On my Theistic Satanism blog on Google/Blogspot, I posted a brief response to Julian Karswell’s “Opus Diaboli” website. I’ll now post some commentary about his blog, which I’ll do here on WordPress.com, to take advantage of the “trackback” feature.
- The Pope and child-molesting priests
- The population control taboo
- Satanisms and “orthodoxy”
- Global warming
- Satanisms and politics, U.S.A. vs. U.K.
I agree totally with Julian on Pope Calling the Kettle Black, criticizing the Pope’s attempt to blame clergy pedophilia on America’s secularisation and the ready availability of porn. As Julian remarks:
It will be interesting to see how he spins that one when he visits Ireland. Hardly a secular country, and in parts of it, you still can’t buy a pack of Trojans. So how will he explain how Catholic priests have systematically sodomised generation after generation of children in Catholic schools, orphanages and even within the precincts of their churches? Will he explain away how victims were silenced and the guilty parties moved around the church to offend again instead of having to face justice?
Next item down on the page: Councillor pays price of speaking out. I basically agree. It’s not good to have a society in which the poor and jobless have an incentive to have lots of kids, while many working parents cannot afford to have kids at all. Certainly the status quo is not good for the children.
And it’s certainly not good to have a taboo on even discussing this issue. Only by discussing it can Western countries possibly arrive at a reasonable solution.
I do think that John Ward used unnecessarily inflammatory rhetoric (“professional spongers,” “breed for greed,” “immoral … lifestyle,” etc.) and that government officials should be held to a higher standard than the rest of us in terms of avoiding divisive and insulting rhetoric.
Nevertheless, he was discussing a real problem which does need to be addressed in one way or another, sooner or later. To the extent that even discussing it remains taboo, Western societies will sooner or later be in big trouble.
(P.S., 5/18/2008: I just now came across a page which claims it’s not true that families on welfare tend to have more children than nonwelfare families, at least here in the U.S.A.: Myth: Welfare gives mothers an economic incentive to have more children. Fact: Studies have not found a correlation between size of welfare benefits and families. I have yet to verify this article’s claims, which, in any case, deal only with the U.S.A. Things might be different in Europe.)
While I basically agree with Julian on the above issue, I do not agree with some of his other views, such as his “anti-charity” campaign (as discussed on his main “Opus Diaboli” site). Nor do I endorse the typical LaVeyan advocacy of pure, unfettered capitalism.
More generally, I reject the typical LaVeyan definition of “Satanism” itself as the worldview of Anton LaVey. I also reject the very idea of any kind of Satanic orthodoxy on social, economic, and political issues. I see Satan as leading us to question all orthodoxies, including alleged “Satanic” orthodoxies.
Thus, for example, while I think Julian is right to oppose the taboo on discussion of population issues, I would not say that I endorse his position in terms of a “Satanic philosophy,” except insofar as Satanisms entail questioning all orthodoxies and taboos.
Speaking of questioning all orthodoxies and taboos, Julian says, in Refreshing words of dissent: “As Satanists we should hold that all orthodoxies are false and should be challenged. The danger otherwise is that facts will be shoehorned into the permittted [sic] ideologies.” I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that all orthodoxies are false, though they should indeed be questioned. Should Satanists say that the Earth if flat, merely because current orthodoxy says that the Earth is a sphere?
Furthermore, when it comes to questioning scientific orthodoxies, such as the global warming orthodoxy discussed in the above-quoted post, people outside the particular scientific field are at a disadvantage. People who have not studied a given field are not in a good position to know where the orthodoxy came from or how valid the critiques really are.
Science is certainly not immune to political pressures, given scientists’ dependency on their funding sources. However, we should ask what the political pressures on any given science are actually likely to be.
Is there any reason to believe that atmospheric scientists are being pressured to champion a left-wing or environmentalist agenda? For example, do most atmospheric scientists get most of their funding from a private foundation which also donates a lot of money to environmentalist groups?
Here in the U.S.A., many scientists get funding from the National Science Foundation, a federal government agency. But the President is currently a Republican, and the Republican Party isn’t particularly environmentalist-friendly. So, there isn’t likely to be much pressure toward environmentalist orthodoxies from that direction.
Whatever the current sources of most atmospheric scientists’ funding, I’m sure there would be plenty of funding available from oil companies, automobile manufacturers, etc, for any global-warming critic who could make a valid scientific case.
I have not studied the issue of exactly where atmospheric scientists get most of their funding. However, offhand, it seems unlikely to me that there would be much pressure on atmospheric scientists to tow a scientifically invalid leftist or environmentalist political line. If anything, pressures from prospective funding sources would more likely be in the opposite direction, at least here in the U.S.A. Perhaps things are different in other countries.
Nor does it seem likely to me that there would be very much political ideological pressure from within the field itself. Scientists hold a wide range of political views. The sciences are not like the humanities, where there does indeed seem to have been a left-leaning orthodoxy since the 1970’s or so – although even this has been exaggerated by right wing commentators.
(Yes, there are some very right wing professors even in the humanities, even in relatively liberal parts of the U.S.A. such as New York City. A fairly extreme example is Michael Levin, who teaches philosophy at the City University of New York; see the Wikipedia article about him. I’m sure there are plenty of others in other parts of the country.)
So, here in the U.S.A. at least, the most likely source of global warming orthodoxy is an honest (though possibly premature?) consensus, among the vast majority of atmospheric scientists, that the orthodox view is scientifically justified.
The orthodoxy might still be wrong, of course. However, without a lot more study than I now have time for, I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the scientific consensus, at least for the most part.
In the post Refreshing words of dissent, Julian quotes John Christy, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama. It’s worth noting that Alabama is in the southern part of the U.S.A. and is a stronghold of the Christian religious right wing, among other things. Alabama is precisely one of the places where one would expect there to be the most political pressure against the global warming consensus. Furthermore, given Christy’s statement about governments being involved in the IPCC, Christy himself was, no doubt, appointed to the IPCC by the Bush administration. This doesn’t, in itself, prove that John Christy is wrong about anything he said here. But it does mean, at the very least, that his statements didn’t require nearly as much courage as Julian might have assumed.
I’ll now reply to Julian’s comment beneath this post on my Google/Blogspot blog. Julian wrote:
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.
You speak of “the” Satanic perspective, implying a Satanic orthodoxy. You later speak of Satanism as a “standpoint from which to frame policy.” Satanism, in my view, should not be tied to any specific “policy” standpoint.
If you think it is not possible to achieve one set of aims under the flag of another,
I’m not saying this isn’t possible. I just don’t think that “Satanism,” per se, should be equated with any specific set of aims in the first place. Different Satanists, in different circumstances, can and should have different aims.
Revoltionary communism was propogated and interpolated into the structures of the education system.
Do you really mean “revolutionary communism” here? Or just varying forms of socialism?
I think an overtly Satanic organisation could not successfully promote a political and social agenda.
Counterexample: In the 1980’s, at the height of the Satanic panic, the Temple of Set stood up and fought back, successfully. They weren’t alone and couldn’t have succeeded without the help of plenty of non-Satanists debunking the SRA scare too, but, in my opinion, they and their closest allies did play a key role.
So, I think public Satanists can succeed, but only on matters pertaining to our own religious freedom or which have some direct connection to the figure of Satan, and only in alliance with others who are willing to stand with us.
As for any other kinds of social and political agendas, I don’t think they should be tied to “Satanism” in the first place.
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.
Don’t underestimate those “zealous young losers.”
Here in the U.S.A., there was a time when a lot of folks thought Christianity was a “spent force” here, too. As Michael Aquino says in the Temple of Set’s general information latter:
During the 60s-70s religion was generally dismissed as something quaint and obsolete: superstition embarrassing to an age of science, computers, and Project Apollo. “God was dead”, and Christianity was invoked merely as an excuse for Christmas revelry and other entertainments (such as Jesus Christ Superstar & the “Jesus Freak revolution” of 1970). Even the formation of the Church of Satan in 1966 was somewhat anticlimactic: It didn’t arise in response to a “threatening” Christianity – for Christianity already appeared to be a dead horse. The carcass was there to be kicked around a bit for the sake of theatre, but there was no expectation that it had any energy left to get up and kick back.
Well, Christianity certainly did kick back, in forms that are indeed threatening. So too did Islam, all the more so. I’ll add that Dr. Aquino underestimates the significance of the “Jesus Freak revolution” of 1970. The Jesus Freaks, whom Dr. Aquino probably saw as “zealous young losers,” were an early manifestation of the fundamentalist/evangelical resurgence.
The religious right wing isn’t nearly as powerful in the U.K. as it is here in the U.S.A., but it is growing there too. Evangelicals may be on the verge of taking over the Church of England, if the trends predicted in this 2003 Daily Telegraph article have continued. Not only that, but one of the most popular movements among evangelical Christians in the U.K. is the Restorationist form of Pentecostalism, which embraces Dominionist teachings, according to Tricia Tillin, an evangelical critic of Restoration theology, in Ten Reasons to Reject Kingdom-Dominion Teachings. Dominionism advocates theocracy, complete with “Biblical civil law” including death penalty by stoning for “idolators,” “blasphemers,” and homosexuals, among others. Obviously, this would be very bad news for Satanists.
Of course, only a small minority of people in England are active church-goers in the first place. If evanglicals ever did take over the Church of England, especially evangelicals of the Dominionist stripe, the Church would probably be dis-established ASAP.
Still, the potential longterm threat of a powerful religious right wing should not be dismissed even in the U.K. Organized religions, especially those whose members contribute lots of money, inherently have political power out of proportion to their numbers, simply because they are organized.
Anyhow, even if the Christian religious right wing never gets much power in the U.K., you do note that Muslim fundamentalists are becoming a threat there.
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.
I don’t see any and all “socialism-lite” policies as necessarily constituting a “road to ruin.” It does seem to me that England and Canada are pursuing some specific ruinous policies. But I don’t think the answer is a return to pure, totally unfettered capitalism. On the whole, it’s my impression that Canada is actually better off than the U.S.A. at the present time, although I could be wrong about this.