Dangerous Exceptionalism

In late June, a slew of national reporting drew attention to the Republican nominee for North Carolina State House District 48, Russell Walker, and the fact that he freely and openly admits to being a White Supremacist. What’s more, Walker claims that God Himself is a White Supremacist and that there’s therefore absolutely nothing wrong with whites asserting worldwide superiority. Newsweek quoted Walker’s website as arguing:

  “What is wrong with being a white supremacist? God is a racist and a white supremacist. Someone or group has to be supreme and that group is the whites of the world.… There is no such thing as equality. Someone or something has to be superior and someone and something has to be inferior.”

What I find particularly interesting here are the final two sentences. “There is no such thing as equality,” huh? The version of Walker’s personal campaign website that I can find as of this writing echoes the sentiment of that pair of clauses in even more pointed words: 

“The earth and all of its inhabitants are in a state of partial judgment. That is why equality exists only as a fable. This inequality will increase leading up to the final judgment. After the final judgment inequality will be permanent for all eternity.”

 Now allow me to quote from Church of Satan (CoS) materials regarding the concept and workings of equality:

1) “Well, naturally—I say ‘naturally’ as a Satanist—I don’t believe in equality. I don’t believe there’s anything equal… the entire concept of equality is simply one of wishful thinking or flight of fancy that, very much like the concept of reincarnation, will allow the lowest to feel that they are equal to the highest. And the concept of equality, with that in mind, is designed to keep the lowest satisfied, to serve as pap, or serve as a sort of cosmetic indulgence or enticement to the lowest so that they, too, can feel that they are of the same stuff as the highest.” — Anton Szandor LaVey

2) “Egalitarianism is a myth that breeds weakness & rewards mediocrity. We embrace the stratified & Darwinian reality of Nature to encourage strength, self-improvement & the mastery of diverse skills.”

3) “There can be no more myth of ‘equality’ for all—it only translates to ‘mediocrity’ and supports the weak at the expense of the strong.” — Anton Szandor LaVey, Pentagonal Revisionism: A Five-Point Plan

It sure is awkward when a conservative Republican member of the so-called Christian™ Right starts to sound just like a member of the Church of Satan (CoS).

Now, CoS-style Satanists attack the concept of equality as a result of their Social Darwinian sympathies. I don’t think the racist Christian Dominionist Russell Walker shares those sympathies. Not likely. He’s probably more under the apparently inexorable influence of the long-arm of Calvinism, with its notion of an Elect. 

What both he and CoS have in common, though, is that they each seek to assert their superiority over others. Their concepts of power don’t just stop at personal empowerment; they entail dominance and thus require a superior/inferior dichotomy. Taken to extremes, this denial of fundamental equality based in shared humanity usually results in stripping those conceived as inferior of their very status as human beings. Thus we get the Hutu Power radio station RTLM broadcasting that Tutsis were cockroaches deserving of being killed during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, President Trump referring to MS-13 gang members—and by extension other immigrants—as “animals,” and white European and American slave owners who accorded their slaves no moral status more significant or compelling than that of mere chattel.  

Social psychologists have long known that healthy people generally conceive of themselves as being just slightly above average overall. This phenomenon forms part of what lies behind group polarization, the well-known and empirically demonstrated tendency of groups to make decisions that are more extreme than the positions advocated by individual members. The basic idea is: individuals, each of whom conceives of self as slightly above average, come together to form a group and, in an effort to win acceptance and approval from other members, publicly evince a position that is just slightly more extreme than the otherwise similar positions held by the rest. This attitudinal arms race quickly escalates to a group feeling that is more extreme than any individual starting point. Other factors reinforce such shifts to polarization, such as the cumulative effect of individuals hearing from other members novel arguments in support of positions they themselves already hold, thereby strengthening and further entrenching those positions.

It’s not surprising, then, that groups often come to view themselves as truly exceptional, uncommonly possessed of positive values and traits like intelligence, rationality, strength, ability, even divine favor. The list of historical groups who came to regard themselves as “chosen people” in some way, shape, or form stretches long indeed. One equally unsurprising corollary to group exceptionalism is denial of out-group equality. After all, if your in-group is particularly gifted in one or more ways, other groups must, by definition, be lesser and fundamentally not equal in at least those specific ways. 

To see just how closely denial of the concept of equality is linked to doctrines of exceptionalism, consider the defense of denied equality offered in Luciferian author Michael Ford’s 2015 book Wisdom of Eosphoros:

“Equality is the greatest illusion from which chains are placed on the individual and as a result, society. Humans are not born equal; it depends upon social class, genetics and as we grow, how we approach and react to our environment.”

To his credit, Ford goes on to deny that social class is a factor responsible for individual greatness. He writes:

“While some may be born wealthy, it does not mark them as “great” individuals; the same is said for those born in “poverty”. Often those born in lower classes or in poverty may prove themselves greater than those born with privilege….”

Rather the key, in Ford’s estimation, is that individuals “must by a force of will and knowledge elevate themselves to a higher status.” Doing so, he writes, “is truly Luciferian in concept as the character is made great and shines as the morning star to those around them.” Ford’s denial of the basic equality of humanity is rooted in his ideological program of building up a Luciferian doctrine of accomplishment and merit:

“We must strip away the laughable perception that all are created equal; we must celebrate those who set themselves apart by accomplishment and action. Do not glorify the weak and feeble of mind or body: lift up those who by strength of will and mind make themselves greater than others and in turn inspire self-excellence in others!”

As it turns out, this Just World-inflected emphasis on setting oneself apart “by accomplishment and action” is of a piece with standard right-wing Christo-conservative notions of bootstrapism and the widespread opinion that inequality results primarily from individual differences in the domains of virtue and hard work. In general, worldviews that encourage belief in an internal locus of control over outcomes in the external world also tend to de-emphasize or even outright deny basic human equality. Stressing internal control over externals—whether through the choice to accept and live faith in Jesus Christ or through kindling one’s Luciferian or LaVeyan Black Flame—motivates, and even necessitates, the demonizing of basic equality. If human achievement can be shown to stem as much, if not more, from entrenched societal factors, coupled with accidents of birth and default group membership, than from individual effort and personal decisions to toe some religious party line, then the very basis of the religious doctrines concerning the benefits that stem from acceptance of their worldview crumbles. 

Please beware whenever someone tries to convince you that basic human equality doesn’t exist or was a myth all along. Such individuals are inevitably trying to sell you on a program of domination that could very well end up with you on bottom. Respect for individual sovereignty of will and bodily autonomy must be universalized, because dominance is catching—especially in a modern world in the throws of what seems a pandemic of more open, invigorated Nazism. Inoculate yourselves.

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