“The spirit that I have called Satanism, the spirit of unmixed hatred towards the existing World Order . . . is perhaps more rife today than it has been for over a thousand years.”
Gilbert Murray, Satanism and the World Order (1920)
If you follow the bracing ruminations of Bruce Charlton, you are familiar with his notion that the world has crossed the hateful river and entered the stygian blackness of Sorathic evil. Sorathic denotes that which is of Sorath, the spirit of opposition and negation in Zoroastrian theogony. Charlton tells us that Sorathic evil hates and destroys that which is good, and that it does this not in spite of its goodness, but precisely because it is good.
Thus, Sorathic evil is radical or absolute evil. It is not a good end obtained by evil means. It is, rather, a performative declaration that there are no good ends because nothing whatsoever is good. It is an enacted curse that damns the world by treating everything in it as absolutely bad.
It is evil for a man to tell a lie so that he may possess a beautiful woman, but such a man is not radically and absolutely evil because he still loves beauty. It is evil for a man to destroy a thing of beauty to buy silly toys for his children, but such a man is not radically and absolutely evil because he still aims to do his children good. Radical and absolute evil is not like this because it does not simply justify evil means by good ends. It does not simply “run roughshod,” “cut corners,” and “employ methods that do not bear close examination.”
Radical and absolute evil crosses the hateful river and enters the stygian blackness where good things are destroyed for no reason other than that they are good.
This is what we mean when we talk of “senseless violence,” “wanton destruction,” or “gratuitous lies.” Such phrases refer to an evil act that is good for nothing except the enactment of pure evil. It was such an act of pure evil that landed Johnny Cash’s protagonist in Folsom Prison, as that protagonist acknowledges when he sings,
“But I shot a man in Reno,
just to watch him die”
He did not shoot that man in Reno to take his money. He did not shoot that man in Reno to avenge his own honor. He did not shoot that man in Reno to keep him quiet.
He shot that man in Reno to enact the pure evil of spilling innocent blood for no reason at all.
He shot that man in Reno to curse and damn the world!
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The classical scholar Gilbert Murray called this Satanism and said it sprang from “the spirit of unmixed hatred towards the existing World Order.” One can have what we might call mixed hatred towards the existing World Order, in which a love of certain good things in the world is “mixed” with hatred for certain bad things in the order of the world. One can, for instance, love money while hating the fact that it belongs to another man. When a man is animated by this spirit of mixed hatred towards the existing World Order, he seeks to rearrange that order by, for instance, shooting that man and transferring that man’s money to his own pocket.
However, when a man is animated by the spirit of unmixed hatred towards the existing World Order, he simply seeks to
“Burn this Bitch Down!”
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The phrase was not original when Michael Brown’s stepfather used it at that rally in Ferguson, Missouri, nor was it used on that occasion with the full dead-end nihilism of Sorathic evil; but I think it can serve as the slogan of a man who absolutely and radically disagrees with God’s judgment on the sixth day of Creation—with a man of whom it could be said:
And he saw everything that God had made, and, behold, it was all, without exception, absolutely bad. He therefore said, ‘burn this bitch down’ and proceeded to do just that.
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In his lecture on the spirit of Satanism, Murray explained that a man possessed by the Satanic spirit of unmixed hatred for the world performs an act of absolute evil to curse and damn the world. In this way he expresses his unmixed hatred of everything. This is true nihilism. And to express his unmixed hatred of everything, a true nihilist must destroy something that all other men recognize as good. As Murray puts it.
“If you kill an unjust judge, you may be understood to mean merely that you think judges ought to be just; but if you go out of your way to kill a just judge, it is clear that you object to judges altogether. If a son kills a bad father, the act, though meritorious in a humble way, does not take us much further. But if he kills a good father, it cuts at the root of all that pestilential system of family affection and loving-kindness and gratitude on which the present system is largely based.”
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I know no more about the Uvalde shooter than you do, but I do not think we should assume that he shot his grandmother because she did not love him. If he was animated by the spirit of Satanism, he shot his grandmother because she loved him, and because he hated and wished to curse and damn the goodness that is love. If he was animated by the spirit of Satanism, he likewise shot and killed the eighteen children because children are good and killing them is good for nothing.
If he was animated by the spirit of Satanism, his act of absolute evil was an enacted curse with which he damned the world.