Theistic Satanism: Home > Politics > Satanist superman syndrome

Satanist superman syndrome

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

  1. What is Satanist superman syndrome, and what's wrong with it? - brief summary
  2. Satanist superman syndrome vs. both compassion and vengeance
  3. Satanist superman syndrome and our criminal fringe
  4. Religious freedom and political strategy

  1. What is Satanist superman syndrome, and what's wrong with it? - brief summary
  2. On this page I'll discuss an aspect of the Satanist scene which, quite frankly, I have long found extremely embarrassing. It's not found everywhere in the Satanist scene, but it is found in all too many places. Online, it is most common among LaVeyan symbolic Satanists, but it also crops up among some theistic Satanists as well. As far as I can tell, it originated among Church of Satan members, who in turn have set a very bad example for all too many other Satanists. However, not all LaVeyans display what I call "Satanist superman syndrome."

    By "Satanist superman syndrome," I mean a combination of (1) the idea that Satanists either are or should strive to be superhuman and should be totally invulnerable and totally self-reliant, never needing anyone's help in any way, and (2) an attitude of contempt toward anyone who doesn't fit that ideal.

    Self-reliance is a worthy goal. Nevertheless, we're all still human. Satan invites us "to become as gods," but I see that as a very longterm collective human goal that can be fulfilled only via science and technology. We're well on our way, but we're not there yet. In the meantime, we should indeed take responsibility for our individual lives as much as we can, and of course it's desirable to aim for excellence in whatever we do. Yet there still are plenty of things that are beyond anyone's control. Death and taxes are still inevitable for all of us. Accidents can still happen to the best of us. And there are even some problems that can be solved more easily by groups than by individuals acting alone.

    Satanist superman syndrome is a very exaggerated form of standard American-style rugged individualism. It is an over-reaction against the all-too-common opposite tendency, on the part of many people, to be too quick to blame other people for one's problems.

    There are four things I dislike about Satanist superman syndrome:  (1) It makes Satanists look stupid. Few spectacles are more ridiculous than a bunch of uncouth brats pounding their chests about how "elite" they are. (2) It leads the affected Satanists to pour contempt on each other's misfortunes, rather than responding in any way that might be helpful. (3) As I will explain further down on this page, Satanist superman syndrome opens a door to those to those who, for their own reasons, want Satanists to be involved in violent criminal activity. (4) It leads to what I consider counterproductive and all-around nutty political beliefs.

    In my opinion, we can still encourage self-reliance and we can still encourage the pursuit of excellence without all the silly macho chest-pounding.

  3. Satanist superman syndrome vs. both compassion and vengeance
  4. On Sunday, June 9, 2005, a 20-year-old LaVeyan Satanist named Daniel Romano was assaulted with a metal pipe by two thugs in Maspeth, Queens. The D.A. prosecuted it as a hate crime. (More about this story here.) Had Daniel been a member of almost any unpopular minority other than LaVeyan Satanists, his peers would have responded to him with sympathy and encouragements to fight back. Since one of LaVey's "Nine Satanic Statements" is "Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek," one might expect LaVeyans to respond all the more so with encouragements to fight back, perhaps even offers to join him in cursing his attackers. But no. When he posted about this matter in LaVeyan Satanist online forums, he was more often greeted by derision of his gothy appearance. Others blamed him for having somehow provoked the attack or allowed it to happen. Moreover, they were angry at him for so doing, because, supposedly, this whole episode was bad for Satanism's image.

    Why on Earth would anyone imagine that this episode  -  which didn't involve a Satanist committing any crime  -  made Satanism's image any worse than it already was? Because, according to some folks, a Satanist isn't ever supposed to be a victim of anything or anybody. A Satanist should be an invincible superman whom no one would ever dare to beat up in the first place. Therefore, according to these folks, the worst possible thing for Satanism's image is for any Satanist to show even the slightest trace of any kind of "weakness." That's far worse than, say, a totally false reputation for eating babies.

    I wonder how many of these folks are teenagers whose "Satanism" is primarily a means of scaring off high school bullies. But there are plenty of adults with these attitudes too. For some, it may be partly an attempt to encourage the teenagers to be responsible. For others it may just be an excuse to act like bullies, though its original purpose may have been to ward off other bullies. Whatever the motive, Satanist superman syndrome is still ridiculous, and the sooner we all get over it, the better.

    For whatever reason, hardly anyone in the Satanist scene ever notices that Satanist superman syndrome is fundamentally at odds with the very idea of vengeance. What's the point of vengeance if neither you nor anyone you care about is ever a victim of anybody or anything? Satanist superman syndrome is also, more obviously, at odds with any kind of compassion.

  5. Satanist superman syndrome and our criminal fringe
  6. Among other problems, Satanist superman syndrome opens a rhetorical door to those who want Satanists to be violent criminals. If we're such superior beings, then we should be able to get away with any crime, shouldn't we? A few very annoying folks have argued that only a "weak," "stupid," or "unfit" Satanist would need to be law-abiding, and that only "weak," "stupid," or "unfit" Satanists would even have any need to be tolerated as a public religious minority; a truly "elite" Satanist should be one of the world's secret masterminds.

    In response to this, most LaVeyans don't really have a good answer other than to claim that Satanism is Anton LaVey's intellectual property and LaVey didn't advocate law-breaking; therefore, the law-breakers are "Devil Worshipers," not "Satanists." To almost anyone but a LaVeyan, that's a pretty silly argument.

    In my opinion, the only logically coherent response is to reject Satanist superman syndrome, in its entirety, as just plain nonsensical, and then to point out the many ways it is in our best interests to be a publicly tolerated religious group and, therefore, not in our interests to commit crimes. It should also be argued (as I've argued extensively, elsewhere on this site) that violent criminal activity in the name of Satan does not serve any goal relevant to most forms of Satanism.

    To those who doubt that it's in our best interests to be a publicly tolerated religious minority, and who think we're all better off just keeping our beliefs private, I would point out that we don't always have the option of keeping our beliefs private. For example, what happens if you're getting a divorce and your ex-spouse decides to use Satanism against you in a child custody dispute? I do believe that, short of such forced public exposure, it should be up to each of us to decide how public or private we want to be about our beliefs. However, those who do go public  -  and especially those who go public in a responsible manner, neither going for shock value nor watering down their beliefs to the point of fluffiness  -  are doing the rest of us a favor and should be appreciated accordingly.

    As a general rule, the folks who want us to commit crimes also want us to get involved in neo-Nazism or other extreme right wing political movements. Apparently these folks want us to do neo-Nazism's dirty work.

    Why should we get involved in extreme right wing politics? Not because these movements' goals would actually benefit us in any way, but, according to these folks, because involvement in these movements would be a worthwhile experience for the individual activist, helping the person develop a lot of skills, practical knowledge, and "character." I agree that political activism can be a very worthwhile experience and great for self-development; but, if we're going to spend time on a political cause, why not pick one whose goals would actually benefit us, such as defense of the civil rights of religious minorities? Because, according to these folks, any cause that would actually benefit Satanists as a group would benefit mainly "weak" Satanists, about whose well-being we shouldn't care in the slightest. Furthermore, according to these folks, Satanism is all about taking on difficult challenges; hence Satanism itself should be difficult. Therefore, we should be active only in political causes that would make our lives harder, not easier. Yeah, right.

    These folks also claim that neo-Nazism serves some alleged "higher Satanic goals," a.k.a. "the sinister dialectic," which I won't elaborate on here. I'll just say that don't have much faith in anyone's ability to predict the long-range future, least of all the predictions of a bunch of people who are apparently looking for terrorist cannon fodder  -  if indeed they are serious and not just pulling our leg.

  7. Religious freedom and political strategy
  8. In my opinion, Satanist superman syndrome has resulted in some very skewed social and political attitudes even among law-abiding Satanists. Even LaVeyans tend to look down their noses at any activity that might benefit Satanists as a group, such as political activism to defend the civil rights of religious minorities. Minority civil-rights movements of any kind are often disdained for "victim mentality" and alleged anti-individualism, even though Satanists are an unpopular minority too.

    Some sectors of the minority civil-rights movements have indeed succumbed to an irrational victim mentality, e.g. scapegoating all "white males" in much the same way that some very immature Satanists and Pagans hate all Christians and blame them for all the world's problems. Nevertheless, minority civil rights movements have accomplished a lot of good, in my opinion. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    In my opinion, the best interests of Satanists could be well-served by a variation on the tried-and-true political strategy of an alliance of out-groups. And we should not dismiss such a mutually beneficial alliance as unfeasible. We already know, from the history of the Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) scare of the 1980's and early 1990's, that there are some very influential non-Satanists who, for their own reasons, have debunked the more paranoid anti-Satanist propaganda. (See "Satanism" scares and their debunking on my Against Satanic Panics site.)

    Alas, since there aren't very many of us Satanists, we're in no position to contribute either significant numbers of people or significant amounts of money to any political alliance. But what we can do is convince at least some other minorities that it's in their own best interests to oppose at least the more sensationalistic anti-Satanist scaremongering.

    One minority that's already convinced of this, without further prompting needed from us, is the organized atheist/humanist movement.

    Other minorities we can work on convincing include the various religions and other subcultures that have been popularly confused with Satanists, such as Pagans, occultists, and the metal, goth, and vampire scenes. In all these subcultures we will encounter resistance, but we will also encounter people who are receptive to and will even champion a more enlightened stance. (For an example of how to go about convincing them, see A budding new “Satanic” panic and the Pagan community.)

    Perhaps the most important minority for us to talk to is Jews, especially those who are either nonreligious or only moderately religious. There are many parallels between anti-Satanism and anti-Semitism, in terms of both "blood libel" and the kinds of paranoid conspiratorial beliefs that have historically been used to justify both. (See the list of articles on conspiracy theories in my Brief critique of anti-Semitic ideology.) It is likely that anti-Semitic and anti-Satanist ideologies have both influenced each other's development. That being the case, it is arguably in the best interests of Jews to encourage skepticism about all grand-conspiracy theories, regardless of the target. In addition, many liberal Jews are already in the forefront of upholding the rights of religious minorities and defending the separation of church and state.

    Obviously, if we're going to court liberal Jews as allies, then we also need to do what we can to discourage neo-Nazism and other forms of anti-Jew bigotry within our own ranks. (See my collections of articles on Against neo-Nazism among Satanists and Fascism vs. democracy vs. checks and balances - my response to "Satanist fascists".)

    We'll also need to discourage the intolerant attitudes of some Satanists toward various minority religions such as Wicca. Of course we have our disagreements with these religions, and there's nothing wrong with voicing our disagreements. But we'll need a lot of Satanists to stop being so dogmatic and stop acting like such obnoxious know-it-alls. Alas, LaVey and the Church of Satan have set a very bad example in this regard. Whatever gripes we may have against Wiccans, etc., we need to keep in mind that we have much bigger common enemies, such as the Christian religious right wing.

    To me all these things are painfully obvious. Alas, to many Satanists, the very idea of any kind of social, educational, or political activism that might actually benefit them is completely foreign, thanks in part to Satanist superman syndrome.

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