Over the past few months we have received a number of manuscripts and zines which have been no more than re-hashes of Satanist Anton LaVey's "philosophy", filled with the same empty posturing and lack of any real substance beyond the juvenile "let's shock them" stance. It seems evident that some people perceive us as being "Satanically" inclined. We are not. We are interested in manifestations of occulture in all its forms, but we have little sympathy with some of the recent trends in that field.
This is an attempt at clarification.
LaVey, the self-styled founder of the Church of Satan, has always been more carnival than carnivore and his "occult" writings in particular, rather than showing a "great mind" generally display little more than his ageing roots. For LaVey, image seems to be everything. Behind all his homilies about "individualism" and "liberty" the reality of LaVey's philosophy discloses someone who is entirely trapped within a constraining net of his own construction. The Church of Satan's "eternal values" are just another way of saying that their philosophy hasn't progressed one iota in 30 years. And what is that philosophy?
LaVey claims it to be a true counterpoint and challenge to the Christian Church, as though by proclaiming himself the arch-enemy he can trigger some kind of evolutionary upsurge in his followers. We see it rather differently. The C.o.S. has remained perennially in a backwater, shouting down occultists and pagans as well as Christians whilst the black-clad legions persist in reinforcing the dualistic dynamic that LaVey says he is so much against.
The real content of LaVey's ideas can be summed up in a couple of lines which, more or less, are: do what you want; don't get caught; the end justifies the means; and (rather more useful) don't be a mug.
Beyond this, his rites and rituals are simply theatrical parody and window dressing, confused and contradictory. He and his followers like to rail against occultists using "god-names" and complex formulae, and then spatter their own work with at least as many as Crowley ever did. We know the value of a bit of psychodrama, but really - you'd be better off reading Dennis Wheatley.
But to take the basic tenet of the C.o.S.:
On the surface, this idea of doing what you want and not getting caught might sound attractive, but in the longer term it only results in a way of living that provides short-term gains for long-term loss. It's the old junkie syndrome (so well described by William Burroughs) of needing ever greater resources for ever smaller returns. Eventually you burn down your supply lines and have to ship out. In a straight mathematical sense it doesn't work and no pleading with Christ or Satan is going to change that. It's because of this basic fault in his thinking that LaVey remains in a time warp and quite literally can't move on. He has tied himself to one particular drug and dare not move for fear of losing the intravenous feed.
And the drug isn't even particularly sustaining. LaVey isn't a fool, but he does leech of those who are; which means, by the way, that he needs to surround himself with fools if he is to maintain his position. That's the net of his own making. And again, that's why in 30 years he hasn't progressed a single new idea: there's no room for exchange in his world. LaVey's "philosophy" is, for all his worldly claims, one of atrophy and personal cowardice. Find a rut, and sit tight 'til it's all over.
In many of the Satanic writings we have looked at there is a general equating of personal development with genetic dominance: the weak shall be crushed by the strong (yawn yawn) who will rule like the Men (and it is men, usually, isn't it?) of Steel that they surely are. It's all delightfully abstract - but what happens if we actually try to apply it?
In fact you can never achieve even the first stage. LaVey, along with supremacists of whatever shading, is selling a dream that is as tissue thin as any ever seen on a carnival side show. You start off by cutting away at the weakest root. OK. Look again. You still have a weakest root (however you want to define it). Cut it away, and the next, and the next. It's a perfect programme for self-destruction, on whatever scale you look at it. It is no surprise that LaVey has spawned a number of neo-right groups. His "philosophy" is the meat and drink of such organisations - the never ending search for scapegoats, the ennobling of violence, the failure to really look at oneself, the harking back to "traditional" "values", the refusal to shift position however untenable and outdated it becomes. Whilst we are not in favour of crude psychoanalysis, we have to laugh at the perpetual promotion of all this "Hate Is Good", "War Is Good", "Might Is Right", "Everyone Is Stupid (except me)". Even toddlers get over their tantrums. Perhaps what we should be doing is trying to examine what it is about the existing social order that makes people feel so powerless in the first place?
Despite the rhetoric about Satanists having to "make it" in "the real world" there is a lingering hatred of the people that exist in it. Misanthropy might be groovy, but it can only really occur in a complex industrialised society based (on some level) on co-operation. If everyone really was living by the laws of the jungle it would be a bit of a bugger getting hold of the latest shoddy Nordic Black Metal CD, wouldn't it?
Our magick is about integration, not disintegration. It's learning about change and incorporating new maps within one's own consciousness as we grow. It has never been an "end of the millennium, one-enemy battle to the death". That would be pointless - there's nothing left at the end.
LaVey talks about striking out at his enemies, ignoring the most basic truth that "Magick Defends Itself". Might is hardly ever right - you only have to look around the world to see that. The Satanist's universe is a cocoon of illusion that is the ultimate off-the-peg prison for anyone who embraces it. It even comes complete with a library, jewellery and posters, and a selection of music for all you real non-conformists out there who feel the need to fit in.
But what is even more notable, and acts as confirmation of the above, from the horse's mouth, is the current propaganda propagated by the Church of Satan and those inspired by it. If you ignore the endless kow-towing to LaVey what you get for your money is a large dollop of the politics of repression and control. Guns are great, violence is great, cops are great, nazis are....except we often stop right there, don't we? If we see one more article that hedges towards Hitler, but then just pulls away and says:
"uh, oh well I'm just exploring this forbidden knowledge/I mean, I'm into the runes and so were the SS, but just because I'm wearing this swastika and this leather coat doesn't make me a nazi/oh no, it's an ancient symbol you know/anyway I hate everybody regardless of race/and when I said the masses should be wiped out I didn't mean in concentration camps/I hate all this Political Correctness/have you heard this CD? the singer burned down a church/and oh yes they do say they hate Jews as well, but you know/that's rock and roll/anyway it's just a paradigm I'm adopting for magickal reasons/I thought you said you were a free-thinker?"..........
This section of the underground is so afraid of the world all it can do is attack it. It relies on outdated Darwinistic thinking in order to justify itself and has no concept whatsoever of developing a coherent and productive means of living, despite its supposed view that life, here and now, is what it's all about. By claiming to be the shadow of society it seems to be trying to make a statement about corrupt thinking, but it has become so enmeshed in its own myths that it has become as dogmatic, reactionary and dualistic as its arch enemy. This has forever been a problem of picking enemies as the reason for your existence. You end up playing their tune whether you like it or not. "Do you want a Total War?" Er no, thanks. How about a nice cup of tea?
If Satanism is a "philosophy of power" then it is a poor one. Power shifts across the globe century by century, but it never seems to come to the small group of men that publish so much black and red material. For the last 2000 years virtually all of the people and groups that have held onto power for any length of time have held beliefs nudging closer to the despised Christianity than any proto-Nietzschean ideology. Of course, the wiser Satanists like Boyd Rice and LaVey get around this by saying that the Christian warlords are actually crypto-Satanists, milking their flock by deception. But if that's the case, why bother? And if it's power that you're really after, why talk about it instead of acquiring it? (And you really do have to choose between the two.) The Vatican and the Cistine Chapel compared to LaVey's lair and a copy of the latest zine? Tough choice!
And power over what, who? Power over yourself seems a little too easy. Certainly not power over the State - you can't even read Satanic literature in most prisons if the whining reports in the zines we've read are anything to go by. Power over Joe the plumber, paid up member of the unthinking masses so despised by the black clad elite? Joe just nods and gets on with the job. He reckons the guy upstairs with the beard and the weird symbols is a little odd, but he always pays his bills on time and seems quite shy. Oh, I was forgetting - it's power over The Dark Forces - so terrible as to be incomprehensible to those not "of the blood". Don't go up to the Johnson house - strange things happen there. Well, if we're going to pick roles here - baggsie us Scooby Doo when he unmasks the evil fairground owner.
Satanism is elitist. This is not the same thing as what is claimed by many Satanists - that they are the elite. Basically what we have is a stratified system with the gurus at the top, their messengers on the next level and the mass who consume the products of those above them underneath. If you replace the guru level with say, a gameshow host or Madonna and then have the messengers as the tabloids you can see that all it is really is a microcosm of popular culture. One for the Chaos Magickians to ponder on, though I doubt that many of them will choose to adopt the paradigm of the latter - it would just look untrendy then. Real elites don't spend all their time going on about their superiority. They don't have to. Nobody wants to come up against the SAS, because they are actually a pretty hard bunch of highly-trained lads. Anybody with any real experience of Satanists loses the initial "crikey - these chaps worship The Devil!" shock value and just wants them to get out of the way to the bar.
Satanists are evil until the cops come. At which point the baphomets get put back into the cupboard and it's all smiley faces and whatnot. For a philosophy based on indulgence there seem to be a hell of a lot of proviso's. No morality, but hurting children and animals (except for food - and that's just the animals, your honour) is "wrong". No drugs because they blur the senses (er, except alcohol for some inexplicable reason - though I'm sure this has nothing to do with the acceptance of the unthinking masses of such a narcotic). Occasionally you'll see some discussion in the literature about how some act couldn't have been committed by a "real satanist" and we're straight back to some vicar saying that "real Christians" wouldn't have killed in the name of God. It's the glamour of being the bad guys without any of the come-backs. Not a bad racket, but really - you begin to wonder what the point of it all is.
Our magick is different. We want to explore our own weaknesses and strengths, relate them to each other and not care too much about cultivating an image. We've learnt that it's pointless presenting some fixed 100% correct ideology for everyone to follow - you just look silly when something comes along to change your mind - and we love that moment dearly. You won't find us making grandiose proclamations about the state of the world. We don't need to make a lot of noise, though we can if we have to. We know that real magick is often very quiet. It doesn't matter if no-one knows who we are, because the name of the game isn't fame. It's evolution. The slow progress of humans through time, hopefully integrating more and more, and learning how not to fuck things up, learning how not to kill ourselves, learning how not to take the given moment as the only possible reality. Sometimes the questions we ask are more important than the answers.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death. The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle. A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall. The soft and weak will overcome."
The original version of this article was pubished by T.O.P.Y. Station 23
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