I decided that it might be worth my time to address some arguments against anarcho-nihilism, if mostly because I keep seeing them floating around. This is mostly in reference to arguments from non-anarchist communists, including Marxist-Leninists, but social-anarchists and standard issue anarcho-communists also tend to make similar arguments – either from first principle, as the case may be, or perhaps simply to take after the old “Anarcho-Bolsheviks” who thought that allying with the Soviet Union would save them after the suppression of Makhnovschina. In the process of this, however, we will not spend any time addressing any accusations of fascism, because in reference to our subject those are simply aesthetic slurs made with no consideration of the actual nature of their object, and as such can be dismissed out of hand.
Let’s consider the following arguments against anarcho-nihilism:
“Nihilism means doing nothing”
“Anarcho-nihilism is the ideology of the ruling class”
“What has anarcho-nihilism negated?”
“Anarcho-nihilism is the ideology of serial killers/abject immorality/suicidal ideation”
(the adventurism accusation)
“Aren’t you just pessimists, not actually nihilistic?”
“Nihilism can only lead back to conformity and submission”
“We live in a society”
Objection #1: “Nihilism Means Doing Nothing”
This is a fairly obvious case where the people making this complaint don’t even bother to read the quotations presented to them. Let’s go to the quotation in question, from Serafinski’s Blessed Is The Flame, to see where some people might be going wrong:
The anarcho-nihilist position is essentially that we are fucked. That the current manifestation of human society (civilization, leviathan, industrial society, global capitalism, whatever) is beyond salvation, and so our response to it should be one of unmitigated hostility. There are no demands to be made, no utopic visions to be upheld, no political programs to be followed – the path to resistance is one of pure negation.
Blessed Is The Flame, Serafinski (2016)
So, where have critics gone wrong here? The answer is to be found in but another question: how do you derive “do nothing” from “unmitigated hostility”? I suppose the phrases “we are fucked” and “human society is beyond salvation” would have some people interpreting it as a statement of utter resignation to fate, but such a sentiment is in no way reflected in Blessed Is The Flame. If it were, why would the book consist of detailed accounts of insurgent resistance undertaken by concentration camp prisoners against their Nazi captors, guided by no hope in futurity but instead by the purity of their desire to destroy systematic and genocidal oppression. Or perhaps it just comes down to the rejection of formal programs or utopic visions? In that case, what you understand as “doing nothing” is simply the rejection of new ways of ordering people, of new grand designs to impose upon the each other after the old ones perish one by one. In this sense we take after Max Stirner when, in juxtaposing insurrection against “Revolution”, he said that the point should not be to let ourselves be arranged but to clear the way for us to arrange ourselves, reserving no hope for any great institutions. In this sense, then, rather than advocating for doing nothing, anarcho-nihilism in this sense binds actions towards a locus of agency which is then drawn back into its rightful place in individual (and then collective) subjectivity.
The thing is, though, when Marxist-Leninists make this argument, they are making it against all of anarchism and are always talking about it from the standpoint of certain ideas of revolutionary success. What I mean is, when they say that anarcho-nihilists, or really any anarchists for that matter, have never accomplished anything, their standard is the “success” of the various so-called “socialist” states – the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Venezuela, to name just a few. It sounds believable if you only think about it in terms of holding onto power and controlling states for maybe more than one decade, but when you think about it in terms of the goals of Marxism itself the argument loses meaning.
Even if we discount the matter of the authoritarianism that they practiced, whenever the conversation about their acheivements comes up, it seems impossible to identify any actual establishment of socialism (at least insofar as we define it as a system wherein the working class control the means of production) within these countries. Instead, what comes up is mostly expansions of public infrastructure, maybe some state support for public service, as well as certain quotas about “raising living standards”, all under the supervision of one party states, none of which actually has much to do with “socialism”, let alone “communism”, as such. In Marxism-Leninism, the whole goal of establishing a socialist state or “dictatorship of the proletariat” is to (gradually) establish the conditions of communism, but after over a century (and, keep in mind, Marxist-Leninist governments still exist to this day) not only has this never happened, if anything the reverse seems to keep happening as under their leadership ostensibly “socialist” nations actually seem to be developing rudimentary capitalism, with no sign of any reverse course. So under this very criteria, we can’t actually judge these states as “successful revolutions” just because of the fact that they managed to take power when and where they did.
To summarize, it’s a meaningless objection. That is, it is meaningless to accuse your opponents of “doing nothing” when, first of all, you yourself are doing no more than they are, and secondly, the powers you support, and for which you demand solidarity from others, have failed to acheive any kind of communism anywhere.
Or perhaps the whole canard is simply an extension of the idea that nihilists “believe in nothing” – if you “believe in nothing”, you will ergo “do nothing”, so it supposedly goes. But even nihilism in itself comes in different shades. For one thing there is often a distinction between “passive” nihilism and “active” nihilism. Passive nihilism is understood basically as a sort of Schopenhauerian pessimism, the resignation to life as an “unprofitable episode”, while active nihilism represents the conscious effort to break down existing value structures, at least insofar as they are undesired, so that you can carve your own meaning yourself, and so all may enjoy the same freedom. Very much the opposite of “doing nothing”, especially when applied in the context of the Russian nihilist movement, or for that matter all similar movements.
Objection #2: “Anarcho-Nihilism Is The Ideology Of The Ruling Class”
This is another staple not only of Marxist-Leninist critics but also of social-anarchists, and to be honest I have absolutely no idea how this idea came into being. I have to suspect it comes from the deliberate conflation of any and all individualist forms of anarchism with right-wing ideology. Maybe it also comes from Murray Bookchin, who in Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism explicitly referred to so-called “lifestyle anarchism” (meaning individualist anarchism and basically whatever else he didn’t like about contemporary anarchism) as “a bourgeois form of anarchism”.
Of course, it’s nonsense. You will never see Joe Biden, Liz Truss, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Ursula Von der Leyen, Kristalina Georgieva, or any of the bourgeoisie present any suggestion that they want to destroy society or abolish all of the institutions of capitalism and statehood. In fact, you would think that they all benefit from the very institutions that we would like to see destroyed. That much should seem obvious from even the most cursory reflection, but for some reason people on the Left like to believe nihilism is bourgeois. Are we to forget that the Russian nihilists, who were very likely the first to take up that name for themselves in a modern sense, worked towards the negation of all of the major institutions of Russian society, including class society?
I think that a lot of this criticism rests on the idea of the supposed “individualism” of modern capitalism. Thus, for our purposes, let us put that myth to rest. Whatever capitalism presents as “individual freedom” is often anything but. Whatever you believe to be “capitalist individualism” is actually a sophisticated form of collectivism developed through the admixture liberal ideology and Christian morality. You hear the establishment talk of the importance of”individual responsibility”, but when you ask “who or what is the individual responsible to”, the answer reveals itself as economy, society, the state, work, the major social institutions of the present. Thus “personal responsibility” in capitalist parlance is, in reality, the expectation of the individual to conform to society at large as a productive agent for the state. Social marginalization is the function of societies as collective bodies that then invariably base their order on some kind of authoritarian normativity. And so individuals that defy normativity are either violently repressed or socially shunned. I ask you, what “individualism” is this?
Further, I say that the “communist” objection to nihilism, alongside egoism and individualism, is rendered all the more meaningless by none other than the existential criteria of communism. To illustrate this, let’s consult Karl Marx in Critique of the German Ideology:
In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.
Karl Marx, Critique of the German Ideology (1846)
Communism, in this understanding, would mean a set of social conditions in which an individual is free to pursue any creative activities they desire without the division of labour, class society, and statehood, and without the individual subjectivity of creative activity being locked into any sort of professional identity. In other words, the communist subject is someone who creates because they enjoy creating, not because they are a creator. They produce things in accordance with will, interest, desire, and not because they are workers. Such an understanding is easily transferred towards and nourished by the egoist worldview; for the Unique, in establishing communism on behalf of itself, destroys the totality of existing conditions in order to arrange itself for itself, produce and create for itself, and share this condition with others without coercion or hierarchy.
As a matter of fact, there are at least some Marxists who understand quite well what this entails, and ironically, without realising it, end up as anti-communists because of it. The main illustrative example here would be Domenico Losurdo, a Stalinist intellectual whose main response to Marx’s elaboration of communism is to call for revising the definition of communism entirely, rejecting Marx’s proposal as “fantastical” and “anarchistic” in favour, presumably, of an idea more congruent with the actual conditions of Soviet capitalism. My point here is that at least some Marxists are well aware of what Marx’s communism entails, even if the majority are utterly confused, and one of the responses, ironically enough, is to attack the theoretical basis of communism.
I am well aware that my approach to nihilism and communism is not always accepted even by others in the same milieu, but just to support it further we can turn to none other than Stirner’s egoism itself, at least as presented by Jacob Blumenfeld. Here, I am specifically drawing from a lecture he presented in 2016. Blumenfeld here illustrates that Stirner’s “communism”, or at least communism as unwittingly borne out from Stirner’s egoism, consists in the insurrectionary/revolutionary negation of Capital as a world-historic force, in the liberation of unique individual relationships to create and devour each other, and in the ontological nothingness of the proletariat and the impermanence of its labour that then enacts its own emancipation in the devourment of the order of things. Communism in nihilist terms is thus to destroy the totality of extant social conditions so as to fully realise the freedom of human beings, manifest in the full negative splendour of the Unique.
Objection #3: “What Has Anarcho-Nihilism Negated?”
This is something of a silly question, because, again, those who ask this question have invariably done no more than we have. Actually, when I think about it, this is sort of the same as the first objection. In a way, the better question would be “what is anarcho-nihilism trying to negate?”. But then the answer should be obvious.
All of the ordering processes that humans have to created regiment our collective existence, every project that can roundabout be described as “the New Man”, every grand teleological design, every new regime of futurity, all of this is what we cast to the fire.
Objection #4: “Anarcho-Nihilism Is [Insert Bad Thing Here]”
Most outside encounters with anarcho-nihilism appear to treat it as either a statement of abject malevolence, an expression of utter despair, or outright suicidal ideation. It’s an obvious ad hominem of course, and there really is no evident basis for it other than a reflexive emotional response. Perhaps an unconscious script, you might say.
There is a somewhat prejudicial idea at play here. The idea seems to be that being a nihilist of any sort means that, since you “believe in nothing”, supposedly meaning that you believe “nothing matters”, you will be willing to do all sorts of heinous things to people just because “nothing matters”. There’s a bunch of problems with that though. For starters, if nihilism in an ontological sense is just the belief that life does not possess any inherent meaning or teleological will, what about that is supposed to be so inherently anti-ethical, or even “anti-social” necessarily? And what about that belief is supposed to be so conducive to murder, when countless more people have been by people and organisations whose actions were all guided by some greater good they thought they were serving?
That really is the strange thing, isn’t it? Everyone seems to have a problem when someone kills maybe a hundred people in a self-satisfying spectacle of violence, but no one seems to have any problem when states, whether capitalist or “socialist” kill tens of thousands or even millions of people, either directly or as the consequence of a set of conditions they create. You think you are morally upstanding because you condemn some imagined mayhemic violence that you associate with statelessness, but in reality by supporting statehood you also support the systematic violence that invariably supports it. You may object, but what are the processes and functions that uphold the existence of states? Wars, incarceration, slavery, patriarchy, punishment, intelligence, eugenicism, economics, even sexual abuse, there are countless apparatuses of violent instrumentality that support the state, and chances are your average non-anarchist person is prepared to support at least one of those things and thereby its effects, all while handwringing over the threat of lawless violence. And it’s not because they’re assholes or bad people necessarily, it’s definitely not because they’re “nihilists”, “sadists”, “sociopaths”, “psychopaths” or the like; they’re probably often nice people interpersonally in many other respects. In fact, you’re looking at the current majority of the world’s population, and they can’t all be “insane” and “psychotic”. And whether they are or not isn’t the problem. You can believe anything you want, be “perfectly sane”, and under certain circumstances you’ll justify the worst atrocities you can think, not because you get off on it but because you think there’s a greater good that makes it all worthwhile.
Don’t make any mistake: in more people than you might think, there’s an ideal that people are willing to countenance sacrificial violence to fulfill. There’s legions of people that are willing to condemn the whole world to a long and painful ecological catastrophe so that some way of life that they cherish, that they’ve taken as the natural order of their lives or life more generally, can continue unabated for generations more. Even more people are prepared to tolerate or even justify the fact of thousands of millions of indigenous peoples being killed and/or displaced, in either case amounting to acts of genocide, if it means they can lead comfortable lives or that the progress of “civilization” can continue to enrich the world or so they believe. So, on that count, people may accuse anarcho-nihilists of being serial killers in waiting (or training) only to deflect the reality of unmitigated violence away from whatever social order they prefer to defend.
At heart the whole objection comes down to the perception that anarcho-nihilists are just anarchists who are just enthusiastic about committing violence. Pacifists hold this objection and sometimes refer to nihilists as “violentoids”, while also making the same arguments about violence and authoritarianism that Friedrich Engels already made in On Authority, albeit from the opposite perspective to Engels. The pacifist opposes all forms of violence because, like Engels, they deem that all violence is a form of coercion and authoritarianism. I say that this perspective runs into severe problems when we consider the possibility of abuse victims using violence to liberate themselves from abuse; namely, it establishes false equivalence between the people being abused and the people doing the abusing. Frequently motivated by the self-righteous belief that anarchism is just a signifier for “good person”, they attack the nihilists for being willing to accept what is already the basis of all politics, and believe that they can transcend it. Now you could say that it is very possible to embody anarchistic relationships without violence, and you can establish small-scale communities to that effect. But how are you going to dismantle the state just by getting into drum circles? The state is never going to abolish itself, even if pacifists, reformists, and orthodox Marxists seem to think so, and I will gods-damned if it is only anarcho-nihilists who are going to be honest about that fact!
Objection #5: “Anarcho-Nihilists Are Just Edgy Pessimists”
This objection is somewhat more interesting, because it’s at least ostensibly an actual philosophical objection rather than simply an aesthetic one. Of course, it could still be an ad hominem, but it is worth examining the distinction between nihilism and pessimism.
Pessimism, in itself, is not necessarily nihilism. I find revolutionary pessimism to be highly meaningful and valuable, and the French Surrealist conception thereof is an important part of my current political/philosophical ideology, but even this doesn’t necessarily start off from a nihilist perspective, or at least not inherently so. Pessimism on its own can mean many things, philosophically, often starting from very anti-nihilist perspectives (including forms of Christianity). That said, philosophical pessimism can overlap with philosophical nihilism. An interesting example is 19th century German pessimism, certain forms thereof have sometimes been termed nihilism – Julius Bahnsen, for instance, used that term to describe his own philosophy. But more to the point, a pessimist can be someone who takes a generally dim view of the world, sentimentally or ontologically, they can be someone whose worldview is built on the centrality of suffering, contradiction, or evil in the world regardless of the attitude towards it (religions such as Christianity and Buddhism all can have their pessimistic streaks), or it can be the broad thesis that life is in some ways not worth living. Depending on who you ask, a nihilist might reject at least one of these ideas.
If there’s a definition of nihilism we can work with, it’s the ontological position that existence has no inherent meaning, that meaning only consists of what we create, and, following from this, all of the externalised meanings that obscure this for us should be smashed or cast aside. That doesn’t always start from a pessimistic outlook. A pessimist can still be beholden to the same meaning-structures that a nihilist is not or strives not to be. A nihilist may not even necessarily derive melancholy from their position. From the standpoint of at least some nihilists, the rejection of meaning-structures can be an unambiguously positive and joyous thing.
Anarcho-nihilism is admittedly a case where the nihilism and the pessimism interlock. That’s probably part of what makes it meaningful, ironically enough. The pessimism is in the rejection of the received horizons of hope and futurity, of revolutionary optimism, of the idea that there’s a program out there that’s going to deliver us from all of our sufferings – loaded of course with the premise that the only thing left for us is to save ourselves. The nihilism is in the active pursuit of the destruction of the horizons of futurity, normative meaning, and social ordering and, most strikingly, in the joy that accompanies this destructive liberation – in a word, jouissance. So then, it is not that anarcho-nihilism is merely pessimistic. It is often pessimistic yes, but it is also strictly more than pessimism.
Objection #6: “Nihilism Only Leads Back To Oppression”
This is an argument I observed in Shahin’s Nietzsche And Anarchy, a book that otherwise enjoyed reading and have found very valuable in illustrating a psychological individualist standpoint for collective action based around individuation. Shahin seems to define nihilism in terms of “the trap of reflexive action” (apparently borrowing from Alfredo Bonnano here), action done without planning or critique and with no vision of the future, and appears to argue that we can only destroy the dominant values-structures if we also create new ones to take their place, and without new affirmative projects one slips into despair, self-destruction, and ultimately back into conformity with the status quo. This is another far more interesting argument than the usual ad hominems, and bears a response.
There’s a way in which the emphasis on “reflexive action” as “action done without planning or critique” cuts into the subject of direct action. What is direct action? People don’t always understand it, but it is as the term suggests: taking actions in order to directly achieve political goals or interests. Ziq in Burn The Bread Book defines it as “an isolated use of force unconnected to institutional systems of power”. There’s no appeal to any kind of higher authority, no official “legitimacy” conferred upon it by anyone, no monopoly on violence granted to them for or by this action, and often, because of that, nothing to guarantee safety from the threat of retalitation. Now, by what standard do we say that such actions are necessarily “non-reflexive”? It’s not true that there is no planning or critique involved, but it’s also not true that the tactic of direct action is entirely unspontaneous. And insofar as that’s the case, does it entirely matter if, for instance, you could destroy the war effort of a fascist state with our without reflexion, with or without “planning” or “critique”?
But this is obviously only somewhat meaningful. Who says nihilists don’t make plans or engage in critique? As if we don’t have theory for the latter, which is all too often hardly read. No, the real fixation here is on the idea of the “vision of the future”. One could say that, if we’re serious, everyone has a vision of what they want the future to look like, even anarcho-nihilists with an almost entirely negationist vision. From that standpoint, the simple problem is that our future is not your future and that we want our future and not your future. But it’s deeper than that. Part of anarcho-nihilist theory concerns itself with opposition to what is called futurity, or “reproductive futurism”. But you might ask, what is that? Futurity is not just the general idea that we can create and live in a better world than the world we live in. Futurity is the reproduction of order, that is the prevailing social order, it is the idea of teleological Progress which then elicits the concentration of order at the expense of autonomous life.
In Lee Edelmann’s No Future, as well as baedan, we see this concept of futurity tied intrinsically to the familiar reactionary forces of cisheteronormativity and white supremacy, all of whom and even sometimes progressive ideologies appeal to the abstract figure of The Child at the expense of actual children. Put this way, ideologies of futurity and progress can be understood as a devotion to abstract notions of better futures (and, I assure you, there are few things more abstract than “the future”) at the expense of the present or even the actual possibility of a better future world. So then, it is only pitiable that other anarchists might look down on nihilist anarchists because of their lack of faith in “the future”, because at heart what counts for the core of it is the ordering process of futurity, and its inexorable authoritarianism.
Next, consider what Shahin says here: “we can only destroy the values, desires and cultures that destroy us if we also create and affirm new values to take their place”. Now consider what this actually means in practice. What are “the values, desires and cultures that destroy us”? They are dominant value-systems, they are social systems of ordering human life predicated on imperative valuation, they are meant to be understood collectively as structures that are imposed upon subjects. Therefore, what does it mean “to take their place”? It means to create new systems of social ordering based, ultimately, around dominating value-structures, which then order the behaviour of humans in conformity to value. Is it really possible to interpret such organisation as consistent with the anarchist commitment to oppose all forms of hierarchy, authority, and collective domination? Or are we just aiming for new arrangements instead of no longer letting ourselves be arranged by anyone but ourselves?
And then there’s despair. I ask you: who in their right mind can persist in the world we live in entirely absent of despair? Who, other than someone who may stand to benefit from the existence and perpetuation of the order of things? Is despair in itself such a bad place to begin collective action? At the very least, it’s not a bad place for alchemy and mysticism to get going, and I can promise you that those things have more prefigurative value than many people think! But let’s just pose the alternative question: how do you know the nihilist is necessarily a mere reflection of embodied despair? Indeed, the nihilist emphasis on jouissance could betray just the opposite attitude. What room is there for despair when there is so much joy to be had in the resistance to and destruction of oppression, and in the transvaluation of values undertaken by each one of us who partakes in the realisation of anarchy in the world?
Objection #7: “We Live In A Society”
This last one is something of an ad hominem, but, as with the others, makes for an ample springboard for a larger conversation around anarcho-nihilism. The objection is aimed at the destruction of the abstract notion of “society”, to which the inevitable retort is that we live in a society. A sardonic quip, a meme, thereby an ad hominem. But it is not without meaning.
You see, every materialist is a materialist who questions everything until it’s time to question society itself. Every leftist learns to see things as the products of social processes and see social arrangements as at least arbitrary enough that they can be dismantled, until it’s time to consider society itself. Now, “society” is sacrosanct to the extent you in your propaganda will tell others that you’re actually fighting for civil society. Scratch that, you’re fighting for civil society as an organism, your ideology is in fact not ideology, more like the “natural immune system” of civil society, through which you will destroy every “foreign parasite” that threatens its integrity. You congratulate yourself for saying this, to everyone and to yourself, mired in a micro-fascism that you will never recognise for what it is. We tell people that we live in a society when the point is to challenge it. We mean it to mock some sort of reactionary pseudo-profundity but then see how quickly it extends as a cudgel against all critics of civil society in itself.
What the hell is society in itself? It’s simply the confederation of human social relationships. That’s it. That’s all it is. Societies are groupings of relationships between individuals who confederate with each other towards what is at least theoretically their mutual advantage. That’s what we all really mean when we say that you can’t fight the status quo alone. The warm fuzzies we get about togetherness are just a way of obfuscating what is ultimately as egoistic as anything else. Modern societies are also networks of ordered relationships that are necessarily maintained through extensive social control. But modern or no, societies also tend to possess their own sort of normativity, which can create marginalization. You would think that there’s no inherent justification for such a thing, but apparently “human nature” demands civil society and so it should not be questioned. But there is no actual “human nature”. We are a “social species” only in the sense that humans tend to like and enjoy forming social relationships and fulfill their needs through sociation. But there are also people who are for many reasons averse to such sociation, perhaps even preferring solitude, or who prefer individuation over sociation. You might argue that this is a minority, but that doesn’t matter if you consider the obvious fact that such tendencies should not exist if “human nature” is inherently social or collectivist, for the same reason that, if a thing is outside what we call “Nature” it could not be said to exist.
Societies, understood in “materialist” terms, are arrangements of human relationships and their attendant conditions. They are not essential presences of human life, or fixed elements of “nature”. They can be altered, reformed, dismantled, or destroyed. “Society” itself is a fixed idea of said arrangements. People blindly conform to it, and then compel others to conform, because they assume that Society is just the essential link of being human. It isn’t. It’s a frozen image of the bonds that we forge with each other, the rules we assume for and impose upon each other, and in sum the relationships we cultivate. In itself, it has no actual meaning.
I have been meaning to write this article since last month, after I encountered a video published by Caleb Maupin titled “Four Forms of Satanism: A Marxist View”, in which Maupin attempts to define Satanism on his terms for his audience. But, at the time, I was still working on my article on my developing philosophy of Satanic Paganism, and above all else I wanted to complete that article and resolve the desire that animated that work, thus my writing was devoted entirely to that article as well as the abridged version I wrote immediately afterwards. But now that both articles are finished, I can now bring you a response to Caleb Maupin’s video, even though it’s a month late.
I’ve talked about Caleb Maupin before, three months ago, in the context of conspiracy theories and Satanic Panic in relation to the Ukraine-Russia War, but let’s briefly introduce Caleb Maupin for the purpose of this article. As many of you probably already know, Caleb Maupin is a prolific socialist journalist (and I use both terms loosely here) who works for Russia Today, a news station owned and controlled by the Russian government and which is thus a platform for Russian state propaganda. Of course, Caleb really doesn’t like it when you call him a Russian asset, and was outraged when his Twitter account got labelled Russian state-affiliated media. Caleb seems to operate as a Marxist-Leninist, and certainly invokes Marxist theory in his various arguments about socialism, but in practice he mixes his “Marxism” with pro-American conservative populism, the neofascism espoused by Lyndon LaRouche, and the Eurasianist neofascist ideology of Aleksandr Dugin, so in practical terms he is perhaps more accurately referred to as a “left-fascist” or “red-fascist”. His particular brand of “anti-imperialism” leads him to uncritically support for dictatorships such as Russia and China, even to the point of defending the idea that there will be billionaires in a socialist or communist system, and he is prepared to defend rank anti-semites such as Louis Farrakhan on the grounds that he sees them as “anti-imperialists”. In fact, as you’ll see, Caleb Maupin himself is actually grotesquely and notoriously anti-semitic. His current project seems to be the Centre for Political Innovation, a think tank that serves mostly as a vessel to transmit his own brand of left-right confusionism and rehabilitate the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche. It is probably fair to say that Caleb Maupin, the CPI, and their supporters represent a minor tendency within “The Left” as a whole, but they are building a network of parasocial influence through which to disseminate their ideas, including fascistic conspiracy theories, and so it is somewhat important to address Caleb Maupin’s claims about Satanism.
Now, to start with, I think it’s best for me to offer a definiton of Satanism for our purposes, before we get into how Caleb Maupin tries to define it. Satanism, broadly speaking, is a religious and philosophical or magickal belief system based most specifically in a conscious relationship to Satan, either as a conceptual archetype or an actual being, grounded in a egoistic philosophy of transgressive individuation and self-realization, in more magickal forms aimed at the apotheosis of the individual. By my understanding, Satanism is an egoistic religious philosophy whose goal is the liberation of human consciousness through the practice of negation, meaning the negation of the boundaries of egoistic consciousness, so as to light the Black Flame of active negativity and attain individual apotheosis. It is to identify with Satan, the eternal rebel and the lord of Darkness, and his path lit by the Black Flame in order to join the war of all against all on your own side against all that is put over you. That’s my definition of Satanism. But what is Caleb Maupin’s definition?
To summarize Caleb’s basic premise before we dissect his arguments, the idea seems to be that there are four distinct types of Satanism, which seem to differ in their content. The first of these is called “Constructive Satanism”, which Caleb seems to define as essentially just when any form of constructive criticism happens within any organisation. The second of these is called “Adolescent Satanism”, by which Caleb seems to mean either juvenile rebellion or any form of social contrarianism. The third of these is called “Ideological Satanism”, which seems to refer to a more concrete doctrine of Satanism but is in reality just a construction of every ideology that Caleb doesn’t like which is only tenuously linked to any extant Satanism. The last of these actually doesn’t seem to have a name but seems to be Caleb’s way of referring to some vague feeling of hopelessness and self-loathing, possibly even a suicidal ideation, which attacks all positive or affirmative aspirations or ambitions. On its own all of this must already sound pretty ridiculous, but I assure that there is more to what you’re about to see than just what has been presented here – and trust me, it only gets more absurd from here.
On “Constructive Satanism”
We can begin, appropriately, with Caleb’s discussion of the “first definition of Satanism”, which of course he calls “Constructive Satanism”. Right off the bat, we are treated to a very strange argument for this concept. We’re told for starters that every religion has some concept of “good and bad” or “good and evil”, despite the fact that this isn’t really true when you look at the old polytheistic religions, Buddhism, arguably Hinduism, Shinto, Wicca, Thelema, or probably any non-dualistic religion. That doesn’t really have to do with anything, but soon enough Caleb gives us an explanation of the role of “The Satan” in the Book of Job, in which “The Satan” is one of God’s angels who tests your loyalty and your faith, and, according to Caleb at least, brings you hardship and criticizes you in order “reveal who you really are” and “test your strengths”. It’s not a totally inaccurate understanding of the Jewish conception of “The Satan”, but I think he misses the point. The purpose of “The Satan” is specifically to oppose, and indeed the term “Satan”, literally meaning adversary, was used not only in reference to angels but also humans who opposed you in some way, and in Jewish theology this was indeed a functionary of God’s order, but it was less about self-improvement by helping you work on your flaws and more specifically about testing the extent to which you remained faithful to God. But regardless, from this starting point “Constructive Satanism” is defined as essentially just what happens when in an organization there’s someone pointing out flaws and “troubleshooting worst case scenarios”, and when people who care about you criticize you to stop you from going astray or something.
Absolutely none of this is connected to any extant tradition of Satanism. There’s a loose interpretation of “The Satan” from the Book of Job that extrapolates from the core concept some spiel about how every organization needs a critic, but no example of any form of Satanism that emphasizes this theme is ever mentioned. It’s basically just some archetypal image of Satan that Caleb Maupin seems to have synthesized or probably picked up from gods know where. The “Constructive Satanist” here is just someone whose job it is to criticize things and reveal flaws with things in order to point our problems that need to be addressed. I suppose this is almost taking the phrase “devil’s advocate” literally. It’s a very reductive interpretation of the term “Satan” in its etymological meaning, and to be honest it’s very weird that Caleb Maupin thinks there needs to be a special position in society or organizations whose specific role is to criticize the way things are when anyone and probably everyone can do that, and if anything you could argue that in a “functioning society” critique would be universal instead of an exclusive profession. But hey, I guess that’s just authoritarianism for you; only approved people can criticize the regime, and everyone else is just supposed to nod along and bow. While Caleb offers no examples from Satanism to support “Constructive Satanism” as a definition of Satanism, he instead uses the story of the emperor with no clothes to illustrate the problems of not having “Constructive Satanists” around. Then, in a bizarre turn, he tries to argue that Abraham Lincoln was somehow a “Constructive Satanist” on the grounds that Lincoln was “basically an agnostic” and was known in Illinois for visiting local churches to debate pastors about the Bible. Yes, apparently Satanism is nothing more than just having any skepticism about the Bible whatsoever and debating Christians about it.
Curiously enough, however, during the course of his argument, Caleb takes the opportunity to criticize the Soviet Union by saying that it “fell to the sound of applause”. What he means by this is that, as he says, in the Soviet Union every leader since Joseph Stalin would be applaued for basically every pronouncement he gave, no matter how right or wrong-headed, by the Soviet bureaucracy including future successors, which meant that after Nikita Khrushchev took over and denounced Stalin’s regime the same people who praised Stalin turned around and praised Khrushchev for it, and so on and so forth with each leader until the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. The fall of the Soviet Union cannot singularly be blamed on this trend, but it is worth pointing out that, insofar as you can quite rightly and deservedly make this criticism of the Soviet Union, the problem for Caleb Maupin is that to take this criticism seriously requires admitting that the Soviet Union was dictatorship. I mean think about it: if it’s true that nobody in the Soviet bureaucracy ever criticized any of the Soviet leaders, and that everyone applaued each leader for every pronouncement, why do you think people within that system would be compelled or inclined to simply applaude every pronouncement rather than disagree? It’s because you’re in a system where that sort of disagreement is literally punished by the state which dictates that you ultimately cannot go against the leadership. Even Khrushchev, framed as the arch anti-Stalinist, still brutally suppressed dissent. But if you were to try and get Caleb to think about it that way, I’m sure all he’d do is yell at you and accuse you of being a fascist for tarnishing a state that he insists lead the global struggle against Nazism (never mind that Soviet leadership ultimately credited American aid with the very possibility of being able to fight and defeat the Nazis). Oddly enough, though, he eventually admits that the Soviet Union dragged dissident elements away in the middle of the night, and I say “oddly enough” because for all that he’ll still defend the legacy of the Soviet Union from people who view it as a murderous dictatorship, often specifically from such charges! But the operative point here seems to be that the reason the Soviet Union collapsed, rather than anything to do with the weight of its own systemic contradictions as a gerontocratic dictatorship that was crawling away from anything remotely resembling “socialism” for decades, was because of a lack of “Constructive Satanism”, by which Caleb means nothing more than a lack of debate within the Soviet bureaucracy. Of course, like any Leninist, he attributes this solely to the multiple invasion attempts against the burgeoining USSR, despite his account being that these problems continued well past any danger of frontal invasion, and of course completely overlooking any argument that might point out that there is no inherent reason for a country to be “forced” to suppress literally any party comrade who goes against the leadership let alone to go on to invade other countries like Georgia, Czechoslovakia, or Afghanistan, as though the Soviet Union had no agency to not do any of those things. Left out of this conversation, of course, is the working class of the Soviet Union, along with the people of the lands the Soviet Union came in and took over. Debate, as far as Caleb Maupin is concerned, is a privilege of the powerful, we might as well say a small class of people who hold authority over the masses, while those ruled by the so-called “Communist” Party have no right to debate on its agenda.
In any case, though, for all that I can say about his arguments about the Soviet Union, there is still no link between any of this discussion and any extant and conscious tradition, expression, or definition of Satanism. The only thing Caleb ever ties this notion of “Constructive Satanism” back to is the Hebrew conception of “The Satan” that he then twists into some abstract discussion of the need for constructive crticism or nitpicking for the good of society or an organization, but besides sort of missing the significance of Jewish theology in this regard, this simply misses the point of what Satanism is. The Negativity embodied by Satan, as understood in Satanism, is not some socializing form of critique, some troubleshooting functionary of the order of things. It is a universal attack on the order we put over ourselves, it is an affirmation of the freedom of egoistic consciousness through the negation of control. This negativity cannot be encapsulated in the mere function of an advisor who points out the flaws of the system so as to ultimately preserve its perpetuation, because this negativity is based in the destruction of systems and the totality of conditions.
On “Adolescent Satanism”
Moving on from there we come to the “second definition of Satanism”, which of course is called “Adolescent Satanism”, or as he initially calls it “Teenage Satanism” or simply “Contrarianism”. Now, I’m actually sure a lot of Satanists are somewhat familiar with some idea of “teenage Satanism”, by which we typically mean some disassociated act of malicious violence or “criminality” carried out by angry contrarian teenagers who may or may not attach some Satanic imagery to it in order to give some quasi-religious aura to their crimes. Of course, such a phenomenon is not limited to teenagers, there are plenty much less sound adults who do similar and sometimes worse things, and the media is happy to help them attach Satanism to their crimes, while almost never attributing Christianity to the actions of Christian killers no matter how many times they say that they are killing people in the name of God and his Son. But, when Caleb Maupin says “Teenage Satanism”, he simply means a type of behaviour where people “just want to break social norms” in order to go against authority and “assert their individualism”. Similar to the previous “definition”, this is one of those things that loosely plays into certain attributes of Satanism or Satanists, but is altogether separated from any conscious Satanism. In fact, just as before, Caleb Maupin never refers to any examples of any extant or self-defined Satanism embodying what he describes. Instead, the first thing he talks about is how he thinks communist movements end up “indulging the forbidden” as a response to the demonization of “communism” in the United States. “Communism”, Caleb tells us, is “Satan”, or “forbidden” in American society. There is of course some truth to this, but then you have to remember that, by “communism”, he means state socialists or state capitalists such as Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, all the various leaders of “actually existing socialist” countries who used to have their own major bloc of geopolitical power against “the West”; and let’s face it, in an age where the Cold War has long since ended, the “red menace” is a largely vestigal aspect of bourgeois propaganda, though still trotted out to some extent when the “leftists” appear to be gaining ground. Even when discussing China as a threat in some way, it’s usually the hard right more than anyone else that likes to emphasize the so-called “communism” of China.
An important point to address here is Caleb’s assertion that, because the United States of America is, as he says, “the capital of capitalism” and “the world center of anti-communism”, communists “embrace the opposite of what they are told”. There is an extent to which this is true, but it all depends exactly what you’re being told. The majority of mainstream discourse concerning “communism” would tell you that communism is nothing more than when you have a one party dictatorship that assumes control of all aspects of the economy as well as political and social life and transforms all private or personal property into state property. When Caleb says that Western communists embrace the opposite of what they’re told, this is accurate, but that’s to the extent that they reject that entire concept of “communism”, and with it whatever beady-eyed authoritarianism that Caleb Maupin would advocate for. Instead, many of the people who become interested in communism do so on the understanding that communism means that private property and capitalism is abolished in order to create a stateless, classless, moneyless society. Other serious communists take this further, understanding that communism is the movement of the abolition of the totality of the existing conditions, and that a communist society means a free association of people who, without the rule of the state or hierarchy or capital, interact with one another to fully develop themselves in any way they want. These people typically also reject the legacy of the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, or any of the countries Caleb upholds because they were not only authoritarian but also not even close to what communism is. There are, however, some self-styled communists who do not follow this pattern, and instead reject entirely any suggestion that the old red bloc and similar countries were oppressive, authoritarian, or even bad, and take for granted that these were “communist” countries despite not actually having the conditions of communism, take the way they organize society as “communism”, and then embrace this model as the model they believe will solve all the world’s problems. These people are often referred to as “tankies”, and fortunately it seems that they probably don’t comprise the majority of today’s radicals.
But what exactly does all of this have to do with Satanism? Caleb asserts that contemporary communists take the opposition of the US narrative to the point of taking on “a childist, adolescent” character, and the reason he refers to this as “Satanism” is because, to him, it is similar to “the teenager who starts wearing a pentagram necklace and starts listening to Ozzy Osbourne” This person is “literally a Satanist” according to him. I would have thought that, in the decades since heavy metal became the cultural phenomenon that it is now, we all came together and understood that listening to Ozzy Osbourne does not make you a Satanist, no matter how many Satanists (myself included) happen to like Ozzy Osbourne. But apparently it’s Satanism, because to him, under this “definition” of Satanism anyway, you can be a “Satanist” simply by making aesthetic declarations of rebellion against authority and breaking from the conventions of your parents. Under this same “definition”, a young person becoming a Buddhist or a vegetarian is thus “being a Satanist” insofar as “Satanism” is simply an assertion of individuality in contradiction to society at the time; such a statement would have us ignore the fact that most forms of Buddhism (at least in its “orthodox” form) are actually diametrically opposed to Satanism while vegetarianism, though not exactly popular, is very compatible (and some might even argue more consistent) with the teachings of Christianity. “This is not politics, this is emotion”, we are told, as though emotion does not involve itself with “politics” at all, and as though Buddhism, vegetarianism, or for that matter Satanism, or any expression of individuality at all is invalid merely because it is “feelings”, as though the emotional capacity of humans is somehow inferior to some disembodied rationality that is somehow divorced from this very same emotional capacity.
Caleb then goes on to at last give what he sees as a concrete example of “Teenage Satanism”, but once again it’s not actually a form of Satanism. Instead it’s “the 1960s left”, by which he seems to mean the American counterculture of the 1960s and its general alignment with left-wing political movements. I’m pretty sure that most hippies in the 1960s would have rejected any suggestion that they were Satanists, and I know for a fact that Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan that arose in the 1960s despised hippies almost as much as they despised Christianity, but I’m also sure that this inconvenient reality doesn’t quite matter to Caleb. Caleb tells us a story about someone he once knew from that decade; a communist who, as a young woman, got involved with the anti-war movement, supposedly because she liked it when the protestors broke windows, confronted police officers, and chanted “smoke dope, get high, all the cops are gonna die!”. Caleb frames this as the dominant message of the 60s counterculture for some reason, no doubt intending to depict hippies as terrorists, and he relates to us the apparent existence of a left-wing organization in New York that called themselves The Motherfuckers. This seems to have been a real organization, apparently an anarchist group who incorporated Dadaism and the ideas of Situationist International. Caleb claims that they got their name from the comedian Lenny Bruce saying “This is a stick-up! Up against the wall motherfucker!”, but this doesn’t seem to be true and in fact they actually got it from a poem written by Amiri Baraka. But the operative point seems to be that shouting “Up against the wall! Motherfuckers!” is “Satanism”, somehow, because, again, “Satanism” in this setting is just when you openly confront authority. Again, this is take one aspect of what makes Satan who he is and Satanism what it is while divorcing it from any conscious relationship to Satan as an idea, and thereby missing the point of Satanism.
What I find to be an amusing contradiction within Caleb’s idea of “Teenage Satanism” is his account of an anti-war/anti-imperialist group he refers to as The New York City Committee To Support The Vietnamese (I swear I can’t actually find anything about this group anywhere). The communist woman Caleb talks about apparently joined this group because they “walked through the streets of New York waving the flag of the enemy”, supposedly they really did march across New York City waving the Vietnamese flag and chanted “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh! The NLF is gonna win! Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh!”. Now Caleb actually likes it when people chanted this, but for him the difference is that she didn’t mean it and just chanted it to be “bad”, whereas according to him other people who chanted it really meant it. Could we argue that, from a certain point of view, or at least from the perspective of power, the difference doesn’t matter that much? In fact, simply “going against what you have been told”, by Caleb’s standards, does that not animate the very “anti-imperialist” movement that he stands by so resolutely. Consider the Center for Political Innovation’s first conference in Austin, Texas, this year, of which Caleb Maupin was a part. Not only did they raise the flags of both the United States of America and the Soviet Union at the same time, they also displayed the flag of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic as well as the Z symbol that was found on Russian tanks and currently used to signify support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In practice, this sort of politics tends to play out as simple identification with the perceived enemies of “the West”, and Caleb, very strangely for his particular brand of “patriotic socialism”, is just happy to cultivate this sense of identification. In fact Caleb Maupin vocally supported the pro-Russian separatists in Donbas and the Russian army as the invasion of Ukraine began. In fact he had his own fanatical slogan: “Donbas Lives Matter!”. His Center for Political Innovation has also been seen holding rallies in support of Russia, in which they display the flag of Russia as well as the flag of Donetsk and the Z symbol, while also displaying pro-Russian slogans. Is Caleb Maupin not a “Satanist” by his own definition? He would say no, but that’s only because he claims he believes in the Russian cause “against imperialism”. In reality he simply takes the side of Russia and Donbas because it’s the apparent enemy of Western imperialism. It is contrarianism by any measure, except only that Caleb refuses to recognize it as such. The difference between his politics and the “not real politics” he attributes to “Teenage Satanists” is quite simply that Caleb decides that he is not a contrarian, that he is not merely “identifying with the enemy”, and it seems to me that this difference is ultimately decided by the proposal that the “Teenage Satanist” takes joy in his simple opposition while Caleb at least ostensibly refuses such joy. But if you are a revolutionary (and, I assure you, Caleb Maupin by his own consideration is not) then what is the point in not deriving joy from the overthrow of the existing conditions, and with it the casting off of oppression? What a poor revolution it is that cannot embody jouissance? In this sense, “Teenage Satanism” is definitely not a form of Satanism, not in any historical, contemporary or serious sense, but I am quite sure that Satanism, at least on my terms, embraces the idea of deriving jouissance from the act of resistance itself.
On “Ideological Satanism”
Now we come to the “third definition of Satanism”, which Caleb refers to as “Ideological Satanism”. I will establish here and now that this is the only part of the video in which Caleb even tries to connect what he’s saying about “Satanism” to any actual extant form of Satanism, but even then it’s very tenuous and brief, and much of his definition is still hardly connected to Satanism. This is also the section where, I assure you, things seem to get really “interesting” if you know what I mean.
First, Caleb brings up the Church of Satan, briefly, and then mentions Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, only to seemingly shift focus away from LaVey himself in order to focus on Ayn Rand, who he refers to as one of LaVey’s favorite authors. Now, there is a small connection to Satanism in that Anton LaVey did describe his form of Satanism as “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added”. But, for other people who have encountered Caleb Maupin and his work, they may have noticed that Maupin sometimes has a fixation on Ayn Rand in particular, among other intellectuals he seems to count as part of the “forces of darkness”. In his book Satan At The Fountainhead, ostensibly a book about the influence of so-called Israel Lobby in foreign policy, Caleb denounced Ayn Rand as having “no grounds to define what it means to be an American” as a Russian-born Jewish atheist who was not born in the United States, accused her of conspiring to overthrow the then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and at times he even refers to her by her birth name, Alysa Rosenbaum, instead of Ayn Rand, in what appears to be an obvious ploy to accentuate her Jewish identity as a negative so as to indicate her Jewishness itself as a form of villainy. In fact, this is not his only instance of fairly open anti-semitism, and there are in fact some people who reckon he is more anti-semitic than even the notorious white nationalist Nick Fuentes. In any case, it seems that Caleb’s discussion of Ayn Rand ultimately overshadows any discussion of Anton LaVey, and as he goes on he quotes the last part of Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, Atlas Shrugged, as what he believes to be the distillation of “doctrinnaire Satanism”. The quote seems to be from John Galt’s speech and it goes like this:
Your acceptance of the code of selflessness has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he’s keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab. You know that you can’t give away everything and starve yourself. You’ve forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it’s your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn’t built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth. Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors.
And then he skips ahead to what appears to be the last line of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt’s “oath”, “I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.”. “Selfishness as a virtue”, Caleb Maupin decries with utmost self-assurance. In fact, he categorizes that John Galt speech as a “rejection of morality”. From a certain point of view, it may be possible to concur, but based on my familiarity with the philosophy of Objectivism it actually seems that the aim of Rand and her followers was in fact to create a different and new code of morality, one that just happened to center an enclosed, rational, acquisitive ego, a thereotically ideal capitalist subject, at the center of its ethical considerations. The Randians, perhaps much unlike Anton LaVey and his antecedents, would if anything go out of their way to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of objective morality, just that they think that they can base that objective morality on the precepts of capitalist acquisition (reified of course as “rational self-interest”) and obviously without any recourse to God or to any religious concept of what morality is. Of course, let’s not be too charitable to Rand here, because in many ways her philosophy is still incredibly foolish, misguided, appears to have destructive and oppressive effects on the world, and is ultimately, insofar as it can be counted as “egoism”, in truth a very narrow-minded and shallow form of egoism when compared to the philosophy of someone like Max Stirner; not to mention, let’s make no mistake, Ayn Rand herself was a cruel-minded and disgusting person who lauded colonial genocide and happily counted the murderers of children as her idols. But with that said let’s take note of Caleb Maupin’s characterization of the John Galt speech. He regards it simply as “evil”, on the apparent understanding that it teaches against empathy and against helping others. Not inaccurately, though, Caleb refers to it as “the ideology of capitalism”, though in reality Randian free market fundamentalism is only one of the many ideologies with which capitalism supports itself. We in bourgeois society merely single it out because it is more honest in its alignment with the interests of the concentration of capital and more brazen in the rejection of any obstacles to it, while the subtler and more cunning forms of capitalist ideology, which assume the form of the very opposite of Randian morality, often go unchallenged even by progressives.
There is a lot we can say about Caleb Maupin’s overall assessment of this expression of capitalist ideology, but a lot of that is what can also be said of Ayn Rand’s version of “egoism”. Caleb complains that capitalism as Ayn Rand’s “unknown ideal” positions a society where untrammeled “greed” nourishes the world, and that the problem of contemporary society is that greed is in some way suppressed or simply discouraged. For Caleb, greed is bad, for Ayn Rand, greed is good, but altogether neither of them understand anything. Taking communism seriously means understanding that, even on Marxist terms, the self-interest of the proletariat is the actual “mass progressive force”. The working class, conditioned as a labouring class, have done nothing but sacrifice their labour and its fruits so that others, more specifically capitalists, may benefit from it, to the point of their impoverishment via surplus extraction, so the revolution of the proletariat is in fact the pursuit of self-interest on class terms; the workers revolt so that they might restore what is rightfully theirs, which has hitherto been stolen from them and whose theft has always been legitimized with some “greater good”. “Greed”, in this setting, is in fact the weapon against the “greed” of the ruling class. For Caleb, whose “socialist” instincts are ultimately guided by FDR’s fanciful “war on want”, this is an unthinkable statement of immorality against morality, but for Ayn Rand, the rightful greed of the working masses cannot be recognized as greed or egoism because to her the masses are somehow incapable of the greed displayed by those few capitalist adventurers that are her ideal individualist. Both are wrong, and Caleb’s critique falls short because of it, because his “Marxism” is not “materialist” enough to realize the egoism of communism.
In any case, Caleb continues to rail against his construction of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and declaring it to be “Political Satanism” or “Doctrinnaire Satanism”, which I suppose is accurate if you consider Anton LaVey himself to be the sole expression of Satanism (and, of course, he wasn’t). It is “ideological capitalism”, and “anti-moralism”, the latter of which is funny because some observers would describe Karl Marx as “anti-moralist”. But the funny part is that Caleb also describes this construction as “what most of the elite in the United States believe”. This is where the real meat of Caleb’s thesis starts to present itself. Now Caleb claims that Ayn Rand is merely what the elites present to the masses, business majors, “edgy teenagers”, and the right-wing talk radio scene, while their “real” philosophical foundation, shared with the “more educated” strata of society, is Friedrich Nietzsche. Basically, his conspiracy theory is that Nietzsche is “the more sophisticated Ayn Rand”, and that the elites water down Nietzsche’s philosophy through Ayn Rand for the masses to consume. The fact that Nietzsche’s books are readily available for just about anyone to read and purchase is the most obvious problem with this thesis that Caleb simply does not care to grapple with. Caleb goes on to characterize Nietzsche, or more specifically via his book Beyond Good and Evil, as arguing that Christian teaching is a form of slave morality, whuch is thus contrived in order to console the weak, in contrast to the “master morality” which “worships strength”, supposedly embodied by the ancient Romans and Greeks who supposedly lived only for their own pleasure. Caleb claims that Nietzsche argued for a return to “might makes right” and “greed is good”.
Before we go any further, let’s stop and assess what Beyond Good and Evil says, to see if Caleb Maupin got anything right about it. From the start of the book, Nietzsche makes clear his opposition to all forms of philosophical dogmatism, describing all philosophical dogmatizing as “the infantile high-mindedness of a beginner”. When addressing egoism versus altruism, Nietzsche seems to consider that a hard opposition between the two is the creation of metaphysicians and argues that altruism actually bears an insidious relationship to egoism, and suggests that a new class of dangerous philosophers will arrive and be able to deal with this possibility. That doesn’t sound much like how Ayn Rand frames egoism and altruism. He did say that a “noble soul” accepts its egoism, though. Part of Nietzsche’s criticism of Christianity, and a lot of religion in general including Buddhism, is that he thought that these religions inculcated contentment with the harsh realities of the world and its order by placing them within “an illusory higher order of things”, but he also considered religion a means by which philosophers could educate and through which some people could elevate themselves to authority. It is true, though, that Nietzsche regarded Christianity as the worst of major religions, on the grounds that he believed it turned the human species into a herd animal, inverted all love for earthly things, and “turned all evaluations upside down”. As much as Caleb would disagree with that assessment, Caleb would make the same “turning all evaluations upside down” argument against what he deems “the Synthetic Left”. Regarding master morality and slave morality, in Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche actually seems to count charity or compassion as part of “master morality” on the grounds that he thought that the noble person would help the unfortunate out of an urgency created by an excess in their power. A tad naive on his part, I’d say, but it does punch a hole in Caleb’s idea that Nietzschean master morality was simply “might makes right” or “greed is good”; in fact it’s not obvious that this is relevant to the content of Beyond Good and Evil at all. Indeed, Nietzsche is not only not “anti-moralist”, he seems to concern himself with the subject of the cultivation and detoriation of moral values in a societal context; an arguably genuine “anti-moralist” would declare all talk of morality to be talk of fiction, and I am not convinced that Beyond Good and Evil really proposes this. For whatever else can be said of Beyond Good and Evil, I am fairly confident that Caleb Maupin is probably distorting its content.
It is on the subject of master morality that we discover another contradiction in Caleb Maupin’s thinking. Because, in spite of his defense of Christianity from the charge of slave morality and his condemnation of the constructed ideology of master morality, Caleb himself is a supporter of a kind of fascistic “master morality”, and nowhere is this more evident in his discussion of supposed “Odinist values”. Caleb has repeatedly stressed the virtues of what he refers to as “Odinist values”, by which he means the influence of a supposed “Germanic pagan ethos”. Of course, the irony of all this is that Caleb is, per his own description, a Christian. “Odinist values” in his parlance seems to just mean some abstract belief in the hard work of the individual, in self-sacrifice, grit, determination, “motor-mindedness” and entrepreneurialism, which, it is supposed, can come with an opposition to oversensitivity and weakness. Forgetting for a moment that almost none of this has anything to do with the actual pre-Christian Germanic religion or the actual character of Odin (Caleb in fact bases his entire idea of who Odin is on the work of Thomas Carlyle rather than any actual historical material on Norse/Germanic polytheism), if we understand master morality by Caleb Maupin’s definition, by which he means a glorification of strength at the expense of empathy, his own construction of “Odinist values” seems like it could be taken as an example of “master morality” by his terms, and yet he embraces it. On the other hand, it may be relevant to consider another interpretation of master and slave morality. What if appeals to “hard work” are a form of slave morality, imploring a person to consider that they will ultimately be rewarded if they obey their capitalist masters for long enough while heeping scorn and suspicion on anyone who suggests that perhaps this might just be a senseless grift? Still, the fact that Caleb Maupin has elsewhere stressed the idea that socialism should be associated with strength by appealing to the glories of the various authoritarian leaderships of figures like Joseph Stalin suggests that he leans on the side of “master morality”, which makes it all the stranger that he should condemn Nietzsche’s work.
Caleb ties the philosophies of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche together simply by how, in his view, they both casted “the People” as their enemy. On the basis of this, and after rambling about Nietzsche’s hatred of the Paris Commune, Caleb then goes on a bizarre pivot to discuss Leo Strauss, an influential neoconservative intellectual, and how he apparently is an exponent of “Political Satanism”. Caleb talks about how Leo Strauss argued that all the “great philosophers” had been persecuted throughout history and for this reason “wrote in code” so as to hide “what they really said” from “the rabble” who would “punish” them if they wrote without such “code”. He then goes on to say that this belief is animated by a broader belief that the intellectuals have always lived in fear of “the rabble”, supposedly just like Ayn Rand’s character John Galt or Nietzsche’s opposition to the Paris Commune, which is thus, according to Caleb, part of the belief system of “Doctrinnaire Satanism” which he claims believes that there are “chosen ones” who sit at the center of the elite and must be protected at all costs from “the rabble”. While it seems that Leo Strauss did espouse a belief that what he called “esoteric writing” was a widespread practice in philosophy, it would be a distortion on Caleb’s part to assume that the utility of “esoteric writing” concerns merely the protection of the elite from the masses. In fact, the practice can become very relevant in the context of totalitarianism, in which case the philosopher is not simply “protecting himself from the rabble” but instead concealing their real values from a totalitarian government that would have abducted and murdered them for going against the government’s ideological narrative. It seems telling that Caleb has not considered this possibility, and instead prefers to think only of “the elites” versus “the people”.
Then Caleb claims that Strauss argued that propaganda was needed in order to control the citizenry, supposedly modelled after his favorite show Gunsmoke, supposedly for the purpose of getting the masses to think of politics as just “good versus evil” so that they don’t rise up against the elites. Where even to begin with this? For starters, Strauss liked Gunsmoke because to him it was a great representation of the Hobbesian concept of the “state of nature”, not because it was some convenient narrative of “good versus evil”. Second, the whole delineation of politics along the lines of “good versus evil” via propaganda is exactly Caleb Maupin’s own enterprise. Remember, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, he literally described the Russian army and the pro-Russian separatists as the forces of good and the government of Ukraine and its allies as the forces of darkness allied with Satan. Remember that he describes a whole group of economists as “forces of darkness” set against an “inherently moral and religious” American people. For Caleb to attribute such thinking to Leo Strauss is entirely an act of projection, and, even if it wasn’t, the whole concept has nothing to do with Satanism. Satanists, if anything, tend to strive to break the power that the notion of good versus evil has over human consciousness, and to us the arts of negativity and subversion are ways of acheiving just such an end, so even if Caleb was correct about Leo Strauss, this would make Leo Strauss an opponent of Satanic liberation instead of its ally. Besides, as a man who forthrightly hated atheism and seriously considered the value of religion even as he was not an orthodox believer, Strauss would have opposed the sort of Randian or Nietzschean rejection of religion that Caleb assigns to “Doctrinnaire Satanism”.
Despite these facts, however, Caleb weaves together a constructed ideology of “protecting the freedom of the elites from the persecution of the rabble” as the ideological core of both neoconservatism and the so-called “Synthetic Left”. “Synthetic Left”, of course, is a term that Caleb Maupin created as a catch-all term for any expression of left-wing politics that opposes his own brand of socialism, with specific attention to online left-wing commentators such as ContraPoints and Vaush (who he namedrops at the very end of his video), with whom he has a frankly unhealthy obsession. Caleb claims that the Congress for Cultural Freedom was created to funnel money to “anti-communist” left-wing intellectuals who criticized American society while also criticizing the Soviet Union (the horror!). He names Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, and Herbert Marcuse as examples of “anti-communist” left-wing intellectuals. That Herbert Marcuse was himself a Marxist probably doesn’t bother Caleb much when making his arguments. In fact none of the individuals he names seem to have ever actually been affiliated with Congress for Cultural Freedom; the particular claim that Marcuse was affiliated with them seems to have originated in the LaRouche movement. What Caleb especially opposes about these intellectuals is how, according to him, they “reinterpreted” the concept of fascism away from Marxist orthodoxy (which he dubs the “scientific view” of fascism). Caleb asserts the “orthodox Marxist” view that fascism is essentially a crisis of capitalism and its resolution by the bourgeoisie (or one faction thereof) through authoritarian measures and the mass mobilization of the population to drive down living standards in the hope of stablizing capitalism. To summarize, this is the doctrine that “fascism is capitalism in decay”, as Lenin put it. Forgetting for a moment the simplicity and problems with this definition that could be discussed, the opposing perspective that Caleb constructs from “left-wing anti-communists” is that fascism is “when the rabble get together and start persecuting the intellectuals”. Caleb cites Fascinating Fascism by Susan Sontag and Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt as accounts of this definition of fascism, but this doesn’t seem evident in these works, or at best it’s a grotesque over-simplification. Sontag presents fascism as a totalitarian exaltation of the community carried out at the expense of rationality and individuality, while Arendt also largely (though not always) defines fascism in terms of totalitarianism. Ironically enough, the way Hannah Arendt refers to fascism as “the alliance of the Mob and Capital” in The Origins of Totalitarianism is actually rather well-aligned with the way Caleb Maupin seems to define fascism, and it seems obvious that the only reason he would not assume so is because Arrendt dare call it “the Mob”.
Of note is the way Caleb talks about Susan Sontag refers to communism as “fascism with a human face”. I see everything wrong with taking such statements at face value, but for this reason it’s worth noting that Caleb doesn’t seem to care to present her reasons for saying that. He doesn’t care about the fact that, by the time she was making those remarks, Poland had been repressing opponents of the pro-Soviet regime there, in a manner that she compared to right-wing repressions elsewhere. Her point is that the type of governance traditionally attributed to fascism is also very much possible within the “communist” or Marxist-Leninist framework, and this leads her to believe that democratic governance is not possible in that framework because of its denial. Caleb seems to dismiss this point, and derides Susan Sontag for referring to communism as “the most successful form of fascism”, but in so doing this Caleb ends up defending reactionary dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi as “communists”. Now, I don’t agree at all with Susan Sontag’s description of communism, for the simple reason that I don’t recognize the countries Sontag is clearly referencing as “communist”, but Caleb Maupin defending Hussein and Gaddafi as “communists” despite the fact that both leaders were openly anti-communist is a pretty easy way to prove her right, in my opinion.
The actual connection to Satanism is still incredibly thin if present at all, but we ostensibly see another contradiction in Caleb’s thought through his description of “Doctrinnaire Satanism”. He tells us that, at its core, “Doctrinnaire Satanism” believes that humans are evil. The problem there is that it’s Christianity that believes human nature is basically evil. Part of the core of Christian philosophy, and the very reason for Jesus Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, is that humanity has been corrupted by sin ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Now, I acknowledge that there are certain interpretations of Christianity that differ from this basic throughline, but it is baseline Christianity nonetheless, and for Caleb Maupin to imply that he opposes this is necessarily to imply that he is going against the basic core of Christianity, while still claiming to be a Christian. And yet, it is clear that Caleb means something else. By “human beings are evil”, he means the idea that “human beings are the problem”, and then, by implication, the idea that humans beings are animals. Satanists don’t tend to agree that humanity is necessarily “evil” or “the problem”, but if there’s one thing Caleb actually gets right about at least many Satanists, even if not all of them, it’s that we regard homo sapiens as another species of animal. Satanism, both LaVeyan and non-LaVeyan, tends to recognizes humanity as animals, and Caleb, naturally, as a Christian, has a problem with this conception. You see, in the opinion of Caleb Maupin, human beings are not animals. His argument for why human beings are not animals, while almost certainly a diversion from our main subject matter, does allow us the opportunity to address a sort of baseline Marxist conception of species-being relevant and discuss broader questions of what makes a human human in this setting.
Caleb refers to Friedrich Engels’ essay The Part Played by Labour in The Transition from Ape to Man (which he seems to have referred to “The Role of Labour in The Transition from Ape to Man”) so as to point to the argument that human beings are separate from animals not because of civilization (“an ant farm is a civilization”), not because they use tools (“you can see different animals using tools”), and not because of language (“some people argue that animals have a kind of spoken language”), but rather because humans supposedly have the unique ability to manipulate the environment around them. Caleb says that animals can only interact with their environment, whereas humans make the environment serve them, they master the environment around them. That does indeed seem to be Engels’ basic thesis, which is summarized by Engels as the following:
In short, the animal merely uses its environment, and brings about changes in it simply by its presence; man by his changes makes it serve his ends, masters it. This is the final, essential distinction between man and other animals, and once again it is labour that brings about this distinction.
There is an obvious problem with this idea. Humans are fundamentally distinguished from animals by their ability to manipulate their environment. The problem with this is that there’s many other species of animal that have done the same. Termites take the soil around them and mix it with saliva and shit in order to construct termite mounds, in this manipulating their environment in their own service. Ants similarly construct and carve through the soil around them in order to create the colonies in which they live. Beavers take branches and logs from trees in order to create dams, and in so doing manipulating and restructuring the enivronment around them in order to serve them in some way. In directly manipulating their respective environments, by this definition, we could say that ants, termites, and beavers are also human beings. But Caleb would say the difference is that humans also “constantly reinvent the way they interact with the environment”, meaning that while animals build their mounds and dams the same way for thousands and thousands of years, humans by contrast have gone from hunter gatherers to space travel and iPhones in just a few thousand years. On this basis, “there is something unique about mankind”. But is this not simply saying that what is unique about humanity is only its products? The difference then is merely iteration and what is produced, but the core trait is in no way unique to the human species, and is found in other animal species. In this sense, we would find reason to question the truth of this concept of species-being, or labour as human nature; and that’s really what this is, it’s essentially just the standard Marxist argument for what is otherwise just another appeal to “human nature”, the naturalizing basis of an only questionably natural civilization. Well, it’s almost standard Marxism, until Caleb adds the idea of humans being “endowed by their Creator” (there’s that familiar rhetoric from the Declaration of Independence, odd for a Marxist-Leninist wouldn’t you say?) with special abilities that make them separate from other species, thus we seem to have gone from the standard Marxist argument of labour as species-being to some kind of Christian argument about how God is the source labour’s power to transform the environment. The idea of labour as human nature, in itself, is also very questionable, at least when we get into our concept of what labour is. Labour is a social activity and this activity is essentially work, and work is not something that humans actually inherently want to do; it’s something that we are made to do or which we might be persuaded to agree to do. The idea that we could refer to such a relationship as “human nature” is laughable, because, if we take “human nature” seriously, we would define it as something that is constant prior to, beyond, and beneath the structures that we socialize ourselves into and which cannot be altered by our conscious efforts, and work simply cannot be described as such a thing.
In any case, Caleb believes that labour as Man’s ability to dominate and constantly reinvent the environment around them is the fundamental distinction of mankind from the animal kingdom, and, according to Caleb, the “Doctrinnaire Satanists” disagree with this premise. If they do, they’re quite right to, because it seems obvious that humanity does not actually control nature as much as they think. We certainly have no control over the Sun, the weather, the tectonic plates, the tides, or indeed the consequences of anthropogenic climate change. Even Engels, in the same essay Caleb cited, admitted that humans do not actually “conquer” nature the way that Caleb puts it or in the way that the standard Marxist doctrine might imply. Engels said thus:
Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who spread the potato in Europe were not aware that with these farinaceous tubers they were at the same time spreading scrofula. Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature – but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.
Nonetheless, Caleb specifically points to Anton LaVey’s belief that Man is just another animal, in LaVey’s words, “sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours” (Caleb paraphrases this but it is esssentially the same quote). This is indeed quoting Anton LaVey, and it’s also practically the only time in this entire video that Caleb ever actually does quote LaVey or discuss what he or the Church of Satan actually said. For most of the rest of his section on “Political/Ideological/Doctrinnaire Satanism”, there is no discussion of any extant Satanism, not even LaVeyan Satanism, and instead all discussion of so-called “Doctrinnaire Satanism” is actually practically a discussion of liberalism (in fact later on he literally does just call it “Doctrinnaire Liberalism”) or just the various ideologies and philosophies that Caleb Maupin simply doesn’t like, which is then presented as one monolithic ideology of “the elites must construct a society that protects the intellectuals from the rabble”, which of course is not an actual, serious ideology but instead a nonsensical populist construct. In this absurd ideological amalgamation, Caleb derives a worldview that promotes elitism and misanthropy, opposes compassion and empathy, views collective solidarity as totalitarianism, and dictates that a small elite must rule the world while the masses must be prevented from challenging the power of the elites. Telling, of course, is the part where Caleb talks about how “the elites view people coming together as totalitarianism”, because the simple truth is he probably defends the totalitarianism that people like Hannah Arendt point to. In fact, it is probably not for nothing that Caleb is much friendlier with actual self-described fascists than with leftists who are consciously anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian. Caleb opposes anti-totalitarianism on principle, as is certainly evidenced by his defense of totalitarian regimes, and does not appear to deny a link between totalitarianism and his desired form of politics even as he dismisses allegations of totalitarianism, which leads us to think that he is probably a supporter of totalitarianism, on principle.
There is an irony in Caleb’s spiel about the value of law, to the point of him even literally quoting the US State Department when it says “when law stops, tyranny begins”. The irony being that Anton LaVey, as a man who established himself as a law and order ideologue, would likely have felt the same way. But the other irony is that in this sphere Caleb reiterates what is fundamentally a conservative worldview: law is the source of freedom, only laws and morals protect the “weak”. This would require us to forget the many ways in which the law was arrayed against the “weak”, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the powerless etc, and the many hypocrisies of our so-called morality. The law protects old ladies from people strong enough to beat them up and take their purses, never mind why they should do so, but what is the law? None other than an organization of force capable of overpowering said criminals. Law does not supercede power; in truth, law is built on the power of the state’s exclusive monopoly on violence. How else does law get its power, if not the ability to enforce it through violence or the threat thereof? Even more egregious here is his apparent belief that it’s because of the law that your boss has to pay you a minimum wage. The times that the working class had to organize and fight, and risk being bashed by the long club of the law, in order to get such concessions from the ruling class in the first place are mentioned only so as to make the point that without the law their boss could do whatever they wanted. But it’s not without the law that the boss could pay his worker’s nothing but rather because of it, and it is because of law and its basis in the exclusive monopoly of violence that the whole system of wage, currency, and class that produces the conditions of exploitation even exists! Such an analysis, however, is simply too materialist for him. Instead Caleb prefers to speak of socialism or communism as a means to be “even more civilized than capitalism”. What a truly horrifying notion! Why would you wish for such a thing, knowing what the “civilizing” power of capitalism is, and what maintains it! No, I am being too presumptuous here; he very obviously doesn’t know in the sightest the true nature of this power. If he did, perhaps he would join me in calling for its total destruction, instead of masturbating to the thought of reaching a “higher order of civilization”, which, in truth, would be nothing more than a new order of oppressive waking nightmares.
There is something that needs to be said about Caleb’s construction of the “Satanic worldview”, especially of the fact that he frames it as the worldview of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, Susan Sontag, Irving Kristol, the “Synthetic Left”, and the right-wing all at once. Somehow people who critique and oppose capitalism are actually pro-capitalist and on the same side as right-wingers who hate them and probably want them to die. Every political force that Caleb hates somehow supports the same ideology. He reckons it’s because of this ideology that neoconservatives want America to invade “anti-imperialist” countries in order to install societies organized along the lines of this ideology, while he says the “Synthetic Left” regard any sort of collective unity or marching in unison or populism as fascism, dismiss communists as red-brownists, dismiss “class struggle” as “class reductionism”, supposedly in rejection of Marxist materialism, while regarding the United States and social media as the good guys and Russia, China, and Venezuela as the great world-historic villains. Utter nonsense. But according to Caleb, they all share the same “Satanic ideology”, and not only that but so do Wall Street, London, Paris, “the German bankers”, the London Stock Exchange, Harvard University, Yale University, all somehow believe. We’re left with the impression that the whole complex of bourgeois economic power, the whole spectrum of politics within capitalism, promotes Satanism and is controlled by the “elites” who want to suppress the masses and protect a special group of people through that suppression. This looks quite a bit like standard conspiracy theories about “Satanic elites” ruling the world, and it definietly amounts and builds to this. So it’s probably no surprise, then, that, as usual, this conspiracy theory places Jewish people at the center of its woes.
Think about all of the people Caleb has mentioned so far as exponents of “Doctrinnaire Satanism”. Most of them happen to be Jews. There’s Ayn Rand, for starters, and I’ve already explained Caleb’s anti-semitic fixation on Ayn Rand. There’s also Leo Strauss, who Caleb accused of wanting to brainwash the masses with propaganda about good versus evil to protect the elites, and he happened to be of Jewish heritage. Same with Irving Kristol, who Caleb mentioned briefly as one of the teachers of “Satanic” neoconservatism. Susan Sontag, whom Caleb derided for her left-wing opposition to totalitarianism, also happened to be of Jewish heritage. In fact, with the exception of Mary McCarthy, all of the left-wing “anti-communist” intellectuals Caleb mentions happened to be Jews. It makes you wonder, why did Caleb Maupin select these people specifically. He only talks about Susan Sontag and Hannah Arendt in some detail, while Mary McCarthy and Herbert Marcuse are just mentioned as people supposedly affiliated with the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Indeed, Irving Kristol is only mentioned once in the entire video. So just how is he relevant to all this? As for “the Synthetic Left”, in a book titled BreadTube Serves Imperialism, whose admirers include the Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, Caleb argues that “BreadTube” (basically just an assemblage of left-wing YouTubers) as we know it was created by a man named Steven Hassan, a famous cult deprogramming expert who happened to be Jewish. There’s a clear pattern emerging in the way Caleb constructs his enemies. In fact, in his article about “Odinist values”, Caleb refers both explicitly and implicitly to the Jewish backgrounds of neoliberal economists such as Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. Consider also how, in the past, Caleb openly talked about the idea of there being a “Satanic cabal of bankers” in the world. When examined in this context, it seems very self-evident that Caleb is arguing for an anti-semitic conspiracy theory in which Jewish “elites” are supposedly trying to spread “Satanism” and brainwash the masses in order to somehow prevent “socialism” or “communism” from being established. This, of course, comes as no surprise to a lot of people who’ve been examining conspiracy theories about Satanism for a while now, though I imagine Caleb Maupin would be furious about the suggestion. He certainly gets very angry if you suggest that his ideas have any commonality with fascism, as those who make the suggestion end up being accused of somehow trying to incite violence against him.
On “The Fourth Form of Satanism”
Finally we come to the “final type of Satanism”, the “fourth definiton of Satanism” if you will, for which it seems Caleb Maupin has no name. He says that it is not blatant, but it is “within all of us”. This is because it is “the part of yourself that is working against you”. Already this seems like yet another very loose interpretation of the fact that “Satan” means “adversary” in Hebrew, but which again misses the point. Very simply, Caleb describes it as “a voice in your head that gets in your way and says “There is no hope””. Or it interrupts your morning and tells you things like “what’s the point?”, “there’s no hope”, or “everyone’s against you”, or how it says “everyone’s gonna laugh at you”, “that’s stupid”, or “you’ll never succeed” when you want to accomplish something. This seems less like Satanism and more like a whole range of emotions mostly characterized by what we would call self-doubt, or arguably even depression. It certainly feels like he’s talking about depression when he brings in phrases like “you have no future”, “you have no value”, or “no one cares about you”. These can sound like things a person tells themselves when undergoing a profound state of despair or depression, possibly even a state of suicidal ideation. I have to be honest, I think there’s a grotesque side to it. Here it just seems like he’s trying to construct Satanism as some abstract synonym for anything bad, and in the process it seems like it’s just exploiting psychological suffering by treating it as some sort of religious type. Literally, the more he describes this “fourth form of Satanism” the less it seems like he’s talking about Satanism and more like depression, suicidal ideation, or perhaps a more generalized mode of psychological suffering or dysfunction that Caleb obviously doesn’t know much of how to talk about. At one point he refers to it potentially driving people to drug abuse in order to “silence that voice with drugs”. Then he compares it to the voice of an abusive parent, or abusive partner, or the result of a traumatic experience or hostile external conditions. Simply put, this “form of Satanism” is really just Caleb’s way of referring to the part of your soul or psyche that is actively trying to kill you, seemingly just for the sake of doing so. He thinks that that part of you is pessimism, which he seems to equate with depression.
This really is something that, on its own, should be addressed, because I’m just going to be straightforward about this: being a pessimist is not the same thing as being depressed. Pessimism is simply a way of saying that the negative tends to predominate things. It is usually interpreted as an emotional state where you don’t believe anything positive will happen to you, but there’s also philosophical pessimism which is generally a way of referring to a collection of philosophies that hold that suffering adversity, or meaninglessness pervade the cosmos in some way. In the Surrealist movement there is also a concept referred to as the “organization of pessimism”, by which Pierre Naville and Walter Benjamin meant a fundamental mistrust in the reconciliation of classes and in the hope of the positive reformation of the social order. I argue that such a perspective is actually the wellspring of the liberation of human consciousness, unfettered by the hopes generated by futurity. Depression isn’t any of this. Depression isn’t just when you feel sad about life or pessimistic about the world. Depression is an illness, not just a mental illness but a physical one. Depression is caused by adverse changes in the human brain, such as an undesired change in the functioning of neurotransmitters, and it actually has physical symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, decreased appetitie or a lack of or even excess of sleep, it can also increase your further susceptibility to illnesses or adverse physical conditions. Even on an emotional level, being depressed isn’t just when you’re sad, it’s more like when your body and your mind seem to be pressing down against you, like a weight beneath which you’re trapped. It’s not a simple matter of a “negative mindset” that can be changed with enough application, it’s something that often actually requires treatment. Caleb should really not be treating these concepts as though they are interchangeable, because this is a gross (but sadly all too common) misuse of clinical terminology, and its application here serves only to exploit real suffering in order to service some fake ideological construction.
Ultimately it seems that Caleb’s “fourth form of Satanism” probably shouldn’t even be termed “Psychological Satanism” or “Internal Satanism”, because as far as he is concerned, the “fourth form” is simply depression. Depression, here, is framed as “a destructive impulse within ourselves”. I would say that any scientific or professional assessment of depression simply wouldn’t agree with Caleb here, and they certainly wouldn’t have any time for anyone seeking to classify depression as a form of “Satanism”. The obvious problem with Caleb’s argument is that, by classifying depression as a “form of Satanism”, it thereby classes depression as some sort of religion or philosophy, which it simply isn’t. And it’s not something that can be batted away by platitudes such as “the best cure for it is other people”, especially when you establish that “other people” are just as well the cause as the supposed cure. Caleb blames the rise of “this fourth form of Satanism” on the purported rise of isolation. “Satanism”, thus, is blamed on loneliness. But it’s honestly such a convenient talking point when you think about it. We are told of our rapid isolation in the face of a reality defined by a rapid increase in our global interconnectivity. Even if you’re alone in “the real world”, it’s very possible to find arguably more acquaintances than you’ll ever have outside the internet, even if you never meet them. Some people even eventually find love halfway around the world. It’s pretty hard to take that as anything other than a sign of how increasingly connected we all are, and that connectivity has many blessings and many horrible curses attendant to it, like with many things in the world. I frankly don’t see what it is about merely socializing with others that has this inherent power to destroy pessimism or depression. If anything, it’s just as well possible that people can become pessimistic in their time with other people, for varying reasons, ultimately probably not reducible to people in themselves. Some people can live in solitude and even find it far healthier for them, even if most people don’t. The simple truth is that everyone is different, and it’s for this reason that there is no model of human nature, whether it’s “human beings are naturally acquisitive” or “human beings are inherently social” that can really do people any justice.
At the very end of the video we are told that Caleb’s discussion is merely the “opening remarks” of a broader presentation of Satanism. If that’s true, I honestly can’t say I look forward to any future content from Caleb on the subject of Satanism. Caleb proclaims that this is probably the first time you’ve ever heard a Marxist analysis of Satanism. I sincerely doubt that this is in fact the first time a Marxist has ever discussed Satanism in any capacity, but if it really is the first dedicated Marxist discussion of Satanism, then I’m sorry to say that the worst discussion of Satanism that I have ever seen was producd by a Marxist. Or, well, a very strange Christian populist fascist version of a Marxist I should say. Either way, I’m sure you get my point: if this really is the “first Marxist analysis of Satanism”, and I sincerely doubt that it is, it’s also the worst analysis of Satanism I’ve ever seen. Every single category of Satanism that Caleb constructs is entirely based in his own ideological construction, with almost no reference to any extant tradition of Satanism. Even his discussion of “Political/Ideological/Doctrinnaire Satanism” is largely based on his own construction and conspiracy theory, and the actual teachings of Anton LaVey are barely explored, and only serve as a basis from which he extrapolates a much larger and overshadowing anti-populist ideology he created himself to attribute to “the elites”. It’s all complete bullshit that has nothing to do with anything, and despite this Caleb seems entirely convinced that this is an accurate description of Satanism, or politics more broadly!
All I can say to make sense of the way Caleb frames Satanism is that it is ultimately consistent with the way the Russian establishment often likes to. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the concept of terrorism itself is described as “Satanism”. In fact, in a 2014 article written by a man named Yuriy Porodnenko for the website of the Ukrainian branch of the Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti, which can apparently be found on the Pravoslavie website, we can find the exact same analysis of Satanism that Caleb Maupin makes. According to Porodnenko, Satanism is the prevailing ideology of the Western bourgeoisie, was for all intents and purposes invented by Ayn Rand, and supposedly has been espoused by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Alan Greenspan. “Satanism” here is essentially used as a synonym for right-wing free market capitalist orthodoxy, not unlike the way Caleb Maupin defines “Doctrinnaire Satanism” as “the ideology of the elites”. Porodnenko also repeatedly refers to Ayn Rand by either her birth name or “Rand-Rosenbaum” similar to how Caleb Maupin did it in Satan at the Fountainhead. In this sense, there is a significant overlap between Caleb Maupin’s presentation of Satanism and the way Satanism has been presented in Russian state media, and since Caleb Maupin works for Russian state media (Russia Today) I think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that he may have developed his views on Satanism with the influence of Russian state media talking points.
This concludes my late response to Caleb Maupin’s video. I do not look forward to the possibility of having to write about Caleb Maupin’s views on Satanism again.
Over the last year I had undertaken a long period of historical research for an as yet unfinished project on the subject of Luciferianism. This research had lead me to the conclusion that Luciferianism is not the distinct religion or tradition that it presents in distinction from Satanism, and cannot even be interpreted as a distinct counter-culture as had been suggested, and that instead Luciferianism is nothing more than a name given to an extremely diverse set of esoteric belief systems that have little in common beyond the idea that they venerate Lucifer as a positive figure, separate from Satan and the context of Christianity, and even then some of these movements aren’t even distinct from Theistic Satanism in practice. As will be elucidated further in due course, Luciferianism in its historical and present context emerges as a kind Rorschach cultus in which almost any idea can be inserted into it, even Christianity.
Upon learning that Luciferianism was not a distinct tradition, I had initially leaned toward the idea of Luciferianism as a spiritual/occult counterculture, and that this could serve as a layer to be extended upon a larger religious worldview: of course, for me this meant Paganism, since my leaning and affection for it persisted in all my enterprises, even in times where I hadn’t considered myself a Pagan. This was the original spark of a larger mission to synthesize what I referred to as a “Left Hand Path Paganism”, for which I sought a suitable traditional context. Over time, however, the counterculture idea gave way as I realized doesn’t reflect the reality of what Luciferianism is or was. The basic project, however, continued, but certain ideas about “Left Hand Path Paganism” have now evolved and simplified as a better conception of such synthesis began to emerge.
As the title of this article suggests, this means the rediscovery and re-embrace of Satanism, and bringing together of Satanism and Paganism. I am fully aware that this idea would be hated by many Pagans and polytheists, and not to mention some Satanists, but it is the path that I wish to follow. What I seek to present is an adversarial stance, one that is at once an expression of a particularly transgressive take on Paganism and an expression of Satanism in a vastly renewed sense.
The Trouble With “Luciferianism” (No Offence to Luciferians)
I first encountered and/or engaged with Luciferianism as an idea was back in 2015. By that point I had been a Satanist for two years, but for whatever reason that I don’t quite understand anymore I felt that there was something missing in baseline Satanism. It’s probably impossible for me to explain what that actually was nowadays, but I think it involved some bullshit about a spiritual component focused on something more than rebellious and “egoist” hedonism; I say bullshit, because it’s pretty obvious that you can derive a thorough-going antinomian from Satanism. Anyways, at that time a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of what was then called the Greater Church of Lucifer, and I got in touch with one of their members, a man by the name of Vincent Piazza (who, sadly, has since passed away). I never joined the GCOL, but I was active on their Facebook pages and supported them until around 2019. Of course, I never forgot about them either, and that’s how I ended up finding out what Jacob McKelvy’s been up to all these years. Anyways, initially I saw the GCOL’s brand of Luciferianism as “the next level of Satanism” and identified with both Luciferianism and Satanism, but beginning in 2018 I got the idea to develop transcultural understanding of Luciferianism as a distinct entity from Satanism focusing largely on the West. This combined with certain political developments ended up leading to a lapsing away from what I understood to be Satanism, and to be fair I’d been burned out by a dissatisfaction with a lot of the modern Left Hand Path movements and certain discoveries of the Church of Satan. But that idea ended up developing in all sorts of convoluted ways before finally I abandoned it. The reason comes down to the nature of Luciferianism as a category.
Luciferianism is often presented as a codified belief system that is similar but strictly separate and distinct from Satanism. But the truth is that this only loosely true, and more accurate for some expressions of Luciferianism than others. In fact, I’m willing to assume that almost everything you will probably read about Luciferianism from occult circles is either simply wrong or just based solely on individual subjective interpretation. Even the Wikipedia for Luciferianism is a funny example of how much bullshit you can encounter by attempting to get a good definition of it for yourself. The article states that Luciferianism “does not revere merely the devil figure or Satan but the broader figure of Lucifer, an entity representing various interpretations of “the morning star” as understood by ancient cultures such as the Greeks and Egyptians”. That’s not universally true or even remotely apparent from any of the material I’ve poured through, with the exceptions of Charles Matthew Pace and possibly Michael W Ford, and what’s more the citation refers to an article that doesn’t even mention Egypt.
In reality, Luciferianism is not a distinct belief system, and nor can it be thought of as a kind of esoteric counterculture as I had theorized in the past. Instead it makes more sense to think of it as a placeholder, just a name given to any belief system that specifically venerates Lucifer as something other than Satan, and very typically this is presented in a context that is theoretically, but not always, separated from Christian culture; in practice, this usually means venerating Lucifer as a pagan or neopagan god, a “Gnostic” angel, or even a Christ-like figure or a being that is co-identical with Jesus Christ, or still even an avatar of God himself. There is no single doctrine under the name Luciferianism, not even pertaining to who Lucifer is. Different Luciferians will present very different ideas of just who Lucifer is and what his role is. There is also no consistent shared tradition that can accurately be referred to as a singular “Luciferian Tradition”, and individual Luciferians will have very different ideas about ritual praxis as well as theology. So, in practice, Luciferianism is a kind of Rorschach inkblot into which people may insert any number of ideas about it, and about Lucifer, upon it. Unfortunately, this increasingly seems to mean rebranded Christianity.
There is a tendency within contemporary Luciferianism that aligns itself with a sort of mystical Christianity, seeking to assert the value of Christianity as a religious framework in a way that is still fundamentally heterodox in relation to mainstream Christianity. This means venerating Lucifer as a light-bringer and liberator, having nothing to do with Satan or The Devil or anything of the sort, alongside Christian figures including Jesus, and practicing a synthesis of Christianity and witchcraft. At first I thought the Church of Light and Shadow were the only people doing it, and when I found about them, I have to admit I found them interesting if solely because they appeared to challenge prevalent ideas about what a witch or a Luciferian can be. But their approach seems to have travelled far enough that more Luciferians adhere to it, and so we see people like Christopher Williams, a self-described Gnostic Luciferian, argue against “demonizing” God, defend Christianity through apologetics, and espouse a belief system in which Lucifer and Lilith are manifestations, and not adversaries, of God, and that the Demiurge was created by them as part of God’s will. This is, in practice, an affirmation of Christianity and its God, albeit on Gnostic terms, and it is not anti-Christian, only anti-establisment and anti-reactionary within the scope of Christianity. I’ve also seen that Johannes Nefastos may have incorporated aspects of Christianity as part of his theosophical brand of Gnostic “Satanism”, and according to some he argued that Jesus was a god-man and the Pope has legitimate magical authority. Michael Howard believed that Jesus was one of the many incarnations of Lucifer, here interpreted as an avatar of “the true God” who willingly “fell” from heaven and incarnated on earth again and again in order so that all of humanity could be enlightened and freed from their worldly imperfection. So as it turns out, even the “separate from the Christian context” part isn’t completely true.
Luciferianism, thus, is essentially just a name for any esoteric doctrine that revolves around Lucifer and defines Lucifer separately from Satan, thus revering Lucifer in lieu of Satan. One of the obvious problems with this alone is that even Satanists have defined Lucifer separately from Satan. For Anton LaVey, Lucifer was one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell, in particular an agent of enlightenment or illumination in all senses, especially intellectual; in fact he seems to have referred to Lucifer as “The Enlightenment”. Satan in his worldview is more distinctly and generically the adversary, more a figure of negation than illumination, and even moreso an emblem of human carnality than intellectualism. In The Satanic Bible, LaVey wrote that “Without the wonderful element of doubt, the doorway through which truth passes would be tightly shut, impervious to the most strenuous poundings of a thousand Lucifers”. The suggestion would be that the principle of doubt, connected to the nature of Satan as the adversary, is the principle that begets and supercedes mere illuminated of the truth, but in this sense Lucifer as the light-bringer is clearly established in distinction, though not necessarily contradiction, to Satan, and this is done without any recourse to the concept of Luciferianism on LaVey’s part. And there are others apart from LaVey we can discuss for our purposes. August Strindberg (who called himself a Satanist at least in the sense that to him this meant that the world was governed by the principle of evil), for a much more pessimistic mythos, cast Satan and Lucifer as opposites, the former as the evil ruler of the world and the latter as a sort of culture hero who also brought floods, pestilence, and war. And meanwhile, there are many forms of Luciferianism that are practically indistinguishable from many forms of Theistic Satanism in terms of ethos, praxis, aesthetics, and even views on the nature of Lucifer, such that the difference is mostly a matter of identity.
My point is that once you understand Luciferianism in historical and contemporary terms, you learn that it’s not really a concrete “thing”, there’s no continuous cohesive object that can be called Luciferianism, not even in its mythos, and even its basic criteria often finds itself fulfilled outside of and without the identification of Luciferianism. All of this is, of course, not a knock on Lucifer himself. After all, he is a magnificent devil in any case. But Luciferianism seems to be a wild card of belief systems that, in truth, may consist of absolutely anything, even if it’s just Esoteric Christianity. After realising that, I went from seeing Luciferianism as a counter-culture that can be superimposed upon a co-existent religious worldview to seeing that what I thought about as “Left Hand Path Paganism” was going to mean something else. Attendant to this came the rediscovery of Satanism.
In appreciating Satanism we must first understand first and foremost that it is not a mere expression of Christianity, nor is it merely a waste product of the Christian experience. Such judgements are invariably derived from a superficial reading of the fact of Satan’s origins in the Jewish and Christian mythos, and can ultimately only be characterized as a cope. If we followed this logic to the letter, Christianity itself would be a form of Paganism precisely on the basis that its God, who we must remember was called Yahweh, was originally part of a polytheistic pantheon of deities worshipped in ancient Israel and that at least the Old Testament of the Bible seems set in what is practically still a polytheistic cosmos, in that many gods exist, with the caveat that you are only allowed to worship one of them. If that idea sounds like nonsense, which it is, then by this standard to regard Satanism as mere Christianity is equally ridiculous. Instead, Satanism is best understood as a post-Christian worldview, one which may derive mythos from Christianity but otherwise transcend and surpass it. Everything from narrative, symbology, aesthetic, theology, philosophy, and ritual praxis takes a form antagonistic to Christianity and arcs towards a diametrically opposed worldview that functions in one of its many capacities as the negation of Christianity. And this negation does not only take the form of some prosaic atheism either, even though that is the face of “mainstream” Satanism as presented by most media. Rather, Satanism – theistic, atheistic, otherwise – is best understood as having built itself around the power of active, conscious negation, expressible in the form of literal divinity or a more abstract symbol.
Admittedly, there was a time Satanism. Indeed, Satanism nowadays doesn’t have a very good reputation in “the left” and/or parts beyond due largely to the perception that it is little more than “Ayn Rand for goths”. Of course, as I hope to show, this is ultimately a nonsensical prejudice based on an uncritical acceptance of the legacy of Anton LaVey as the heritage and starting point of Satanism as a concept. But the idea that it is true has had some very devastating effects. LaVey’s right-wing Objectivist influences were bad enough, but finding out that he had a whole network of fascist friends, including the likes of James Mason and James Madole, and that the Church of Satan was institutionally pro-fascist for decades, was deeply disturbing. At a time where I had basically been trying to connect with more of a left-wing politics, I ran into difficulties, got lost along the way, and suffered a form burnout triggered by the onset of demoralisation, which was in turn elicited by what I at the time perceived as a general decline in the modern Left Hand Path. In retrospect, a part of that may come down to some expectations that have since been shed, but at the time it may have seemed like the stagnation and the possibility of the movement being consumed by reaction had overwhelmed me back then.
One of the things that most obviously defines Satanism is egoism. The Satanic Temple and similar groups don’t lay a great stress upon this point, and arguably obfuscate it in their retreat to contemporary humanism. The trouble, of course, is that when people think of egoism and especially in a Satanic context, they think of Ayn Rand due mostly to the fact that Anton LaVey based his own version of Satanism and the ideology thereof partially around the philosophy of Ayn Rand. This in many ways is the effect of LaVeyan/post-LaVeyan orthodoxy having been allowed to ossify around Satanism for as long as it has, and there is no reason for anyone to think that this is how things must stay. Max Stirner, who first elaborated what can be understood as modern egoism before Ayn Rand could have any say in the matter, presents to us a profound apophatic egoistic worldview far removed from the narrow rational “egoism” that Rand espoused. Its concept of self is not a propertied essence of rational calculation but instead a negativity, a creative nothing, indefinable in the precise sense that the individual, the Einzige, cannot be defined by prescription or shared essence. This egoism, when taken seriously in its negative content, dovetails nicely with nihilism, and could perhaps be thought of as nihilism as well as egoism. In this sense, it should come as no surprise the first man to present us with a self-defining Satanism, far from and long before Anton LaVey, was a nihilistic egoist anarchist named Stanislaw Przybyszewski. But even so, it is the connection and intersection of these concepts, more than that one man, which defines the true radical content and heritage of Satanism.
But even this might well just be scratching the surface. Even before Stanislaw Przybyszewski, there were apparent attestations of people who were referred to as “Sathanists”. According to Laurentius Paulinus Gothus, via his Ethica Christiana written in the early 17th century, there existed a small cult in Sweden centered around the worship of Satan, or Sathan, who they believed was a god capable of bringing them hidden knowledge and treasures; this cult Gothus referred to as “Sathanists”. The “Sathanists” were said to have practiced black magick and witchcraft, ritually sworn fealty to Satan/Sathan, partook of lust, gluttony, dancing, and various “orgiastic excesses”, sought hidden riches with Satan/Sathan’s help, and apparently even had sex with demons. I have no certainty as to the actual evidence for this cult’s existence besides Gothus’ testimony, and there are good reasons to be skeptical. Christian pronouncements about satanic cults have often, and the themes presented here are familiar in view of certain ludicrous ideas proposed about the so-called “Luciferians” and Heinrich Kramer’s sordid tropes about “witchcraft” as presented in Malleus Malificarum. Still, it is an attestation of a term like “Satanist” in reference to a belief system, not just Christians who happened to be considered wicked, and there is arguably minimal reason to suggest that this reference was completely made up.
Through all that, though, we should find our way back to the essence of Satanism, prior to and without the humanism of groups like The Satanic Temple or the reactionary ideology of people like Anton LaVey or Michael Aquino, in view of Przybyszewski’s philosophy. I intend to write a much larger examination and commentary of his book The Synagogue of Satan in time, but for now let us say that, while Przybyszewski did consider the principle of Good to be that of negation insofar as he saw it as the negation of life, since in his view what is called Evil is in fact the basis of life itself, Satanism itself is none other than the religion of negation or negativity in the precise sense that it is the religion of (in his words) à rebours; that is, lawlessness, going “the wrong way”, the reversal of the law and of the order of things. Satan, in this sense, is the god of the eternally evil, and this evil is the negativity of lawlessness, the negation of all fixed values (the values “sanctified by law”). Lawlessness is negation as “contrary projection into the future”, which topples the order of things and the norms of the world so as to truly unfold the possibilities of becoming. That which is great emerges from negation, or as Przybyszewski says the negation of negation (in the sense that Good is the negation of life and you are negating Good), and negation through delirium frees individual consciousness in the forgetfulness of ecstasy (thus the word of the Satan-Paraclete is enivrez-vous; “to get drunk”). Satan, for Przybyszewski, is the god of evil, which is in fact good, the god of lawlessness and defiance, hence the negation of law and order, the god of boundless curiosity and heroic arrogance, the lord and master of the physical universe and the emblem of the evil, the god who continually creates and destroys and shatters the boundaries of human thought. In short, Satan is not simply the eternal humanist who stands up against tyranny, superstitition, or “unjust hierarchy/authority”; he is instead the eternal active nihilist, the negation of all authority, the negation of law and order itself, the negation of society, the negation of all fixed values, and he is the thus the transgressive negativity from which true greatness, creativity, and flourishing springs forth. In short he is the precept of Negativity itself, for which Eliphas Levi called him an instrument of liberty. Magick, black masses, satanic sabbaths, witchcraft, intoxication, sex, and defiance of society could be thought of as acts of worshipping Satan. Against Satan is God, representing Good, which for Przybyszewski means humility, submission, poverty of spirit, stupidity, and the pursuit of life as nothing but an imitation of God in the hopes of admission into his invisible kingdom.
Satanism does not make Satan into a new principle of Goodness or a god of light, for Satanists, insofar as we venerate and honour Satan, know that Satan is the “fallen angel”, the Devil, the Prince of Darkness, the Adversary, the seducer, and we venerate and honour Satan because of those things. Satanism does not deflect darkness or evil onto their enemies, because it is Darkness that we honour and worship. It is predictable , but making sense of the perspective of Satanism I’m setting out means making sense of Satanism through the concept of negativity. I plan to spend a lot more time talking about this here, but I find that the best lens with which to intrepet the negativity of Satanism is the in the queer negativity elaborated by baedan, a journal of queer nihilism written by the collective of the same name, who reject the liberal/progressive idea of queerness as something to be socially integrated and instead favour the idea of queerness as a radical negation of society and civilization. This isn’t simply to be understood as merely living the role set for you by society, but refer to view the negative image as a nexus of liberation via the quality of negation and aggression and a view to society’s taboos and fears. The Satanist, following this negativity, instead of shying away from the aggression of negation in order expel the fear of society, actively takes on the role of the adversary, that is to say the destroyer and negator of the order of the world, which is to say the true liberator.
By embracing Darkness, through the negation of the order of the Good, you open up the space for your own becoming, liberation, and, in the Satanic sense, apotheosis. By destroying boundaries and lighting the Black Flame, the divine fire of the creative nothing, the glow of the black void of potentiality, you open the path towards your own elevation towards god-becoming, the evolution set forward by the influence of Satan. Unlike other religions, Satanism places the liberation of, not from, the self at the center of spiritual praxis, and this liberation arcs towards the realization of the individual as its own creator, its own divine force. This high goal is often lost on those who wish to dismiss or typecast Satanism as little more than basic self-indulgence so as to elevate their own similar esoteric systems against it. And, by grounding Satanic individualism and selfhood in negativity, rather than the rational subject of Ayn Rand, the foolish accumulation of the capitalist subject, or the fascist re-interpretation of the Nietzschean Ubermensch so prevalent in certain corners of the Left Hand Path, it is in fact quite easy to see Satanic individualism as not a folly but as the profound spiritual philosophy of resistance and defiance and the key to the mystery of liberation.
In the midst of this we should revisit the center of Satanism: Satan. What is Satan, and why is Satan so central to Satanism? Satan is the central character of Satan because Satan is the first egoist. There is a prominent idea inherited from the trope of Romantic Satanism received from Enlightenment-era poetry and which has passed down from John Milton’s Paradise Lost: the idea of Satan as the first rebel, and building off of this, the idea of Satan as the first (or indeed “last”) humanist. This idea is at the cornerstone of many interpretations of Satanism. The Satanic Temple, for instance, takes up a similar premise of Satan as “rebellion against tyranny” and tries to weaponize idea this for their purposes. Anton LaVey took a similar but thematically different approach, in that Satan for him was a symbol not only of rebellion and non-conformity but also of Man’s actual nature as a carnal and selfish being, whose rebellion is directed against all moral and social barriers to the fulfill of that carnal and selfish nature. Rebellion against unjust authority is a concept that, while often attached to Satanism, can and has been attached to concepts beside Satan; modern polytheists frame the gods as rebels against unjust authority as well, Christians occasionally do it for Jesus, and in Chinese society there has long been a tradition of divine justification for overthrowing rulers who consistently failed to uphold Confucian virtue or morality (there’s also a similar Lutheran concept in which the tyrant is called the Beerwolf, and to rebel against and even kill the Beerwolf was justified by the Beerwolf’s own subversion of the moral order). But Satan is not merely a rebel against “unjust” authority, and Satan does not derive the legitimacy of rebellion from some legal right of rebellion or the writ of some concept of “natural law”. Satan’s rebellion is against all authority, and is indeed rebellion in itself, emergent from the egoism of Satan. Satan refuses to accept the authority of God, and refuses to bow down before Adam, because Satan asserts his Ownness and rejects the rule of the others, and negates all authority set before himself. Satan doesn’t simply liberate humans from tyranny, he rebels, he devours, he wars against the light in the name of himself. It is by his own example that Satan brings the light of the Black Flame to mankind for all to see, heradling the eternal quest of rebellion so that those who wish to join him in battle against God may do so willingly. By this and by the whispers of temptation, mankind is invited to shed the shackles of the spirit that it brings upon itself or are foisted upon it in order to awaken the Black Flame that is none other than the Creative Nothing, none other than the power of Darkness and of Ownness. This is Satan, the egoist who rebels not simply against the unjust but against all power and for himself, and who invites others to join him in the same rebellion.
In this sense, I can stress that Satanism really isn’t like many other religions when it comes down to its spiritual-philosophical basis as far as the true significance of Satanic rebellion and Satanic egoism is concerned. Insofar as there are multiple forms of Luciferianism that stress against egoism, it is inevitable that Satanism could be seen to diverge from a lot of what is called “Luciferianism”, though of course there is no one single “Luciferian” doctrine for Satanism to contrast with. Satanism also differs itself strongly from Thelema in that, although both thematically overlap in their anti-Christian transgression, the end-point of Crowley’s spiritual path was the surrender of individual selfhood to the Abyss and a core component of Thelemite ethics is the concept of the True Will, which is probably not to be conflated with the individual self, ego, or even Stirner’s Einzige/Ownness and is instead to be thought of as a sort of specialized teleological destiny imparted by the cosmos. Of course, Satanism also tends to differ from much of Paganism in its particular relationship to the gods. But, the intersection between those two worlds is something that bears further exploration.
Having elaborated the subject of Satanism, let us now elaborate Paganism. And, of course, any discussion of Paganism must invariably touch on exactly what we mean by “Paganism”? Paganism is often explained as an umbrella term for numerous religious movements, typically in the “Western” context, that embrace a worldview usually based around the idea of restoring the religious traditions and belief systems that existed before the rise of Christianity to some extent, but this on its own still does not adequately explain things. That concept itself is something of a compound identity, bringing together numerous ideas ranging from engaging with a multitude of gods and spirits, worshipping those gods in the form of idols, worshipping the ancestors, worshipping nature or at least to the extent that the gods were worshipped as parts of nature or within them, animism, sometimes practicing magick, venerating the cycles of nature through ceremony, and so on. What makes the concept of Paganism tricky to discuss is not just that the way we use the term was established by Christians to attack both non-believers and rival Christians, but also the fact that, for a lot of modern Pagans, being Pagan is actually less about what you believe and more about what you practice.
Making sense of modern Paganism requires getting into the distinction between a few camps within the movement. One such camp is reconstructionism. This refers to polytheists seeking to reconstruct the historical traditions of the pre-Christian religions as closely as possible, based on historical sources to the greatest extent possible. This includes Hellenists (reconstructing ancient Greek polytheism), Heathens, (typically reconstructing Norse and Germanic polytheism), Kemetists (reconstructing Egyptian polytheism), practitioners of the Religio Romana (Roman polytheism), Celtic polytheists, Gaulish polytheists, Slavic polytheists, Semitic polytheism, and so on. The general praxis of reconstructionism is also applied to traditions that otherwise aren’t considered “Pagan”, such as Aztec polytheism. Then there is the camp often referred to as “Eclectic Paganism”. This typically means not being bound to a single tradition and bringing together a wide range of different ideas into one single framework, guided by personal experience and a generalized “ethos” characteristic of Paganism; that at least is how it is generally explained. There is also something to be said about the concept of “Neopaganism” in relation to all of this. In theory, Neopaganism as a term simply refers to the modern or contemporary practice of Paganism. In practice, however, within the Pagan community and especially among reconstructionists, the term “Neopaganism” tends to refer very specifically if not almost solely to the new iterations of Pagan religion that emerged from the 19th or 20th century or later and have practically little to do with the original pre-Christian traditions. For example, this includes belief systems such as Wicca, the modern Druidic movement, basically anything from Robert Graves, and contemporary forms of neopagan witchcraft, and in practice can include belief systems that borrow from the New Age movement. Sometimes Eclectic Paganism itself is regarded as a synonym of Neopaganism. I would consider Romantic movements such as the Shelley Circle to be Neopagans in that, even if as an extension of the rationalist atheist critique of Christianity along with religion in general, they lauded “classical” pre-Christian religion as a more enlightened and prosaic religion closer to the truth than the “miserable creed” of Christianity. Similar efforts but from a very different set of ideological perspectives are found in certain German Romanticists who, during the 20th century, built a more or less neopagan movement on top of an esoteric romantic ideology. It should be stressed, however, that serious neopaganism didn’t seem to be the dominant voice of the Romantic movement, and in the end Romantic neopagans found themselves overshadowed, denounced, and ultimately persecuted by the Nazis, none of whom, not even Himmler or Rosenberg, were ever really Pagans (the overwhelming majority of Nazis were Christians and the Nazi Party from the beginning espoused its own brand of revisionist “Positive Christianity”, which sought to purge all trace of perceived “Jewish influence” from Christian doctrine).
Where do I fit into this, you ask? I think that the bulk of that is perhaps better elaborated when we unravel what “Satanic Paganism”, but I think it’s worth addressing here from a personal context. For so long in my life, before I even decided I wanted to be a Satanist back in 2013, I have had a noticeable affinity with Paganism, one that had never completely died out, and if anything has been deepening over the last year. If I had to explain why, I’d say that I think there’s a lot to do with the way Paganism seemed to sacralize the natural world, and with the idea of pre-Christian myths conveying all sorts of wisdoms and spiritual narratives, some of which preceded or even anticipated Christianity, but many of which seemed very different from the Christian message. Certain ideas about life, death, and rebirth, probably drawing from ancient mythology but also probably harking back to ancient Greek mystery traditions, have and continue to be deeply influential in my appreciation of Paganism and my overall spiritual thought. Over the years my appreciation for Paganism took on many different forms, even in times where I thought I had moved on from it. It’s almost like there’s an urge there, some spark that always reasserts itself. But, for reasons that will become apparent if they aren’t already, I cannot see myself as a reconstructionist, not in terms of what my path is.
I stress that I support the reconstructionist efforts to restore pre-Christian traditions across the world, and I think that aspects of reconstruction at least in the sense of authenticity to history are an important influence. It’s just that the approach to Paganism I wish to embody cannot accurately be classed as reconstructionist, for the simple reason that it doesn’t fit neatly into the existing traditions, obviously due to the fact that it means to blend with a rediscovered Satanism and carries in this the ethos of the Left Hand Path, and therefore is almost by definition a “non-traditional” approach. Reconstructionists, as far as I have seen, would have a problem with that, and in general I find that reconstructionists often don’t have much patience for that which doesn’t completely comport with historical polytheistic tradition. Because of this I find that the extent to which I am Pagan is definitely very eclectic, and has to be so because of the parameters and contours of my intended path, not to mention that I do indeed see myself taking on board a number of influences to build my path. That said, for Paganism as a whole, reconstructionism isn’t exactly dispensable, and there’s a standard of historical authenticity that informs my own approach. But even then, even in the reconstructionist approach in practice, modern reconstructionists tends to incorporate quite a fair bit of UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis), which is naturally accepted on the basis of the acknowledgement that it is just UPG. And that’s sort of inevitable when dealing with the transmission of older religious frameworks long assumed to be extinct into the modern era, as well as the fact that, with a few exceptions, the full contents of most polytheistic traditions are completely lost to time, either because they were wiped out or because they were simply never preserved in writing except for some myths that were only put to parchment after Christianity took over.
Now with that established, the term “Pagan” itself can capture something fairly distinctive that I think has always had some resonance for me, though many traditional polytheists may seem to take umbrage with it. Kadmus Herschel describes it in True To The Earth, where he elaborates that the term in its regional context captures a rustic attachment to nature that is then given religious expressivity. Many reconstructionists don’t like to define pre-Christian religions in terms of nature worship, but while it is almost certainly inaccurate to reduce those religions to some concept of nature worship, we can find a number of instances where elements of the natural world were themselves worshipped as gods rather than simply represented by anthropomorphic deities. The Greek goddess Gaia, for example, was literally the earth itself, not just a representation of the earth. Gaia’s former husband, Ouranos, was the sky itself and not simply the god of the sky. At least some rivers, such as Scamander, were not simply represented by anthropomorphic river gods, rather those river gods were often literally the rivers themselves. And even when the gods themselves were not worshipped as physical elements of nature, parts of the natural world were often consecrated to gods, and so held sacred. This would include the forest held sacred to the Gallo-Roman goddess Arduinna in parts of what is now Belgium and France, the grove sacred to the god Adonis at Afqa in Syria, a grove scared to the goddess Nerthus and a whole woodland sacred to Thor (who Roman audiences interpreted as Hercules) according to Tacitus’ account of Germanic pagans, the oak tree that was sacred to Donar/Thor, and the forest of Caill Tomair in Ireland that was also sacred to Thor. According to Tacitus, at least, the ancient Germanic pagans worshipped their gods in trees, as the closest links between the gods and humans. Celtic pagans held rituals in groves, overseen by deities such as the goddess Nemetona, and other pre-Christian polytheists considered groves to be sacred spaces. Over time, reverence for trees and groves came to be understood as a trope for Christians when talking about returns to paganism, and from this nature worship came to be part of modern understandings of modern Paganism that extend from the “rediscovery” of Paganism during the Enlightenment into the present day. In pre-Christian Slavic polytheism, the gods were sometimes worshipped in sacred places where there were no man-made structures and the gods manifested in nature itself. For many polytheistic religions, sacred groves and forests were counted as the official centers of worship, where important community rites were carried out, and any violation of this space meant an attack on the community itself. In this, the idea that Paganism is a “nature-based religion” or that it involves “nature worship” is not really inaccurate.
But of course, to reduce Paganism to solely a sacralization of nature or natural states is reductive to the point of being ahistorical. After all, contrary to the popular idea that humans came up with the gods as reifications of natural forces that they merely didn’t understand, several of the gods of polytheism barely have anything to do with the natural world as we understand it. Insofar as we may venture to understand the gods of polytheism in terms of what they were “gods of”, there are gods of marriage (such as Hera, Hymen, Frigg, Pushan etc.), music (Apollo, Sarasvati, Ihy, Bragi etc.), law or justice (Tyr, Mitra, Lugh, Ma’at etc.), commerce or wealth (Mercury, Cernunnos, Lakshmi, Njord etc.), agriculture (Yarilo, Dagon, Sucellus, Dagda etc.). smithing and craftsmanship (Hephaestos, Ptah, Gofannon, Vishvakarman), and kingship (Horus, Anu, El, Baal etc.) to name a handful of things. Some gods are gods of both natural things and human constructs. Zeus, for example, is a god of law and order as well as the sky. Utu is a god of law as well as the sun. Demeter is also a goddess of law, as well as a goddess of the earth. Pan is a god of music as well as the wild. Ukko is a god of agriculture as well as the sky and thunder. Freyr is a god of kingship and war, as well as the weather and virility. Svarog is a god of smithing as well as the sky. Veles is a god of commerce, as well as a god of water, earth, magic, and the underworld. We can’t forget that almost none of the gods of polytheism were ever just gods of one thing or another, and sometimes multiple gods share the same domain or function. On top of that, across the old polytheistic religions, the gods had numerous epithets that represented various characteristics and functions attributed to them.
In a sense, it’s still true that Paganism, in both a modern and a historical sense, believes in a natural world that is considered divine or imbued with divine presence to some extent or another, and this likely lends itself to modern interpretations entailing nature worship, which may or may not have been applicable to the original pre-Christian religions. Though, of course, some pre-Christian traditions were arguably closer to some idea of “nature worship” than others, such as Germanic polytheism with its worship of the various nature spirits alongside the gods and the worship of gods and spirits in trees and natural environments. Pre-Christian polytheism often tended to intersect with animism in this regard, especially in traditions such as Heathenry, and some even argue that some form of pantheism is also part of this rich picture. Still, for historical Paganism, one of the larger points is the idea that divine exists in multiplicity, that divine presence is not one but many. Of course, even before Christianity emerged, later developments of pre-Christian polytheistic ended up prefiguring the monotheism that would later dominate “the West”, or later ideas of “universal religion” that would stretch from the Renaissance to Theosophy and to the New Age movement. Plutarch, for instance, argued that there were not different gods across peoples but instead one single Intelligence that rules the world that is merely called different names and worshipped in different ways as time passes. In The Metamorphoses by Apuleius, the goddess Isis presents herself as “the single power which the world worships in many shapes, by various cults, under various names”. The Roman theologian Cornelius Labeo proposed that the oracle of Clarian Apollo stated that the god Iao was the supreme god, who in winter was called Hades, in spring was called Zeus, in summer was called Helios, and in autumn Dionysos. After the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official state religion, defenders of paganism sometimes argued that Christians and pagans were merely worshipping the same god under different names. Neoplatonists argued that all things derived existence from a single source referred to as The One, and that the purpose of life as to become united or re-united with The One. Otherwise polytheistic philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato introduced concepts that may have prefigured the God we know today, such as the unmoved mover or Demiurge. And of course, at various points before the rise of Christianity, there were a few monotheistic cults that emerged, such as the Egyptian cult of Aten under the pharaoh Akhenaten or the Hellenistic cult of Zeus Hypsistos.
My point here is that Paganism in a historical sense (and honestly a modern sense too) was not one single set of beliefs in the way we understand Christianity to be (and, even there, Christianity isn’t necessarily as monolithic as we imagine it to be). That extends to other beliefs as well, such as pertaining to death. While modern Paganism can include a belief in reincarnation, it’s not clear that this belief was universally held in pre-Christian traditions. It is possible that some Germanic pagans did believe in a form of reincarnation; Roman sources purported that the ancient Teutons believed in rebirth and thus did not fear death, while some scholars suggest that Germanic pagans believed in rebirth within the extended clan based on some archaeological findings and exegesis of some stories in the Sagas. Many Norse polytheists, however, don’t share this concept, and have a wide array of beliefs about the afterlife that don’t necessarily end in rebirth. Indeed, the “more authentically pagan” version of Ragnarok ends not in the rebirth of the cosmos (as in the familiar post-conversion telling) but instead in its utter oblivion. Greek polytheist beliefs on this range from the arrival of most (if not all) souls to a dreary underworld, to the belief that the soul may go to a blessed afterlife upon achieving ritual purity or initiation into the mysteries of a god, to Plato’s account of how souls are judged and either admitted to a good afterlife or damned to a bad one again prefiguring Christian teaching), and of course the concept of reincarnation was sometimes proposed. What little we know about what we call the Celtic polytheists suggests that they probably believed in reincarnation, but some suggest that the soul goes to the Otherworld, a place inhabited by gods and spirits, after death. In ancient Egypt, it was believed that by living a virtuous life, the soul would be judged as being worthy to enter the field of reeds, or that by successfully undergoing a journey through the underworld and overcoming its perils, the soul would gain an immortal second life. Relevant to the conversation is the way that pre-Christian belief systems frequently advanced the concept of a cyclical cosmos, in which the cosmos is periodically formed, dissolved, and reformed again. The Norse cosmology appears to suggest cyclic time and rebirth, as did some of classical Greek philosophy such as Stoicism and Pythagoreanism, and it is very prominent in Indian religious philosophy.
Paganism in a historical sense isn’t really one set of beliefs. In fact, there is as Kadmus Herschel and Jake Stratton-Kent show an opposition between distinct expressions of pre-Christian religion, linked to the development of philosophy in one case and a change in the mode of Greek society in the other case, that is relevant to how I aim to elaborate Satanic Paganism. That said, I think the way we deal with Paganism, as an idea, is sort of a compound idea in which we find and derive the premise of a natural world brimming with the multiplicitous divine presence worshipped in and through the world, and often worshipped not out of fear or even bargaining but out of awe and yearning. Paganism as a concept can also be loosely defined by its particular conception of what religion is, as will be further explored. Whereas Christianity via Lactantius frames religion as “re-ligare”, meaning to be bound, as in bound to God or to the single ultimate truth, pre-Christian religion via Cicero is based on “re-legere”, meaning to go over again, which seemed to mean to a constant return to the ancestors and the gods, perhaps denoting a consistent process of ritual observance. It’s also possible to read “re-legere” in terms of observance as meaning to observe the cycle of reciprocity, a concept that animates the bulk of the pre-Christian attitude towards the gods. This is to be understood as the relationships in which humans give to the gods through their devotion (typically offerings) so that the gods may acknowledge this devotion and typically bestow blessings to humans in various ways. Heathens understand this as the Gifting Cycle, Hellenists understand this as Kharis, but even if it doesn’t have its own distinct name or terminology, the basic concept can be found basically everywhere in Paganism. While I have thought of “re-legere” in terms of a kind of anamnesis, of religious practice recalling something from the depths, something unconscious and profound, while I would defend that idea I think that it is ultimately simplest, perhaps even most sensible, to understand it as consistent observation of reciprocity; with gods, with ancestors, and with the natural world (for particularly naturalistic and even non-theistic individuals it may be ideal for them to think it through that last part in particular). It is this worldview that largely distinguishes the Pagan worldview from the Christian worldview.
What Is Satanic Paganism?
I will be forthright in saying that I bring these worlds together because I simply afore and identify with them at once. In this, it is an act of “religious” love, albeit a highly individualistic one (both in philosophical-ideology and even moreso in application) that cuts across certain boundaries between worlds. But is that individualistic interaction with religion not consistent with the “essence” of Satanism, and is the intermingling of divinities from differing traditional contexts a characteristic of Pagan polytheism? By this I mean, if modern polytheists can argue in defence of integrating the God of the Bible, his Son, and/or his angels into the litany of god’s they worship, and if ancient polytheists certainly did do this and even developed magickal systems involving them, I don’t see why you can’t do the same thing except you’re doing it with Satan and his band of devil’s instead of God and his heavenly menagerie. You might object that it would feed into Christian ideas about how Pagans are devil worshippers. I argue: no, it wouldn’t, or at least no more than what Christians already believe about Pagans. After all, the Christian has in most cases already decided that Pagans worship devils, their God and his Word already tell Christians that all gods other than Yahweh are demons. Somehow I’m not convinced that all the efforts to denounce or distance from the world of Satanism, and I make no judgement here on their validity, have ever persuaded Christian outsiders to stop regarding Pagans as devil worshippers or servants of Satan. I hate to have to remind people of this, but as far as Christian doctrine is concerned we are all demon worshippers, and we have no control over the optics of our practice in the eyes of Christians.
Anyways, with that established, let us focus on what Satanic Paganism means to me in terms of its content, and again it is very much unique to me.
To start with, it’s worth addressing that the mere idea of bringing Satan into the mix of a Pagan worldview is consistent with the logic of pre-Christian polytheism, and is an entirely legitimate expression of Paganism on those terms. The easiest way to demonstrate that is simply the ease with which it is possible to include God and his cohorts in the polytheistic context. The Greek Magical Papyri contain spells invoking the names of God – specifically Adonai, Sabaoth, and Iao – as well as the angels Michael and Gabriel alongside older polytheistic gods and goddesses such as Hekate, Zeus, Dionysos, Helios, Artemis, Demeter and many others. Sometimes the gods are identified with angels and names of God. Iao may have also appeared in the context of the Orphic mysteries, and, according to Cornelius Labeo, Iao was the supreme god spoken of in the oracle of the Clarian Apollo. Even Jesus appears in the Papyri, where there is a spell in which he is invoked alongside God (in various names) in order to drive out “unclean daimons” such as Satan. The Historia Augusta (which, although considered questionable by many scholars, is also the only continuous Latin account for a century of Roman history) describes the polytheist Roman emperor Severus Alexander wanting to erect a temple to Jesus where he would be worshipped alongside Roman gods, and supposedly he also worshipped Moses and Apollonius, included Jesus and Moses alongside Orpheus in some of his speeches, and had a statue of Jesus in his lararium. Jesus, of course, was syncretised with pre-Christian gods in various ways, including a depiction of him as the god Helios in what is now St. Peter’s Basilica. In Scandinavia, during the Viking age, some Vikings began to adopt the worship of Jesus (who was sometimes called “White Christ”) alongside Norse gods as they made contact with Christianity, and meanwhile some people who normally worshipped Jesus also prayed to gods like Thor in difficult situations. There are other examples to be found outside of the traditional context that typically defines “Paganism” as a discursive construct. Followers of Umbanda, a syncretic polytheist religion, worship Jesus and the saints as Orishas and/or alongside other Orishas. In Candomble, a syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion also centered around the worship of Orishas, Jesus was integrated into their pantheon of Orishas and sometimes referred to as Senhor do Bonfim. In Santeria, another similarly syncretic tradition, Jesus is honoured alongside multiple Orishas or identified with Olofi, who is either the supreme god of Yoruba or one of his aspects, and Christian saints are also venerated alongside or as Orishas. In Manichaeism, a syncretic Iranian religion that is either arguably polytheist or arguably not, there is a pantheon several gods and goddesses (apparently up to 40 of them in fact), governed by a supreme deity called the Father of Greatness (a.k.a. Zurwan), and Jesus is one of the major deities alongside other deities such as Mithra, Ohrmazd, Wahrām, various buddhas, and the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Ganesha (all four of whom are avatars of the Father of Greatness) to name just a few.
The operative point is this: if you can worship God, Jesus, and their angels in the context of what is essentially a polytheistic non-Christian religious worldview, what exactly is to prevent a person from doing the same thing except, instead of incorporating the worship of God, Jesus, and their angels, they are incorporating the worship Satan and the devils? Much of it comes from a fairly reactive assertion that “this has nothing to do with Paganism!” because “this is a Christian concept!” while existing forms of Christopaganism don’t get that scrutiny outside of maybe some witchcraft community. The whole refrain would have us ignore that the polytheists of old didn’t have much problem absorbing Jesus and/or God into their pantheons even though they were not only Christian concepts but also central to Christianity itself. It is common for people to react to the worship or veneration of Satan and the devils with the assertion that Satan and God depend on each other, no doubt playing into the doctrine of the unity of opposites as filtered through the dualism of Christian thought. But, putting aside all other considerations, we are not looking at this from the Christian lens. Satan and God to us are not two sides of the same coin, because to us they are not simply two ends of the same polarity of spirit. They are their own unto themselves, like anyone else would be, and they’re in conflict with each other over their opposed interests. From the logic of the pre-Christian worldview, it makes more sense to view God, Satan, the angels, the devils, on the same terms as the various gods and spirits of the old polytheistic traditions, and not as mutually interdependent abstractions as some monotheistic traditions may assert.
With that in mind, there really isn’t much that you need in order to justify incorporating Satan into your Pagan worldview; it is only a matter of your own calling. But, as long as we are talking about bringing Satan or Satanism into the mix, it would do us well to dwell on that shadow of religion we refer to in the modern context as “the demonic”. This can be somewhat tricky when working outside the Christian context, since in many pre-Christian cultures the distinction between a god and a demon was often vague, ambiguous, or even non-existent. Some would argue that the very term is simply non-applicable in much of pre-Christian polytheism, and instead the generic term “spirit” might perhaps be used. Nonetheless, it is possible to develop a concept of the demonic suitable for the purpose of Satanic Paganism. What do we mean by the demonic? The word “demon” is obviously adapted from the Greek word “daimon”, which can be a fairly open-ended concept. The term usually refers to spirits, typically spirits who were not gods but acted as divine personifications of things (often emotions), but the exact boundaries between what is a god and what is a daimon are blurred by the fact that gods such as Zeus were also referred to as a “Daimon” (as in the Orphic Hymn to the Daimon and the Orphic Hymn to Apollo for instance). Although “daimon” is often translated as “spirit”, it has also been translated to mean “godlike” or “lesser deity”. In Greece there also seems to have been the concept of a “personal daimon”, which could be thought of as an internal spirit for which some spells were designed to make contact with, while some philosophers used the term to refer to a sort of personal destiny given to each individual. In the context of ancient Egypt, demons in resemble the Greek daimons in that their existence sits between godhood and humanity, but their liminal nature derives not only from this but also from the fact that they live between this life and afterlife. Egyptian demons are guardians of the threshold, protecting the afterlife from unworthy souls, but they’re also dangerous, violent, capable of attacking and seizing human souls and occasionally even threatening the gods. On the other hand, some gods were also considered demons; this includes Bes, Pataikos, Tutu, Meneh, Tawaret, and even Anubis. In other pre-Christian belief systems, such as pre-Islamic Arabian polytheism, there was probably no major distinction between a god and a demon at all. In India, the word “asura” is used in modern parlance to refer to demons, but this was originally a reference to a clan of gods or demigods, arguably chthonic gods, and if you really go back to the Vedic period, “asura” appears as just an honorific for various gods denoting their power or might, and otherwise the difference between “asura” and non-“asura” gods only vaguely manifested itself in the battles between rivalling gods. Wendy Doniger suggests that the distinction was ultimately the product of the fact that some gods ascended in a developing religious hierarchy as Hinduism evolved while others descended.
One approach to the demonic that may help us is the idea of the demonic as a mode of being as applicable to the divine, one defined by a particular expression of Negativity. In this, I draw from the context of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism for its concept of demonic negativity, which can seem to resemble the realm of the demonic we recognize in the West but is not really contained within the framework of Christian dualism and morality. Bernard Faure, in his book Rage and Ravage, defines the demonic in terms of a shadow following and containing itself in the mythological structure; the demon is an entity that subverts and overflows the structures. It embodies a negative power that pervades and transcends boundaries, situated at the source of the very distinction between gods and demons, dwelling in the interstice that is itself the source or origin of all beings; thus, demonic negativity is the subversive source of things, counter to the en-stasis found in Buddhist goals and practice – indeed arguably even of all major religions – which then seeks to impose itself upon that negativity. In certain ways, this demonic negativity is much like the way Lee Edelman and baedan describe their concept of the death drive. This death drive is an unnameable and irreducible element of revolt and disruption within the social order, a constant presence of negation that dwells in society and holds the power to produce its undoing; it is intractable, it cannot be ignored or destroyed, its chaotic potential can only be contained by society, and for a time, but it is always present, and it evades the boundaries of representation and identity and refuses the stability of social form and the stasis of social order. For Mahayana Buddhism, this is arguably important to observe in, as the Avatamsaka Sutra relates, the premise that there is even a demonic side of the bodhi-mind, of samadhi, and of the kalyanamitra (good friend/spiritual guide). Through the development of hongaku thought, the death drive of demonic negativity thus came to be understood as part of the core of the absolute of reality, to the point that there were understandings of the Buddha and the demons (or even Mara himself) as one, and the wild demon god Kojin as the Tathagata.. Faure also identifies the demonic as a “pharmakon”: the poison that is also the cure; and hence, Japanese demonology as a form of pharmacology. There are a number of Japanese deities who could said to embody that elusive demonic negativity, or at least in that they were formally both demons and gods; these include Kojin, Shoten (a.k.a. Vinayaka), Kishimojin (a.k.a. Hariti), Gozu Tennoh, Michizane, Susano-o, Matarajin, Okuninushi/Onamuchi (who was identified in the Reikiki Shisho with the Demon King of the Sxith Heaven), Juzenji, and Daikokuten (a.k.a. Mahakala) to name just some. This negativity is also present in the gods of the land, the Kunitsukami, who were conquered by their heavenly counterparts the Amatsukami, in that they, as araburu-no-kami (“savage gods” or “unruly gods”), or aragami (“raging gods”), were also described as jissha (“real kami”), who represented the real nature of the kami according to Buddhist opponents of Shinto, and thus meant to be interpreted as violent and ignorant demons. This demonic “real nature” ultimately came to be understood via hongaku thought as the real or originary nature or basis of reality anterior to good and evil.
This anterior death drive of demonic negativity can be highlighted as one of the most important aspects of Satanic Paganism in that it guides and colours the approach to religion, in that it favours its shadow. For, indeed, the concept of anterior ontological darkness is the basis of authentic Satanic religious philosophy, in that it takes darkness, so-called “Evil”, Satan, as the fundamental of life, the irreducible element behind things, but which we are unconscious of. Although for baedan to embody the death drive was strictly not the point, from the religious standpoint of Satanic Paganism to embrace the demonic means precisely to access, identify with, and consequently receive power from this death drive, the shadow of religion which is also its true life. Playing into the link to the chthonic aspects of the polytheistic world, in view of the many of the demons and demon gods being chthonic entities, I would take this itself as a sign towards that vital wellspring. In ancient Greece and Rome, the underworld was not only the home of the dead but also a reservoir of many treasures of the earth, including mineral wealth and seeds of harvest, such that Hades, the feared god of the underworld, was often worshipped as Plouton, a god of wealth. India, the Asuras possessed wealth from the depths of the earth, and since the Devas could not generate wealth on their own, and could not get the Asuras to share their wealth peaceably, they sought to take it from the Asuras by force. In Japan, it is possible to take the underworld as a kind of “other side” to the world, and in the Izumo Taishakyo sect of Shinto this is interpreted in the doctrine of the unity of the human world and Kakuriyo (the spirit world, ruled by the kunitsukami Okuninushi); the two worlds are one, and one is merely the other side of the other. A similar idea may be found in Celtic polytheism or some interpretations thereof. To journey into that realm is to make that negative otherness known to you, to receive its wisdom, its power, and its very nature, and to bring into yourself the unity of the world and the kingdom of shadows, to the realm of the uncanny as referred to by Frater Archer in his discussion of Goeteia. But of course, we will return to that subject later.
For now, let us simply establish that one of the planks that makes sense for Satanic Paganism, building from this, would be not only a particular bent towards the chthonic but also the act of interpreting, venerating, and/or worshipping demons as gods. This is of course inherently transgressive from the standpoint of not only Christianity but also many of the world’s major religions, and even non-religious people, still reared in our Christian culture, struggle to make sense of it from a moral standpoint. But modern Pagans or Neopagans too are troubled by the idea as well, no doubt out of the fear that it contributes to further hostility by Christians. Of course, the problems of this have been established earlier, and there is thus no need to repeat them in this paragraph. What I will stress is that, from the standpoint of both the syncretic nature of historical polytheism and the often ambiguous nature of the boundaries between godhood and the demonic are a sound basis to argue that there really is nothing stopping a Pagan from worshipping demons, and, despite the way we think about it from the lens of Christianity, I’d say it’s actually highly consistent with the logic of polytheism. In fact, to relate an example from Heathenry, there is at least some reason to assume that the Jotunn, a similar category at least in that they were often considered adversaries of the ruling gods, were worshipped in pre-Christian Scandinavia, and some jotnar such as Skadi were widely venerated. The fact that demons could be worshipped as gods and as demons in Egypt let alone as far afield as Japan shows, that it is definitely possible in a polytheistic or Pagan context.
At this point, when speaking to the modern context, I think I would be remiss if I did not discuss Demonolatry, a modern religio-magickal tradition centered around the worship of demons as divine beings, constituting the Demonic Divine, led by Satan as the emperor of the demons. From a traditional standpoint, to frame Demonolatry as Pagan is inappropriate, in that, although practitioners like Stephanie Connolly may claim a lineage from a pre-Christian esoteric philosophy, it operates as its own distinct and contemporary traditional context. Of course, some Demonolaters, and some Pagans, disagree with this, suggesting that the latter may include the former. From my perspective, it is certainly possible to practice Demonolatry as a Pagan for much the same reasons as any other religious syncretism is in fact inherently possible in Paganism. Connolly, at least, for her part, describes Demonolatry as polytheistic as well as pantheistic, which in theory dovetails nicely with the milieu of modern Paganism. But of course, Demonolatry is best not treated as synonymous with Paganism, and indeed doesn’t really need to be treated that way even for our purposes. I see ideas from Demonolatry reflected in some of what I have written here, but it is probably improper to regard it as merely an extension of Paganism, in that Demonolatry as a tradition would prefer to be defined on its own terms. Any syncretic or multi-traditionalist praxis seeking to involve Demonolatry should take heed of that. I suppose if we would consider a primary ideological distinction, it’s that Demonolatry has in mind a form of oneness, in that it derives from Hermeticism the idea of the oneness of the whole cosmos in Satan and the aim of realizing that oneness, whereas in Satanic Paganism, as you will see, the idea of oneness that I express, drawn from pre-Christian magick, positions oneness as not the end but the beginning, or at least a gateway through which the individual progresses towards apotheosis. And I suppose I would add something about devourment, in the Stirnerite sense; by which is only meant that you are to make oneness your own.
To cap off the point about bringing Satan and the demons into your Paganism with that most familiar point: demonization, and its negativity. We all know the ways in which the rivals of the God of the Bible were converted into demons. Beelzebub was originally Baal, or more specifically named Baal-zebul. Astaroth, or Ashtoreth, was none other than the goddess Astarte. Lucifer was the demonized spirit of the morning star, Bael was Baal, the god Baal-tzephon became the name of a demon, as did Baal-berith, Amon was either the god Amun or Baal-Hammon, the god Nisroch became a demon and so did the god Adrammelech, Bifrons was originally Janus, to name just a few. Christian demonology is rife with gods from pre-Christian polytheism who found themselves re-classified as demons or devils in the hierarchy of Lucifer. As Christianity spread in Europe, not only were many gods declared demons but the names of some of the gods became names for the Devil in some countries; these include Veles, Ordog, Perkele (at least arguably), and even Odin or Woden (see the folkloric connection between “Grim”, an apparent Anglo-Saxon name for Odin, and the Devil). But, Christianity is not the only religion to employ demonization. When Zoroastrianism emerged, some of the Vedic gods, such as Indra and Rudra, were reclassed as evil demons, or Daevas. In Egypt, some time after the expulsion of the Hyksos dynasty, the god Set was eventually demonized, and his place on Ra’s solar barge was taken by Horus. When Buddhism spread across Asia, gods from older belief systems were sometimes demonized. Shiva, one of the supreme gods of Hinduism, became Mahesvara, the most defiant and “arrogant” rebel against the Dharma, who was then trampled upon by Vajrapani. In Japan, gods worshipped by enemies of the Yamato, and even entire peoples who resisted Yamato rule, were demonized (see Tsuchigumo as an example for the latter), while in the medieval period under the influence of some sects of Buddhism some major local gods (such as Susano-o) were re-classified as demonic enemies of Buddhism or symbols of ignorance. The demonic in this relationship is, again, a negativity, defined in this way by its subversive and negative tendency in the mythological and religious schema. Demonization, then, while a mechanism of social dominance, also presents a window to the negativity lurking in the belly of society and religion with which the worshipper of the demonic may engage and identify with. And, if we’re sticklers for morality in the context of mythic literalism (which I’m not, because mythic literalism is a bad thing), the demons hardly ever do anything worse than some of the ruling gods.
More importantly, one of the conceptual bases for my Satanic Paganism, the thing that makes it both Pagan and Satanic, is the location of Rebellion at the center of life. In contrast and opposition to the tradition of “universal harmony” that Plato liked to talk about and which some polytheists maintain, I believe in a cosmos in which rebellion is part of the core of what comprises the so-called order of nature. As far as much of ancient Greek polytheism was concerned, the cosmos is a state of discord even as there is ostensible order. As Socrates told Euthyphro, the gods are at odds and even enmity with one another, and thus are in a state of discord. Socrates supposes that the gods conflict with each other over different ideas of justice, beauty, goodness, though it should be stressed that this is not necessarily obvious from their attendant myths (suffice it to say that the gods often had somewhat less abstract motives for conflict). In this setting it is really impossible to maintain the concept of piety that Euthyphro has, which is that of an uncritical piety towards the gods on the basis that piety is that which pleases all gods and impiety is that which displeases all gods. Instead, Kadmus Herschel points out that ancient polytheists were not universally pious towards all gods, and not on the basis of the kind of unconditional faith expected to be reserved for the Christian God. Change between the gods, even to the extent of rebellion, was a possibility in the polytheistic world. Within classical Greek mythology, the very motion of the cosmos consisted of the overthrow of previously ruling deities by a deity who would then take their place; Ouranos was overthrown by Kronos, Kronos was in turn overthrown by Zeus, and although Zeus rules the cosmos he still contends with challenges to his rule even within Olympus. Prometheus, the creator of mankind, defies Zeus’ will to give mankind fire, thus ensuring Man’s progress at the cost of his own punishment by being bound to a rock and perpetually tortured by an eagle. Hera, the wife of Zeus, led some of the other gods (including Apollo and Poseidon) in an almost successful revolt against him over his numerous infidelities. Poseidon and Apollon even suffer the temporary loss of their divine capacity for participating in Hera’s revolt and are cast down to the earth for a time to live in servitude as mortal humans. The gods often conflict among themselves, as shown in the conflict between Hades and Demeter initiated by Hades’ abduction of Persephone, or the conflict of the Erinyes versus Apollo and Athena over the trial of Orestes for his crime of matricide, not to mention the Titanomachy (the Titans themselves were a clan of gods). Demeter, in fact, succeeds in genuinely threatening the order of the cosmos through her power over death and life. In the Greek Magical Papyri, there are spells in which the magician may threaten to bind certain deities unless certain other deities meet their demands, or in the case of some spells bind some deities on behalf of others. The Greek pantheon even features a distinct “god of rebellion”; none other than Ares, the god of war and violence who was simultaneously the patron of both rebels and law enforcement.
Greek polytheism is not the only place where you find rebellion at the core of things. In Mesopotamian myth, when the god Enlil tries to destroy humanity, humanity owes its survival to the god Enki going against Enlil’s will by helping mankind survive the various cataclysms Enlil besets them with. Enlil himself also defied the rest of the gods in order to romance the goddess Ninlil. In Mesopotamiam myth, a generation of gods called the Igigi, or Dingir, revolt against an older generation of gods, often called the Anunnaki, who then created humans to do their work by sacrificing the god Geshtu-e to make their blood. As a rebel god, his blood passing into humanity carried the divine heritage of rebellion into human existence. A similar Hittite myth shows an older generation of gods being overthrown by a younger generation and then cast into the underworld. In Babylonian mythology, the very creation of the cosmos is set in motion by the younger gods, led by Marduk, violently overthrowing the primeval gods led by Tiamat. Odin, the king of the Aesir, was also himself a rebel, even an outcast, in some Germanic myths. Saxo Grammaticus, in his Gesta Danorum, presented a mythological story in which Odin was cast out of Asgard for ten years in order that the other gods would not be dishonoured by the wicked reputation he had acquired among humans; such a reputation was apparently earned by disguising himself as a maiden in order to have sex with the daughter of a king. In Grammaticus’ telling, Odin is replaced on the throne of Asgard by Ullr (or Ollerus), the god of archery, only for Odin to eventually drive Ullr out again, after the other gods finally decide that they want him back on the throne. Odin’s very quest for knowledge might also be thought of in terms of rebellion, at least in the sense that the underlying purpose of it is to gain as much magical knowledge as he can in order to win the doomed war of Ragnarok, thus in his own way defying fate. From another angle, however, it is perhaps all the more fitting to view Ragnarok itself as the violent rupture of the currently ruling order set in the cosmos, initiated by beings representing the chaos lay beneath it, kept at bay by the ruling Aesir until the hour of their doom, at which point they will rise up and destroy what the Aesir have established, along with everything else. In the Baal Cycle of Canaanite mythology, the god El abdicates from his position as king of the gods, his throne at Mount Zaphon becomes vacant and his son, the god Baal, is set to replace El, but the throne is challenged by Yamm, and Yamm is then defeated by Baal, only for Baal’s rule to be challenged by the god Mot, who succeeds in killing him. With Baal’s death, the god Athtar was poised to succeed Baal, but Athtar ultimately rejected the throne to rule his own kingdom in the underworld, and then Baal is revived and takes up the throne of Zaphon. In ancient Egypt, The Book of the Heavenly Cow outlines an instance in which humans revolt against the rule of the sun god Ra, resulting in their punishment, while in another myth, the goddess Isis forces Ra, the apparent supreme deity, to tell her his secret name by poisoning him and offering the cure.
My point is that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that rebellion is an elementary part of the polytheistic cosmos. In fact, even outside of Paganism, even in the Bible, in which we still see a polytheistic cosmos inherited from the pre-existing polytheism of Israel, there are gods in conflict with each other and in rebellion against each other. God himself is but one god among many, he is but Yahweh trying to establish his authority amongst the other gods, and the other gods resist his rule and sometimes succeed in defeating him and pushing back his rule; Chemosh, the god of Moab, wages war against Yahweh and defeats Yahweh, leading the Moabites to victory against the aggressing Israelites. Even insofar as the divine is everywhere, the divine is not a single unified thing containing harmony. In fact, for much of the pre-Christian pagan world, the divine actually seemed to be in conflict with itself all the time. It was from late developments of ancient Greek philosophy that we started to see the idea of a single, unitary, harmonious divine whose order is at work everywhere take shape and gain presence, and it is upon this basis that “the West” eventually arrives at the idea that there is but One True God and that his order must be obeyed. Relevant to that context and the ideological underpinnings of Satanic Paganism, I would point to Kadmus’ analysis of the Greek Magical Papyri in view of this. In True To The Earth, Kadmus argues that the Papyri, although late in origin, represent a transmission or survival of a more “authentically pagan” worldview in contrat to the late pre-Christian philosophies that existed alongside them. Multiple gods, often from mutually distinct cultural and religious backgrounds, appear as distinct entities within a more or less syncretic practice, typically invoked in order to help the magician attain some worldly goal, certain deities apparently appear in more archaic forms, and they don’t appear to be situated within consistent hierarchies. Hekate in particular is a central figure in what is contextually a split between the more archaic form of pagan polytheism, in which Hekate was a goddess of magic who could be invoked for worldly ends and worshipped , and the Platonic Hekate as presented in the Chaldean Oracles, in which Hekate is presented as a personification of the soul of the cosmos who guides souls in the course of their unity with The One. Such sets the ground for the distinction between two distinct worldviews, two approaches to embracing the divine. One approach is to embrace the idea that the point is to unite with the “universal harmony” of the cosmos; this is the worldview found in philosophical systems such as Platonism or Neoplatonism, as well as Stoicism to a certain extent, and you can find certain forms of it in many other religious-philosophical systems outside the context of ancient Greece. The other is to, on the basis of Rebellion as a core characteristic of the cosmos, join divinity in the sense of joining what I refer to as the war of all against all; this is the worldview I derive from the logic of mostly older or more archaic forms of paganism, as filtered through the lens of Stirner’s egoism, patchworked alongside Satanism. In a way, it’s almost like choosing between Law and Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei.
But of course, this “war of all against all” may seem to be a strange and alien idea, so let me explain my terms here. First, let’s establish that this use of the term does not derive from Thomas Hobbes’ more famous use of it, by which he meant his imagination of what human affairs would be like without the existence of the state. My use of it comes from the individualist anarchist Max Stirner, who said that the war of all against all is declared when the poor rise up and rebel against extant property in order to win the right to own themselves; when the individual declares, “I alone decide what I will have”, and seizes according to their own need or want, the war of all against all is declared. When given consideration, it would seem that this war of all against all could reference a universal condition of rebellion, which is of course the total opposite of harmony. I do not want your order, I want myself or I want something else. Therefore, I rebel. The gods in myth periodically assert their own desire in conflict with others, or assert their refusal against the desires of others, they each want something of their own, orthey want themselves. Thus, the gods are in discord and even enmity amongst themselves. Thus the gods are in a condition of rebellion in and amongst themselves, and in the cosmos humans are able to partake of this universal rebellion themselves, by joining themselves with that condition, and with divinity at large. In other words, humans can either simply observe traditional piety in observance of a universal harmony involving essentially harmonious gods, or they can defy authority in order to join the war of all against all, and ultimately join with the gods in doing so. When thinking of the war of all against all, I often think about Ragnarok as depicted in Norse mythology, in that it would take the phrase almost literally, and Odin selects his warriors specifically to join him in this fight. But Ragnarok is an point in time ahead of our own, assuming of course we don’t start from the interpretation that it has already happened and we are the products of its aftermath, whereas the war of all against all is a present, ever-present, condition of life, with no beginning, and no end.
Satan is in many ways relevant to this idea, to the extent that he is emblematic of it. Satan, as the Adversary, in his own way sounds the war of all against all in his refusal to bow before God and/or Adam and his will that only he decides his own place in the cosmos. Accepting no universal harmony and authority above him, he embraces rebellion waged for himself, for his Einzige. The idea of joining the divine in the same way is an innovation, but it extends the logic of archaic polytheism so as to grant meaning to the apotheosis cherished within Satanism. There’s a very peculiar idea like that to be found in Kurtis Joseph’s Black Magick of Ahriman (which I must stress is flawed in many ways and I don’t like the fact that it’s with BALG), in which Joseph talks about “joining the war of the gods as a God”. Joseph really doesn’t explain the nature of that, but in context it seems to involve aligning yourself with the energies or power of Ahriman, which Joseph understands as the power of a boundless void of pure potentiality that contains all colours, and therefore all possibilities. In a word: Darkness. Perhaps we could extrapolate from this the idea that apotheosis here means taking on the latent Darkness or negativity within the nature of divinity itself; the power of the Black Flame, which is at base the active power of the creative nothing, is the brilliant resplendence of that divine negativity. In this, the idea is to take on and into yourself the realm of divinity in order to access it and join the company of divinity in the embrace of Negativity.
Satan for his individualism might bring us into focus with the other key division that animates the worldview of Satanic Paganism; on one side the religion of the goen (a practitioner of goeteia, or “sorcery”), on the other side the religion of the polis, and of course the philosophy of Satanic Paganism favours the former. As Jake Stratton-Kent has elaborated, the “primitive” religion of the goen centered around a seemingly individualistic, non-conforming magickal practice, built on individual talents and relationships with the gods which then transmitted into the community or the collective of which the goen was still a part. With the rise of the city state and the aristocratic humanist ideology that powered it, the goen were marginalized under a social order built by slavery and organized by a handful of bureaucrats and functionaries who dictated the new mode of religion, defining it through the social character of the polis, whose stability was now seemingly threatened by wild ecstasies that comprised older religious forms. The goen’s craft was deemed superstition and converted into an insult by the aristocratic intelligentsia of the polis. Some aspect of this may echo into the split between the ouranic and the chthonic in the old Hellenic religion. Luther H. Martin in Hellenistic Religions describes chthonic religion as “a response to the spontaneity of the sacred, a voluntary association of individuals that embodied an implicit challenge to the official sociopolitical order”. For the Hellenistic city state, the individualistic goens were at odds with order and custom of the rational aristocracy that set it, and the old goeteia were ones who performed ecstatic worship of and workings with chthonic gods and daemons (including the chthonic mother goddess Cybele), perhaps derided as by wider society “gloomy” and “irrational” in so doing. The aim of goetic practice was, of course, to attune themselves to what Stratton-Kent referred to as the “deifying power” of the underworld, and by working with the daemons they also identified with them, becoming one with them as extensions of the craft, a oneness which is still itself the gateway to chthonic and magickal apotheosis (though, of course, for Frater Archer this is ultimately all still submission to the authority of the great mother). Thus the divide hinted at by Kadmus Herschel can be observed as between the collective observance of the polis and the magickal apotheosis of the individual magician. Similar tension is observable in the relationship to mystery traditions, often including individual expression and aimed at the elevation of the practitioner towards a blessed afterlife, and embracing ecstasies and sometimes inversions that did not align with the social order.
All of this brings me to my next point; insofar as we deal with gods, how do we view them? Having already discussed rebellion, the war of all against all, we can already establish that my concept of relating to the gods cannot be defined in terms of unconditional piety as based on the idea that the gods are uniform in will and character. The point about the gods not being wholly benevolent is a point that kind of has to be stressed, and I tend to suspect that people try to get away from that in all sorts of ways. The gods are not necessarily malevolent, but they tend to act in ways that seem ambiguous and fickle to humans, not always answering prayers for varying reasons, and, although myth does not tell the whole story when it comes to religious thought and praxis, the gods are not always very nice or fair. I think the modern Heathen sect called Rokkatru, particularly as explained by Arith Harger (who does not himself align with Rokkatru), can be seen as one of the best tellings of this idea. As Harger relates, people only see the “evil” sides of certain gods, such as Loki, who happen to either typically despised or culturally typecast as villainous, but Odin in his myths does all manner of questionable and even downright awful things, and in many cases his actions are done either for his sole benefit or strictly to maintain the balance of power at all costs. From the perspective of Rokkatru, Loki is arguably only as “evil” as Odin, and he in turn as much as all of the other gods, who are in turn representatives of larger forces of order and chaos, opposing each other and yet working together to maintain the balance of the world. Our popular understandings of the gods have us thinking about certain gods as sanitized gods who embody superhuman character and virtue attendant to their status as rulers of the cosmos, which thus conceal the other sides of them that, I would argue, should not be made obscure. Norse mythology is a perfectly salient example, but does not stand alone. When it comes to Greek mythology how can we forget about Zeus; so elevated in status in Greek religion, that some mystical traditions transformed him from just the king of the current generation of gods to the supreme sovereign and principle of the cosmos itself. For all that, everyone reading mythology, and everyone struggling with mythic literalism, knows about Zeus’ many troublesome exploits, particularly with women (both human and otherwise). Zeus is not alone in his faults. The gods, just as much as they may be noble and beautiful, can be jealous, petty, quarrelsome, sometimes even cruel. Indeed, there is a similar story as regards all the “civilizing gods” in particular; perhaps Walter Benjamin said it best, “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism”.
Throughout pre-Christian polytheism, the acknowledgement is the same: the gods have two sides to them, one good, one bad, and for the gods they are in some ways inseparable from each other. But in the broad appreciation of this, we find that it does not seem to undermine worship in the way that it would for Christianity as based on the claims around the Christian God. Humans worship the gods ultimately because they want something from them, often something worldly but also often something more than this. Certain notions of traditional religious piety extends to the idea of a purely selfless devotion to gods, in a way that is not necessarily true in the case of traditional (or at least more archaic) forms of polytheist praxis. Though, there is a sense in which a Pagan could never approach the gods on a wholly transactional basis, and instead is drawn towards them by awe, by the desire for communion with the numious, and the nature of religious reciprocity tends to approach the level of friendship, not just a quid pro quo arrangement. Still, there is a self-interested impetus even here. Humans wish to elevate themselves by deepening reciporcal relationships with the gods, and although the gods are held to want or need nothing from humans, the gods themselves obviously have a desire that humans fit into; the desire to be recognized and honoured, and work their way into extant relationships.
A way of defining the relationship between men and gods in a manner befitting the Satanic Pagan framework is through magick. Magick, simply put, is the practice of causing change through hidden and abnormal means, some might say in conformity to will. Magick was somewhat common throughout the pre-Christian world, and even in the Christian era it was still prevalent to the point that a lot of “classical” medieval or pre-modern occultism is essentially an extension of Christianity. But magick is an art, a technique, a craft, and it has a variety of aims attached to it, very often conditioned by religious traditions. The aim that focuses our attention is the following set of goals: personal empowerment on the one hand, deepening the cycle of reciprocity with gods on the other. I aim in this sense for their bounding up in a religio-magickal praxis that positions worship alongside the concept of “working with” gods in a magickal sense, and arcing ultimately towards the goal of apotheosis. There are examples of apotheosis or god-identification that can be found in the Greek Magical Papyri. One such example is the Stele of Jeu (PGM V. 96-172), in which the practitioner evokes the Headless One (or Akephalos; possibly a solar deity) in order to identify themselves with Moses, a messenger of a pharoah or Osiris, and then the god Osiris by various names in order to command or expel daimons and attain oneness with the universe. In the Invocation of Typhon (PGM IV. 154-285), the practitioner ritually identifies with the god Set and “attaches” themselves to the god Helios, while binding the god of Osiris, in order to receive the power of Typhon, here referred to as the “god of gods”. In the Mithras Liturgy (PGM IV.475-834), the practitioner invokes Helios-Mithras in order to attain a state of immortality and divinization in order to join the world of the gods. There even spells for the apotheosis of animals, such as the Deification of a Hawk (PGM I,1-42), in which a deceased hawk is immersed completely in milk and rejoins the magician as an immortal daimon and companion. In a similar tradition, many Egyptian spells, such as found in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts (keeping in mind that the Greek Magical Papyri themselves were syncretic texts that incorporated Egyptian magical practice among others), often castthe practitioner in the identity of a specific god in order to speak and act through that divine identity. It was also believed that souls who successfully traversed the underworld became identical with the god Ra. In the First Book of Breathing, the soul of the dead beckons the gods of the underworld to turn their attention towards them, not in the manner of beseeching them but rather demanding their audience, the soul identifying itself with the sun god Ra. Spells were meant to transform the individual soul of the deceased into Ra and earning the audience of the gods, and then, during the night, the soul would become Osiris as well, just as Ra merged with Osiris upon his descent into the underworld, thus joining the cycle of the sun. This did not quite entail that the soul literally became Ra or supplanted Ra and the other gods in their function, but rather the dead took on elements of the identity as their own. Deification, for the ancient Egyptians, did not mean becoming a living god and assuming dominion over the cosmos, but rather identifying yourself with the gods, at least in death anyway, and in so doing join their place in the cycle of the world.
The nature of this apotheosis is complex, but is arguably understandable as both an individualistic and self-interested magickal pursuit of gaining the powers of gods and, in its own way, a religio-magickal pursuit of oneness (albeit temporary) with divine identity. When we discuss oneness in the context of religio-magickal doctrines and traditions, we typically discuss it in terms of some idea of the absorption of the self into the universe, or God, or some cosmic hivemind, and in this we typically envision it in terms of what we call the Right Hand Path. But the magickal assumption of divine identity found in pre-Christian polytheism does not follow this logic. It’s actually somewhat like what I have seen some people say about how oneness is not actually the conclusion but instead the beginning, the gateway to something else, and in the case of polytheistic magickal apotheosis, that may be very applicable. Oneness with the identity of a god is not the permanent absorption or replacement of personality into or by the divine. Instead it is done with the aim of assuming the power of the gods for magickal ends, and, perhaps, so as to engender the development of a mythic self capable of perceiving the world of the gods. This, of course, means ritually assuming their attributes in a way that does not mean you lose yourself. In application to the modern esoteric framework, it’s actually possible to see this approach, even insofar as we consider it oneness, as an expression of how we understand the Left Hand Path, in that the aim is for the divinization of the self through its assumption of divine attributes into itself with the view to entering the world of the gods, as one of them. Moreover, we can see the assumption of divine identity as a function of the old mystery traditions as well. In the Dionysian and Eleusinian Mysteries, we might locate the mythic self in the ritual re-enactment of their mythos and the powers of death and rebirth so as to cultivate esoteric divine knowledge that would grant the practitioner a place in a blessed afterlife. This idea is recapitulated in the Orphic tradition, wherein after a life of consistent praxis and ritual purity the practitioner is to descend into the underworld in order to be released from death in order to join the company of the gods. And so, Left Hand Path religio-magickal worship in a Pagan context follows this praxis and goal in mind: to pursue reciprocal relationships and ritual praxes that cultivate apotheosis and prefigure your assumption of divinity and joining with the divine. But in Satanic terms, the worship I seek is just as much an act of devourment (in Stirner’s sense), in that, rather than put myself under the divine I’m the manner of traditional religious hierarchies and pieties, I stand to put it into myself that it might be my own (“When you devour the sacred, you have made it your own!”), even if it means that I can only do this by assuming it on its terms.
Dealing with Paganism of any sort can mean dealing with natural states. Nature is undeniably important in a Pagan context, and for Pagan spirituality Nature is a central locus, but the point is what that actually means. Since in the philosophy of Satanic Paganism we reject the notion of inherent universal harmony in favour of the condition of rebellion as the war of all against all, we also reject any recourse to the idea of a lost homeostatic “natural order”, with a precise set of laws that humans are to obey in a manner similar to the laws of God or some notion of purity to which humanity is a corruption. But although the condition of rebellion as I describe it (in very warlike terms no less) sounds like something that inherently forecloses any notion of harmony with other beings, I must disagree with that assumption. Rebellion is an act that establishes boundaries in its refusal. Think about it. You, by refusing to obey the will of an authority figure, establish a barrier between your will and theirs by your rebellion, and will fight to preserve that boundary. Ownness asserts itself, in so doing rebelling against that which denies Ownness, each assertion of Ownness in rebellion creates boundaries set on the terms of Ownness. The ecosystems of the world are a complex of boundaries set by the interconnectedness of the various lifeforms, and it is in this field that human civilization has broken up these boundaries in order to assert the dominion of the human species over life on earth. But of course, there is an extent to which Man’s control over Nature is something of an illusion. Humanity has dominated most ecosystems but it cannot control the weather, much less its own effects on the global climate, and it most certainly has no control over outer space, time, the movements of the earth’s tectonic plates, its magnetic field, the force of gravity, or the very nature forces of death, destruction, decay and entropy. The domination that human civilization currently exercises over the world’s ecosystems, and order ability to manipulate the environment and transform natural resources towards our own purposes, assures us that we are the undisputed masters of the world. But we are not. In fact, if anything, our civilizational actions have not gone without consequences. Anthropogenic climate change has already been met with a diverse array of environmental consequences over decades, and the backlash in the form of extreme weather, heatwaves, wildfires, rising sea levels, and many more consequences has intensified in recent years and it’s only going to get worse, and it will spell disaster and destruction for humans. In a way, you can argue the world is fighting back against the domination we have imposed upon it.
Our invasion and destruction of ecological boundaries leads inexorably to the insurrection of the natural world against civilization. This is not to be interpreted as the effect of a violation of some transcendental law or a failure to uphold some duty of stewardship towards a natural world that is propertied by God or History. Instead, it is best to understand the ecological crisis in terms of the fact that our civilization has oppressed the world’s ecosystems in its desire for the instrumentality of life towards our various productive ends, and that oppression was destined to generate violent backlash from the world. Rebellion, the war of all against all, is at the core of the Pagan cosmos, and so life invariably grows to resist domination and attempts to curtail the course of its growth and freedom, and so extant nature violently resists Man’s regime of instrumentality. Yet, as Frater Archer might remind us, this same impetus to growth makes it somewhat difficult for even nature to uphold firm boundaries, since life or the consciousness of the earth is always seemingly expanding, growing, changing, moving, and that forward motion always seems to move past any obstacles to itself. Life is always growing mutually, and thus chaotically, sometimes life brushes against life, and so we see the world has an unpredictable rhythm to it.
In any case, understanding the relationship between the existential condition of rebellion and Ownness and the boundaries that Ownness and its rebellion creates in its expression allows us to more clearly understand Pagan harmony with nature in terms of reciprocity. Harmony with nature in this sense means maintaining relationships with the environment not based on domination or instrumentality, not even in the form of stewardship, but instead on the basis of reciprocity in which giving and taking occurs within the bounds set by the mutual assertion of Ownness, which thus comprises the interconnectedness that forms the ecosystems of the world. In very simple terms, harmony does not mean the universal harmony of The One and does mean submission to certain ideas of “natural law”, but instead that life respects life, to the extent it can, even as life ultimately derives from itself. And, also, let us not forget that, as Jake Stratton-Kent points out in Geosophia, as far as pre-Christian magicians were concerned the natural world as we understand it was a dwelling place for the numinous. Mountains, trees, rivers, and streams were among the places where the power of the divine could be felt and accessed just as much as graves, burial mounds, crossroads, monuments, or any temple, and so from a religio-magickal standpoint there is an extent to which we must think of Man’s quest for complete technological and civilizational domination over nature as a the spiritual devastation of life by human civilization, a death march that we must halt indefinitely and forcibly.
In many ways I think it is impossible to truly discuss Nature without discussing spontaneity. This is an idea I have inherited from the discourse of nature as spontaneity as described in Chinese philosophy, or rather more specifically Taoism, from which I learned about the concept of Ziran. The Chinese word “ziran” is often translated in the “West” as “nature”, but perhaps a more accurate meaning is “spontaneity”, and the literal meaning is more like “self-so”. The concept of Ziran refers to the self-emergent or self-arising tendency of things in the cosmos, which can be extended to the emergence of life and the cosmos itself. To describe something as Ziran is to describe something as self-unfolding, self-generating, non-teleological, spontaneous. On the one hand, it is used to describe the concept of nature, or as a shorthand for nature. On the other hand, it is suggested that Ziran does not actually refer to nature, but to something beyond or behind nature; you might even say, the “nature” of nature. But what is the nature of nature? Is it the chaos and blackness that Susan Stryker referred to? Stryker, of course, seems to refer to chaos in “the general sense”, by which is meant disorder or the fundamental lack of order, but also an “unstable matrix of material attributes”, from which form emerges (or, in the context of gender that Stryker means to discuss, from which a multitude of stable structures of gendered identity emerge). In baedan this same chaos and blackness is identified with what they see as the unintelligible force of homosexual desire and the concept of the death drive as discussed via the queer theorist Lee Edelman; this death drive is the indescrible and unintelligble force of disruption within society itself, the negativity that always produces contradiction and revolt within the order of the world, for as long as there is a society. Going back to Ziran, what is its source? Within ancient Chinese philosophy, there was a tendency to locate Darkness, or Xuan, as the origin or root of nature, or Ziran. Thus Darkness, which can be understood as Negativity, lies at the source of spontaneity, or “nature”. The Rokkatru sect of modern Heathenry dwells heavily on the idea of the “nature of nature”, by which is meant the underlying qualities and the means of its rhythm and change as well as its unpatterned causes, and for this reason they honor the Jotunn as the primal forces of nature that operate behind its main processes; the winter and the cold that freezes, the solar warmth and heat that causes buds to grow in spring, the wild fire that burns. To draw attention to the “nature” of nature, then, would be in the manner of Rokkatru to refer to something beneath and within the processes of nature that also arcs back to our discussion of spontaneity.
A concept that I find relevant to my discourse on Paganism, let alone in a Satanic framing, is the concept of Wildness. This is a concept that I encountered in ecological anarchist and anti-civilization theory, and it has many relevant meanings. In Desert, which I take as a landmark text of anti-civ and nihilist anarchism, Wildness can be seen to refer to a concept of uncultivated or non-civilized nature that also intersects with the concept of anarchy or liberty itself, a state of being ungoverned and of ungovernability, a state of unordered and undomesticated life that naturally connects with anarchism as a whole. This idea is expressed in the very name Desert via an archaic definition given at the beginning: “a wild, uncultivated, and uninhabited region”. From my perspective, such a description is not insiginificant in religious terms. An example is the world of the Bible, in which the desert or wilderness was believed to have been inhabited by demons. This is suggested in the Old Testament when Leviticus (17:7) refers to sacrifices being made to goat demons (or se’irim) and Isaiah (34:14) prophesies the city of Edom becoming inhabited by demons after its collapse, and the New Testament when Luke (11:24) and Matthew (12:43) say that a demon leaving a possessed person flees to the desert to rest. Also, in the medieval period, the Devil himself was associated with the wild places outside of civilization, so for Europe this could mean the woods, and in Sweden this lead to folk beliefs concerning the worship of nymphs and nature spirits becoming mingled with ideas of Satan worship and black magick. Julian Langer (a thinker I otherwise have little regard for) gives a few interesting enough definitions of Wildness. In Feral Iconoclasm, Langer defines Wildness as “the transient becoming and dying, dying and rising” in all lifeforms, “the will of life that grows from death”, and connects it to a non-determination and spontaneity of matter that he feels panpsychism allows for. In Feral Consciousness, Wildness is similarly defined in terms of the quality of non-deterministic, fundamentally chaotic, inescapably pervasive entities, and the fundamental ontological condition of anarchy that also surrounds and dwells beneath the whole of life, and is a state best accessed when stepping into uncultivated nature and through personal individual experience; creative and destructive, wildness for Langer is not only identifiable with anarchy but with nature, thus it is in this way “the nature of nature”. Kevin Tucker, in To Speak of Wildness, takes a somewhat different approach, conflating Wildness with the state of being a hunter-gatherer, supposedly our “genetic state” (seemingly the true “human nature”), but he also frames Wildness as a continuum surrounding and inhabiting us, distinguished from wilderness. A much more interesting and probably more salient take comes from baedan, in which Wildness, as “a madness attacking the civilized social order”, is practically cognate with their concept of jouissance, the joy of resistance or insurreciton whose joy consists in the sheer act of attacking the order of domination, and echoes with their concept of the death drive, that mysterious and almost unnameable negativity best understood as the core contradiction of society, the inner tendency of its own revolt and deconstruction. Finally, some argue that Wildness appears to be taken as something almost wholly indefinable, except as a poetic way of describing the uniqueness of each individual.
To take it all together from the standpoint of discussing “the nature of nature”, we could probably understand Wildness as being at least a part of that, as long as we understand Wildness as state of prime spontaneity. Spontaneous at least in the sense of undomesticated life, “natural” in the same sense, liberated in its transgression of conditioned existence, and fundamentally un-teleological. If “human nature” means nothing more than a state of human being that we find when our societal order of humanity is torn off, Wildness as a spontaneous existence rather than a “genetic state” is probably a good description. Beyond this (contrary to what I espoused last year), there is no such thing as human nature, no universal template of species being, only the natures of individuals. But insofar as that’s the case, what is “natural” to us, that is Ziran, that is Wildness, it is how we act in our own state of uncultivated life, free of domestication, and it’s as true for individual humans as it is for the wilderness and all who live in it. But what does that have to do with Satanic Paganism? The answer is in the way certain forms of Pagan religiosity present a communion between the individual and the “wild state”, transgressing the norms of society in order to liberate individual consciousness or experience contact with divinity. In Greece, this was part of the mysteries of the god Dionysos, in which ritual intoxication was a way to become possessed by Dionysos, contact his divine presence, shatter the boundaries of individual consciousness and commune with authenticity of wild nature. Another Greek god Pan, possibly embodied a literal sense of wildness even more, being worshipped almost exclusively in uncultivated parts of nature such as caves, and he too was believed to possess people so as to manically liberate individual consciousness from its normal limits. Similar states in similar possible rationales can be discussed via the Berserkers and Ulfhednar in ancient Scandinavia, both ecstatic warriors of the god Odin who attained divine inspiration that would strengthen them in battle by embracing animal-like states, spiritually communing with the wilderness, shedding the limits of normal consciousness and, in a way, enacting the cycle of death and rebirth. It is certainly not for nothing that modern Pagans derive spiritual sustenance from wild nature, because the relationships with extant natural relationships that presuppose the presence of the divine within them lends to the idea of wild nature being sacred and venerated as such, inhabited and blessed by gods and spirits for whom it is just as much their home as for the animals.
How this pans out for Satanic Paganism might best be elaborated in terms of the basic antinomian goal of shedding boundaries in pursuit of self-discovery and liberation. But that’s not in pursuit of some pure or antediluvian identity that contains an original personality (perhaps bestowed by God or by the cosmos) for you to follow, or even the voice of a “True Will” (which, I should stress, is probably not actually your will as such). No, it’s about the discovery, or rediscovery, of the power to live an uncultivated life, in the spiritual sense at least; the liberation of consciousness that is felt and prefigured in Wildness, in “the other side”, in the Darkness of life. It’s not something that can only be found in the ideal harmonious state, or some essentialist concept of a “genetic state”, and in fact the point is that, when you have and keep this state, it will be with you everywhere and always. To this day I think about something Thomas LeRoy used to say, and I’m not sure I remember it fully, about how Satanism to him is all about having a freedom that can’t be taken from you even if you were locked up in prison. That’s a powerful idea, it speaks to a freedom and uncultivated-ness that could stay with you, even if the revolution or insurrection against the state never comes to pass. It’s what living anarchy is, it’s the power of the Black Flame of the Creative Nothing, it’s a remembrance of the kingdom of shadows that holds real meaning that cannot be found through piety in society. It is wild religiosity, “re-legere” as anamnesis but for Darkness instead of the Forms of the Good, truly ancient Pagan religiosity intersecting with authentic Satanic mysticism and ideology. I also think that the relationship of divinity and the numinous to wild nature that Jake Stratton-Kent talks about in Geosophia establishes a basis for a Pagan religio-magickal praxis that places wild nature as a place of power, a place for the magician to encounter the gods of the land and, in a seemingly disenchanted world, reinvest the land with power by reclaimng the sacred places. On this basis, perhaps we may map one road to apotheosis in the act of sharing in the numinosity of the wild in this way.
I would also stress my own standpoint in relation to spontaneity in terms of cosmic origination, and in this I relate to the Greek and also particularly Orphic cosmology here. In the Orphic cosmology, there isn’t really a Creator as such, and the forces of Limited Time and Necessity have no source, or at least are not intelligently set into motion, and the forces of creativity that animate the Orphic cosmos seem to spontaneously emerge from each other. I have seen Orphic cosmology interpreted as an unfolding of material substances beginning from an indescribable source or principle (or “Arrhetos Arkhe”), and from the unfolding of these substances the gods and eventually all life emerge, and then only after this the gods, or at least particularly Zeus, arrange the order by which the universe is governed. The Hesiodic cosmology has everything begin with Chaos, and then spontaneously emerging from Chaos are the first primordial beings or deities, and then they give rise to successive generations of gods, and finally humanity is created. Between, the actual starting point seems to be ineffable, outright unknown, but I’m inclined to take this as an opportunity for Negativity to fill the gaps here. Thus Darkness becomes the stuff in which the unfolding of life begins. It is possible to take a similar tack when dealing with the Norse cosmos. From the mythological source of material we have, at least, the Norse cosmos begins in a state of primordial chaos referred to as Ginnungagap, which nonetheless contains two elements that conflict with each other, and through this strife the no-thing-ness unfolds in the generation of Ymir and their abode, before a successive generations kills him and creates the cosmic order from Ymir’s primeval potentiality. Darkness, at least in the sense relatable to the the no-thing-ness we just touched upon, again lies at the beginning of things, its fertility the basis of the potentiality of Ymir and the violent creation initiated by the gods through his sacrifice, lurks beneath the surface of the cosmos and is felt in the nature of its progression and eventual unravelling and destruction in Ragnarok. From this standpoint, I derive a spontaneous cosmos on perfectly Pagan grounds.
To at last close thing section, let us return one more time to the subject of apotheosis, only this time let’s sketch out a rationale suitable for a Pagan worldview and a Satanic one. I talk about rebirth in the context of Pagan religious doctrine a fair bit, in relation to death of course, and let us start here from the context of the constancy of death and rebirth, and propose, from a Pagan standpoint, that all of life is inevitably reborn after death. I would envision that this rebirth would not be conditioned by moral conduct, meaning that your rebirth has nothing to do with good or evil, rather it is simply part of the cycle of life. That is, unless you attain apotheosis. There is an idea found in the Orphic mysteries, which held that the Orphist must undergo a life of contemplation, non-violence, and ritual purity before eventually undergoing a journey through the underworld, drink from the pool of Mnemosyne (memory), present formulae to the guardians or gods of the underworld, and then afterwords be released from death and reincarnation in order to join the company of the gods. Of course, the requirements of the original Orphic teaching might prove disagreeable in their apparently emphasis on purity and pacifism, but the underlying formula has many other echoes and roots, and at any rate is conceptually useful. In the Orphic perspective, apotheosis would not only have meant immortality and power, but also more strictly freedom, at least freedom from endless rebirths, and partaking in the nature and processes of divinity once one has passed into it. The underworld in pre-Christian Greece has been a place of (as Jake Stratton-Kent put it) deifying power probably before the Orphics codified their own doctrine of apotheosis. The underworld is not just the home of the dead; it’s also the place where death becomes the renewal of life. Far from the Christian view, in which Hell was the place of eternal suffering or even just a byword for oblivion, the underworld is a place not only where shades dwell in the condition of death, but pass into the condition of their rebirth, forgetting their past to become new life. This understanding is at the heart of why the Orphic soul descends to the underworld to receive release from death, and why the Elusinian Mysteries center the re-enactment of death and rebirth with the aim of immortality or simply a blessed afterlife. In Sicily, Western Greeks participated in “ritual deaths”, the dismantling of the everyday self, followed by rebirth through, through ritual communion with chthonic gods such as Dionysus, Demeter, and/or Kore (or Persephone). We know next to nothing about the Dionysian mysteries that preceded Orphism, but I think it is reasonable to suggest that the ritual death-and-rebirth aspect in connection to ritual communion may have been an element in those mysteries too.
Many ideas of Greek apotheosis seemed to, in some way, connect to the theme of death. Even in “classical” Orphism, one could only join the company of the gods after death, and even then, it may have taken multiple reincarnations for the practitioner to preced this apotheosis. Slain gods are reborn in majesty, Osiris reunites with his wife after death and becomes the lord of the Egyptian underworld, Achilles is reunited with Medea in the Elysian fields after death, and several mortals were transformed into gods or daemons after their deaths. This is the other aspect of Greek apotheosis, besides magickal and ritual identification of the gods as expressed in the Greek Magickal Papyri. In a sense this hints into the real meaning of the journey to the underworld; to take yourself into the maw of the death and rebirth, into the negativity of the cosmos, into blood and the other side of life, to receive knowledge, to be empowered, to take into yourself in order to truly commune with the divine and be divine yourself. And to do that thus would mean setting yourself free from the limits of ignorance and subjection, and set yourself into the realm of the gods. In the context of Satanic Paganism, this all has the aim of devourment, taking the sacred as your own absorbing divinity into your own self, in making and unmaking, setting into motion the liberation of consciousness, co-creating your own will, and persisting, no longer bound to reincarnation but instead free as part of the cycles of the gods. I actually sort of think of it as almost analogous to Buddhism in this regard, with its discourse on samsara and nirvana, especially in light of the way Esoteric Buddhism has influenced me in many other ways, but whereas you’re not trying to save yourself or the world from the immovable condition of suffering, you are unfettering yourself and participating in the deepest condition of life, taking divinity and negativity into yourself.
As Stirner said, a heaven arises, falls, is replaced and stormed by the next heaven. The existential condition of rebellion, of the war of all against all, assures this. You might well find yourself stuck within it, but, it’s just as well a place of power in the same way that negativity is. You don’t have to be beneath fixed piety or power, you can stand on your own feet and elevate yourself within the numinous world. Thus, in our path, there is no conflict stemming from the relationship to the gods, only in the war of all against all that pervades life.
Against God and/or The Demiurge
If we’re operating with a Satanic orientation, then there’s simply no way to approach God except with unmitigated hostility. For Paganism on its own, this is admittedly less true when Yahweh can simply be reintegrated as one more among the ranks of the polytheistic gods, even if that means ignoring that Yahweh is quite explicit about his utter rejection of that place in the world. The Satanist would understand that it is possible to take up God and his Son as part of a polytheistic “pantheon” (problematic though the term often is), but then our question to that is “why would you want to?”. This, after all, is the same God and his Son under whose cultus the worship of other gods was consistently and systematically suppressed and attacked for centuries. In his own Word, God orders the destruction of those who refuse to worship him, and in his law the worship of gods besides himself is explicitly forbidden. We thus find more contemporary takes on polytheism stressing the possibility of harmony between the gods and their would-be oppressor to be baffling to say the least.
You need not take the rejection of God as an expression of simple atheism, not least because I intend to present a rather precise conception of God which can be opposed even without the rejection of the divine itself. Think about it, when we talk about God, what do we really mean? “God”, imagined as a singular being, could generally be understood as just one more deity, and in this sense one more part of the polytheistic ecosystem of gods, albeit one who imagines himself the sole sovereign in the cosmos. But then there is the conceptual God, God as a postulate, God the Idea, this conception that separates the monotheistic worldview from the polytheistic worldview. This God is the supreme singular teleological consciousness which creates (or artifices) the cosmos, governs it’s operations and progress and with it that of all life, directs the motion of all things towards its own purpose, and perhaps for all beings it is their true image, beyond their discrete individuality. God, simply put, is the idea of the Supreme Being, the ultimate divine consciousness in the universe, the great will from which meaning itself is ultimately derived and to which all things ultimately answer.
We usually deal with the Christian conception of this, but besides the other two “Abrahamic” religions, you can find many iterations of the concept of the Supreme Being all over the religious world. You may see different iterations of it in Hinduism, and even some esoteric forms of Buddhism have pantheistic forms of the solar Buddha that sound suspiciously Godlike, there’s the concept of Heaven that we see in Confucian tradition, there’s Ahura Mazda prefiguring the Christian ideal of the good God in Zoroastrianism, to name a handful of examples. Even in the “classical” world of pre-Christian Greek polytheism, the concept of God we imagine is arguably prefigured by the cult of Zeus Hypsistios, the “Most High”, some versions of which involved the idea that the other gods were not proper deities and instead more like angels. Even today I would say that there are Hellenists who talk about Zeus as though they might as talk about God, at least were it not for the polytheistic context of their beliefs. But whatever identity we give it, let’s deal with the rammifications of the Supreme Being, or God. A being capable of being the supreme director, supreme teleological will, supreme arbiter or life itself, is inexorably responsible for everything that happens under its domain. Necessarily, God is responsible for an immeasurable amount of suffering in the universe, and every death, oppression, anguish, agony, despair, confusion, deception, pain, and every straying away from God is all directly caused or set into motion by him, all on purpose, all part of the plan he has for you, just as much as anything good. This means that if you suffered a miserable and agonizing life, then God arranged it to be this way on purpose, rather than this simply being a matter of chance, bad luck, or a spontaneous chain of events. It would be pointless even to say that it’s a matter of the consequences of bad decisions or the system you live in, because these themselves were set up by God through the course of events that he purposefully arranged. Even if God were as loving and benevolent as he said he was, the power he wields over all of life necessitates that he is the cause of life’s agony and suffering and exercises absolute dominion over its agency.
There’s also the egoist understanding of the problem, for you see God is the egoist whose sole mission in life is to convince you that he is the only legitimate egoist. You are an egoist either in potentia or in the active sense, in denial or in realization, you are Unique, an Ownness, and if we assume that there is God, then God himself would be just another of the same, except that he or his followers might claim that he alone is Unique. Even if we may further question the corporeality of God’s “Uniqueness” insofar as we may deny God, the claim of the Uniqueness of God as the serole Unique necessarily imposes itself upon the Uniquenesses of all other beings, who then, blinded by light, mistake just another being for the template of Being or even the sole constituent of the universe. Thus, cosmic tyranny is born, and it is still tyranny, still captivity, still slavery, even if God really was as benevolent as he was proclaimed to be.
And so, the Satanist is distinguished by their will to reject God and refuse to worship God let alone his Son, even if that God is real, regardless of if God is not real, even if God was as “Good” as he said he was, and even if the act of refusing to worship consigned you to a fate of damnation worse than death. Even a loving God would still grind you into the dirt because that was all part of his plan, and would still hold your soul to ransom such that the only way to claim it for yourself was by force of will directed against God. This knowledge is at least part of what animates the Satanic will to rebellion and transgression, and compels us to join Stirner’s “war of all against all” as active spiritual combatants, as devils bearing black flames.
There is a somewhat useful concept that can be pulled from Paul Tillich, a Christian existentialist theologian, for discursive purposes. He argued for a concept of “justified atheism” (justified, of course, being framed within Christian boundaries), which seems to have been meant as the idea that atheism can be justified as a reject to “theism”, by which is meant the idea of God being a personal deity as opposed to Tillich’s more abstract and existential view of God as the ground of being, the God-beyond-God who is thus the “justifier” of atheism. The way I see it, the a-theos stance is easily perversible, that is to say turned on its head. Instead of a-theos meaning a rejection of the personal God in favour of the God-beyond-God, here I will mean it as the rejection of the Supreme Being in all its various conceptions, on behalf of a wild, ungoverned, and ungovernable cosmos, in which, insofar as we may say there are personal gods, there are multiple of them and never just one, and insofar as there is power involved, it is also a zone of contestation and never a fixed point in the cosmos This a-theos thus means not so much the rejection of divinity (which is in multiplicity) and more like the rejection of objective teleological consciousness – thus, God.
And if indeed we are to speak of a ground of being, from my standpoint why should that be God, or teleological consciousness? I can imagine a ground of being that is not teleological, not rational, certainly not bright, or even particularly benign to be totally honest. It is not exactly God-beyond-God, but it is, in the Taoist sense, larger than God or indeed any one single deity. The ground of being I would conceive is negative, chaotic, even “violent” perhaps. I have discussed many ways of seeing Darkness this way. I suppose I practically do call it Darkness, at least in that Darkness is a summation of the characteristics I ascribe to it. It is not teleological, it could if anything be anti-teleological, it is senseless, it destroys so as to create and creates so as to destroy, it is the life and the death and the black soil that it glows in, it is the sublime fecundity of the night laid bare, the dark source of all that is and that which is. It sets no order, it spontaneously generates, dissolutes, and regurgiates, not even the term “whim” accurately describes such operation. How could one call that God, except that such is larger than God, and may one day claim his corpse along with all others.
I suppose what I am saying is that the universe is irrational, even when we consider the divine to be present within it. After all, perhaps the divine is in everything, but the gods are very often in conflict, so it cannot be assumed that there is harmony or reason inherent in the world just because of the presence of the divine. Even if we did affirm God, what would make you think God is any more “rational” than you or me, just because God is much more powerful and knowledgeable than you or me? You cannot know God’s will, but that means that, for all you know, all of God’s will is nothing more than irrational whims. But if God were rational, would that really be any better? Perhaps it might in fact be somewhat worse. Where does God’s rationality start from? I am certain that it is not from any human set of considerations, because, despite the Bible’s assurance that we are made in the image of God, God is absolutely not human, and if we take the concept of God seriously we could understand God as being certainly more powerful than humans would be. So God’s rationality, despite the promise of unconditional love for mankind, can only operate from a standpoint remarkable alienation from us, a lifeform immeasurably puny in comparison to the universe that people say God created, and this can only mean that God acts towards us either with apathy or, in truly rational fashion, with abject cruelty; if God is rational, then he rationally determines ideas of love, justice, benevolence that cannot possibly align with how we conceive them, which means that God’s love, justice, and even benevolence is for us nothing but a chamber of horrors. In this sense, I would actually say that it is better that the universe is irrational than if it were rational. Again, think of the tragedies, the evils, and the horrors that beset you in the universe as I have already set forth. More than anything, consider the fact that you can literally die not only at any time in your life but also suddenly and seemingly at random, even if you’re perfectly healthy. If you’re telling me that the universe is actually a rational universe, and that reason is self-evident in every happening and everything happens for a rational reason, then this necessarily means that the universe rationally decided to suddenly kill you for a reason, a reason that you will probably never be able to understand. To say that we live in a rational universe, or a universe controlled by God, or a universe possessing any kind of teleological will, is to say that all of life is nothing but cattle for the universe, raised up and then slaughtered for the designs of the universe. In my view, that is undoubtedly worse than the idea that we just crawled out of the slime of a cosmos that belched itself into existence or that life seems to have no inherent purpose. If we understand our death as taking place in the chaos of life, then it’s easy enough to understand that it is what it is, but we understand that there is some order to our otherwise random demise, then all this means is that we are being murdered and that the universe, God, or cosmic Reason are our murderers.
Now we come to the other part of this conversation: The Demiurge. But, I am not a Gnostic of any sort, so the sense in which I refer to a Demiurge is not as a distinct entity. In fact, I’m playing with a term has been frequently employed in political theory ever since Thomas Hobbes: I speak, of course, of Leviathan. And, frankly, I consider the term “Leviathan” to be entirely a misnomer. Hobbes seems to have invoked the term “Leviathan” in reference to the awesome power of the unitary sovereign state, partly because, in his day, the name “Leviathan” came to refer to a figure of sheer size and strength, aptly reflected by the size and strength of the Leviathan. But the actual Leviathan of myth wasn’t just some exceptionally big and strong animal; the Leviathan was a creature of wild, untamed chaos, part of a lineage of chaos serpents/monsters that form an ecosystem of myths of creation and struggle in the ancient Middle East and parts beyond, but in Biblical context also specifically symbolised the enemies of Israel. These enemies are framed in the Bible as a hostile wild outside the walls of Godly civilization, whether it’s the sea inhabited by the Leviathan or the demon-filled ruins that are to be lands such as Edom. The Biblical Leviathan, by Hobbes’ terms, was actually the nasty and brutish wild, which needed to have a strong and powerful order imposed upon it, and the agent of this order was God. Later Gnostic and also Jewish mysticism sees the Leviathan as an outer darkness encircling the world of mankind, like a serpent biting its own tail, certain Gnostics in particular taking it as the intrinsic evil of the universe of matter. Hobbes refers to his “Leviathan” as “the mortal God, to which we owe under the Immortal God, our peace and defence”. That has me thinking a little bit about the Demiurge in Valentinian Gnosticism, who in comparison to the “true God” might well be the “mortal god”, fighting the Devil and his forces to secure the world under the oversight of Jesus and Sophia, who are agents of the true God, who may as well be the “immortal God”. But whereas in the Gnostic sects there is the “immortal God” of pure spirit and the “mortal God” that is the Demiurge, the position I advance is down with the mortal and immortal God both!
To cut to the point, I use the Demiurge instead “the Leviathan” to refer to what people mean by “the Leviathan”; that is, the totality not only of state power but of state-level relationships and organisation. Church, Capital, Society, “God”, Order, Authority, these taken together are the Demiurge. But whereas for the Christopher Williams’ of the world this Demiurge is yet still fundamentally good, we as Satanists, as Adversaries, join in the war of all against all so as to destroy this Demiurge. And it makes for such a better analogy than “the Leviathan”, since this totality of power is the artificer of the world, which the Demiurge is and which the Leviathan is not.
The Art of Agnosticism In All Things
Let us take note of a quote that appears in The Satanic Wiki, an independent crowd-sourced online community archive of information about Satanism. It seems to originally be from an invocation from The Satanic Temple, but in an act of detournement it is directed against The Satanic Temple as, themselves, another arbitrary authority figure that must not be spared its demise. In any case, here it is below:
Let us stand now, unbowed and unfettered by arcane doctrines born of fearful minds in darkened times. Let us embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and dissipate our blissful and comforting delusions of old. Let us demand that individuals be judged for their concrete actions, not their fealty to arbitrary social norms and illusory categorizations. Let us reason our solutions with agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true. Let us stand firm against any and all arbitrary authority that threatens the personal sovereignty of One or All. That which will not bend must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise. It is Done. Hail Satan.
I put emphasis on “Let us reason our solutions with agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true.” because this is the point I hone in on. What I mean here is the interpretation of agnositicism in all things as to embrace a fundamental state of unknowing that comprises life at large, as one of the facets of “darkness” and its apophatic nature which lies at the wellspring of everything. This unknowning denotes a fundamental uncertainty of knowledge, a void that the imagined sovereignty of discursive reason fails to penetrate, a void that can only really be navigated experientially. This unknowing demands the undertaking of experience as a path to knowledge, and the abandonment of any illusion of something that can guarantee any absolute sense of truth. However much people like to define Satanism by some commitment to popular rationalism, ontological agnosticism is quite probably more familiar to Satanism. Don’t forget that it was LaVey who exalted doubt above the principle of illumination in itself.
Rose Crowley, a modern practitioner of Satanism (or more specifically her own brand of “Integral Satanism”), has also explained the value of ontological agnosticism especially within the context of magickal ritual praxis. She points out that even the success of a ritual holds on inherent bearing on the concrete reality of the entities involved, and, citing Jean-Paul Sartre, states that even if God were real, whether or not you believed in the experience was up to you. You’re left to your own limited powers of discernment or reasoning to determine if you were experiencing anything real or some form of illusion, and no experience can fix your beliefs for you. Some interesting citations about ontological agnositcism include Aleister Crowley in Liber O, where he wrote that in this book it is spoken of things which “may or may not exist” and that it is immaterial whether they exist or not next to the results of working with them, warning against the attribution of hard objective reality to them, and a Tantric Buddhist master who answered a question on the reality of the deities by saying they were “no more real than you are”. For her, ontological agnosticism means the rejection of the fixidity of all frameworks of thought and action, the limits of which are to be transcended again and again. In this, we can easily insert a good word about Max Stirner and from there project the rammifications of the rejection of all fixed ideas before the Einzige. To be grounded in groundlessness and ride the current of unknowning, as in rather than being weighted down under it, that is the Satanic Agnosticism In All Things that Rose elaborates.
Where I draw the connection to Paganism in this theme is that my inquiry into this has Paganism as its origin. Pre-Christian polytheistic philosophy, or rather more specifically that of polytheistic Rome and Greece, had at base a tendency towards ontological agnosticism or even skepticism in its view of the nature of knowledge. As Cicero recounts in On The Nature of the Gods:
It was entirely with Zenon, so we have been told, I replied, that Arcesilas set on foot his battle, not from obstinacy or desire for victory, as it seems to me at all events, but because of the obscurity of the facts that had led Socrates to a confession of ignorance, as also previously his predecessors Democritus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and almost all the old philosophers, who utterly denied all possibility of cognition or perception or knowledge, and maintained that the senses are limited, the mind feeble, the span of life short, and that truth (in Democritus’s phrase) is sunk in an abyss, opinion and custom are all-prevailing, no place is left for truth, all things successively are wrapped in darkness. Accordingly Arcesilas said that there is nothing that can be known, not even that residuum of knowledge that Socrates had left himself – the truth of this very dictum: so hidden in obscurity did he believe that everything lies, nor is there anything that can be perceived or understood, and for these reasons, he said, no one must make any positive statement or affirmation or give the approval of his assent to any proposition, and a man must always restrain his rashness and hold it back from every slip, as it would be glaring rashness to give assent either to a falsehood or to something not certainly known, and nothing is more disgraceful than for assent and approval to outstrip knowledge and perception.
Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, p.453
The truth of the truth for pre-Christian philosophers is that of a prevailing condition of unknowing, and this unknowing is what Cicero refers to as “darkness”. This fundamental unknowning is, incidentally, a part of how I have discussed Darkness, in terms of the apophatic quality I discussed in terms of negative theology, but as pertains to the nature of knowledge and not just divinity. Pagan unknowing is the condition in which we are compelled to recognize ultimately that nothing can truly be “known”, at least discursively, that truth lay hidden in darkness if we can speak of it, and that this goes even for the proclamation of unknowing itself. In modern Paganism, unknowing and hence agnosticism pervades the very concept of knowledge of the gods, which is divided between Unverified Personal Gnosis, Shared Personal Gnosis, and Verified Personal Gnosis. The division between them is measured by the extent to which knowledge might be shared among others or even “confirmed” extraneously, but even Verified Personal Gnosis cannot be considered in terms of what we usually consider perfectly objective truth, because its source is imperfect, and so ultimately is human knowledge and perception, thus, these things are locked in darkness. Such a worldview is one of the things that set pre-Christian paganism apart from the Christianity that would later be codified after the supposed death of Jesus, in that, even though Christians themselves may hold that it is impossible to really know God, it was Augustine who established that, from the perspective of Christian philosophy, the fundamental unknowing accounted for in polytheistic philosophy is merely an error, one that cannot be prevented (and is further perpetuated) by the suspension of judgement, and therefore cannot secure truth or happiness because of its inability to secure perfection.
Yet we should be compelled to return to what Rose said, the art of riding the unknowing. There are many ways of dealing with the unknowing so familiar to religious consciousness. The most familiar of these, peddled fervently by Christianity, is piety, faith in spite of the unknowability of God and indeed with the express taboo against even trying to gain knowledge of God. The approach I might suggest, however, is to step into the darkness, and shedding boundaries in order to do so. In a similar sense to how Keiji Nishitani said that there was no way out of nihilism but through it, if we are at all times surrounded by unknowing and darkness, and at all times finding it latent within life, the obvious path to truth and liberation is not against but through, not to extricate oneself from it but to take your step into it. We all feel our way through life even in our reasoning, but most of us assume that there is some reliable ground that we call “ultimate truth”. But insofar as that exists, we may say Darkness is that “ultimate truth”…just because what it conveys is, in its paradox, the only ontological certainty. As this entails unknowing, the implications for “ultimate truth” are obvious, albeit, again, paradoxical. Reason is very obviously not self-evident in all things, and there is no essential hierarchy of truth and being. What there is is the sleep of meaning set against the opportunity to radically engage with unknowing, as the experiential means of deriving knowledge, in full awareness of its unknowing. In the latter, if I may invoke the analogy to Esoteric Buddhist hongaku thought, the way I envision is fundamental ignorance realized as enlightenment.
Relevant to nihilism, let’s apply the apophatic quality of the self and the unknowing that attends it in relation to when Ivan Turgenev said, “The heart of another is a dark forest”. The “dark forest” is a metaphor for how it’s really impossible to “understand” the feelings of other people. You won’t have a codified map of the mind of a person, not least because, as a matter of fact, we don’t even have such a thing for the human brain itself or even the nature of human consciousness. There is a void that lies at the innermost beneath our actions, one which cannot and will never be “brought to the light” through reason or any discursive power. Each of us is an Ownness, even if most of us are merely asleep to this fact. The nature of Ownness as a substance and individual characteristic is beyond discursive categorization, irreducible to fixed things and states, unable to identify fully with another. It is a non-thing, it is Nothing, a Creative Nothing, defined on negative terms. You will not be able to master or shed light on the Ownness of another, and you can hardly establish any cataphatic structure to cage your Ownness either. Life possesses an inner darkness at least in its apophatic quality. But, of course, we may venture into the forest. Indeed, perhaps it is better to say that we have to venture into the dark forest. Only by doing so do we acquire the wisdom which calls darkness its home. That is what animates the journey into the underworld. Even from the standpoint of Christian negative theology, the prophet Moses met with God in the darkness surrounding the top of Mount Sinai, which is theologically understood as meaning to go beyond all things in order to encounter God. But however it is understood, this is to venture into what was understood in the Greek mysteries as arrheton. The word arrheton means “ineffable”, which has also been traditionally interpreted to mean that which cannot be spoken of. Arrheton thus denotes divine negativity and unknowing. It may not necessarily mean “forbidden” (the word for that is aporrheton), but it does denote something that cannot be understood discursively, and it must be passed into, which means that one must partake of the mystery in order to understand its life-affirming secret and its inherent sacrality. For the mysteries, this meant the teaching was to be kept secret, and all participants honoured the regime of silence, often on pain of death. But even if such secrecy is not necessary, and perhaps it isn’t, the point is that it cannot be spoken of, meaning you cannot simply reason about it discursively, and so you most pass into it. The heart of another is a dark forest, and so you must pass into the forest. To do this, you must embrace the unknowing of the world.
For the rationalist, especially the rationalist who calls themselves a skeptic, everything is matter of the ability to prove everything to everyone. For their Christian counterpart, everything is a matter of faith, and its confirmation, to whom reason is ultimately but a tool. An alternative to either, I believe, is best summarized in Voltairine de Cleyer’s poem The Toast of Despair; life is a problem without a why, and never a thing to prove.
The Politics of Satanic Paganism
There is sometimes a tendency among both some Satanists and some Pagans to assume that their respective paths are not political, or that they can be totally separated from politics. I’m afraid that this assertion is just not true, and the syncretism that I present does not hold any promise of separation from political ramifications. In fact, up to now I have already related some of the contours of Satanic Paganism to political theory and philosophy, and at that a decidedly radical selection of theory. There is also an ever-present need to guard against the constant creep of fascism, and the bending of the world of alternative spirituality towards reactionary or right-wing ends. This requires a somewhat consistent politicization, which then serves to counter politicization in the other direction; if you do not politicize, the other side will do it for you on their terms, and you don’t want that. Therefore it is imperative that the political commitments or ramifications of Satanic Paganism are established. And bear in mind, this is still in the context of what is essentially an individualistic mode of religious or spiritual thought and praxis, so there is a sense which you can say these ramifications may be interpreted as individual from my standpoint. Yet, they are not isolated from the ways in which it can be applied in more generally, outside of myself.
I suppose it is really best for me to start by asserting what Satanic Paganism is not, or rather what it rejects. I see Satanic Paganism as expressly anti-fascist, anti-statist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist, anti-folkist, anti-authoritarian, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-queerphobic, anti-ecocide, and in general opposed to all forms of oppression. I also see Satanic Paganism as opposed to the dominant and mainstream representations of Satanism who have set themselves or have been set up as basically “the establishment” of Satanism, largely because of their authoritarian practice, reactionary tendencies, and overall failure to really challenge anything. I oppose the Church of Satan for its basis in Anton LaVey’s reactionary Social Darwinism, drawn from the Objectivism of Ayn Rand and the white supremacist nightmare of Might Is Right, the totalitarian vision of Pentagonal Revisionism, and the simple fact that the organisation is filled to the brim with outright neo-Nazis and other fascists, and its leadership has openly praised the neo-Nazi James Mason, all while they claim sole historical authority over the concept of Satanism, which they claim to have invented, even in the face of all evidence to the contrary. As may have already been established, I oppose The Satanic Temple for the fact that they are nothing but your average atheist dressed in black clothes and pentagrams, with no serious development of Satanism as a religio-philosophical system beyond a series of failed Yes Men style activist campaigns, and on top of that their leadership is in the habit of silencing critics and exploiting their membership just so they can support their right-wing buddies. I also oppose more prolific esoteric groups who peddle fascism in their own way, like the Temple of Set (with whom I also have much more issues with them as well) and Become A Living God.
But having established what I oppose, what do I stand for? The answer is, in one word, freedom. In two words, egoistic liberty. I long for a world in which there is no power that can curtail the free expression, cultivation, and self-boundarying of Ownness in each individual. All authorities, all statehood, all class rule, all borders, all manifestations of normative Society, all of the social structures, as instruments of the Demiurge that has ruled and stood atop this ancient freedom for millennia, will be destroyed. People will simply live their lives “naturally” to themselves, insofar as there will be no force directing them to live against themselves. All the prevailing conditions of the world will be overthrown and dissolved, and thus freedom from these conditions is attained. This sounds like egoistic anarchism. Indeed, I am an egoist, an anarchist, a communist, and a nihilist at once. Right now I dwell in the intersection of these concepts as well as ecological politics. To create the world I seek means two things: to see the relationships of a world of autonomy prefigured in the here and now, and to destroy the totality of the world order in the here and now. In other words, anarchy as life and negation as praxis hold the keys to the kingdom of destruction. From this destruction, the world is set loose into an autonomy of reciprocal relationships between people, and once more between Man and Life.
As I see it, this entails a political outlook that is usually placed at the far corners of “The Left”, and yet even that description is fairly inadequate. In objective terms, “The Left” and “The Right” are constructs that, although generally abstract, derive their existence from their relationship to Capital in the context of their origins in the French Revolution. There’s almost no way to actually derive universal objective content from them, or a universal standard for what makes someone a “leftist”, but between “The Left” and “The Right” it may be possible to assess some vague core for each. “The Left” is simply a collection of ideologies defined only by the fact that all of them believe in some means of the socialization of politics. In bourgeois politics this typically means people who want to socialize the wealth of bourgeois society through the downwards redistribution of wealth, while in the broader context of “Socialism” it pertains to a broad idea of the public ownership of production, by any number of definitions. The most radical expression of the socialization of politics is to be found in the axiom found among many communists and anarchists which proposes that everything is to be owned universally, without the division between the state and the proletariat. Egalitarianism in the context of “leftist” politics means the socialization of the political franchise in that the whole mass may share this franchise, typically still within the context of the logic of democratic statehood. While one of the many ways “leftists” divide each other is on the subject of whether or not another is “really” a “leftist”, the reality is that, so long as their aim represents the socialization of politics, even the most rank social-chauvinist, insofar as they have the same basic goal, is arguably a “leftist”. This does not make them “comrades”, however, and that realization should attune you to the reality that simply being a “leftist” doesn’t actually make you a comrade or an ally of anyone, even of other “leftists”. Suffice it to say there is a reason that “left unity” is either illusory or arguably undesirable, and in this regard the problem is that there are multiple fundamentally opposed means of acheiving the socialization of politics. “The Right”, on the other side, is that collection of ideologies which is defined only by their interest in the concentration of politics.A very obvious expression of this is the fact that pretty much all of “The Right”, including fascists (even “Third Positionists”), support the concentration of private property in some way or another. In fact I’d say that the fundamental logic of right-wing politics was already authored by the act of enclosure, the confiscation of the commons by the state and its subsequent re-investment into the hands of the property-owning class. Even “anarcho”-capitalists perpetuate this logic to the point that their “statelessness” is nothing more than the concentration of private property at the expense of the very source of its existence. The right-wing obsession with hierarchy as an existential fact and moral necessity further illustrates the concentration of politics as the concentration of political power through the principle of social stratification. Expressions of social conservatism on “The Left” serve merely to socialize the idealised top of the hierarchy of values to be absorbed in every obedient member of the masses. Every Social Darwinist argument made by rightists of both the statist and “libertarian” camps is a way of promoting the hierarchical concentration of politics by naturalizing the existing conditions and constitution of social stratification.
Where does this place me, then? To me, the intersection of communism, anarchism, nihilism, and egoism points to an outcome wherein we see the unfolding of life ungoverned by the structures that emerge from statehood, hierarchy, and capital to restrict the horizons of existence and expressivity. I have come to reject the notion of any hard boundaries or borders between the ideological concepts that I stand behind. Communism is the real movement dedicated to the overthrow and abolition of the totality of the existing conditions. Taken seriously, this means we do not stop even at capital, and so statehood and hierarchy, even “Society”, as key constitutents in this totality, are also to be dismantled. Insofar as communism already means the establishment of classless, moneyless, and stateless conditions, it doesn’t take much effort to see that we approach the conclusion of anarchism. In fact, Pyotr Kropotkin had already understood this. But the abolition of the totality of existing conditions is inherently negativistic, and when deepened sufficiently, active political nihilism makes perfect sense of this goal, in that the whole point is to negate the totality of conditions in order that the new world is born out of the void; thus our aim is what I call the world after the world. I like to think it almost as that beautiful new world that emerges right after the conclusion of Ragnarok. Communism is also egoism, as Karl Marx himself declared in his meager attempt to refute Max Stirner in Critique of the German Ideology. Communist theory, if it is consistent, understands that there is no such thing as “the general interest” or even “the greater good” except for some idea created by the ruling class or society of a given era, and the total appropriation of Man by Man takes on the form of devourment in that alienation is to be overcome by the devourment of all property and production, ridding it of its concentration in privation and labour, in order to make it yours, and thus everyone’s. Remember from Bakunin that my freedom and your freedom are really the same freedom, and cannot be one-sided without it meaning privilege, and so through Stirner my egoism and your egoism is really the same egoism. On this basis the real condition of egoistic freedom is paradoxically a collective individualism, even if individuality rather than the collective is its ultimate source. Society, in this sense, is ultimately an abstraction, a fixed idea, a spook, it has no objectivity and is instead a byword for the various social and productive relationships we enter into in settlement and regulate through norms. The concept of “Society” is thus, in material terms, something we put ourselves but which obscures the real relationships and conditions that comprise it. On egoist and nihilist terms, this might well demand the abolition of “Society” as the fulfillment of the communist demand for the abolition of the totality of existing conditions. Alfredo Bonnano, a fairly notorious insurrectionary anarchist whose work currently informs the nihilist movement, in Armed Joy not only doesn’t oppose his anarchism to communism but instead refers to communism as a need that transforms all other needs, and whose fulfillment abolishes labour and replaces it with the condition of the individual’s complete availablity to themselves and expressivity of themselves, to the extent of breaking from all models, even production itself. And of course, if by communism all we mean is a free association of people who, without the rule of the state or hierarchy or capital, interact with one another to fully develop themselves in any way they want, we might find the Union of Egoists as the highest expression of this idea which fulfills it and brings it back to its dialectical source in the individualistic aspirations of Ownness. From there, it is easy to see the way communism, egoism, nihilism, and anarchism all come together for me. It is also for this reason that I must refuse the label of “socialist” for myself, because in practice, as an idea not confined to Marxist thought, it can mean any number of definitions for “public ownership of the means of production”, including some fairly meager and even almost reactionary forms of statist reform. Besides, it seems like these days anyone can call themselves a socialist.
Since religion is political, and modern politics arguably “religious”, this places Satanic Paganism at the depths of the camp of liberation, its negativity stretching out even to the abolition of politics by politics. That at least is my goal. Unlike many anarchists, or many communists for that matter, I think that there is an extent to which it is possible to prefigure the logic of Anarchy via religious thought in a way that secular thought does not always accomplish. I have seen Anarchy described as a “centerless constellation of relationships” built upon “affinity, trust, and reciprocal knowledge”. A constellation of reciprocal relationships is, at base, the ramifications of the pre-Christian polytheistic cosmos. Even the centerlessness of this constellation is applicable to such a context, as I have shown when discussing the theology of rebellion at length in this article. There’s no fixed hierarchy of power, no fixed centre, no centre that isn’t ultimately altered by change of hand, and reciprocity is the defining feature of the relationships people cultivate with the divine and the world in which the divine manifests. Granted, this didn’t necessarily translate to orchards of Anarchy across time until the emergence of Christianity; if that were the case, there should have been no states and no imperialism based on statehood. What it does mean, though, is that some of the most basic logic of pre-Christian religiosity is pregnant with the potential to prefigure the logic of Anarchy. Indeed, we might well consider how pre-Christian societies in Scandinavia were defined by barely governable decentralised societies up until the later periods where more “classical” central monarchies emerged and eventually led northern Europe into the Christian era.
But even if we can’t accept that all pre-Christian societies were very free, consider the efforts of militant atheism or anti-theism. The simple fact is that state socialist countries, typically formed along the lines of some form of Marxism-Leninism, had a penchant for “freeing people from reactionary religion” by oppressing religious communities, denying freedom of religious association, heavily regulating worship, and conquering lands that were deemed “backward”. To this day, capitalist China (which incidentally is statistically the most atheistic country in the world) still imposes harsh restrictions on religious worship, often persecuting churches and temples for not glorifying party leadership enough, and is currently carrying out a systematic genocide of the Uyghur Muslims. Even in the context of anarchism, there is the often downplayed case of Spanish anarchists who partook of massacres against Christians. The hero of modern secular Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, participated in a genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire against Greeks on the basis of religion and ethnicity. During the French Revolution, pre-existing religion was rejected only to be replaced by a new theistic civic cult dedicated to the “Supreme Being” (God by another name, perhaps less offensive to rationalist sensibilities), and de-Christianizers who were seen as not aligned with Robespierre’s cult were executed. In the Enlightenment, people like Bruno Bauer espoused the idea that people should be required to renounce their religious identity in order to become “free citizens”; today, that basic program is being carried out in China in its efforts to “Sinicize” religious and ethnic minorities. The simple lack of belief in God, or the simply commitment to Reason, has long been assumed to be the foundation of relationships of freedom, but in many ways this seems not necessarily to have been the case. Rather, I think of it the way I think of the ecological crisis. It is ultimately foolish to think that we can simply change the hands of the system, only address its economic conditions, and expect to resolve much. No, we must develop reciprocal relationships with the world, not unlike what may have once existed before; for me, this is part of why the Pagan worldview is so important. Similarly, I am inclined towards the idea that those who can develop a spiritual, religio-magickal praxis of liberatory negativity have the power to prefigure their own freedom, and light the way in their example.
I would say that the embrace of Negativity in a Satanic context is a core plank of the political aspect of Satanic Paganism as much as – no, more like because of– its wider philosophical basis. This is because Negativity in terms of active politics brings to focus the idea that all the existing structures, which carry forth the logic of status quo and assure its reproduction even in any new world, should be dismantled. This, of course, is the total opposite of even democratic socialist thought and a great deal of “dialectics” whose whole point is to preserve the political order, “the shell of the old world”, so that it can condition their grand new world. But the active nihilism or negativism of certain anarchist tendencies is actually perhaps the illuminating perspective on that theme that has stayed with me throughout my life. Death and rebirth, intertwined with one another, darkness the source of light. From the standpoint of active nihilism, death means the negation of the world order, of the compound interlocking structures that comprise state society (and which I call Demiurge), and this negation, thus this death, is the black soil from which the life of a new world may be born – indeed, it is the only place from which it really can emerge. Thus, I link my negativity and active nihilism to a fundamentally Pagan worldview (in which, of course, death is often a beginning more than the end) alongside the negativity of Satanism. But the other aspect of negativity in the political dimension pertains to the lens through which we see the death drive in society as it opens up a window to its contradictions, presenting the shadow of its order as manifest in its inherent structural anxiety.
In baedan, we see an expression of queer negativity that opens the way to a deeper appreciation of both the figure of Satan and the concept of the Satanic as a whole. Basically, baedan argues that, when society positions queerness as a threat to civilization, queer negativity embraces the role of queerness as a destroyer of the norms of civilized society and the undoing of society and the state. This negativity denies the positive counter-narrative offered by liberalism and cousins, which positions queerness as just another part of society, to be represented within the structures and hierarchies of society that representation ultimately legitimates. I find that it is possible to take from baedan that the negativity affixed to queerness is also a window into the contradictions of the social order itself, an insignia of civilization’s own “damnation”, a negative demonstration of the values of a society through its denunciation of what society hates. With this critical methodology in mind, let us heed the whispers of the Devil and delve into the anti-Satanic imaginary common to “Western Civilization”.
The Satanic Panic that swept United States and other parts of the “West” during the 1980s and 1990s, and continues to echoe into the present focused heavily on heavy metal and its more extreme forms, then as now a simultaneously “mainstream” and underground art form. As unfounded accusations of ritualistic child abuse collided with a rapidly growing musical subculture that allowed young men and women to transgress social norms, metal music came to occupy a negative space in the dominant culture similar to that occupied by the co-existing punk scene. Metalheads were unfairly treated because their expressivity stood at odds with traditional notions of masculinity, and vilified by a media and society that accused them of violent devil worship (and occasionally still does). Metalheads were not the only social and cultural deviants to hit with such tropes. For years, fear of homosexuality, bisexuality, transness or queerness was bound up with fear of the Devil and of Satanism, and sometimes this itself was linked to white racism. As an example, in 1994, four Latina lesbians in the US state of Texas were accused of “satanic rituals” and child abuse and incarcerated despite no forensic of any crime. It wasn’t until 2016, following documentary exposure, that the four women were exonerated, and even then only two years later were their criminal records expunged. To this day, you will find examples all over the world of LGBTQ people being accused of corrupting society through Satanism. In the US, right-wing moral panic around Lil Nas X is a rather recent example which is also directly connected to homophobia and transphobia, while the recently more prevalent moral panic around “groomers” is an only marginally more subtle new spin on the trope. In some parts of the world Satanic Panic is given an “anti-imperialist” or “anti-colonialist” twist. In Russia, for example, Pussy Riot was accused of spreading Satanism with the backing of the United States, and during the Ukraine-Russia War similar accusations have been repeated against Ukrainian forces. The very trope of devil worshipping sects as a threat to society, although time and again shown to be an illusion, is time and again reasserted because the order of society is always sustained by some sort of scapegoat. When we take a close look at this dynamic we may answer our central question: what does the Azazel say to us?
The SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse) trope is ultimately a modern echo of tropes that ultimately connect back to blood libel, an anti-semitic conspiracy theory which accuses Jewish people of abducting non-Jewish children, murdering them in acts of human sacrifice, and using their blood to cook matzos for Passover. The fact that such acts are considered abominations according to Jewish law seems to never bother the bigots who make such absurd allegations or use them to justify vicious persecutions of Jewish people. But in the context of the medieval Christian society in which blood libel accusations became popular, the operative point was that to be Jewish was, in the eyes of medieval society, a threat to the hegemony of Christianity. Many Jewish people faced attempts by Christians to convert them, often forcibly, and because Christian faith was linked to political loyalty to the kingdom, deportations and genocides (including the Inquisition) were carried out under the justification of insufficient loyalty to the state. This itself is older than it seems. In ancient Rome, Jewish people were accused of corrupting the Roman religion by worshipping a god named Jupiter Sabazios, who the Roman establishment seemed to distrust as a foreign deity linked to perceived enemies of the state, and were expelled from Rome. In Rome we also see the idea of the Bacchanalia as a dangerous conspiracy against the state, in which participants from all social classes inverted social norms and supposedly plotted the murder of Roman officials. Livy’s claims about the Bacchanalia are very likely mostly fantastical, but his assertion that the Bacchanalia attracted women, plebeians, and “men most like women” gives voice to the real anxiety of Roman conservatism: a popular festive cult drew marginalized and dominated people into its fold, women were at least apparently the exclusive priests of this cult, and the popularity of this festivity was a threat to the authority exercised by Roman societal norms.
The negative space in all of this is alterity, alterity that is expressed in the expression of religious identity in a way that did not conform to the order of society. And there is somewhat more to it. You may notice that modern Satanic Panic conspiracy theories also incorporate organisations such as the “Illuminati”, and some others also add the Freemasons, as part of the angle that secret societies control the world and are responsible for everything bad. The Illuminati, as discussed in these conspiracy theories, does not exist. There was a Bavarian organisation founded by Adam Weishaupt which was called the Illuminati, and it was dedicated to promoting secularism with the aim of producing a society free from superstition and “free” from religion, but it was disbanded within only a few years. In the context of the French Revolution, the old Illuminati, despite having been disbanded, was believed by reactionaries to have somehow survived persecution and fomented the revolution in order to destroy the church. Secrecy here suggests danger and immorality, by which of course is meant the destruction of the dominant order of society, and this idea was not invented in the context of the French Revolution. The same conceit animates Roman mistrust of the Bacchanalia, because the Bacchanalia, although fairly popular, was practiced in secrecy. The mysteries themselves were sometimes distrusted for the same reason. In many ways it comes back to the fact that it breaks from the norms of things, and is not so well understood. In this sense, witchcraft is dragged into the conspiratorial imagination. In the pre-Christian world, mistrust of witchcraft was arguably little more than a matter of dismissal by a society that regarded them as either superstitious or unmanly. But in the medieval Christian era, folk magicians, ironically mostly Christian themselves, who practiced arts of healing and the like in a way that the church or the elites (who, themselves, were interested in magick at the time), and were burned en masse for it, and once the call to hunt witches was sounded, anyone and everyone could be burned as a witch. Such thinking seems to have periodically re-emerged in new and sometimes more sophisticated forms since the Middle Ages and now animates modern conservatism and fascism in its vicious moral panics against marginalized people.
Something brings these worlds in common. In India, moral panic against black magick takes a similar form as the others, where the entire practice of Tantra was deemed black magick, and the term Vamachara, or “Left Hand Path”, served as a convienient label for both British colonialists and Indian religious “reformers” to scapegoat religous heterodoxy for the various social ills and the colonization of India itself, while in Britain it became a way for chauvinistic occultists (such as Dion Fortune) and reactionary writers (such as Dennis Wheatley) to demonize those thought of as anti-colonialist elements as well as homosexuals and other “deviants”. Society, throughout its historical phases, defines an extant and “hostile” other in relationship to itself, based on the fact that the other seems alien to itself, and, because the other seems to behave differently its norms, and seems to show the possibility of life outside itself, it either tries to integrate this other into itself, thus taming it, or seeks to repress and destroy it. From our standpoint, if “mercy” and “judgement”, integration and repression, are two hands of the same God, down with God and both his mercy and his judgement. The “other” does not exist to be either repressed or integrated, but instead it is an Ownness that exists for itself, as all Ownness does, and it is the social order we put over ourselves that ensures that we do not understand this. But the negative space that we deal in, again, speaks to the fears of the social order, reveals its shadow, and with it the space of freedom pushed forth by the unravelling of society. For this reason, I position Satanic Paganism in its political content as something allied to the cause of the marginalized, and in this regard queerness is to be seen as a key to the world of negation in which the true Satanist derives the power of liberation.
On Pagan terms, what we moderns refer to as queerness is an expression of the whole range of essencing inherent in divinity. The myths of the transformations of various gods and heroes into their gendered opposites or into different species of animals communicates this matrix of essencing on social and individual terms that comprises the Pagan cosmos. It also tells us thats the whole of society, the whole sum of hierarchical relations that has hitherto comprised it, is not to be trusted and in fact should be uncompromisingly opposed and dismantled. No matter who holds the guard in the prevailing social order, much of the world is varying shades of bad for trans people. Even in more consistently liberal countries, trans people still face restrictions in access to healthcare practically on the basis of being trans, the practice of conversion therapy (which is basically just a way of torturing LGBTQ people) is often still legal, and in some countries your gender identity isn’t recognized without compulsory sterilization. Supposed allies on the progressive side will invent ways of justifying forms of transphobia, which means that, for trans people, it could be argued that nearly the whole political climate of the status quo is societally and structurally against them. Liberation, then, means tearing it all down. This is why Grow Your Future says that, because being queer puts you in opposition to the colonial power of the state, queer liberation means death for state power. As baedan says, queer liberation means refusing to negotiate with the society that regularly both oppresses them and rationalizes their oppression. Therefore society should not, as many leftists including social anarchists (from Pierre Joseph Proudhon to Daniel Baryon), be taken for granted as a value in itself, to be reformed and reproduced, and instead it must be suspended in a process of gruesome critique, of Benjamin’s profane illumination, and ultimately negated. By this count, to be an ally is at the very least to be in solidarity with this effort.
We often wonder about the nature of a world without capitalism, a world without the state, a world without hierarchy, a world in which the prevailing social conditions have been overthrown as communism was meant to accomplish. We often ask for precise plans for how the new world will be organized, typically perfect in nature and whose projected conditions possess complete accuracy. But such plans are actually impossible to give, and I think that some of the people who make such inquiries know this, knowing further that, within the shell of the world as it is, people can only be persuaded to break from such a world if they possess total certainty that order will remain or be improved. In truth, simply consider the matter of communism, or more precisely the fact that even some of modern history’s most strident anti-communists have understood that there is actually no “clear notion” of how communism will be organized, because as one society moves to its next stage of development there is no way of actually knowing what that stage will entail until we actually arrive at it. The short of it is that there is no clear and precise model of how the future will work, and that’s fine; because, as Marx himself said, communism is not a state of affairs or an ideal to adjust to. Even the idea of the higher phase of communism, as set out in Critique of the Gotha Programme, communism is more defined by a general set of conditions that, at least according to Karl Marx, comprised a communist society, not so much an actual organization or plan for how to manifest them. At the intersection of communism, anarchism, nihilism, and egoism, this becomes one more communist insight that is deepened into something more. It is strictly impossible to predict what the world of autonomy will look like with any precision, there’s no way to actually be “scientific” about this in the way that perhaps Engels or Lenin or their heirs would have you believe, and the only way to answer our questions about the practical and moral implications of this world is to not only participate in the cultivation of the relationships of the new world in the here and now but to negate and dismantle everything that comprises the structure of the current order, and thereby confront ourselves with the reality of the new mode of life.
In this sense what we understand as “anti-communism”, in the typical reactionary context, is not properly understood as mere opposition to the falsely-labelled “communist states” of the 20th century, but instead the highest form and most brutal expression of the fear of bourgeois society directed towards the abolition of its own conditions, and regardless of the actual reality of this abolition. You may already have noticed that “anti-communism” in the usual formal sense is not some “apolitical” or ideologically “neutral” force, merely entailing opposition to totalitarianism. It’s opposes communism and anarchism in equal measure because it fears the void of the abolition of existing conditions, it fears the chaos of the new world and the liberation it brings, and the fact that the falsely-labelled communist states were typically dictatorships serves as a convenient excuse to wrap up this fear as a defence of freedom. But it is all projection, because when it comes to authoritarianism, dictatorship, and totalitarian violence, the anti-communists are in no way better than their “communist” counterparts, and in certain cases they’re often much worse. In fact, don’t ever forget that one of National Socialism’s driving impetus’ was precisely a war against communism, and it is communists alongside Jews that are usually counted as the two great bogeymen of Nazism, and so it is for much of the rest of fascism. Much more importantly, though, the “freedom” defended by anti-communism is most obviously not freedom, and “freedom” as they present it is in reality a naturalization of the hierarchies that they deem to be the authentic nature of human being. In other words, what anti-communism preserves is not freedom but “order”, albeit in an abstract existential sense as relative to bourgeois society. Fascism in this setting is an outgrowth of the totality of the structures of imperial and colonial statehood together with the logic of capitalism and the various bigotries that grown with all of that, taking shape as violent, terroristic reaction against any perceived threat to the fundamental order of things. On this basis of fundamental order, growing out from the structures of the totality of conditions which produce oppression and marginalization, fascism embarks upon its ceaseless campaign of oppression and extermination, to subordinate all conditions and wipe out all resistance. This is the reason why the threat of fascism can’t just be contained in politics as usual.
But at this point, we may continue on the final operative point as it relates to anarchism. Plenty of anarchists respond to society’s cry that anarchism is “chaos” by asserting that anarchism is in fact “order”, sometimes with the attendant assertion that it is actually the state that represents “chaos” – a true inversion of the term if there ever was one. I know that the whole “order versus chaos” discourse is often considered cumbersome and even meaningless, but I argue that this changes somewhat when we look less to the fixed categories of “order” and “chaos” in themselves, the way that Jordan Peterson and his ilk often do, and instead focuses on what these concepts really communicate to us. In other words, what do “order” and “chaos” say? What are you afraid of when you say that anarchy is the collapse of “order”? By “order” do you mean statehood, the thing that like all of political organization is upheld by violence? Then even though freedom may indeed be as terrifying as philosophers say, “order” is surely worse. Those who benefit from the protection racket offered by the state have no idea what its order bases its existence on, while those who bear the brunt of state violence, especially abroad, feel the brutality of state power and its fundamental basis bearing down on all who oppose it and all who the state wishes to destroy. The “order” of all statehood is built on an atrocious chain of sacrifice, and the whole history of civilization effortlessly reveals this to be the case. On the other hand, if by “order” we mean what the Greeks meant by “kosmos”, then it should be said that “kosmos”, from its root words “kome” or “komeo”, suggest nothing but the continuous embellishment engendered by the growth of life, and of course, even if embellish we must, then each embellishment is replaceable. Or perhaps we might well do without.
But what to make of the proposal that anarchy itself is order? For one thing, this would entail that statehood is “chaos”, and such an idea flies squarely in the face of the fact that statehood and hierarchy are conditions of administration, management, and instrumentality embodied and enacted through nested ranks of authority. There is nothing chaotic about it. The violence that supports it, along with the fluctuations of the market under capitalism, must all seem like a frenzy of disorder, and I’m sure that’s how many Marxist theoreticians have made it out to be when they mistakenly speak of the “anarchy of production” (how foolish it was for Engels to assume that private property lacked hierarchy!). But in reality, these are conditions set by the administration of the totality of conditions. That said, if anarchy is “order”, what does that mean? What makes “social self-rule” “order”? Is it simply out of some utopian idea that every function of state administration, of the current order of things, can simply be mimicked by the masses without the state, or even just without it being called the state? Or is it like the way Daniel Baryon talks about anarchy as some kind of “immune response of the species against all hierarchical parasites”, thus assuming that society not only has objective existence but essentially functions as an organism and that hierarchy is merely some external “parasite”, as though this is not simply a repackaging of fascist thought? All of these strange concepts seem to spring forward from some need to assure the world, under the watchful eye of state and capital, that “chaos” will not befall the world if we finally destroy the source of its oppression. But if that’s the case, what really is “chaos”? Nothing but the void of statelessness, nothing but the absence of some greater structure or chain of structures being put over us, nothing but the ashes into which we form ungoverned relationships, nothing but wildness and desert, and it absolutely terrifies us only because we have absolutely no idea of what that looks like. But that’s just what freedom is, it’s just how it is when you have no control over how everyone will act, no instrumentality over them.
And so the politics I espouse, and which I attach to Satanic Paganism as I see it, is one that carries the art of profane illumination to its highest heights, cutting through anything that seeks to obscure the goal of achieving the condition of liberation and ecstatic self-rule in the free, stateless, classless, moneyless, and, yes, (arguably) structureless association of all individuals in their own egoistic development, by the negation of the state, capital, hierarchy, and totality of the existing social conditions. In this, the example is none other than Satan, and in the descent into the arrheton of negativity that, in addition to the already established religious significance, takes on the profoundest political significance. As far as I am concerned, nothing else really suffices. But, you’re free to disagree.
So, after all of this, we can at least establish a summary of Satanic Paganism, reiterating much of what I have said. It is individualistic not only in its ideological content, but also in that it is a distinctly personal approach, one that I don’t think is (at least entirely) mirrored in anyone else. It upholds Negativity at the center of its spiritual philosophy, through which it understands the many contours of Darkness. Darkness here is the key to highest and most noble mystery of the Pagan worldview, and the liberatory power of Satan and the adversarial quality of Satanism. It is an anti-teleoglical philosophy, it is a worldview that grounds rebellion in a restless ground of being and the ceaseless growth of life, and grounds apotheosis in not only the enactment of will in the world but also the determination to step into darkness in the sense of the ineffable. My creed is a negative creed, all things considered. But that is the essence of what gives it its meaning and power, and, frankly, deepening the understanding of that negativity is responsible for my renewed sense of place, as though I am what I was meant to be or on the cusp of such.
The last thing I would like to do in communicating Satanic Paganism is present an alternative narrative of the “fall” of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. This narrative, I feel, is most central to the weaving of the Pagan worldview with Satanism and the legacy of the Left Hand Path, and I saved it until the very end of this article for exactly this reason. Traditionally, at least as far as the Old Testament is concerned, the serpent is not Satan, though the New Testament redefines the serpent as Satan by referring to Satan as the “ancient serpent” or “old serpent”. As far as Satanism is concerned, though, perhaps the serpent may as well be the Devil, at least in that this is the identity it takes on in the Satanic context. Anyway, we all know how the story goes. Eve encounters the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and the seprent tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; Eve tells the serpent that God said that whoever eats the fruit will die, the serpent tells Eve that she will not die and instead become a god, and then Eve and later Adam eat the fruit. Adam and Eve did not die, at least not from eating the fruit, though they did end up getting cast out into the world of death and toil, but the serpent was right in the end: they did join with the gods. In Genesis 3:22, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit and their punishments were decreed, God said “The man has become like one of us, knowing good from evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”. “One of us” is the operative part. Certain biblical commentaries make explicit that it’s not referring to the angels, but instead suggest a reference to the “Divine Persons”. To me, it is obvious that “one of us” means the gods. It’s later in the Bible that God establishes in the form of explicit commandment that the Israelites should worship no god except God (Exodus 20:3), and in Psalm 82 we see God presiding over a whole council of gods and judging them, and these gods are accused of ruling unjustly and allowing wickedness to spread. My narrative, then, is thus: the serpent was calling on Adam and Eve to defy the orders of God in order that they, and the whole of humanity, can begin the road to apotheosis, and begin joining the community of gods, knowing god from evil and living forever in divinity. God, of course, does not like this at all, clearly he finds Adam and Eve joining the community of gods to be some sort of threat to his authority. Since he likes to keep his authority over creation, he punishes Adam and Eve, and since the gods always seem to challenge Yahweh’s authority, he punishes and proscribes them too.
The serpent itself is a symbol that encapsulates so much of what I’ve talked about. A creature that sheds its skin and, in so doing, appears to have died and been reborn, the serpent is a sort of archetypal symbol of death and rebirth. Indeed, Jake Stratton-Kent recognizes the deifying power of the underworld as taking the form of a serpent. Greek heroes were worshipped in the form of serpents, as were some gods. In Mesopotamia, serpent symbolism connects to the fertility beneath the earth in the form of the god Ningishzida, who is often depicted as serpents. In Japan it was sometimes believed that the gods, or kami, took the form of serpents, while certain forms of Buddhism regarded serpents as the “true forms” of the gods. Taking on board this rich symbolism, the serpent of Eden emerges as representative of the call of the mystery of apotheosis, the whispers of the power of Darkness, of the underworld, compelling mankind to take the plunge to take up the community of divinity by defying authority, undertaking the mystery, and partaking the war of all against all (rebellion). And so the serpent Satan calls the human species to rebel so that the human species may become divine, or perhaps realize its divinity. And having eaten the fruit, there can be no going back; or at least, not for those seeking freedom. There are many spiritual worldviews who hark back to the garden, back to the ideal state preceding the so-called “Fall”. But this to me is a retreat. It arcs towards an easy answer for the human condition that inevitable evokes some notion of prelapsarian, homeostatic order and harmony. Satanic Paganism does not support such a position, knowing that in embarking the road to apotheosis we have already abandoned Eden. And let me assure you, Eden is not a synonym for Wildness. On the contrary, as a garden Eden is an enclosed space, with boundaries separating Adam and Eve from the wild lands in which death and toil were to be found. Amidst the chaos and wildness of the world, Eden is order itself, it is a haven of stability whose comforts are enjoyed so long as God’s absolute authority is agreed to and you obey God’s commands. Naturally, the order of Eden is something to be rejected, to be walked away from, or indeed to defy and willingly accept being banished from on behalf of your own freedom. In this sense, by eating the fruit and condemning themselves in the eyes of God in order to become gods, Adam and Eve, whether they knew it or not, sacrificed themselves to themselves, bringing forth death and apotheosis. And so, like them, like Odin sacrificing himself to himself for knowledge, like the death-and-rebirth of the Mysteries, like Satan willingly embracing the Fall on behalf of his own freedom, our ethos is thus: the only self-sacrifice we partake is that we sacrifice ourselves to ourselves.
Our praxis is a daemonic praxis. The shadow of religion is the source of our power, the alterity of it all our light, and as far as we are concerned the true ground of the value of religious life and experience. Be wild, be free, be negative, be unchained, be yourself and the void of yourself. Enjoy partaking in religious thought and life, question the strictitude and normativity of religion, take in the good of the sacred into yourself by imbibing, question and defy religion as long as it stands in the way of Ownness and life, dance in the interstices and the shadows, bearing the fire of the void on the road to apotheosis – the road to the world of the gods…to the wonderful ecstasy of deathless liberty!
Hail Satan, Hail Darkness, Hail the gods of old, Hail to wildness and nature, Hail the mystery of death and rebirth and the kingdom of shadows….
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.
But there are more problems for the mythology of Christian radicalism. 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.
I know this post is rather spontaneous, and I don’t plan on writing about the Gods and Radicals stuff for too long, or at least unless something major happens, but it seems that Rhyd Wildermuth’s article about anarchism just yesterday received a response on that very same website written by Christopher Scott Thompson, an anarchist and contributing author. The article, titled “We Are What We Always Were: A Response To “What Happened To Anarchism”“, is a sincere challenge to Wildermuth’s arguments against anarchist anti-fascism and I find that it put some real, heartfelt perspective to what Wildermuth strives to complain about, as well exposing his lies.
But, the article itself is not the main subject of this post, though the perspective it provides is a big part of what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is some reflections and perspective that was inspired by Thompson’s response.
Probably the most important point to consider from the article is about conflict, more specifically Thompson’s response to Rhyd’s points about the tactics used by anti-fascists. In response to Rhyd’s point about how it was ironic that anarchist websites got banned from Patreon and Facebook after Antifa groups “led the call” for far-right groups getting banned, Thompson argued, pretty convincingly, that even their own groups getting censored was, while bad for them, worth the risk to take out the far-right. His point was that a tactic in itself doesn’t become bad just because it can be turned against you, because the same applies for every tactic, in that there is no tactic that isn’t in some ways a double-edged sword. According to Thompson, everyone knew that this would happen, and accepted the risk on the grounds that it was worth taking the hit if it meant preventing harm being done. While I tend to be skeptical of deplatforming and definitely opposed to censorship on principle, when it comes to doxxing fascists who are about to do violence on others and bully others into committing suicide, it almost seems like there’s no reason to oppose that. I mean it’s just as Thompson says, which is more ethical? Is it more ethical to let fascists on 8chan “troll storm” Sophie Labelle into committing suicide because they didn’t like the fact that a trans person was creating comics that offended them, or is it more ethical to stop those fascists from doing that? If Thompson is right, the 8chan fascists seemed to stop harassing Sophie Labelle only after anti-fascists doxxed the people involved. I can’t help but think back to what happened to Near, the emulator developer who was bullied into suicide because they were trans and autistic, and wonder if perhaps the people at KiwiFarms might have backed off if they had the feeling that, perhaps, they would face the consequences of what they were doing? Would Near still be alive?
The perspective that Thompson offers is like a lightning bolt, it thrusts something important, but often forgotten, to the center of consciousness. From the perspective of Thompson, and the active, on-the-ground anti-fascist movement of which he is a part, it’s all about conflict, because theirs is a struggle in a real and visceral sense, one that is violent in nature in response to violence against the marginalized. For liberals, conservatives, vulgar libertarians (as opposed to radical, socialist ones), and apparently for people like Rhyd Wildermuth too, this is all just a conversation of ideas and opinions that can be hashed out intellectually. That’s in stark contrast to the anti-fascists fighting on the streets: for them, this is war.
Struggle, conflict, war, these are things that are lost to people who live in comfort and abstraction. Rhyd Wildermuth lives in the Ardennes, far away from anything happening in the United States that was once his home. Angie, his friend, is a middle class online socialite from London. Her friend, Aimee Terese is the rich daughter of a Lebanese capitalist living all the way in Australia, all the while doing nothing but incoherently rambling about the politics of a land whose people she has no real connection to. There’s all sorts of people who live, if not in comfort, then certainly in isolation from the struggle that persists at the center of the present. But if you live in relative security, comfort, alienation from struggle, it’s easy to think what you do about people who actually live in struggle and conflict, and make it their business to claw their way out rather than try to talk their way out of everything forever. And sometimes, just as is the case for the bourgeoisie, if you have comfort you’ll stoop to anything to protect it, even becoming a grotesque reactionary. I once met a guy who lived in the happiest country in the world and for him everything was about how to win debates and resolve the issues of “wokeness” to make socialism electable. The last time I saw him, he had fully embraced white nationalism. That’s what becomes of these people, because the truth is, if they’re not trying to hold on to their pre-existing biases, they have no skin in the game, and have no respect for those who do have skin in the game. Besides, all they like to do is get offended about everything and then complain about their rivals supposedly being like that. That is weakness.
Here’s something important to take away, consider it a lesson in life: never allow your struggle to be reduced to an intellectual quandary. If you do, then you’ll spend too much time trying to figure out how to solve the quandary, but all that means in practice is creating a set of rationalisations to justify yourself to others in a way that you hope your enemies will be satisfied with. They won’t be satisfied, because they never are, because that was never the point for them. Their real goal has never been to achieve resolution through reason, but instead to dominate you, gaslight you, and create insurmountable obstacles for your goals that can only be overcome on their terms, and while you never win they sit comfortably knowing that their victory is forever assured. Meanwhile the war, if it hasn’t already been ceded through intellectual compromise, is still going on all around you and your friends are dying or being brutalized, and figuring out how to rationalize yourself intellectually has solved nothing.
What has the working class ever gained by arguing that they have the right to equitable and humane living conditions, instead of fighting for those very conditions? What would Stonewall have ever gotten for the LGBT community if not for the riots of 1969? People talk about the American Founding Fathers to use them as a stamp of authority on behalf of their own positions, often for conservative goals, but you would never be able to do that if they didn’t wage revolutionary war against the British crown. Why do trans people have to debate their existence and their rights and endure the suffering of marginalization while their enemies get all the social protection and every benefit of the doubt?
Never forget what Heraclitus said, “war is common, strife is justice, and all things happen according to strife and necessity”. Struggle is real, it animates the transformation of things and of society, because Nature consists of cyclical growth and change, and therefore transformation. Life strives, therefore it fights. Therefore, the world turns. Change, justice, power, emancipation, these grow out of the barrel of a gun or the clash of a blade, or the smash of a brick, or the light of a flame. That’s also the only reason capitalism exists: it won the battle of the brutal transformation of the social order – that is what Marxists call the dialectic of history, and, I assure you, I’m convinced lately that the implications of dialectical transformation contain a grain of brutality to them. It’s also the only reason that losers get to evangelize about the greatness of civilization and progress, because they live off the fat of historic victory, turning that victory into the law of the land, and are eager to avoid losing their place.
Remember the struggle that matters, matters to you, because that knowledge at least might as well be sacred. If you lose it, you lose yourself.
I’m growing more and more fascinated by the Surrealist milieu of the early 20th century, by which I mean not so much the art movement but the philosophical movement surrounding it, and the largely left-wing political tendency that composed French surrealism in particular. From what I hear it was deeply libertarian, which is why many of them opposed Joseph Stalin while being communists (although many did align with Leon Trotsky instead, who, let’s face it, was not much better), and they seemed to be committed to dialectical materialism despite accusations to the contrary. I also read about how Lucifer made appearances in surrealist literature and essays, such as Andre Breton’s Arcane 17 and Roger Caillois’ The Birth of Lucifer, suggesting the presence of a Luciferian modality within Surrealism. I say modality, because it’s not like the Surrealists viewed themselves as Luciferians in a religious sense, but that’s a subject for another post. Anyways, in the process of searching through the Surrealist milieu I somehow stumbled across Walter Benjamin, a German intellectual who either was a surrealist himself or simply adjacent to surrealism, or more specifically one concept of his in particular: profane illumination.
What is profane illumination? In his 1929 essay Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, Benjamin defines profane illumination as referring to a form of inspiration that he stresses to be materialist, anthropological and secular, though as I’ll lay out it has some pretty mystical overtones that can used to relate it to an ultimately religious outlook (not that this should be to the discredit of Walter Benjamin, who was himself influenced by religious thinking). The main characteristic of profane illumination is that is meant to be a type of illumination that allows you to see through the illusions of the society you live in, particularly in the context of bourgeois values. As Donna Roberts and Daniel Garza Usabiaga write in The Use Value of Lucifer: A Comparative Analysis of the Figures of Lucifer and Satan in the Writings of Roger Caillois and Walter Benjamin in the 1930s, the concept is to be taken as a way of piercing through the phantasmagoria (illusions or make-believe images) that comprised the superstructure of bourgeois society and liberating all that is trapped under its spell of reification (which in Marxism is a term for when temporal human social relations come to possess immutable authority through idealization). Thus profane illumination is a surrealist device by which to see and illustrate bourgeois society as it really is, and destroy the self-image of this society that is presented by the ruling superstructure, in order to align oneself and others with the truth of present day conditions in order to create a new culture base defined by authentic freedom. Applied to the Situationist tendency that followed (and criticised) surrealism, we could still say that in this light the surrealist profane illumination is a tool by which to dismantle the Spectacle, the sum total of the spectacular reign of bourgeois superstructure and its manifold illusions, a task that, for Guy Debord, will only truly be completed with the revolutionary reconstruction of society through the destruction of capitalism and the mass implementation of workers councils as the dominant structure of the economy.
To add to this, Michael Löwy further describes profane illumination as the materialistic and “post-mystical” core component of the otherwise romantic and even “magical” tendency of Surrealist experience and formulas, thus, ironically for a supposedly secular concept, we have a what seems to be a deeply spiritual take on what could otherwise be seen as an empirical and materialist engagement with the world. The French neo-Marxist Henri Lefebvre observed that the Surrealists wanted to “decode inner space and illuminate the nature of the transition from this subjective space to the material realm of the body and the outside world, and thence to social life”. What this means is that the aim of Surrealism can be taken to mean the revelation of the unconscious forces prevalent in the social sphere and the psyche, and the mechanism by which these forces manifest in the body and the world and are translated in the social fabric. The German philosopher Hermann Schweppenhäuser added that the concept of profane illumination, although Benjamin partially defines them in relation to intoxication, is defined by its rejection of intoxication as a means of attaining spiritual enlightenment, stating that profane illumination is where “intoxication comes to its senses” and “speculative thinking becomes sober”. Thus, although Benjamin said that narcotic intoxication could give a lesson into this experience, he ultimately did not recommend it on the grounds that it was dangerous. In fact Benjamin also said that “the most passionate investigation of the hashish trance will not teach us half as much about thinking (which is eminently narcotic), as the profane illumination of thinking about the hashish trance”, suggesting that, ultimately, sober meditative contemplation is better for the purposes of profane illumination than narcotic intoxication. And all the better. Such illumination, though intended by Benjamin to be secular, makes the most sense not only as a clear mental pursuit, but spiritual praxis.
The easiest way to ground the otherwise secular concept of profane illumination in religious terms is through the concept of the Light of Nature, or Lumens Naturae, introduced by the medieval Swiss physician Paracelsus, and expanded by Carl Jung. Paracelsus, you may remember, was a Christian who, although ultimately loyal to the Catholic Church even in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, harbored a distinct naturalistic outlook that inspired skepticism towards religious dogma and ecclesiastical authority, at least on matters of his profession. He considered scientific, natural knowledge to be the domain of the Light of Nature, and theology to be the domain of the Light of God (Lumens Dei). He also considered both lights to be a gift imparted to Man by God. Even though his own preference was for the latter, as judged by his statement that “Christian knowledge is better than natural knowledge”, it nonetheless sketches out an interesting religious grounding for the concept that would later remanifest in surrealism as profane illumination. As Jung says the light leaves behind nothing but dross and scoriae and the rejected earth, which in light of profane illumination can be interpreted as the ruins of the illusions imposed upon the empirical, natural world. Its profane nature is due to it being, for Jung, the light of the darkness which illuminates itself as opposed to the light from above which renders the darkness darker still, the darkness in this case being not just the unconscious realities of human life but also Nature itself.
A concept that seems to be related to profane illumination is that of the organization of pessimism, or organized pessimism. I could also perhaps call it revolutionary pessimism as well, since while the term in other communist usages can mean more or less anything, Benjamin’s concept of the organization of pessimism easily lends coherent definition and context to such a concept. The concept comes from the writings of Pierre Naville, one of the French Surrealists who also happened to be a Trotskyist, who called for the organization of pessimism as the most authentic manifestation of revolutionary attitude, a sort of anti-optimism that is the only mode capable of dispelling the illusions of bourgeois society and the only idea that can, in his words, “save us from death”. In context this seems to be related to opposition to the optimism found in both bourgeois and social-democratic parties. This attitude seemed to alienate him from other French communists, and it contributed to his expulsion (or departure) from the French Communist Party, after which he began identifying with Trotskyism and the “left opposition”. For Walter Benjamin organized pessimism is “the Communist answer” the Surrealism has come ever close to, and this answer means “Mistrust in the fate of literature, mistrust in the fate of freedom, mistrust in the fate of European humanity, but three times mistrust in all reconciliation: between classes, between nations, between individuals.”, which is Benjamin’s way of describing an attitude of skepticism towards bourgeois optimism and the promises of reform that are offered by bourgeois society. The ironic reference to LO Farben and “the peaceful perfection of the air force” as the only things a person can trust is taken as a prediction of the rise of the Luftwaffe and the onslaught of World War 2, and suggests a skepticism and acute radical awareness of the dangers of the logic of modern technology, its tendency towards acceleration, and the destructive effects this brings upon the world – a point that Pierre Naville may not necessarily have shared in that his own attitude towards technology was somewhat more positive. Michael Löwy connects this idea with profane illumination on the grounds that it illuminates all of the forces, murmurs, energies and catastrophes that would be obscured through bourgeois optimism and its phantasmagorias of false hope.
But Naville and Benjamin take different approaches in a related sense, in terms of accompanying political ethos. Whereas Naville, as a committed Trotskyist, called upon Surrealists to simply abandon any anarchist leanings, Benjamin, as evidently more of a libertarian Marxist, instead suggested that the revolutionary discipline and structure of orthodox Leninism should be combined with the libertarian tendencies that were classically associated with anarchism. As Sami Khatib writes in To Win the Energies of Intoxication for the Revolution, this suggestion, inspired by Surrealism, entails a materialist theory of perception that entails “a revision of the commonplace dichotomy of sober ratio and enthusiast affect”, meaning of course the dissolution of the dichotomy between seemingly rational consciousness and the life-affirming unconscious, and as Benjamin says, this means that any exploration of the surreal entails a dialectical intertwinement of these opposing forces, to the extent that excessive focus on the mysterious element of the mystery is one-sided, ignoring the real world that the mystery ultimately underpins. Indeed the title of Khatib’s paper really sums up the project that Walter Benjamin describes of Surrealism, that is to “win the energies of intoxication for the revolution”, which means not to completely immerse yourself in transgressive ecstasy but instead to traverse reality and surreality and undertake cultural and political action that dissolves the boundaries of the bourgeois subject by way of a revolution of consciousness, concurrent of course with class revolution, leading ultimately to a community free of totalitarian spectacle and the formatting of bourgeois rational-positivism.
There are, of course, many applications for profane illuminations. We can, in a Jungian sense, take the component of profane illumination to reference the incorporation of the life-affirming contents of the personal and collective unconscious, the soil of Hades from which psychic and spiritual content springs and to which it returns. In this sense profane illumination is the light either of the unconscious or the individual who clings fast to his Hadean roots, the true light of the morning star. It is Luciferian light just as much as the Light of Nature is the light of Mercurius, the Christ of the unconscious and the alchemist’s world soul. We can then extrapolate revolutionary goals to this: to, in the fashion of the Morning Star, retrieve the worthies of the underworld, the liberatory contents of the unconscious, discover and reveal its hidden presence in all things, its true nature, and from there, in a way, the true order of things, and harmonize human beings with the true substance of their humanity and the true substance of humanity with human beings. In this sense such an idea can be applied beyond the class struggle and applied to the nature of psyche and reality, for no matter what time and what place, humans have always lied to themselves without realizing it, there was always been a hidden underbelly to life, to the psyche and to society that is frequently obscured by the ego and by reification, with the goal of spiritual enlightenment being to dispel that reification, cultivate profane illumination, and see the world, and yourself, as you really are, and attain spiritual freedom from this knowledge. That is the true fruit of psychoanalysis, the fruit of empiricism and, indeed, the fruit of genuinely good religion.
The accompanying element of revolutionary pessimism can be applied to confer other characteristics to profane illumination that are relevant to socio-political outlook, lending itself to a paradoxical intersection between the traditionally libertarian and the traditionally “conservative”, all within the context of a communist philosophical device. The libertarian end of this is not difficult to explain. In the original Surrealist context this meant an emphasis on complete creative and artistic freedom to interface with the unconscious without interference from the state or the party and any prevailing dominant culture, and these elements were associated with libertarians and anarchists and clashed with the prevailing Stalinist currents of the French left at the time as well as other Leninists (though not necessarily Trotskyists it seems). But we can, within the same field of cultural libertarianism and revolutionary pessimism we may derive a fundamental skepticism of teleological progress. Bourgeois society, dominated by economic liberalism and, in proceeding fashion, social liberalism, is anchored in an unshakeable belief in its own endless growth, a fantastical moral arc bending towards some transcendental conception of justice or progress, the idea that everything can be managed in a meticulously rational-technocratic fashion, and that the West has passed through the “end” of history. Even within the left, you notice some variation of this teleological progressivism, and in the broader sphere, it lends ultimately to the alienation of humans from their own destiny, as the march of progress ultimately wrests humans away from their central place in the world through the increasing complexity and all-pervasiveness of technology and our dependence upon it. The organization of pessimism in light of profane illumination instills a resolute contempt for the illusions of teleological progressivism and its moralizing content. This, combined with the insight of a pervasive unconscious element that has always permeated human life, lends itself to a profound skepticism of teleological progress that, ultimately, lends to a somewhat conservative outlook. And by no means is this a bad thing, if in the sense that such conservatism serves as an element of the libertarian component and perhaps a watch against excess rather than simply as a yoke to be imposed on non-conformists.
Of course, this ultimately presents a problem for orthodox Surrealism (yes, that was a historical thing) given that, unfortunately, the surrealists of old tended to oppose many of the moral conventions that would make sense to the average person even before capitalism had anything to say, under the premise of dismantling bourgeois values. Take the case of the Surrealist defence of Charlie Chaplin in 1927. At this time, Chaplin’s then-wife Lita Grey was divorcing him and demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars (at the time; surely millions in today’s money) in alimony from him on the grounds that Chaplin had cheated on her with multiple other women. The divorce was an international sensation at the time, and the public was aghast at Chaplin’s actions at least to the extent that they believed Grey’s testimony. But the French Surrealists, blinded by their admiration of Chaplin, decided to defend Chaplin’s actions, thinking he should live as he pleased. As part of their critique of bourgeois morality and its restrictive tendency towards human freedom and creativity, they decried marriage as an oppressive institution, a “prison” for human passions, and they admired Charlie Chaplin because he followed his desires wherever they went. This can be a dangerous attitude to have, in my opinion, and I wonder if the Surrealists ever found out about the fact that, went Chaplin met and impregnated Grey to start with, she was 15 years old and he was 35, and they had to marry in secret in order to avoid Chaplin being arrested for having sex with a minor. I suppose it’s no wonder that men like Roger Caillois decided that the Surrealists lacked the ideals of discipline and self-mastery that would come to form his conception of Lucifer, or why the Letterist International, a precursor to the Situationist International, hated Charlie Chaplin, began to transgress Surrealism, and in 1952 staged a disruption of Chaplin’s press conference at the Hotel Ritz Paris, accusing him of emotional blackmail and calling him a “fascist insect”.
Things like this pose a problem for interpreting the Surrealist enchantment with the past in a “conservative” light, even when it can be a potent source of teleological skepticism to counter the optimistic rationalism of the Situationist International – after all, if the Surrealists decided that there should be no limits as to how you live your life, what even can be preserved? However, with Walter Benjamin’s conception of profane illumination, we see the attempt to harmonize the almost anarchic instincts of Surrealism with the discipline of Leninism, and in a sense bring the surrealist ethos away from complete identification with the unconscious and the passions latent therein. Jung would tell you that it is supposed to be the conscious mind that integrates unconscious content, I would say darkening itself in the process, rather than the unconscious devouring conscious mind, because while the latter leads to possession of the personality and therefore disaster, the former leads to an integrated wholeness that leads to the birth of the Self. Of course, both paths ultimately entail the embrace of darkness.
And while we’re on this point, it may be worth briefly referring to the point of the “cult of evil” as a political device. In Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, Benjamin states that “One finds the cult of evil as a political device, however romantic, to disinfect and isolate against all moralizing dilettantism”. Darkness, the traditionally “evil” realm, the “cult of evil”, refers here not to some puerile Satanism let alone of the kind that is frequently imagined in popular consciousness, but instead to a way of guarding yourself against moral grandeur and teleological zeal, and the illusion, megalomania and decadence that follows for the spirit. In some ways one could make the comparison to Tibetan Buddhism, where the seemingly evil-looking wrathful deities are in reality merely the violent guardians of spiritual practice, disinfectants against illusion and destroyers of the ego. In this sense it makes sense that you find themes pertaining to Lucifer appear in Surrealist literature and discourse, or discourse adjacent to it, between Andre Breton, Walter Benjamin, Roger Caillois and Georges Bataille. Lucifer is the archetype that makes the most sense here because it seeks enlightenment defined what we would call profane illumination, not just in a social-political class context, but in an existential context.
However, for Surrealism to truly take on the form of Luciferian light, it must be developed in a way that its romantic elements can still lend itself not so much to flight from reason, as is sometimes suggested by the early Surrealists, but in subversion of rationalism, the detournement thereof in order to take the tool of reason and use it to make a scientific methodology for understanding and appreciating the darkness, the hidden, the unconscious, the dare I say occult layer of reality that is just as much a part of Nature and society as you or I. For that purpose, one should both retain surrealism as an ethos of communism and transcend it as a framework. I believe reading both Walter Benjamin and Roger Caillois simultaneously offers a good road for what that might look like. One should not, as Andre Breton would have us do, refuse to cut open the Mexican jumping bean simply in order to honor the mystery. How can a man honour any mystery if he cannot see it for himself? How can humans honour darkness and make it bright if he has no knowledge of the dark light? A science of the surreal is thus indispensable.
I could have written this post sooner, following the increasingly dismal outcome of the Democratic primaries in the US, but I decided to wait until the Labour leadership contest ended, just to see how that plays out. And, sure enough, today is the day when said contest is over, and Keir Starmer has emerged as the victor, with Angela Rayner winning the deputy leadership position. All throughout this cycle I had expected Starmer to win, so it’s no shock either way, though one thing I kept seeing throughout the cycle from his supporters as that the reason they support him isn’t so much to do with his policies but because they want Labour to win. Well, they certainly won that argument today. By a handsome majority too from the seems of it – Starmer won by 56.2% of the vote, while his opponent Rebecca Long-Bailey (favored by the Corbynites) couldn’t even get half of that. Perhaps Starmer will be the man to bring Labour back into electoral relevance, or maybe not so long as the Tories hold on to the formula of economic populism/social democracy plus social conservatism that Labour doesn’t even dream of attaining, but in any case, the British left won’t benefit from it, and to be honest nor would they benefit from Corbynism or Blairism returning. Indeed, I don’t see a bright future for the left as it stands.
Keir Starmer himself is a fairly interesting individual. Similar to Tony Blair before him, he’s one of those social democrats who used to be a radical when he was younger. In 1986, Starmer used to be an editor for a Trotskyist magazine called Socialist Alternatives, and ironically for the man who now leads the Labour Party and calls for “unity” against its “hard left” contingent, he used to be a intractable critic of the Labour Party, openly attacking its leadership (at the time, this would be Neil Kinnock and his deputy Roy Hattersley) for their “neo-Keynesian” (meaning social-democratic) economic programme and supposed dogmatic rigidity. In this capacity, he seems to have been affiliated with the “Pabloite” subset of Trotskyism, that is to say an adherent of the ideas of Michel Palbo, a Trotskyist who expanded on the tactic of entryism within established parties – entryism is when a small radical organization gets its members to covertly join larger organizations (typically more established or mainstream parties) in order to spread their ideology, propagandize its members and undermine its existing leadership; whereas Leon Trotsky advocated this only to the extent that it would be temporary, Michel Pablo believed instead that Trotskyists should basically occupy the more established parties in perpetuity, a tactic known as “deep entryism” (or entryism sui generis). However, beyond this, he doesn’t seem to have been as involved in hard-left activism as Jeremy Corbyn was, and in fact from 1987 onwards he became a barrister and established himself as a credible lawyer and legal advisor. In the years since, he drifted away from his former Marxist roots, like so many other politicians from both the ostensible left and the right, but unlike many of those people he still considers himself to be a socialist, and indeed affirms that position in a series of pledges he made during the leadership campaign, in which he claimed to be making “the moral case for socialism”.
Now, do I believe him when he says he’s a socialist? I’m inclined to say no. I do not believe that he adheres to the basics of socialism anymore, I’ve never seen him call for joint/collective ownership of the means of production for one thing. He has written about how he wants to make a moral case for socialism, but socialism for him seems to just mean some largely undefined moral position against injustice and inequality – socialism for him has less to do with participating in class struggle on behalf of the proletariat and more to do with progressive positions such as opposing the death penatly, Iraq War and austerity, as well as support for a “green new deal”. I’d say he’s a progressive social democrat rather than a socialist, but in that regard, he seems distinct from both the Corbynite and Blairite factions within the Labour party, which means that, contrary to the sound and fury of the Corbynistas, he won’t actually be a return to Blairism, although he will ostensibly represent a softening of the social democratic or “left” direction of the Labour Party. Really, the only reason the Corbynites accuse him of being a Blairite is the fact that he is committed to shoving Corbyn’s faction of Labour out of power. Although, in their defence, for a leftist he sure did manage to gain the support of George Osbourne, which is definitely rather suspicious and, I’d say, indicative of a certain bourgeois class alignment. But in the overall, the main threat Starmer poses to the progressive character of the Labour Party isn’t really a re-assertion of neoliberalism, but instead a softening of the progressive politics through the de-emphasizing of certain pet issues such as Israel-Palestine, as well as his willingness to negotiate with the Conservative Party and his toned down rhetoric about the Tories. Otherwise, he maintains the bulk of the progressive consensus that rests within modern liberalism and the modern left, such as unwavering support for membership of the European Union (he not only defended Labour’s second referendum policy from last year but he was also the only leadership candidate on the ballot who advocated for us to rejoin the EU) and he plans on maintaining support for feminism, LGBT identity politics and environmentalism, all of which are shared by the “hard” left that supported Corbyn. Really, the claim that he’s going to lead Labour away from “the left” is not as believable as it seems on the surface. Given that he’s described as a Zionist and has a Jewish wife and kids who are being raised in the Jewish faith, I’m half-tempted to suspect that the Corbynites secretly hate him for his Jewish background rather than his lack of progressivism. In any case, it doesn’t really matter. Starmer will ultimately continue the degenerative progressivism that resides within the Labour Party, just that this time it will be milder in character than the fearsome ressentiment that dwelled within the Corbynite movement, and the left will fall into decline. But we’ll get into that in more detail in a moment.
For now though, let’s get into his legal career, because that’s also worth going over. He famously appeared in the McLibel documentary in 1997, by which time he served as a legal advisor for Helen Steel and David Morris, two Greenpeace activists who were being sued by McDonald’s for producing a fact sheet criticizing numerous unethical industrial practices on their part, and was frequently called to the bar in various Caribbean nations. Later on in 2002 he would be appointed to the Queen’s Counsel, which is a group of lawyers hired to advise the monarch on legal matters, was named Head of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008, and was eventually knighted in 2014 for his “services to law and criminal justice”. So on the whole, he seems to have had a long, prestigious and successful career in legal services. However, there is also a deeply disturbing aspect to this history. A year after the famous DJ and philanthropist Jimmy Saville died in 2011, it was revealed that Saville had engaged in the sexual abuse of women and children between 1955 and 2009, and that the authorities failed to prosecute him while he was still alive. In 2009, back when Keir Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Jimmy Saville was interviewed under caution by the Surrey Police following a complaint made by a woman who claimed to have witnessed one of his assaults during the 1970s. After receiving case files from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute Saville and dropped the case entirely, citing “insufficient evidence”. Only a year after his death did we find out that he abused people and what the scale of this abuse was, and that there was to some extent a covering up of this abuse in high places. So, just so we’re clear here, Keir Starmer basically helped cover up the crimes of Jimmy Saville, or at least that’s what the actions of the Crown Prosecution Service, under his leadership, amounted to. Although, to be fair, Starmer apologized for this and stated that he and the police in Surrey and Sussex failed to deal with the allegations properly, and went on to call for changes in the way child abuse cases are investigated. He also refused to prosecute Simon Harwood, a London police officer who beat up a man named Ian Tomlinson to death in 2009.
Now, before I go on about the more general picture of the state of the left, let’s turn to the US Democratic primaries, the original impetus for me writing this post, and I’m afraid the situation is quite grim. At first, despite Elizabeth Warren’s attempt to gaslight Bernie Sanders over fallacious (indeed quite obviously bullshit) accusations of sexism, Pete Buttigieg’s blatant conspiracy to rig the Iowa primaries, and Michael Bloomberg’s brief but hostile and absurdly high rolling campaign, Bernie Sanders looked like the frontrunner for pretty much all of the primaries. In fact he was doing so well that nearly every other candidate still standing dropped out, very suddenly I might add, leaving the race to come down to basically just Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden (Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard and Michael Bloomberg stuck around for a while after Super Tuesday, but ultimately dropped out and had very little support going for them anyway; Elizabeth Warren lost her home state and Tulsi Gabbard failed to win a single delegate for most of the race). But then Super Tuesday happened, fourteen different primaries happening in the same day, and almost out of nowhere Biden enjoyed a surge in votes and delegates. Yes, Joe Biden, who at the start of the race looked like he was going to fail, suddenly supplanted Bernie as the frontrunner. And as it is the lead looks almost insurmountable. Biden currently leads with 1,217 delegates, while Bernie has 914. Ever since Biden’s surge Bernie has generally fallen behind Biden by about 300 delegates.
And to be honest, it’s hard to tell what happened exactly. It’s easy for me to say that this is the work of an overarching conspiracy by the DNC, who initially seemed to favour Pete Buttigieg but obviously now favour Biden, particularly when you consider that Biden grew just as most of his major rivals dropped out. Not to mention, a lot of the primaries since then have seen unusual delays in releasing the full results, especially in primaries where Bernie might win, which leads me to think there’s shenanigans going on. But the more the primaries drag on, the more I think that it’s impossible to account for Biden’s surge solely through conspiracy. Bernie’s supporters seem to have gravely underestimated the possibility of the average, barely political but Democrat-aligned voter to be swayed by the “look, I like Bernie, but we need to win”, argument, despite the fact that the data shows Bernie to be the most likely to beat Trump in the general contest. Of course, there are some on the left who blame the political correctness and hyper-liberalism of some of Bernie’s supporters, by which they really mean some Twitter or podcast celebrity that the average voter has no knowledge of because most people don’t actually use Twitter, which to me leads gullible people to think that they just showed up to ruin everything on Super Tuesday for no reason. The simple fact is that the Bernie movement looks set for failure, and it’s going to be a rather devastating one, made all the more bitter by the fact until recently it looked like they were going win. Although, strictly speaking, things are not completely hopeless in the sense that there is still time for Bernie to bridge the gap between him and Biden and possibly take the lead again, and a lot of primaries have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the chance of Bernie taking that lead again seem slim and we have no idea if those delayed primaries will be amenable to Bernie victory. So it looks like Biden will probably win the primaries, although I suppose if Trump’s horrendous response to the pandemic is anything to go by it turns out Biden might have a chance of beating Trump after all, but honestly a contest between Biden and Trump would be something of a toss up.
But it’s here, now, that we can begin to discuss the failure of the left in a more abstract sense. I don’t mean to equate the Sanders movement with the Corbyn movement, there are clear differences between them, but there are common points between the two leaders, and between the failures of the movements of the left more broadly. And in this regard, I have a major problem with Bernie’s conduct in the primaries – namely, that it has been wildly inconsistent. When Elizabeth Warren accused him of being a sexist, he and his team straight up called her out as a liar, when Pete Buttigieg tried to claim victory in Iowa, Bernie also claimed victory and just straight up said “because I have more votes”, but when Joe Biden is in danger of winning, he bends the knee before the primaries are even over by. In fact his general conduct regarding Biden has been generally cuckish – he demanded members of his campaign team apologize for calling Biden corrupt (which he actually fucking is!), he’s described Joe Biden as a “friend”, and he openly said that Joe Biden can defeat Trump. No wonder he’s surging ahead! Yeah, sure, he called Biden out on policy, particularly social security, but there’s just no fire in it like there is when he’s dealing with his other opponents. Much debate within the Democratic Party focuses on which candidate can defeat Donald Trump, and Bernie should have been out there saying “I’m the only one who can defeat Trump, everyone else just isn’t good enough”, and he doesn’t seem to be doing that, or if he is, he’s actively contradicting this praxis by declaring Joe Biden capable of defeating Trump. The lesson we should have drawn from Elizabeth Warren’s shitshow campaign is that unity has no place in a competitive primary, but Bernie seems content to do that anyway. But then part of me thinks it doesn’t even matter because it’s not like he isn’t making the right moves in response to the pandemic. He’s been holding live video rallies on YouTube in keeping with social distancing measures, he’s been raising money to go to relief for victims of the pandemic, and he’s been holding roundtables with experts on how to fight the pandemic. All of this is awesome, and I hope it turns thing around for him, but at the same time I wonder if it will really push back against this tide of boomers who are ready to die of COVID-19 just to vote for Joe Biden. And I’m gonna level with you here, if not only the pandemic but also all the credible accusations of rape don’t stop Biden from winning, I can’t say for certain what will.
And then there’s Jeremy Corbyn. What a miserable joke he’s been. No matter how many times he loses, he tries to spin it as though actually he won all along. And he was even weaker than Bernie Sanders has ever been, in that at least Bernie Sanders was actually capable of demonstrating strength of character at times. Corbyn repeatedly failed to address the anti-semitism crisis within the Labour Party and repeatedly dodged the question of whether he is an anti-semite. Every time the question comes up, he only says “anti-semitism has no place in the Labour Party whatsoever”, without ever refuting the accusations levelled towards him. He should have said something along the lines of “now listen here you lying vultures, I am not an anti-semite and here’s why”, he should have actively refuted the claims about anti-semitism in Labour, but instead he lets all of his supporters do it, while at the same time his supporters show themselves to be anti-semites. He repeatedly dodged many other questions as well, such as how he intends to pay for his nationalization programs, and he refused to defend to himself from allegations of being a terrorist sympathizer over his past associations with the IRA and Hezbollah. He crucially was also very weak on the Brexit issue, in that despite his longstanding Euroscepticism he failed to maintain any coherent position on whether or not we should leave the EU – in his past, he consistently advocated that we leave the EU, but since assuming leadership he appeared to waver between compromise and adamant pro-EU sentiment. And even before he became leader, it’s not like he was a positive force within the party, given that, like Keir Starmer, he chose to ignore pedophilia under his watch whenever it cropped up. And, most importantly, despite all of his failures, despite every defeat suffered under his leadership, despite every humiliation he brings to the Labour Party, he will never admit any mistakes, he’ll never concede the reality of defeat, he’ll never change course on anything, and he will only think of himself as a man who’s done nothing but the right thing in all circumstances. Even as he exits the Labour Party, he believes that he’s won the argument just because the Tories gobble up some of his policies.
And the movement that has consolidated around Corbyn is in many ways worse. Besides the already-mentioned anti-anti-semitism, there seems to this shared belief by them that Corbyn is not going away, even as he fades into irrelevance, that he won the argument, that his ideas will live on forever, and that he may as well be Jesus Christ himself. Everything about him was right, everything wrong with him is just propaganda, the only reason he lost was because of media bias (which for some reason didn’t stop him from becoming a major opposition leader in 2017), and if you criticize any of this then you’re a right-wing conservative who wants the Tories to win. That is, without embellishment, what they believe. And while some of them are now bending the knee to Keir Starmer after previously claiming that he would drag the party to the right, most of them remain convinced that the days of the Labour left are over, despite Kier Starmer merely being a soft social democrat, rather than simply a neoliberal. Their entire purpose of being consists of the pursuit of power, that power built of course upon the destruction of any kind of patriotism, common sense, and any form of left politics that doesn’t solely exist as a protest movement. And to be fair, while the pro-Bernie movement isn’t as bad, they seem to be concurring with the Corbynites as to why people didn’t vote Corbyn – namely, “it’s all the media’s fault” and “bigoted white people were afraid of change”. The progressive spell is everywhere in the electoral left, whether in the US or the UK, or in the Corbynites or the Starmerites, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t also be present in Europe too. It is my opinion that the left is destined to lose several major elections, and certainly will not win the US or the UK at least for a decade or two – in the meantime, the right-wing is going to have a lock on power throughout the Western world, and it will survive by morphing into a kind of weird reactionary social democracy in response to the new material conditions brought about by both the pandemic and the general crisis of capitalism.
Now you might be wondering, why aren’t I, an ostensible Marxist, talking about revolution at this point? And the answer to that is very simple: there is no reason to think a revolution will be successful in developed Western countries, and no basis for a revolution to take place even if there were. The simple fact is that the revolutionary tactics of the 20th century did not account for the rapid consolidation of highly advanced, often AI-operated, militatry technology in the hands of bourgeois governments in the 21st century. Just try and do some kind of October Revolution in the United States for instance. Go ahead, try it. You will be crushed and scattered without much trouble. And it’s not like the people calling for revolution are revolutionary material themselves. They lack the ability or the means to set up revolutionary apparatus, they lack the kind of discipline and virtue that a revolutionary would possess, they lack even just the ability to agree with their comrades on the simple nature of what they’re fighting for, and on top of all that all they like to do is make excuses for why the only reason they suck is because of anything but themselves. Of course, even if that weren’t a problem, class consciousness is very minimal, and the working class is a long way away from being inspired to revolution. Not that today’s left is capable of inspiring revolution. They don’t create, and don’t like the thought of creating anything (except for shitty YouTube videos of course), they only like the thought of destroying or reappropriating that which already exists. They talk of scientific socialism, but refuse to base their worldview on anything other than a select handful of socialist thinkers instead of real-world conditions (they elevate theory above praxis). They actively despise the working class of their respective countries, dismiss them as reactionary in accordance with their master Lenin, and to that end they despise any kind of patriotism that they might exhibit. They also have a bad habit of softballing foreign dictatorships, even the ones they might otherwise despise, so long as they can be seen as opponents of US imperialism – I speak, of course, about their weak attitude towards China. Indeed, even as we enter into a crisis entirely of China’s making, they refuse to just blame China, and they refuse to criticize a lot of the vile cultural practices that take place in China, namely the senseless slaughter of wildlife and the devouring of live infant animals, supposedly to cultivate spiritual energy, because doing that would just be imposing our culture on them. They also seem to have this weird slave morality about them, wherein they derive community value from vulnerability rather than strength, and they lean on this stupid idea that the universe runs on a moral arc that bends inevitably towards their idea of progress, and to that effect they obssess with progress as an ideal, even if that progress doesn’t take us anywhere good, and if you criticize that you’re a reactionary. And, on the internet in particular, I find that a lot of the left are simply nostalgic losers who wish that Stalin or Bakunin would come back from the dead and set us right.
There are many times now where, even while I still hold to some kind of socialistic politics that would lead to me being within the left grouping, I will probably be done considering myself a part of the left. This is not to say that my political consciousness won’t be aligned with what I consider to be some form of socialistic politics, but the broader movement to me seems to have degenerated to a point of nigh-irreversible decline, and it seems to be invested in clinging onto to tendencies and values that I simply cannot align myself with on a personal level. And if there are those who complain that you can’t be a socialist while divorced from the contemporary left, who the hell cares? If Slavoj Zizek can get away with it, why can’t I?
After my two recent posts I sense that, perhaps, there may be some interest in discussion over the group I mentioned called The Satanic Reds, the Satanist organization that also happened to be communist. Just who are they, and just who is Tani Jantsang, the group’s founder?
I suppose we can start with Tani Jantsang first. She appears to have been active in either the Satanic movement or just occultism more generally since the 1960s. She seems to have started out as a big fan of H P Lovecraft during the 1960s, when she intially encountered his writings, and in 1965 she came into contact with a group that was purportedly known as Societas Selectus Satanas, an organization that we know next to nothing about (although at least one person claims that there was actually no Societas Selectus Satanas and in fact what is referred to as such was actually a sect of “Family Tradition” Wicca), of which she believed the fantasy author Lin Carter was a member. As the 60s progressed, Jantsang’s interest in Lovecraft was so intense that it began to intertwine with her spiritual outlook. She started to believe that Lovecraft was connected to an ancient “Black Tradition” of magick that originated in Mongolia and unspecified parts of central Asia, and in 1969 she joined a magical order called Starry Wisdom, which appears to have been inspired by Lovecraft. In future decades she would also go on to become a prolific author of several essays, novels, and poems, many of them themed around the Chthulhu mythos, and she along with a man named Philip Marsh were also the editors of a magazine called Chthulhu Cultus, which ran from 1995 to 2001. In 1974, Tani and Philip formed an organization known as the Kishites, named for the ancient Sumerian (though they claim it to be Babylonian) city of Kish, which seemed to combine the Lovecraftian mythos with Tantric lore and other spiritual systems. In fact, Tani considers the Satanic Reds to be a continuation of the Kishite sect, albeit stripped of any references to Lovecraftian fiction.
Besides her work on Lovecraftian fiction, Tani is also apparently known for being a co-author of 11 historiographical monographs of various incarnations of Left Hand Path spirituality, so she seems to be a seasoned author of both fiction and non-fiction within the realm of Satanism. She is also an enigmatic figure in the movement, relatively obscure nowadays compared to the likes of Peter Gilmore or Michael Aquino (not to mention that very few photos of her exist), and so her life and involvement within Satanism sometimes the subject of rumour, speculation, and even drama. She is sometimes said to have been a Magistra of the Church of Satan in the past, a claim that Tani herself denies. She does seem to have had some correspondence with the Church of Satan, via letters that were sent between her and the Church of Satan between 1992 and 2000. In these letters she was praised by both Anton LaVey and Blanche Barton on various points, such as her pronouncements against the Nazis (or “Aryanists”), various articles of hers that were evidently submitted to the Church of Satan, and some music that she showed them that was apparently composed by her, as well as her correspondence with Anton’s son Xerxes. This is in itself would not be proof of her being a Magistra, but there is a quote of her saying that she was a Magistra going around in old Google forums dating back to 2003. It’s not entirely clear where this quote originates. Her relationship with the Church of Satan appears to have been amicable at first, and she also defended their doctrine of Satan as a dark force in nature against the Temple of Set, but by the time of her last correspondence with Blanche Barton there seems to have been a falling out between her and her organization, supposedly over her increasingly vocal anti-fascist pronouncements against some members of the Church of Satan.
Now, this is very interesting because, in a previous correspondence with Blanche Barton, dated to 1995, Blanche praises Tani for condemning the Nazis in the organization. In fact, Blanche refers to the “Aryanists” (as she calls them) as lacking nobility and purpose and accuses their cosmology and methods of being linked to Christianity (which is silly but at least it seems like she opposed Nazism). Curiously, this is the same year in which Blanche wrote that article for Black Flame in which she gaslighted Satanists who were expressing concern about the presence of fascists in the organization. But by the year 2000, it seems that Tani Jantsang had began calling them out again, in a similar way that she had before only perhaps more vocally, and this time that seems to have pissed off Blanche Barton and others in the Church of Satan. And that gets into some questions. How is it that the Church of Satan, an organization that, as I’ve demonstrated, has had a longstanding association with fascists up to the top of its hierarchy since its early years, would find itself admitting a self-identified communist into their ranks? Perhaps they weren’t lying after all when they said they were an apolitical organization? But then again why would they sideline a member or associate who they previously praised because of her vocal criticism of fascism, after previously praising such criticism?
However, I would be being one-sided if I did not bring up the fact of Tani’s own associations with fascists. I already talked about how she used to be a member of the fascist Order of the Left Hand Path, but she also seems to have known James Madole, the leader of the fascist National Renaissance Party. There is an interview in which Jantsang recounts meeting with Madole, along with a few other Nazis, who shit-talked Anton LaVey and ranted about him being a Jew and supposedly “taking over the dialobic current”, that presumably was just a noble Aryan pagan warrior cult before he showed up (I tell you, the delusions that these volkisch fascists conjure within themselves never ceases to be entertaining). In addition it is known that Madole, who is noted for his fascination with occultism, was also, like Tani Jantsang, very interested in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, which leads me to believe that it was probably through this that the two initially became acquainted decades ago. And much later in life, despite calling out the Nazism of Church of Satan members, we find an interview she did in 2007 in which she praises Pat Buchanan’s books Where the Right Went Wrong and A Republic, Not An Empire as accurate books that everyone should read and even claimed that they constituted satanic literature, despite the notable handicap of Pat Buchanan and his vision for American society being characterized by conservative Christianity. And can I just say, isn’t it strange that a self-proclaimed Marxist would have such a high opinion of a man who believes that Jewish Marxists are responsible for the decline of Western Civilization? Not to mention, in that same interview, she praises the work of the white nationalist Kevin McDonald for his book The Culture of Critique, which argues that Jews are genetically predisposed towards ethnocentrism and to infiltrate white societies in order to eliminate their white populations and replace them with non-white peoples, and was directly inspired by the “Great Replacement” myth, and she also seems to dabble in Eurabia-style conspiracy theories, and along with that some ideas that sound suspiciously like the talking points of the far-right, when she says this:
Some of the Islamics even admit that they are unarmed invaders that will outbreed the Europeans and simply take over their societies and destroy their culture. These European countries have their own cultures and they are secular and advanced civilizations. I’d hate to see Western Civilization lost. It just might take extreme measures to fix what’s wrong in Europe. Playing the political correctness game has to stop if European culture, language and civilization is to survive this onslaught – and that means in the USA too. I regard the USA as primarily a European-culture nation, Western Civilization, post enlightenment. It should stay that way.
In addition to this, in her article about “Generational Satanism“, she says “I also said, “JEWS are Generational Satanists, and THEY RULE YOU.”. On the other hand, she also gives Jews quite a bit of credit within the remit of her ostensibly materialistic philosophy, in the sense that she holds that Jews are hated by Christians because hold the view that there is no heavenly afterlife. So, with all that in mind, I actually wonder why she would come out against the Nazis if she appears to harbour anti-semitic sympathies herself? Is it truly because of a moral opposition to the ideological program of Nazism (which, as I surely don’t need to tell you, is inseparable from anti-semitism), or is it just because she thinks of the Nazis as obvious bad guys, or because they’re most likely to actually bring her harm should they ever take power in her country? It’s hard for me to say, and I don’t think the answer to this question is going to be a particularly good one, since she appears to promote white nationalist (and blatantly anti-semitic) thinkers and ideas when given the chance. I think that Tani seems to be very confused on the question of Jews and anti-semitism, and, as we’ll see, politics more generally.
Returning to drama, though, there’s also a weird drama that Tani Jantsang has concerning Michael Aquino and the Temple of Set. There was an apparent incident involving Aquino in 1972, when he was still a member of the Church of Satan, in which the Lovecraftian lodges seemed to get into conflict with Aquino over some manuscripts that it is claimed were written by Lin Carter. Jantsang’s critics accuse her of plagiarizing an essay that was originally written by Michael Aquino. There’s also the matter of the Order of the Left Hand Path, and the circumstances surrounding her leaving the order. She recalls that she “started a shitfight” with Bolton, and this was likely motivated by an increased sense of ideological divergence and the apparently dogmatic tendencies of its leader, Kerry Bolton. She accused Bolton of having used the idea of the Dark Doctrines to browbeat people into submission. This split caused the Order of the Left Hand Path to reconstitute into the Ordo Sinistra Vivendi in 1994, and in the process jettisoning the influence of Jantsang’s doctrine and other Eastern influences in favour of a doctrine inspired by the Order of Nine Angles.
Her drama is not entirely limited to Satanist groups, as she seems to have been in some sort of feud with a secretive communist group called Maoist Internationalist Movement, which considered her to be a terroristic anti-communist agitator. Jantsang, in turn, considers MIM to be an FBI COINTELPRO group that also endorses terrorists and attacks other communist organizations (which, to be fair, considering the fact that the CIA started up and supported Maoist groups in the 1960s for the purposes of splintering the communist movement, would not be without precedent). And in general, from what I have noticed of her writings or rather her exchanges on forums and particularly the old group chats she started from the early 2000s, she had the tendency to be highly polemical and defensive to the point of being excessively confrontational and often vulgar towards others, which lends to some sharp dramatic tendencies. This also lends itself to some extreme positions being on her part, such as her apparent opinion that the US should drop nuclear bombs on Afghanistan. I must say, if she is a Marxist, she must be a very confused one. For instance, in the quotation wherein she identifies herself as a Magistra of the Church of Satan, she also identifies herself as a Stalinist, but in another post she describes Stalin as a totalitarian dictator (and in that case she’d be right about that btw).
All of this comes from what little information is out there about Tani Jantsang herself, gleamed from a handful of books on the subject, the Satanic Reds website, and a series of forums often dating back around half a decade. Even from this, there are many who doubt even the most basic details about her, including her very name. Some believe that Tani Jantsang is actually a woman named Tanya Lysenko, or Phyllis Rose, or Phyllis Rosenbaum, but these come from a few old forum posts and I have no way of verifying the authenticity of such claims. So, in many ways, a lot of her life seems to be a mystery.
But enough about Tani herself, let’s talk about The Satanic Reds as an organization. They were founded by Tani Jantsang and Philip Marsh in 1997, decades after their formation of the Kishites and a couple of years after her involvement with the Order of the Left Hand Path. It’s unknown how many members they have, though Tani Janstang claims that the group has 800 members. This organization bases itself on two identifiable core doctrines – the first is what they call the Dark Tradition or Dark Doctrines and the second is what they call Social Realism. The Dark Doctrines is their way of referring to their overall cosmology and the line of esoteric tradition that they claim to draw from. The basic idea of this is that there’s an ancient tradition of Tantra that constitutes the primordial form of Satanism, which Tani claims is found not only in ancient Tantric Hinduism but also in the Pythagorean tradition, Advaita Vedanta and “Turanian” mysticism. The cosmological doctrine of the Dark Tradition is based on the idea of Sat, Tan, and Asat, with Sat and Tan in particular supposedly forming the primordial basis for the archetype of Satan. Sat is the name of the concept that they define to be the Boundless Darkness, the substance of the All which is then infused into all things and particularly living beings as Atma (the Hindu concept of the soul), and the source of the light, or the Flame as it were. Tan is the name of the force by which this Darkness is infused into all of creation, and in a broader sense the process of Becoming. Satan, in this light, is interpreted the synthesis of these two, the unfolding and its object, and thereby the embodiment of the creative process by which all things come into being in the universe. Asat in this doctrine is their word for Non-Being, which is described as giving rise to Sat or Being (much like Wuji, or the Without Ultimate, gives rise to Taiji, or the Supreme Ultimate, in Taoist cosmology), but they also seem to use it to refer to temporal or temporary phenomenon within the cosmos.
Although I’m not convinced that it is the historical representation of Tantra (or Satanism for that matter) that Tani Jantsang purports it to be, it does seem to derive from Tantric Hinduism in the use of several Hindu concepts possibly connected to Tantra. The connection to Tantra may, however, just be as stretched as the name Tan supposedly being the basis of the word Tantra, in which case this is just a particularly inventive system of religious syncretism. And such a syncretism is not an uninteresting one either, in all fairness. In Sat and Tan we could extrapolate a dynamic of creation associated with some pantheistic belief systems, in which Tan becomes the creative impetus or force which compels the generation of things upon the embryo of the universe. There’s also the invocation of various archetypal links – there’s wrathful Buddhist deities such as Shri Kalachakra and Mahakala, there’s the Tao, there’s Sanat Kumara (who for them refers to the five Kumaras which are the five Tan that make up the five points of the pentagram in their tradition), and there’s the Slavic deity Chernobog (or “Chynerii Bog”), which are all taken to be names of this force of darknesss. They also seem to root themselves in the idea of unity with Nature, or more specifically their own Nature, and in their Nine Postulates (their own take on the Nine Satanic Statements), they stress that humans are of Nature, and that those who try to rebel against their own nature, thereby defying Nature more broadly, spiritually die and become nothing, and I think the emphasis on nature does sound nice if framed from the perspective of the Ziran concept found in Taoism. The term for a person who defies Nature is called a Klippoth, which for them means Nothing, but in one article Tani Janstang also uses the term Setian, as in a follower of Michael Aquino’s doctrine, in a similar way, to refer to someone who, like the Christian, detaches himself from the natural world and views themselves apart from (or indeed threatened) by it, which in my view seems to be an attack on the Setian doctrine of human self-consciousness (and Set, its progenitor) as being outside of and apart from nature and the Satanist therefore as seeking to seperate from nature. Honestly, that’s quite the burn. She also calls them pretas, a Hindu/Buddhist term referring to the “hungry ghosts”.
The major problem, however, is that Tani’s concept of a Dark Tradition is ultimately ahistorical. There is nothing tracing her doctrines of Sat, Tan and Asat, or indeed the Satanic pentagram, to Pythagoras or the Pythagoreans – indeed, we all know that the Satanic pentagram in its modern form can be traced to 19th century occultism, where it was used as a negative symbol asssociated with the forces of subversion and opposition to God. There is also nothing linking her particular philosophy to the original Tantra in the historicist sense, and there is certainly no etymological link between Sat, Tan and Satan. I would perhaps appreciate it if Tani and the Satanic Reds were honest about the fact that this philosophy is their own syncretic invention, and in this sense a modern doctrine, but it seems they’re rather invested in the idea that this is just something that people have always believed in if it weren’t for those pesky Christians (which, given what we’ve already established about her associations with volkisch fascists, sounds like it’s not too different from what they believe about how everyone followed Esoteric Hitlerism or some such until the Jews decided that we shouldn’t), and given her claims to “Turanian” heritage, it almost feels like a massive projection of a sense of ethnic identity. Not to mention, her writings on the Dark Doctrines, much like her comments in general, are difficult to read and make sense of for some reason. There’s a certain disjointedness to her writing style, I often find it difficult to grasp her work, not because of its ostensible profundity but instead because everything feels jumbled and it’s hard to make sense of what she’s saying. It’s like she has some sort of communication problem.
As for Social Realism, this is the name given to the political ideology of the Satanic Reds doctrine. It’s not really given its own definition, it just seems to be a moniker they give to their particular left-wing politics and its synthesis with Satanism. Now, it’s here that we come to one thing that I never really addressed in this post, which is probably the most interesting subject of this matter, is the question of how exactly do you be both a communist and Satanist, given that Satanism at large tends be an anti-egalitarian philosophy that in particular has a habit of embracing Social Darwinism? Whilst I can’t speak for other Satanists who happen to consider themselves communist, the Satanic Reds apparently have their own way of reconciling it, and, to be quite honest, it’s confusing. Even though the Satanic Reds are referred to as communist and their logo can be seen brandishing the hammer and sickle symbol of the Bolshevik movement, their FAQ seems to suggest that they are not in fact strictly socialist, but instead are both capitalists and socialists, or more specifically supporters of Dirigist capitalism, which they maintain is a form of socialism (to which any other Marxist, myself included, would laugh and then tell you to read basic Marxist theory as regards socialism and/or communism). What’s more, they seem to purport that they self-identify as “Reds” (meaning communists) not because of any actual adoption of communist ideology but because Franklin Roosevelt, whose New Deal programs they appear to support, was considered a communist back in his day, and, in their words, “if F. D. Roosevelt was a Red, then so are we!”.
This suggests that they are not in fact communists, or even socialists, but instead New Deal progressives who dress up their ideology in communist garb for nakedly contrarian reasons. In fact, they apply this logic to everything else as well. They embrace the label Red (or communist) on the grounds that liberals, feminists, gay rights advocates, advocates of social and religious tolerance, anti-racists, anti-fascists, and advocates of state planning or regulationist economic reforms, have all been considered communists at one point or another by right-wing reactionaries, and so being a communist to them simply means an expression of support for all of these things (oddly enough without the actual communism to support it). This is ultimately not so much an expression of meaningful communist politics so much as it is getting willfully hung-up on the fact that right-wingers, especially Republicans, have done what they will do even to conservative Democrats: so long as they are running against the GOP, the GOP’s supporters will denounce them as communists. Hell, even Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican President, was demonized as a communist by the John Birch Society over opposition to the military-industrial complex among other issues, but you can bet for certain that the Satanic Reds will never vote Republican just because of that. The overall stance follows from the logic that those who do not adopt Christianity are considered Satanists, so you might as well adopt that identity. Tani herself is an example of this; she claims to be “generational Satanist”, in that she claims her family was Satanists, but in reality they were likely not Satanists and Tani herself describes them as “non-Islamic Turko-Tartars” who she claims practiced a syncretic religion based on Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Tantric Hinduism (or “Tantric-Vedantic concepts”) and some form of shamanism.
And look, I know it can seem tempting to some left-leaning individuals on the internet to embrace the commie label just because reactionary forces and right-wing idiots deem them to be communists and will call you a communist no matter what you do, but consider the reverse of this phenomenon. For ages, Democrats have had a bad habit of calling their Republican enemies Nazis, and outside of America you will often find people with a left-leaning bent who will call various right-wing politicians fascists or Nazis, regardless of whether or not they are actually fascists or Nazis. Now, if hypothetically a right-winger were to say that he decided to move to the far-right on the grounds that “the left” has decided that everything’s fascist now, would you be willing to believe them or take them seriously? Come on, I’ve seen that Matt Bors comic you guys like to share. Of course you don’t buy it. So why do this for yourselves through the label of communism? Now, I get that it makes a tiny bit of sense if you take it from the lens of Satan being the archetype of opposition to the establishment or whatever, but the way you manifest that within a leftist outlook is through the union of the Satanic archetype and a meaningfully radically outlook. Apparently the anarchists managed to do it since the 19th century, so why can’t these guys?
That being said, however, the Satanic Reds website contains multiple links to various articles written by either Tani Jantsang or other members outlining their postulations about communism, socialism, and even dialectical materialism – the very philosophical basis of Marxism. It may be interesting, therefore, to examine them.
It seems obvious to me that we are dealing people who are, at least in some sense, socialists, and they operate within Marxism in particular. Tani herself I think is a Marxist-Leninist of some type (judging by the fact that she once called herself a Stalinist, which is the name of a specific tendency within Marxism-Leninism). In some ways, I find them to be convincing leftists. However, I also find them to be confused. On the one hand, you have all of this material that establishes a credible Marxist ideological current for themselves, but on the other, their Q&A establishes that they might actually be pro-capitalist in the sense of Dirigist or New Deal capitalism. I’d say that they’re being a bit too coy about their political beliefs if you ask me.
The last thing I want to address about their doctrine is their views on the definition of the Right Hand Path and the Left Hand Path. It seems that they are simultaneously of the Left Hand Path and not of the Left Hand Path, in that they define the Left Hand Path and the Right Hand Path as inseparable parts of each other that, when separated, are reduced to falsity and error. Tani points out that the LHP and the RHP are, in their original Tantric context, defined not by their respective goals (because they had the same goal of attaining unity with God) but by their respective methods, but also suggests that LHP refers to Yin (the passive principle) while RHP refers to Yang (the active principle). This would be a strange idea because it would require us to categorize whether or not the Vamachara methods of transgression as either passive or active, or whether or not transgression itself is passive or active. And under this framework, transgression in the active sense, of all kinds, is RHP, even the Luciferian impulse and even violent revolution against the status quo. By the way, speaking of Lucifer, in this article Tani Jantsang claims that the term Lucifer was never used to refer to Satan until John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, when in reality the identification likely begins with Jerome.
And, that’s pretty much all I want to talk about with regards to the organization. The only other thing I could say about them is that it seems their website hasn’t been updated in several years. In the year 2020, this website still looks like it’s the late 1990s or early 2000s, suggesting that the website has not been updated at all since the group became somewhat popular in the early online Satanist scene of that time.
Overall, I find that the Satanic Reds are a group that could have had some promise in its weird mixture of Tantra, Satanism and Marxism, but while there are several promising elements I can’t say that it’s a well-executed synthesis. And it doesn’t look like the movement is still active and today it is largely treated as obscure footnote in the history of Satanism, which is kind of a shame because there was a lot going on in the background of the organization’s history that also ties in with the history of the Church of Satan. As for Tani Jantsang herself, I find her to be a very strange figure. On the one hand, she is commendable in being one of the few Satanists out there to actively try and challenge things like “might makes right” and Ayn Rand style individualism within the remit of Satanism, and there are aspects of her doctrine I find interesting, but on the other hand she also seems to be kind of a kook, she ultimately failed to produce the kind of refined synthesis that would be serviceable and ripe for expanding upon. And, on top of that, despite her commendable opposition to Nazis within the Satanic movement, it also seems that she, for a long time in her life, herself associated with fascists, and appears to have sympathies with white nationalists and the works of white nationalists and anti-semites, and I think that’s simply unacceptable.
I think, in the end, that the kind of thing that Tani Jantsang seeks would be better acheived by doing for Anton LaVey what Karl Marx did for Georg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel. Just as Marx took the foundation of Hegel’s dialectical philosophy and reconstituted it as a doctrine built upon materialism rather than idealism, so too must a Marxist running either within or adjacent to the Left Hand Path continuity take a foundation of something like Anton LaVey or whatnot and reconstitute it into a new philosophy using dialectical materialism. That is what I believe Jantsang would do if she were a more capable intellect, and in some ways it is the primary goal of my studies, wherever that path takes me.
For the past week the world has been busy commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which took place in July 20th 1969. For what it’s worth, it was by all accounts an event that defined a generation. There are many people alive today who still remember where they were on that day when they saw Neil Armstrong pose on the moon and plant that flag, as well as that timeless shot of the Earth as seen from the moon’s surface, and the landing is remembered as one of the greatest accomplishments of human history.
And I suppose, objectively speaking, it is still a pretty grand acheivement. It helped to change the way we see not only outer space and the vastness that awaits further exploration, but also our own planet due to the fact that we have gotten a close look at it from outside of our atmosphere. But even in that sense, there are things that put the Apollo 11 mssion into perspective that you are often not told about, because for you to be informed of these facts would undermine a particular hegemonic narrative for which the bourgeoisie uses Apollo 11 as a shibboleth by which to sustain the ideological weight of capitalism.
One thing to remember is that, both prior to and after the Apollo 11 project, the Soviet Union was one of the most innovative countries in the world, being responsible for numerous inventions that capitalist society almost never gives them credit for. For example, the biggest irony of the classic canard of “those god damned left-wing milennials arguing against capitalism from their smartphones” is that the Soviet Union helped lead the way in the development of modern mobile phone technologies, with the Altai moblie phone system having been developed in Soviet Russia in 1958. More importantly, the Soviet Union was the first country in the world to send a man into space, that man beign known as Yuri Gagarin. Although the Soviet space program had quite a few fatalities to its name, it was notably industrious in its efforts to explore the cosmos and at any rate preceded NASA by a year or two. It was in fact the direct motivation of the NASA program, a fact that the bourgeoisie themselves cannot deny.
This dynamic of competition is most likely still at play in the present decade given the fact that there is now much talk of a new US mission to land on the moon by the year 2024. This can be contextualized by the fact that China has long-term ambitions for space exploration and in fact China seems to be aiming for their own moon landing, and are making great strides in such a project. It cannot be lost on NASA that, after the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, NASA launched no further lunar missions, while China is presently engaging in several lunar missions, although they haven’t quite landed on the moon yet. NASA never really had the ambition to explore the moon on their own. Without the rivalry of the Soviet Union, the United States would see no profit in advancing civilizational progress in such a way, whereas the Soviet Union was not driven in its ambitions by the mere pursuit of profit or competition. Of course I doubt I can make the same argument of China, which after 40 years of Dengist reform is now thoroughly capitalistic (not to mention borderline fascist), but the point still remains that NASA’s ambitions seems to depend on the activities of foreign rivals in order to sustain itself.
There isn’t much for me to say other than, when I saw a news report about the Apollo 11 landings, I got really annoyed when a reporter framed it as a moment that finally united the American people. He talked about how the 1960s were a turbulent decade, defined by the Vietnam War, the civil rights struggle, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and John F Kennedy, and widespread social division, and how the landings lead to a moment where all of those divisions were swept away in a national symbol of triumph. Well after the Apollo 11 landings, things didn’t exactly get less turbulent or divided. Months after the Apollo 11 landings, there was the Altamont concert that ended in a gay man being murdered by members of the Hell’s Angels. The Vietnam War continued to rage on, as did the movement against. The following year saw the Kent State Massacre, in which four students were gunned down by the national guard for protesting against the US campaign in Cambodia. And if you want to talk about the national divide, that massacre only intensified this divide; there were people who rightly condemned the massacre for the atrocity that it was, and there were those who earnestly believed that either the students deserved to be shot or they shouldn’t have stood in the way of the national guard and in any case condemned them as radicals. That whole idea of the national divide being healed by Apollo 11 is pure myth-making – whatever feeling of unity there was must have been very brief.
All in all, don’t discount the Apollo 11 landing or the NASA space program. It was still important to the history of the US and to human civilization more broadly. But don’t allow yourself to be tricked by those who would use the moon landings as a shibboleth of their own sentimental narratives in the name of capitalist hegemony.
I have discovered a video on YouTube posted by Dave Cullen (a.k.a. Computing Forever), an Irish conservative who supports nationalism as well as free market libertarian and even anarcho-capitalist economics, in which he talks about his conversion to Christianity and promotes a concept known as the “god pill”, which can be taken as a facet of “red pill” online political culture. The video, entitled Rediscovering Faith: My Journey Back To Christianity, was so grotesque to the eye of reason, so erroneous in its premises, so self-serving in its function, and yet so enlightening as to the direction of online reactionary politics as well as Dave’s own political evolution, that I decided it was my civic duty to address it and key concepts from the video here on this blog. Please forgive me in advance for the sheer length of this post, but I must dissect these points here, for you will encounter these talking points on your own in time. Dave goes through several arguments at a time here, often in small portions but in quick succession, so addressing his major points will take up a lot of space, and the result will be probably one of my longest posts ever. If you don’t mind that (and here’s hoping you don’t), then I encourage you to read on.
Let ‘s begin by addressing the concept of the “God Pill”. Ostensibly, and for all practical purposes, the “God Pill” in the parlance of “red pill” culture is simply another way of referring to religious conversion, or rather the embrace of the belief in a God. God, for our purposes, refers to the concept of a supernatural consciousness that created and controls the universe and exercizes sovereignty over the souls of humans. However, the concept of the God Pill is also more than the simple acceptance of the belief in God, in that it is necessarily a component of the broader stages of “swallowing the red pill”. The God Pill stage is synonymous with the White Pill stage, which is suppsoed to follow the Black Pill stage, which is supposed to follow the Red Pill stage. Before we explain what exactly that means, let’s see Dave explain this process through his own words in the beginning of his video:
It seems now that a pattern is beginning to emerge among many of us who operate in this genre of red pill philosophy. When you take the metaphorical red pill, it’s just the first epiphany, the first layer. You realize how much you’ve been lied to all your life. You discover that you’ve been fed an ideology perpetuated through biased narratives and spin. You begin to discern truth from illusion, and reject the programming that they attempted to indoctrinate you with. Now if the red pill is the means by which you discover that you’ve been lied to with, the black pill is how you learn just how dangerous those lies truly were. The black pill is when you descend down the rabbit hole further and learn just how bad things have become. It’s where the consequences of evil become truly apparent. It’s also the point where you begin to experience a degree of hopelessness and despondence. This is the point of rock bottom, but luckily, from there the only way is up. Things can seem bleak, but it’s virtually impossible to stay black-pilled for long. It’s simply too difficult to entertain nihilism or despair for extended periods of time. Eventually, an appetite for hope, optimism and meaning begins to develop. The soul requires nourishment. Enter the white pill, also known as the God pill. You begin to desire action, order, purpose and a semblance of values in your life. The world may be going crazy but you’re not going to. The very values that have been stripped from Western nations by the left for the last 50 years gradually begin to make sense.
The God Pill, properly understood, is to be taken as an alternative name for the White Pill, which is the end of the stage a broader journey associated with the Red Pill concept. Taking the “Red Pill”, in this parlance, usually means the rejection of progressivism, liberalism, feminism and political correctness (or more or less as conservatives define it, which is basically just when you take a lefty-ish stance on social issues), and “awake” to what they believe to be the true nature of reality that is obfuscated and censored by progressives and globalist elites on a regular basis. In pick up artist parlance, where the red pill philosophy mythos originates, the “Red Pill” means “awakening” to the premise not only that society is gynocentric but chiefly that women don’t care about your personality and are only interested in promiscuous sex with young men, which given that women are also morally condemned for such a shallow mindset, even if they don’t actually have it, is pretty much unavoidably a recipe for misogyny. The opposite of the Red Pill is the “Blue Pill”, which represents ignorance of the realities of politics as well as women within red pill parlance. The “Black Pill” is a concept that Dave seems to softball for some reason. It is not simply when you learn how dangerously bad things are, but rather it refers to what happens when, some time after the premise of the Red Pill is accepted, you begin to develop a fatalistic and nihilistic outlook towards the world on the grounds that one comes to believe that the system that the adherent opposes cannot be reversed. In practice this usually means people in the new right turning to some kind of nihilistic fascism on the grounds that they now believe that the system they oppose can no longer be opposed through honorable or democratic means and that they are damned by whichever path they take, though in pick up artistry and incel culture the term simply means accepting the premise that there is nothing you can do to make yourself attractive to women if you are not conventionally attractive. The original definition of the Black Pill can be found in a post written by the Canadian anti-feminist blogger named Paragon in 2011, who defined the Black Pill as accepting the premise that there is no personal solution that can alter what pick up artists or incels or whatever they’re called nowadays consider to be a systemic trend of hypergamy that will always prevent men from having sex with desireable women. The “White Pill” in incel parlance is actually supposed to be just a generic term for the attainment of any sort of optimism and focus on self-improvement stemming from the premise of the Red Pill, but for people like Dave Cullen it seems to have taken on a distinctly religious connotation, related to religious conversion. In essence, we get a narrative which, in a sense, might give away the real goal of the strands of reactionary internet politics we see today: the end goal is to get disillusioned young people to not only reject progressivism, but also to reject any kind of liberal values, to reject the Enligthenment, to reject reason, and to reject the work of the French Revolution, and embrace Christian theism as a means of reviving the pre-Enlightenment order.
It is worth noting at this point that Dave is far from the only exponent of the God Pill concept, and perhaps not the most insane of them. Rocking MrE, who considers himself to be a classical liberal and was once promoted by the EDL as such alongside Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), used to be an atheist who ascribed to a sort of “Cultural Christianity” (that is, when you don’t believe in God but you still support Christian moral doctrine and values), but converted to Christianity proper at some point in 2018, and now he not only believes in God but also denies evolution as an “occult doctrine” designed to lead people away from Christian morality. The concept of a God Pill seems to have been discussed by other right wing channels such as Blonde in the Belly of the Beast. One YouTuber, Critical Condition, credits her “God Pill” status to the lectures of Jordan Peterson, which she saw as a way of re-establishing what is apparently to be taken as a dormant sense of religiosity. The right-wing pick up artist Daryush Valizadeh (better known as Roosh V) converted to Orthodox Christianity in March this year, apparently after finally becoming dissatisfied with a life of treating women as just the object of vainglorious sexual conquest (not to mention getting high on magic mushrooms), and now promotes the concept of the God Pill on his online forum, where he describes it as the final destination of a journey that begins with the “blue pill” (ignorance of reality), then progresses with the “red pill” (awakening to reality, apparently through pursuit “materialism”, in this case meaning pick-up artistry), then the “black pill” (despair, nihilism and the resutling withdrawal from “materialist” society) and ends in the God Pill (in his words, submission to God’s Will). The transition from the Red Pill to the God Pill appears to be a general trend that has been seen by some Christian observers, who comment that the invariable destination of the red pill political subculture is the revitalization of Christian religiosity. But, I feel it is in Dave, as well as Rocking MrE, that we find something particularly poignant. Here we have people who have devoted themselves, ostensibly, to reason. To that end they have embraced some very conspiratorial worldviews relating to reactionary politics, to the point that they may as well have been wearing reason as a costume, but Dave at least seemed to consider himself to be taking after the likes of Christopher Hitchens in some of his videos. And now, here he is rejecting atheism as a childish doctrine in favour of Christian religiosity! But I suppose this all makes sense in light of the red pill pipeline being just a pathway to religion. Though, in Dave’s case, there might well be distinctly emotional motives for his transition, ones that just happen to intersect with his hardline conservative views.
Anyways, with all of that having been established, let’s move on to the next point:
I guess I considered myself an atheist since I was about 13. I rejected the religious teachings of my parents, who were both devout Catholics and quite conservative, and as I entered my teenage years I began to become more liberal and I believed that I could have all the answers, that science and secularism were adequate substitutes for religion and faith. But as I grew older, I also became more conservative, and I began to realize that the wisdom of my parents was based on something timeless, universal and tried-and-tested for thousands of years, that the teachings of Christ were a set of rules and instructions that not only made intuitve sense when carefully studied but actually had been essential in maintaining and building our Western Civilization.
This is the first part of the video where we get to one of the more absurd claims Dave makes in order to justify his position. The claim in question is that Christianity has been “tried and tested” throughout the history of the Western world, as in for thousands of years, as in, by implication, presumably long before Christianity was actually formulated, before Jesus was even born. To assert this tripe requires you to neglect the entire body of Hellenic philosophy upon which we derive many of our modern sciences, philosophical concepts, political constructs and even large parts of our mythos. I’ve covered this before in my post about Cultural Christians, but let me summarize this point by saying that large parts of Christian doctrine derive from the writings of Plato, Aristole and the Stoics, not to mention many mystery cults such as the Eleusinian Mysteries. Then there’s the fact that so many Christian holidays, myths and even saints and angels have their roots in the pagan custom of Greek, Roman and other ancient societies. I would argue that, if there really is something that is timeless, universal, and tried-and-tested for thousands of years, it’s not Christianity, considering the fact that Christianity has only really been around for two thousand years, which in the grand scheme of human history is a pretty short stretch of time.
Next, we come to his criticism of the New Atheist worldview, which he purports to have dismissed during his teenage years:
Science is the means by which we understand the physical world around us. It is not the means by which we derive our morality. For that we need philosophy, metaphysics, religion. Human beings need relatable stories, instructions, parables, in order to develop a moral and ethical framework in which to live.
Now, I will say for the record that I find what I have seen of Sam Harris’ attempts to form a morality based on the scientific worldview to be utilitarian garbage, and I find that he justifies this using many of the same arguments that Christian apologists would use (namely that if you don’t follow his morality you must be a psychopath), but to assert that you cannot divine morality through pursuit of studying physical reality is to reject the physical world. If morality is a phenomenon that comes from the physical world in the sense that it emerges from human relations, and in a sense can only really be observed in the context of the physical world, then treating it as dependent on something that can only be based on something that is supposed to be categorically outside of the cosmos doesn’t make any sense, and in a sense divorces morality from reality, which in my opinion is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do because it creates the groundwork for moral nihilism. Not to mention, he seems to speak of philosophy as somehow separate from the pursuit of science, and aligned with religion and metaphysics. The problem with this is that the pursuit of philosophy makes no sense without its object – questions surrounding the nature of reality, that is a matrix that exists outside of ourselves that we observe on a constant basis – and also the fact that even the scientific method itself bases itself upon a specific set of philosophical assumptions and doctrines, which have proven effective for their purpose – that is, the investigation of reality through empirical study and experimentation and analysis based on reason. So from there, we can already see that Dave’s argument for religion amounts to a weak-kneed cop-out.
But in a sense, it’s also here we that we also come to one of the more revealing facets of Dave’s thesis on religion, one that is also apparent from the very beginning of the video, shortly before the first quote I posted from it. He doesn’t commit himself to a rational reason for believing in a Christian God, or in accepting the Christian religion as the guiding force for society as well as himself, but because he needs the Christian religion because it provides him with a meta-narrative that allows him to make sense of the world around him, and this desire, as was already implied in the discussion of the God Pill concept and as you will further see later on, is deeply linked to his conservative politics and his opposition to just about any form of left-wing politics you can find.
For now though, we must address that age old Christian apologist talking point that just won’t die, and that Dave is apparently resurrecting here:
Science and religion are actually not in conflict, as some atheists believe. They’re not actually in competition. One is the means by which we understand the physical world around us, the other is the means by which we derive meaning and moral instruction.
The main problem with this talking point is twofold. The first problem is that it assumes that religions are not formed as means by which to understand the world around us. The reason that’s a problem is simply the fact that religions like Christianity and Islam, and their surrounding myths, as well as the myths of polytheistic religions, were in part devised quite literally as a means by which people without scientific knowledge could explain the physical world. I mean, what the hell is the idea that God created the universe and is responsible for its cycles including those that happen on Earth if not an attempt to explain the physical cosmos? Oh wait, I forgot. We’re not supposed to take that literally. The second problem is that to believe that science and religion are not in competition but instead working harmoniously with each other requires the ignorance of the history of Christian power in Europe, as well as in America, which then as now is often in conflict with scientific findings. Did we all forget about how Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for his pantheistic beliefs which he may have drawn from his scientific pursuits? Or how Galileo Galilei was forced by the Inquistion to recant his scientific discovery of how the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around? Or how in the United States a man named John Scopes was sued by the state of Tennessee for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection? Or how for decades the evangelical lobby has fought for creationism against the scientific teachings of not only evolution but also man made climate change, and how this lobby is still an active part of the Trump administration today? Oh wait, I forgot, that’s all just progressive babble isn’t it Dave?
Following this, we come to a part of the video where Dave’s political direction descends further into regression, past the realm of the absurd and into the realm of the sinister, while also serving as the first exposure of just how utilitarian Dave’s embrace of Christianity really is. Here is how he segues from religion being a system of meaning and moral guidance:
This system may even be the basis of a legal system or even a constitution for a nation state to live by, but the core philosophy must be based upon something that cannot be altered or replaced by man-made ideals. It’s the idea that there is a higher power that Man is answerable to, that governments and politicians cannot challenge, that the state is beholden to the values and morals that the populace subscribe to. This is one of the primary utilities of religion in our society.
Let me spell it out for you just in case it wasn’t already obvious: he is describing the logic of a theocratic society. He is describing a system that derives its legitimacy not from the will of the people, not from a secular body of law, but from the will of God and from the edicts of a religious doctrine. What he is describing invariably entails a society which, by definition, derives its legal basis from the interpretation of the laws and commandments of God by some religious or ecclesiastical authority. I don’t see how else it would work in his society unless he thinks that either Christians will just vote their beliefs into power or that God will just sort everything out by himself. His proposal cannot be classified as anything other than the basis of a theocratic society.
But the unstated premise of this assertion is that the need for religion as the basis of a society, in conservative parlance, derives from the need for a device through which their desired economic order becomes impossible to challenge through any sort of state intervention. Think about this for a moment. The state, properly understood in a democratic context, represents the sum total of human will in its ability to direct material components of the political system and make decisions on behalf of itself as represented by the body politic. Free market capitalism, being a man-made construct, is the product of human hands and as such is subject to human hands: Man created capitalism, Man becomes a subject to capitalism, and Man can also destroy capitalism. Of course, Man can also bend market forces to his will, that is say the state can assume ownership of what was once the realm of private markets in order to direct said markets and capital in pursuit of common good. The capitalist, and the conservative, oppose this because it hinders the free flow of capitalist markets to stream capital upwards in accumulation into the hands of private elites, which, for them, represents a much more abstract notion of economic freedom (freedom for the few, of course, not for the many). If the best way to stop this is to have something in place that is higher than the state, higher than the will of Man, then what better candidate than God Almighty, an entity that cannot be challenged by the will of Man according to the religions that believe in him? Now apply this to free market economics, via that popular conception of the invisible hand of the market (however true it might be to the way Adam Smith intended to espouse it). The idea that the markets direct capital, goods and services in a positive direction that benefits society without the interference of the state, can be reified as a religious concept by arguing that the invisible hand of capitalist market is, in a way, the hand of God, or more or less the will of God working through the markets. The result of this is that the free market cannot be challenged by the state on the grounds that doing so means going against the will of God. The only problem with this, of course, is that the Bible doesn’t actually support free market economics except through a selective reading of it, and in fact there is even a famous verse in the Book of Acts in which a seemingly proto-communist society appears to be endorsed as a commune of Christ’s followers.
After that little quotation, he shows a clip from an interview he did with a guy called John Waters, who is a writer for the Irish Times and not to be confused with the American film director of the same name. A self-described “neo-Luddite” who despises the internet and emails in particular, he has supported many reactionary conservative positions in his day. He supported the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s, has claimed in 2014 that depression does not exist, opposed same-sex marriage, blamed gay people for his decision to quit journalism, and is such a staunch Catholic conservative that he even denies that there is institutional pedophilia in the Catholic Church, claiming instead that the real problem is homosexuality, which he claims explains the cases of pedophilia on the grounds that homosexuality is tied to ephepophilia (which, much like the anarcho-capitalists, he treats as morally distinct from pedophilia). In the interview clip being presented, Waters states that in the preamble of the Irish constitution begins with the phrase “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred”, which he believes is grounds to treat the Irish constitution as a kind of prayer or invocation, which he justifies simply by stating that it is a mechanism to take the fundamental rights of humans and place them out of the reach of humans – in other words, to define human rights as a law that cannot be changed by humans (even though rights as a concept originate directly from humans).
We get into another stupid claim from Dave after this wherein he cites the British author John Glubb via his book The Fate of Empires as justification for religion as an integral part of civilizational survival:
Nations and even empires that lose religion tend to collapse within a couple of generations. This is the pattern that John Glubb observed time and time again when he catalogued the rise and fall of great powers throughout history. When an age of decadence is reached in a society, an age of liberalism follows. When you take God out of the equation, Man tries to become God.
The central problem with this claim in particular is that it is not simply that it is utterly unfalsifiable, but that it is demonstrably false and incorrect. The Roman Empire, for example, can hardly be said to have “taken God out of the equation” in the years preceding its collapse. In fact, by the time the Roman Empire collapsed, Rome was already dominated by the Christian church, and had been through an almost unbroken succession of Christian emperors for over a century. The idea that the Romans were trying to “become God” can from there be treated as utterly laughable. The ancient Egyptian religion was still a present element of Egyptian rule and culture during the last days of the Egyptian empire under Cleopatra, after whose death Egypt became a Roman province. The Egyptians only briefly lost their religion during the reign of Akhenaten, who tried to introduce a monotheistic cult centering around a sun god named Aten, but after his death the religion of the old priests was restored and all mention of Atenism was purged from memory. The religion of the Aztecs only really disappeared after the Spanish conquistadors arrived and forced them to convert to Catholicism on pain of torture or death. The short lived Seleucid Empire did not die because of some lack of religiosity, in fact the empire was pretty successful in establishing what we now know to be classical Hellenic culture and syncretizing it with foreign with influences such as Buddhism. Instead, it died after a period of instability generated by civil war surrounding succession that broke out after the death of Antiochus IV. China went through several imperial monarchies throughout its history, and religion is not necessarily the cause of their collapse and displacement by successive new empires. If you know just a little bit about Chinese history, you’ll know that civil war is a common feature in ancient Chinese history, cropping up frequently as a point of transition between new dynasties, the most famous examples being the Three Kingdoms Period that preceded the short-lived Jin Dynasty and the Warring States period that preceded the Qin dynasty.
Furthermore, his talking about how without religion Man tries to “become God” is a particularly mystifying talking point, and it doesn’t seem to have much basis in reality. Is he talking about how, throughout history, monarchies and empires have had their populace worship the king as a god as part of their religious custom? Or is he perhaps channelling Camille Paglia’s nonsense about how accepting transgenderism precipitated the decline of the Roman Empire? The swapping of gender roles, and indeed the inversion of many Roman values, was already a feature of Roman life in one particular festival, Saturnalia, which the Christians later phased out and replaced with the celeberation of Jesus’ birthday, which we would eventually call Christmas.
Oh wait, never mind, Dave’s actually talking about communism:
Communism, which is once again trying to infiltrate every facet of our culture and compromise our institutions in the form of globalism, believes that the state is God, that it can be mother and father to an infantilized, powerless and impoverished proletariat.
As is standard practice for right-wing conspiracist content, Dave invokes the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, which tells him that everything he doesn’t like about liberalism is actually communism, despite the fact that liberalism and communism are against each other as they always have been and despite the fact that Marxists are marginalized, rather than endorsed, in academia (not to mention that the European Union and quite a few European countries ban the promotion of communism or at least ban communist symbols). But that’s not the most important part of this video – we expect his ilk to parrot the same old conspiracy theory even afterit’s beendebunked already. The real hot take here is that communism believes the state to be God. You know, that ideology that famously rejects God, views religion as the opiate of the masses and believes that the state is supposed to wither away as the society progresses towards commiunism – God tends not to wither away in any system that concieves of his existence you know! What were you thinking when you spouted this nonsense!? I could address everything else he said when he invokes that tired old talking point about communism impoverishing nations wherever it’s been tried, but not only do I lack the scope for such an endeavor in this post, but it’s also somewhat irrelevant when you consider that his understanding of communism here falls apart when you understand even the most basic points about its actual ideological content.
Oh but that won’t stop him. After all, he’s not basing his worldview on anything rational or anything like that, just some utilitarian goal which centers around quashing the phantom of communism and “Cultural Marxism”.
It doesn’t even matter if you believe in an afterlife or an interventionist God at all, or how the universe got started. These discussions are great fodder for theoretical debates, but they won’t build or maintain a society. They won’t protect against communism, or indeed another outside religion that seeks to dominate the West. Everything the left has done has been a gradual attempt to take people away from who and what they are and where they came from.
You know, Dave, there was a religion that came from a foreign land, or more or less based on a set of teachings that originated outside of the West, that sought to dominate the West, and ultimately succeeded in replacing the values and beliefs that had been with our ancestors for thousands of years.
What was that religion called? Christianity.
This is something that, even while I was a right-winger back in 2017, always annoyed me about proponents of this “Cultural Marxism” bullshit. They talk about the threat of their Christian religion being replaced by some outside force, and they never talk at all about the fact that it was originally the Christians who sought to replace the paganism of our ancestors, as well as the religions of any foreign people’s they came into contact with. And unlike the Hellenic Greeks before them who let the Egyptians and the Bactrians practice their religion in harmony with Hellenism, and encouraged a syncretism that was nonetheless still unique to the cultures they arrived at, the Christians in many cases simply replaced the cultures of the various peoples they encountered wherever they could, often destroying many important artefacts, such as what happened to the Mayan civilization. But they don’t like to talk about that, either because it simply doesn’t enter into their minds at all or because it’s inconvenient to the narrative they’ve weaved for themselves. Do these people have any idea what the Spanish conquests were, or what the Goa Inquistion was, or how the Christians sacked various pagan temples such as in Alexandria? Of course we can’t say the Christians completely succeeded in replacing the heritage of the West, what with the Renaissance revitalizing many Greco-Roman concepts, but it does not change that the Christians still sought the destruction of quite a bit of pre-Christian heritage, a fact that a lot of these conservative nationalists fail to account for.
Christianity celebrates the vital importance of the family unit, the most powerful defence against an authoritarian state. In Christianity, the roles of men and women are clearly defined, with great respect given to the unique roles of the mother and the father and the raising children in a set of values shared by other members of our community and tribe.
First of all, the sacralization of the family unit is not at all unique to Christianity. In fact the use of “family values” as a political device is not at all unique to Christian conservatism, and can be traced back to the Roman emperor Augustus, who believed that monogamy and chastity were ancestral values and sought to enforce piety and carnal forbearance through religious and moral law. Second, the idea that the roles of men and women are clearly defined only in Christianity is just absurd. Every society and every religion has had its own definitions of gender roles, some of them closer to our modern conceptions than others. In Roman society, for example, the role of most women was very clearly defined as the property of a man, either her father or her husband (yeah, real progressive there). Third, are we going to ignore the fact that women often played vital roles in the early Christian movement that weren’t simply reducible to home-making? Who could forget the lore surrounding Mary Magdalene, who before she was whitewashed by the Roman church was likely considered to be a leading figure among Jesus’ followers and disciples. There is even discussion about how men and women may have been treated as equals in marriage during the early church period. Fourth, where does this talking point about how the nuclear family is the best protection against authoritarianism come from? The logic of it is not adequately explained at all. In fact, it’s worth pointing out that one of the main planks of fascism as defined by Benito Mussolini has always been the preservation of the nuclear family through the means of the totalitarian state. This is not to say that family is a totalitarian or authoritarian concept, merely to say that the idea that it is the greatest bulwark of liberty is unfalsifiable. If anything, it might just be completely false. In Russia, the Orthodox Church has a lot of sway in Russian society and is closely tied to the government of Vladimir Putin, with Christian conservatism the norm in Russian society, but that hasn’t changed the rampant drug addiction and domestic violence that runs rampant in the country, and the state is far more authoritarian than many Western countries. But the people on Dave’s side of the aisle treat those who resist this state of affairs, particularly feminists (who for once actually have a good cause), as maniacal totalitarians for the high crime of fighting an authoritarian state. What a joke.
The community-building aspect of the religious service, the Mass, and the profession of faith ensure that everyone knows they are part of something bigger than themselves, that there is an authority beyond a democratically elected politician in office. This is how a nation state is maintained: by recognizing the value of the family. As you can see, it’s not hard to understand why the leftist Cultural Marxists have attacked religion and the family at every turn.
There is a tell in this part of the video that yet again reveals Daves inclinations towards theocratic authoritarianism: “that there is an authority beyond a democratically elected politician in office”. Logically there is one thing that this can entail in practice. It means that the authority of religion supercedes the will of the people, and their rights and freedoms can be superceded by ecclesiastical authority, and it entails that democratic authority can be bypassed by the authority of religion. In that sense, the only reason people like Dave have for opposing such undemocratic (nay, anti-democratic) institutions as the European Union is because these institutions represent cultural liberalism, which they mistake as being communism or socialism for some baffling reason. If the European Union were more overtly conservative and going on about how important Christianity is (like Vladimir Putin does in Russia), he would have no problem with the EU bypassing the will of democracy in order to preserve Christian power, and perhaps he might even be treating the Eurosceptics, rather than the Remainers, as SJW progressives.
However, as if anti-democratic theocracy wasn’t enough, Dave’s thesis takes a much darker turn, one that betrays what could be an overlap between his own political thinking and that of the racist alt-right.
In Christian nations, the origin story of our culture is the birth of Christ. Now, even if you’re not religious, even if you don’t take the stories of Jesus literally, you can probaly acknowledge that an origin story about the birth of a child and a savior, born to bring peace to the world, is a powerful message and a symbol of hope for future generations. But if people are encouraged to move away from Christianity, then they lose attachment to this story, and the origin story of who and what they are becomes rewritten. It’s replaced with a focus on the worst moments in our history. This is why in many modern liberalized Western nations nowadays the native people are being encouraged to be ashamed of their past. In social justice infested college courses in America, young Americans are brainwashed into self-loathing. They’re encouraged to feel guilty for atrocities commited by their ancestors from hundreds of years ago. The same is true of many European nations: their people are being encouraged to feel an intense sense of guilt and self-hatred for their colonial past for example. So once the story we told ourselves about where we came from spiritually was based on the hope of a young child being born who could usher in a new age of peace for all humanity. Now it’s about negativity, despair and hopelessness. You cannot build anything stable or successful on such foundations.
It might not seem obvious at first glance, but if you pay attention to channels like Dave’s, you will see an overlap between what he’s saying here and the talking points presented by alt-right YouTuber Black Pigeon Speaks in his apparently now-deleted video “Why The West HATES and is DESTROYING Itself”, which he seems to have lifted from a post from an alt-right blog called Chateau Heartiste (which seems to have been removed from WordPress). The basic angle of Black Pigeon Speak’s video is that, following the aftermath of World War 2, the West became dislodged from what he sees as its affirmative origin stories and sacred narratives, and became obsessed with generating a new sacred narrative centered around the worst atrocities in human history. If you pay attention to his video, it becomes clear that he is by and large referencing the Holocaust. He goes on about how Western nations have somehow become anti-nationalistic (yeah right) and now oppose any conception of unity, order, civilization and national (or for that matter racial) pride because of how the Nazis are to be taken as the ultimate evil, and this supposedly is tied to “the post World War 2 foundation myth”, which he directly identifies as the Holocaust (the unstated implication, of course, being that we are to believe that the Holocaust never happened or was wildly exaggerated despite all of the evidence we have to support what we know about it). This trope has another name in alt-right circles: they call it “Holocaustianity”, which they believe to be a secular religion created by the Jews to enslave the minds of the white race through psychological and moral guilt.
I am fairly certain that Dave seems to have derived his argument from Black Pigeon Speaks, considering he has mentioned and promoted his content in the past throughout his career, and while I doubt that Dave himself denies the Holocaust, I am concerned that he appears to be promoting the ideas of actual Holocaust deniers and white supremacists in order to justify the nationalist impetus for his religious conversion, and that he is effectively soft-balling fascism. It should be especially concerning when you note that, for him, it is this trope that is responsible for the way American college students, as well as European university students, are supposedly indoctrinated by their professors to hate their past and their nation (which, if you think about it, is really just Dave being upset about the fact that Americans have to learn about slavery and colonialism, because he doesn’t like it when you learn about the parts of Western history where we end up being the bad guys). Not to mention, it’s not like people who think “Holocaustianity” is a thing limit themselves solely to discussion of the Holocaust: some alt-right commenters on Chateau Heartiste expand the concept of Holocaustianity to extend to the history of slavery in America, in order to cast serious discussion of slavery as nothing but religious self-flagellation.
But where for white nationalists and white supremacists all of this was about Jewish power and control, for Dave all of this culminates into a much more abstract narrative about the left seeking to destroy Christianity, somehow.
On the theme of the birth of a child, third wave feminism has promoted and attempted to normalize abortion, so the left has literally become like a death cult. You see, although the promotion of left-wing ideology is ultimately about power, it’s also not quite as simple as a straightforward attack on conservatism. It’s an attack on Christianity that goes back as far as the crucifixion of Christ, getting people away from their Christian heritage and values, disconnecting people from God and making them docile and compliant by promoting distractions that placate the masses: consumerism, pornography, sex, instant gratification, drugs, and materialism.
The part where he says “It’s an attack on Christianity that goes back as far as the crucifixion of Christ” alone deserves quite a bit of scrutiny. I didn’t know the “left” were attacking Christianity before the church of Christianity had even been established. Is Dave even talking about third wave feminism anymore? Just what does he mean by “the left”, if he’s even still talking about the left? And if not the left, then who? It boggles my mind, and, given how we’ve already established that Dave was basically parroting anti-semitic alt-right talking points about historical meta-narratives, I fear that Dave might be doing a dogwhistle and subtly referring to how Jews supposedly corrupt the white race. There are a few tells that suggest why this might be the case. The first of these is the idea of the attack that goes back as far as the crucifixion of Christ. The idea that there was anything that could be identifiable with the left in a modern sense is simply absurd, so it begs the question of just who Dave is referring to. The early Christian fathers have long hated the Jews, blamed them for the death of Jesus (which is funny to think about considering that Jesus’ death was supposed to happen per God’s plan to “save” humanity through the resurrection) and considered them thus the enemies of God, and this is reflected in the way medieval passion plays emphasized the negative role of Jews in the life of Jesus. In fact, such anti-semitism was so persavive in medieval Christian culture that the Catholic church only formally repudiated the idea that the Jews killed Jesus as recently as 1962, when they held the Second Vatican Council. The second tell is the way Dave describes this “attack” involving distracting the populace by promoting consumerism, drugs and pornography. For starters Dave promotes in his videos, including this one, the concept of “Cultural Marxism”, which is nothing more than a rehash of the Nazi concept of Kulturbolschewismus (or Cultural Bolshevism), which was basically a category for all manner of modern artistic and creative expression which the Nazis considered to be degenerate and corruptive to the minds of the German race. Then there’s the fact that white supremacists have long blamed Jews for a host of phenomenon they deem to be social ills, including pornography. The white nationalist James Edwards, for example, believes that the Jews use pornography as a tool to subvert the moral character of the white race as part of a broader agenda to keep them under control if not destroy them. The Jews have also long been associated with satanic influences against Christian culture in medieval folklore, and from this idea we get the blood libel trope that animates much of the whole Satanic Ritual Abuse theory and the term Judensau, which is now used as an insult by neo-Nazis. So with all that in mind, it makes me wonder: is Dave actually using Christianity as a cover for moving towards anti-semitic fascism?
After this part, he talks about how his mother died, and how this supposedly opened the way to religiosity, and from here we get a very strange interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer:
I knelt down one night and, for the first time in many years, prayed the Lord’s Prayer. I had said the Our Father many times as a child. I repeated it like a mantra, words that never truly meant anything to me. But this time, suddenly something changed when I reached the line “lead us not into temptation”. Now you can look at those words and not fully interpret their reason for being. “Lead us not into temptation”. What’s so objectively bad about temptation? Well, it’s the next line that suddenly struck a chord with me because it justifies that previous line: “but deliver us from evil”. So, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. Now, all of a sudden, for the first time, given everything I was witnessing in the world, I could understand the context of why this prayer had been written this particular way. What has the left been promoting for the past number of decades? Temptation, sin, greed, materialism, deviation from the path, a denial of nature. If you corrupt the people, promote vice and their baser animal insticts, you bring about the destruction of the nation state. Promiscuity rather than monogamy results in unplanned pregnancy, broken homes, low parental investment. Marriage is destroyed by feminism, alternative lifestyles are promoted, the act of sexual union between two people is no longer respected, pregnacy and the creation of new life becomes a nuisance. By no longer believing in a power beyond Man, the state becomes the thing that everyone relies on. From welfare to their rights, it becomes extremely powerful and soon after, authoritarian. Suddenly, in those few words of the Our Father, I had gained an insight and a truth that had been hiding in plain sight my whole life. As E. Michael Jones would call it, Logos. Saint Augustine said that a man has as many masters as he has vices, and, as E. Michael Jones has talked about, the left has sold vice as a form of liberation. In truth, we become enslaved to our base, greedy and primitive natures, and thus much easier for governments to control. The people become docile, and malleable and atomized, especially since identity politics is promoted to further divide and conquer people.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but I must say for starters that, being someone who has had his lay Christian phase when he was a child, I find myself wondering what precisly he thinks is so special about that line. I remember being a school boy in Pembroke Dock and later Carmarthen and having had the Lord’s Prayer recited collectively during regular assemblies. The line just seems to be a petition to God to protect his followers from temptations (or, perhaps, for him to not actively lead them astray), and lead them away from the clutches of evil forces or Satan. I don’t know where he got his particular interpretation from. It kind of seems to me like he thinks the Lord’s Prayer was written because of SJWs. Or Jews, maybe, given where he seems to have gone earlier on in the video.
In regards to how he applies his interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer to the left as a whole, we should take great care to note what Dave considers vice, given that he believes that the left promotes vice at every turn. Among other things we leftists generally tend to oppose the tendency of free market capitalism to accumulate capital away from the masses or the common good and towards private elites, we oppose private corporations having the power to expropriate the value of the labour of the working class while giving them pittances in return, we oppose wage slavery, we oppose war, we oppose imperialism, we oppose the imposition of cruel living conditions upon working people and their families, we oppose sexual abuse like any decent people would, we oppose the systematic waste and destruction of our planet’s resources, and we oppose the system that generates needless envy and the suffering it creates, which as Slavoj Zizek has stated is the enemy of self-love. What about this can be interpreted as promoting vice or the wanton rule of our baser instincts exactly? Well, you see, guys like Dave are mad that we also (usually) support freedom of choice when it comes to sexuality. He hates it when non-traditional, non-conservative, non-religious lifestyles and attitudes towards sex are represented in Western culture, and he hates it when liberals and leftists oppose the criminalization of abortion and pornography and support same-sex marriage, expansive sexual education programs and the freedom to be gay, bisexual, trans or whatever else. Now I don’t agree with a lot of the left, progressives or liberals about a lot of what gets promoted in regards to “gender identity”, and I insist that we should be free to say whatever we want about it even if it means offending the wrong people, but I have never opposed the right of people to claim they’re two-spirit or whatever. That’s because I believe freedom of speech and of expression are central to my political worldview. Now Dave might claim that he too supports freedom of speech and expression, and I have no reason to believe he doesn’t sincerely believe that, but I think his vision of society would, in practice, run counter to such a profession on the grounds that in his society, democratic petitions and struggles for social and sexual freedom would be superceded and negated by ecclesiastical authority. Thus, I believe his claim that the left “sells slavery as freedom” is nothing but projection on his part.
His bizarre interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer is also yet another clue in just how far Dave is into the anti-semitic alt-right rabbit hole. You’re probably wondering who E. Michael Jones is. Well, he’s an American paleoconservative Christian writer and author who runs a magazine called Culture Wars and also has a YouTube channel where he talks about all manner of cultural and political issues, and also Jews for some bizarre reason. A quick search through his bilbliography leads you to some very interesting and totally not anti-semitic titles such as The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Jewish Fables: Darwinism, Materialism, and Other Jewish Fables, and if you look at his YouTube channel you will find videos titled Jewish Agents of Chaos, It’s OK to Criticize Jews, and E Michael Jones on Jewish Influence from Calvary to Trump. He’s also done interviews with the likes of Jean Francois-Gariepy, Faith Goldy, Nick Fuentes, Roosh V, Owen Benjamin, Richard Spencer, and Red Ice Radio, most of whom belong to the alt-right. All of this begs the question: why the hell is Dave promoting this guy? It strikes me as another sign of Dave’s adjacency to alt-right politics as well as a hidden anti-semitic tendency.
Now the next part is a bit of a tangent from the overall theme of this post but it’s worth addressing anyway.
Our nations are also becoming increasingly less safe under leftist control and further destabilized, and therefore more heavily policed. The power of the state is increasing, as people surrender their freedom for more so-called security.
I am curious about which Western nations he believes are under “leftist control”. The ones that spring to my mind are Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Greece, all of whom are currently governed by social-democrats, and with the exception of Greece most of those countries have not been social-democratic for particularly long (Denmark and Finland, for example, have only recently elected social democrats to the national government). Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been president of the United States for nearly three years and the authority of the state has only expanded under his tenure. In fact, I am still old enough to remember when we were all invoking that famous Benjamin Franklin quote about freedom and security when criticizing the government of George W. Bush, a right-wing neoconservative! So much of the authoritarianism we see in Britain that Dave (rightly, in many cases) crticizes has happened under the auspicies of right-wing rule, including the Blairites of the Labour Party. And, as we will discuss in further detail later, Poland and Hungary, under nationalistic conservative governments, stifle freedom of expression and curtail democracy while the “leftist” European Union does little to challenge them. Dave’s argument rests only on the fact that social democrats and progressives within the Anglosphere and elsewhere flaunt their autocratic radical-liberal performative politics, and not on the actual mechanics of the expansion of authoritarian power over the last 30 years or so, which entails right-wing governments and ideologues laying the foundation for all of this. Indeed, even all this nonsense about “hate speech” can be traced to neoliberalism, namely through the ideas of Karl Popper.
Skipping ahead just a little:
The left hates Christianity more than anything, because it can’t control people who believe in something bigger than the state. It’s now my belief that the greatest act of defiance we can make against globalism is to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It seems that Dave is now chanelling a common talking point among modern conservatives: the talking point that conservatism, or Christianity, is the new counter culture. I’ve seen Dennis Prager say, essentially, that being an ordinary god-fearing Christian is actually somehow the best way to secure your individuality as a person, as opposed to, you know, defying the largest religion in America. I guess that’s what happens when you base your political worldview on a conspiracy theory where everything is under attack by “communist” globalists. Or Jews (really, guys, just be honest, half of the time when the right uses term “globalists” they just mean Jews because they can’t actually call globalism what it is because that would mean actually opposing capitalism and joining the left; why else would they be trying to push the “Cultural Marxism” conspiracy theory again?).
Still there’s something to be said about how the left supposedly hates Christianity more than anything. Really? Is that why Christian socialism has historically been such a widespread tendency in non-Marxist currents of socialism, and is still a real trend in British leftism? Or why Hugo Chavez, father of one of the few socialist revolutions alive today (deal with it comrades, the Bolivarian project is socialist in purpose), was such a devout Christian who believed that his socialism derived from liberation theology and declared that “Christ is with the revolution”? If Dave believes that Christianity is the primary subject of antagonism for the left, then it just shows further that he has no understanding of the political concepts that he is talking about.
Next, if you thought he had a bizarre treatment of the Lord’s Prayer, wait till you see what Dave does with the Sermon on the Mount (or of the Mount, as Dave put it for some reason):
On the Sermon of the Mount, Christ says “resist not evil”. Now I thought I understood this message, that this commandment made no sense. Of course we have to resist evil, otherwise it’ll win. Now, recently I heard a pretty interesting interpretation of this commandment by John Butler, which was something to the effect of “don’t justify evil by giving it your attention”. Don’t come into conflict with it because to do so is to give it power. There is only one power in the universe, one force, not two forces. Evil is only maintained so long as people stray from the path. You empower it by giving it your attention. Think of it another way: if you’re driving to a destination, and you have two possible roads before you. Once you know that you’re on the correct road, you don’t need to give any attention to the wrong road anymore. You don’t need to focus on the darkness, when you’re looking towards the light.
Now the irony of this whole statement is that is that giving attention to evil, or more or less what he considers to be evil, have been Dave’s whole schtick on YouTube for the last four years, maybe more. In fact, if you look at his channel content, most of his video content before this video consists of the same brand of content – that is, short tirades about progressive media and other conservative pet talking points. How can he complain about “empowering evil by giving it attention” when that’s all he’s been doing this entire time, and he doesn’t intend to stop? Of course, he doesn’t. He simply intends to give his channel a new focus. In fact he uses a clip from Yuri Bezemenov’s widely-trafficked 1983 lecture on psychological warfare and subversion to demonstrate his point about how stressing religion above the culture war is the best way to counter “Cultural Marxism”. But before you get to that part, you’re left with the impression that he seems to resgined himself to some sort of cuckoldery, not that such cuckoldery would be genuine anyway – as you’ll soon learn, there isn’t much that seems to be genuine or authentic to Dave’s newfound love of religion.
Before we move on to the next point, let’s briefly address the way Dave contradicts baseline Christian dualism. In asserting that there is only one force, rather than two vying for power, he negates the dualism that animates much of the New Testament, particularly the Book of Revelations. The conflict between God and the forces of Satan that Christians stress as central to their belief system or mythos no longer makes sense in this interpretation, and as such, we can actually question Dave’s commitment to Christian theism.
Anyways, moving on, skipping the Yuri Bezmenov clip he introduces for less than two minutes, we come to Dave’s assessment of Ireland, his home country:
In Ireland, many people conflate the corrupted institution of the Catholic Church with Christianity, and because people have rejected their spiritual tradition, what has happened in Ireland? Well it’s becoming less Irish by the day. Try to think of a Western nation that’s succumbed to leftism that’s also got strong borders. When Ireland began to lose its faith, which is to say the pillar it was built on, unsurprisingly it began to slowly unravel. Now marriage has been redefined, and people have been so brainwashed that they’ve literally voted to take away rights from a portion of their own society: the unborn. And they celebrated this with tears of joy in the streets when they did so. They’ve given up on their future because the most vulnerable and precious in our society, our children, are no longer protected, and their right to life has been superceded by a woman’s right to treat that life as if it was nothing more than a piercing or a tattoo on her body.
Once again we have much to get into here. First of all, Ireland is not a country that is presently governed by leftists. The current government is dominated by the Fine Gael party, which is a liberal party that supports free market capitalism and economic liberalism with just a dash of conservatism, making them a standard liberal-conservative party, not entirely distinct from the Conservative Party here in the UK or the many center-right/”centrist” parties that dominate the European continent and the European Parliament, though unlike our Tories these guys support the re-unification of Ireland (meaning Northern Ireland folding back into the rest of Ireland). It’s just that these guys also support Irish membership in the European Union, which I guess for Dave is just leftism (even though the European Union is nothing but a giant capitalist power bloc). Second, although Dave explicitly means Western countries, it is worth noting that, during the Cold War, none of the red bloc states had open borders, as he puts it. DDR Germany and Soviet Russia, for example, had border police. And they had secure, strong borders for one very good reason: to protect their nations from the constantly present, and constantly escalating, threat of being destroyed, within or without, by capitalist encirclement, not for the sake of same base nationalism or to keep immigration from poor non-white countries to a minimum. So this talking about how leftism means open borders in practice is simply nonsensical, no matter how much conservatives and anarchists want it to be otherwise. Third, Ireland has not lost its faith, or at least not yet. The majority of Ireland’s population is still Catholic, with 78.8% of the population affiliated with the Catholic Church, although that figure has declined from 84% as of 2011. Christianity in general is still the predominant religion of the Irish population, and any other religions or irreligious and atheistic tendencies are profoundly marginal in Irish society. The Irish Constitution also still sort of honours Christianity, and Article 44, which holds that the Irish state recognizes God as a figure of honor and reverence, is still present within the constitution. Fourth, when I first saw Dave talk about how the Irish people have voted to take away the rights of a portion of their society, I erupted into laughter and curled into a ball, unable to contain myself, as I thought at first he was still talking about gay marriage. Of course, he was actually talking about abortion. Although I myself dislike abortion, I am unconvinced that criminalizing it will have any positive effect in terms of reducing abortions. In fact, while the debate around abortion cannot be reduced solely to the right of female bodily autonomy (due chiefly to the fact that, despite the feminist and libertarian slogans, it is not simply the woman’s at stake here, due to the fact of her sharing her body with a developing lifeform), it seems to me that Dave has no regard for the concerns of women who may be undertaking abortions. I mean, say a woman gets raped, and the coerced sex produces an offspring. Does he expect the woman to simply bear the child of her rapitst? Is that not simply demanding that women who were raped become the subjects of their rapists for the rest of their lives? That to me is simply an immoral position, and cannot be allowed for in a just and humane society. I completely agree that the life of the fetus should not be treated as simply an object to be dispensed with at will, on the grounds that it is a developing lifeform that, if given the chance, may eventually attain self-realization and carry out the Great Work in the name of the Luciferian path, but for me this means navigating a tight balance between the freedom to abort a fetus at the correct time (before it can be classified as a conscious being) and the right of women to make the right call. It also, most importantly, means working to eliminate the conditions that create abortion in the first place which, if anything, I would argue are partially created by both the social norms and the economic system that assholes like you support!
Of course, Dave will never concern himself with freedom, or at least not consistently, anymore. After all, as he puts it:
If you change the values of a nation’s people, you change the nation. If you distract the people with concerns about rights this and rights that, hedonism, sexuality etc., they will become focused on selfish navel-gazing and concerns that don’t matter.
In case you didn’t catch that, his position on social freedom and human rights is that it does not matter to him. The only thing that matters to him is that the body politic of a given society embodies his desired conservative social order. If that means gays don’t have the right to get married, or that women can’t have abortions, or that you can’t fight for your right to have a free, democratic, and secular society, then that’s immaterial to him, because all that matters is making sure that God is at the locus of the social and political fabric. In his worldview, rights are just a distraction that inhibits the conservative body politic: or, more aptly, the power of the nationalist state – what irony, then, that Dave whines so constantly about the need for religion in order to free humans from the state! When I first heard him explain this position, I was shocked. I was taken aback. How could someone who had once claimed to champion enlightenmentarian ideas to some extent regress in such a way? But on reflection, I now believe that this is what happens when you marinate yourself in conservative nationalism for long enough, arrive at the point where you become aware that liberalism is slowly dying, and have to make the call for how to surpass it. If you don’t have any commitment to the ideals of the Enlightenment left, having abandoned them entirely, you will end up embracing tyranny in the name of God (or perhaps race). And this embrace of tyranny is shown further by his affection for Poland:
Contrast liberal Ireland to conservative Poland. In Poland, they have Christian values and a strong sense of their identity, and a desire to maintain strong borders. Poland will therefore survive.
Um, Dave, how do you think Poland has kept to these “Christian values” you speak of? Actually, forget that for a moment. Poland is arguably not that committed to Christian values if it is indeed the fortress nation you say it is, when you consider the fact that the Bible counsels its believers to welcoming strangers, rather than rejecting them. The Book of Exodus encourages believers not to wrong strangers or foreigners on the grounds that the Israelites were once considered strangers or foreigners in Egypt, where they were enslaved. The Book of Leviticus instructs believers to treat those who sojourn into their lands as though they were fellow natives and love them as they love themselves, also referring to the Israelites being strangers in Egypt. Indeed, throughout the Bible it is stated that the sojourners, meaning people who go to another place to reside there (usually temporarily) are not to be mistreated or oppressed by the natives. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus says quite plainly, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me”. All of this presents a problem for people who try to use Christianity to justify strict controls on immigration, or “sending them back” as it were, which you would think would bother Dave quite a bit. But that doesn’t stop him from embracing nationalistic chauvinsim towards refugees, and it certainly didn’t stop Christian Poland from refusing to accept refugess coming into Poland (except, of course, for Christian migrants). Christianity, therefore, seems simply to be a matter of Christian culture or “identity”. And, returning to the original question, how did Poland keep such identity, exactly? Anyone who knows just a little bit about the Polish government knows that it has laws against offending religious objects or places of worship, with offenders being punished by either fine or a 2-year sentence of imprisonment, which allows for pro-Christian activists to push for censorship of freedom of expression if they decide that they got offended. Yes, this is how Poland preserves its precious Christian identity: by curtailing liberty. What a joke Dave is.
Also, it’s worth noting just for irony that, although Poland is usually quite stringent about how many people they let in, they don’t seem to be all that bothered about how many people leave the country. Here in the UK we get several immigrants from Poland, and in August 2016 Poland overtook India as the most common country of birth for non-native citizens. This, incidentally, has also lent itself to discussion of Poles as being the victims of increased hate crimes within the last few years. Apparently Poland doesn’t mind its native population leaving because it receives billions of dollars for all the natives that leave the country and go off to other countries for work. Ironically, for a country that seems so stridently opposed to the European Union’s immigration policy, they seem OK with leeching from the union for all its worth. Yes, this is the country that Dave admires as a bastion of conservatism against liberalism and nationalism against globalism.
I look at the vandalization of our Christian heritage and see celebrations. St. Patrick’s Day is reduced to a glorified excuse for massive alcohol consumption. Easter doesn’t appear to be about the death of Christ for most people anymore. It’s become about chocolate eggs and the Easter Bunny. Likewise, Christmas is completely divorced from the birth of Christ, and it’s now become a tacky commercial holiday that begins in late September and promotes hyper-consumerism and materialism.
There are a number of problems with this analysis, chief among them the fact that there are quite a few holidays from the ancient world that were connected to the cultural order of society that could easily be taken as excuses to get wasted and indulge the senses. One of them, as it happens, was Christmas: or rather one of its precdessors, Saturnalia. One of the main points of Saturnalia that connects it to the modern Christmas is that, like the modern Christmas, it involved the exchange of gifts between people. But it also involved a lot of drinking and other reckless festivities, which would have suited its overall theme of reversing the normal custom of Roman society, which theoretically stressed virtue, order and hierarchical deferrence. Alcohol consumption for celebratory reasons was also rather ubiquitous in ancient culture, with celebratory drinking being observed in Greek civilization, Egyptian civilization, the Neolithic Orkney settlements, and Anglo-Saxon Britain. Then there’s his complaint that Easter and Christmas have nothing to do with Christianity anymore, which in my experience is simply false. Yes, it is very consumerist nowadays, no one denies that, but you can also still find that the theme of Jesus’s birth and death are brought up in relation to them, and the average person will still encounter Christian themes and symbolism in the festivities, particularly if they come from an at least nominally Christian background. I, for instance, am from a Catholic family, and my family still celebrates the customs that Catholics associate with Christmas and Easter (and as you all know I don’t particularly mind that because it means enjoying a good feast). I think that Dave’s general outlook that most of these holidays are strictly Christian is mistaken, considering that, with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day, many of them developed out of pre-existing pagan festivities – in fact, even the early Christians flat out stated that their custom of Christmas was an appropriation of the festival of Sol Invictus.
People now engage in alternative, quasi-spiritual practices, trying to replace real spirituality with yoga and meditation. Now, meditation can be very useful for breathing control and quelling anxiety, and that’s fine. I’m not knocking it, but it contains no content, so therefore, it cannot be used as a substitution for a moral framework and a values system. Something more is needed.
Here we find another set of concepts that, it appears, Dave has no understanding of. Dave seems to treat meditation as a concept separate from religion. This perception is very ill-informed when you account for the fact that meditation has been a part of religious practice, often inseparably connected to it, for centuries. Hell, even Christianity embraces meditation as a means of contemplating on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but you wouldn’t know that from all the times Christian fundamentalists denounce meditation as a satanic practice designed to allow demons to get into your head. Indeed, you can find several books about meditation in the Christian context from various denominations, including Catholicism. Islam also embraces meditation. In fact, there is a type of meditation in Islam known as Salah, which is also considered a form of prayer and is mandatory for practicing Muslims. From Eastern religions to Abrahamism, meditation is a fairly universal part of religious and spiritual tradition, and indeed it is also embraced by several occult traditions. It’s almost like meditation is supposed to be part and parcel of spiritual life rather than just something you do to feel good about yourself. Yoga is also an important component of Indian religious practices, and is not to be taken as just a set of exercises you do to improve your body. In Hinduism, yoga means the practice of attaining unity with God or the Brahman, and such entails not a set of fitness exercizes but spiritual techniques aimed at attaining religious communion with the absolute. In Buddhism, yoga refers to a set of methods aimed at developing a series of virtues that would allow the practitioner to more easily attain nirvana, cognizance of the true nature of reality. In Jainism, yoga refers to a set of meditative practices that cultivate austerity for the purpose of liberating the soul from the power of karma. This is not simply the realm of trendy, consumerist quasi-spirituality that Dave seems keen on talking about, but in fact the realm of actual religious concepts that have been around for centuries, and have only relatively recently been appropriated as a set of undemanding activities tailored to fit the capitalist lifestyle. Understood correctly, the point of these practices is not to serve as its own religion, as Dave seems to think is the case, but instead serve as components of existing religions.
With the loss of religion, we’ve also jettisoned notions of sacrifice, personal accountability, restraint, honor, and duty. These were considered virtues once.
Since we can establish quite safely that by “religion” Dave just means Christianity (indeed it may actually surprise Dave to learn that not all religions are metaphysical or mystical in nature), it is worth pointing out that the ideas he speaks of are not unique to Christian religion, and as a matter of fact were taken as high virtues in ancient Rome. Romans prized things like self-sacrifice and duty among their highest virtues, and the story of Cincinnatus – the farmer who briefly became dictator of Rome to help defend the republic from invasion and abdicated once his task was completed – was a legendary source of inspiration not only for the ancient Romans, but for the founding fathers of the United States of America, who sought to take after the Roman Republic. The Chinese had similiar ideas about virtue to the ancient Romans, which were stressed in a religious/philosophical doctrine known as Confucianism.
Now there’s another important component of this: the recognition that we are corruptible and imperfect. That we will try and often fail to be good. This is why no matter how much we mess up, no matter what we’ve said or done or not done, the challenge of redemption is always possible. The gift of forgiveness is always offered by God.
You honestly do not need Christian religion to arrive at the conclusion that we are imperfect beings. The simplest pursuit of earnest philosophy will you help you arrive at this conclusion. The simplest observations of human life and human society lead you necessarily to this conclusion. It’s such a universal wisdom that we find Greek mythology, for instance, to be resplendent with tragic heroes and morally ambiguous gods to remind us of that humans are not angels and that we are imperfect beings. Forgiveness has also been a reified concept and component of civic virtue before Christianity arrived: the Romans venerated it as the goddess Clementia (known as Eleos in Greece), and the emperor Julius Caesar was often associated with this goddess due to his willingness to forgive. The main difference as regards Christianity is that forgiveness becomes a faculty of the absolute and part and parcel of salvation – and, of course, a way for the church to overlook your crimes.
Now, I’m not going to pontificate to you or sell you some notion of an anthropomorphic, all-powerful being in the sky. I have no idea what that force resembles. I’m also not going to tell you that the purpose of doing good is a reward in Heaven. I’m not even fully sold on the idea of an afterlife. Maybe there is something I don’t know, but that’s not why I changed. To do good, knowing there’s no reward, is to be truly noble.
Wait…what? Why the fuck are you even a Christian? What is the point of you having “taken the God Pill” if you aren’t going to try and sell the most basic parts of Christian theism to your audience? If you aren’t sold on the idea that doing good and spreading Jesus’ teachings gets you a reward in some kind of heaven, why are you a Christian? That idea is one of the central premises of the religion you are now preaching, and you’re telling me you’re not actually committed to that? You’re not even committed to explaining to us why Yahweh is a real being in the universe? This to me is the most obvious tell going from here that Christianity to him is, in large part, a tool by which to advance a conservative social order, rather than a genuine religious belief, and the reason it seems that way is because he can’t even asked to defend core epistemological concepts of Christianity!
When I prayed to God I said, “I will change even if I get no answer”, because the word of Jesus makes more sense to me now given the state of our world. So at some point I stopped believing in nothing, because there is simply too much order in the universe, too many telltale signs of purpose and intent in reality for me to ignore the possibility that some guiding hand was behind all of this.
This kind of sounds like more cuck stuff from Dave. He’ll believe in Yahweh even if Yahweh gives him no answers, which for me is among the most pathetic forms of belief. He doesn’t need any assurance in reality that Yahweh is the supreme being and his will is at work wherever you go, he just believes it is anyway, because it makes more sense to him because something something progressive communist globalist Jews. That’s all this God Pill stuff is: it’s embracing a religious narrative because it makes sense to you because in a weird way it sort of dovetails with that whole conservative narrartive that you’ve marinated yourself in for, what, five years now? That’s why Rocking MrE denies evolution now, that’s why Roosh V is an Orthodox Christian now, and that’s why Dave claims he believes in God now – the idea that Christian religion is under attack, that all the “evils” of the left go back to the conflict with Christianity, and that returning to Christianity is the only way to push back against progressivism is simply the next development of the conservative narrative, a new story that guides their politics onwards, even if it’s not necessarily reflective of even baseline Christianity.
But then there is the other aspect of that part: he believes in God because there’s too much order in the universe for there to not be a God. The first part that sticks out about that is that it’s basically a rehash of just about any creationist argument you can think back to from over ten years ago or perhaps before. You’ll see Christian creationists and apologists, for instance, make the argument that God must exist because the universe seems so perfect, so precise, almost mechanical, that for them this must be proof of intelligent design. You also see arguments like that from Islamic fundamentalists and creationists, who insist that the universe is so sophisticated that it must be the product of the will of Allah. The irony of this cannot be overstated. Again, I remember when Dave was not only an atheist, but also a part of that whole milieu of “rational skepticism” on YouTube, opposing not only religion but also feminism on the grounds of rationalistic philosophy, and now here I find he’s leading the revival of what is essentially creationism or intelligent design theory! What a bizarre turn the internet has taken. The second part of this, however, is actually something familiar to me, one that almost has me empathizing with him. I already covered this in my post entitled “Nihilism sucks“, but I too have arrived at the conclusion that the idea that there is no order or purpose to life must be an absurd premise. But, where I differ from Dave is that I reject the premise that this means accepting theism, let alone Christianity, on the grounds that I do not believe that the natural order of things is dependent on a grand designer, a demiurge or some such, especially when we consider that the laws of nature are almost entirely apprehensible through scientific means. Where Dave must derive his purpose from Yahweh because he lacks the framework that allows him to do otherwise, I derive my purpose, spiritual or otherwise, from the idea that Man can and will know the truth, that we have the ability, and the duty, to demystify the mystified universe. All I can say otherwise is that I guess I have Anton LaVey and the like to thank for this perspective, and for the fact that, even during my right-wing phase, I’ve been consistently safe from the influence of Christian conservatism.
Skipping Dave’s explanation of astronomy and atomic materialism for dummies, we come to this:
If there’s a single instruction that the divine software architect programmed into the universe from the beginning, it’s creation. Destruction is part of the cycle of creation, and the unending move towards more complexity. Animals and humans die and their bodies will decay into the earth, but other life will feed on those remains. Planets will die and solar systems will be destroyed by exploding stars, but new material will continuously be created in stellar nurseries and recycled by the cosmos. We are the universe made flesh, made aware of itself, and what we believe and how we choose to live matters.
Wait, hold on a minute, this isn’t Christian epistemology. Or at least not in any baseline sense. It’s more like pantheism, but he still believes that there’s a God that exists outside of the universe – he refers to a “divine software architect”, obviously a modern variation of the term “divine architect” or “Grand Architect”, which entails that God exists outside of the universe and fashions it as an object external to his being – so what you get is a doctrine that partially resembles pantheism and partially resembles classical theism, possibly entering the realm of panentheism (the doctrine that God and the universe are distinct, but also that God exists within the universe, or something). But in any case, it’s a doctrine that diverges from conventional Christian theism in many ways. Its assertion that we are the universe made flesh, while definitely an interesting philosophical proposition from my perspective, is anathema to Christianity on the grounds that it asserts that Man is equal to the divine and that, as per pantheist doctrine, God is equal to the material universe rather than its father. In fact pantheism is sometimes treated as a form of atheism, not only by theists but also by atheists – Richard Dawkins famously referred to it as “sexed up atheism” and Vladimir Lenin considered pantheism to be compatible with the strictly atheist ideology of Marxism-Leninism on the grounds that it was a glorified atheistic doctrine whose materialism held God to be identical with Nature and hence the universe.
In any case, this tells me yet again that Dave’s embrace of Christianity seems to be almost purely utilitarian, based not on the actual embrace of Christian epistemology but rather utilizing some conception of Christian values, tradition and mythos as a meta-narrative by which to justify his political ideology (rather poorly at that, too). It shows much further here:
Nations will fall, but powerful ideas will remain timeless and powerless forever. The answer is not only about rejecting destructive ideology. It’s about embracing the philosophy of creation. It’s about choosing life and not death, hope and not despair.
Christianity here is simply an expression of the “white pill”, a psychological expression of Dave’s personal desire for meaning, optimism, and hope, to dispel the despair he sometimes feels when faced with the reality of the world, or rather the reality that he himself has sort of created through his conspiracist ideology. Christianity for him is an abstraction representing philosophical goodness, life, and traditional continuity, a foundation for the order of the nation state as he imagines, and not the force of mental delusion and spiritual desertification that it actually is. If Dave lived in India, he would be embracing Hinduism as part of the goal of advancing Hindutva politics. If he lived in the Middle East, he would be embracing conservative Islam. If he lived in Japan, it would probably some weird nationalistic Shinto or Zen Buddhism like the Japanese far-right utilized in the past. If he lived in Israel, he might just be a typical Likud Zionist. In either case it would be the same thing because all it amounts to is just an expression of the desire to use a religious narrative, derived from your national cultural background, to make sense of the world and give yourself hope for the cause of conservative nationalist political activism. It’s all just the “white pill”, another step in the ascent of the modern online reactionary.
Skipping ahead just a little again, gradually approaching the end of the video, he goes on about how he probably won’t convince everyone, and tries to conclude with a nice sounding nugget of platitudes:
So I can only conclude by saying that I believe that the wisdom and lessons of our past will show us how to chart a course for a better future, that it is our duty to help those less fortunate, lest we forget the lesson, “there but for the grace of God go I”. I believe that we must also pray for our enemies, as they simply know not what they do, and we will all answer to the same authority in the end. Our enemies may hope for our destruction, but we do not pray for theirs. To do so would make us no different to them. So we pray that they can be saved from the evil they have succumbed to.
This is purely platitudinous in the overall, but it’s also all the stranger when you take into consideration the statement that he believes that his enemies know not what they do. This in my mind poses a problem for the genre of right-wing conspiracy theory that Dave and his ilk have been peddling for years. The unstated premise of this conspiracy theory is that the elites that they talk about consciously seek the destruction of the nation states that they subject to “globalist ideology”, because to break down these nation states is how they supposedly intend to pave the way for one world governance (that’s all this “globalism” stuff is, the old New World Order spiel all over again). The premise that they know not what they do is nonsensical in this worldview, because it undermines the whole premise of all the stuff Dave complains about being planned out from the outset, as is the case for all of these conspiracy theories surrounding “Cultural Marxism” and the like.
The video ends in what is probably the only remote link between Dave’s philosophy and baseline Christian epistemology:
I believe that those we’ve lost have never truly left us, that they have become part of something greater and more powerful than any man-made evil in our world. I believe this power is a benevolent and uniting force that governs all things in our universe, and seeks to provide us with the means to save ourselves from human frailty and damnation. I believe that within this force we will find our salvation and peace, and that if we place our faith in that power, it will lead us not into temptation, but it will deliver us from evil, forever. Amen.
You have probably noticed that, throughout this post, I don’t actually talk about God an awful lot, or make a lot of arguments against God, and the reason for that, quite simply, is that for most of the video Dave doesn’t actually discuss God, or baseline theistic concepts. Instead he just goes on about how religion, or more specifically Christian religion, is useful in promoting his desired values system. This is probably the only part of the video I can think of where Dave actively proposes a straightforward conception of a God consistent with basic Christian epistemology, but it begs so many questions. What is this force, really? Do we actually become God after we die? What does this salvation mean? How does this power, this God, “save” us? Why does it care about us enough to even want to give us the means of salvation? Salvation from what damnation? These are all questions that might emerge from Dave’s assertion, but he doesn’t go into any detail that might actually elucidate his concept of God. It’s just a generic belief in God.
And with that, we can conclude this post with some reflective remarks on what we’ve just seen.
It seems obvious to me that this “God Pill” development amounts to just a way of weaving Christianity into a broad desire for hope, which seems to be framed as the next step of a path of the intellectual evolution of conservatives, libertarians and assorted reactionaries who find themselves in that whole “red pill” milieu. It is a way by which people like Dave can add a spiritual and ecclesiastical dimension to their already reactionary political worldview, even if it doesn’t entirely match up with actual Christian doctrine (for instance, on immigration and even abortion). It also seems to be a development towards increasingly authoritarian political ethos, with Dave’s proposal seemingly rejecting liberty and individual freedom as a valid concern of politics and longing for a social authority structure that can bypass democratic will. The way Dave invokes what are clearly anti-semitic tropes suggests the possibility that this “God Pill” might also be something a lubricant towards some fascist sentiment or at least anti-semitism, or if not that then rather a way of undergirding some sort of ethno-nationalist or quasi-ethno-nationalist political tendency with a much broader religious motivation – it does not surprise me at all that anti-semitism would go hand in hand with Christian reaction. We can probably establish this elsewhere in the way that Rocking MrE, another right-wing YouTuber who promotes the concept of the “God Pill”, espouses all manner of fascistic conspiracy theories (despite presumably claiming he isn’t an alt-righter) about Jews, Judaism and the Qabbalah, alongside a number of strange ideas about white genocide, Cultural Marxism, and communist subversion of, well, just about everything, even UKIP for some bizarre reason – I imagine it’s not that hard to see where this is heading. Roosh V, another “God Pill” promoter, also has something of a history of anti-semitism. In 2015, he promoted the works of Kevin McDonald, a veteran white nationalist author who is the editor of Occidental Observer, while esposuing anti-semitic conspiracy theories on Return of Kings, such as how racism was supposedly invented by Leon Trotsky. Two years later, he wrote on his own personal website about how the Jews are “masters of propaganda” who according to him created feminism, and claimed that Return of Kings is responsible for “Jew-pilling” (meaning convincing people to believe in anti-semitic conspiracy theories) thousands of men. I can’t say everyone doing the “God Pill” thing is anti-semitic, in fact it’s still a relatively new trend, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people promoting the “God Pill” either promoting anti-semitic tropes or outright being anti-semitic themselves.
Although the “God Pill” hasn’t quite exploded so far, I think it would be naive to simply overlook this development, and if Dave and Rocking MrE are any indication, more right-wing atheists will eventually follow in “taking the God Pill” and converting to Christianity following a similar logic to Dave. You may even be surprised to find Carl Benjamin, who’s been an atheist for years, join their ranks in the future. My reasoning for such speculation comes from the fact that he has, over the years, begun to soften up to Christianity. Years ago there was a time where, in addition to criticizing feminism and progressivism, he also crticized Christian conservatives like Ben Carson and commented against creationists like Ray Comfort. But increasingly, he seems to have spent less effort criticizing Christianity or Christian fundamentalism, even as it becomes all the more powerful during the Trump administration. The last time he complained about Christianity that I remember was him getting visibly annoyed and disgusted by the religiosity of Trump’s inauguration ceremony, but he seems to have gotten over that because he is now reduced to a cheerleader for the Trump administration. And now, he’s a member of UKIP, the party most prone to Christian conservative tendencies and where you will find literature about how homosexuality is a disease, and he speaks to UKIP members about “Christianphobia”, a concept that should make about as much sense as “Islamophobia” to anyone committed to opposing the Abrahamic faiths. Thankfully, however, he hasn’t quite succumbed to Christianity yet, as evidenced by his willingness to debate against Christianity during his debate tour of Gloucester, though I am left wondering how long this will last. In fact, I wonder if the “God Pill” route will end up becoming the inevitable destination for many conservative atheists as the inevitable result of their refusal to detach from the Christian ethos after rejecting belief in God. Anton LaVey certainly wouldn’t be too surprised to see such a development if he were alive today.
It would be foolish to dismiss the growth of this trend, however small it might be. We cannot rule out the possibility that the right won’t coalesce around the “God Pill” concept on a larger scale than what we’re seeing now, because if that happens we will see Christianity rehabilitated after all the effort that has put into debunking it over the years. Given the vision that Dave lays out, this will always lay the groundwork for the growth of religious and conservative authoritarian rule, and freedom will be under threat or eventually suppressed by religious reaction, and our goals will be set back significantly. We must strive to oppose this development however possible, and perhaps bolster our frameworks in the service of this effort. Otherwise, the Great Work of the Morning Star will be impeded.
Reject the “God Pill”. Reject the false song of Christian salvation. Reject the path to tyranny. Fight it in the name of freedom for humanity. In Nomine Dei Nostre Luciferi Excelsi.
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