On Honor, Integrity, Survival and Satisfaction
Magus Peter H. Gilmore
Satanism is a realist religion. Our foundation is on a carnality that denies the existence of any spiritual dimensions. This fundamental embracing of the flesh leads each of us to view our own lives as the highest value. The preservation and promotion of our lives is what Satanists pursue. To that end, we employ a pragmatic approach, discovering the breadth and depth of our capabilities and applying them rationally towards our desired ends, which are determined with practical realism. Idealism—the creation of expectations that exceed the possibility of achievement and thus often prompt the rejection of partial success—is not the way of the Satanist.
In our present society, people are trained from birth to base self-esteem on the valuations of others. Satanism radically opposes that notion and demands that each Satanist evaluate himself. Thus one’s sovereign consciousness will be the final court of judgment for that evaluation.There are two essential aspects to our understanding of the human condition, and they temper our ability to make such judgments. First, as realists we accept that we are fallible beings. Next, remain aware that we are living via a mutually accepted social contract with equally (if not more) fallible beings, and must not condemn ourselves if our attained goals do not reach the projected level of our original intentions.
It is natural behavior for our species to find inspiration in exaggerated and stylized depictions of either fictional characters or romanticized historical personages. Obversely, it is human tradition to revile archetypal villains or demonized members of our species. The Satanist makes it his business to see who benefits by the behavior being encouraged in the audience for such depictions of excellence and perfidy. Sadly, many people tend to think that whatever values they hold are—or should be—shared by everyone else and they are stunned when confronted not only by one person holding to a different value system, but a whole society of functioning humans who do not share congruent estimations of the “rightness” or “wrongness” of behavior. A “culture shock” is thus generated. This intransigence stems from the historical practice of claiming that moral codes have been handed down to people from supernatural authorities and thus that such edicts should never be questioned. Satanists and other secularists know that all moral codes are generated by humans, some of whom claim to be the intermediaries for various non-human intelligences. The masses in any period of history generally think their way of acting is proper and is ordained immutably by a deity or some form of higher authority. Such thinking is a barrier to personally and consciously crafting rational codes of behavior suitable to a society’s particular evolutionary state both culturally and economically.
Arising from established societal behaviors is the concept of honor. This form of esteem is bestowed upon an individual by the society when it deems him as virtuous because he displays a thorough consistency of behavior with the group’s moral codes. Honor is offered to the few who can hold to an outstanding level of moral constancy, as most people have idealistic moral codes which are regularly breached by the at-large members of society. He who is honorable comes closest to the ideals enshrined by that society. The recipient of this esteem usually shares the same values as the bestowers, hence he considers their approbation to be a positive experience.
Another trait cherished by society is known as integrity, and this is a consistency of an individual’s actions with his espoused philosophy. It is implied when one is complimenting someone's integrity that there is agreement upon the base philosophy regulating the behavior of both. However, one could be rigorously following a philosophy that holds opposing values from a beholder and still be said to have integrity.
Hypocrisy, a negative, is seen as behaving contrary to one’s stated beliefs. Satanists often find that many non-secular people will not respect their philosophical integrity, but even their detractors might grudgingly grant that the lack of hypocrisy and adherence to Satanic principles found in most of our kind is impressive, if misguided, in their world view.
For Satanists, who create their own hierarchy of values based on themselves as the primary “bonum,” the issue of honor becomes contextual. Satanists are able to enjoy the esteem they have won from other individuals who share their personal values, but will generally disregard the opinions of people with differing values. So where honor is concerned, from whence it is being offered and upon what grounds it is based determines whether it has any meaning. Honor as general societal approbation is not endorsed as a Satanic value. The Satanist, usually a student of human history, has seen countless times when “honor” is the carrot-on-the-stick used to lead soldiers off to a likely death in battle, an immaterial “good guy badge” often awarded posthumously. War has so often been a conflict of numbers wherein people armed with fairly equivalent weaponry clash and those with superior numbers win. Many die, and their commanders knew this would be the case, but the anesthetic used on their troops’ sense of self-preservation have usually consisted of exhortations to behave “honorably.” Those who survive tend to be the only ones for whom this honor has any significance, to be possibly wielded towards some benefits from society. The dead cannot care.
In a Satanic point of view, the best military situation is when one has superior weapons technology and can press a button at a distance and vaporize as many of your enemies as is possible. The submarine is a most Satanic weapon, particularly contemporary versions, but also properly diabolical are ICBMs, stealth bombers and long-range drone missiles. Hand-to-hand combat with an adversary might sound “heroic” or “honorable” to the naive or those who have not been in battle, but the reality of such struggles is ugly, physically damaging and painfully fatal to at least one of the combatants.
If the Satanist was offered the choice between fighting an enemy on equal grounds with equal weaponry or having his foe delivered to him naked, weaponless and bound, he would always choose the latter. Far better to dispose of the adversary with the least effort than to place oneself in a position where one could lose the conflict. The idea of chivalric rules of engagement in death struggles is an idealist pantomime towards an audience that is not itself in danger of expiring. In genuine mortal conflicts, the Satanist—and any other savvy combatant—will survive via any means at his disposal. Codes of honor have no place in battle, and the victors—regardless of whatever means brought them triumph—will celebrate their survival as “ordained” and righteous, and they will denigrate their fallen foes and the values that drove them.
So as not to be suckered-in to becoming fodder for a society’s ends, military or otherwise, it is essential for the Satanist not to view himself through the eyes of others—their opinions only count when you are beholden to them for something specific. Then one need only create the appearance of fulfilling what they want to see—which is the essence of Lesser Magic. But only you can evaluate your own self-worth.
A Satanist can find inspiration from archetypal characters, which is one of the reasons fiction is important to our species, but we diabolists must not fall into the idealist trap of condemning ourselves if our achievements do not come up to those presented in the realm of fiction. The same goes for romanticized real people who have been touted as exemplars—the truth of their lives is likely to be far different from the image that survives and is being held up for viewing. Each Satanist will be the hero of his own unique personal saga, and he will be the author of that epic crafted to his own standards.
Anton LaVey himself was opposed to Satanists holding him up as a role model. He personally said to me that he “sleeps on the sidewalk so that if he had to roll into the gutter it would not be far to go.” He did not want Satanists to worship him or put him on a pedestal. He would say, regarding his musical tastes and performing practices, that he was “just an old cornball.” Contrary to what those who never dealt with him personally might surmise, he was not an ego-maniac and had a realistic evaluation of his talents and achievements. When detractors took it upon themselves to point out that he wasn’t the world’s best keyboard player and vocalist, and when they held up other aspects of his life to ridicule, he did not care that outsiders created a yardstick of which he fell short—that he expected. His disdain for their opinions came from his own integral self-centered point of view. What did irk him was that people who claimed to grasp his philosophy and called themselves Satanists fell into this idealist world view, having themselves romanticized LaVey into something he was not. Then, upon hearing the “scandalous revelations” of his life details, they felt cheated and decided to despise LaVey as well as Satanism. That disappointed him. The point is that they never really grasped the implications of Satanism and still maintained the perspective of whatever spiritual doctrines from which they thought they’d emerged. Hero worship is not congruent with Satanism.
Since our lives are our highest value, then there is the question of what might prompt a Satanist to select the relinquishing of that which can never be re-attained. A Satanist is free to create a value system in which his own death may be an option. The Satanist soldier or police officer knows that death is a possibility, but sees that his efforts towards preserving a society which he considers to be of paramount importance for himself and others whom he values might be worth that terrible cost. Neither goes in expecting to die. General Patton was correct in asserting that the proper military goal is to make the enemy soldiers die for their country while our troops should do their best to survive the battle. But death is a possibility and the Satanist in these professions acknowledges and accepts this, but works to avoid it. Firefighter Satanists also accept the risk, as do Satanists in other professions in which life can be lost as part of the process.
Thus death at the hands of others or circumstance can be seen as being acceptable if a Satanist’s value system embraces such occupations. Additionally, a Satanist could give his life in order to protect something or someone he values above it. Dying while protecting a loved one or some object or even principle of extraordinary value is possible should the Satanist consider such things to be so worthy of protection.
Could a Satanist then also choose death by his own hand? If the conditions of continued life become such that one exists in intolerable physical pain which cannot be palliated by any existing medical technology, then suicide can be seen as a viable option. For Satanists, the quality of one’s life—what we term “vital existence”—is an important consideration, but because we understand that there is no second chance, no “re-booting,” no re-set button, then the situation would have to be utterly beyond any chance of amelioration for a Satanist to decide to extinguish himself. In such a case, it would be rational for there to be medically endorsed means for the painless release of life, but society has yet to universally agree that such a mercy would be humane in extreme cases.
Satanism intrinsically rejects any form of suicide motivated by shame or dishonor. If a Satanist failed to live up to his own principles for a reason, perhaps personal errors or failings, only living offers a chance of re-embracing them and moving towards intended goals. If his supposed failing is in the eyes of some other audience, their evaluation can have no power to bring about personal extermination in one who is naturally Satanic. The Satanist always bears in mind how fickle are folk in general. Politicians, religious leaders, film stars, and entrepreneurs are regarded with awe and jealousy by the masses, who thrill to every scandal and thus savor the fall of such prominent figures. But, since these people are larger than the lives of most mediocrities, Fortuna’s wheel soon swings them back up from the depths to once again be the darlings of the passive majority. Both disgrace and deification are ephemeral conditions.
Then there is the possibility of mental anguish as grounds for suicide. A Satanist would seek out all options to remedy such pain before coming to a state wherein despair could drive him to self-extinction. Determining the source for this pain would be the primary approach, and having expert secular counselors to assist one in this would be wise. Perspective is a key aspect towards finding alternatives that could ease one’s grief, revealing avenues for moving forward towards more satisfying situations. If one is dead, there is no chance for trying something different. In my experience, I’ve found Satanists to be resourceful people who can regroup after setbacks, finding new ways to attack problems or alternative routes to their life goals. There may be periods of pain and depression, but the knowledge that life could be improved, sometimes requiring Herculean efforts, does not ultimately daunt the Satanist. Hence mental anguish would be a malady which the Satanist would view as being but a transitory state, a roadblock that can be bypassed, rather than a justification to opt out of living.
The evolutionary course that is a Satanist’s life is the path of always learning what are one’s true capabilities. We chose to challenge ourselves because by testing just how far our achievements can go, then we see how our lives can possibly be that much richer. But it must also be understood that if any Satanists have decided that they’ve reached the level of satisfaction they desire and no longer wish to push their abilities, then that too is a valid course. It is, after all, their choice and so unasked-for opinions and evaluations of other Satanists are not considered proper according to our principles. The Satanist is free to find contentment in enjoying achievement without the need for being in constant “striving” mode. Paradise, supposedly lost, can be defined and attained by the savvy Satanist.
That we live and keep on living is the treasure-hoard we dragons guard—not the various trinkets that can come and go into our lairs, nor dubious “honors” offered by the surrounding herd folk. We won’t be swayed by spiritual ideals into throwing away our existence. Nor will disapproval of others cause us to terminate our precious time on our beloved Earth. Our approach is to endeavor for the best that we can do with the talents and abilities that we have, guided by our carefully determined values. Mastery in Satanism is attained when you can see clearly what is actually possible for yourself, and then to successfully steer people and situations towards that end. We often set highly challenging goals, but if these are ultimately out of reach, we satisfy ourselves with the riches we've cultivated along the way. To Satanists it would be foolish to reject accomplishments, even if they weren’t of the highest order. A bronze medal in the Olympic games is far better than having failed to even earn a place in that competition. We naturally rejoice if we have reached the “top of the heap,” but the view looking down that mountain is quite fine even if it is not the utter summit. May you all enjoy whatever views you have won in the citadels of your achievements!