Thursday, May 15, 2008

Satanism and politics: Question for Julian Karswell and other LaVey-based Satanists

Recently Julian Karswell, a LaVey-based symbolic Satanist, has posted friendly comments both here on this blog and on my LiveJournal blog. I appreciate his friendly attitude, although he and I evidently disagree on many things.

Like many of today's public or semi-public LaVeyans, he seems to see his Satanism primarily in societal and political terms, as an advocacy of political views consistent with LaVey's attitudes. Of course, this implies a definition of "Satanism" itself as "the worldview of Anton LaVey," a definition I staunchly reject.

I was intrigued to come across the following admission on Julian Karswell's website, regarding one of his societal goals: "This cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism."

In general, I've noticed that LaVeyans (and even some non-LaVeyan Satanists, for that matter) have a knack for picking political agendas which, in most cases, not only "cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism," but which also cannot be achieved without the support of all those right wing Protestant fundamentalist/evangelical Christians who believe that Karl Marx was a Satanist.

This leads me to ask two questions:

1) If your social and political agenda "cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism," then why call it "Satanism" at all?

2) What kind of political or social agenda could be achieved under the name of Satanism -- or, at least, would not be significantly hurt by association with the label "Satanism"?

I'll leave it to Julian Karswell, and to any other LaVeyans who happen to be reading this, to try to answer the first question. I'll try to address the second question, which I personally find much more interesting.

To what kind of social or political cause could the figure of Satan, seen in a positive or at least non-negative way, actually be relevant and appropriate in a way that large numbers of people could appreciate?

The only conceivable such cause, in today's world, would be one which calls public attention to the threat posed by the growing power of those religions which believe in a Devil (as a figure of absolute evil), i.e. the more conservative forms of Christianity and Islam. A successful "Satanism"-related social movement would need to focus on - and satirically revel in - the way in which many of the values of modern secular society are vilified by fundamentalists, both Christian and Muslim, as "Satanic." (Sort of like the Church Lady, for those old enough to remember.) It would need to appeal to a significant fraction of the many people who do not believe in a Devil.

And the vast majority of such people are leftists, liberals, or political moderates. For the most part, they are not right-wingers. Thus, LaVey's right wing views, on many issues, are completely counterproductive in terms of a social agenda that is, in any way, publicly identified with a label like "Satanism."

By the way, Julian Karswell's campaign "against charities involved in social intervention," if successful at all, is likely to affect primarily secular charities. It is not likely to have much effect on religious charities, especially fundamentalist/evangelical-oriented charities, except perhaps to cause some reshuffling of personnel. Thus, its main social impact would be to strengthen fundamentalism.

P.S., 5/17/2008: Julian apparently lives in the U.K., judging by the U.K. references in many of the posts on his blog. As I'll explain later, it does make sense to me for Satanists in the U.K. to support what are now considered right wing positions on various issues, such as immigration policy. But things are very different here in the U.S.A. More about this later, probably on my Wordpress.com blog.

6 comments:

julian-karswell said...

Karswell Responds!

Thanks for the namecheck and the respect, Diane.

We do disagree on some points, but I believe we have more in common. I particularly respect the hard-hitting intelligent aspect of your blog.

I’d like to deal with your points in turn.

1) “he seems to see his Satanism primarily in societal and political terms, as an advocacy of political views consistent with LaVey’s attitudes”

Personally I see Satanism as a journey. My view of Satan is an evolving one, and one in which I see Satan as sometimes an aspect of nature, and sometimes as being the dark and hidden (and socially unacceptable) face of God. I percieve Satan to be the dark and rising aspect of a force which is, in its entirety, a mystery beyond human comprehension, so all labels are by necessity, vague.

However, the purpose of Opus Diaboli, its website and its blog are exactly as you describe – to put the Satanic perspective into societal and political terms.

2) “I was intrigued to come across the following admission on Julian Karswell's website, regarding one of his societal goals: "This cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism."

I stand by this. The phrase ‘Satanism’ is still too redolent of Dennis Wheatley and Hammer Horror films for the herd to take it seriously as either a religion or as a serious standpoint from which to frame policy. This will change, but the time is not yet. For example, those that those who would advocate eugenics, can never get a serious hearing for their ideas, because whenever the subject is raised, the emotional arguments are always immediately put forward that the road to eugenics must always lead to Belsen and Dachau. You can’t win an emotional argument. I believe that the public need to be sensitised to Satanic arguments through the infiltration of existing ‘respectable’ political movements.

3) “If your social and political agenda "cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism," then why call it "Satanism" at all?”
Because it is Satanism. If you think it is not possible to achieve one set of aims under the flag of another, simply look at most universities during the 1950s and 1960s (certainly in England and Europe, but to a lesser extent in the USA). Revoltionary communism was propogated and interpolated into the structures of the education system. These ideas became so embedded that in some universities and in some subjects that they have become ‘othodoxies’ which persist to the present day – find me a social worker or a probation officer with a right-wing outlook. None of this was done in the name of Marxism, but always in the name of ‘social justice’.

4) “What kind of political or social agenda could be achieved under the name of Satanism -- or, at least, would not be significantly hurt by association with the label "Satanism"?”
I refer you to the above answer – I think an overtly Satanic organisation could not successfully promote a political and social agenda. We need to do it by stealth and by subversion. That is the purpose of Opus Diaboli.

5) “By the way, Julian Karswell's campaign "against charities involved in social intervention," if successful at all, is likely to affect primarily secular charities. It is not likely to have much effect on religious charities, especially fundamentalist/evangelical-oriented charities, except perhaps to cause some reshuffling of personnel. Thus, its main social impact would be to strengthen fundamentalism.”
I have modest hopes for the Anticharity campaign. I don’t expect to damage religious charities much except where people of no religious conviction give to them. My primary target is where secular charities are being used to carry out social intervention. These charities are often funded or assisted by government to carry out social welfare schemes in ways that are either constitutionally unacceptable, or which the public would not stand still for. It also has the aim of showing that ‘compassion’ is now a major industry and that the dollars people give to charities are more frequently spent on the six-figure salaries of marketing men, than on the humanitarian projects they think they are endorsing.

6) “Julian apparently lives in the U.K., judging by the U.K. references in many of the posts on his blog. As I'll explain later, it does make sense to me for Satanists in the U.K. to support right wing positions on various issues, primarily immigration. But things are very different here in the U.S.A.”
Right both times. I have the dubious pleasure of living in the UK under the Stalinist heel of Commisar Brown. In the UK the Christian church is a spent force, populated by either ‘ladies in hats’ or zealous young losers who think that crashing a tambourine about for an hour and then having a glass of orange juice is a good way to spend a Sunday morning. The religious right is not the serious threat to the freedom of the individual that it is in the UK (although Muslim fundamentalism is becoming a threat).

I have great sympathy for Satanists in the USA who must chose between voting Democrat, and seeing the country sent down the same socialism-lite road to ruin that England and Canada have gone down, or voting Republican and ushering four more years of people who believe that the world was made in seven days 5,000 years ago.

Again, thanks for the opportunity to explain some of my ideas. I hope we can continue to correspond.

Regards
Julian Karswell

Diane Vera said...

I've replied here, in the last section of this post on my Wordpress.com blog.

julian-karswell said...

Re: your critique of my comments, I would broadly agree with you except on a fewpoints.

1) When I talk about Satanism on my website and blog, it is about the kind of Satanism I believe in and have outlined over the past two years. I don't believe that you have to agree with me to 'be a Satanist' and one of the things I value about Satanism is the broadness of the beliefs its encompasses and the tolerance for such diversity.

2)I'd like to quibble over the use of the word 'orthodoxy'. I use it in the sense that it is a view endorsed by authority, and I can make the difference between orthodoxy and scientific fact thus: when it was proved that the sun remained static relative to the earth, the Catholic Church continued to maintain that it was the sun that revolved around the earth. An orthodoxy is saying 'this is right because we say so' whereas the work of Copernicus was demonstrable fact. While I may have over-egged the pudding to say all orthodoxies are wrong, I would still say they should all be challenged.

This issue of political influence in the global warming (sorry- climate change) scam is a complex one. While there may be a Republican in the White House, many of the people administering government grants are not political appointees. Also, while some scientists clearly do have an agenda to prove climate change, they are not the danger. The danger comes from a vocal minority of 'environmental campaigners' who are have fallen off the extreme-left bandwagon, and see environmentalism as a way of curbing capitalism and globalisation. They are using pressure to put climate change into every policy issue. The truth is there is no proof that the so-called evidence of climate change is anything but good, old fashioned weather.

3) Yes, I do mean revolutionary communism. Many University lecturers during the 1960s and 1970s were card-carrying communists whose intention was to cause a breakdown in society so that a Marxist-Leninist revolution could take place. Bear in mind what was happening in Cuba and Vietnam and Korea at the time - they really thought it was going to happen.

4)You're probably right about underestimating what is called the 'charismatic' movement within modern Christianity in the UK. It is growing, but England is much more cynical about religion and religious loonies than America is, and it will be a long time before issues of religion become the kind of poltical football it is in the USA.

5) I don't know of anywhere where Capitalism is pure or unfettered. It strikes me that any system that is pure and unfettered, can only be bad for people in the long run. My point is that in the UK, Canada and in many European countries the idea that being poor is a consequence of an unfair society has had a good, long run and has become (if I can use the word) an orthodoxy. As a result, if you didn't pay attention at school, if you got knocked up at 14, if you don't really feel like getting up at 6.30 on a January morning and going to work, or if you want have more children than you can afford - you get to put your hand in my pocket.

Diane Vera said...

Julian wrote: "one of the things I value about Satanism is the broadness of the beliefs its encompasses and the tolerance for such diversity."

I'm glad to hear that the Satanists you've encountered are tolerant of diverse beliefs. Most of the Satanists I've encountered in real life, e.g. at meetings of NYC Satanists, Luciferians, Dark Pagans, and LHP Occultists, seem tolerant too.

However, most of the more visible public Satanists are furiously intolerant. Quite a few of the more visible Church of Satan folks, for example, insist that the one and only one true Satanism is the worldview of Anton LaVey. They even go so far as to be fiercely offended by the term "LaVeyan Satanism," on the grounds that it implies there could possibly be such a thing as non-LaVeyan Satanism. As far as they're concerned, those of us who don't fit their definition of "Satanism" are not "Satanists" but "Devil worshipers," whom they scapegoat in much the same way that all too many Wiccans have scapegoated Satanists.

I'll reply to other parts of your comment, sometime during the next couple of days. Since my reply will be rather long, I'll probably be posting it on my Wordpress.com blog rather than here. (Here on Google/Blogspot, I haven't yet found a way to hide portions of a long post on the main page.)

Diane Vera said...

To Julian: I finally got around to replying here, on my Wordpress.com blog. Sorry about the delay in replying to your comment.

Diane Vera said...

To Julian:

In addition to the above-mentioned Wordpress.com post replying to your second comment above, I've now written another post on Wordpress.com, Satanisms and politics: More about Julian Karswell’s blog, commenting on some of the older posts on your blog.