I have memories of those days when it appeared to people on the internet that a new counterculture was emerging from the Right. It sounds ridiculous when you take into account the fact that lots of the mainstream media says most of the same things they do, but people think about things like chan boards and assume that their brand of toxic far-right politics is some kind of underground counterculture, some resistance to mainstream values. What if I were to tell you that this was all bullshit from the start? What if far from some underground counterculture all of that was actually a manufactured, controlled environment that was created from the start by powerful right-wing establishments as vehicles of authoritarian culture through which to spread right-wing reaction? And what if I told you there’s more, that this itself is part of a global system of social reaction which serves to maintain oppression and social domination across the world? That’s what I aim to show you in this article, through an exposition of World Order as it exists.
How The Japanese Government Engineered A New Right-Wing Internet Culture
The main place to start would be the chan forums. 4chan and 8chan are fairly notorious in their own right, sometimes looked upon as supposed havens of freedom of speech, and places were an assortment of online reactionaries, deep in their utter ressentiment, organise harassment campaigns or even attacks on, well, just about anyone they happen to dislike, which can tend to include online progressives and people from historically marginalized communities. They have also been used as channels for spreading white supremacist manifestos and propaganda, including texts written by perpetrators of mass shootings. They were also the initial base of operations for the harassment campaign/failed “consumer revolt” that was dubbed “GamerGate”, and people have gone on to become convinced of white supremacist ideology there before committing acts of mass murder in its name; they were even among the many websites where right-wing insurrectionists planned the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6th 2021 as well as a home for the fascist QAnon movement. Another website, the recently-terminated Kiwifarms, spun-off from 8chan and was explicitly set up as a place to anonymously harass, dox and threaten LGBTQ people and non-neurotypical people to enforce violent bigotry against them. All of these websites have, in their own way, played a role in the growth of right-wing politics in the 21st century so far, including getting the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign to share memes from them.
Now, where am I going with this? 8chan was created in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan and modelled after 4chan as a more “free speech” alternative to 4chan. 4chan was created in 2003 by Christopher Poole, who was inspired by and used open source code from a Japanese imageboard website called Futaba Channel (a.k.a. 2chan). Futaba Channel, in turn, was created in 2001 supposedly as a refuge for users of another website called 2channel, back when said users feared that 2channel was in danger of shutting down. 2channel was created in 1999 by Hiroyuki Nishimura, who many people in the “West” may know as the man who bought 4chan from Christopher Poole in 2015 and is now still currently its administrator. As you can see, there’s something of a creative lineage with these websites that goes back to 2channel. Why is that important? Because 2channel itself, and its creator, may in fact be tied to the Japanese political establishment; more specifically, the Liberal Democratic Party.
Before we go any further, we really need to establish just who the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party are. If you’ve dipped your toes in Japanese politics, you probably know that they are currently the ruling political party in Japan, and have enjoyed basically consistent dominance in the Japanese general elections since 1958. When you hear the phrase “Liberal Democrats” in other contexts, such as in the United Kingdom, you probably think of people who want a modestly regulated form of market capitalism, meaning of course rudimentary public services and regulations coupled with expansive social rights all within the context of liberal capitalism. But that’s not really what the Japanese LDP are about. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan is actually the main conservative party in Japan, fairly similar to the Tories in the UK or Canada or even the Republican Party in the United States of America. They have overseen the growth of a neoliberal capitalist economic order, marked by extensive privatisation, alongside forging close geopolitical and economic ties to the USA and imposing generally reactionary social policies. They are also staunchly nationalistic, known increasingly for its emphasis on “patriotic education” and efforts to “take back Japan” from the “Postwar Regime”, by which is meant the undoing of Japan’s postwar national identity in favour of militarisation and an identity closer to the pre-WW2 vision. In fact, many LDP politicians and even Prime Ministers, such as the late Shinzo Abe as well as Yoshihide Suga and Fumio Kishia, are members of an ultranationalist think tank called Nippon Kaigi, which contests or outright denies certain atrocities that Japan committed during World War 2. Given its illustrious membership, Nippon Kaigi thus emerges as one of the pillars of the Japanese political establishment, arguably equivalent to the role played by the Federalist Society in the American conservative establishment. For this reason, some argue that the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party could actually be considered a far-right movement, and not just part of one.
You might ask: so what does this have to do with 2channel? Well, there’s an article from the Japanese branch of Anonymous that talked about a split between 2channel’s ownership, and in the process discussed apparent links between the LDP and Japanese imageboards. In that article, we learn that 2channel was sponsored by a company called Hotlink through a man named Yuki Uchiyama, the president of Hotlink who was also Hiroyuki Nishimura’s business partner. Hotlink seems to have been a data company that had an exclusive contract with 2channel, under which Yuki Uchiyama would monitor and delete any negative threads and comments about its customers – a service that Hotlink apparently liked to brag about. Now, as it happens, one of Hotlink’s customers was the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan. The LDP hired Hotlink for its services for the 2013 House of Councillors election, and all the contracts and money went from the LDP to Hotlink and then in turn to 2channel and its then-owner Hiroyuki Nishimura. This may explain some observations that some of 2channel’s users have noted.
Much like its American cousins, 2channel was a website where right-wing ideology was fairly common, bigotry was prevalent, and users sometimes engaged in coordinated online attacks against political opponents. Opponents of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan have had their posts on 2channel removed under Hiroyuki Nishimura’s moderation, or, in the case of anti-nuclear activists such as Naoto Kan, they have faced defamation from LDP supporters probably on 2channel. In fact, it seems that 2channel and certain affiliated websites have manipulated Google search results in Japan in order to boost xenophobic nationalist propaganda against South Korea and Koreans, all under LDP direction. Users also seem to have noticed that attacks on such figures and redactions of critical posts all seem to have ceased after Hiroyuki Nishimura lost ownership of 2channel on February 19th 2014, when it was acquired by Jim Watkins.
Meanwhile, over the years Hiroyuki Nishimura has continued to maintain connections to the Japanese government. Nishimura had a business partnership with a telecommunications company called Dwango, which in turn was involved in the 4chan acquisition deal, featured Nishimura as a guest for a live election broadcast on Niconico, and is connected to LDP politicians and has had an affinity with Shinzo Abe and the LDP itself. In fact, the LDP Vice President Taro Aso was part of a correspondence course on politics run by Kadokawa Dwango Gakuen, while Shinzo Abe has appeared in Nico Nico Super Conferences organised by Dwango. In August of this year, Nishimura appeared in a PR video released by the Financial Services Agency, a state financial regulatory body, which has sparked some outrage on social media over his apparent failure to pay court-ordered compensation. The video shows him talking to Hideki Takada, an FSA director, about a tax exemption scheme among other things. Hiroyuki Nishimura also apparently has multiple connections to Japanese media companies, possibly owing to his status as a sort of media celebrity, including AbemaTV (where he has his own show), which, incidentally, is also somewhat connected to the LDP. According to a Japanese anti-fascist researcher named Mitsuwo, another network called TV Asahi has a 50% share in AbemaTV. TV Asahi is known to have some ties to Shinzo Abe, and is also known to have pulled a report which said that Abe was being questioned by prosecutors over possible violations of political funding laws. In 2021, Hiroyuki Nishimura was hired by Fukuoka City as a technical advisor for their digital innovation project, while later that year it seems he became a digital advisor for Yoshihide Suga, the then-Prime Minister of Japan. Just this year he became the corporate PR advisor to Fukuoka City.
Based on this it is clear that Hiroyuki Nishimura is more than an internet businessman. He’s also deeply connected to not only the tech bourgeoisie in Japan but also several figures of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, and is now a de jure employee of the Japanese government. What many on 2channel suspected and which Anonymous had more or less unraveled has more than proven true over the years, and for all intents and purposes Hiroyuki Nishimura is a fixture of the Japanese establishment. After creating 2channel Nishimura rose to prominence in the Japanese business world, where he made deals with the government to run 2channel to its liking, and in so doing he helped lay the foundations for a modern right-wing internet culture where mobs of online reactionaries engage in elaborate trolling campaigns against counter-reactionaries of any sort while upholding right-wing ideology and even hosting and disseminating white supremacist manifestos. For the Japanese government that could all have just been to reinforce an already existing controlled environment supported by complacence in the masses and self-censorship in the media, but on the internet, even though 2channel may ostensibly have been created with freedom of speech, it was run as its own controlled environment, and even without moderation or state oversight the descendants of 2channel have been doing their part to create controlled environments in their own space and the wider internet.
Jim Watkins and the QAnon Connection
A fairly important figure in all of this is Jim Watkins, the current owner of 2channel. For one thing, Jim Watkins is also currently the owner of 8chan, which is itself partnered with 2channel, having acquired the website from its creator in 2016. For another thing, Jim Watkins has had several ventures in both internet business and politics. In 1998, he created a US-based website called “Asian Bikini Bar”, which was later renamed N. T. Technologies, as a way to host pornography, particularly Japanese pornography, and also began selling web hosting to Japanese pornography websites so that they could circumvent legal censorship. From there, Jim Watkins became involved in several different business ventures, and in 2016 he began a right-wing media project called The Goldwater (named, of course, after Barry Goldwater), which was intended as the main news source for 8chan users. From what we can gather about its content, The Goldwater was sort of like if Breitbart were more enthusiastic about QAnon-style deep state and even PizzaGate conspiracy theories, effectively styled itself as sort of the “Charlie’s Angels” of right-wing news (they had videos hosted by Jim in secret agent garb and a team of Fillppina women), and all while ignoring “mainstream” social media in favour almost exclusively of 8chan.
Ironically, The Goldwater wasn’t actually too popular on 8chan, whose users derided it out of antisemitic prejudice regarding its “Jewish name”. But The Goldwater is not Jim Watkins’ only vehicle for conspiracist right-wing politics. 8chan itself was, under his ownership, a place where users would frequently spread memes and discussed far-right culture jamming in support of the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign, and over the years overt white supremacist propaganda would also frequently be distributed on 8chan. Jim Watkins himself even personally takes credit for the election of Donald Trump in 2016 at least through his website. Furthermore, Jim Watkins seems to have established himself as a major part of the QAnon movement, which, what a surprise, also finds widespread support within 8chan. In fact, there is some fairly credible (though still unconfirmed) speculation among experts that either Jim Watkins or his son Ron are the real identity behind the mysterious “Q”. As evidence, some suggest that the lack of content from “Q” after 8chan got shut down in August 2019, followed by the sudden return of “Q” three months later when 8chan went back online, indicates that “Q” was either Jim Watkins himself or connected to him. We might also consider Jim Watkins’ leaked connections to prominent members of the QAnon movement. Ron Watkins is himself a known QAnon and MAGA influencer, frequently peddling conspiracy theories with a particular focus on discredited claims of widespread election fraud.
Jim Watkins has also had some involvement with Kiwifarms, having provided infrastructure through a company called VanwaTech (which is owned by Nick Lim). He has also tried and seemingly failed to establish a right-wing super PAC called Disarm The Deep State, which was intended to bring Watkins into mainstream Republican politics by establishing financial ties to GOP candidates. As strange it may seem, though, he may have another major connection to the international right-wing movement. That connection is none other than Hiroyuki Nishimura – the same man he “stole” 2channel from.
Last year, Mitsuwo seems to have spotted something interesting regarding the surprising presence of the QAnon movement in Japan. Hiroyuki Nishimura appeared as the co-host of a conservative internet programme on AbemaTV. This programme also apparently featured numerous right-wing politicians as well as members of QArmyJapanFlynn (QAJF), which seems to be a Japanese branch of the QAnon movement. According to Mitsuwo, QAJF is operated by Jim and Ron Watkins. Watkins may have ties with the apparent leader of QAJF, a woman named Eri. Eri has also promoted Hiroyuki Nishimura and his AbemaTV show, and she claims that Jim Watkins and Hiroyuki Nishimura have recently exchanged information. The show ostensibly features QAJF members as the butt of a joke, but Nishimura also uses this to give them a platform, thus potentially seeking to normalize QAnon in Japan.
Incidentally, this connection is definitely not the only avenue through which the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party has connections to the American Right. There’s actually a Japanese branch of the Conservative Political Action Conference, which I’m sure you probably know as the biggest Republican Party conference in America. CPAC Japan was founded and first launched in 2017 by Jikido Aeba, the former leader of the Happy Science cult, in association with the American Conservative Union. Over the years it has been attended not only by American right-wing ideologues, but also by members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. These include Masahisa Sato (LDP member of the House of Councillors), Tomomi Inada (LDP member of the House of Representatives), Akari Amari (LDP member of the House of Representatives), Gen Nakatani (former Minister of Defense), and Takashi Nagao (LDP member of the House of Representatives). It has also been host to nationalist historical revisionists such as Genki Fujii, Kohyu Nishimura, Eitaro Ogawa, Takashi Arimoto (from the revisionist right-wing paper Sankei Shimbun), Tsutomu Nishioka, and none other than Jikido Aeba himself, all of whom seem to be particularly interested in trying to exonerate the Japanese army by denying that it practiced sexual slavery.
In broad terms, though, we can consider the possibility that Jim Watkins, even though he’s failed in many of his other ventures, he has been somewhat successful in establishing a network of neofascist internet politics that seems to be molding the American Right in its image, possibly threatening to replace US democracy with outright dictatorship in the process, and not to mention managing to spread it across the world. QAnon is not just in the USA and Japan. It has also been documented in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Romania, and probably many more countries. Given Jim’s apparent continuing business with Hiroyuki Nishimura, and given how QAnon was likely built by Watkins and then spread there with Nishimura’s help, it’s worth speculating that QAnon is part of the next step in a larger project.
Ordered Liberty And How “Free Speech” Exists Within It
There’s a concept that I find relevant to all of this in some way. It may seem abstract, but there’s a thread that can be established. By “ordered liberty”, I’m mostly talking about a concept frequently referenced by Matthew MacManus in his critiques of Jordan Peterson. “Ordered liberty”, in this context, means a strand of conservative ideology which supports the institutions of democracy insofar as they remain embedded within the constraints of “traditional” values systems. MacManus refers to Jordan Peterson’s ideology as “ordered liberty conservatism”, but the thing is it could as well describe conservatism at large. “Ordered liberty” is an idea within the broader ideology of conservatism. In conservative circles, Edmund Burke is often regarded as an early champion of this idea, and his notion of “ordered liberty” refers to the idea that, for freedom to be legitimate as freedom, it must comport with the order of “natural law”, or a set of institutions deemed to reflect that order, or else it would become dangerous and evil.
I could get into how such an idea of liberty seems to be influential far beyond conservatism, and that even “leftists” tend to embrace Burkean concepts of freedom, civil society, and even human nature especially when arguing against individualism, but that’s not within the scope of this article. Instead let’s talk about how relevant it is to our overriding subject. After all, you’d think “ordered liberty” doesn’t even remotely describe the kind of internet that Nishimura, Watkins and the rest helped create. Especially not Watkins, who is known for a certain “hands-off” approach to illicit materials. But perhaps we could look at “ordered liberty” another way in order to make sense of it.
The conservative premise of “ordered liberty” tells us that freedom must exist within a definite social order defined by institutions in order to exist, and that any liberty that exists outside of this is not freedom but instead either “anarchy” or tyranny. In practice, this means that “freedom” in conservative terms is the condition of a controlled environment. Moral and political institutions set the boundaries of legitimate free action and even speech, whilst proscribing anything outside of that. In modern terms this is then recapitulated as the assertion of unmitigated liberty against restriction, and particularly when it comes to “freedom of speech”. The UK offers us a very illustrative example. Stop and wonder why the same party that sought to lead the way in online censorship is also presenting itself as the champion of freedom of speech, all the while even this itself is a call to academic censorship. Tories constantly accuse student bodies of being controlled environments that are supported by ruthless censorship of political opposition, while simultaneously, on this same justification, calling for restrictions on freedom of association in campus spaces, banning critical theory, and imposing restrictions on your right to protest. It must all seem like rank hypocrisy, but that’s “ordered liberty” in action, and “liberty” here is the range of choices allowed by the state.
So far, so what, though? Well let’s look at it this way. Nishimura definitely portrayed 2channel as sort of a free speech haven, where people could anonymously and therefore freely say things that could be deemed socially irresponsible. But 2channel under Nishimura’s ownership was still a controlled environment, run on behalf of the Japanese government, in which threads that opposed the government would be redacted, while right-wing mobs formed to defend the government from criticism and manipulate search engines to control what you see on the internet. “Free speech” in this setting is not freedom of speech as such. It is in fact a byword for a right-wing echo chamber, a controlled environment created in support of government interests.
If the premise of “ordered liberty” is that freedom, in order to exist, must exist within a social order defined by institutions, the reproduction of this arrangement is the definition of freedom within the institution of Twitter as controlled by Elon Musk. “Free speech” in this setting is very simply the range of speech dictated within Elon Musk’s sphere of influence. “Freedom” coming from this standpoint does not mean freedom in itself, and in fact actually denotes a controlled environment.
The Reality Of Right-Wing Controlled Environments
The modern internet is a precarious place, its apparent sense of freedom giving way to a reality dominated by a host of controlled environments vying for power. These controlled environments are complex, often functioning as disincentives or pressures arrayed against contrary speech, thereby producing a chilling effect typically aimed at suppressing already marginalized communities.
A very illustrative example in this regard would be Kiwifarms. The website’s supporters and its owner Josh Moon have frequently appealed to freedom of speech in order to justify its existence, and all the moreso since the website got taken down from Cloudflare following public pressure via Clara Sorrenti’s campaign. But think carefully about just what “free speech” means to them. Never mind the usual argument about “the freedom to do hate speech”, what tells us more is what happens inside Kiwifarms itself. The entire website was started up to harass, dox, and abuse trans and autistic people, or just whoever they happen to dislike. On top of that, even members of Kiwifarms can sometimes find themselves doxxed by other members on the website over some drama, or some disagreement with the moderators. Now, what “free speech” is that, when you can be doxxed inside that forum potentially for saying something the moderators don’t like? But in a broader sense, it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the point for these people is to essentially take it upon themselves to intimidate people into silence for expressing themselves in a way that they don’t like. If you think about it from that standpoint, the entire way they talk about “free speech” comes to be seen as an illusion; not because of some point to be made about the limits of freedom of speech – a discussion invariably contained almost solely within the bounds of the logic of liberal statehood – but because cultivating free speech was never the point.
Motivated by reactionary ideologies, Kiwifarms’ userbase intimidate people online, often literally purposefully bullying them into suicide, in order to silence them. They’ll deny this of course, especially the suicide part (even though they gloat about it in their own spaces), and they tend to concoct their own rationales for what they think they’re “really” doing, but we know from how they act and the website’s stated purpose that they just do this to silence people. And the obvious reason for it is to control what can be expressed on the internet, all while claiming to fight just that sort of authoritarianism. Josh Moon makes this clear enough in ways that perhaps he doesn’t mean to. Whenever the opportunity arises, Josh presents his own ideological views on what he thinks is modern society, and he’s very explicit about how he believes trans people are trying to brainwash and exploit children – that’s basically his transphobic way of talking about the fact that trans kids are real and should be allowed to receive gender affirming care/surgery. Now, if you seriously believe that trans people are coming for your kids somehow, you will probably act on this bigoted belief in a number ways. You’ll treat them as mentally ill predators, you’ll probably ally with reactionary authoritarians who want to implement transphobic policies, you’ll probably bully them online or physically assault them, and you’ll probably dox them under the belief that driving them out of public life will stop them from doing whatever it is you somehow believe they’re doing. Kiwifarms was designed with that whole process in mind. Doing this means creating an environment where certain people aren’t safe on the internet, which in turn means that said people can’t express themselves freely without facing basically violent harrassment, which in turn means that an organised mob of people have effectively controlled what you can and can’t say or do on the internet.
In the case of Twitter, “freedom of speech” under Elon Musk has seen the start of Twitter’s transformation into a right-wing controlled environment. Several anti-fascist accounts have been banned or suspended, frequently in connection to criticisms they made of Elon Musk. These include Chad Loder, the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, Crimethinc, Vishal P. Singh, Alexander Dial, Garland Nixon, Dean Baker, Andrew Lawrence, and @.bonnotgalaxy. In fact, it seems these bans have often been requested by right-wing activists who asked Elon Musk to “take action” on their behalf. Crimethinc, for instance, was banned after Andy Ngo complained to Elon about how they “created riot guides” and “claimed attacks”. Crimethinc was also put on a massive leaked list of “antifa” accounts created by far-right activists to target for mass report spamming for the sole purpose of getting them banned. In a similar trend, fascists like James Lyndsay and his fans are actually calling for Elon Musk to “do something” about the fact that people keep posting an image of him posing with Nicki Clyne, an actual human trafficker and high-ranking member of the abusive sex cult NXIVM. Meanwhile some bans appear to be more or less connected to criticism of Elon Musk and anti-fascist reporting and commentary in general, possibly also affected by right-wing mass flagging. Vishal P. Singh got suspended just hours after tweeting about Andy Ngo’s connection to and apparent support for known paedophiles like Amos Yee and Deme Cooper. Chad Loder was suspended after reporting a major data breach on Twitter affecting millions of users in the USA and EU. An account called Cryptoterra was suspended shortly after posting an image of Elon Musk with Ghislaine Maxwell to Elon Musk’s account.
And then there’s just the bizarre proposals Elon put forward for improving Twitter functionality or, ironically, “combatting hate speech” which, at face value, makes it seem like he doesn’t actually know what freedom of speech is. On November 6th, Elon stated that any Twitter accounts “engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody'” would be permanently suspended, following a wave of Twitter accounts satirically impersonating Elon Musk, often explicitly stating the satirical purpose. A few days earlier, on November 4th, in an interview with Ron Baron (founder and CEO of Baron Capital Management) conducted at the 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference, Elon told investors that Twitter Blue’s payment-verification system would ensure that verified users would be constantly prioritized while unverified users would be pushed almost inaccessibly to the bottom a given Twitter feed. Of course, how exactly this is supposed to “suppress hate speech” is beyond me when I consider that actual Nazis could pay to be verified and be able to post excruciating antisemitic bile all day long. But, in practice, the effect is that those who don’t pay $8 a month to be on Twitter Blue would effectively have their speech suppressed in favour of the speech of those who do. On November 18th, Elon tweeted that “negative/hate tweets” will be deboosted and demonetized, which would result ad revenue being denied and the tweets in question being effectively buried (you would have to search for them to find them rather than them appearing on your feed): in summary, Elon announced that he accounts posting “negative tweets” would be shadowbanned. In fact, if anything, it’s possible that Elon could actually codify shadowbanning as Twitter policy in a way that it perhaps wasn’t before. All told, Elon’s plans to make a “free speech” plaftorm of Twitter actually amount to a significant reduction of freedom of speech on the platform.
It’s easy to draw some conclusions about the nature of the controlled environment Twitter will become. If you consider who benefits from Elon’s payment-verification system, those who pay into it versus those who don’t, you can tell who is going to be prioritized and who will be suppressed. Many right-wingers will pay for Twitter Blue, and in fact having the blue checkmark itself figures as a cultural signpost: whereas the Right previously despised and mocked the blue checkmark as a figure of some hated liberal authority, now it becomes a symbol of authentification, a sign that you are a part of Elon Musk’s Twitter, and not having it has changed from a mark of conservative “authenticity” to a mark of liberal petulance or even bourgeois class status. Many anti-fascists or “leftists”, on the other hand, recognize the absurdity of the principle of having to pay $8 to be verified on Twitter, but that also means that, as a result of Elon’s proposals, their tweets will be buried. This means that Elon’s payment-verification system is structurally advantageous to the Right, in that it assures right-wing dominance of Twitter’s public square. Moreover, the fact that Elon appears to be actively responding to the requests of right-wing activists to take down or suppress tweets or accounts that they personally don’t like, or seemingly allowing right-wing mass flagging to take down accounts, further shows that Elon is working to control what information you can and cannot see on Twitter, and he is doing so with a right-wing ideological vision in mind, often at the direct behest of far-right activists. This is what must be kept in mind whenever you hear people talk about Twitter as though it is some kind of “free speech anarchy”, because the simple truth is that it’s not. When Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter, conservatives have proclaimed their newfound “freedom” by espousing 2020 election denial and statements of transphobia, but people could already freely say those things on Twitter before Elon Musk acquired it. Thus, what has changed now is not that people are actually “free” to say whatever they want, but rather that certain people are now privileged to speak while others are buried and could actually expect to be banned. Twitter is not a “freewheeling haven of free speech”; it’s a place that is being dictated by Elon and his fascist friends.
But there’s more as well, because Elon Musk’s Twitter dragnet does not weigh only on “Western” users. There remains the possibility, considered increasingly by analysts, that Elon Musk may ultimately sell data from Chinese Twitter users to the Chinese government, not unlike how Hiroyuki Nishimura sold data from 2channel users to corporations before. As Tesla continually tries to expand into Chinese automobile markets, it is entirely possible that Elon Musk, as the owner of both Tesla and Twitter and as a businessman interested in maintaining ties with China, could be leveraged into fulfilling demands that allow the Chinese state to expand its ability to suppress information that it doesn’t like. This could put dissenters in China, and other similarly authoritarian countries, at an increased risk of repression by the state, and it would it make Twitter a controlled environment on two fronts: domestically, it would be an environment where “free speech” is a byword for the privilege of right-wing voices supported by the suppression of anti-fascist dissent, while internationally it allows greater scope for authoritarian regimes to directly repress their citizenry. Keeping in mind, of course, that Chinese internet is itself a controlled environment of its own, with information tightly controlled by Chinese state agencies and nationalistic pro-CPC opinion reinforced at home and abroad by legions of paid as well as unpaid activists whose job it is to indirectly control the narrative on behalf of the government.
There’s a different sort of controlled environment we can discuss that arcs in a very similar way, though it sort of plays out opposite to how the 2channel saga did. You may have heard of a Russian social media website called VKontakte. It is often popularly described as the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It was created in 2006 by a man named Pavel Durov, who initially established the website as a barely moderated hub for all sorts of internet content, from pirated music to illicit pornography. VKontakte also may have served as a network for protests against the Russian government, such as during widespread protests against the 2011 legislative election. The Russian government at that point sought to control the flow of information on social media and regulate them so that they might conform to the political interests of the Russian state. From 2012 the Russian government began putting the screws on VKontakte, beginning with a government blacklist for websites it deemed harmful to children. At the same time, however, it was also revealed that Pavel Durov had been sharing VKontakte user data with the Russian government. Then, in 2014, when VKontakte refused to take down posts and groups that were affiliated with the Ukrainian Euromaidan, Russian authorities began searching VKontakte’s offices while running its founder out of the country with false accusations of running over a police officer. Of course, the Ukrainian government would later ban VKontakte in 2017 on the grounds that it was waging “information aggression” against Ukraine. After this VKontakte was taken over by Mail.ru, an internet company which, until 2018, was controlled by an oligarch named Alisher Usmanov, who is reputed to have ties to Vladimir Putin. Incidentally, Usmanov himself is also known for playing a role in the suppression of online and media criticism against both himself and the Russian government.
Over the years, VKontakte forged closer and closer ties to the Russian government. Beginning in 2016, the website complied with Russian legislation requiring it to store all information and data from all users to be processed by the Roskomnadzor, blocking all content prohibited by the government, and also promoting pro-government content. According to VKontakte insiders, the company hands over user data to the government whenever they ask. According to Article 19, a human rights group, VKontakte has cooperated more thoroughly and unquestioningly with the Russian government than any other social network. Although many of the users affected were people who ostensibly posted xenophobic content, the law also effectively suppressed anti-war activists. For example, in 2015, an activist named Darya Polyudova was sentenced to two years in prison for posting against the Russian government and its ongoing war in Ukraine. As of 2021, VKontakte is currently controlled by Gazprom, a multinational energy corporation owned by the Russian state, further solidifying the company’s economic and institutional connection to the government.
To take stock of this is to understand that what you can say and see on VKontakte is pretty much directly controlled and monitored by the Russian government, and furthermore that this would affect not only Russian citizens but also VKontakte users elsewhere in Russia’s sphere of influence. If, for instance, Russia were to somehow succeed in absorbing Ukraine into Russian sovereignty by completing the invasion, Ukrainian citizens would have their data collected by the Russian government and used to bring criminal charges against Ukrainians who might oppose Russian rule, as well as LGBTQ people who would be accused of “spreading gay propaganda”. The scope increases when we keep in mind Russia’s overall imperial ambition to reabsorb the former Soviet territories into its sphere of influence, thereby establishing a huge controlled environment spanning parts of the European and Asian continents.
Now a lot of this does come back to the Right in some ways, and broader conservative projects to remake the internet in their image. But let’s not forget that mainstream social media is every bit a part of this, including the official adversaries of the Right. Facebook has long been accused of disproportionately censoring conservative opinion, especially by US Republican lawmakers eager to tighten the screws on the company. But in reality, not only is Facebook not disproportionately censoring conservatives, Facebook have repeatedly brought in right-wing ideologues to work on its administration, designated Breitbart News as a “trusted news source”, and actively suppressed progressive news sources such as Mother Jones. In fact, as a concession to the hard right, Mark Zuckerberg replaced human editors with an algorithm that would be susceptible to manipulation by right-wing actors who could then control the flow of newsfeed information. On top of that, Facebook does not reveal analytics on what news stories receive traffic on Facebook, which means that we probably have no idea about the actual nature of Facebook news feeds. Considering that Facebook’s administration does consist of right-wing ideologues and considering the actual proclivity towards concession to the Right, if we did not know better then perhaps we might assume that Facebook itself manufactures the whole “conservative censorship” narrative to drive up right-wing outrage and in turn media traffic, and then from there fuel the cycle that furthers the growth of right-wing controlled environments across the plane of social media. What we know from Facebook insiders absolutely suggests that Facebook is actively manipulating the flow of information so as to control what news sources you can see.
Conclusion: “Free Speech” and the Order of the World
The notion that the internet is a free-for-all is strictly a dysfunctional myth. Liberal commentators need to be able to present the current landscape as the Wild West of cyberspace in order to argue that democratic governments need to extend their regulatory powers over social media. In the case of the United Kingdom, such concerns among others are repeatedly weaponized by a press more or less allied with a state that ultimately aims to introduce legislation such as the Online Safety Bill to erode the right to privacy and curtail freedom of expression. The reality, though, is not the absence of control but instead the dominance of it. The cream of the bourgeoisie, often in conjunction with reactionary governments, politicians, and fascist activists, are controlling what you can say and see on the internet, or at least doing their best in that regard, with the aim of slowly reshaping the internet into a series of totalitarian controlled environments suitable to both their ideological proclivities and their economic interests (for people like Elon Musk the point is to have an authoritarian echo chamber that he can also make money with).
To even engage the conversation about the limits of freedom of speech is ultimately to miss the point and fight in the wrong battlefield, because “free speech” in the reactionary parlance relevant to this is ultimately just code for the privileging of speech, which is then reinforced by censorship. The architects of a new garden of controlled environments want you to take the claim of freedom of speech at face value, when in reality they’re not building anything like that. Instead, they’re creating an internet where dissent against the managers is suppressed in various ways, some more sophisticated or even stochastic than others, and “speech” exists within the personal limits of said managers. World order in this parlance is the generalized state of management that exists internationally, in terms of the internet we’re talking about a vast complex of authoritarian infrastructures centered around control and profit.
This is part of the reality of the re-ascension of fascism in the context of a growing trend of reactionary backlash, itself existing alongside the general feedback loop between capitalist growth and technological development that itself arcs almost inevitably towards the concentration of state power. There is no “new world order” here, as such, there is only the world order, and it is the sum of these relationships and structures of domination.
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of bourgeois discourse surrounding freedom of speech. Trust me, we’ve seen the same argument for years play out leading up ultimately to the landscape we see before us. “Free speech” to these people just means certain kinds of speech, namely theirs, gets to be protected or outright privileged while others still get suppressed, all at the expense of any concept of freedom of association. And all that ends up happening is that people get caught up in this end up defending the worst people imaginable while blind to the system of control developing around them and which they have become part of. The other side of that just takes at face value that anarchy is afoot when in reality what’s happening is that the speech and information are being controlled by the same people who tell you that they are liberating it.
This whole landscape should be regarded as a zone of resistance, contradiction, and social war, instead of discourse as leveraged by competing visions of control. The only answer to world order is to negate it entirely.
Conservatism as we know it appears to be in a strange place right now. In fact, it seems that there are some conservatives in the United States who have become convinced that conservatism is dead, a failed project, no longer capable of defeating the “woke dystopia” that they fear so much or reversing what they imagine to be the triumph of progressivism. To that end, such people decide that the Right needs a new identity to coalesce around, one better suited to the new ethos that they want to emphasize; not mere preservation of that which exists, but a new project to overturn that which exists in order to restore what they believe once was. You might say, a revolution of restoration. By now we’ve probably all seen that article from The Federalist titled “We Need To Stop Calling Ourselves Conservatives”, and it probably hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice how fashy this all feels. Personally, my immediate first thought was to compare its impetus to the old movement of “revolutionary conservatism” (or “Conservative Revolution”) that existed in Weimar Germany (a parallel that perhaps bears further exploration). But I think this new position also leaves us with a lot more to say about the nature of conservatism itself. More crucially, I think this moment probably serves to expose the myth of conservatism.
The case that John Daniel Davidson makes is a straightforward one: conservatism is at best irrelevant and at worst an entirely outdated idea for the Right, “dead” in the sense that he believes it is no longer possible for conservatism to preserve the institutions of “Western Civilization” against progressive social change. Conservatism, we are told, has preserved next to nothing, and what it means to preserve is slowly and seemingly inexorably dying. The “traditions” cherished within conservatism are supposedly being relegated into the private sphere only to soon be marginalized even there, as irreligion supposedly prevails while the nuclear family and border controls supposedly fade away. It then follows from this that, according to Davidson, people who call themselves conservatives should instead embrace a new identity, one reflecting a new “radical” agenda of restorationism. This agenda would see the Right abandoning modern forms of neoconservatism and fusionism with their apparent fidelity to liberal values and “the free market” in favour of a new love for massive expansions of state intervention in social and economic life on behalf of their ideological goals.
I can’t help but note how impossible it is to remark about this position without considering the sheer divorce from reality that it involves when it comes to points of policy. Davidson talks about abortion, for instance, but the conservatives as we understand them have already acheived probably their biggest victory on this issue in decades. Just this year Roe vs Wade was officially abolished by a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices, and almost immediately after that numerous US states began tightening restrictions on abortion or banning it outright, all under the supervision of a Democratic presidency. He talks about marriage, but Republicans are already moving to try and abolish Obergefell v Hodges, and if Roe v Wade is any indication they just might get their way. He talks about the First Amendment, and if we’re being bluntly honest that concept in America is already a joke what with things like FOSTA/SESTA around, but the actual amendment is in no danger. If we assume he just means conservatives get to say what they want on social media, that is by and large not in danger and in fact the Supreme Court can effectively be said to have ruled in their favour. In fact even when it comes to “Big Tech”, we already know that a number of Facebook’s staff are actually right-wingers, and in fact right-wing sympathy appears to be so endemic on Facebook’s internal team that they fired someone for trying to expose it. He talks about the rule of law, as though the 92% of the “riots” in 2020 were not actually peaceful protests. He talks about “control over our borders”, never mind that even the Democrats are busy putting kids in cages, telling immigrants not to come to America, and constructing a wall on the southern border. He talks about irreligion, as if there isn’t still a massive and hugely-influential evangelical lobby across the US establishment, and as if 2022 wasn’t a very good year for Christian dominionists. In fact, my instincts tell me that Davidson’s article is possible in its entirety because of the momentum that the Right now has rather than its apparent decline.
And yet, even this sort of misses the point. For one thing, even if Davidson acknowledges the reality of the conservative standing and the victories that come with it, he clearly wants more. We’re talking about banning no-fault divorces, we’re talking about weaponising anti-trust laws against social media companies to break them up for not in their view sufficiently accomodating conservative ideology (again, despite conservative groups actually receiving preferential treatment on these mediums in reality), we’re talking about people being arrested and charged with “child abuse” for attending drag shows with their kids (it’s worth noting that by now all drag shows are banned in Idaho), we’re talking about doctors being arrested for administering gender-affirming care, we’re talking about teachers being arrested basically for telling their students that LGBTQ people exist. If he had his way, the Republicans would turn the entirety of the United States of America into something almost resembling a mixture of 1950s Ireland and modern Hungary, perhaps with a side-order of Russia; that means massive restrictions on social autonomy alongside financial incentives for heterosexual couples to have “traditional families”, administered by an interventionist state animated by political Christianity (possibly specifically a form of reactionary Catholicism).
For another thing, putting Davidson’s politial prescription into the context of the extant realities of US politics only deepens the sense of right-wing politics as inherently a politics of escalation. Think about it: it’s never enough for the Right even when they get what they want. The easiest way to illustrate this is on the subject of immigration. All the time the increasingly nationalistic Right joins hands in attacking the current Democratic administration for supposedly opening the borders to waves of undocumented immigration, and accusing Joe Biden of deliberately weakening border controls to replace the white Americans with non-white immigrants, supposedly making for a more reliable voting bloc for Democrats. It’s all nonsense of course, most of all because the current administration has already deported hundreds of thousands of immigrants within its first year. But again, Joe Biden can deport countless immigrants, Kamala Harris can tell many more that they are not welcome in the United States, the Democratic administration can keep detaining immigrants, separating their families out of sight, and still build the border wall probably more efficiently than Donald Trump could have done, but none of it will matter to Republicans. It’s easy to see this as mere opportunistic bickering, merely a ploy of antagonism within the context of a democratic system where such pantomimes are always necessary. But I suspect it’s more. It’s a politics of escalation, but escalation towards what? Nothing less than the total concentration of the existing hierarchy. For immigration, this means the total control of movement by the state as a way of maintaining total nativistic hegemony in the form of what amounts to a white ethno-state.
For still another thing, however, the fact that one has to make this shift in terms of a break from conservatism tells us a few things about what conservatism is. Let’s stop and think about how Davidson references conservatism in his article. He begins his article by defining the status quo of conservatism in terms of a generalized ideology of preservation; specifically, a conservative (keeping in mind this is mostly speaking to the American context) is ostensibly someone who wants to preserve the traditions of “individual rights”, family values”, “religious freedom” etc., to defend them from radical change and pass them on continuously through the generations. In practice, you can think can of much of this as meaning the preservation of the legacy of what would now be called classical liberalism, with its original emphasis on a market capitalist economy and society managed by frameworks of rights that, it’s worth remembering, were originally defined via religious terms. In a way you could say that “conservatism”, in this understanding, is still a form of liberalism. Its definition in this setting is more or less reflexive, a sort of schismogenetic response to a vast array of apparent social shifts that began within the Enlightenment.
Of course conservatism as we know it has always come with a certain ideological conceit inherited from Edmund Burke: the belief in an organic society. Although it is commonplace for conservatives to follow the fashion of Thomas Hobbes in regarding “human nature” in its uncultivated state as a morass of violent urges that, if uncontrolled by some extant authority, lead to that famous “nasty, brutish, and short” life that he talked about, Burke actually seemed to believe that civil society was the “state of nature”, and that humans are naturally inclined to reason. Civil society derives its basis from rights and morality as derived from God, humans on this basis come to know this through the refinement of nature through art and the cultivation of law, and radical change insofar as it threatens this organic basis of civil society and its resultant complexity is to be resisted. It is perhaps from this belief, though, that conservatism as we know it also derives a certain reflexive quality embued with a conceit of ideological skepticism. You may have noticed how conservatives often present themselves as non-ideological actors, as people who merely present skepticism towards larger ideological projects. But if you take into account the question of what that skepticism is based on, it becomes apparent this Burkean idea of organic civil society is at the root of it, in that the skepticism is reserved for anything deemed to be counter to the “natural law” of civil society. Still, it is reflexive tendency more than a coherent ideological program. You might even say that it is by definition reactionary.
It’s worth noting, though, that the idea of civil society as human nature has many reverberations beyond conservatism as we understand it. For one thing, Burke himself was a Whig, which could be understood as a liberal movement. For another, if we focus strictly on the idea of civil society as human nature, this in its own way is nothing other than the statement that humans are a social species for whom civil society is the organic expression of their nature. Even if stripped from considerations of God and natural law, the idea of an organic civil society as the “natural” mode of human social life is easily found quite readily among certain left-wing tendencies in politics. In fact, even within anarchism, you will find some individuals who make defenses of natural law and organic concepts of society outside of the state. Whenever someone makes the metaphor of society as a living organism, they are effectively echoing a similarly Burkean conception of the world, even if they’re also rejecting Burke’s idea of what that means. Indeed, even revolution is easily fitted into this framework as a way of renewing civil society or even restoring it.
Conservatism as we understand it is also connected to a dense set of institutions that are supposed to define this “order” of “natural law”. But even so, this also means that it’s defined mostly reflexively. Insofar as it fixates itself on the preservation of the order of things as it exists, it has no precise form. There was a time where it seemingly did not just mention wholehearted embrace of “free market” capitalism, and then there’s a time where you can’t even talk about conservatism without “free markets”. But at the core is a reflexive instinct towards the preservation of the institutions of certain “traditional” notions of civil society against social change. However, the lines are often somewhat blurred in pracitce. An idea like that sometimes carries over elsewhere as residual instincts in other ideologies. Even progressivism as we understand it can emerge as an ideological force latent with reactionary notions, and even its core mission can be understood as an economistic interpretation of the struggle to preserve civil society, even if not necessarily the “free market”. Meanwhile, you can actually find conservatives who talk in ways that almost couldn’t have less to do with the standard conservative instinct. From fringe “MAGACommunists” who insist that communism is conservative while also rambling about annihilating all restraints to human progress, to Liz Truss, the recently-departed Prime Minister of Britain, counselling the nation that sometimes radical change is necessary while ostensibly ushering the return of Thatcherism, it is indeed true that sometimes some notions of “radical change” are not actually beyond their imagination.
Conservatism then emerges in large as an instinct towards preservation in the abstract, which then emerges as one of the distinct products of the revolutions of the Enlightenment. Major social changes were being brought forth, old social orders were being dismantled, sometimes violently, traditions were being questioned, new traditions had started to emerge, and amidst all that a keen reaction emerged from the desire to preserve what was, including the traditional norms of life and the class privileges of those who came to occupy the Right side of revolutionary table. Conservatism, then, is mostly a placeholder for a broadly generalized mode of reaction, the kind that you usually find in “conservatives” as such as well as nationalists, liberals, “libertarians”, and “centrists” among other assorted reactionaries. In most cases, in modern times this does still amount to a defense of the classical liberal order, maybe with a certain appeal to ancient philosophy and Christian teaching. In a sense, it is its own myth, corresponding to what is in essence a reactionary expression of the whole order of the Enlightenment.
What Davidson wants is for the Right to move beyond that idea of its role in the world, to embrace a “revolutionary moment” in order to “restore Western Civilization”. This “revolutionary moment” has an obvious fascistic tinge to it, suggestible from his idea that the government should be utilized as an “instrument of renewal in American life”, echoing the characteristic palingenetic nationalism of fascism, as well as the co-optation of left-wing slogans and policy suggestions that could have been lifted straight out of the National Socialist playbook. But even if we don’t accept that this is the makings of a nascent fascist movement, conservatism in this setting is going to unravel into something else, something beyond the conventions of conservatism as we understand it in the US context. The term “Christian Nationalism” has been repeatedly invoked in reference to the rising American far-right, and it does make for a rather coherent encapsulation of its goals in the terms that perhaps Davidson has in mind. It’s not a particularly new idea, mind you. Theodore Beale (otherwise known as “Vox Day”), who was often referenced as a figurehead of what was once called the alt-right, has been pushing that concept for years now, possibly since at least as far back as 2015. His idea of “Christian Nationalism” is similarly predicated on the rejection of libertarianism or “free market” capitalism in favour of an authoritarian capitalist state that intervenes in the economy and public life on behalf of nativist interests.
It has often been said that conservatism is an unpopular ideology, detested by the masses, and we can safely assume that the its more reactionary cousins are unlikely to be terribly popular. But the unconscious tendencies of micro-fascism are not so marginal, and without the ecosystem of micro-fascist tendencies within the masses conservatism has no meaning, and its evolutions in the form of the larger ideologies of Traditionalism, “Christian Nationalism”, and neofascism are the concentration of these tendencies into coherent reactionary ideologies that, most crucially, do not exist solely as reflections against social change within the current order in that they outwardly embody their own definite orders of social control. This, in relation to the development of reactionary anxieties, may go some way to explaining why “conservatism”, in our time, appears to be looking more and more like fascism. And if it’s not that, then we really are just looking at reactionary expressions of the liberal status quo, bent on upholding the concentration of politics in the hands of the few while animating the latent micro-fascisms of the social order as a source of power.
All of this is good reason to emphasize that conservatism, in all of its manifestations, should not be regarded as a fine concern for aesthetic values but instead as petty reaction that should be overcome and discarded. And it’s not even much of coherent ideological worldview, but a placeholder for an amalgamation of social anxieties and interests that tend towards reaction. And perhaps it may indeed unravel over time, as the conditions of a planet barrelling towards irreversible crisis generate massive social changes that cannot simply be stalled or controlled in the fashion of “conservatism”. The Right is going to define itself in a manner most befitting the moment, as it decides that liberal capitalism is no longer congruent with its desires, goals, and interests. This invariably poses a larger threat to the struggle for autonomy, and perhaps life, than we already currently face. We may bear this in mind in the struggle that must waged, as well as the impetus of deconstruction, of profane illumination directed the current order of the world.
As this idea takes hold “conservatism” as an idea will unravel, and its placeholder status will seem all the more apparent. The hardcore Right at this stage will be recognised as a collection of ideologies that define themselves beyond it. These ideologies include a newly-defined notion of “Christian Nationalism”, as well as standard fare white nationalism, “libertarianism” (including “anarcho-capitalism”), Traditionalism, and outright fascism. All of these ideologies follow aspects of what Davidson has in mind, even if the “libertarians” would rather die than embrace “big government”. Oh but “conservatism” will always be around, in that the instinct to defend the deepest abstracted hierarchies of civil society will always arise as soon as these hierarchies are called into question. But “conservatism” writ large is a reflexive tendency towards micro-fascism, in that it is largely a placeholder for a set of instincts and scripts that eventually give rise to things like fascism or more generally authoritarianism; a byword, then, for reaction.
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.
While reading up about Satan’s (no, not that Satan) upcoming album Earth Infernal, as I do and all, I somehow stumbled on a website named Athwart and a little article about Satanism written by one of their authors, Sam Buntz. The article is titled “Infernal Bore: The Satanic Pose of False Individualism”, and believe me, it is truly self-masturbatory, so much so that I actually want to go through it and show you why.
But before I do that, let’s establish who we’re talking about here. Athwart is a small-time web magazine that seems to focus on social commentary. There’s clearly a political edge to it but for the life of me I can’t actually figure out their primary ideological inclination or their basic values. The impression I get from them seems to suggest that they might be into some conservative expression of left-wing politics. Their articles complain about such things as a lack of metaphysical thinking in contemporary society and the prevalence of pornography, and they discuss the works of socialist intellectuals such as Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Michel Foucault, and Christopher Lasch. The actual name of the website appears to have been derived from William F. Buckley Jr., the famous right-wing conservative ideologue, or more specifically the mission statement he wrote for The National Review, which he founded in 1955 and which he said “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it”. From this, my impression is that Athwart represents a pretentious crossover between socialist and conservative tendencies, possibly erring towards the milieu referred to as “post-liberalism”. A fair summary of this tendency is that it is reactionary and boring. As for Sam Buntz himself, his bio tells us that his work has appeared on the “centre-left” Washington Monthly, the apparently far-right New English Review, the right-wing Federalist magazine, the “politically unaffiliated” Christian journal Fare Forward, Pop Matters, and Jonathan Pageau’s website The Symbolic World. This oeuvre plus his social media content gives us a good idea that he seems to be a reactionary of some sort.
With that accounted for let’s get into the article itself. Buntz begins by referring to an article written by Mary Harrington which supposedly showed that Satanism was the prevailing ideology of the United States of America. Harrington’s argument is essentially that Satanism is just a byword for “untrammeled individualism” and that The Satanic Temple is supposedly adored by the American ruling class (no, they’re not; a couple of liberal magazines are not a synonym for the bourgeoisie as a whole), and much of the rest is just a kindergartener’s history of so-called Romantic Satanism leading up to blatant distortion of the teachings of Crowley and Nietzsche, homophobic screeds about Pride Month, and transphobic bile about how trans rights is somehow an arm of US imperialism. Needless to say Harrington just casts any expression of self-love or pride as “Satanism”, declares this to be the ideology of the establishment, and all the while never demonstrates any actual influence that Satanism or trans people have in a society where they’re actually quite powerless. Such is what Buntz refers to as “daring” work; and I suppose it is, if by this you mean she dared to be stupid.
Oh and by the way Harrington also appears to be a transphobic “radical feminist”, or TERF as she would rather we not call them but which we will do anyway because that’s what they are. Let’s just get that out of the way while also adding that she’s generally a whiny conservative in numerous other areas too.
Before we go anywhere else let’s just establish basic reality here: no, Satanism is not “the dominant American ideology”. If it were, then American politicians would feel no need to make frequent reference to Jesus, God, or the Bible, however insincerely, nor would there be any invocations to God in American money or the Pledge of Allegiance. There are no Satanists who actually have access to the levers of political power, and many don’t even desire said political power. Only a few Satanists have ever ran for political office, and none of their campaigns have succeeded. Nor for that matter have most of the legal campaigns enacted by The Satanic Temple. And, if Satanism is the dominant spiritual ideology in America, why are Satanic Panics still a thing that thousands if not millions of people can fall for? Honestly, I wish that America was actually the Satanic society that these idiots seem to think it is. I would legitimately enjoy living in such a society. At the very least I could die a happy man knowing that Christianity died and was replaced by Satanism in a country that was previously the proudest and most obnoxious exponent of Christianity, if only that were true! But it’s not! Instead, Christianity of some sort still holds the most political clout and forms much of the superstructure of bourgeois society.
Also, I think something’s worth pointing out about the liberal magazines being pointed to and their ostensible promotion of The Satanic Temple. I can guarantee that they’re only doing it because they’re a secular atheist progressive group that presents the aesthetic of Satanism with very little of what might be thought of as Satanic philosophy, though of course they do boast an appropriated canon. In reality, The Satanic Temple paid probably thousands of dollars to give argument in court on behalf of a Catholic organisation rather than just complain about freedom of speech on Twitter, so as far as I’m concerned they are allies of Christianity, but neither the media nor conservatives like Mary Harrington will tell you about that because it compromises some convenient narratives about how The Satanic Temple are “the last line of defence in the battle for reproductive rights”. And all the while, with both Harrington’s article and the media discussion of The Satanic Temple, it seems like only popular forms of atheistic Satanism are ever discussed. Things like Theistic Satanism are never discussed in any of these pretentious treatises on Satanism, even though Theistic Satanism is very prevalent in Satanist movement even if lacking popular organizations and if anything there’s the argument to be made for Theistic Satanism being older at least than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan.
Anyways, Buntz talks about how “the pose of Satanism” was attractive for centuries across a wide range of people and summarizes basically the popular understanding of Satan as an archetypal cosmic rebel. Then he claims that Satanism doesn’t actually lead to a state where individual personalities can flourish freely but instead leads to “the opposite condition”. On its face, this claim is absolutely laughable and there’s no basis for believing it at all. But how does Buntz justify such an absurd position? Well, he doesn’t make reference to any extant self-defined Satanism in practice, but instead appeals to the development of the character of Satan as depicted by John Milton, who for all the romantic anti-heroism of his Satan figure it must be remembered that he was trying to depict Satan as the villain of his story. Basically, to prove that Satanism leads to the opposite of individual freedom, he’s going to consult a work created by a Christian to illustrate the Christian perspective of why Satan is bad, instead of referring to any actual self-lived Satanism. That’s rather like trying to get an account of Muslim life from Melanie Phillips.
Buntz’s main point is that all of the heroic radiance associated with Milton’s Satan is compacted into the early parts of the book, after which he grows progressively “duller” and “more boring”. Well, actually, that’s about all Buntz has to say about Milton’s Satan. He never actually describes Satan’s actions or personality progression, except through the aphorisms of others such as C. S. Lewis. The only thing he references is Satan secretly observing Eve in the Garden of Eve. How this is meant to represent dullness is something of a mystery, but I guess it does serve as a signifier of reactionary antipathy towards “coomers” (meant to be a condescending way of a referring to sex or porn addiction but in practice is just a way of expressing hatred of anybody who likes sex at all or masturbates ever). His purported boringness is compared to Dante’s Satan, and I must say, it’s easy for Dante’s Satan to be “boring” since his only appearance in Inferno consists of him being trapped waist-deep in a lake of ice, which is honestly more of an indictment of Dante than of Satan.
Buntz is of the opinion that not only is our culture “increasingly Satanic”, but it is also “zombified”, a supposed trend that he compares to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (yet another Christian morality tale, this time for children), in which the White Witch lures one of the characters with Turkish delights only to freeze him in his place. He argues that this is meant to mean that the desire for independence “without relation or obligation” (presumably God here is just a by-word for any kind of obligation whatsoever) produces nothing but mediocrity. His example of this really doesn’t have anything to do with Satanism in practice. Instead his example of cultural decay just seems to be when entertainment media doesn’t solely center around cis straight white people (“the quantitative enumeration of identities, the checking of representation boxes”) and Netflix shows he doesn’t like presumably because they don’t exclusively pander to those same cis straight white audiences (“Eventually, the “Dark Satanic Mills” start to churn out the same, boring, repetitive, pandering Netflix shows”). This, he claims, leads to the abolition of “the Good, the Beautiful, and the True” (yep, we’re dealing with Platonic conservative bullshit again). Again, none of this is ever actually linked to real world Satanism. It’s all just extrapolated from a poetic representation that, while it is classic, was created by a Christian. Plus, if all Satanism means here is just the assertion of individual freedom, I would argue that the idea that this necessarily leads to mediocrity simply isn’t true! Barnett Newman positioned his own artwork as an “assertion of freedom”, which read properly would herald the end of all forms of authoritarianism, such as state capitalism and totalitarianism, and many have found his art to be moving and challenging, or in some cases threatening (certainly threatening enough for white supremacists to frequently vandalize his work). But, of course, because Barnett Newman as an abstract expressionist represents what has come to be derisively referred to as “modern art” or “postmodern art”, Buntz will likely see his work and dismiss it as insufficiently life-affirming in the same way that all reactionaries dismiss modern art simply because it doesn’t seek to imitate classical art.
There is a paragraph from the article that is worth analyzing and deconstructing:
When a ’70s or ’80s rockstar declares that he is on the highway to hell before burying his head in a mountain of cocaine, it seems believable. He really is runnin’ with the devil. But a contemporary “Satanist,” logging on to doomscroll or gaze at pornography, is devoid of this same rebellious aura. He or she is simply going on the computer, like every bored teen on planet earth. Below deck, Satan is no doubt rubbing his hands excitedly. But his nefarious plans lack the epic scale and carnage of a Hitler-on-Stalin throwdown. He has settled for making people watch lousy Netflix original programming. That is atomized Satanic “individualism” at its terminus, a sad and numb person opening tabs in Google Chrome and then slamming the laptop shut when Mom unexpectedly walks in the room. Not exactly Stalingrad, but Satan will take it.
What’s obvious here is that Buntz operates on the idea of “Satan as the representation of evil and badness in the abstract”, taking it at face value and assessing Satanism and Satanists on the basis of this presumption. Thus, if Satanists aren’t destroying themselves by becoming addicted to dangerous drugs or trying to start World War 3, then in Buntz’s eyes they are not “real” Satanists. The problem with this should be obvious. Satanism is not in itself a mere inversion of morality. On the contrary, it can be said to present its own distinct ethical framework, albeit one that, unlike so many others, actually centers itself around individual fulfilment and exploration to some degree, and even then what this looks like will probably depend on the form of Satanism you’re dealing with; such nuance is of course flattened in almost every mainstream discussion of Satanism. Buntz whines that modern Satanists supposedly do nothing but “doomscroll” (constantly surfing the internet for negative news) and watch pornography, as though watching pornography is supposed to be an inherently bad thing (well, given that he’s probably a Christian I’d say he does think that), but how exactly is doomscrolling and watching Netflix and pornography something exclusive to Satanism? I’d argue that a lot of modern Christians are doing the same thing while also going to church, praying to God, and all the things that regular Christians do to affirm their faith. But Buntz needs to frame Satanists as sad losers (again, as if scrolling for news, watching porn, and watching Netflix somehow makes you a loser) so he can’t afford to acknowledge reality. If you want to see masses of sad loserdom, you shouldn’t look to Satanism. Instead you should look to 4chan, or to the fact that there’s entire Discord servers made around one meme.
But I have to say, what is it with people having a go at Satanism and always bringing up rock stars who sang about the devil for fun, rather than musicians who were open and professed Satanists, such as King Diamond (incidentally one of the guys who got me into Satanism), Glen Benton from Deicide, or the several black metal bands and musicians who at least ostensibly devote themselves to some sort of religious, esoteric, or theistic Satanism (many of whom hated Anton LaVey for being too humanist for them)? Again, they’re never going to be talked about because the only Satanism that interests anyone in the media is the The Satanic Temple, and honestly that’s probably because they’re the most marketable and least offensive branch of Satanism.
Buntz then makes a very amusing accusation towards Satanists. He accuses the Satanist of wanting to preserve the state of affairs he attributes to them by “defending himself” from “anything that might provoke his curiosity” or “might rattle him into an awareness of the poetry in nature or in other people”, thus he accuses the Satanist of demanding a safe space from the world, which he accuses our culture of happily obliging. I don’t recall our culture obliging a safe space from Harry Potter books or Dave Chappelle specials, but what’s amusing about it is that this is just Christianity projecting all of its weaknesses onto Satanism. It was Christians who sought to block out anything that was “Other” to the Christian worldview, and where they couldn’t do that they sought to recuperate it so as to make it compatible with the Christian “safe space”. God himself has surely set up the ultimate “safe space” in the form of Heaven, a place where only people he likes and only people who believe in him or agree with him are allowed to live forever after death. God is a narcissist whose whole purpose for humanity and all life is to praise his name, and can’t stand any being suggesting any notion of co-divinity or any kind of equality and diversity amongst the divine. God knows well the concept of the “Other” in relation to himself, and for him that that “Otherness” is compacted into the form of the Devil, sin, evil, something that from his standpoint should be destroyed. Easily God is more narcissistic than Satan, or anyone, but you can’t admit that to yourself or anyone because it offends both tradition and certain modern forms of progressive apologetics prevalent today.
Then Buntz tried to liken Satanism to the Unitarian Universalist Church, on the basis that they supposedly believe that God is whatever you want him to be:
I remember attending a Unitarian Universalist Church during a period of religious investigation. The congregation’s guiding mantra was “God is whatever you want God to be.” I reasoned to myself that if God was whatever I wanted God to be then I would, in effect, be God. This struck me as absurd. What Harrington calls Satanism is this very tendency—to deify one’s own will, whim, or power of arbitrary choice. According to this ideology, what one wills does not actually matter. You can will getting burned with wax in a dominatrix’s cavern, will ending illiteracy, will transforming yourself into a dolphin person, will recycling, will all sorts of evil, or will curing the common cold. All desires are on the same plane, and none are preferable. You just need to will it.
It is true that the Unitarian Universalist Church does not have what is called a “formal creed”, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a religion or that God is interchangeable with your own will. Technically speaking, Paganism is not just “one system of belief”, and neither really was Christianity for the first century of its existence, but being a religion is not about being defined by single fixed points of doctrine. Religion should instead be defined in terms of its relationship to whatever is conceived as numinous or sacred, and not only the ideology but also the praxis (often ritual praxis in particular) through which this is expressed or mediated. The Unitarian Universalist Church seems to believe in a single God who is entirely loving, does not punish everyone forever, and will redeem everyone after death, though it is also said that belief in God is optional. I think that Satanists would actually laugh at that belief system. I certainly don’t find myself particularly impressed, but to tell the truth they actually do seem to have a clear belief system that can be interpreted as comprising more than just “God is whatever you want him to be“. This attempt to undermine the credibility of Satanism by likening it to the Unitarians through a bowdlerised interpretation of Satanic individualism falls flat on its face.
I should also state for the record that no Satanist actually believes that you can simply will any outcome you want into existence. To assume otherwise is a clear sign of Buntz not having consulted any Satanists in regard to their beliefs about will, which he derived entirely from Mary Harrington, who herself did not bother to ask any Satanists about their beliefs. Satanists don’t believe that you can cure the common cold, end illiteracy, or turn into a dolphin solely through the force of will and desire. No one does, because everyone knows that is self-evidently absurd. Satanists do deify the individual self, but they also regularly counsel against solipsism, because they correctly assume that they are not the only individual selves or the only beings capable of will. Again, simply talking to Satanists would probably clarify things for Sam Buntz, but he won’t.
Instead, Buntz continues to not actually address any extant form of Satanism, preferring instead the “idea” of Satanism, by pointing to G. K. Chesterton’s response to Nietzsche, who Buntz characterizes as “like a man grabbing you by the lapels demanding that you will something, while the genuinely interesting question, the question of what is worth willing, goes unanswered”. There is an answer, though: what business is it yours what I consider “worth” willing? Nay, does God even ask himself that question before willing the death of fetuses via miscarriage? The question is always asked by others for the purpose of deciding the actions of others. But as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, why is it so important what you consider to be “worth” someone else to will?
I find it very curious that Buntz feels the need to point out that there is a reality outside of the self that we ought to acquaint ourselves to, when really that’s all that Satanists insist to Christians. Indeed, I might well insist that I merely seek people to shed their conditioning and acquaint themselves with the inner nature or principle of reality: from my standpoint, God is nothing of the sort. Atheistic Satanists in particular would probably be allergic to much of occultism because they assume it does not observe this principle, and generally mock Christians for the same reasons. Once again, Buntz hasn’t got a clue.
The article is titled “Infernal Bore: The Satanic Pose of False Individualism”, yet for most of the article no discussion of what the “true” individualism is. Towards the end, though, we get an elaboration. “True” individualism, for Buntz, is an affirmation of individuality that is dependent on the consideration of your relationship to the universe and its inhabitants. In a separate article about his opposition to sex work (which he refers to as “sexual exploitation” based on the assumption that people never choose to be sex workers), he refers to this concept as “organic individualism”, as opposed to “atomistic individualism” (I’m half-convinced that this dichotomy sounds like it comes from some form of fascist ideology). Exactly what “your relationship to the universe and its inhabitants” is supposed to mean for your individual will and the validity of its expression isn’t really clear, but it seems like it might be a vague way of saying that your individual will needs to be validated by God in order to be legitimate. His criticism of individual self-determination is that it somehow leads to a state of being “plunged into slavery under our darkest compulsions”. It’s a common reactionary argument, one I first became familiar with (and dismissed) when encountering a debate in which the alt-right author Greg Johnson argued that allowing pornography to be legal leads to men becoming slaves to their desires, which is an argument now made by guys like Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin who previously opposed such a position. The problem with this argument is obvious: individual will exercised in a way that harms no one is otherwise arbitrarily cast as slavery because it is “dark”, which in this context may as well mean something icky that you personally dislike. If you exercise individual free will in a way that doesn’t really hurt anyone, at least individually or interpersonally, and Sam Buntz approved of it, he would not complain, but if you exercise individual free will in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone, and Sam Buntz does not approve of it, the entire notion of such self-determination is condemned. I have to wonder how this could be applied to self-determination in a larger sense, namely the self-determination of independent nations and/or peoples.
The stated alternative to “plunging into slavery under our darkest compulsions” is to start “becoming interested in other people and in the surrounding world”, which Buntz believes would “liberate individuality to shine forth through this relation”. Exactly what “becoming interested in other people and in the surrounding world” should mean to him is not clear, and that’s important because that can mean basically any form of social interaction. I guess, though, that based on his quotation of Joseph S. Laughon that it might have something to do with going into the nature and spending time with the birds, not that I oppose such activities of course. But really, depending on what you mean, being interested in other people and the surrounding world is what humans do all the time. Frankly, people can’t shut up about other people or their surrounding world, and that’s more true than ever in the age of hyper-interconnectivity that our developed internet bequeathes us with. Buntz’s exhortation in itself seems quite meaningless in this light. The only way I can see it having meaning is that it is actually code for something else, that his idea of “organic individualism” is really a way of saying that your self-determination and self-essencing needs to be legitimated or perhaps controlled by the society around you. And in that light, I see a problem. If it is interaction with other people that should be the primary constituent of individual self-determination, then we enter into a state infinite regression as applicable to all of humanity; after all, if the individual is to be determined and fashioned principally by other humans, then who was there to condition the first human? Who conditions the conditioners, up to the start of the human species? You see, we are to assume that it is always the individual that is empty on its own, and requires an Other to make him an individual, but then through this there are surely no individuals, because the Other that makes the individual is necessarily empty as well, just that we assume that the Other possess inherent subjective content but never the individual self.
And, look, believe it or not, I actually don’t in principle oppose the idea of considering individuality in relationship to its surroundings, or at least not in the way that he makes it seem when saying “One develops an authentic inner life by means of this vibrant connection with a wider world”. I actually think I could read something similar out of Percy Bysshe Shelley, a man who I think Sam Buntz would have hated because of his anti-clerical and anti-Christian romanticism as well as his idiosyncratic neopaganism, in his letter to Thomas Love Peacock when he wrote that the ancient Greeks “lived in perpetual commerce with external nature”, which he believed explained the greatness of Greek poetry and art. Baron D’Holbach used to say “Let him study Nature, let him study himself”. But even if I granted Buntz’s premise of individualism I don’t think I can recognize it as being in alignment with my own worldview, because even there to me the point is that you self-essence on your own terms and pursue individuation by fighting social conditioning, even if that means harmony with nature (or even the nature of nature as I might say). I don’t think Buntz believes in that individuation, or in any kind of self-essencing in that it functions as self-determination. So what does Buntz’s “organic individualism” look like? Glancing quickly at his article about sex work, we still get nothing other than the assertion that sex work is somehow paradigmatic of capitalism, or “hyper-capitalism” rather, never mind of course that they don’t call it the oldest trade for nothing. To be honest, I get the sense that Buntz’s view of freedom is that it is not meant for itself, but must be legitimated by taste, namely his own taste. The freedom to offer your body by trade or by hobby is not valid in itself for him, and hence not valid at all because society does not (or, for him, should not) legitimate it. His “organic individualism” is thus the idea that individuality is fulfilled when society determines a range of expression that society deems valid, beyond which free expression of individuality may not transcend. In a word, oppression.
And through it all, what’s so bad about egoism per se? I know that certain forms of narrow egoism, the kind of bullshit that Ayn Rand gave us are part of the problem with a lot of the contemporary Left Hand Path, but what would be so bad about everyone deicidng to read Max Stirner and the egoist-anarchists and egoist-communists? Taken seriously, these actually lead to a re-discovery of egoism as something beyond the limits of the false individualism offered by Randian “libertarianism”, which is in reality nothing more than the uncontested rule of property-owning capitalists. From the standpoint of this egoism, individuality is what is called ownness, and it is a condition shared by all individuals. I am an ownness and so are you. You can even put a “collectivist” spin on it, paradoxically enough, insofar as if only I enjoy freedom and ownness while you do not, then I possess privilege upon myself and you possess oppression but then neither of us possess the true condition of egoistic freedom. Of course, I imagine part of Sam Buntz’s problem with this is not only that it rejects all authority in the most consistent way possible but also the implications of this involve seeing trans people as being exactly who they say they are on the grounds of their ownness, and we know already that Buntz thinks this is a problem. But his opinion is worthless, for he sells an individualism to us that is as well false, because your individuality is not valid in itself, and instead must allow itself to be shaped by society.
Imagine that society is no less an egoist or no less composed of egoists than you your yourself. Imagine that there is only you living amongst others who are unique just like you are. In this, there is no inherent moral right, or empirical materialist cause (in Marx’s terms), for society to assert that it is the only valid individual in the world. In Buntz’s “individualism”, you as a creation of society have no right to the exercise of egoistic freedom or will-to-egoism, only society has that right, because society is the only egoist, and it absorbs you back into itself the moment you declare independence because you in that declaration are a threat to its existence. Society declares absolute sovereignty over you, at which point we ask: who created this right, and who created society? God? Whose God? I don’t worship him and can’t be made to worship him. The law? Which law? It changes over generations, and you will write new laws. Reason? Whose reason? I think you’ll laugh at their “reason” once you study it. History? If you take historical materialism seriously, you will eventually realize that material conditions are also political decisions, and thus that a large number of the material conditions we point to result ultimately from choices made by people who have or assert power, and at that point you destroy all notion of history being some phantasmic force independent of human agency. But again, who created society? People, people who are no less “unique” than you and me, but whose interests consist in ruling over you, and who have acted in a way that might ensure they continue to do so. But if you are “unique”, you are ownness, you are an egoist, and society is built by people who are ultimately not so different except that they set themselves against you, you have only the “right” to assert yourself as an egoist, and that society is not the only egoist in the world. Sam Buntz’s “individualism” serves only to favour one egoist over the other, as the determinant of your own individuality, but if society determines you who determines society? People make society, and at that, none other than the same egoists that we are told society exists against!
So that’s about it for this response. There really wasn’t a whole lot to say about Satanism in that article, because, again, Buntz never addresses any extant forms of Satanism, only a vague idea of it presented by a TERF who knows almost nothing about it and the poetic ideas of Satan created within Christian culture. Needless to say, this article is not very useful in understanding Satanism, let alone a particularly insightful critique.
Contrary to what some of us might have assumed, the Western world does not live in a “post-Christian” era. Not yet, anyway. Christianity is still the dominant religion in Western countries and composes much of the prevailing superstructure of bourgeois society in its religious aspects, as well as festering in the background of some of the more secular mythologies prevalent in the West. In the case of the United States of America, it’s not even the fact that Christianity is more “moderate” or “progressive” nowadays (such that it ever was anyway), as reactionary Christian nationalism continues to grow ever stronger, forming a key plank of the increasingly radical right which now threatens to install a fascist dictatorship in the White House via coup d’état. In addition to this, we can see that Christian creationism, far from having been consigned to the dustbin of bad ideas, is still alive and continues to enjoy a sizeable platform via well-funded propaganda outlets such as Prager “University”, and there are attempts in parts of America to ban books that are deemed “homosexual material”.
Christian hegemony is alive and well, but virulent reactionism is not the only way that Christianity tries to preserve its hegemony. Sometimes Christianity is defended by liberal and progressive or even leftist voices, both Christian and secular, who advance that all of the hallmarks of reactionary Christianity are little more than misinterpretations of the “true” Christianity, which is held to be much more progressive. Similar efforts are directed towards Islam in response to prevalent racism against Muslims, which can lead to people forgetting that Islam, in all reality, isn’t much more progressive than Christianity in many aspects. In both cases there’s often a great deal of special pleading and creative interpretations of scripture involved, and in this regard the focus of this article is Christianity.
One of the core problems with Christianity’s attempts to engage with the modern world regards the Christian attitude towards homosexuality. Christian opinion of homosexuality has been historically, and consistently, negative, and therefore homophobic. Many contemporary Christians may today be fairly tolerant and even accepting towards LGBT people, and increasingly so, but the idea of “hate the sin not the sinner” is still trafficked to this day. There are those who insist that Christianity is not actually homophobic because, among other things, Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Stephen Colbert, a Catholic liberal, is known for popularizing this idea to liberal audiences. The first problem with this is that at face value, at least, this establishes only that Jesus had nothing to say, and consequently that Jesus cannot defend homosexuals or their human rights. The second problem with this is that Jesus made it explicitly clear that he did had no intention of overturning the law of the Old Testament or the word of its prophets, saying “I did not come to destroy them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Old Testament law is painfully clear on the subject of homosexuality, and in this regard it’s worth addressing the arguments made in defence of Biblical scripture as not inherently homophobic.
For our purposes, let’s consult the Human Rights Campaign (which, by the way, endorses anti-LGBT politicians while claiming to defend LGBT rights) for a summary of the arguments against attributing homophobia to the Bible. One argument is that the injunction in Leviticus that “man must not lie with another man” is that it “coheres with the context of a society anxious about their health, continuing family lineages, and retaining the distinctiveness of Israel as a nation”. The problems with this should be fairly obvious. For starters, this doesn’t change the explicit nature of “man must not lie with another man”, just that perhaps tells us a little something about the origins of monotheistic homophobia. Second, if the context for it is “anxiety about health”, that definitely doesn’t reduce the homophobia. Depending on what’s meant by health, all it establishes is that the ancient Israelites probably considered being gay itself to be a health risk, which is still in itself homophobic. So is the idea that being gay presents a threat to “the distinctiveness of the nation”. In other words, it’s still homophobic, and the homophobia comes with a bit of nationalistic moral panic behind it. 1 Corinthians 6:9 is explained as “more than likely about the sexual exploitation of young men by older men”. Well “men having sex with men” really says nothing about the age of the men in question. To be blunt, it could be any men in any age dynamic. Indeed, does tying homosexuality to pedophilia not service reactionary homophobia? 1 Timothy 1:10 refers quite explicitly to “those practicing homosexuality” alongside “the sexually immoral”, and it rather does stretch credulity to assume that this is only referring to some elite Greek practice of pederasty. Paul’s homophobic comments in his letter to the Romans are described as “part of a broader indictment against idolatry and excessive, self-centered lust that is driven by desire to “consume” rather than to love and to serve as outlined for Christian partnership elsewhere in the Bible”. This is still homophobic. It still means that homosexual sex, when portrayed in the Biblical context, is portrayed as a negative, more specifically as a sort of giving in to “self-centered” passions which itself is framed as a punishment from God for the crime of worshipping any gods other than God.
A lot of the argument hinges on the idea that the authors of the Bible had no idea what “sexual orientiation” in our modern use of the term was, but this is a bit like saying that tuberculosis actually didn’t exist until the 19th century simply because it wasn’t called tuberculosis until then, even though it had otherwise existed for centuries under many different names. In fact, when it comes to the issue of trans rights, the line that the authors of the Bible had “no concept of trans people” is curiously not employed, and instead it is recognized that being trans has been real and recognized in various ways for centuries. Another refrain would be that the Bible doesn’t condemn loving (presumably in the emotional or Platonic rather than physical sense) same-sex relationships, which is just nonsense. Even if the Bible says nothing about non-sexual homosexual relationships, it’s still rather clearly hostile to same-sex relationships whenever they come up, even if that’s mainly the sexual sense. But besides, why would the difference matter so much? If you’re condemning homosexual sex because it’s homosexual, and presumably not heterosexual sex in the same way, the condemnation emerges from the premise that homosexual sex “goes against nature”, which is simply homophobia. Paul is rather explicitly clear about men “abandoning natural relationships with women” in favour of “lust for one another”, and Romans 1:27 (which the Human Rights Campaign barely examines) explicitly states that men who did this would “receive the due penalty” for it, and that is exactly how the fathers of the Christian church have interpreted homosexuality; as an unnatural lust. If that was the wrong interpretation, then that just means that everyone in the early Christian movement somehow misinterpreted an otherwise LGBT-positive message supposedly inherent in the Bible, which would be interesting considering that as far as I can see none of the church fathers or even many “Gnostics” ever expressed tangible opposition to, say, John Chrysostom’s declaration that gay people were “an insult to nature”. And even if the Bible doesn’t say that essentially emotional, platonically romantic gay relationships are a sin, so what? It never affirms such relationships, and again, that’s important. If you want to be LGBT-positive, you have to affirm the validity of same-sex relationships as being valid in and of themselves, which neither Jesus nor anyone in the Bible ever does. The argument that God “wouldn’t judge” on its own just doesn’t cut it, and at any rate has little to do with the scripture upon which Christianity is necessarily based. Besides, if you want to affirm loving relationships, you have to affirm the sexuality of these relationships as well, since that is an inseparable part of it at least for many relationships.
If the best that Christianity can say for itself is that the Bible hates it when gay people have sex but not when they love each other emotionally, then that’s just the same thing as when conservative homophobes say that they only hate it when gay people “act on their desires”. If any form of love between LGBT people is endorsed, if we take the Human Rights Campaign seriously, it’s a fundamentally reified, abstract, and de-sexualized love, which is legitimated not of itself but as a representation of marriage between Christ and the Church, or as a vessel through which God’s “love” is fulfilled; LGBT love is thus, from the Christian standpoint, legitimated only insofar as Christ or God are legitimated, not because it is valid on its own, because in Christianity everything is validated only through God. Luke 15 is brought up as somehow evidence that the Christian God had already accepted LGBT people into his communion, which is hardly evident in that text. If anything, if there’s supposed to be a reference to homosexuality in there, what do you think the chance is that it’s not the “sin” referred to by the son who confessed before his father and before God. Remember also that Jesus said “go and sin no more” to a woman who was about to be stoned for supposed adultery. It seems evident that this is to be taken as a counsel to not repeat any behaviours deemed sinful, which has implications for homosexual sex which is still repeatedly regarded by the Bible and the church fathers as sinful.
Another appeal to scriptural gaps can be found in relation to the argument regarding “gender complementarity”, which conservative and homophobic Christians base in the Book of Genesis’ statement that God created a sexual or gender binary that is then used as an argument against gay marriage; in other words, the classic homophobic “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” canard that was once frequently trotted out by the Christian right. The counter-argument summarized by the Human Rights Campaign is that the account says nothing about gender and does not say that God only created the gender binary. That might be a point to made regarding the inclusion of trans, intersex, and non-binary people, but addresses nothing about gay marriage. Again, so? The Bible also never actually affirms the idea that gender is not a binary, and, again, that is important since you can’t build a consistent LGBT-positive worldview based on the fact you merely (or rather ostensibly) say nothing about it; especially when there’s still explicit homophobia in the mix.
And why don’t we apply this to other aspects of the Bible as well. Like, for instance, the Biblical stance on slavery. Although Christianity is often popularly associated the movement to abolish chattel slavery, the Bible not only does not oppose slavery, it actually seems to support slavery, and not only that it also seems to offer counsel on how the slaves should obey their slave-owners and how slave-owners should treat their slaves. Luke 12:47 counsels slave-owners to beat their slaves if they knowingly disobey their commands, and that slave who disobeys unwittingly is still to be beaten, just a little more mercifully. In Exodus 21:20-21, it is counselled that a slave-owner is to be punished if they beat their slaves to death, but if the slave survives the beating and recovers after a few days then the slave-owner would not be punished for it. This is a pretty clear endorsement of slavery and the abuses inflicted through it. Now we could talk about the context of the time in which it was written, which is to say a time in history where slavery was widespread and considered a matter of course even by the victims of slavery, but does this change the content of the pro-slavery verses or the fact that the Bible never challenges the system of slavery? No, it doesn’t. Likewise, what changes about the verses in which homosexual sex is expressly condemned by appealing to the context of the times, or asserting that the authors of the Bible had no concept of homosexuality in their time?
The way the issue of trans rights in the Bible is covered isn’t too much better, even though you can argue that there’s actually a better case for trans-inclusion in the Bible than for particularly enligthened attitudes towards gay people and women – which if we’re honest is kind of saying something weird. A verse apparently used by transphobes to justify their bigotry against trans people is Psalm 139:13-14, which states that God knitted the individual person together in their mothers’ womb. For the Christian transphobe this verse is taken as proof that God fixed the individual gender identity of each person before birth, thus supposedly invalidating trans identity. But in the argument given by the Human Rights Campaign, we’re told that this verse is supposed to mean that God lovingly created everyone such that every part of them was created with dignity, and that there was no textual basis for excluding gender identity. Besides the problem that some might argue that God just gave them the wrong body by, say, giving men the bodies of women thus leading them to be assigned female at birth when really they’re not (I suppose admitting that would raise serious problems for the concept of divine omniscience), and besides the other problem of what happens when children are born with terrible genetic disorders and this is to be interpreted as being “lovingly made”, it doesn’t seem all that clear that the Bible actually does affirm trans identity or the idea that gender identity itself is not a binary. The closest we come to a Biblical affirmation of trans identity is through the eunuchs. On the one hand, Deuteronomy 23:1 says that “men with crushed or severed genitals” may not enter the “assembly of the Lord”. On the other hand, Isaiah 56:4-5 seem to suggest that eunuchs who sufficiently serve God will receive a monument and name “better than sons and daughters” and a name that shall not be cut off, which seems to suggest some special place in God’s eyes. Thus we see that the Old Testament has a rather internally contradictory stance on the role of eunuchs; they can’t enter the “assembly of the Lord”, but at the same time if they serve God loyally God will give them everlasting names and monuments. That said, it is not like the practice of eunuchry is thus endorsed by the Bible, and the law of Deutoronomy is still pretty explicit against eunuchs. The difference is that, in Isaiah, God offers an abrogation of that law on the condition that the eunuchs sacrifice their own prerogatives on behalf of conscientious obedience in keeping God’s Sabbath. On a semi-related note, Deuteronomy, specifically Deutoronomy 22:5, also forbids the practice of cross-dressing. This verse is usually one of the only verses that transphobes can theoretically point to in order to justify their bigotry, and when applied to trans people problems obviously abound. It is textbook transphobic bigotry to assume that trans people are merely “dressing up” as the gender they “aspire to be”, as opposed to outwardly confirming their real inward gender identity, so there isn’t much reason to assume that cross-dressing in itself can be taken as a reference to being transgender. On the other hand, a lot hinges on whether or not the Bible actually affirms the inward gender identity of trans people, which there’s no explicity sign of anywhere in the Bible, and meanwhile the Bible contains legal condemnations of men who castrate themselves and engage in homosexual relationships with men, both of which are practices that, in a lot of the ancient world, were taken as signs of a man casting off his maleness and embracing femininity, thus crossing traditional lines of gender identity.
In Matthew 19:12, Jesus doesn’t seem to condemn eunuchs, and even referred to those who made themselves eunuchs in service of heaven. But, there’s a complication. Firstly, the context of Matthew 19 as a whole is that Jesus is talking about marriage and divorce. Jesus says in Matthew 19:4 that God created humans in male and female, citing Genesis 1:27 to that effect, which at least could conceivably be interpreted as endorsing a gender binary, and in a broader context this is meant as an argument by Jesus against divorce. Jesus argued that Moses merely permited men to divorce their wives because their hearts were hard, and that this was not originally the case, further stating that if a man divorces his wife then, unless he does it in response to “sexual immorality”, he is committing adultery. Second, where the eunuchs come in is that they are among the people who cannot be given to marriage and thus cannot “accept this word”. I shouldn’t really need to explain that being trans does not or at least should not render you incapable of matrimony, but more to the point several Biblical commentaries suggest that eunuch here, or more specifically those who make themselves eunuchs in service of heaven, is likely meant as a reference to celibacy, self-denial, and self-mortification, rather than the castration practiced by the eunuchs. Indeed, the Pulpit Commentary suggests that it cannot refer to literal “excision”, since this is apparently deemed contrary to the order of creation as established by God. Origen, who was accused by Eusebius of having castrated himself, explicitly advocated against literal interpretations of Matthew 19:12 as a counsel to actually castrate yourself. Given this, it’s very unlikely that the Biblical attitude to gender affirmation surgery would have been particularly positive, and there is certainly no express affirmation of the practice that can be pointed to anywhere in the Bible, on top of which it’s reasonable to assume based on the moral condemnation of self-castration and Augustine’s hatred of the priests of Cybele that such a practice would have been condemned as an attack on God’s order.
Through all this let’s return to the subject of Old Testament law and Jesus’ relationship with it. From the perspective of Judaism, the law of the Old Testament was the law set to the Israelites by God, as part of the covenant they made with said God, which the Israelites needed to follow in obedience to God in order to cultivate righteousness and atone for the sin that humanity inherited from Adam and Eve. Jesus was pretty clear on the point that he had no intention of overturning that law or the word of the old Hebrew prophets. That means that the law about how eunuchs wouldn’t be admitted into the assembly of God, the prohibition of homosexual sex, the prohibition of cross-dressing, the rules regarding slavery let alone the very existence of slavery, all of this Jesus had no intention of challenging or abolishing, since his stated mission was to “fulfill” the law and the prophets. So even if he said nothing about LGBT people, that doesn’t matter because he isn’t standing up for them either, since he has no intention of challenging the prohibitions that would have oppressed them.
The ultimate thing to remember is that liberal and progressive efforts to rehabilitate Christianity as a progressive force are essentially a form of Christian apologetics. Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that exists to intellectually defend the Christian faith against objections from various sources. For the early Christian movement, this tended to mean defending the faith against criticism from polytheists as well as defense against accusations of various (often lurid) wrongdoings levelled against Christians. In a more general and traditional sense, it can mean defending Christianity by giving a theoretically rational reason to believe in God or accept the claims of Christian teaching, as well as address serious questions regarding the role that evil and suffering plays in the creation of an otherwise “benevolent” God; in this sense, theodicy (the philosophical vindication of God) functions as a branch of apologetics. But while the usual brands of apologetics have often proven unfashionable, progressive apologetics seems to be popular. And it is apologetics in the most basic sense, just that in this case Christianity is being defended against arguments that Christianity is inherently bigoted, which would undermine the moral legitimacy of the faith. It’s all part of defending Christianity in much the way that it has always been defended, and in the modern context it serves as a way to forestall Christianity’s inevitable demise.
The final point to make as regards progressive apologetics concerns God himself, and strangely enough I find myself seeing it come up from self-described Luciferians. A Gnostic Luciferian who goes by the handle serpentchrist69 objects to the description of God being a tyrant by suggesting that such a description speaks more to the people writing the Bible being problematic than the being inspiring said writing, which is to be balanced against the perceived “good” within the text, and that to call God a tyrant is simply an oversimplistic kneejerk reaction. Well, perhaps it’s worth looking at what God does throughout the Bible. The Old Testament begins with God punishing Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of a tree that probably wouldn’t even be in the garden of Eden if not for him in order to prevent Adam and Eve from joining the gods and becoming immortal. He then declares all the other gods to be unworthy of worship, promises to turn women who aren’t traditionally submissive into burnt deformities, interferes with human free will by hardening people’s hearts, and in this way ensuring the continued persecution and suffering of his own believers, as well as the suffering and deaths of innocent Egyptians, and has repeatedly ordered the genocide and enslavement of non-believers, not to mention all the prohibitions we discussed before. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the idea that the soul will be thrown into a lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels if he does not sufficiently believe in God or his son, and that the world will eventually end with a gruesome Judgement Day in which those who believe will be saved while the unbelievers will be ground in a wine-press by angels or simply damned until the end of the age. It also affirms not only the absolute authority of God but also, based on that, the legitimacy of all earthly authority, which must be obeyed without question. In this context, we can easily see how the picture of God as a tyrant forms on the basis of the scripture devoted to him. You can argue that it’s all just a flawed interpretation of an ineffable divine being forged from the understandings of people with old attitudes, but then it’s impossible to parse God’s actual character this way, and this hardly even gets into how the God who we’re meant to assume is still all good even if his scripture gets him wrong lets suffering and evil run rampant in his own creation or is actively responsible for it as the creator of everything. Besides, a similar argument can and has been made in the context of the gods of polytheism. God’s not special, in this regard.
Here’s the thing: if you give God an inch, he’ll take the whole nine yards. We already saw what happened when even non-Christian progressives put their faith in Pope Francis or more specifically the hope that maybe he’ll reform the Catholic Church to make it more inclusive and accepting, and then it never happened. Instead the church still refuses to support gay marriage, and pushed for the Italian government to not prosecute anti-LGBT hate crimes. The icing on the cake is that there’s still no actual action on the rampant institutional child abuse within the church, and under Francis’ tenure more revelations of more ecclesiastical abuses of children have emerged.
And here’s the other thing: why should we want this? Why should we want a more benign and progressive way to serve YHWH when the point should be to be free from the rule of God and his son? Why should we depend on God to justify the rights of marginalized people when their existence should derive validity from itself and thus their liberation counts for more? Why does society need to defend the legitimacy of Christianity, or at least more particularly the Catholic Church, so badly? Is the thought that perhaps the world might leave Jesus behind, let alone in favour of either the Devil or the gods of old, so unbearable? I think that there seems to be a “need” among certain people to maintain in themselves the idea of Christianity as some sort of positive and even progressive force, rather than question the reason why it merely appears munificent and then freely abandon Christianity. The world, it seems, cannot yet come to grips with the idea, or indeed the reality, that Christianity is a false hope that was cruelly inflicted upon the world.
The last thing I want to say concerns the very Christianized direction being introduced by the Gnostic Luciferian Christopher Williams (a.k.a. serpentchrist69), since it kind of touches into the realm of apologetics I’m discussing here, and to be honest I couldn’t be asked to delegate these matters to a separate article. He appears to see his Luciferianism as a synthesis involving Christianity, his form of Gnostic Luciferianism based on the Valentinian sect of Christianity, which holds the Demiurge to be ultimately a valid part of the cosmos, and insists that God should not be seen as a tyrant. In this, he frames the opposition to Christianity, and any attendant attraction to Satanism, as essentially just a kneejerk response motivated by trauma experienced by the oppression of the church and its authorities. It’s a very American perspective, obviously, not without a modicum of merit, and yet I think it fails to consider that not everything about how people receive and react to religious ideas is about trauma, and not everyone despise Christianity because they were hurt in some way by their Christian parents or community. I was born in a country where people are fairly tolerant when it comes to religion. My parents were and still are Christians but they were never fundamentalists about it (not always really devout for that matter) and they seemed to tolerate people who weren’t straight. But all the same, I never liked Christianity in the overall, and when I was a kid my only connection to Christianity consisted of doing one or two prayers to Jesus to save the rainforests and telling a teacher I believed in Jesus to avoid punishment, meanwhile I refused to go to church the first time I was told to. My hatred of Christianity does not come from trauma. It comes from Christianity. And frankly, I find the more progressive apologia that appeals to trauma in order to make its adherents sound like they “understand” you is actually more annoying that conservative Christian proselytism. The conservative Christian is undeniably toxic and authoritarian, but this new shit where you act like the only thing wrong with Christianity is your parents hurt you in the name of God is an insidious mode of condescending obscurantism, in which you think you can ignore everything wrong with God and his creeds by reducing all objection to it as a mere trauma. Well not every conversation about religion is about trauma let alone some stupid rhetoric about “healing”. To be honest, I don’t think I like what you’re doing, Christopher. You may call yourself a Luciferian, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing so, but as far as I’m concerned the form of Luciferianism you espouse and the way you talk about much of the Left Hand Path, and the things you accuse us of, puts you alongside the dogs of the Christian church, just that you prefer to recuperate the power of transgression in service of God. It’s nothing but liberal Christianity, which is to say a way of restoring or perhaps renewing the hegemony of Christianity, whether that’s in the vain hope of “transcending” it or not.
Why should we pretend that we have no problem with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam just because a couple billion people happen follow these religions, or more accurately are blindly conditioned into it? If your response to Christianity is to perform meaningless apologetics to coddle the masses rather than liberate them then you really have no issue with Christian hegemony except that it’s not sufficiently open to change. Well I don’t care if Christianity “changes”, because my desire is for it wither away, and for mankind to abolish it in themselves of their own free will.
How would the average British person react if I told them that I would rather live in a society where I have to deal with women getting more willing to be violent than a society where I’m not allowed to go out and about past 6pm? Or a society where the only recourse is to put your trust in the state and its enforcers to save us? That’s where my mind turns now that we’re all talking about the police failing to protect women again. This comes after the Metropolitan Police admitted that they had failed to spot the warning signs that indicated Wayne Couzens was planning to rape and murder Sarah Everard, and then released a statement of advice for women who don’t trust certain male officers?
You want to know what the police advice for women being threatened by lone officers was? Literally, it was just call 999, shout out to passersby, run into a house, or wave down a bus. Yeah, if you’re a lady and you think you might be in trouble from a predatory police officer, you’re being expected to call the cops…on the cops. And also wait for someone to come get you, by which point for all you know the predatory cop has already caught up to you. So all that institutional self-reflection that translates to no substantial institutional reform.
But meanwhile, what is our advice to ourselves? I mean, besides everyone telling each other than men in general are the problem, at which point the question still arises as to what to do. There are some who maintain that a curfew, in which men would not be allowed to leave the house after 6pm, is the solution. Putting aside the fact that such a proposal would be so authoritarian as to almost make Soviet Russia look like Switzerland, do you really trust the police to enforce it and protect women, and do you really think it will make the rapes go away? Sure, it might mean less rape and murder on the streets in theory, but what about the rape and murder committed in your own home? What good is telling men they can’t go anywhere if some men will just abuse women when they come home from work anyway?
Some suggest that the answer is to simply vote for a party that wants to reform or fund the police. As I thought about the discourse about police violence, it occurred to me that the Labour Party and its supporters are caught in an obvious contradiction. On the one hand, they seem to acknowledge the issue of police officers responsible for systemic violence against women, not to mention racial minorities. On the other hand, as part of their central focus on the public sector, they tout as their solution to the problem, and crime in general, pumping more money into the police. That in theory means more officers on the beat, which we’re told should mean less crime, but how do we know it doesn’t also mean more Wayne Couzens’ in the force for every “good cop”? Also, when we consider Keir Starmer selling the Labour Party as some kind of “law and order” party, that’s surely be a slap in the face for anyone remotely concerned about the institutional problems of the police. Don’t even bother talking about the Tories. Boris Johnson is out there telling you to just trust the police, so he’s definitely not on your side. And the right’s answer is in general just “more cops”, and completely ruling out any talk of systemic reform in favour of some meaningless rhetoric about individual responsibility. So, “voting for the right party” is truly an empty set of words.
But why do we tell ourselves this stuff anyway? That’s what I’m more interested in than anything. When you talk about how we should encourage women to defend themselves with pepper spray or weapons, some people go at you and think you’re absurd, or even just enabling psychopaths down the line. When you point out that self-defence laws in this country are draconian as fuck, gods forbid start to inquire about the sense of powerlessness that this helps engender, people think of it as ridiculous to even talk about and some will even accuse you patronizing women. Because you know, wanting women to be free and exercise power in their own lives is the same thing as patronizing them, whereas begging the state to oppress as many people as possible isn’t, for some bizarre reason that frankly I’ll never understand. If you can’t trust the state to protect women, since the police as its armed enforcers are clearly going to abuse them and the major political parties won’t do jack shit for you, why not teach each other to rely on ourselves and each other and no one else? Why is this seen as such a ridiculous or even dangerous proposal? Is it not more dangerous to keep relying on the same structures of power that seem to be literally trying to abuse and kill you just so that they can police the behaviour of everyone else?
Still, though, my question remains unanswered. Why do we tell each other this stuff? In my view, it all rests on powerlessness. We do not have any real power over our lives. Brexit has not changed that, despite all the rhetoric about “sovereignty”. Our democratic freedom consists of occasionally voting for alienated representatives to decide our fate on our behalf, while the actual conditions of our lives are totally out of our hands. That’s true for all so-called democracies I suppose, but in our country self-defense is weird. Officially, according to the Criminal Law Act 1967, it is legal to use “such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime”. In theory, you have the right to self-defence. Pepper spray, though, is illegal, and carries the same penalties as owning a gun, which would mean that, as far as the law is concerned, a pepper spray is legally the same thing as a firearm. This is despite the fact that, unlike how a gun can be used, pepper sprays are non-lethal. So self-defence may be legal, but your options for how you defend yourself are pretty limited, at least next to what we might consider to be common sense. We talk so much about what men can do to make women feel safe at night, and it always seems like, when we talk about that conversation, we’d rather do anything except give women the ability to actually fight back against people who might abuse them, like we’re afraid of women becoming aggressive in defence of themselves. And to that end, we continue to put our trust in the same police force that is happy to shield rapists like Wayne Couzens until it is no longer convenient to do so, the same political parties that defend the same institutions and oppose meaningful systemic change, and the expanding power of state control over our lives. All of it seems like a mask for our own powerlessness, a powerlessness which is the only thing that the British person seems to have any pride in. “English liberty” is said to be the chief virtue of British society, but since that “liberty” doesn’t actually exist and almost never has done, the real “virtue” of British society can be more described as “English civility”. Simply put, the British value respectability and civilizational normativity over human life and freedom, and I think that this is unlikely to change.
I’ll be honest, I go out of my way to ignore discussion of Greta Thunberg wherever possible. I find Greta, her supporters, and her detractors to be tiresome actors in the detestable business of bourgeois political theatre. Greta’s supporters will defend her because she’s a bold voice against our idolent response to man-made climate change, and her detractors scorn her for being a childlike voice of radicalism that threatens to warp the freedom of the individual, but for all of that, Greta herself is a pretty mediorce “radical” in my view, and truth be known I think she’s a disappointment.
Some may be expecting me to bash her for being a preacher on the climate change issue, but to tell the truth I don’t truly hate her over climate change. In theory, at least, it’s nice to get some agitation going on the subject of taking action on climate change. The only things that truly before me about that aspect of her activism is the fact that it’s petit-bourgeois in character. And I don’t mean that in the way right-wingers always whine about champagne socialists (although, to their credit, Aaron Bastani is a real person who embodies this trope), I mean in the sense that it only really amounts to the strategy of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois liberalism. It has nothing to do with any kind of mass movement aimed at tearing down the structures that are responsible for our Earth getting turned into an oven to begin with, and is only going to amount to another call for pallid ethical consumerism. And I never really see much in the way of policy substance, at least in terms of fighting climate change, other than perhaps restoring biospheres that are in danger of being destroyed by human activity, and her spiel is mostly just telling people to do something about climate change because we’ve stolen her childhood or something. Not much. Oh and her movement appears to be largely manufactured by capitalists, so there’s that too. But, despite the impression you might get from me saying all this, my primary issue with Greta Thunberg has nothing to do with climate change. Her activism on climate change is perhaps the most defining thing about her at the moment, yes, but I don’t care.
For me, the real problem is how she relates to having on Asperger’s syndrome, which is within the autistic spectrum. She talks about how it helps her think in black and white (as though that is somehow a good thing in itself), think outside the box and see through lies about climate change. She even claims that she would not have been interested in the climate if not for Aspergers syndrome, which is an absurd sentiment to have considering that there has been large scale and highly prolific public interest in the subject of dealing with climate change since before Greta was even born! What infuriates me about this is the damage that Greta’s stance will do to people like me. Being autistic is by and large an impairment, not a blessing. I know I’ve encountered people, both in and out of the autisitc spectrum, who treat it as just a matter of us being different, and that’s technically true but iut’s true for all the wrong reasons. Our ability to develop essential social skills is greatly hampered, our ability to relate to the world is undermined, our brains do not operate in the way that normal humans do, and more often that not it’s to our disadvantage more than it is to our advantage, and we end up being dependent upon others to a larger extent and for much longer than regular people are. We’re not superhumans, we’re not geniuses if we were anything like the media keeps saying we are then all of us autistic people would be demigods, or more aptly we would not have the developmental problems that keep our true potential at bay.
Greta’s stance will allow people to think that having autism grants you some sort of above-average intellect, which to me is simple nonsense. They’re propping us up as natural-born geniuses because one of them is agrees with their homogenous brand of liberal politics. I’ve seen one goon from The Independent even trying to claim that Greta is being attacked with particular vitriol because of her Asperger’s, which is such an unfalsifiable premise that I must simply go with my gut and presume it to be a lie, and I never thought that I’d be accusing someone on the autistic spectrum of lying about autism. If I was as prolific as Greta Thunberg and given the time of day to spout my views on politics, they would never treat me the same way and they would not fantasize about autistic people being superhumans, because I despise a great deal of what the liberal elite stands for. And if anyone, say, advocated for there being a cure for autistic disorders, as I would like to see, such people would be slandered and demonized by those ghouls, even though the pro-cure position is, at least in my view, the most compassionate position you can think of. Ah but of course, I should have known by now, compassion is simple bigotry when it impedes the progress of liberal hegemony.
That in a nutshell is my opinion of Greta Thunberg: a thoroughly boring climate change activist who is uninterested in the idea of the mass movement undertaking collective action against capitalism but gets paraded around as the darling of the Earth, who also has this absurd belief that Asperger’s syndrome is her power source in all this and will probably serve as a rallying cry for people who value the fetish of neurological diversity over compassion and deceny. I dislike her, plain and simple.
Though, that being said, I don’t think she’s worthy of some of the nastier stuff I keep hearing her being subjected to, and I find the conservative scaremongering over her views to be ridiculous and absurd, and their memes against her seem to reflect that absurdity. But then I can’t say I trust them to talk about what really matters to me: from what I understand, they’ve been using her Asperger’s syndrome to cast her as mentally ill. What a class act these right-wingers are, aren’t they? And some of the conspiracy theories they’ve been peddling about her are ridiculuous. Many of them seem to believe that Greta is actually a victim of child abuse, and there’s even a Federalist article that claims that her movement is basically a revival of paganism. That kind of tells me all I need to know about how the right wants to approach this.
Much has been made of Boris Johnson’s decision last week to suspend parliament until October 14th if MPs attempt to block a no-deal Brexit, and, to be honest, for a while I’ve had very little say on the matter. But there is something that, perhaps, is worth saying on the subject. Though, to be honest, the best way to summarize my own thoughts on the subject is simply this: I don’t care, or at least I can’t say I care too much.
A lot of liberals and the left (much as I dread to call them the left) in my country have rallied behind the sentiment the proroguing of parliament represents a blatant attack on the British democratic system, and to be fair the fact that Boris Johnson invoked the monarchy in order to do so would seem to be the greatest symbol of this, and as a republican I do have big problems with the fact that we have to have our affairs decided by a monarch rather than, say, a president. But, in the long run, this critique is riddled with problems, for it is in practice hypocritical. Prorogation is certainly not a normal process, but there are a few instances of it having happened before, and to relatively little fanfare. Clement Atlee, the prime minister under whom our beloved NHS was established, prorogued parliament in 1948 in order to pass the Parliament Act of 1949, which was intended to curtail the power of the Lords over the government. And most crucially, in 1997, John Major, who is now one of the leading opponents of Boris Johnson’s prorogation, himself prorogued parliament in order to avoid a debate over the cash-for-questions scandal and a report related to the subject. But now that Boris Johnson is proroguing parliament in order to enable a no-deal Brexit without being impeded by opposition, let alone with royal support, this is being treated as a threat to democracy, on the grounds that the will of parliament (not the people, conspicuously enough) is being denied. Really? This is what we’re running with?
Furthermore, to say that democracy is under attack is a rather foolish point to make because by now the idea that we have a democracy has been shown to be an illusion. Just the fact that a monarch can be invoked to exercize authority over popular government should already tell you that our democracy is hollow, fake and even fraudulent in character, but the fact that our democratic will as regards the original 2016 referendum can be so brazenly disregarded by our elected officials in the first place, namely the MPs who have fought to cancel Brexit since 2016, tells you that our democracy is a joke. And really, let’s touch on that. Why are the same people who argued that the democratic will of the British people should be negated because the people were misinformed by racist propaganda, thus bringing democratic exercise under the heel of the elite, now suddenly whining that democracy is being undermined by the elite? They never cared about democracy to begin with, they didn’t want it as long as it meant people voting against their desires, and now they’re going to tell us how much they care about democracy? What kind of fool do you take me for?
So in sum, I don’t care about the prorogation of parliament as it stands.
I’ve been seeing a lot of memes lately about a Democratic Party presidential candidate named Marianne Williamson, specifically memes that surround her being a witch or someone who believes in magic. This seems to be following the second Democratic Party debate that took place on Thursday, where he she was one of the candidates debating the other candidates. Her appearance has apparently resulted in her becoming one of the most Googled candidates out of the current roster, suggesting that she’s garnered a surge in popular interest and attracted widespread curiosity. Well now, I thought Tulsi Gabbard being a Hindutva stooge was interesting news, but I don’t think I was expecting an alleged witch to be running for office as well. Maybe I should have, to be honest, given how strange politics is becoming. But anyway, I think we need to talk a little about this just because of how peculiar it is. Who is this Marianne Williamson, and why is she a big deal now?
From what I’ve been able to gather, Marianne Williamson seems to be a self-help guru, the author of several books, many of which focus on the subject of what seems to be New Age spirituality, and at one point ran a shop that has been described as a “metaphysical bookstore” with a cafe inside. She also runs an online course called The Aphrodite Training where, for a $149 free, you will supposedly go through a sort of re-enactment of the Hero’s Journey centering around “the Goddess” with the aim of cultivating spiritual love. So, if you’re wondering, my guess is this what people mean when they call her a witch – she’s a New Ager who talks about love, healing and goddesses and some such things. Her work is also praised by people like Deepak Chopra, so if you ever needed a solid tell that you’re dealing with a bullshit artist, here it is. Her politics seems to be quite firmly in the progressive camp of US politics, with her positions including support for a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, DACA, tightening restrictions of gun ownership, the Green New Deal, and other fairly standard progressive positions, but with the added bonus of being one of those reparations kooks who thinks the US should give $100 billion to the descendants of slavery ($10 billion over the course of ten years). Oh and she’s also an apparent opponent of mandatory vaccinations, having described the idea of as “Orwellian”, and when challenged on this she backpeddled and she said that she didn’t mean it like that. In addition she’s also one of those really annoying people who’s very clearly a liberal but insists that she’s “neither left wing nor right wing”. It’s worth noting that her present candidacy is not her only attempt to run for political office. In 2014, she ran as an independent for Congress, seeking to win California’s 33rd congressional district, but failed to achieve electoral victory despite being backed by major wealthy celebrities. She came in fourth place and the district was won by Republican candidate Elan Carr. Basically, we have a failed congressional candidate now trying to run for the highest office in the United States. Well I suppose Donald Trump losing his first presidential bid as a Reform Party candidate didn’t hold him back.
So what makes her present candidacy so special (I mean other than her being an anti-vaxxer), and why is she getting so much attention? Well, during the debate, she had some very peculiar things to say. Here is one choice quote:
Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten just somebody who has plans. He’s going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what this man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes. So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win.
Yes. Williamson’s plan for defeating Trump is to talk about how love will win the day, how she’s going to climb to power by talking about love, whatever the hell that means to her. This is a very interesting sign, because to me it means she’s not particularly interested in talking about actual policy, or politics, but instead on, well, feelings. That’s not how you win against a guy whose best strategy is to marshall the instinctive fears of the masses by speaking to real, material realities for the American proletariat (albeit somehow managing to do so without actually talking about class in any real way). It reminds me so much of that time when folk singer James Twyman announced that he was going to try and fight ISIS by serenading them with his music, and in a way it seems to be exactly the same type of bullshit. She also insists that actual policy substance doesn’t count for anything, having said during the debate, “if you think we beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming”. Yes, forget about about trying to defeat right-wing populism through actual policies pertaining to, because it won’t be enough if we don’t talk about love. Indeed her lack of concern for material politics is reflected in her initial annoucement that she intends to run for President back in January, when she said that nothing short of “a moral and spiritual awakening in the country” will be able to fix the problems faced by America.
But is that all? What more can we learn about her particular brand of spirituality? Well, following her appearance in the debates, people have been searching her on the Internet as I mentioned before, and part of that meant people looking for her posts on Twitter to get a decent idea of her. As you’ll see shortly, her beliefs appear to be, in typical New Age fashion, a spiritual ideology of navel-gazing white light spiritualism that takes cues from both Christianity and Wicca, at least in rhetoric anyway. There’s a lot of tweets so let’s focus on just a few highlights. First there’s her take from 2011 on how apparently we’re aliens from another dimension:
Everyone feels on some level like an alien in this world, because we ARE. We come from another realm of consciousness, and long for home.
Then there’s her take from last year about the mind-body problem:
The most important things in life are not visible to the physical eye. It’s only when we soul-explode beyond the confines of the mortal self, expanding the boundaries of what we think is real, that we begin to glimpse the truth of who we are and why we’re here.
Then there’s her thesis on how best to relate to the current political situation:
If you want a simple explanation for what’s happening in America, watch AVATAR again.
Her assurance that prayer (or rather, “visualization”) is the best way to deal with natural disasters:
Terrible wildfires burning in Sweden. Let’s all pray for/visualize massive rain there. (The mind is that powerful.)
Also it involves angels:
Visualize the oil spill plugged. Close your eyes for 5 minutes and see angels coming over it, filling it with sane and sacred thoughts. #fb
It plays quite a big part of how she thinks we should deal with serious diseases:
God is BIG, swine flu SMALL. See every cell of your body filled with divine light. Pour God’s love on our immune systems. Truth protects.
Visualization also seems to be part of her solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict:
See a golden chord connect the heart of the Arab and the heart of the Israeli. See it joining them soul to soul. Imagine them one in spirit
Being one of those New Age hacks, she’s also one of those people who has the exact same abysmal take on depression as Andrew Tate:
Sadness is not a disease. We don’t need pharmaceuticals to get through a dark night of the soul.
And a terrible take on any negative feeling ever:
In any moment of negative feeling, stop for 10 to 20 seconds and name all the things you’re grateful for. (It stops the psychic bleed.) #fb
She has one of those Jordan Peterson-esque takes on how to handle chaos:
The world is chaos. The only antidote to chaos is to cultivate your inner world. You can’t exit chaos from consciousness which is chaotic.
Don’t worry about everything in the cosmos trying to kill you:
The universe literally loves you.
Politics for her seems to just be spiritual warfare:
Just beneath the surface, this isn’t politics it’s black magic. Entirely a psychic battle. Use your shield of Virtue and your sword of Truth
And lastly I’m guessing this is where people get the witch label most of all, because here she sounds like a Wiccan:
The Goddess doesn’t just dance under the moon on the night of a Solstice. She fiercely protects the children of the earth, and so should we.
What we’re dealing with is a classic case of New Age quackery here, a New Age spiritualist framework that tells you that the answer to life’s problems is, basically, to just change your feelings about them or think about angels and goddesses and shit. Feeling depression? Just stop being sad. Feeling sick? Visualize divine beings coming to your aid and feel happy. Natural disasters? Picture the archangel Gabriel pouring water over everything. World peace? Close your eyes and imagine the Jews and the Arabs deciding to kiss and make up. It’s utter nonsense.
The whole thing gets worse when you consider Williamson’s past. In trying to find out just what she meant by “visualization”, I came across some information about how, during the 1990s, Williamson was apparently one of those people who used to tell gay people who suffered from AIDS that they didn’t have to take their medicine, insisting that God would cure them if they had perfect faith in their own ability to cure themselves, telling them “The AIDS virus is not more powerful than God” . Of course, she conveniently denies this.
It is rather curious to see the liberal media fawn over her in the way that they presently are (except for The Daily Beast apparently), whether out of genuine appreciation for her message of love-conquers-all or simply a cynical joke aimed at bringing mocking spotlight to what is clearly the eccentric of the bunch. In fact it’s all pretty bewildering to learn that, despite all that I’ve just shown you, Williamson has garned quite a few celebrity supporters other the years. To name just a few, there’s Gwyneth Paltrow, David Geffen, David Hockney, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicole Riche, Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Ventura (oh how could you!), Eva Longoria, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman and Frances Fisher. But starlet or not, I wouldn’t worry about her too much. She may be somewhat popular now, but I suspect that this will not last. She will most likely be beaten out of the race by pretty much any of the other candidates, even Tulsi Gabbard stands more of a chance than her. Sure she’ll attract the quack, spiritualist and wine mom vote, but we all know that doesn’t count for much. If she does manage to make though, then honestly America is fucked because she’ll just get crushed by Donald Trump.
Now some day I do intend to write a post about the 2020 Democratic Party candidates in greater detail, because I have a lot to say about them, quite a few of them in particular (especially Joe Biden, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Mike Gravel), but for now I’ll just say this: if you’re going to vote Democrat, just vote for Bernie Sanders already! He’s far from perfect, but damn it, he’s probably the best chance you’re going to get at having even a remote change from the present economic order that America has – I dare say maybe the last chance Americans have of doing so through the mechanisms of normal politics.
QUICK UPDATE: It has come to my attention that Marianne Williamson has been getting a new source finanical support from a seemingly unexpected source: The Republican Party. After her appearance on Thursday’s debate, many Republicans have begun expressing their desire for her to stay in the deabtes, and have been urging fellow Republicans to donate to her campaign to ensure that she does. Of course, it’s not hard to guess what’s going on. Either they’ve found someone so outwardly and incontrovertibly ridiculous that they think she’ll lose if she goes against Donald Trump so they want to make sure that she has a fighting chance at winning the Democratic primaries, or they think she’ll succeed in making the Democratic Party look ridiculous which might still help the Republicans secure victory.
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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