what criteria Pilley will use to decide which roads are dull enough to warrant being dug up. For all I know it could free up some living space for people who need it, or it could potentially and unnecessarily disrupt public life for purely arbitrary reasons.

We will invite those South American churches that use ayahuasca in their services to open branches locally, and bring Shamanic Christianity to Southend.

OK, so, questions. Who are these South American churches that use ayahuasca in their services? And just what is “Shamanic Christianity”? Is it basically just when you worship Jesus by imbibing psychedelic drugs? That’s…OK, I guess? I mean it sounds like it would basically be the same spiritual message as Christianity but without the moral hangups about intoxication and psychedelics. In theory it probably would fly in the face of the asceticism that seems to be suggested in the morality of the New Testament, but I also remember hearing that even early Christians used psychedelic drugs as part of their religious practices, so if that’s true then it’s definitely not an unprecedented idea. Moreover, psychedelics have long been intertwined with religious practice throughout the pre-Christian world. To name just a few examples, the use of a psychedelic compound was a central part of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and there was a Vedic Indo-Iranian sacrificial rite referred to as the Haoma rite, which involved the use of a hallucinogen referred to as Haoma. Questions aside, I’m more than happy to see this aspect of religious life be reintroduced to society.

We will end all Covid regulations + hysteria

OK, this is dumb, and fairly dangerous all things considered. Jason Pilley appears to be one of those people who thinks that we’re entering into a state of totalitarianism as a result of measures that have been taken to halt the spread of Covid. Things have certainly been very draconian before the vaccines started getting rolled out (btw I hope he’s not against vaccines either), but to be perfectly honest, things don’t feel all that oppressive lately. For the moment Wales isn’t actually ratcheting up restrictions, which is probably natural because, while I hated Mark Drakeford a few years ago, it does seem like Wales has taken the best path available out of the four nations. If anything, England seems like it wants to actively avoid introducing any serious restrictions even after Christmas. And don’t get me wrong, I would very much like to avoid the rapid increase in carceral state power that the pandemic seems to be helping take shape and which plenty of people on the left seem to be clamouring for, but while I honestly don’t have a good idea of how we should go about things lately in light of that, somehow I don’t think that doing nothing and letting more people die in the hope that maybe some of us get “natural immunity” or “herd immunity” is going to make things any better.

We want our town to be unpolluted & energy-independent, using the full range of renewable-energy options available.

Good idea, and good aims. But I will say that I’m really not sure how you actually can do much without still contributing to the emission problem. As far as I can tell, even renewable energy sources require facilities that have to be constructed and produced in a way that consumes environmentally harmful gasses and fuels, and I’m pretty sure the same is true for nuclear power as well, which, to be honest, raises a whole host of questions on its own. Ultimately I think that you can’t get very far without changing the way energy is produced, and even then you can’t get too far without dismantling the whole capitalist order that sustains itself on rampant over-production and the super-exploitation of the world’s resources, and even then I expect some lifestyle changes to be necessary in the long term, and ideally I’d like our entire attitude towards nature to change alongside this. In short, even if we switch to renewable energy, fighting climate change isn’t as easy as thinking we can just consume our way out of ecological collapse.

Increase NHS funding by several percentage-points of GDP & fire all the “Diversity Officer” parasites.

Here’s a weird case where you have both good and somewhat bad mixed in the same place. Increasing NHS funding after a long period of privatisation is definitely a good thing, albeit by a conspicuously non-numbered percentage, but what’s his deal with “Diversity Officers” exactly? Oh boy what did Jason do or say to offend them? Whatever the case is, I’m pretty sure they’re not the ones responsible for sucking up the NHS’ funding, and somehow I think Jason himself knows exactly who the real culprit is, at least judging from his columns about the NHS. So why scapegoat these guys? It sounds like there’s some very reactionary motives involved to say the least. If it’s some useless neoliberal stuff like what Robin DiAngelo shills for, that’d be one thing, but I don’t know.

Ban the sale of front doors with their letterbox at ground level. It is bizarre to want to give your postman a backache.

Apparently these are real, and apparently there have been calls to ban these doors for a good few years now, so it’s not just Jason who has this issue. In 2019, the Communication Workers Union campaigned for new buildings to meet European Union standards for letterbox height, and Conservative MP Vicky Ford called for low-level letterboxes to be banned in order to protect post officers from getting their backs strained or being bitten by dogs. I can’t say I’m complaining about this proposal. If I worked as a mail man I probably would curse people who have their letterboxes all the way to the bottom, particularly as my back is not without aches. Seriously, just look at those ground-level letterboxes and tell me they’re not bullshit.

We would keep the Monarchy but overthrow the Windsor dynasty and install Hatun Tash as the new Queen instead.

This seemed like a joke proposal until I quickly looked into who Hatun Tash is. Hatun Tash appears to be a Christian evangelist who is mostly known for virulent polemics against Muslims and Islam, and for getting stabbed once in Speaker’s Corner last year. She works for an organisation called Defend Christ Critique Islam Ministries, whose mission is to preach Christianity to Muslims and who claim to be motivated by “love” for Muslims. Considering the often bigoted nature of their apparent polemics, I think it’s safe to say they’re all about hate rather than love, and while I’m not “pro-Islam” I think it’d be a lot more “loving” for DCCI Ministries to fuck off instead of preaching anywhere. Hatun’s supporters claim that she had been banned from going to the Speaker’s Corner over her views, which the Mayor denies. Some Christians like Hatun Nash for “defending Christianity” through her polemics of course, while other Christians dislike her for bigotry against Muslims; apparently she even took a KKK handbook and referred to it as the Quran. If that wasn’t bad enough she was taught by someone who referred to Muslims as “sewage”. But why exactly does Jason like her so much that he wants her to be the new Queen of England? To be honest, it sounds like it’s this dumb right-wing martyr complex where they elevate whoever agrees with them and suffered an attack that they can blame on their preferred scapegoat to quasi-divine status. But then this says a lot of worrying things about Jason. In any case, fuck Monarchy, regardless of who is the King or Queen.

We will open cannabis cafes and LSD clubs around Southend. Using the resources of the State to criminalize the Paul McCartneys of this world + crush the “Peace and Love” Sixties has been utterly destructive to society.

OK, this sounds awesome. Cannabis and LSD would be legal and there’d be whole venues meant as gathering places to support an entire culture built around the safe and pleasurable use of psychedelics. Well, of course, they actually plan to defy the law and open up those cannabis cafes and LSD clubs despite the illegality of these substances, somehow. It would theoretically make more sense for Jason to, if elected, just legalize those substances and their respective venues through new legislation, but, hey, I honestly like the fact that someone thinks they can put up a fight like that. In any case, I really would like to see that in the world. The only thing is, I don’t think the Paul McCartneys of the world are criminalized. Maybe they were in the 1960s, but not anymore. In fact, the Beatles have been more or less thoroughly recuperated as icons of the dominant capitalist monoculture, and that stupid slogan of “Peace and Love” is now little other a consumer mantra, not that it was capable of challenging anything. The 1960s counterculture was great in a lot of ways, but let’s be real, it was destined to be recuperated as an edifice of airy passivity, and this is partly due to the lack of radicalism and politicization involved even despite getting involved in the anti-war movement.

Apply existing “hate speech” laws to religious institutions: mosques, churches, synagogues & temples which refuse to condemn and repudiate hateful + violent content in their holy books will be closed and turned into social housing.

This is without a doubt the worst and most oppressive policy suggestion contained in this entire manifesto. Doing this would create a justification for the state to criminalize and persecute any religion it doesn’t like and tear down their places of worship. Judging from his support for Hatun Tash and Tommy Robinson, it’s plainly obvious that Jason is looking to justify the forced closure of mosques on the grounds that the Quran promotes violence and bigotry. The obvious problem with this is that you could just as easily do the same thing for the Bible, which on its own contains numerous pronouncements of violence against non-believers and others as well as bigotries of various kinds whether coded or explicit. Since Jason seems to be interested in some form of “Shamanic Christianity” and supports Christian evangelists who lob bigoted insults at Muslims, I would think that Jason ought to be much more concerned about the possibility of giving the state the power to persecute and criminalize Christianity and justifying that carceral power by arguing that the horrible content of the Bible constitutes “hate speech”. And it doesn’t end there. In the wrong hands (well, really there’s no such thing as “the right hands”), any religion could be clamped down on any similar rationales. What if someone decides that Heathenry needs to go because someone thinks that the runes are all Nazi symbols or some bullshit like that? What if someone decides that The Satanic Bible is a hate tract and wants to shut down Satanist organizations as a result? What if someone decides that the Buddha’s views on women mean that Buddhists should either publically repudiate sexism or face having their temples shut down? This is the kind of, I will say it, Stalinist form of authoritarian anti-religious campaigns that Jason would allow, ironically despite calling himself “anti-communist” and despite claiming himself to be a supporter of freedom of speech; but we’ll get to that in time.

Stick Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in the House of Lords to make up for all the lies that have been told about him. “We would rather stand with one proud black patriot than a hundred scumbag racists, that’s where we stand.” – Tommy Robinson

This is probably the part of Psychedelic Movement’s manifesto that I’ll bet got the most attention. Suffice it to say, Jason is not interested in the idea of abolishing the House of Lords. That makes sense for him, I suppose, since he’s not interested in abolishing the monarchy either. But I really need to establish why it’s a problem for Jason to support Tommy Robinson in this way. Tommy Robinson seems to be presented here as a principled opponent of racism who is merely lied about by a media eager to present him as a racist. The obvious problem with this is that Tommy has repeatedly demonstrated the opposite to be true. For one thing, he was a member of the fascist British National Party before founding the English Defence League, who in turn were friends with other far-right parties like the British Freedom Party (itself a spin-off of the BNP), planned to bomb mosques, and had links with the Norwegian far-right terrorist Andres Breivik. For another thing, Tommy accused Muslim refugees of trying to “invade” Europe, referred to Somalis as “barbarians”, accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being part of a plot to invade Britain, accused a young Syrian refugee of attacking English girls in his school (for which he was successfully sued for libel), accused every Muslim in Britain of perpetrating the 7/7 attacks, threatened violence on the entire Muslim community if any British citizens were killed by a terrorist, and believes Muslims have been waging war on British people for 1,400 years. On top of that, Tommy’s an actual con artist. He was arrested in 2014 for £160,000 in mortgage fraud, in 2018 a former aide revealed that he had been raking in £2 million in donations, which probably allowed him to keep living in a lavish four-bedroom gated house, he also made £20,000 from Bitcoin during a brief prison sentence in 2018, and in 2015 he actually claimed to have owned seven properties by the age of 25. This is the man Jason thinks deserves a Lordship? Give me a fucking break here!

Steal from the United States their First Amendment and write that into UK law, guaranteeing Free Speech.

Not a bad idea, it would be nice to have a theoretically unassailable constitutional support for freedom of speech in the books. Hell, it’d be nice to have an actual and not just de facto constitution in this country. But there’s a few problems with this proposal. First of all, as I already discussed, Jason doesn’t actually consistently believe in freedom of speech. I’m gonna say it here, you can’t argue for a concept of freedom of speech that isn’t subject to compromise while also calling for the state to close down mosques on “hate speech” charges!!! Another problem is that, if you think about it, the popular idea that the First Amendment absolutely protects freedom of speech is, in practice, a myth. For one thing, FOSTA/SESTA legislation effectively criminalizes freedom of speech when it comes to even non-pornographic material discussing sexuality, and in some states it’s possible to face penalties for criticizing Israel (Texas, for instance, has a law against boycotting Israel). In fact, more recently, in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put forward a bill criminalizing protests against the police, and in Kentucky a bill making it illegal to insult police officers actually passed. Seems like the First Amendment really isn’t doing all that much to prevent these injustices against freedom of speech. Or is this all about Facebook not letting him post a New York Post article? Well, that sucks, that’s wrong and all, though if he thinks that he can use this to mandate that social media companies “respect freedom of speech” somehow, that’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Putting aside the much bigger discourse about the pros and cons of nationalizing social media in the name of free speech, a thought that crosses my mind is do we not get into certain territory about freedom of association? Yeah yeah I know they’re private corporations and according to my political philosophy private corporations shouldn’t exist because that’s capitalism, but let’s say we aren’t dealing with private corporations and we aren’t dealing with an age of private corporations. Let’s say instead we’re dealing with free associations without bosses and everyone is the “owner” in some loose sense. They too would make their own rules as to what their platform is used for. As a matter of fact, so do “alt-tech” companies like Gab, who occasionally ban memes when keeping them online gets inconvenient for them, and their account on Twitter bans certain people from commenting on their posts. Somehow I don’t recall anyone calling for Gab to respect the free speech of the people they’ve censored, certainly not many people were calling for everyone to leave Gab. And what about the hypothetical free associations? Should the state be allowed to decided what these associations do and do not allow within their own boundaries? It’s a bit of a conundrum, and there may not be an easy answer, but I suggest that people like Jason think about it carefully.

Make Martial Arts/Self-Defence classes a core part of the school cirriculum, raising stronger children instead of sitting watching as child obesity rates rise.

This is another one of those ideas from Jason that I actually like, though I suspect he’s sort of in it for the wrong reasons. I mean, come on, are you sure that fat people can’t do martial arts? Overall, though, I like the martial arts classes as core cirriculum concept, and it seems to connect back to the first point when it comes to self-reliance. From my standpoint, though, the real point shouldn’t be that people become stronger simply to lose weight. Strength, specifically the strength to stand under your own power and stand up for yourself, is its own value, and power is what you can take into your own hands. Being physically fit is nice and good, and physical strength is a great thing to have, but what matters most, what makes strength its own value, is the ability to demonstrate your own power of self-reliance as expressed through your strength. And for a truly free society, what matters is to extend this principle collectively.

We would allow women to purchase and carry pepper-spray to protect themselves here on The Planet of The Psychos.

Another policy proposal that I unconditionally like except for one problem: it doesn’t go far enough! I mean, why stop with just pepper spray, if you get me? But seriously, women need actual power when it comes to being preyed on by men. Liberal society bullshits women so much, it gets everyone thinking that the only way for women to be safe is if they and everyone else live like cowards under a carceral and paternalistic regime that dresses itself up in the garb of women’s rights. It’s curfews for men and conversations about sexual morality instead of showing women that they have the right to fight back, because at the end of the day our conversation about the safety of women, like so much else about politics, has its roots in a contemporary and universal sense of powerlessness, and the enshrinement of that powerlessness as the norm of the human condition as opposed to the creation of the society in which we live and the systemic structures that support it.

We will burn nag champa incense in all public buildings.

This seems frivolous. Not bad, but not inherently good, and it mostly just serves to mark him out as a New Age guy. I can assure you that it’s not proof of any connection to Hinduism as a religious practice. Nag champa as an incense is not some ancient religious artefact. It was invented in the 1960s by K. N. Satyam Setty, who created it under the name Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa and founded a company named Shrinivas Sugandhalaya for the purpose of manufacturing more incenses like it. So really it’s a modern product, nothing ancient and sacred. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having or using Nag Champa incense at all, rather it’s just kind of funny to think of Jason setting about turning Britain (or at least just Southend) into Aldous Huxley’s Island by festooning public buildings with consumer incense.

Sue the Chinese Communist Party £20 trillion for what they have just done to the world.

I’ve already briefly addressed this subject earlier on, but since we’re here it bears discussing again. Jason is utterly confused on the subject of China and Covid-19. Here, he seems to be implying that China has damaged the whole world by unleashing Covid-19 onto the world. Putting aside the fact that China didn’t create Covid-19 despite the media’s newfound love affair with the lab leak conspiracy theory, and that Covid-19 probably may not have even originated within China, the incoherence of Jason’s position rests in the fact that he himself considers Covid-19 to not be a credible threat, and yet wants to sue China because of the global pandemic. He referred to Covid-19 as “one poxy germ” (“poxy”, by the way, basically means it’s worthless or neglible), mocked the notion that it could “bring the world to its knees”, and advocates for the abolition of all pandemic-related restrictions and laws because he considers the whole thing to be “hysteria”, and yet even though the threat of Covid-19 seems so miniscule to him, he still thinks that it’s enough of a plague upon the world that China should be sued for trillions of pounds because of it. Why? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, yet you see it often in right-wing politics, where conservative politicians frequently dismiss the threat of Covid-19 and call for the abolition of lockdowns and any pandemic-related restrictions on the basis that Covid-19 supposedly doesn’t kill anyone while at the same time ratcheting up geopolitical tensions with China and calling for reparations on the basis of exactly the same pandemic that they consider to be cartoonishly overblown. I mean, am I missing something or does this not seem like obvious, self-contradictory stupidity, probably motivated by jingoistic racism?

The last point of the manifesto is just a dedication to David Amess, which I suppose was to be expected. I’m sure it’s a kind gesture, by some metrics anyway, though I’m not sure Amess wouldn’t have actively opposed some of the policies Jason wanted to be fulfilled.

There really isn’t much more to say about this. I’ve explored basically everything to see when it comes to the Psychedelic Movement, and, to be honest, this really does smell like a far-right party to me. It probably isn’t, at least by normal standards, and it sounds like one of those edgy, quasi-libertarian centrist movements with a conservative edge and whose politics are predictably incoherent. But, for something like that, it also flirts with a fair few far-right themes and/or arguments, whether consciously or otherwise, which is probably to be expected from these quasi-libertarian centrist conservative types. Believe me, I know from experience how this shit works. It’s weird that maybe half of the polices that Psychedelic Movement has range from “not bad” to “actually this is based”, and the rest is just pure dogshit and confused nonsense, and it’s all mashed together into what makes for a really messy and generally reactionary political platform. I think that if some of the more reactionary parts of this programme were removed, and the rest was retooled into what is, let’s say, a libertarian socialist or anarcho-communist programme that just really likes psychedelic drugs and also supports martial arts and self-reliance, I’d love that, and if that was a party, I’d vote for it every time, without hesistation! But that’s just not the party we’re looking at. In fact, instead it looks like a pretty textbook example of how the far-right manages to co-opt countercultural movements, or aspects thereof, recuperating them towards their own reactionary purposes.

And now that you know what Psychedelic Movement is….don’t vote for them.

Apparently this is a logo for Psychedelic Movement, from their Facebook page

The Latent Christianity of Harry Potter and the bigotry of J K Rowling

Ah, J K Rowling. I don’t think I was ever a fan of her work. I remember being given one of the Harry Potter books in the form of an audio cassette when I was a kid, and I remember having two Harry Potter video games in the house, but my interest in the franchise never extended beyond having played the games once and dressing as a Hogwarts wizard when I was like 6 years old or so (in my defense, all the kids in my family did it at the time). The movies based on the books were even less appealing to me for some reason, so all told I never cared much for the Harry Potter franchise or for J K Rowling as a person. And so, years later, I like many people saw the broader culture around the Harry Potter franchise as a form of cringe, and the frequent proliferation of Harry Potter references as cultural signifiers within liberal politics and many other ideologies to be even more cringe-inducing, emblematic of almost every inane moral and cultural piety in society that I despise. In a way, they’re a modern Iiberal equivalent of the kind of bourgeois social-democratic moral idealism that Walter Benjamin railed against in his 1929 essay Surrealism.

Now, however, we’re in a very peculiar cultural moment where the Harry Potter franchise is not only considered unfashionable but also an increasingly considered toxic cultural artefact, due largely to the fact that its author, J K Rowling, has for the last couple of years become prolific in using her platform to espouse transphobia. Attendant to this fact is her tendency to declare herself, or for others to declare her, a victim of that ever-nebulous “cancel culture” (which, much like “wokeness”, serves as a poor substitute for the concept of political correctness), and in this she’s managed to garner a certain measure of public sympathy despite (or in some cases because of) her views. The fact that Rowling and other transphobes such as Rosie Duffield have apparently faced death threats from what is most likely some lone nut or too has done much in the eyes of a British media already sympathetic to transphobia as their pet manufactured “taboo speech” to bolster her image as a persecuted and cancelled woman who dared only to assert “unpopular opinions” about “biological fact” (and they mean this in a very two-dimensional sense). It’s in this context that the prevailing struggle in modern “Western’ and particularly British culture is to re-evaluate the legacy of the Harry Potter franchise, or more specifically to determine the extent to which it is acceptable to still appreciate the Harry Potter books and movies despite their author’s grotesque bigotry.

Although that particular question is all too familiar to me in that it recalls the subject of black metal, one of my favourite musical genres which similarly invites challenges regarding how best to approach beloved art in association with problematic creators, this article will not explore that question. That said, though, before we approach the real subject of what I want to say, it should be noted that transphobia is not the only toxic aspect of Rowling’s creative legacy. More recently people, are becoming more aware of the fact that, despite Rowling famously declaring that Albus Dumbledore was gay, her work nonetheless has certain homophobic tendencies, such as the fact that she depicted lycanthropy as a metaphor for the AIDS virus (though of course, being a liberal, she tried to pass this off as commentary on conservative moral panic rather than vilifying gay people as “bug spreaders”). Even Dumbledore’s homosexuality is never validated within canon, and if anything it can be argued that the canon depicts his gay crush as his Achilles heel, which is all the more troublesome by the fact that Dumbledore is the only apparently confirmed gay character in Harry Potter. There’s also the fact that she depicted bankers in the form of the Grimgotts, the goblins who run the wizard bank, which is increasingly notorious due to the fact that they’re depicted as greedy, hook-nosed creatures, which is very similar to long-established anti-semitic caricatures depicting Jewish people as similarly greedy and hook-nosed in order to frame them as evil masterminds of capitalism or the banking industry. In short there’s actually a bit of a tapestry of bigotry.

In order to meaningfully oppose Rowling and her ilk, and in order to meaningfully oppose the bigotry they espouse, it is necessary to challenge the foundations of the bigotry that they espouse. In other words, the legacy of ideas that animate the bigotries that Rowling presents. And in this, I believe there is an element in the room that must be confronted: Christianity.

It’s often forgotten that the Harry Potter franchise carries with it a hefty legacy of underlying Christianity. It may seem strange given that the series is all about magic and wizards, both subjects usually proscribed in Biblical injunction, and indeed the idiot brigade that is Christian fundamentalism accused Harry Potter of being a “Satanic” influence promoting witchcraft with this injunction in mind. Some Catholics have even abjured Harry Potter by declaring it as “Gnostic in essence and practice”, with predictably no self-awareness considering that the “Gnosticism” he is referring to is literally just esoteric Christian mysticism. But Harry Potter is nonetheless a Christian fantasy, or at least a secular work that still has some codified latent Christianity within it. I’ve been meaning to explore and comment on this for some time now, ever since I heard that people were worshipping Harry Potter as Jesus and treating the books as a kind of modern sacred literature. Aside from the obvious question of “why would you want to do this?”, there’s a lot to go into and at least it’s not too late to do so.

Let’s start with one overlooked fact about J K Rowling herself: she is a Christian, and a fairly committed one at that. Given that at least half of British society is broadly irreligious, and given the ostensibly liberal politics of Rowling, you may well have assumed that J K Rowling was an atheist. But in fact she is a Christian, she considers her Christian faith to be very important to her life, and she seems to be a member of the Church of England. She has repeatedly stated that she is Christian over the years, and in fact has gone out of her way to elaborate on the Christian themes in the Harry Potter novels. That said, the way she communicates it in her interviews, it seems to manifest as a vague reference to abstract and broadly more universal moral pronouncements such as “choosing between what is right and what is easy” (conveniently lacking any definition of what is “right” or “easy”). However, there are allusions to Christianity so familiar that even Christians, or at least some of the smarter ones, can observe them for what they are.

It’s easy enough to snicker at the thought of Harry Potter being likened to Jesus Christ, and I imagine there’s fundamentalist Christians who consider that whole comparison to be blasphemy, but there are apparently several allusions that are meant to connect Harry Potter with the story of Jesus. Harry Potter dies in order to make Voldemort mortal and therefore vulnerable, only for Harry to then return to life so that Voldemort can be defeated, thus apparently saving the world. This is pretty unequivocally a parallel with the basic premise of Jesus Christ dying and then coming back to life in order to redeem mankind of its sins. The difference is that instead of going to Hell to defeat Satan before his resurrection, Harry in his post-death/pre-resurrection state meets Dumbledore, who although definitely not God has been compared to the traditional image of the Christian God, and instead of going to heaven Harry gets married and has three kids who he sends off to Hogwarts. But regardless of the differences, the point of the Harry Potter story is that it culminates in a salvific conflict between “Good”, as represented by a dying-and-rising Harry and his friends, and “Evil”, as represented by Voldemort and his allies. Thus the central premise, the central conflict, of the Harry Potter books and films is a latent from of what is basically the Christian message.

That’s one of the more basic and familiar forms of Latent Christianity in Harry Potter, certainly among the most discussed. But what about the relationship to bigotry?

The easiest place to start would actually be the anti-semitism, which Rowling expresses in her depiction of the Gringott bankers. Despite the declaration of the New Testament that there is neither Jew nor Greek in the eyes of God, the founding fathers of the Christian church were vicious anti-semites who either invented or at least codified the very same canards against Jews that would re-emerge in both medieval and modern anti-semitism. St. Paul appeared to refer to Jews, or rather “they of the circumcision”, as “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers” who subvert entire households and teach false or forbidden teachings in pursuit of money (Titus 1:10-11). Keep that last part about money in mind for certain modern caricatures about the greed attributed to Jewish people by anti-semitic bigots. St. Ambrose praised the burning of a synagogue by a mob of Christians and took responsibility for it on the grounds that “there should no longer be any place where Christ is denied”. St. Jerome referred to Jews as “congenital liars”, accused them of tempting Christians into heresy, and believed they should be punished until they confess, which thus serves as a grim antecedent to the Inquisition that would come centuries later. John Chrysostom, who was an influential and powerful church ideologue, wrote an entire tract called Adversus Judaeos (literally “Against the Jews”), in which he accused Jewish people of murdering Jesus, described synagogues as brothels and criminal assemblies among other slanderous charges, claimed that Jewish priesthood was offered, bought, and sold for money, and advocated for the slaughter of Jews on the grounds that he believed them to have demons inside their souls and synagogues. Tertullian, in his argument against Marcion, declared that the Jews were an inferior people in order to oppose the idea that the God of the Old Testament was too harsh, essentially saying God’s oppressive cruelty is the fault of the Jews for disobeying or not believing in God rather than the fault of God – after all, the Christian God has to remain blameless of evil, or else the whole premise of Christianity falls apart.

As a side-note, it is humorous to account for the fact that some scholars comment that early Christian anti-semitism emerged in the context of a harsh period for the church, a time where the church was fighting for its survival at a time where Christianity had not yet become the dominant religion and was still persecuted by the Roman state. The fact that anti-semitic rhetoric continued to be trafficked in the Christian world for centuries after Christianity became the state religion of Rome, and the fact that Christians were actually persecuted less frequently in Rome than later Christians would have you believe, would all put a damper on that. But more importantly, if we are to take as fact that the church fathers employed anti-semitic rhetoric to survive, then this only means that Christianity established itself as a religion of love, mercy, forgiveness, and the equality of all peoples in the eyes of God only to immediately discard such concerns when the task of establishing the church proved unforgiving. That Christianity inverted its own supposed teachings of mercy, forgiveness, and love so quickly in its life is if anything among the strongest proofs that Christianity was always a fraudulent religion, and that the Western world for well over a thousand years was foolish to have believed in it.

To return to the central subject as it relates to the Gringotts in Rowling’s books, Christian anti-semitism is at the root of traditional stereotypes about Jews as being greedy and unscrupulous money-lenders. The sinful reputation of money-lending is often traced to Jesus’ Cleansing of the Temple, but it also has older roots in Old Testament prohibitions against usury (Exodus 22:25) and charging interest except for foreigners (Deuteronomy 23:19-20). It’s important to remember at this point that Christian attitudes to the rich depended on whether or not you used your wealth “righteously” or “sinfully”. There were the rich who were “wicked and merciless”, who used their wealth in an evil way not aligned with God’s will, and there were the rich who were “merciful and loving”, who used their wealth in a righteous way aligned with God’s will. If we take into account the Christian view on money-lending and the vituperatives directed against Jews, it probably doesn’t take much guesswork to figure out who the “wicked and merciless” rich might consist of in the eyes of the early Christians. Sometimes the anti-semitic tirades of early Christians, and later medieval Christian ideologues such as Martin Luther, have been compared to the Nazis and Adolf Hitler, and in this light it is worth remembering that Nazi economics was predicated on a division between “schaffendes kapital”, meaning “productive” or “creative” capital, and “raffendes kapital”, meaning “predatory” or “parasitic” capital. “Productive”/”creative” capital referred to the national capital that was held to be the source of economic utility and technological advancement, while “predatory”/”parasitic” capital referred to finance capital, stock trading, and banking, all of which were directly attributed to Jews by the Nazis. It’s easy to connect ideas like this back to the distinction between the “good” rich and the “evil” rich, and how the implications of the latter probably would’ve meant Jewish people vilified as evil money-lenders.

Speaking of Nazism, the Harry Potter universe contains something called the Werewolf Register, created by Newt Scamander in 1947 as a register of all werewolves in Britain. Those who were werewolves were apparently required to register, and it is not clear what happens to those who did not register. Keep in mind at this point that werewolves are intended to be coded representations of gay people who contracted AIDs, and that Newt Scamander is also the protagonist of the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, which is part of the Harry Potter series. Thus, in Rowling’s universe, gay people are represented as werewolves who need to have a Nazi-esque registration system account for them because of their predatory nature. But we’ll come to the significance of that soon enough.

Now let’s address the big elephant in the room, Rowling’s transphobia. Rowling’s transphobia can be summarized via the following precepts: she rejects the idea trans people are real on the grounds that this supposedly means “sex isn’t real”, which simply means that she believes in an essentialist understanding of binary biological sex as the sole determinant of your gender identity, she believes that trans people are conspiring to force lesbians to date them and thus, in her view, date men (a talking point that was more recently platformed in an entirely sympathetic light by the BBC), she compares trans people to incels and Donald Trump, she believes that trans women are men who view womanhood as a costume, she claims that trans people regularly commit acts of violence against cis women, and she believes that allowing trans women to use the women’s bathrooms will result in a tidal wave of male sexual harassment and assault against women.

These are all obviously bigoted beliefs, and they fall under a family of ideas referred to as trans-exclusionary radical feminism, which its adherents prefer to call “gender-critical feminism”. You might be wondering how much of this has to do with Christianity beyond just the fact that a lot of conservative Christians are also transphobes. The Bible apparently says nothing about trans people, and the only verse I’ve seen that even comes close is an admonition against people who cross-dress (Deuteronomy 22:5), so some might think there’s nothing transphobic about Christianity. But, there’s a problem. In his City of God, Augustine condemns the rites observed in dedication to the Great Mother, most likely referring to the goddess Cybele, who he asserted surpassed the other gods in “crime”. He condemned the sacred rite of Cybele for its “cruel custom”, or rather the “consecration of mutilated men”, by which he seems to be referring to the galli, who were the priesthood of Cybele. The galli were priests who worshipped Cybele, led public festivals in her honour, and, to complete their initiation into the cult of Cybele, cut off their male genitalia so as to re-enact the mythical castration of Attis and unite with the goddess, and from then on they spent the rest of their lives dressing, presenting, and likely identifying as women. It’s these priests that Augustine referred to as “wretched” or “miserable men”, who he claims partake in a deception via rites he deems more abominable than any other pagan custom observed in Rome. If we note that the galli might well have been trans according to scholars, then the “deception” Augstine refers to may refer not simply to the “deception” of the goddess but also to their female identity being a “deception”; in other words, Augustine believed that the galli priests were men who meant to deceive society into thinking they were women. The standard “gender-critical” or transphobic argument about trans women is exactly the same, that trans women are actually men trying to deceive people into thinking that they’re women.

As is the case with modern transphobia, Augustine’s transphobia intersects with homophobia through his reference to the priests of the Great Mother as “effeminates”. There can be no doubt that he is referring to them as “effeminates” because of their presentation as women and the radical abjuration of their physical masculinity through the act of ritual castration. But Augustine’s denunciation of the galli as effiminate can be seen to echo another older Roman trope: in the eyes of Roman society, men who lost their physical manhood in some way were no longer seen as men. Homosexuality was sometimes denounced in Roman society, and often in the context of attacks made by Roman politicians against their political rivals. From the standpoint of Roman norms of masculinity, being a man meant penetrating people with your penis and having the ability to do so. To be a man and receive penetration from another man was, in effect, to be seen as a woman instead of a man. This idea of masculinity in its relation to homosexuality continued into the medieval Christian era of Europe, which also seemed to have much more lenient standards for lesbian sex than male homosexual sex. John Chrysostom viciously condemned homosexuality as “vile” and an “insult to nature”, and argued that men who received sexual penetration from men lost their manhood and became women. Roman and later Christian attitudes to the galli are thus linked to Roman homophobia in that both the galli and gay men are condemned or at least ostracised for being men who have abandoned or desecrated their manhood.

This in my opinion leads into another modern issue with Christianity and homosexuality that emerges from progressive attempts to claim that homophobia is not latent to Christianity. One argument I’ve seen from some Christians is that certain Bible verses that are invoked to justify bigoted attitudes towards homosexuals are not meant to reference homosexuality but instead reference either effeminacy or a more general weakness of character (which, keep in mind, seem to have been linked together in patriarchal Greek and Roman society). By modern standards, this would appear to exonerate the Bible from charges of homophobia. The problem, however, is that in the ancient context, particularly the Roman one, effeminacy and homosexuality are linked, and gay men are socially condemned because, in their eyes, being a man and being penetrated by another man meant the loss of manhood, and with it Roman notions of pride and honour that were supposed to be attendant to the traditional male. This is an idea that is still carried forth in traditional Christian denunications of homosexuality. So, in my view, the Bible is hardly exonerated and remains an anti-LGBT text.

Before anyone signs off thinking that Christian homophobia has nothing to do with the Harry Potter series whatsoever, let’s first return to the problem of the AIDs werewolves from earlier. Much of the stigma surrounding AIDs and HIV stems from the idea that these were “gay diseases”, diseases that you supposedly only got if you participated in homosexual sex, and this also fed into the idea that gay people were out to prick you and get you infected with AIDS and HIV, which comes from the idea of homosexuality as being predatory, which is itself had been a talking point for decades. The Christian movement had long held similar prejudices about homosexuality. John Chrysostom not only described homosexuality as vile and unnatural, but he also liked to frame homosexual sex as inherently abusive, and describing it as a violent sedition incited by the Devil or as the manifestation of God’s wrath against idol worship, and the abuse of two people of the same sex by each other. This itself seems to be a commentary extrapolated from Paul’s own condemnation of homosexuality. Paul condemned women for “changing natural sexual relations for unnatural ones”, and men for “abandoning natural relations with women” in favour of “lust for one another” (Romans 1:26-27). The fact that some modern scholars might interpret this as a condemnation not of homosexuality but of male rape and child abuse, besides requiring us to ignore plain text on the matter of “rejecting relations with women for lust with one another”, invites only the supposition that the Christian view of homosexuality was that it was a kind of violence for those who participated in it.

And so we come back to Dumbledore, who for a while was the only confirmed gay character in the Harry Potter series according to its author. Dumbledore may not be depicted as effeminate, but the only homosexual relationship he is shown is one in which he is victimized. Dumbledore was in love with a man named Gellert Grindelwald, who never really reciprocated his feelings and instead took advantage of them, which Dumbledore eventually realized and became heartbroken over it. This would mean that the (for a time) only gay character in the series is a man who had been effectively shamed and weakened by his pursuit of a gay relationship, and as a result he took on a life of celibacy. Although there’s definitely no sex involved, Grindelwald is clearly the dominant component of this relationship, rendering Dumbledore entirely submissive to his manipulations, and the resulting damage done to Dumbledore in the context of the only gay relationship hinted at in relation to at least the original books weaves a tapestry more or less in conformity to Roman ideas about homosexual relationships which then informed Christian homophobia. Thus, this is a relationship which displays Latent Christian ideas about homosexuality, and it serves to cast aspersion on homosexuality writ large.

There’s another Latent Christian prejudice in the fact Dumbledore, the only confirmed gay character, is officially celibate. While many might have congratulated themselves over the supposedly emancipatory or “progressive” depiction of Dumbledore as a gay man, in reality his sexuality is never validated in the series. I guess Rowling was of the presumption that homosexuality cannot be validated in fictional representation without it taking the form of overt sexualization. Though, of course, this celibacy follows his break-up with Grindelwald. In either case the celibacy establishes a divide between the “good” homosexual who chooses not to act on his desires for other men versus the “bad” homosexual who pursues a gay relationship. Grindelwald is the “bad” homosexual who explores a gay relationship with another man, but in a way that is depicted as cruel and manipulative, leading to the despair of his ex-lover Dumbledore. Dumbledore thus becomes the “good” homosexual, who abstains from such pursuits and devotes himself to a different pursuit, namely the study of wizardry and ensuring that good prevails over evil.

The universe of Harry Potter is a universe where the sole concern is the triumph of the good wizards against the evil wizards, which in the seven original books culminates in the death and resurrection of Harry Potter as Jesus Christ. This also means that the problems of the system that everyone lives in, which I have to stress is a pretty rigidly classist system, are never really addressed because the order of things is legitimate in the same sense that wealth is legitimate in Christianity: as long as it follows “good” instead of “evil”. Villains in this setting include a pale Satan expy, werewolves that are actually coded gay people with AIDs, and a gay man who breaks Dumbledore’s heart, among others. There’s a lot of Latent Christian context for the Harry Potter series and, by extention, much of Rowling’s views as well as the bigotries that they involve. As people re-examine the Harry Potter franchise and its negative legacy, my advice is for people to sincerely challenge Christianity, rather than seek a sanitized version of it.

Image from the Facebook page “The Church of Harry Potter” to represent Harry Potter as Jesus

Socialist Jesus, Communist Santa, and modern tailism

Alright, I’ll say it. I don’t like it when, every Christmas time, the left tries to claim Jesus and Santa as icons of socialist ideology. I don’t care if that happens to be the seasonal fetish of other communists or socialists, or for any rhetorical merits they might argue for. It’s stupid, it’s a form of cultural and religious tailism, and it only serves to reinforce either the still-hegemonic status of Christianity or the commercialist culture we live in, at least if it all isn’t a pure meme anyway, and I’m going to give my reasons for why you should pack this bullshit in if you’re a leftist and still doing it. Also, I know it’s pretty late for me to talking about this basically a week after Christmas, but the march to the New Year is still part of the holiday season in some unofficial sense, so in my opinion there’s time to explore this subject before 2022.

When it comes to Jesus, the obvious center of the Christian concept of Christmas (which, by its namesake, is meant to literally mean “Christ’s Mass”), there are no shortage of left-wing narratives aiming to cast Jesus as a socialist, or even the first communist. To be honest, a lot of this simply comes from Jesus having smashed up the money-changers in the Temple in Jerusalem, and his attendant proclamation against them, saying “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of theives” (Matthew 21:13). It’s a truly memorable episode from the New Testament, one that echoes through our culture as one of the central defining moments through which we understand the character of Jesus, and admittedly it does make for an epic moment of defiance against the intrusion of market forces, servicable to empire, in the otherwise unadulterated domain of religion. It’s easy enough to come away thinking of the Cleansing of the Temple as an ancient proto-typical anti-capitalist narrative. But, there are problems with framing it in this way.

What is a money-changer? A person whose trade is to exchange one currency for another. Are money-changers capitalists? It’s not obvious that they are. Keeping in mind, of course, that the society that Jesus lived in predated the existence of not only capitalism but also the medieval system we call feudalism. This has important implications for the material conditions relevant to any attempt to elevate the anti-capitalist credentials of Jesus’ Cleansing of the Temple. A capitalist is an individual who controls a given means of production and portions out a fraction of the fruits of the labour generated through it to those willing to sell their labour power for a wage. So what’s a money-changer, then? Just a merchant, ultimately, and specifically one whose services allowed Jews to exchange Roman coins for shekels in order to make payments to the Temple, which did not accept the standard Greek and Roman currency as payments. It is not clear that these merchants followed the model practiced by the bourgeoisie as it would have emerged centuries after Jesus’ time. As for Jesus himself, he is traditionally described as a carpenter, and it’s not clear that he had any employees working under him, so Jesus would have been a self-employed carpenter. In Marxist terms, if we’re going to apply the definitions of the capitalist system onto the narrative of Jesus’ life, this might make him one of the labour aristocracy, which is a privileged sector of the proletariat who benefit from superprofits and have no desire for revolution, sometimes siding with the ruling capitalists to preserve their own advantage. So if we interpret the Cleansing of the Temple solely on the basis of class, Jesus would have been a pre-modern labour aristocrat clashing with merchants of a similar class background. This is hardly the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, in abandoning his carpentry in order to focus on his ministry, since he did not take on a productive job in which he sold his labour power for a wage, by some standard he might well be considered one of the lumpenproletariat, a submerged sector of class society who are either disorganized, “declassed”, and assumed not to be revolutionary. Marx and many successive Marxists also despised the lumpenproleriat, condemning them as degenerates and outcasts, which is sort of unusually moralistic for a thinker who Karl Vorlander noted for his wholesale mockery of morality as a concept. But returning to the subject of Jesus, if he is a lumpenproletarian, and we take the view that lumpenproletarians are still part of the proletariat, then it is only in this sense that, perhaps, Jesus represents the working class, but in a struggle against a mercantile labour aristocracy and not the bourgeoisie.

So what’s the real meaning of the Cleansing of the Temple? It’s not in any way obvious that Jesus has a problem with currency exchange in itself, and instead the problem expressed by Jesus is simply that the money-changers turn the “house of prayer” into a “den of thieves”. It’s easy enough to take from this that Jesus thinks currency exchange is in itself theft, but the only time Jesus seems to talk about money-changers is in the Temple instance. A popular explanation is that Jesus thought they were cheating their customers and overcharging them, though this might actually be a simplistic interpretation. In fact, some argue that the main issue with the Temple was its functioning as a bank, at the centre of a whole local economy in which wealthy property-owners lent money to the poor at the cost of debt, which if unpaid would result in the loss of land. Still, the exact language and statements given by Jesus suggest his main problem was not so much economy itself as much as the intermingling of economy with religion. In other words, Jesus’ problem was specifically with the presence of markets in the Temple, which means his problem was with the merging of economic life and religious life, the latter of which was to remain pure and unadulterated by the influence of economic activity, and in this instance the problem was not with the economic system as a whole, let alone with capitalism.

To further communicate some of the problems with the radical credentials ascribed to Christianity, I’m going to draw a lot from everyone’s favorite quasi-Marxist and quasi-apologic socialist politicial scientist Michael Parenti, or more specifically his 2010 book God and His Demons, which, although probably flawed on its own, draws from Biblical scripture to make its argument against the anti-capitalist or progressive credentials of Christianity. For all the abolitionist credentials ascribed to Christianity, Jesus himself in no way opposed the institution of chattel slavery and in fact affirmed the categories of slave and slave-owner as legitimate via the right of the slave-owners to beat the slave, harshly or gently depending on whether or not the slave knowingly disobeyed their owners (Luke 12:47). The master-slave or master-servant relationship is affirmed throughout Jesus’ parables, such as the parable of the faithful and wise servant described in Matthew 24 and Luke 12. Jesus also seems to accept poverty as something that will always exist, rather than something that can be abolished through socio-economic change, as is shown Mark 14:3-9 where a woman is admonished by others for pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ head instead of selling it and sharing the profits with the poor, and Jesus defends the woman by saying “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me”. In other words, Jesus is saying that poverty will always exist, and you can always ameliorate it through private charity, but what really matters is that his followers please and serve him because he won’t be around forever. This is not an anti-capitalist message, to say the least. Indeed, in the account of Jesus’ accomplishments given in Matthew 11:5, the poor are not given wealth but instead only “the good news”, while the blind, the “lame”, the lepers, and even the dead all received miraculous reversals of their prior predicaments. The Bible also declares that there is no authority on earth not established by God, and thus that whoever is in charge serves God for your good and rebellion against authority means going against God and paying for it (Romans 13:1-7). This would mean that the authority of capitalism exists by God’s decree, and thus should be obeyed.

And it doesn’t stop with the Jesus. St. Paul supported the institution of chattel slavery by urging slaves to respect their masters in order to defend God’s teaching (1 Timothy 6:1). St. Peter also supported slavery by urging those who reverently feared God to submit to their masters in slavery, even if their masters were harsh, and praised those who endured beatings for doing good as part of their service (1 Peter 2:18-22) . Origen, one of the early church fathers, chastised the poor in Book VI of Contra Celsus by claiming that the majority of them have bad characters and that “not even a stupid person would praise the poor indiscriminately”. Elsewhere, in On Prayer, Origen says that if you are poor and bear your poverty “ignobly”, and conduct yourself in a “more servile and base” way than is becoming of the Saints, you fall away from “heavenly hope”, and counselled that the “daily bread” that Christians are to subsist on consists not in actual physical bread but instead in spiritual or “supersubstantial bread”, thus the rich and the poor alike are to depend solely on the spiritual nourishment of God, and presumably thus not demand the betterment of their own living conditions, since this would mean subsisting yourself or enriching your situation with elevated material conditions by your own hands as opposed to simply relying on the spiritual sustenance of God. Clement of Alexandria referred to the destitute, those who begged for daily bread, and the poor who were dispersed on the streets as the “most blessed” on account of their extreme poverty, want, destitution, and lack of subsistence, thus sacralizing and glorifying the condition of poverty. Clement also opposed the view that God commanded Christians to renounce property, and instead counselled Christians to simply manage property without inordinate affection in service of God. The early Christian text On Riches, attributed to Peter of Alexandria, apparently rebuked the poor for their supposed envy, their concern about the rich, and their ingratitude to the God who “made them free from the cares about which the rich man is concerned”. In other words, the poor are to be grateful what they have. The rich are divided into the “wicked and merciless rich” who abuse their wealth and property and the “merciful and loving rich” who use their wealth and property benevolently and align with the will of God, whereas the poor are not divided in such a way and the author of On Riches declares that he does not “honor the poor by making them equal to the rich” nor “favour them”, and if anything holds that the poor man may leave his poverty only for “another poverty seven times more evil than this”.

Despite prominent popular discussion of Matthew 19:24 as a Christian indictment of the rich and despite The Cleansing of the Temple, in Christianity wealth is not always considered a bad thing, and in fact has been considered a good thing so long as it is managed according to the will of God. The Christian condemnation of the rich and their wealth pertains to the extent to which earthly riches or simply the love thereof impedes devotion to God, or that the management of wealth is unscrupulous, harms the poor, or simply leads the rich man away from God. From this standpoint, as applied to capitalism, capital, as a form of wealth, is not actually inherently against God’s will, only the “wicked” use of it against God is, and a just society is one where both the capitalists and the poor working class all observe their ordained social stations in a manner that comports with God’s will. Class society as divided between bourgeoisie and the proletariat is still to exist, since it too is ordained by God, but each class is to observe God’s will and act humbly, mercifully, and dutifully within their respective terms. Since wealth, thus capital, is only bad insofar as its use does not serve God, the capitalist class would be compelled to reform their ways so as to be more “merciful” in alignment with God, which would suggest no real policy changes other than perhaps a couple of benign reforms agreed upon by a consistently Christian ruling class. In modern terms, Christian teaching is only about as anti-capitalist as Elizabeth Warren is, which is to say not at all.

Some leftists might point to Acts 4:32-35 as a kind of pre-modern expression of religious communism, describing a society ruled by the apostles and inhabited by believers in Jesus who were all one in heart and mind, shared all of their possessions and claimed no private (or seemingly even personal) property, no one was needy, and those who owned land and houses sold them and brought their profits to the apostles who distributed the money to anyone who needed it. In Acts 5, it is further described that those who keep any of their profits from selling houses and property for themselves miraculously fall down and die after being called out by St. Peter, suggesting that God would punish those who retain some personal profit with death. This sounds vaguely like what a communist society might look like, though hard to reconcile with Jesus’ teaching about the inevitable condition of poverty or early church teachings about wealth and property. It could just be a vague utopian commune project devised by the apostles. But what has always bothered me is that, for a religion that supposedly has inscrutable socialist or proto-communist credentials, most of the history of Christianity has not yielded any lasting socialist or communist society under the banner of Christian power. There were Christian efforts at establishing proto-socialist communities in Europe, but they were suppressed by the larger Christian establishment, who invariably upheld the legitimacy of the owning class. Of course, the Catholic Church is well-recognized as an edifice of elite power, but anti-revolutionary sentiment is not limited to the Catholic Church. The German Peasants’ War, in which peasants fought for freedom from restrictions imposed upon them by their lords, divided the Protestant movement in its response, with Thomas Muntzer and some more radical sections of the Protestant movement supporting the peasants while Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, not only opposed the peasants and claimed they were on the side of the Devil but also sided with the nobles and called for the punitive and violent suppression of the peasants. Very little of Christian society has manifested lasting working class power under the banner of the Christian faith, and in fact the rise of capitalism seems to seen Christianity emerge as a religious legitimator of the capitalist order and state power.

The trouble with using the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity to form a religious anti-capitalist narrative, and from there the wider problem with Christian Socialism or Christian Communism, is that it is necessarily selective, and cannot reflect the whole of the Christian vision of a society that is considered just insofar as it aligns with God’s will. A socialist or radical anti-capitalist interpretation of Christianity requires a hyper-fixation on a select handful of verses of the Bible and episodes of Jesus’ purported life that can be interpreted in a sufficiently anti-capitalist light, while leaving out the parts of the Bible that can be interpreted as supportive of a capitalist order or not entirely condemning of the rich, as well as creatively de-spiritualizing the message of Jesus by reducing it to a single economic substance such as debt forgiveness, thus leaving out not only the broader religious/spiritual content of the Biblical message but also the wider history of the early Christian movement and its tendency to chastise the poor while telling them to be content with their lot and defending at least some of the rich. Their concern was not with the material emancipation of the masses from the ruling economic and political order but instead a spiritualized, ethereal, and indeed extramaterial deliverance from the world into the kingdom of God, and attaining it by obeying the will of God, which, as I have shown, includes obedience to the system. Such efforts make sense only so as to attract religious Christians to the message of socialism by hopping on the bandwagon of its hegemonic popularity, instead of challenging the authority of Christianity, presumably off the back of either winning the unity of the working class or votes that might otherwise go to conservatives. In summary, it is a kind of religious tailism.

But before we get to that let’s touch on the other subject of my article: Santa Claus. Jacobin Magazine, with what seems to be a touch of humour, once published an article in 2018 advocating that socialists should embrace Santa Claus on the grounds that he is an egalitarian internationalist who disregards the borders of the nation state and free market norms to give gifts to children. The same magazine, during the same year, also seems to have published a parody article deconstructing Santa Claus as a robber baron who exploits his elven workers and rose to power through violently subjugating of the inhabitants of the North Pole. But in any case, the idea of Santa Claus as some sort of communist icon spreads around annually in certain corners of the online left, and sometimes in conservative circles. But is there reason to go along with it?

Putting aside the predictable discourse about how Santa Claus, if real, would subsist on exploitative practices for his workers, expecting them to constantly produce toys for little in the way of a wage, let’s just go right to the heart of the matter: the Santa Claus we all know is just a corporate mascot. The modern image of Santa Claus derives his name from Saint Nicholas, who is known for his secret gift-giving involving distributing wealth to the poor, but much of the iconography and character of the modern Santa Claus was developed from various precursors in European folkloric traditions (some of which, such as the Dutch Sinterklaas, were based on Saint Nicholas) by several soft drink companies into the holly jolly gift-giving figure of pop culture, often sanitized from a number of harsher equivalents in pre-existing folklore, such as the Joulupukki of Finland. So one of the many faces of capitalism is to be recast as one of its opponents on behalf of the workers of the world. Of course, that’s not even getting into conversation we can have about how the myth of Santa Claus probably encourages rampant consumerism on the part of parents and children, lending to the annual mass support of capitalist markets.

Now, to be fair, there is the argument to be made all of this represents a form of detournement, the art of taking popular icons of the dominant culture and integrating them into a new, radical context, in which the original icons are then subtextually altered so as to gain a new and more subversive meaning. The idea of turning a capitalist icon into a partisan of communism certainly does make sense as an act of detournement, as does the idea of enlisting the most popular religious figure in the Western world as an opponent of capitalism. Except, the idea is not really to subvert the dominant culture. Instead, the idea is to affirm socialism and/or communism not as a radical opposition to the order of society but rather as innate within the cultural DNA of the society we live in, which need only be unlocked in order to awaken the class consciousness of the public. In practice, this means blindly following the popular ideas of Jesus, Christianity, and Santa Claus and what they represent in order to reinterpret them, without challenging them. Contrast with this with the use of the inverted cross by Satanists and other anti-Christian elements that I discussed a few months ago. This represents the subversion of traditional symbolism undertaken as a conscious challenge to its original traditional context, as opposed to embracing the popular context of Christianity so as to claim it as your own. Thus we come to the concept of tailism, as developed in Marxist political theory.

The concept of tailism, as it is understood by Marxists, can be traced to Vladimir Lenin and his 1902 pamphlet What Is To Be Done?, which for Marxism-Leninism can be thought of as a landmark expression of its core ideological goals. In What Is To Be Done?, Lenin talked about the tendency of some socialists who advocated for the practice of “dragging at the tail of the movement”, by which Lenin seems to mean “bowing to spontaneity” and straggling behind the tendencies of popular movements without actually leading and educating the masses, a tendency which is then elevated to a point of principle. This is what Lenin referred to as tailism. Mao Zedong took this concept further in On Coalition Government, in which he defines tailism as the practice of “falling below the level of political consciousness in the masses” instead of leading it forward, thus tailing behind backwards elements within the working class, resulting in some comrades adopting backwards and reactionary attitudes on social issues. In modern circumstances, we can see this tendency especially pronounced in certain social-democratic elements of the left who, like all social-democrats, are captured by the promises of electoral power and, unlike most, come to think that by appealing to facetious narratives of the inherent conservatism of the working class they may yet win power and defeat the conservatives, or even in certain Marxist-Leninists who seem convinced that the bourgeois conservative image of the working class is the true identity of the revolutionary proletariat or that their tailism is actually a means of breaking free from the limits of bourgeois politicial thought.

The way that certain leftist elements attempt anually to frame Jesus or Santa as socialist or communist revolutionaries, and Christianity as nothing more than a political message of debt forgiveness, constitute a form of tailism in one sense. Even if not in the manner of the notable reactionary contingents of the social-democratic or Marxist-Leninist movements, we can look at the frequent attempts to Marxify Jesus and Santa as tailing behind popular consciousness, or perhaps actually falling below the imaginary that has been constructed for the masses by the powerful, without actively and consciously challenging said consciousness or imaginary. In a religious sense, it is thus religious tailism, and in a cultural sense, it is thus cultural tailism, but these are still modes of tailism whether Novara Media or Jacobin like to admit it or not. As such, what might otherwise be an attempt at detournement is guided by the desire to bind revolutionary socialism to the spirit of a popular society that it is in the business of remaking or overturning, and showing the masses for the subjugation that it is.

The Catholic Church’s new stance on sex: A bold liberalization of tradition, or the dying gasps of moral authority?

This week, Pope Francis officially declared that “sins of the flesh” are not the most serious sins. He said this in the wake of the resignation of Michael Aupetit, the former Archbishop of Paris who admitted to having an “ambiguous” relationship with an anonymous woman prior to becoming a bishop. Pope Francis described his actions as a failing of the sixth commandment, which forbade adultery, but apparently a minor one, consisting of small caresses and taking a massage. This apparently is a sin, but not “the worst kin”, with the Pope suggesting that hatred and pride are much bigger sins.

It’s easy to take this as a relaxation of attitudes within the church towards sex, and on the surface that seems like it might be the case. But stepping beyond the basic nature of what Aupetit is accused of, and it certainly looks like small potatoes to me anyway, there’s something else about what Pope Francis is saying that tells me that there’s another, somewhat problematic dimension to it.

The part that does all the work is when he says it’s still a sin. It’s still essentially a transgression against God, that’s what sin is. All he’s really saying is that there’s a sliding scale of transgressions that are easier to forgive than others. A bit moot, considering that at least most sins are surely forgiveable by God, if we take the Christians seriously anyway. To say that Aupetit’s actions, then, are not a “total failing”, while probably not wrong, could be saide of basically any “failing” insofar as it is not beyond redemption.

But you know, there’s a way in which it makes sense for him to be softer on sex outside of marriage than many Christians. I say this not just because the Bible doesn’t actually contain any actual injunctions against pre-martial sex, but also because the same Pope also approved a declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which stated that same-sex marriages cannot be approved on the grounds that “God does not and cannot bless sin”, and doubled down on that while insisting that this isn’t a condemnation of LGBT people. The Catholic Church also played a role in ensuring that hate crimes and discrimination against LGBT people would not be criminalised, without a peep of oppostion from Pope Francis. I guess it’s easy to be an otherwise still fairly traditional Catholic and go easy on pre-martial sex while trying to put up a nice face for the LGBT community, so long as you’re still making sure LGBT people can’t get married or be entitled to protections against hate crimes.

I notice there are some takes out suggesting that Pope Francis’ new announcement, far from just being him defending the clergy as you might suspect, is actually the dawn of the end of the tyranny of focusing on sexuality. But think about what that means. The church is not actually changing its sexual mores, it’s just talking about them less, and from where I’m standing it’s not borne from a reflection of the actually restrictive and tyrannous substance of Christian sexual morality, but instead from a mixture of embarassment and opportunism. And I think that those who look at this and talk about how Jesus said nothing about sexuality should probably remember that Jesus said that whoever looked upon woman with lustful thoughts had already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28), which is probably the exact opposite of Pope Francis’ stance on “sins of the flesh” – for Jesus, Michael Aupetit would be guilty of adultery if he merely thought about ambiguous relationships with women. And even if Jesus didn’t have much to say about sexuality, people like Paul sure did, such as in his pronouncements that homosexuality is a shameful behaviour that God thrust upon people for engaging in idolatry. Not exactly the most inclusive religion.

I know I like to beat this drum a lot every time Pope Francis comes around, but I never did trust him, and frankly, I think there’s no good reason to trust liberal Christianity just because it’s nicer in theory than conservative Christianity. If you’re a Christian, you have to contend with several aspects of scripture and tradition that are problematic and difficult, or find some interpretation, and you still have to deal with the basic premise of being in a religion where human behaviour is to be judged in relation to the designs of a supreme ruler as the divine principle. If you’re an atheist or a Pagan, on the other hand, you don’t really have this problem. Personally, I don’t think I’ll understand why there is such demand for the hegemony of the Catholic Church to be preserved, let alone through such obviously weak appeals to modern ideas about sexual morality that often actively conflict with what the Gospels actually say. It would be better that more people simply accept that Christianity, if pursued genuinely and seriously, would conflict with their way of life in a repressive fashion. Of course, this would mean the end of Christian hegemony, and while I would take such delight in seeing the demise of the power of the church, it’s perfectly logical that the church, and Christians, could never allow the release of the soul of mankind from its iron grip.

But all in all, this is probably nothing in the grand scheme of things.

What I’m sure we’re all thinking

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another strange and ignorant statement follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pagan Festival by Ada Mangilli

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

Pride is good, being an incel is bad

So it seems that the incels are on the radar again, what with Jake Davison having killed five people in Plymouth last week, including a 3-year old girl. Many high-profile murders, especially directed towards women, have been carried out by incels or people inspired by some far-right ideology that especially draws on incel ideas and mentalities. I have been doing a fair bit of thinking on the issue of the incel community, particularly from the lens of pagan conceptions of pride.

One thing to establish first and foremost is that incels, their name short for “involuntary celibates”, are people who are often defined by their lack of ability to find women to be their romantic or sexual partners, but that’s actually not the only thing that makes an incel. An incel is defined not just by their inability to hook up with or form relationships with women, but also by the fact that they turn that into their whole personality and take that inability as the basis for a thoroughgoing and misogynistic contempt for all women. This is supported or rationalized by a deeply toxic belief that, from the moment you’re born, your physical appearance determines your chances of having long-term romantic relationships and your worth in life or society as a whole. Although there are occasionally female incels, for whom the obsession typically revolves around relationships with men, the vast majority of incels you will encounter (or have encountered) are men who obsess over their inability to form relationships with women. In any case, this naturally destroys their self-esteem because whatever passes for self-esteem is completely bound up in their physical appearance and the promise of sexual intercourse. Their whole sense of self-worth is judged against those things, meaning that if they fail to measure up to some idea of the perfect male complexion and don’t have sex with as many women as possible, they will feel like irredeemable failures in the eyes of society (or, in reality, their own eyes).

On top of all that, the destruction of their already abysmally low self-esteem is constantly reinforced by an entire community of people who are also convinced that women are evil and shallow people who they have no chance of having sex with (and possibly controlling since they seem to sincerely view women as animals to be “tamed” by men) and who probably pathologically despise men anyway, and in turn convince them that things will never get better for them. The sheer toxicity of it all eats away at what passes for a soul to the point that they actually begin to feel psychologically trapped in the despair that they feel, permanently scarred by the views they’ve adopted and the community they became a part of, perhaps never to return. In such a situation, it’s only logical that violence appears to them as their only escape. Jake Davison’s messages from just a few days before the Plymouth shooting reveal that he too was getting sick of the incel community that he was a part of for reinforcing the idea that changing your life through self-improvement was impossible. Too bad, though, that this bit of self-reflection didn’t stop Davison from murdering a toddler and his own mother among others.

Now, what does pride have to do with all this? Well, Christianity has long denounced pride in general as a sin, a kind of moral failing that separates you from God, which would have to be redeemed in order to ensure your salvation, that is to say the survival of your soul in Heaven after the death of the body. The pre-Christian ancients, by contrast, had no such attitude to pride. The Greeks and Romans certainly had a problem with hubris, which is to say the act of spiting the gods by placing yourself above them, but they saw pride itself as a positive thing, and even necessary for the cultivation of virtue and good character. Aristotle, for instance, believed that pride was the crown of all virtues, the virtue that is greatens all other virtues without which pride is not found. Pride in this sense just means the belief in, and affirmation of, your own worth. Aristotle did warn against misplaced pride, such as a excessive belief in one’s own worth or greatness that did not reflect the reality of your station, but he also warned against excessive humility, the belief that you are unworthy of something (or in general) when in fact you aren’t, and ultimately held pride in general to be a positive virtue crowning all the others and justified on that basis. Pride, throughout the pre-Christian world, was not only seen as separate from hubris but also considered to be a trait that allowed the gods to dispense justice upon those who committed hubris, and was even considered a companion of humility, with pride in oneself allowing you to recognize your real station.

It was only with the ascent of Christianity that pride and hubris, as well as vanity, came to be conflated so as to appear one and the same, and then pride became one of the “seven deadly sins” of Catholic teaching, the very error that lead to Satan’s fall from heaven. This may have led to some very erroneous ideas about narcissism being linked to pride and self-esteem. I say erroneous, because contemporary research suggests that narcissism is actually linked to low self-esteem, not high, if it has any link to self-esteem at all. Low self-esteem also appears to be linked to delinquency and anti-social behaviour. In this sense it’s actually a noticeable lack of pride, rather than the presence or even abundance of pride, that can lead to narcissism, delinquency, and criminality. Christianity and its emergent culture has thus completely misunderstood pride, failing to understand pride as the social good that it actually was, and thus the faith declared pride to be bad while introducing self-debasement and self-denial as virtues.

Now, why does all of that matter? Let’s return to the incel for a moment. The incel is narcissitic in that he believes that he is entitled to sexual liasions with women. Jake Davison is an example of this in that he even believe that he was entitled to sex with girls as young as 16. Elliot Rodgers is another example, he talked about himself like he was a god on earth and thought that women all over would scramble to suck his cock just because he existed, and his murderous hatred of women stemmed from the fact that no girl actually liked him or wanted to date him because he was so unlikeable, narcissitic, and creepy and that they wanted nothing to do with him. Incels are also, as I said, incredibly devoid of self-esteem. They repeatedly insist that they have no chance of ever having relationships with women because of their appearance, their lack of self-esteem is so extreme that it destroys their mental health, and their community constantly reinforces that lack of self-esteem. This all fits the pattern of how narcissism develops alongside low self-esteem, which is especially true in adolesence, and that’s very relevant considering that a lot of incels are either adolescents or young adults. The incel is narcissistic, but he has no pride. He believes in his own entitlement to sexual prospects, but does not possess self-worth. The incel does not value or esteem himself, and cannot, because he situates all hope for worth and self-esteem in his appearance and likelihood to have sexual intercourse with women. And so, in his lack of pride, the incel suffers and debilitates into depression, despair, hopelessness, self-hatred, and ultimately terroristic violence. Thus is the effect of the “blackpill”, and the broader journey of having taken the “red pill” to start with, on the mind of the incel.

There’s no single easy fix to the problem of the incel community, and it will mean addressing many different facets of the society that produces incels, as well as the ideological pipeline that conditions lonely, alienated young men into embracing a cult of angry, nihilistic, and ultimately terroristic misogyny. But one of the most important of the toxic ideas to address is the idea that your own self-worth is predicated on principally on your physical appearance and sexual success. There are many ways to address that, one of them being to dismantle the sort of genetic or biological determinism so frequently invoked by incels and pick-up artists. But I believe that one approach that cannot be left out is to undo the damage that Christianity has done to our ability to take pride in ourselves. We must restore the idea that pride, that is to say the sensible and natural attribution of worth and value to yourself (and to others), is in itself a virtue, one that can be separated from hubris. When you believe that you are capable having pride in yourself and others around you, the scope of that pride cannot be halted by physical imperfection, because you do not need to be some sort of “chad” who fucks lots of women on the regular to have any kind of pride or self-respect, and when you erect an understanding of pride as separate from hubris, your ability to content yourself with your own self-esteem can help you prioritize concrete goals and actions and, with your pride-given humility and knowledge of place, guard yourself against illusions that lead to hubris.

So reject the self-abasement and self-denial of Christianity, reject the nihilism of the incel community, and reclaim the Pagan way of healthy and virtuous pride.

An allegory of Pride featured in William Adams’ “Sacred Allegories” (1859, apparently); funny how the image of Pride resemebles Zeus/Jupiter so strongly