By Vexen Crabtree 2001-Aug-19
Vexen's site: http://www.vexen.co.uk (http://www.vexen.co.uk)
Vexen Crabtree is the author and designer of The Description, Philosophies and Justification of Satanism, www.dpjs.co.uk (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/criticism/index.html).
This is Vexen's summary of the weakest, or least acceptible points of modern Lavey Satanism, including theological and sociological concerns. The latter half of the essay contains some counter arguments and propsed directions that he sees as being remedies.
1. Theology & Superficiality
One of the weakest points of modern Satanism, also one of strongest points, is a general over-emphasis on materialism and a lack of dogma. The actualy theology present in Satanism is quite low once you get beyond a few statements such as the infamous Satanic Bible passage:
"There is no heaven of glory bright, and no hell where sinners roast. Here and now is our day of torment! Here and now is our day of joy! Here and now is our opportunity! Choose ye this day, this hour, for no redeemer liveth!"
[ Satanic Bible: The Book of Satan IV:2 ]
The theology that does exist, for example the Four Crown Princes of Hell (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/satan.html), the Infernal Names, Self Worship (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/worship.html): These are to a large extent more of a matter of linguistics and terminology than real theological statements. Even the Demonology is allegorical post-modern, counterculture sociology.
So there is potential for committed scholars to shun Satanism, because of the lack of material to study. There is something lacking in Self-Worship... something a bit too self-help. It doesn't lend itself to serious or technical attention.
In Empiress' essay Why I am not a Satanist (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/criticism/empiress.html), her second point against Satanism, she covers this non-aspect of Satanism:
Related to Satanism being reactionary, Satanism is "philosophy light" and "rhetoric heavy." Anton LaVey's greatest skill was that of a rhetorician. Satanism, if one scratches much beyond the surface, proves to be intellectually shallow. There's just not a lot to it. My gut reaction to the SB was, "It's Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People with an 'evil' twist and a large dose of Friederich Nietzsche thrown in. Satanism gets people motivated, excited, and impassioned.like all good rhetoric. But in the end, it's not intellectually satisfying as a philosophy in its own right.
2. Anton Lavey: Women!
The Church of Satan and the beliefs of Satanism do not lend themselves to considering that a person can ever be perfect or infallible. All knowledge and wisdom is taken with a pinch of salt and doubt. I am not about to say that Anton Lavey was anything other than an excellent freethinker, a top class carnival psychologist/sociologist, or perhaps even the best philosopher since Nietszsche.
But included in LaVey's works are personal opinions, jokes, fun, entertainment, and then more personal opinions. He found it hard to write long without involving his own interests, past or bias. And these show through in his approach and writings about women. Anton Lavey's upbringing in the 40's and 50's lent themselves to an older, more traditional view of women. Although a freethinker who shattered and lived far beyond that cumbersome social taboos and limitations of his time, Anton appears to have shed little of the 50's slightly misogynistic attitude.
He broke through in some areas, some as Women pro-power, and beliefs that Women should be no less cunning or manipulative than any man, but couldn't seem to seperate his tastes from his work. So some of his writing on Women makes me cringe a little. The Satanic Witch contains radical and unheard-of advice, which was 20 years ahead of it's time, some of the underlying assumptions have become dated. I think he wasn't entirely "in touch" with Women.
No offence to those that actually agree with his many wise words... if we all agreed with each other (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/community.html) we wouldn't be Satanists!
Once again I quote Empiress (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/criticism/empiress.html), a paragraph from her "Satan is an Unworthy Symbol":
When Satanism was developed in the 1950's and 1960's in "Christian America," calling it Satanism had more power and punch because people's image of Satan was more heterogeneous, ridiculous, and stereotypical. Post the 1960's hippie movement however, people are more clued in to what Satanists are saying and the title no longer carries the same impact on people (with the possible exception of Christian fundamentalists). That which is based on shock eventually becomes mundane. The Black Mass, for example, has become expected and uninteresting.no longer the subject of newspaper articles or "scandal." Once again we see that Satanism, by being a purely reactionary philosophy, is dependent on the weaknesses of other systems of thought, or, in the case of the name, on the ridiculous stereotypes people hold of Satan.
And here is where I hold sympathies for Satanists. When "Satan" no longer shocks, one of the most "interesting" aspects of Satanism is lost. Satanism actually needs to grow into larger boots! I think if Anton LaVey were alive today he'd realize his short sightedness. Satanism needs to have the flexibility to change with the times. As our world grows more and more secular, Satanists will be left holding yet one more tired, reactionary philosophy.
Empiress perhaps hit on a point here without feldging it out fully. The Alien Elite is a Satanic concept inspired by Friedrich Nietszche's "Superman" principal. That there are born natural leaders, and these people can appear at any point in any culture. A reason d'etre is to try and develop yourself to transcend your own culture to reach a state of Alien Elite. But this can be done without Satanism... to those who it is natural. Satanism as a religion has potential to defeat itself in modern society.
As religion becomes more of a fringe, as philosophy, materialism and Quantum-Physics inspired mysticism become the only acceptable forms of faith in society, religion is becoming viewed as both out of date and irrelevent to modern ideas. The modern secular movement is not conerned with religion to such as extent that in barely pays in any attention, not enough to even oppose it. Satanism is founded on the hypocrisy and ridiculous assumptions of other religions, like the alien elite are only elite as long there exists a mass of sheep who remain on the right hand path. Without lesser religions, Satanism looses it's rebellion.
There is a real risk that in modern society, Satanism can lose it's edge. Superceded by the carnal materialism that in the beginning founded it!
The Black Solstice's Unholy War
1 & 3 . Theology & Superficiality - Victory through dogma and allegorical symbolism even when no godly enemies survive.
The presence of spiritual dogma, or theology, is the weakest point of Buddhism. Buddhism which is otherwise a very practical, inspring and self-help religion is hindered by it's belief in reincarnation, in mystical karma and other elements. Satanism, I believe, is right to refrain from making such sweeping assumptions. Self Worship (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/worship.html) is enough, and is as far as you can go before you start making things up about what is real and what is not.
The future does not look good for personified gods, whether they wear red capes or halos. Can Satanism survive without lesser religions to use as strawmen?
Satanism has potential to survive where other religions falter; for science and secularism is no threat to it's philosophies or lifestyle. Anton LaVey, as I pointed out in agreement with Empress (http://simon.crabtree.com/satanism/criticism/empiress.html) in point one, has a deeper understanding of Human Nature than to allow Satanism simply to fall by the wayside in the face of an uncaring secular advance.
With the lack of religion there is a void. People need dogma; they need to be told what is what. Even the natural born individualists needs to have a reprieve from eternal alienation. People can't survive in a healthy state without habits, releases from thought. Plain and simple, people need games. They need sport, games, computers, hobbies. Something they just "do". In the adsence of religion, there is a certain void. A need for devotion to the unknown, and a generic faith in "everything" still exists.
Satanism will continue to fill that void in people's little hearts. It allows one to make strong, dominant, dogmatic statements. They are feel good. Self help with an evil twist! It allows faith in yourself; but not in a mere atheist Human Potential way but in a dogmatic, aggressive and cathartic religion that fulfills people's needs without attacking the ego. Satanism retains imagery and power and lots of things that the new mundane society lack. Our Patron Saint has always moved with the times!
2. Anton Lavey: Women
I personally feel the best way to look at this is this: If you do not agree with Anton Lavey's views on women, then just accept that that's the way it was in his time. He was ahead of his time, but didn't quite hit the nail on the head the way the ninetees view of women has. Anton LaVey's, like everyone, has opinions. Feel free to disagree, as long as you at least think about it!
Compared to Judaism, Christianity and Paganism, Satanism has a quite shallow view of theology and gods. There is not much to study, no versus to learn off by heart, no sprawling astrological charts of orders of angels to drool over. So what does that scholarly Satanist study?
There are many things. More than initially beats the eye. The Satanic Bible is stuffed with references, mostly unexplained and unhighlighted, to schools of thought and philosophies.
There is Demonology, the histories of the (literally) hundreds of pro-Satan groups throughout history, all the ways in which they interacted. Looking at famous Satanists is revealing... such an ecclectic bunch of people! Surprise after surprise! It's a sociologists' nightmare and a never-ending puzzle of characters and clubs! Satanic history is very rich.
The philosophies of the left hand path, materialism, objectivism can all be studied. The deeper you look, the more it all comes together. There is no lack of links or shocks.
The more I research, the more the Satanic Bible makes sense. When I first read the Satanic Bible, portions of it appeared to be barely coherent. Odd words... strange ways of phrasing things. References and words I didn't understand. Age of ice... age of fire... the Demons in North, South, East and West... the Enochian calls. But with time it makes more sense. If Anton Lavey explained what he was talking about thoroughly, the Satanic Bible would be ten times it's present size. But that is not his job! It is our job to continue the research. And again and again it comes back to the Satanic Bible!