May 25, 2017

Satanism 5/25/2017

Self-Discipline: the Master Key to Success

Forget getting it done right - if you want something done at all, you'll have to do it yourself. Satanism is a religion and philosophy that embraces will-to-power and the development of the individual through personal desire and motivation. A couple items today, both picked up via +Spiral Nature :

First, a parallel in Thelema

And granted, Thelema isn't Satanism, but the sentiment is right at home: 90% of Thelema Satanism is self-discipline. What's the other 10%? I won't speak for the Thelamites, but speaking at least for myself I'd say that the other 10% is up to the individual. After all, if it's not you - it's not you. Amiright?

Second, a short discussion on how to build self-discipline

This essay is mostly centered on how you can develop the discipline to actually do the things that are central to your religion, but you can apply it to plenty of other stuff, too.

Speaking from my days as a martial artist and instructor, I'd add that self-discipline is easy when you're motivated. Kind of like how celibacy is easy when you're monk living in an isolated monastary away from the opposite gender, being disciplined is is actually quite easy when you're motivated. Perhaps it's because I'm a hedonist and am deeply motivated by pleasure, but me being who I am - and what I've observed - I've found that I can put up with a whole lot of sticks so long as there's one big carrot waiting for me at the end of at least one of them.

If I remember what I value and want to achieve above all else, then everything else can fall into place. Naturally, some things will have to be removed from my life to make space, but if they're not things that I really value or genuinely want to achieve - then what's the problem?

Prison is Too Good for Some People

Should convicted pedophiles and murderers live out their lives in prison? Or should people who've proven through their actions that they're far beyond the pale be shuffled off this mortal coil? Such is the argument from Baphomet is my co-Pilot.

As usual, my opinion is that prison is for thieves, vandals, murderers, rapists, and others who are too dangerous to be allowed to walk free and who - as is largely the topic of discussion today - don't have the self-discipline or impulse control to avoid criminality. As usual, I think that the death penalty should be used not as a deterrant to crime - because evidence shows it doesn't actually deter crime - but as a tool of last resort to permanently remove criminals who are beyond second chances from society.

Rape little girls and keep their mudered bodies in your basement? Death.
Like to play with matches and burn down apartment buildings? Death.
Break the world economy and bankrupt hundreds of thousands of people and companies? Death.
Start a war based on a lie and send tens of thousands of young men to die for it? Death.

The death penalty may not keep us any safer by preventing a deoraved criminal from offending the first time, but it can sure keep us safer by preventing a depraved criminal from offending the second time.

Do Not Harm Little Children

But as long as we're talking about crimes that deserve death - such as murder, and especially the murder of children - how does Satanism deal with the reality of child soldiers? The 9th Satanic rule of the earth says that Satanists shouldn't harm little children, but how can a Satanist - or anybody - make the decision to kill a child soldier, or be killed by a child soldier, in armed combat? I read in the news that Canada has issued guidelines and what can be called "best practices" for Canadian forces who meet child soldiers on the battlefield. Now to be fair, Canada isn't telling its troops how to kill child soldiers, but is instead talking about paths to victory that ideally don't involve killing the children - such as trying to deescalate the confrontation, breaking the chain of command by talking with their adult commanders, and finding other ways to get the child to put down the gun.

There are no good answers here

No matter how small a bite you eat from this shit sandwich, you're still eating shit. Who wants to kill kids? Nobody. I know I don't want to kill kids - especially kids who've been conscripted into battle against their will and have no particular choice in the matter. And this isn't just a matter of the boys being forced into uniforms, it's also a matter of the girls being forced into child marriage or even prostitution. Look past the children forced into gears of war, and you'll find adults who are willing to do anything to not only get their military victories but also control their civilian populations. What is an adult soldier supposed to do when faced with a child soldier? Shoot first and ask questions later? Let the child shoot first? 

Satanism in Action?

I don't know that I have any good answers about the question of child soldiers, but I think it's the kind of question that's worth talking about if only to see where the answers will take us. And isn't that an interesting exercise? Following the evolution of Satanic thought as set forth by Anton LaVey, the natural outcome is an authoritarian state with strictly enforced borders, Judge Dredd style law enforcement, and a willingness to either let the waste of society sink to the bottom on their own, or even push them there in the name of stratification.

Enter Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who's been using both government death squards and vigilante gangs to extrajudiciously murder drug dealers and drug users. As much as the literature produced by LaVey waxes on about the need to let weakest links suffer the consequences of their weakness and just die already, combined with the directive that criminals just be punished swiftly and severely for their infractions, it's not hard to see a Satanic parallel in President Duterte.

Might Makes Right

And shame on me if you think I'm depraved, but in a way - I can see the perspective and agree with it. The violence and public health problems surrounding the trade and use of drugs are perniciously stubborn, and if existing methods to stamp out supply while discouraging demand are failing, then stronger action needs be taken. So - in a way - I can sympathize with the action being taken.

But, in many ways, I think it's deeply disturbing to see a country's government murdering its citizens without due process under law. I have no great sympathy for smackheads and the disease they spread through the re/use and unsafe disposal of hypodermic needles, but is the problem that drugs are a moral evil that must be stamped out at all costs - or is the problem that they've been needlessly criminalized? Instead of financing a government war against drugs and creating crimes to be solved through police intervention - and we've all seen just how well that's worked - why not decriminalize drugs, create safe-injection centers, and fund needle exchanges at pharmacies? 

Harm Reduction > Criminalizing Drugs

Nobody wants the government has to be in the business of pushing smack, but if I had to choose between an unending war of the state against the people (and all the economic costs that come with it), or a modest proposal to stop filling prisons and graves with people who only want to abuse themselves (and give them a way to poison their own bodies without hurting anybody else), there's be no hesitation - I know which one I'd pick.

There'd also be no hesitation in the choice because the problem with authoritarian governments is that once it's been decided that undesirables can be eliminated by whatever means necessary, then the definition of what it means to be an undesirable always evolves to include opposition politicians, journalists, concerned citizens, counter-culturalists, and anybody else who would challenge authority.

I lean heavily Libertarian in my interpretation of Satanism. There are Satanists who lean heavily authoritarian, and that's their business, but I'll still think they're silly to dream their authoritarian dreams when the religion and philosophy of Satanism that they love are only able to openly exist because of the freedoms they'd so eagerly deny others.

Know Thyself

The best writing about Satanism that I'm reading lately is being written by Neo/Pagans. Remember: Satanism and Neo/Paganism emerged from the same countercultural soup of the 60's, and despite their differences, they share a lot in common. For example, check out this essay by John Halstead published at Humanistic Paganism. There are several striking parallels in this essay between Neo/Paganism and Satanism, and there are some places where you can simply replace Neo/Paganism with Satanism and it still makes sense. Consider the following paragraph in which I've made replacements in bold:
"If we really want to avoid orthodoxy, as we Satanists so often claim, then we need to have more discussion, not less–and some of that discussion needs to be constructively critical. We Satanists need to get comfortable with idea that criticism can be constructive. So long as we avoid criticism, we are vulnerable to self-deceit and groupthink. Sometimes that criticism can come from friends, but sometimes it takes an outsider to challenge us to ask the hardest questions about ourselves and our experiences. When done in a spirit of openness and humility, critical questioning benefits both sides in the conversation, and the community as a whole."
I only changed two words in that paragraph, and yet it still rings strikingly true for Satanism - not just as a religion and philosophy, but also as community cabal of individuals. Scholars and academics recognize Satanism as a religion, and it not only lived on past the death of its founder, but will continue to live on with or without a spokesperson or leading organization to champion its value in the marketplace of ideas. But Satanism - as both a religion and a philosophy - has a long way to go before it can legitimately claim to have the same depth and bredth, or the same degree of maturation and development, as other world religions I could name.

Me being who I am, I don't think it's enough look at how Satanism benefits the individual, or ways that the individual can use Satanism for his or her own advancement. I think that it's really important to ask the self-critical questions of Satanism, and to consider what a Satanic world-view means - not theoretically in terms of Pentagonal Revisionism, not ideally as outlined in various essays, but with the world as it is right now. I have no interest in spiritual political pipe-dreams that may never appear within my lifetime. There are questions worth asking and answers worth examining, but it's going to take a large degree of both self-awareness and self-discipline to follow them through to the end.

If you're such a Satanist who says that Satanism is just a tool-kit and you use only what appeals to you, okay - that's cool - you're welcome to your approach. Me being who I am, though, I struggle to accept the premise that Satanism means something except when it doesn't. Satanism means something - at least to me - and I'm going to figure it out.