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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Instructive bad reading, Part IV: Dissecting fascism with the help of “Might is Right”

Editor’s Note: This is part four of a four-part series on the white suprema­cist text Might Is Right and the his­to­ry of Amer­i­can fas­cism. This series looks at how ideas stat­ed out­right in that late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry text have con­tin­ued to have influ­ence into the present day, from Satanists and Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists to pale­o­con­ser­v­a­tives and right-wing terrorists.

Jump to Part One | Two | Three | Four

In the pre­vi­ous install­ment, we explored how the author of Might Is Right was so anti­se­mit­ic and dis­mis­sive of any­thing con­nect­ed to Judaism, he was unaware that his crit­i­cisms of Chris­tian­i­ty were com­plete­ly irrel­e­vant to many Amer­i­can sects, then and now, because plen­ty of Chris­t­ian denom­i­na­tions enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly wor­ship pow­er and hier­ar­chy more than a cru­ci­fied Christ.

It’s not clear if this oth­er, unnamed and more mus­cu­lar strain of Chris­tian­i­ty was ever noticed by Anton LaVey when he cribbed so heav­i­ly from Might Is Right to make it the par­tial basis of The Satan­ic Bible. The mock­ery of Chris­tian­i­ty by name seems to have been attrac­tive enough to him to call it blasphemy.

With some mys­ti­cism and his own fla­vor of pre­ten­sion, some­times jok­ing­ly sum­ma­rized as “Ayn Rand with can­dles”, LaVey cre­at­ed the Church of Satan, which can be said to be the well­spring of all mod­ern Satanism.

Overt ref­er­ences to Jew­ish con­spir­a­cies and Negro sav­ages are gone, but he liked the parts about smash­ing your ene­mies instead of lov­ing them and he talks about “reli­gion” with a con­fi­dent uni­ver­sal­ism despite it not being espe­cial­ly rec­og­niz­able to a Recon­struc­tion­ist Jew or Quak­er, let alone a Bud­dhist or Shin­to follower.

LaVey, for his part, does not seem to have been a per­son for whom anti-racism was ever impor­tant. He cul­ti­vat­ed rela­tion­ships with Neo-Nazi occultists like James Madole whose work grew into strains of con­tem­po­rary ter­ror­ism like the Order of the Nine Angels (O9A), and LaVey raised Boyd Rice to a posi­tion of lead­er­ship with­in the Church of Satan despite, or maybe because of, Boyd Rice’s fond­ness for Mein Kampf and Amer­i­can Nazis.

Again, LaVey was born “Lev­ey”, but he grew up in San Fran­cis­co. His idea of rebel­lion and blas­phe­my had a blind spot for what sort of forces were still most pow­er­ful in the Unit­ed States, reli­gious and otherwise.

Writ­ing in the late 1960s, LaVey mused:

A black mass, today, would con­sist of the blas­phem­ing of such “sacred” top­ics as East­ern mys­ti­cism, psy­chi­a­try, the psy­che­del­ic move­ment, ultra-lib­er­al­ism, etc.

Patri­o­tism would be cham­pi­oned, drugs and their gurus would be defiled, acul­tur­al mil­i­tants would be dei­fied, and the deca­dence of eccle­si­as­ti­cal the­olo­gies might even be giv­en a Satan­ic boost.

In oth­er words, LaVey’s con­cep­tion of rebel­lion was to make the same appeals that Richard Nixon’s cam­paign would suc­cess­ful­ly use to gain the pres­i­den­cy two times. This ori­en­ta­tion of pseu­do-rebel­lion has con­tin­ued into the present day.

The Church of Satan’s present leader, Peter H. Gilmore, pro­vid­ed a for­ward to the 2019 “Author­i­ta­tive Edi­tion” of Might Is Right, and else­where explained the polit­i­cal posi­tion of the Church of Satan was open to all, mean­ing fas­cists, too.

It is up to each mem­ber to apply Satanism and deter­mine what polit­i­cal means will reach his/her ends, and they are each sole­ly respon­si­ble for this decision.

While this is sup­pos­ed­ly apo­lit­i­cal, LaVey had and his church still has a strict “no drug use” pol­i­cy, so it’s not as if they had no limits.

But when you say, “We’re okay with fas­cists,” the result is that lots of fas­cists will start to show up in droves any­where they’re tol­er­at­ed, mak­ing their tar­gets uncom­fort­able enough to leave until only fas­cists are left. The per­sis­tent lack of Satanists who are Black in the past half-cen­tu­ry may not be so sur­pris­ing, then.

This idea that “Satanism is rebel­lion and rebel­lion is being will­ing to embrace even fas­cism” ties back in to pro­gres­sive Satanist strains as well.

Although it did­n’t end up using The Satan­ic Bible or Might Is Right as a foun­da­tion­al text, The Satan­ic Tem­ple found­ed in 2013 and made famous by the 2019 doc­u­men­tary Hail Satan?  ties back more direct­ly to Might Is Right by two of its for­ma­tive fig­ures: Shane Bug­bee and Doug Misicko.

The film­mak­er Bug­bee did his own reprint of the book with orig­i­nal illus­tra­tions by Mis­icko, then going by the pseu­do­nym Doug Mesner.

Mis­icko is most famous now as The Satan­ic Tem­ple spokesper­son Lucien Greaves, and has made the pub­lic ori­en­ta­tion of the orga­ni­za­tion oppos­ing white suprema­cy, as in the August 2017 op-ed for the Wash­ing­ton Post, “I’m a founder of The Satan­ic Tem­ple. Don’t blame Satan for white suprema­cy.”

But as part of their col­lab­o­ra­tion on the 2003 re-print­ing, the two men and Bug­bee’s then-fiance Amy Stocky engaged in a twen­ty-four-hour live-stream talk­ing about their appre­ci­a­tion for Might Is Right’s mes­sage.

They also dis­cussed more recent pol­i­tics, like where they dif­fered on the mer­its of white suprema­cist Tim­o­thy McVeigh’s Okla­homa City Bomb­ing and whether killing chil­dren hurt McVeigh’s cause or they were just “cop kids.”

About three hours and twen­ty-eight min­utes in, Bug­bee lists off how his pre­vi­ous edi­tion includ­ed con­tri­bu­tions by white suprema­cist ter­ror­ist David Lane of The Order, George Eric Hawthorne of the band “Racial Holy War (RaHoWa)”, and LaVey, and how that led to oppo­si­tion from some Satanists against Nazis.

This tran­si­tions into a dis­cus­sion between a caller and Bug­bee about how Social Dar­win­ism was ruined by its asso­ci­a­tion to Nazis, which the caller extends to eugen­ics also, prompt­ing Mis­icko to chime in.

“Threw the baby out with the bath­wa­ter, so to speak,” Mis­icko says. “It’s just like, ‘anti­se­mit­ic’ to me isn’t a bad word. It just depends. Like, I think it’s okay to hate Jews if you hate them because they’re Jew­ish and they wear a stu­pid [exple­tive] fris­bee on their head and walk around think­ing they’re God’s cho­sen people.”

Mis­icko clar­i­fies that it’s not okay to hate non-prac­tic­ing Jews, how­ev­er, lead­ing to Bug­bee and Stocky to dis­agree while mak­ing increas­ing­ly aggres­sive claims about not lik­ing any­one with a drop of Jew­ish blood as well as argu­ing about who actu­al­ly died in the Holocaust.

When asked if he’s Jew­ish him­self, Mis­ick­o’s retort is, “I’m an Aryan king!”

As late as 2015, Mis­icko was using free­dom of speech to jus­ti­fy pub­licly step­ping away from a speak­ing pan­el in sol­i­dar­i­ty with the neo-Nazi August Sol Invic­tus, and in Jan­u­ary 2017, Mis­icko over­rode a local chap­ter in Cal­i­for­nia to tell the right wing media hate site Bre­it­bart that The Satan­ic Tem­ple opposed counter-protest­ing Milo Yiannopoulus, at least pri­or to Yiannopoulus’s pro-child rape com­ments com­ing out a month later.

This is not to say that Mis­icko is him­self a fas­cist or The Satan­ic Tem­ple is a cryp­to-fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion, any more than The Church of Satan was.

Bug­bee left The Satan­ic Tem­ple ear­ly on and the oth­er founder and co-own­er is Cevin Sol­ing, or “Mal­colm Jar­ry”, a self-described “sec­u­lar Jew.”

And yet, hear­ing some­one is opposed to reli­gious tyran­ny sounds a bit dif­fer­ent when they’ve admit­ted they includ­ed peo­ple who wear yarmulkes as being wor­thy of their ire, just as “free speech” ends up being lit­tle more than a euphemism when it’s used to defend white suprema­cists rather than fight non-dis­clo­sure agree­ments or pro­tect union organizing.

When, pri­or to found­ing The Satan­ic Tem­ple, Sol­ing went on Rus­sia Today to bemoan how pub­lic schools are more author­i­tar­i­an now and func­tion more like deten­tion cen­ters than edu­ca­tion facil­i­ties, a lot of left-lean­ing peo­ple would agree with that. But when Sol­ing’s expla­na­tion is that schools now have to enforce order on a het­ero­ge­neous pop­u­la­tion rather than a homoge­nous group of stu­dents, your ears ought to perk up a little.

Often we don’t hear any­thing because white lib­er­als are by some mea­sures more like­ly to jus­ti­fy their sup­port poli­cies result­ing in school seg­re­ga­tion than con­ser­v­a­tives when it involves their own children.

It is easy to see the racism in black and white pho­tographs of those “gap-toothed racists” in Mis­sis­sip­pi, but it’s much hard­er to rec­og­nize it in our­selves when we’re pay­ing for pri­vate schools, tutors, or mov­ing to school dis­tricts in places that were his­tor­i­cal­ly hos­tile to minori­ties while we vote to keep them that way in the name of “neigh­bor­hood character.”

Whether some­one uses a grotesque­ly racist slur to jus­ti­fy not want­i­ng to send their child to school with Black kids or dress­es it up in the nice pair of shoes of “giv­ing my child the best oppor­tu­ni­ty”, it does­n’t much mat­ter when the result is the same.

It would be nice if there were some uni­fy­ing short­hand for fas­cism and its suc­cubus twin racism, but there isn’t. We must pay close attention.

The book’s ideas are not imme­di­ate­ly iden­ti­fi­able by any sin­gle aes­thet­ic because as much as Satanism is cen­tral to Might Is Right’s his­to­ry per­sist­ing as a spe­cif­ic work, Satanism has no real pow­er in the world.

The preach­er who tells his con­gre­ga­tion to sup­port their “Wolf-King” in the White House is exhibit­ing the same ideas cham­pi­oned by Might Is Right despite the preach­er appeal­ing often to God and label­ing all his ene­mies the tools of Satan.

Again, the best thing that can be said of Might Is Right is that is bad­ly writ­ten. There is no dress­ing up of any­thing, just sheer big­otry shout­ed in the most odi­ous, pre­ten­tious, and art­less way possible.

Hav­ing seen the ur-fas­cism of a mediocre late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry white suprema­cist, misog­y­nist, anti­semite and ardent cap­i­tal­ist throw­ing racial epi­thets across sev­er­al hun­dred pages, it becomes much eas­i­er to rec­og­nize when the same argu­ments are being made with more abstract­ness or appar­ent kindness.

Might Is Right would argue Ariel Cas­tro — who kid­napped,  sex­u­al­ly assault­ed, and impreg­nat­ed three women for a decade in Cleve­land before one of his vic­tims escaped in 2013 — did noth­ing wrong except be found out, just as the author argued that slavers were right to take their kid­napped women as they would.

Read­ing Might Is Right, you should find it much hard­er to per­form apol­o­gism for the Unit­ed States’ own promi­nent slavers and slave-catch­ers see­ing where that same log­ic springs from and how far it goes.

If you ever attempt to read Might Is Right, its high­est virtue is that it is so unap­peal­ing it makes obvi­ous what sort of soci­ety it’s advo­cat­ing for: the rule of rich white men to do exact­ly as they please and the forcible sub­ju­ga­tion of all oth­er peo­ple in ser­vice to them.

It would be nice if that meant it had no appeal to any­one, but his­to­ry has shown time and again that it does, par­tic­u­lar­ly to young white men.

In that sense, it is dan­ger­ous. How­ev­er, the book is large­ly dan­ger­ous because it’s not received in a vac­u­um; it’s received in the con­text of a world already shaped by its ideas in their sub­tler, qui­eter, politer forms. This is fer­tile ground each time the ideas of hier­ar­chy and con­trol renew them­selves in their true forms with­in pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions, neglect­ed sub­cul­tures, and anony­mous Inter­net forums.

A year ago at the Gilroy Gar­lic Fes­ti­val, eighty miles south of San Fran­cis­co, a nine­teen year old man engaged in a mass shoot­ing, wound­ing sev­en­teen peo­ple, killing three, and result­ing in his own death. One of the last mes­sages he post­ed encour­aged peo­ple to read this awful book while decry­ing the “hordes of mes­ti­zos” and “Sil­i­con Val­ley white twats” that were mov­ing to the area.

We have to under­stand the mes­sage is just as seri­ous when it does­n’t include rude words, when it’s Tuck­er Carl­son decry­ing “diver­si­ty” and “wok­e­ness” to his mil­lions of view­ers while wear­ing a tie.

We have to pay close atten­tion. The real gift of Might Is Right is that it says what it does so bad­ly we have no rea­son to be con­fused by any­one else say­ing it even if they man­age to do it more polite­ly, art­ful­ly, or abstractly.

Jump to Part One | Two | Three | Four

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