Funny how folks inspire movements unintentionally. Kirkegaard was a devout Christian and would probably be a bit dismayed at the Existentialist movement his writings gave fruit to, and just so, I don’t think Ayn Rand really expected to inform Satanist philosophy.
Joe Carter (really nice guy) writes over on First Things:
Perhaps most are unaware of the connection, though LaVey wasn’t shy about admitting his debt to his inspiration. “I give people Ayn Rand with trappings,” he once told the Washington Post. On another occasion he acknowledged that his brand of Satanism was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added.” Indeed, the influence is so apparent that LaVey has been accused of plagiarizing part of his “Nine Satanic Statements” from the John Galt speech in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
Yet fear not, there’s not absolute accord between the two philosophies, as Satanists think Rand has a few things wrong, as explained by Nemo over at Church of Satan.com:
You don’t have to start with metaphysics to create your ethics. Satanism does not assert that the fundamental truth of the nature of reality (metaphysics) is known. In fact, Satanists utilize two different metaphysical assumptions regarding reality as evidenced in Satanic ritual as opposed to the rest of life. In effect, Satanists are pragmatic regarding their beliefs concerning reality. Thus, as Satanists do not claim to know the absolute “truth” regarding what is real they are, by definition, not “Objectivists” who hold that reality is totally objective. Satanists proclaim that doubt is vital in the absence of proof. At this fundamental level there is division between the two views of reality.
What I find amusing is that Christians, particularly those in public office, have begun espousing Rand, even though she is the closest thing to the Anti-Christ as has ever existed. In truth, Satanism is likely more sympathetic to Christianity than Rand’s Objectivism, though neither jive with the teachings of Christ.
I’ve often reflected on how different a story Atlas Shrugged would be if Hank Rearden had a severe stroke midway through the book. What if he showed signs of early Alzheimer’s? What if he fell and suffered brain damage? What pity or care would there be for a man whose productivity is suddenly diminished? Would the man who abandoned his family find himself abandoned?
It’s a running joke that the first thing a Pagan will say when asked to explain their religion is “We’re not Satanists” and perhaps we should toss in “We’re not Objectivists either!” Every Pagan religion I know of is antithetical to Objectivist and Satanist philosophy. We have taboos regarding hospitality, a strong belief in a deeply personal connection to Divine Forces, and we don’t believe a person’s worth is measured by their bank account or material possessions or their productivity. Many of us believe in tribal societal structures, which may include shared possessions and shared responsibility for children, the elderly and the sick.
While we’re not Satanists, or really have very much in common with them, we’re not against them. I’ve known a few Satanists over the years and have had nothing but respect for them. By the Wiccan tenet of “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust” I never expect them to behave or think like me, but to be perfectly themselves and trust that they will act according to their principles. It’s how we roll.
Yet for Conservative Christians to embrace Objectivism is truly bizarre. It is so strange to see them suddenly espouse a philosophy more foreign to them than Satanism. At least Satanism leaves room for doubt and faith. While the last time the popular imagination was caught on fire by Satanism many innocent Pagan and goth youth were unjustly sent to prison on scant evidence, perhaps there’s a new “Satanic Panic” brewing where the infiltration of Rand’s Objectivism into Conservative Christian politics changes the face of Christianity forever and draws new lines in the sand.
My religion, Wicca, has a strange “godfather” in the form of Aleister Crowley. We took his Thelemic tenets and philosophy and reinterpreted them to slightly different, perhaps kinder, ends. Love takes a larger role for us, though we each seek to hone our Will and Spirit into tools in which to reach our utmost potential. How strange it seems that followers of “the wickedest man in the world,” as well as those who embrace the title Witch, should come to a place where they look askance at some members of the Religious Right with reasonable suspicion of their being Satanic?