By Vexen Crabtree 2002
What does Satanism teach about violence? Violence occurs in real life, therefore an approach to violence is necessary. We need to consider both personal self-defence, and national armed forces. Here I describe the comments on violence in "The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969) and compare them to Christianity and Judaism. The apparent hardness of Satanism is then examined in more detail. I give some examples of violence and conclude that Satanism embodies the most rational approach to violence possible.
Satanism is a religion of real life. Violence, in real life, happens. People have always fought each other, and in my opinion people always will do. Satanists know that violence happens. It doesn't matter how moral, advanced or clever you are, sometimes you will be destroyed by someone simply because they are stronger than you. A Satanist feels that he is certainly worth preserving. It is only common sense that even a small amount of combat skill can safeguard yourself against unfortunate turns of event.
There are a great number of Satanists who practice forms of martial art, street fighting or weapons skills. Combination styles are popular; a Satanist does not consider a "perfect" style to be possible. Every fighting style has weaknesses. Frequently it is experience and training that are more important than the specifics of what you "do".
For example, the famous American Satanist Xloptuny ran the Satanic Combat Sciences - "a combat science", not a martial art, which takes into account modern weaponry such as guns, weapons of opportunity and other real-life situations.
Satanism is a religion that recognizes that man is just another animal, with animal instincts. "Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours" (Satanic Statement 7)1. In the natural world also we find that violence is the norm. Not only that but we find that there is a lot of behavior amongst animals that is designed to avoid violence and many confrontations end without actual harm being done. Nearly every occurrence of mammalian violence is preceded by drawn-out intimidatory displays of strength. Animals behave like this because it is intelligent learned social behavior - in the natural world, it is common sense that increased violence causes increased risk. As the cardinal sin of Satanism is stupidity, avoidance and alternate pathways are always kept in mind when dealing with violent events.
Before continuing, it is worth putting Satanism in context.
“Religion continues to be associated with violent fanaticism, as religion-inspired horror occurs with "unceasing regularity. Whether the struggles occur among Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus in India, or between Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem"2. No major world religion has avoided generating violence extremist movements from within its ranks3. This has been the case "since time immemorial"4. Religion-inspired violence is the stimulus for some people to call for the abandonment of religion altogether5 - it's not worth the risk. Monotheism has bred the most violent individuals and cultures due its intolerance of 'other' gods and a general strictness on the specifics of belief but, other forms of religion also breed antisocial and violent individuals. Public opinion (in the USA) correctly rates Islam, Christianity and Hinduism as the most violent religions (64%, 9% and 4% said so); Judaism was rated last at 2%6.
Three factors lead believers into uncivil behaviour. (1) The irrationality of belief and (2) the legitimization given to actions by beliefs in higher authorities, without the teaching of any critical and skeptical way of judging between claims as to what those higher authorities would want. For some people, voices in their heads are all that are required as long as they believe in god(s) which have authority to speak to them. For others, including atheist skeptics, such voices are immediate warning signs of impending mental ill health. Thirdly, (3), an otherworldly idealism and fixation with the corruptness, evilness or immorality of this world often pushes groups into extreme isolation where they cease to consider outsiders to be worthwhile human beings. Both irrational and criminal behaviour are given freer rein within religious systems of thought, as is suicide to escape this world and move on to the 'next'. Mass suicide, shoot-outs, gas attacks and other atrocities have befallen groups whose main thing in common is self-isolation from wider society, and a dread of a generally Christian-themed apocalyptic judgement-day. Many such groups emerged from mainstream religious movements and gradually became more and more sectarian over time. The main causes that allow this slip are insipid supernaturalism, poor education, sectarian schooling and a lack of critical thinking.”
How can there peace in a Satanic world? What a question! How can there be peace in a theistic world? Where anybody can kill in the name of some god and claim divine right? The monotheistic Churches have caused wars, divisions and torture. Yes, firstly I start I would very much like to point out that all religious teachings have caused violence, sometimes on a quite large scale. I fully expect that sometimes Satanic teachings will, too, cause unwanted violence.
Secondly - do you really think that Human Beings are capable of not fighting one another? As we pointed out in the first section, violence happens and frequently it is through no choice of our own. We need to be taught how to respond, what to do... 'turn the other cheek' is probably the least useful thing, personally or socially, that can be done when faced with violence. It is clear that pacifism is not an option. How can there be peace in a Satanic world? Haven't people looked at the world wondered if it hasn't perhaps been Satanic all along?
Criminals, which for simplicity I am defining here as those whose actions will undermine society, cannot be allowed to go unchecked. On this much, nearly everyone is agreed. Something must be done. However that 'thing' is certainly never entirely efficient, and it remains a responsibility of the general populace to be able to look after themselves. Society does not magically hold itself together: It is held together by human strength and values. These values must be defended. Criminals must know that society is against them. The more feeble the populace are, the more powerful criminals become and the less stable the society is. Society degenerates when people no longer pay the consequences of their own actions.
The main way to curb behavior is to make it clear that people will pay for their actions. Turning the other cheek is simply not a moral option. We should be resolved to help (criminal) people and bring them up to standard. The best way animals learns is that as soon as it does something wrong, it is punished. The longer the delay between the action and the punishment, the less effective that punishment is. Indeed, I believe it is even immoral to punish a person for a crime too long after they have committed it. Pacifism and meekness do not hold together society.
Without punishment for the wrongs people do, even on a personal level, we allow ourselves to be run over. We allow the wrongs of society to multiply. Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right... but if a person would commit three wrongs, and you punish them (and therefore stop them) after the first the overall total of wrongs is actually one less than it would have been otherwise.
Although the term self-respect has been hijacked as a macho street term, it is what these teachings boil down to. You do not let yourself get trampled on, and when you see a wrong you take the responsibility to immediately destroy the threat. This gives rise to the male 'street talk' of Satanism, the instinctive and automatic retribution to those who do wrong: especially strangers and random assailants.
All (worthwhile) people should invest in self defence. All people should learn about violence, experience it, witness it, so that they can best deal with it when it surfaces randomly. Is a Kung Fu master more or less violent than an uneducated thug? He is less violent because he understands violence and when it is or isn't necessary. He certainly doesn't need to exercise it in order to prove himself to others, or to himself. Violence, as an increased-odds methodology, is often avoided for much more intelligent methods of retribution, or preservation.
A lesson from the world of peacekeeping holds true in the world of personal security. A United Nations report on international security (2004)7 is commenting on peaceful forces that are charged with missions with the aim of achieving goals that are good for everyone. Compare such a force with the mature citizen, who also wants to do what is right, in a world that is sometimes violent. The report laments that "missions that do not have the troop strength to resist aggression will invite it". I.e., the best way to avoid violence is to be a force to be reckoned with. Criminals abuse the under-availability of physical strength. A fat and unfit policeman invites those who he apprehends to simply run away, which multiplies the offender's charge (evading arrest) and causes the policeman angst too. It is also a disadvantage to general society when criminals get away. It is simply for the better if everyone makes himself capable of defending himself, thereby reducing the scope for incidental outbreaks of violence.
“[Witnessed reported] ... when asked whether she believed in God, "Bernall said she believed in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour, and was shot in the temple."”
When armed gunmen are killing everyone, there is only one true, brave and correct course of action. If it is immoral for them to be doing what they are doing, because they are killing innocent people, then it is not moral to help them in their activity. It is most correct to take them on, to attack them. If possible, run away. It is better for everyone to escape rather than unnecessarily risk lives. If you cannot run away, if you are cornered or singled out, you must destroy your assailants.
In many circumstances, trying to talk to them is successful. Columbine was not one of those circumstances.
The most moral course of action, the one that shows you care more for human life than your own is to take on the assailants. Even if it is unlikely, there is still a chance. Hopefully you will achieve something, even if it is just wasting their time, ammo and reserve strength. you will have helped others. But why did Cassie Bernall not do this? This is the question I am asking... what went wrong?
First of all... none of the staff nor students attacked the gunmen either. I believe that all the victims during the attack were too scared and too confused. Children especially are not mentally equipped to deal with this type of event. The adult staff have less of an excuse. All in all, the chances are that none of them had training, or, certainly, none of them had the experience required to keep a cool head during violent events. It is this losing of cool that kills many people in all violent situations. From panic, to freezing and irrational actions, keeping a cool head seems to be the most important override. This is achieved, hopefully, by some physical training and at the very least some instruction on how to control your thoughts during times of intense and unexpected pressure. This is not something that we expect to be taught in schools. So, most children were rightly too scared to know what to do.
Satanism is a religion that teaches people about real life. Satanists know that religion is probably the most fucked up invention of mankind. That more violence occurs in the name of religion than any other single reason. A Satanist knows that when a gun man asks you, "Are you a Satanist?" the response is not:
"I am a Satanist! Hail Satan!"
The Satanist knows the correct response is:
"No, don't be stupid!"
In the name of peace, for love of man, the Satanist knows and is taught that lying is not a black or white issue. Cassie was under no moral obligation to tell her attacker the truth. She certainly had some bravery. Suicide, I believe, requires some bravery. But the ultimate act of goodness is to fight life's problems head on especially if it might help others... suicide is a second best to soldiering on.
For some reason, she was more interested in proclaiming her religious beliefs than she was in protecting herself or others. I believe in times of stress it is frequently our instincts that take over. Most people get frozen with fear. Cassey was not frozen with fear.. she was filled with enough pride in her religious belief to stand up and say precisely what it took (and more) to get her shot. If her beliefs were in life, that was not the right course of action.
Self preservation had taken a back seat in her mind. This is not the sign of a person resorting to instinct, but of someone with their instincts overridden. Martial training can provide that level of cool, but martial training is geared towards self preservation. Satanism provides Satanists with an instinctive ability to lie about their religion. Cassey's religious beliefs, though, were what had overridden her instincts. Those beliefs, when put into practice, turned out to be self destructive.9
Rather than try and reduce the suffering in the school (by trying to save herself or others) her ego decided it would better to promote her theology rather than save lives. From Mother Theresa to Jesus Christ, religious adherents have been failing to protect humanity for the same reasons. Theology becomes more important than life or logic.
Compare Cassey with Liviu Librescu. In 2007 Apr, Cho Seung-hui shot 32 fellow students and staff at Virginia Tech university, USA. But "one professor, Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor, blocked the door of his classroom with his body to slow Cho's entrance. This bought enough time for his students to jump out of the window. But not enough for mr Librescu himself to escape"10. The heroic professor saved the lives of his students, but sacrificed his own life by halting the progress of Cho. He did so without preaching his religion, unlike Cassey who took the chance to try and look good before God, but let her assailant continue to harm others. She was self-interested (in heaven), whereas Librescu was simply Earthly-minded, secular, and more interested in doing the right thing.
I will briefly contrast the apparent harshness of the Satanic teachings on violent retribution to those of Christianity and Judaism, and proceed in the next section to justify how I believe Satanism is superior to those by comparing them all to social pacifism.
Of the Nine Satanic Statements:
5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!1
and of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth:
11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.11
and from the first book of the Satanic Bible, the Book of Satan:
“If a man smite you on one cheek, SMASH him on the other! Smite him hip and thigh! [...] Give blow for blow, scorn for scorn, doom for doom - with compound interest liberally added thereunto! [...] Make yourself a Terror to your adversary, and when he goeth his way, he will possess much additional wisdom to ruminate over. Thus shall you make yourself respected in all the walks of life, and your spirit [...] shall live, not in an intangible paradise, but in the brains and sinews of those whose respect you have gained.”
“Blessed are the bold, for they shall be masters of the world - Cursed are the righteously humble, for they shall be trodden under cloven hoofs!”
I do not interpret "destroy" to mean "kill", as this would be stupid to kill those who merely bother me. It means that you remove that person as a risk. To satisfy this rule you will need to make yourself strong: Emotionally and physically capable of dealing with antagonizers. Such self preservation is essential to dealing with the unknowns of life.
The comment on "turning the other cheek" in the fifth Satanic Statement is commentary on Christianity:
“You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'. But I say do not resist evil. Who smites you on one cheek, offer to him the other. And he who takes away your cloak, tell him also to take away your coat.”
This has Christians offer themselves as victims instead of executing social justice. This is surely a prescription for social disaster! This selfish abstinence, the point of which is to go to Heaven, is a detriment to society and most Christians I know would not actually uphold this statement to be true and certainly don't act by it. Those criminals that would destroy society would be given free reign, which is wrong. Punishment, 'resistance', is most definitely more moral than abstinence.
The author of text that Matthew and Mark quoted from was when he mentioned 'an eye for an eye' was making a reference to the Jewish Law of the Old Testament. Is it true, therefore, that these statements in "The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969) are close to Judaism? I believe not. The 'eye for an eye' statement in the Torah is actually part of a guideline stating that the punishment should fit the crime. The Torah and Rabbis would also apply grace to this, meaning that the actual punishment was normally not as severe as it could be. I personally do believe in applying grace to retribution however: I think it is also right to exact an unmerciful revenge when the situation warrants it. However, this is rarely needed and frequently illegal... so gauge the consequences of your actions carefully, people!
A neophyte emailed me about an incident from "years ago" when he was attacked by a gang of drug dealers. I do not know whether he had prior involvement with them, or what, but he appeared to know them.
“I have read the Satanic Bible and have a good understanding. In the Nine Satanic Statements, #5 it says "Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek." but also says that the Satanist practices self preservation. I took no further action against these people. Going a step farther would have surely gotten me in over my head, either with the gang, or the authorities, and interfere with my schooling. Going after them, in my opinion would be stupid. Your input would be greatly appreciated.”
I since found an article in Focus magazine in 2004, asking "Do animals take revenge?".
“According to Stephen Beckerman, an anthropologist at Penn State University USA, vengeful behaviour is widespread in the animal kingdom. Blue-footed boobies (a type of bird), elephant seals, side-stripped jackals and European moorhens are all known as 'punishers' - they response to injuries by attacking those animals who hurt them. When it comes to primates, revenge gets more subtle - the injured individual may go for the relatives or allies of the guilty party, instead. But the point is the same; the behaviour acts as a negative reinforcement, forcing the attacker not to damage the victim any further.”
Violent reprisals have formed part of the evolutionary development of morals in social animals. There are volumes of research on violence and morals in animals. However in the case of Humanity, personal self-defence is not the whole issue - we are more intelligent. My response was:
“You can redirect vengeance however you want. You could redirect it into a general fight against drugs and violent gangs, or you could actively investigate the drug dealer and gang yourself, and see if you can damage them, in true vigilante fashion. Do whatever it is within your capabilities to do, but, as you point out, don't do anything stupid. Looking after yourself is more important than going to crusades to sort out other people. As a Satanist, your own existence is important; preserve yourself first. If you destroy yourself on some mad mission to attack a gang of practiced and violent drug dealers, then you've done no good. Be a tactician and a hero, not a fool.
In short... your instincts seem to be right.
As it exclaims in "The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969) Book of Lucifer, 2nd chapter: "I am a Satanist! Bow down, for I am the highest embodiment of Human life!". Don't waste that life on pointless, short-term goals that reduce your ability to live a strong life. Fight when you have to... but don't invite your own doom!
“History has spawned some surprising conflicts. Unlikely alliances and turns of events can swiftly turn a stable world into a chaotic war zone; the Al-Qaeda attack on September 11th has appeared to light the fuse on a number of USA-led invasions, in a millennium that had previously held promise to be potentially war-free, as far as developed countries were concerned.
Wars between countries do not just effect the governments, soldiers and civilians directly involved. World economies and world stability are affected. The arms industry is strengthened by every conflict, and the success of the arms industry facilitates more conflict, for good or bad. When a region erupts into war, the economic ramifications can reach far and wide. Disruption to oil supplies can cause serious chaos in developed countries. As a result, we police the Middle-East trying to enforce stability and prevent wars. It seems we are least successful and most disruptive when we are the ones starting the wars.
The world is not an idealistic place. Violence is a reality that will not go away just because Western Europe and Developed Countries have gone through an enlightenment. Dictators and expansionist regimes will not stop merely because we have nice pacifists or peaceful-sounding inter-government agreements. [...] When chaos erupts, we need our Armed Forces. [...]
If our technology, computers, communications and science were to be threatened, perhaps destroyed under religious intolerance or war, the loss would be immense. It has happened before, the ages of faith saw most of Europe fall to Christian theocracies that set back science and Humanity by several hundred years. The future is not immune to such cataclysms, and we must always have armed forces that are capable not only of defending one particular region of the Earth, but which also has a remit to defend the assets and peoples of any country against the ravages of the violent barbarian, in whatever guise he is mustered.”
Sometimes force is required. Satanism is a religion of real-life and nature itself is violent. We adopt the symbols of violence, blood, death and angst simply because these things cannot be forgotten even though our species is prone to wishful thinking, peace-seeking civilities and nature-denying tree-hugging. Enough! To have balance, to appreciate life, and understand the desperate dangers of violence, you must keep the ideas of violence entertained in your belief system. Acceptance of the symbol of Satan is the best way to ensure that your outlook on life is realistic and in sync with nature.
The Satanist may happen to never engage in violence, but there is always the chance that one day he or his country will have to, for the greater good or for individual protection. It is the same for all people. As a religion of the Earth, Satanism in the name of intelligence and responsibility, requires us to make ourselves capable of physically defending both ourselves and what we consider to be good.
Satanism is much less conducive to random violence, as a Satanist always keeps in mind that he alone bears the results of his actions, both in the long and short term. "Responsibility to the responsible!" is the 6th Satanic Statement. Balance is a key factor, something severely missing from monotheistic Churches past and present. No Church that institutionalized the Inquisition has their internal checks and balances calibrated correctly! We'd rather leave the world as it is instead of reducing it to dust. Stability benefits all but there cannot be total peace: we are honest. Most Satanists live peaceful, stable, happy lives. The myth of Satanic violence evaporates - it simply doesn't happen. It is this fact that proves that the Satanists' attitude to violence is correct.
Perhaps at some point of Human development, technology or science can remove our instincts towards personal violence and our ability to behave violently. Until then, the Satanic attitude to violence is perhaps one of the most obvious, commonsensical and also perhaps the least dangerous and least self-deluded approach.
Current edition: 2003 Jan 1513
Last Modified: 2017 Jan 14
Second edition 2002 Mar 30
Originally published 2000 Spring
Parent page: The Description, Philosophies and Justification of Satanism
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The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source..
The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. Book Review.
(2008) Fundamentalism. 2nd edition. Published by Polity Press, Cambridge, UK.
Clarke, Peter B.. Peter B. Clarke: Professor Emeritus of the History and Sociology of Religion, King's College, University of London, and currently Professor in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford, UK.
(2011) The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion. Paperback book. Originally published 2009. Current version published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Wenzel, Nikolai G.
(2011) Postmodernism and Religion. This essay is chapter 9 of "The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion" by Peter B. Clarke (2011) (pages p172-193).