February 23, 2016

Satanism & Racism, part 2: the Eleven Rules of the Earth

Click here to read:
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4

So, for folks who are new to this blog, one of the things I talk about is Satanism. If you're not up for this kind of discussion, then you know where to find the exit. At any rate, this is a continuation of a broader discussion in which I talk about why Satanism is in fact compatible with left-leaning political views and why it's not un-Satanic to participate in the political process and protest personally undesirable and even unhelpful cultural and national paradigms.

Now, chances are that if you read the aforementioned post, or you're already a Satanist and are familiar with these things, then you've noticed something of a disconnect between the bombastic explosion of the 9 Satanic Statements and the 11 prudent rules outlined below. How does one reconcile these things? Well, to take a line from Captain Barbossa, "they're more like guidelines than actual rules."  As I mentioned in part one of this four-part series, this isn't about cherry-picking essays or statements from Doktor LaVey, Magus Gilmore, and other Satanic luminaries. Instead, this is about, "What is Satanism? What are its core tenets?" And, if we invoke the words of Captain Barbossa, how do we as Satanists interpret these rules as guidelines for living Satanically?

Without further delay, let's get into this discussion by simply outlining the 11 Rules of the Earth:
  1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
  2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
  3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
  4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
  5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
  6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
  7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
  8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
  9. Do not harm little children.
  10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
  11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.
Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.

Easy peasy: don't make the mistake of thinking that anybody wants to hear what you have to say. Not only do you set yourself up for the Satanic sin of solipsism (which will be discussed in the next entry), but you're also potentially losing useful connections before you've even made them. You have no way of knowing what people know about you before you open your mouth, but you can be certain what they know about you after you start broadcasting it. This is an important element of lesser magic and learning to manipulate others for your advantage: It's better to err on the side of caution and let others assume the best (or suffer under the weight of their prejudice), than it is to show yourself to be somebody other than who they already think they know. This rule is frequently thrown at Satanists who choose to protest social or political problems, but then, following this rule in all things is also a good way to end up keeping your mouth shut and never saying anything to anybody. And since when have Satanists ever shied from accusing and opposing those who deserve an outpouring of fiery wrath? Never. Which is to say, choose your battles wisely.

Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.

Again: Unless you know that the other person really wants to hear about your latest drama, just keep your fucking mouth shut. First, When you complain to others, you're burdening them with your personal suffering. When you place your burdens on another person in this way, a few things happen. First, in the realm of lesser magic, you deliberately lower your status. Opening yourself to others - especially people for whom you may have a purpose waiting in the wings - brings them closer and diminishes your relative power and authority. Second, you're losing respect in the eyes of those people who whom you bare your struggles not just because they perceive you as somebody who can't handle his or her own shit, but also because you're infecting them with you shit and they resent you for it. Third, unloading your drama on another person is also invitation for that person to use that knowledge against you.

But looking at the first rule of the Earth, this rule - applied to all things and without discernment - is a good recipe for keeping your mouth shut and never speaking against anything ever. I think it's fair to say that Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan who knowingly chose to poison the entire population of Flint in the name of saving a few dollars on infrastructure didn't want to hear any protest from the people drinking the black water he was pumping into their homes (as opposed to the bottled water he was purchasing for city facilities.)

Rick Snyder was quite happy to stonewall the people he was poisoning - he didn't want to hear their troubles one bit - but because of continued protest the only future he has in government is as a trash collector. Does the rest of Michigan (and the rest of the country) really want to hear about the troubles people in Flint are having with their drinking water? Call me a skeptic, but probably not. But did the people of Flint do it anyway, and scare the rest of the country into realizing that their own elected officials could do the same to them? You bet. And I'll be surprised if Governor Snyder gets out of this crime without his head on a stick.

When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.

This is easy: follow the rules. Satanists are law-abiding citizens of whatever sphere of influence in which they find themselves. If you enter another's lair - which is not just that person's home, but any literal or figurative space where that person's authority governs the affairs that happen within the limits of its enclosure - you should not disrespect that person or challenge that person's authority and still expect any measure of hospitality. The mistress or master of that lair is inviting you into his or her life, and that means she or he may also incidentally reveal parts of her or his life to which others aren't privy. You will respect the authority and confidence of your host, or you should not go there. As it applies to the world at large, this means that Satanists abide by the laws of the land, and since the laws of the land invite and permit protest via myriad legal means, I don't think there's any reason to abstain from the political process. You may disagree with me that #BlackLivesMatter is a worthwhile organization, but that's a matter of opinion. I believe it absolutely benefits me and my family to support anti-racist initiatives, and I'm not disrespecting anybody's lair by doing so. Not even the president is the owner of the national lair that is the USA, so I'll do as I please and I'll do it for my own reasons.

If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.

This is the flip-side to the previous rule: if within a physical or figurative space where the affairs within the limits of its enclosure are governed by your authority and a guest challenges your authority, takes advantage of your hospitality, or deliberately breaks your rules, then you're within rights to treat her or him cruelly and without mercy. Take away that person's food or drink. Subject that person to scorn and ridicule. Throw her or his things out the front door and push her or him out the back door. As it applies to the world at large, this means again that Satanists are law-abiding citizens who believe emphatically that criminals who violate the social contract or break the laws of the land deserve to suffer for their actions. 

As it relates to racism and #BlackLivesMatter, I absolutely believe that people deserve to be punished for stupidity, and racism is about as stupid as it gets. And, as it happens, the laws of the land tend to agree with me. Contrary to what you might be thinking, I don't believe that all people are equal: one of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for example, I judge to be more valuable than 100 of David Duke (and that's a generous evaluation.) I believe that a level playing field should be maintained so that a meritocracy may emerge and social strata may be defined; however, a true meritocracy cannot emerge unless the cheaters who are deliberately rigging the system are removed or punished. And if you think that only minorities benefit from a level playing field, then you need to challenge your own assumptions.

Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.

Again, again, and again: Satanists are law-abiding citizens who follow the laws of the land and respect the liberty of their fellow beasts. This is covered in much deeper detail in the Satanic Bible, but it suffices to say that the intimate affairs of adults is a matter of consent. Pure and simple: yes doesn't mean no; yes means yes; and no means no. This reinforces the previous two rules of the Earth, but you know what else it reinforces? Consent culture. Yes, you read that correctly: Satanism, long a haven for the alternative right, has since its conception in April 30, 1966 by reason of its own fundamental philosophy been a supporter of consent culture. Do you find this surprising? If you do, then I encourage you reflect on why that's so. As it happens, #BlackLivesMatter is also a big supporter of consent culture, and since I'm a parent to two girls, that's kind of a big deal to me and reason for me to support organizations that promote consent culture.

Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.

You know that person who whines about his girlfriend and complains that she's such a pain in the ass? To some people what he's saying is that he wishes his girlfriend were more like his imagined ideal. And then, to Satanists, that's an enthusiastic invitation to woo said girlfriend away from a lover who doesn't appreciate her. As it happens, this is the same for women who complain about their boyfriends. Be careful what you complain about, because what you're actually saying is that you don't want it. Satanists are generous with their compassion as they see fit, and if they see a way to advance themselves in the process, all the better. Contrary to what you might be thinking, this rule is not free license to steal another's personal belongings. If another complains about his or her car, then ask if he or she will let you take it off his or her hands for cheap or free. If he or she declines, and he or she happen to be in your lair, then you're very welcome to tell him or her to shut the fuck up.

As it relates to the broader discussion, I struggle to connect this to anything in a meaningful way except to say that black and brown people have historically taken the jobs that white people didn't want. So you complain that it's too difficult to pick your own produce? Build your own houses? Slaughter your own animals? Cook your own food? No problem! On the whole, white people have generally retreated from blue collar work, and this space has generally been filled by people of color. And now, here we are in 2016 and Donald Trump wants to be president and he's running on the platform that he's going to make America great again. And who are the most frequent victims of his rhetoric? The people of color who occupied the cultural, occupational, and professional spaces left vacant by white people. At any rate, non-white minorities are projected to be the majority in the USA within 30 years, and as their collective economic influence grows, I'm guessing they'll be letting go of some of those blue-collar jobs in favor of white-collar executive positions.  
Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.

Whether you want to interpret greater magic as mere psychodrama for purging the psyche or as woo-woo sorcery, either way the premise for it remains the same: all power begins with the individual. Satanism postulates that the more mysterious aspects of greater magic are the result of chemical and electrical changes within the body of the practitioner during a hyper-elevated state achieved as a result of the 13 steps of ritual. Although it's accepted knowledge among Satanists that not every Satanist has the same capacity to perform greater magic, it is still accepted that every Satanist has the ability to do so, and that greater magic is an expression of individual power.

And although there's a persistent discussion among Satanists about the existence of a "Satan-gene," there's no belief that Satanists can't emerge from any land, nation, and people. Wherever you find humans, you'll find that at least a few of them are Satanists. Racism is incompatible with Satanism because it presumes that humans are not made equally. Racism presumes that your biological nature determines your worth, but Satanism is a meritocracy where which invites the most capable to take what they may - regardless of the nature of their birth. Racism is a system of prejudice (literally, pre judgement) which denies the power of an individual to create change in accordance with will. Satanists would do well to embrace the spirit of opposition and accusation found in the Satanic archetype, and both oppose and accuse a system that denies the pride and power of the individual.

Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.

Perhaps the biggest accusation made among Satanists against other Satanists who lean politically anywhere left of center right is that they're whiners who are complaining about things to which they need not even subject themselves to. But going back to the Biblical inspiration for the metaphorical personage from who Satanists take their name - was Satan a complainer? Was he merely a cosmic whiner? "Jeez, Jehovah - why do I have to bow to these meat sacks? They're not worthy of my reverence. Wah, I don't like being in Heaven - this place is boring. I'm bored! Jehovah! Give me something to do!" No. Satan wasn't a whiner who complained about his lot in life. He was an opposer and an accuser.

Likewise, when I see people and organizations - such as #BlackLivesMatter - accusing those who deliberately obstruct the maintenance of a level playing field and thus prevent true social stratification and the meritocracy it involves, I support them. When somebody raises his or her voice in protest, this doesn't equate to complaining. This is action. This is accusation and active opposition. Likewise, Satanists are not armchair warriors. Going by the second Satanic statement, Satanists are people who choose to involve themselves in meaningful reality. Words will always fail compared to actions, so for that reason I champion people, organizations, and movements who create change in accordance with will.

Do not harm little children.

Amidst all the discussion among Satanists that life is still a brutal jungle in spite of the concrete and wi-fi, and that animal-humans are the most vicious beasts of all, there are some things that are sacred and considered exempt from some rules. The first such exemption is children. As stated elsewhere, Satanists consider children to be among the purest and most vital expressions of life, and for those reasons children are not to be harmed.

Though not explicitly stated as part of the Satanic Statements, Eleven Rules of the Earth, the Satanic Sins, or Pentagonal Revisionism, this rule ties in with the over-arching principle that responsibility is for the responsible, thus Satanists - for all the Libertarian influence of Ayn Rand over Anton LaVey - aren't out of line with a nanny government that removes children from abusive or dangerous households and puts them in the trust of another responsible guardian. Be that guardian a blood relative or a representative of the state, this doesn't change the fact that Satanists believe children should receive special protection.

How this protection is carried out is of course debatable, but as it relates to the broader discussion - racism - I think most of us can agree that anti-racist initiatives tend to appear more frequently on the political left than on the political right... and the political left also frequently being a large proponent of government intervention in private affairs. There's room inside the tenets of Satanism to argue for the right of the political spectrum, but as I've stated before this isn't to say what Satanists should support politically - only that the political left isn't presumed to be automatically beyond the pale of Satanism.

Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.

As stated before, even though Satanists are carnal atheists who embrace the law of the jungle, there are some things they hold to be sacred and thus exempt from certain rules. In the same way that Satanists consider little children to be pure embodiments of life - the most important thing to a Satanist - animals are also considered to be pure embodiments of life unburdened by conscience. For these reasons, animals are not to be harmed except in self defense or for food.

This doesn't have a lot to do with racism, but if we look beyond the mere words and ask ourselves how this rule could be applied as a broad guideline, it would make sense for Satanists to choose to oppose factory farming, embrace the utility of veganism, support organizations like PETA or even Bat Conservation International, and perhaps even go so far as to refuse commercially produced clothing made of leather or fur for the reason of preventing cruelty to animals.

When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.

On the surface, this is pretty simple: if you're walking down the street and somebody gets in your face, you tell him or her to stop. If he or she doesn't stop, you're within rights to defend yourself and punish that person for invading your space. But this principle of "open territory" is another source of contention among Satanists when the subject of social and political protest is entered. Viewed from one perspective, social and political protesters are violating open territory. There they are, using whatever means they choose to call attention to their cause, disrupting the day to day affairs of people who didn't do anything to deserve such irritation! But from another perspective, as has been discussed before, what happens when there are people or organizations who've intruded into your own life? What if you were one of the people involuntarily sterilized by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina? What if you were one of the people deliberately infected with syphilis without your knowledge or consent in the Tuskegee syphilis experiment? What if you're one of the thousands of people threatened and even robbed by law enforcement officers every year?

The Eugenics Board of North Carolina operated from 1933 through 1977, but it wasn't even until as late as 2003 when the final laws supporting its operation were stricken from the books. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment ran from 1932 to 1972. Police officers continue to use search-and-seizure laws to confiscate vast sums of money and even private property, and this doesn't even include the officers who literally rob and rape citizens at gunpoint. Wildly unethical and irresponsible forced sterilization and medical experimentation only came to an end after widespread criticism, but victims didn't receive justice until decades later following long protest to destroy the agencies and state offices involved. Police officers have been told and trained to stop bothering citizens without due cause, and yet it continues. Citizens are within their rights to destroy those who show no respect to a citizen's right to traverse open territory unmolested.

Taken as a whole then these 11 rules can be interpreted a few ways. One way to interpret these rules is literally: they are rules to follow when you are outside of your home and interacting with other people face to face. They can also be applied to online interaction, but it becomes a blurry conversation when so many online interactions take place in public forums where participants are not only invited but encouraged to share their opinions or advice. Beyond that, they can be taken as reinforcement of the hyper-individualistic nature of Satanism. For example, in the USA we have freedom of religion. Contrary to what a lot of Christians believe, this doesn't mean that they're free to enforce the dictates of their religion on others. Instead, what it really means is that they're free to be religious in the ways that they see fit so long as those ways don't encroach on another's liberties. 

This is taken even further in Satanism where many Satanists (members or not) see no contradiction in associating with others who don't follow the same beliefs. And why not? Satanism is for the Satanist him or herself: there's no reason for the Satanist to require others to adhere to Satanic principles. I'll say it again: Satanism is only for the Satanist. Satanists do not consider themselves responsible for the words or deeds of anybody else or even their associates. And you know, that's a truthful and liberating way to live your life: responsibility is for the responsible. You're fully and only responsible for your own good and your own evil. 

But at the same time, you can't be a Satanist when it's convenient or it justifies your prejudices. Satanism, like any codified religion or lived philosophy, attempts to answer the question, "What is worthwhile? What is valuable?" In that sense, if something is worthwhile and valuable to you, it's because you see the intrinsic qualities in it. I'm not going to spend time with people who organize dogfights because I think it's wrong to harm or kill animals for entertainment. I'm not going to spend time with people who neglect or abuse minors. And, because I happen to think that harming or killing animals for entertainment is wrong, or that parents who neglect and abuse children should be whipped with a hose full of BB's, I'm absolutely going to protest. Likewise, I can think of a few other things that go against my beliefs as a Satanist - like tribalism or racism - that absolutely don't benefit me or my family, absolutely create a worse world for me to leave to my children, and absolutely deserve to be cast into the fiery abyss. 

Some people have said that Satanists are pragmatists and thus embrace compromise. If this were really true, then Satanists would not maintain the argument that Anton LaVey defined Satanism and that all others who claim the name are poseurs. If this were really true, there would be no emphatic pushback by Satanists against groups like the Temple of Set, the Satanic Temple, the Joy of Satan, and myriad other groups who argue for a different vision of Satanism. Compromise is a valuable thing to learn, but if you hold something to be true and you deliberately choose to associate with - or even promote - people and groups who do not hold the same things to be true, then your actions prove that these values do not in fact have any place of priority for you. 

If you truly believe that theism and belief in imaginary friends is a blight upon mankind, then you would not cooperate with or promote theist individuals or groups. If you truly believe that animal abuse is wrong, then you would choose to have no ties with individuals or groups whom you know to conduct animal sacrifice. If you truly believe that meritocracy is the foundation for civilization - and if you believe that a level playing field is necessary to permit the most successful to assert themselves and thus contribute to and build an even better civilization - then you would choose to dismantle the cultural and national paradigms that sustain and perpetuate racism.

Just as Satanists do not compromise about the definition of Satanism even though compromise would suggest that it's worthwhile and valuable because it would increase cooperation on common goals with others of like mind, I believe that Satanists should not compromise their values and the things they consider to be important by giving their time and voice to those who go against everything Satanism holds dear and the foundations which define it.

The vast majority of Satanists I've met have protested enthusiastically and at great length to ensure that they not be associated or confused with individuals or groups who are not Satanic. Why is this protest deemed worthwhile when defending Satanism, but then become the object of such ridicule and scorn when the protest in question no longer concerns Satanism?

I think that protest in my own name and for my own reasons against those people or organizations which I believe go against my values is worth breaking a few rules. I'm not willing to compromise on racism and abuse of animals or children. My support for organizations such as #BlackLivesMatter doesn't make me any more of an "uncompromising crusader" than does the support other Satanists give for men's rights activist organizations, the National Rifle Association, or even the Libertarian party. If it's truly better to "reign in hell than serve in heaven," then the Church of Satan should have kept its mouth shut during the Satanic Panic and said nothing against Jesse Helms and his effort to pass legislation against Satanism and witchcraft. That's an issue where compromise was absolutely not worthwhile, and official spokespersons of the Church of Satan openly and uncompromisingly crusaded to fight the legislation.

And they won.

As before, my goal is not tell you that there's only one way to be a Satanist. But my goal is to challenge assumptions among Satanists (be they members of the Church of Satan or not) that Satanists can only be one kind of person. Satanism is a tool kit. There are many ways to interpret and apply these tools, and just because I lean toward the political left doesn't make me less of a Satanist than your choice to lean to the political right.