by Blanche Barton ©1995
I hate to write this article. I hate to have to address these issues because they make me angry and I hate to be angry. And I especially hate to be angry when I have been purposely baited into being angry - forced to waste my precious adrenal output, drained of my psychic/creative force, and maneuvered into writing an article like this. But there is something going on right now in the Satanic community that must be addressed, a phenomenon that must be cut out like the vile cancer that it is. Our supporters and advocates must be prepared to recognize and battle our enemies, especially when they're wearing black robes. Bear with me and let's get this down on paper, out into the ethers and ritualized out of our systems so we can move on to real issues confronting us.
In our general information packet we have a "Satanic Bunco Sheet." You've all read it, but let me highlight a couple of pertinent points. Tip Number Four states:
The most parasitic "Satanic" newsletters invariably contain a liberal dose of LaVey-baiting. Their editors' masochistic requirements are exercised as 'lively exchange.' Their mainstay is often the reprinting of any letter, pro or con, from anyone capable of grasping a writing implement or poking at a computer or typewriter key. When responding to such transparent tactics, it's our policy to preface rebuttals with two acknowledgements:
A) "I know you're a masochist and delight in hostile banter," and
B) "Anything I write or say to you will keep you going for another six months." The Satanic Bible advises to "question all things" - but it helps to be able to think, first."
Further in the flyer, inquirers are warned:
All of the above are subject to bitch-fights, petty jealousies, and rivalries. They are safe havens for small-minded people trying to play head games, preferring the protection of groups rather than really working to apply what Anton LaVey wrote.
There is a creeping pestilence of divisiveness weaving its way into our ranks that we must ruthlessly halt before it strangles us all. This divisiveness and contentiousness isn't perhaps apparent to the untrained eye, hence the need for this article. It takes the form of "honest inquiry," "challenging debate," and "stimulating dialogue." It takes LaVey's dictum of "question all things," and uses it to justify stirring up useless and counterproductive intellectual turbulence, all for the good of the philosophy. Anyone who refuses to be drawn into these stimulating debates, or who has a kind or supportive thing to say about his philosophy's founder, Anton LaVey, is quickly labeled a "sycophant," a "LaVey fanatic," and "overly adulatory." One is, thereby, incapable of objective, independent thought and can be relegated to the role of empty-headed, brainwashed moron.
There aren't many of these instigators of "lively exchange" yet, but one or two have wormed their way into the good graces of the Satanic network, leeching off of our growing above-ground system of newsletters and correspondents, yet snidely refusing to align themselves with our progenitor organization. Now that Satanism is becoming an alternative, the "lot lice" are sniffing around at ways to sneak in under the tent flap without putting themselves on the line. We must recognize their insidious techniques before they undermine us irreparably. They pride themselves on being "unaffiliated," implying that "affiliated" forums, like The Black Flame, are so contaminated with admiration for Anton LaVey that they might slant or censor serious debate such as the sort they encourage. Of course, they don't send courtesy copies of their insightful newsletters to the Church of Satan, as most Satanically-oriented editors do, or someone might recognize them for the vile Quislings that they are. Many brashly depend on exposure in The Black Flame to generate a mailing list, won't commit themselves as Church of Satan members, but challenge our policies in the innocent guise of stimulating debate.
Recent articles in one or two of these newsletters have advocated rape, bestiality, and incest as viable Satanic alternatives, as well as providing a forum for hashing out such burning issues as pedophilia and fascism. In doing this, they create conflicts where none need exist, just for the sake of rhetorical gymnastics. I figured out such actions are wrong when I was a little kid; things like rape, pedophilia and bestiality are unacceptable in civilized society because they are harmful, disruptive, unjust and they hurt innocent creatures. End of discussion. Is that so hard to figure out? Don't we all know this already? Of course we do. We're being baited and goaded into debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
As for the danger of fascism infiltrating the Satanic movement, what are we supposed to be? A bunch of kindergarten babies? Are we supposed to be such self-righteous prigs that we can't stand to see a swastika? By accusing us of fascism, are we supposed to be distracted from the fact that we live in an extremely puritanical, fascistic society? From all reports, Church of Satan members have never been intimidated by swastikas, or any other emotionally-charged symbol. Those who have worn both attest to the greater power of the Baphomet to scare and mystify viewers. We don't need school marms to hover over us with rulers to slap our little hands and say, "naughty, naughty." It seems preposterous to me that such desktop critics think fascism can harm the movement, whereas their advocating rape and incest can do us no end of good.
One popular posture is that of the "intellectual" Satanic alternative. It's an elementary debating technique used to create a false dichotomy - claiming your opponent is something he isn't (i.e. fascist, racist, chauvinistic, non-intellectuals), thereby showing yourself to be pure by contrast, and forcing your opponent into a defensive position. If an "alternative" Satanist boldly declares himself to be against animal sacrifices, Satanists who have read The Satanic Bible are forced to debate this non-issue. Upon examination, the "intellectual" alternative might be draped in perplexing, spiritualistic language but it still advocates the same Satanism you read in The Satanic Bible: indulgence, individualism, challenging the status quo, reward based on merit rather than race, and intelligence. Gee, how different that is from the LaVeyan nonsense.
I am deeply offended by irresponsible, obfuscating mental masturbation. If this were the kind of thing going on in the Church of Satan in 1976, I never would've joined. It's distasteful and juvenile - like a toddler who's just discovered he has a wee-wee and wants to play with it all the time. It doesn't reflect a finely-honed mind as some might think; on the contrary, it indicates someone who is intellectually insecure - the equivalent of the schoolyard bully who has to pick on other kids to show how tough he is, an intellectual bully who intimidates and goads those who might be a bit insecure themselves. I enjoy the odd game of mental fencing as much as the next Satanist, but this line of "exciting open discussions" are an offensive misapplication of logic and rhetoric which should be recognized for what they are: shit-disturbing. Playing the Socratic gadfly, stinging us all into clarifying these issues before our detractors use them against us, is supposed to create turbulence for our own good. Thanks but no thanks.
Worse than a simple waste of time and brainpower, this kind of insidious undermining creates a ripple-effect of problems we all eventually have to clean up. Here's a hypothetical progression:
1) Mr. Q starts Darkness Visible, yet another Satanic newsletter. He's not a member of the Church of Satan, but he advertises in all the respected, openly-affiliating newsletters. He is seldom overtly critical of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey or The Black Flame so loyal compatriots thinks he must be all right.
2) Mr. Q publishes adherents' articles, and compliments others on their various projects. People see their names in print, bask in his praise, and figure he must be an exceedingly perceptive fellow.
3) Mr. Q pays for ads for Darkness Visible, not solely by subscription exchange, but by that time-honored inducement called "money." To an enterprising editor/publisher of a fledgling Satanic newsletter with extremely limited funding, a paid advertisement can be a welcome insert, no matter how insulting its wording.
4) After a few issues, Mr. Q appoints himself supreme arbiter of Satanic philosophy, providing a forum for "forms of Satanism" which might not meet the approval of the Church of Satan. What does Anton LaVey know anyway? He only created the philosophy. Why should his organization have any final word in defining the religion?
5) People who might be moderately interested in Satanism pick up a copy of Darkness Visible, see advocacy of bestiality, and drop the whole idea as something they'd want nothing to do with.
6) Satanophobic groups get a hold of a copy of Darkness Visible advocating bestiality, rape and incest and use it to confirm all of the Christian hysteria we've had to fight so hard to dispel. We get to clean up the shit, we get flack at work, we get our children jeopardized and our cars egged, not Mr. unaffiliated, ethical-inquiry, what-who-me?.
7) Our most supportive, productive, stalwart members get tired of being called "sycophants," tired of being drawn into pointless interchanges, get tired of defending and justifying themselves and their chosen leader, and quietly move on to less complicated, more productive advocacies.
8) Members of our hierarchy begin to debate about how best to handle these psychic vampires - whether it's better to make people aware, publish a shit list of people to freeze out of the network, or whether it's better to shine a glaring light on them, allow them all the forum they can handle, thereby showing themselves for the slime they are. We are therefore divided. How could an infiltrating Christian agent provocateur bent on destroying the Satanic movement undermine it more efficiently?
The only reason I've gone into such detail concerning these methods is so that you'll be equipped to recognize such divisive maneuverings when you see them. So far, we've all done a pretty good job of weeding out this sort of contentiousness. But now, since the Satanic movement is gaining more steam than ever, we need to tighten our ranks. There is no room in the Church of Satan for hairsplitters and nitpickers. If you have a policy question, you can call or write to the Church of Satan and ask what the Church's stand on pedophilia or bestiality is (if you haven't read The Satanic Bible yet); we don't need BBS bickerings or pointless newsletter interchanges "to hammer these issues out." Go to the source and ask what Satanic policy is.
Because Anton LaVey wanted his philosophy to be accessible to those without stultified minds, anyone can go into a bookstore, pick up a copy of The Satanic Bible, read, understand, and apply Satanism to better her life. As for group activities, newsletters and the like, the Church of Satan has maintained a laissez-faire policy over the past three decades. Official membership isn't demanded, just simple acknowledgement of the source and accurate codification of LaVeyan principles. This in itself is Satanic, placing the responsibility for your own "salvation" and entertainment squarely on your own shoulders where it belongs instead of on a "Priest" who'll talk to God for you or reveal the Great Mysteries - for a price.
There will always be jealous, unethical, subversive, self-loathing, counterproductive, life-sucking parasites who will want to scavenge from our viable organization. They are shallow, without vision, and probably incapable of commitment or loyalty to anything or anyone. They will continue to use whatever ploys they can to obfuscate, disable and defuse us. Don't be swayed, flattered or ghettoized. The Satanic network is not the real world; our power lies in having an effect in the real world - Satan's true realm. Dare to be a big fish in a bigger pond - you have the power to do so. You're a Satanist, and can proudly declare, "I have taken thy name as a part of myself..."
The Church of Satan was formed as a mutual admiration society, not as an encounter group. We are energized by and supportive of each other. Of course there are going to be differences among us. Satan is representative of the reconciliation of apparent irreconcilables. We're driven individualists with our own obsessions and directions. One of our greatest strengths is that we can't be neatly pigeonholed and dismissed. Anton LaVey intended his organization to be a meeting of minds, where a highly-evolved black man could stand forth in front of a Baphomet and curse his "brothers" for forcing him down to their level, and a white man could stand beside him and curse his self-hating race who has undermined itself to the brink of extinction by perpetuating the lie of Christianity for 2,000 years. We can choose to concentrate on our differences, worry them and pick at them like scabs until they pus and infect, or we can concentrate on our similarities, our mutual goals, and our relief to be among others of like mind where, as Milton wrote, "Here at least we shall be free... though in Hell."
Because Anton LaVey has maintained the standard of "what you are inside is dictated by what you are outside," we have become more of a professional cabal than just another occultic circle-jerk. Like the Masons, we pass secret signs or mention certain names that open doors. When one says he's an affiliate of the Church of Satan to the right people, assumptions are made that he's a product-oriented, no-bullshit kind of person who'll get things done. To protect that status, we cannot allow those who will dilute our growing reputation to ride on our coattails, wheedling their way into others' good graces at our expense.
We are the only cohesive international movement on the horizon today. We have one book, one man, one organization to stand behind. That's more than the Wiccans can accomplish, or the Republicans, or the Democrats, or the Christians. We are invincible as an organization, as a movement - but not as feuding, factionalized splinter groups. For that kind of cohesion, we need a leader. There have been countless psychological studies focusing on group dynamics. One person always emerges as the leader, otherwise nothing gets done. Someone doesn't set himself up as leader by posturing and preening; leaders are appointed by those in whom they engender loyalty, admiration, trust, and confidence. Only those who are secure in their own egos can unreservedly commit their allegiance to a man they respect. It's an unpopular stance these days; read the newspaper. We're lucky to have a leader like Anton LaVey. He has ensured that his philosophy will not die with him; it has been and will continue to be codified, expanded and applied in new areas by his organization.
The Church of Satan cannot be defined as a personality cult. We are not dependent on the personality of Anton LaVey; the philosophy he established and still codifies will survive the centuries. But we do respect him and acknowledge him with unswerving loyalty - not blind faith, but educated admiration. In these days of electing our sacrifices and tabloid crucifixions, it's blasphemous to respect a leader and not try to tear him down - almost as heretical as calling forth Lord Satan Himself. That kind of loyalty comes naturally to a true Satanist; it rankles those with a lingering Christian agenda.
Our most productive people are "LaVey fanatics," those who say, "Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. I'll throw in my lot with the ones who started it, who sustain it, and I'll do my part by applying Satanism in my own life toward product and satisfaction." Sycophants are the ones who make it worthwhile for Dr. LaVey to continue writing, to keep recording his music. They encourage further productivity and let him know his perseverance isn't in vain. Anton LaVey doesn't need to justify or defend himself to anyone; his strength and his talent justify him. He is a noble, creative man who remains steadfast in his convictions. That's what his detractors can't stand. His words and his music only ring truer because of their efforts to defuse him. Sycophantic praise is more valuable to him than people who want to start their groups or their newsletters, "all for the good of the Church." Start them, fine. But admit unabashedly it's to feed your ego and your pocket, not Dr. LaVey's.
Apply your enthusiasm toward larger practical goals. Put taxation of churches on a ballot, invest your mind and money in the development of Artificial Human Companions, virtual reality, and total environments... do something. You are aligned with powerful forces - utilize them. We are responsible for the Renaissance, the revolution, if there is to be any at all. We are the leaders, not the gossips, critics and commentators. As we accelerate along this electronic superhighway, there are fewer artisans, more kibitzers and packagers feeding off the rare tidbit of creativity. Product has become more precious than gold. Don't get bogged down in networking and he-said/she-said accusations, spending so much time playing the game we lose sight of the objective. Examine motives, not smokescreen "issues."
So the next time someone accuses you of being a "sycophant," smile portentously, give a slight nod and know you've identified an enemy. Our detractors want to undermine your confidence, your principles, and our cohesion by throwing such words around. We have direction and focus. We cannot afford to have our energy siphoned off and sabotaged from within. We're out for bigger game. Don't fall for cheap ploys of the jealous and weak. Don't submit. Just say, "No. You're a scumbag, I don't like you, get away from me, you stink, I don't want to hear what you have to say, I'm not interested, you are not welcome here, go find another sucker."
At this juncture, we cannot tolerate dissension, skeptical inquiry or inciting to mutiny. The stakes are too high. If this is to be called tyrannical, despotic and ruthless, so be it. Internal strife is our only significant enemy. Now you can recognize these agitators' sleight of hand, and their motives. We know who we are and they know who they are. Yes, it is an us-vs.-them world, even when they try to call themselves Satanists. And don't expect me to be drawn into further angry response when this article is dissected by "honest inquirers." My ritual is complete. I have more important things to do - and so do you.
This article first appeared in The Black Flame, Volume 5, #3 & #4, 1995 c.e.