In a fight who would you back God or Satan? If it came down to it, those were your only 2 options, who would you pick? You have to choose 1 or the Other, so which?
Okay, I’ll change it for you. If we say that God stood for Maoism-Communism and that Satan stood for neo-liberal Too-Fucking-Late-Capitalism, who would you pick? Uncomfortable with those categorisations? Okay, we can switch it – Satan is the red flag waving, sparrow killing Marxist, and God stands for mass-consumerist globalised capitalism now. So who the fuck would you pick? From a sincere environmentalist perspective, really the difference is between who is operating the same machine – who is the authority that wants to be the authority in charge of encaging and enslaving the living world. And you have to pick one, right?
Would you pick though? If those were really the only options for you, are either Satan or God desirable?
Both Christian and Satanist variants of anarchism have continually struck me as confusing. Here I will present some of my thoughts on both, as I encounter them.
The Satanist anarchist group The Black Light Catechism cites Bakunin as their main link between Satanist and anarchist thought. Bakunin’s anarchism against God and the church is well known within anarchist discourse. To TBLC, Satan signifies God’s antithesis. This fits a Hegelian dialectical model of thought – where time moves progressively and (in an entirely Abrahamic sense) in order to be saved, you first have to have the cosmic fall.
Bakunin sought to build an anarchist society, through instituted attempts at anarchy. Similarly, Christian anarchist Tolstoy attempted to build anarchist societies, through instituted attempts at anarchy.
Of course religious groups and organisations build structures and institutions, in the forms of churches and temples and other attempts to facilitate a sense of order onto the world, which mirrors their relevant theology. In his writings on anarcho-Satanism, Benjamin Awesome describes a Satanist Temple, which seeks to challenge “injustice” (pre-supposing a moral just), through scientific institutional apparatus.
Temples also house icons and function as ideological apparatus, signifying authority as semiotic constructions, in-themselves. It is not just what they provide, as excretion from their body, but the body itself that provides an authoriser. The Satanic Temple seeks to authorise justice, as an authority capable of authorising justice. Similarly, Christian political theology seeks to authorise justice, through instituting Rights, in the social contraction form described by Locke – concepts that are foundational to anarcho-capitalist ideology (a bad joke with no punchline).
Through the construction of temples with encoded truths, both Christianity and Satanism attempt to provide salvation, through what in a Stirnerite lexicon would be called spooks. Environmentalist writer Daniel Quinn argues that the need for salvation comes with the type of relationship to the world that is experienced when living within civilisation, under “the great forgetting” – where the theo-political humanisation process strips what we call humanity of their animality (an argument backed by psychoanalytic thinkers from Freud to Zizek). This is similar to the arguments of Autumn Leaves Cascade, in their piece To Rust Metallic Gods, during their appeal to non-dualistic modes of thought – specifically animist in their arguments. If we continue in a Stirnerite-type eliminative physicalist argument, salvation would be a place to begin critiquing both of these religious variants of anarchist discourse.
I am going to put forth the assertion that there is no (Real) salvation and that salvation holds no (Real) space within an honest anarchist thought. Why? Salvation would be dualistic, relying on an Other, who authorises an instituted form of anarchy, that would be entirely mediated. Nihilist, primitivist and other similar variants of anarchist thought have consistently critiqued dualistic models for praxis – Baedan and other queers in their desire for pre-linguistic flesh oriented praxis; Zerzan and other primitivists in advocating face-to-face and other direct means of relationship; and Bey and other post-anarchists through their desire to form immediatist parties.
Perhaps it is a pessimistic notion to state that there is no salvation, that there is just this and that living today means confronting that. As I write this, I feel that I have perhaps jumped the gun a little in this, so lets back track a little.
Most of the ideology of anarchism traces back to great great great great great grandfather Proudhon and his proclamations of property being theft and property being freedom – I have always felt a greater sympathy for Thoreau-type arguments where property is a cage, but regardless. To Proudhon, God is evil, so must be morally rejected. With this, Proudhon casts Man with the image of being good, in a fundamental sense, providing a basis for humanism – Man made in Man’s image of God – within anarchist thought.
Goodness and its dual Other of Evil are familiar concepts to most people, as I encounter them. Most people ascribe to the notion that there is a moral good, which ought to be aspired to and the world built in its image. Like wise, there is an immoral evil, which must be cast into hell’s mouth (– I prefer the pre-Dante’s Inferno concept of hell as a mouth which feeds, rather than the post-Inferno conception of hell as a place that exists like a prison for punishment).
My monist scepticism experiences a deep mistrust towards the existence of such spaces. But what is goodness and what is evil? If the evil go to hell, to suffer, and the good go to heaven, where they are happy; it would seem that there is some kind of link between happiness and a Christian good. This would follow similarly within many anarchist arguments. To many anarchists, if you do the good work of building an anarchist society(/temple), then you will be happy. This is ultimately a form of hedonist argument, where value is placed in experiencing some kind of total-happiness, through engagement in the right activities.
Satanism too, in LaVeyian schools of thought and others, is ultimately hedonist in its moral framework – though this morality is an immoralist inversion of the Christian 7 deadly sins. For a Satanist, pleasure is good, to the point that pleasure is their (God/Satan given) right. Life ought to be pleasurable, so, like Tolstoyan and Bakunite anarchists, Satanists seek to authorise pleasure, through instituted means.
My mind instantly turns to Stirner’s critiques of morality and Nietzsche’s critiques of hedonism – why are you entitled to be happy, why should you not suffer and experience the primal brutality of the world? Morality is an authority that often gets overlooked within anarchist discourse. If both of these attempts at anarchist praxis involve the authority of morality, can either be authentically anarchist?
The New Testament makes specific reference to ideas surrounding freedom – John 8, Romans 8 and Galatians 5. But obviously the Church has succeeded in being one of the most authoritarian institutions ever built. So how much faith are you seriously willing to place in Christianity for instituted freedom – outside of a few obscure sects, which have existed outside of the church?
I wonder if Satan would really support my freedom, if I am not going to look to Christ to institute my anarchy. Does not Satan want to “reign in hell”, as Milton wrote in Paradise Lost? If Satan reigns in hell, then surely he requires servants, surfs and slaves? Would you be one, under the promise of freedom? Would you leave offerings to this deity, which apparently promises freedom, in exchange for what you bring it?
When I look at his image, Satan seems to me to be a piss poor imitation of God – like a son desperately attempting to impress his father by trying to become him. Likewise, the immoralist morality that goes with a great deal of Satanist-type though seems to me to be nothing more than a mirrored image of morality.
The difference between Satanism and Christianity seems to be the difference between 2 sides of the same coin – a coin used to buy whatever in the market place of “human souls”. Rather than a 2 sided coin, I can only conceive of anarchy as a mobius strip – continuous, twisting and unorientable. Both of these religious tenants of instituted anarchism remind me of the “systematisers” that Nietzsche warned us about, with the human (oh so human) herdist domesticating push to control. Their Salvationist rhetoric of both tendencies preach the same type of transcendence through adherence of other dogmatic monoculturalists.
I am much more comfortable with an individualist practice, than becoming the follower of any deity – though I cannot deny that Novatore’s, Martucci’s and similar others “Satanic spirit” and Thoreau’s out-door-Christianity have both impacted me and been literary spaces I have found a great deal of beauty in.
So who would you back in a fight? The God of Christianity, or the God of Satanism? Is there really a fight between them, if they aren’t entirely separable? Perhaps each owes their authority to the other, in their mutual powerlessness.
My instinct is that God is dying, if not dead. If God is dying, can we kill Satan too? I see little to no difference between the 2 – other than that Satan is a whiny imitation of his father. I would rebel against both these moral authorities and laugh while doing so.
~By Julian Langer