By Vexen Crabtree 2003 Apr 06
Three common criticisms of Satanism. The first two are similar, that either Anton LaVey or the Church of Satan is somehow insincere or fraudulent. My answer is that I couldn't care less and all individuals and organisations are self-interested. I respond to the third criticism that LaVey Satanism is a rip-off of Nietzsche by pointing that all philosophies and religions follow on from what came before, and although much of Nietzsche's philosophy exists in Satanism, the latter is nonetheless different.
There are rumours and websites discrediting Anton LaVey's biography and trying to say that Blanche Barton and LaVey have lied about their own past, history and motives. People sometimes doubt the facts that they wonder whether LaVey was sincere in his beliefs (I belief he was sincere) or if he was only trying for fame and money.
As a Satanist, I use LaVey's works as I use any other material or source. For my own gains and self empowerment. I do not see that it is important whether LaVey was honest, truthful, a nice person or even rich. I don't care if he was sincere or not... we can still use his writings. LaVey has created something that is useful to me even if it was all for himself. We should not doubt for one moment that everything he did was for himself. I wouldn't believe him if he said otherwise!
What's the difference between a fake that gets results, and the real thing that gets results? None. I believe Anton LaVey and his Church are in it for money and rewards, it would be stupid to say otherwise. Nonetheless, the manifestation of the dark force in nature, the Church of Satan, yields positive results. Satanism is a tool not an exercise in white-light benevolence, we're all in it for ourselves. So, I expect and am told by our very philosophy that the Church of Satan is a self-interested organisation. At least, unlike other religious bodies, it is honest about it.
Strangely, this honesty makes me trust it just a little bit more than other religious bodies. Aside from that, it certainly reflects my beliefs and world view whether or not it is a fraud, a fake or a scam. As such I wish the Church of Satan to continue to exist, and therefore became a member.
Friedrich Nietzsche is often referred to as the quintessential Satanist philosopher. It is undoubted that LaVey was influenced by Nietzsche as he would often quote from him. LaVey gave credit, where due, to Nietzsche.
But let's not get carried away like those who say that this is damaging. Every philosophy is based on the teachings learnt by its founder and followers! All the major literary philosophers and religions have used existing knowledge to fuel their own religion. LaVey's teachings matched with parts of Nietzsche's, partly in style and partly in content. The synthesis of Nietzsche with many other teachings and elements has created a new, unique movement. Nietzsche did not found an international Satanic organisation, he merely paved the way philosophically. Satanism is more than philosophy, it is a way of life and a system of symbolism that Nietzsche did and could not have created, and may not even have accepted if he was alive today.