No Gods, No Masters? – Pagan Anarchism
On 29 September 2016, one user of the website ‘revleft’ introduced themselves as follows: ‘I’ve struggled to find information on different political theories that wasn’t heavily academic and inaccessible to me as someone with cognitive disabilities and neurodivergencies that otherwise make it *really hard* to understand a lot of the leftist “sub-groups” I guess I’ll call them? Ideologies? Only the Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer and the Gods and Radicals website in general has actually made any of this accessible to me so far’.
The ‘Gods and Radicals’ website (godsandradicals.org) publishes the twice-yearly publication Beautiful Resistance and published the Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer in 2015, written by Alley Valkyrie (Nightingale Public Advocacy Collection, respectexistence.org) and Rhyd Wildermuth (paganarch.com, Managing Editor at Gods and Radicals):
‘Once, humans made contracts with the land and the gods for sovereignty. Take too much and the land revolted with famine or pestilence. … We Pagans are trying to re-enchant the world, to bring back the magic of the forests and the mountains. We are trying to hear and revere the wild places, the sacred forgotten places, the spirits of ocean and rivers and lakes. And yet Capitalism is always poisoning these places because it considers nothing sacred except profit, nothing holy except wealth.’
‘Grand programs and one-size-fits-all solutions don’t work… One answer cannot possibly fit every single one of the almost 8 billion people sharing this planet with us. Anyone who does come up with that answer should probably be shot on sight, as they’re pretty likely gonna start shooting people themselves pretty soon. Besides, ‘one-answer’ sounds a lot like ‘one-god,’ and we Pagans have lots of reason to be rue [sic] that one-god trend.’
The Primer goes on to urge the reader to ‘Build Community’, ‘Make Common Cause’, ‘Invest in Each Other, Divest from Capitalism’, ‘Consume Less, Create More’ and ‘Resist Often and Everywhere’. This ‘political theory’ wasn’t clear or ‘accessible’ and although this is only a 32 page e-zine, various other ‘pagan anarchist’ websites weren’t either. Not even the description of the book titled Pagan Anarchism (2016), by Christopher Scott Thomas could help;
‘Witches who poison bosses and landlords. Slave revolts instigated by a god of ecstasy. Eviction notices issued in the name of land spirits and Faerie queens. A ghostly general leading loom-breakers. Elves who destroy factories. Were these all merely myths, they’d still be more true than the superstitions upholding Empire and Capital. Yet they’re not myths, but our own history: the history of uprisings, of a fierce magic and a revolutionary current woven throughout the threads of Paganism and anarchism.’
This is a fantasy and not one likely to be welcomed by anarchists (or even some ‘pagans’ judging by comments online). Three quotes by Marx are included in the Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer, but Marx and socialists have always rejected superstition including ‘paganism’. Marx called this rejection of superstition part of ‘materialism’. As Marx wrote: ‘The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.’
The preface to the German Ideology reads ‘… men have constantly made up for themselves false conceptions about themselves, about what they are and what they ought to be. They have arranged their relationships according to their ideas of God, of normal man, etc. The phantoms of their brains have got out of their hands. They, the creators, have bowed down before their creations. Let us liberate them from the chimeras, the ideas, dogmas, imaginary beings under the yoke of which they are pining away.’
Religious superstition doesn’t have to be monotheistic, ostensibly apolitical, Abrahamic or even an organised religion to be opposed by socialists as a barrier to socialism. This includes ‘pagan anarchism’.