A Response to The Uncomfortable Mirror

Since the posting of the article Confronting the New Right on Gods & Radicals, there has been quite a lot of writing going on in response to it.  When I first came across it, I was going to weigh in on it.  Then, I caught the flu my son had just gotten over, and in my usual fashion when I get sick, it took me down hard for a few days.  I watched from the sidelines as conversations unfolded, and I could not help but think: good.  We need to talk.  We need to weigh things and figure out where we stand on things.

Rather than seeing these recent developments as portents of doom for the polytheist communities, or for various folks in the Pagan communities, I see these as part of a larger unfolding within these communities.

“Paganism in general—and apparently Devotional and Reconstructionist Polytheism in particular—have been long overdue for a reckoning.”

When I read these words that invoke a reckoning, from Rhyd Wildermuth’s post on Patheos, The Uncomfortable Mirror, particularly from someone who identifies as a bard, that not only gives me pause, but I am urged to ask
“What is this bard calling for, and why this word?  What kind of reckoning is he calling for?”

The use of words is a powerful thing.  The word polytheism is a word that contains a worldview within it.  All the religions within the various polytheist communities take their basic understanding of who they are, what they are, and where their religion starts from this word.

The use of words is a powerful thing.  The use of words like devotion, for instance, is one that comes up quite a lot in discussion in Pagan and polytheist circles.  It has in Wildermuth’s piece, but how he uses it bothers me.  He uses both ‘relational’ and ‘devotional’ as words for identification within polytheism.  The reason why this use bothers me is that polytheism is devotional in nature.  Devotional means “Of or used in religious worship”.  Since polytheism is “The belief in or worship of more than one god” this division in language makes little sense, as worship requires devotional work, offerings, etc. in order to be of or used in religious worship. A religious regard for the Gods renders us in a relationship with the Gods.  There is no point to how Rhyd Wildermuth uses ‘devotional’ and ‘relational’, especially in quotes, because without these things as being part of polytheist religion and polytheism itself, you do not have belief or worship because there is no religious regard for the Gods, and thus, no relationship with or to Them, except perhaps as a rhetorical device.  Why one would try to divorce devotion and relationality from the Gods makes no sense to me, especially since this is the very ground of polytheism itself.

The problem with Wildermuth stating that his post, Confronting the New Right, was a resource supplement to Shane Burley’s article Fascism Against Time, is that nowhere in the original draft of the piece does Rhyd identify himself, the purpose of the article, or that it is to be an information page on the New Right.  As someone more predisposed towards Wildermuth’s left views, and having read the article in question, I found myself consistently simply not seeing what he insists is there in the original article in his latest write up on it, The Uncomfortable Mirror, in which he tries to give this clarification.  Had he been clear and upfront in his presentation this incredibly long post would never have been needed.  However, I made no connection between Confronting the New Right and Fascism Against Time.  It was not until I read this latest post by Wildermuth that I realized there was supposed to have been a connection!

Part of the issue, especially not being part of anarchist, Marxist, or far-left circles myself, is that the article itself provides little understanding of what the New Right itself is.  In this, it fails as a resource.  I need to know why the right alone, or conservatism alone, is being singled out for this.  Why is the right alone being taken to task on this, and what alternatives does the left offer?  What is actually wrong with being on the right, politically?

Stating that your piece draws no equivalency while people are actively telling you that they are seeing you draw them in this way is either tone-deaf or actively not listening to the critiques you are getting on this piece.  Repeating your disclaimer from the section in question is not actually helping.  We have eyes.  If folks are not getting it, even if you repeat it three times, the problem may not be with the reader, but with the article.  Even in the most charitable reading I gave it, I still was getting quite a bit of false equivocation between the polytheist groups Wildermuth mentioned, the New Right, and fascist ideology.  Not only is this unhelpful, but repeating yourself when folks are blatantly telling you that you’re not communicating effectively is not accepting criticism, nor responding effectively to it.  If this is what Wildermuth views as an acceptable response to criticism, it reads as doubling down on the rhetoric he has already employed, and pushing the Pagan and polytheist communities to this ‘reckoning’.

Here is one of the keys, though, where The Uncomfortable Mirror really makes me sit back.
Wildermuth freely admits that:
“Do I put my politics first? I don’t actually know what that means. Do I favor political ideology over what the gods say to me? Do I favor political action over spiritual activities? This is not a question I can answer, because in my world, they inform each other and are inextricably linked. My gods help me understand my relations to politics, and my politics helps me understand my relationship with my gods. There is no wall between them for me.”

So…wait.  If a fascist said this exact same line wouldn’t he be criticizing them for hijacking polytheism in favor of the New Right?  Why is Rhyd’s view of this suddenly preferential to a New Right view?  He glosses right over this point and heads into the next one, but this bears some serious looking at.

Just because I may have some sympathies with Wildermuth’s views does not mean he is above reproach here.  I believe polytheism needs to be open to all political viewpoints even if its individual communities are not.  Polytheism and polytheist communities are two different things.  He says that both Beckett and Krasskova admit “the possibility that political views might shape beliefs and practice.”  Meaning, this shapes their beliefs of polytheism and their practice of polytheism.  However, it does not change polytheism for polytheists as a whole.  Polytheism is, and remains, the worship or belief in many Gods whatever the ideology, politics, etc. of the individual polytheist and/or polytheist communities they are involved in.

Being unable to differentiate whether or not you are putting your politics before your Gods, or that your politics are so intertwined with your Gods that they are inseparable is something he takes Galina to task for in the very next paragraph, and calls her out directly for.  The problem with doing so, in my view, is that in the Confronting the New Right piece he blatantly says that “The New Right is difficult to define precisely, which has been one of their greatest strengths. But here are some core ideas that are common in most New Right thinkers”.  He’s going to take someone to task for having ideas that align with people he does not agree with.   He is critiquing a group of people for intertwining their politics with religion, while intertwining his politics with his religion.   That he can actually point to Krasskova’s views and say “Look, these are New Right!” means that she and others are being open about their politics.  It is also true that she is being open and forthright with where her religious views take her, including tribalism, hierarchy, eschewing to tradition, and caring for how these things unfold rather than her personal interests.

“Is there a leftist infiltration of Polytheism? And am I—and the writers of Gods&Radicals—leading it? Or did I, by gathering information about the New Right hold an uncomfortable mirror up to a tradition I am a part of? Have I violated sacred traditions, or merely revealed their political aspects?
While I and the writers of Gods&Radicals are quite open about our political views and how they relate to our practices and beliefs, it might be a good time for others to consider being more open about this, too.”

Rather than there being a leftist infiltration of polytheism, I see that this piece is a political litmus test that is being put on polytheism.  So yes, in this sense, he and the writers of Gods & Radicals are leading this.  He gathered information, poorly laid it out, and called a cracked surface a mirror.  He did not violate sacred traditions, but spent a lot of digital ink on why those he is aligned with are superior to the communities he points out in his piece, that the New Right is a threat to polytheist communities and is, itself infiltrating polytheist groups while not actually effectively talking about why the New Right is the threat he makes them out to be.

A good chunk of the issue I had with Wildermuth’s Confronting the New Right had to do with the poor definitions I found in it.  Not being inside left academia or thought, especially that of anarchism or Marxism, I found there were a lot of assumptions being made and nowhere near enough bread crumbs to find my way to where Wildermuth was making his assertions to begin with on the New Right.

The definition of fascism from OxfordDictionaries.com is: “An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.”  Authoritarian is defined as “Favouring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom”.  Nationalistic is defined as: “Having strong patriotic feelings, especially a belief in the superiority of one’s own country over others”.

One of many problems with Wildermuth’s piece is that what he is pointing out here has less to do with these definitions and more to do with the general use of the term, as pointed out in the same source: “(In general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices: this is yet another example of health fascism in action”.  He also does not provide context nor definition for what traditionalism is, nor tribalism, nor does he provide much else in terms of context or definition for the other terms.

The problem is not that Wildermuth is pointing out that the New Right is seeking inroads into Pagan religions, polytheist religions, and the like, but that he provides little-to-no-context within this post for it, nor does he provide any effective means of sussing out the working definitions he has here before diving into what the New Right stands for.  A large part of the dismay and anger has erupted directly from this in both articles, and the section titled ‘What is the New Right’s Influence on Paganism?’ in Confronting the New Right.

If the New Right is difficult to define, how much harder will it be for those who are not in leftist, Marxist, or other political groupings to understand where he is coming from?  Read from the outside looking in, much of what he has written in Confronting the New Right does not read like an effective guide, so much a document meant to damn certain ways of doing things while providing a few sentences to the notion of everyone being free to go their own way.

Wildermuth says in regards to the Red Scare and witch trials that, “In both cases, there was a political agency obscured by the hysteria and scapegoating. The Red Scare significantly reduced the influence of leftist critique in the United States at the same time that it strengthened the power of Capitalists and the State against workers.”

I wonder if he understand that by adopting a lot of these stances and putting political litmus tests like these on polytheism in the manner he has done, he is actually playing in the us vs. them politics of left vs. right, and is slowly eroding support, even from those on the left.  Even if he is actively resisting putting political litmus tests on polytheism, that folks cannot see that, and in fact are seeing the opposite is a problem.

Then I read this:
“Paganism in general—and apparently Devotional and Reconstructionist Polytheism in particular—have been long overdue for a reckoning.” [Emphasis mine.]

Whoa what?  Apparently to whom?  What kind of reckoning?
I first came across this point in detail when I read The Lettuce Man’s A Thought on the Recent Radical Brouhaha, and it’s gnawed at me since I read it.  It still does.  Were the right to use this rhetoric would there not be worry -with reason?  Why not so with the left?

By what right or direction does Wildermuth make this judgment call to bring polytheists to a reckoning, and who is he to make it?

This statement on dialogue is absolutely chilling, and it’s implications are of deep concern.  This is from someone who identifies as a bard, and bards, like skalds, wield words with spiritual impact and power.  A reckoning is “the action or process of calculating or estimating something” and “the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds”.  The use of his words here most definitely point at the latter definition than the former.  So, in what way would Wildermuth avenge the ‘apparent’ lacks he sees within their communities?  Who or what he is avenging?  If not avenging, how will he, or anyone who takes him up in this regard, judge these communities, and mete out punishment?  How could he not expect resistance to this overstep?

Wildermuth goes on to say: “Tribalism, Sacred Kingship, Traditionalism, natural hierarchies (specifically, ‘warrior/priest/cultivator’), and anti-egalitarian notions are all crucial aspects of New Right ideology”.

Again, he does not define these things.  He does not give clear, useful definitions of what these mean to New Right ideology.  Rather, he asks the rhetorical question “What is really the difference between the Fascism of Augustus Sol Invictus, or New Right ideology of Stephen McNallen and Alain de Benoist, and the rest of polytheist belief?” and then launches into the aforementioned quote.  He links these ideas, and those of us who hold some or many of these ideas together, giving no context.  It’s a good rhetorical move, but it does not do anything to bring in trust from those of us sitting giving the side-eye to this whole thing.

For a long time I have identified as left in America because of my belief in and understanding of human rights, my view of the role of government, and how people should be left alone to live their lives with full rights and choice available to them regardless of ethnicity, skin color, creed, gender identity, sexuality, etc.  Increasingly, especially with works like this, I am wondering if there is a place for folks like me.  I am feeling alienated more and more by the political system, and then the activists for folks on both ends of the spectrum.  I am feeling more and more ‘cut loose’, as perhaps the best term for where I am right now, because of the things unfolding as they have been.

The left/right divide is increasingly becoming a point of contention without much of a point for me.  At this juncture, I am caring less and less where you are in the political divide, and caring more about “Are you effective at helping us overcome obstacles in our communities?”  This does not mean I’ll just open my arms up to fascists, racists, or the like, but, at least in American politics, I am only 30 and getting pretty quickly burnt out on this bullshit.  I have a limited amount of time in my life that I am not devoting to a job (now two), raising my family, or helping my tribal religious community, and other religious communities to which I am bound.  If I cannot see a political ideology actively contributing to my family, my tribe, or my larger communities I do not have a lot of time or energy left to engage it.

Going back to the quote, I want to dig into some other issues I had with it:
“Tribalism, Sacred Kingship, Traditionalism, natural hierarchies (specifically, ‘warrior/priest/cultivator’), and anti-egalitarian notions are all crucial aspects of New Right ideology”

Tribalism is “The state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes.”  A tribe is “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader”.  Sacred kingship is an active factor in many polytheist religions, including mine, and many of our Gods are, Themselves, sovereigns in Their own rights.  Traditionalism is “The upholding or maintenance of tradition, especially so as to resist change.”  I’ve already said my piece elsewhere in my writing (such as here and here) on why I find hierarchy useful and good to uphold, and not so with egalitarianism as an organizational tool while still believing in equal rights and protections for people.

Tribalism, sacred kingship, traditionalism, and hierarchy are all, in some way, part of the polytheist religion I am part of.
Why would I let these go at all?

Wildermuth asks this:

“There are some deeply difficult questions that we need to ask. Do the gods want us to return to ‘tribal’ societies, do the gods demand we war against Muslims and Atheists and Leftists, do the gods demand we institute strict hierarchies and authority-relationships between priests and the rest of us?”

First, these are all separate questions.  I think that for some of us returning to a tribal society is precisely what the Gods want us to do, while this is not what the Gods want for others.  Since I’m not the Gods I’m not going to guess Their minds on this, and I trust Their worshippers have the sense or ability to figure out Their views on this on their own, and make their own choice in response.

Placing this together with “do the gods demand we war against Muslims and Atheists and Leftists” is not a good rhetorical trick, since returning to a tribal society has nothing to do with warring on Muslims and Atheists and Leftists.  It does not follow that returning to a tribal society means we’ll be making war on Muslims, Atheists, Leftists, or our other neighbors.

For the last question “do the gods demand we institute strict hierarchies and authority-relationships between priests and the rest of us?” the answer, for at least some of us, is yes.

That ‘rest of us’ though, who the priests serve, is pretty key, and pretending that a priest of one religion serves everyone is foolish at best.  Catholics have strict hierarchies and authority-relationships between laity and the priests, and between the priests and those of the ecclesiastical authority.  They enter into these relationships with Catholics and sometimes other Christians.  They do not serve me specifically as a Catholic because I am not one.  They cannot institute that strict hierarchy on me.

I have no desire to institute the hierarchy of my religion on folks unwilling to take part in them.  If you do not want to have a strict hierarchy in your religion then don’t belong to one that has one.  If you do not believe there should be authority-relationships between priests and the communities they serve, well, I’m not sure what kind of priests you want, but good luck to you.  You’ll probably not be served by me, then, because if you’re coming to me as a priest of Odin asking for my help, say, in what to give Him an offering and then completely discount what I have to say, there’s not much incentive for me to keep helping you.

The very last bit Rhyd leaves us with though, bears some looking at:
“And did those gods happen to notice those are the same ideas of the New Right?”

If They did….do They give that big of a damn?  Perhaps it is about what ideas work rather than where they are politically aligned.  Maybe They prefer the New Right vs. the Left, or vice versa, and you need to consider your allegiances here.

“Perhaps some gods do want that, but that leads us to another question:
Do we want that?”

Well, that really depends on how we view things then, doesn’t it?  What matters the most, as polytheists, to us?  Our ideology and politics, or our relationships with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir?  At some point, we will have to decide which view is most important: our own, or that of our Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir.  I would say that if you do not want what the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir you are dedicated to want, then it is you that needs to adjust your thinking.

Are there people I disagree with religiously and/or politically that I still venerate?  Hell yes.  For instance, the Catholics in my family who hold onto Their religion beyond death and still keep up a relationship with me.  I have no interest in converting, but if saying the Psalms makes Them happy and is taken in the respect it is meant, as an act of offering and service to Them, then I will do so.  It is not about my personal comfort here, because my personal comfort here would probably be to offer Them water, mead, or some other form of food, and praise Them in the religious manner I am most comfortable with.  This gets into host and guest, Gebo and similar kinds of considerations, though.  Do I do what I am most aligned with personally, or what I ought to do as a good host in my religion in relation to my Ancestors?

How we answer these questions determines whether we are acting out of our own interests, or actually engaging with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir on Their terms and in respect with Them. It determines how we live our polytheist lives, how we pass on our ways to the next generation, and what place these things take in our lives individually and communally, in our lives and intergenerationally.   The answers to these questions determines the kinds of communities we will build and maintain so that future generations do not have to take on the struggles we did.  It determines what we leave to those that follow after us.

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  1. April 2, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Reblogged this on Son of Hel and commented:
    TFW you realize something is going on, but you don’t have a name for it.

    Rhyd is suing the Passive Aggression strategy. I’ve got a post coming out about it shortly. Looks like I also have another article from him to go over too. Much fun, will meme.

    This post below though is a good start for people to read before I fully dive into it and raises wonderful points.

  2. James "TwoSnakes" Stovall
    April 2, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Not saying I’m glad you were sick, but I’m glad you had a few days to sit on this. This was well written and says pretty much what I have been feeling both the burnout on the right/left thing but the feeling of not sure where I belong. As someone who relates deeply with “hard” Polytheism yet I’m voting for Bernie maybe I just don’t fit anyplace. And maybe perhaps those at G&R are so preoccupied with improving the sound quality of their echo chamber they don’t care for the agenda they claim they do.

    • April 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Granted, I’m not the happiest I was sick, but I am glad I got to sit with things and write on them in a cool headspace over a week. I appreciate you reading this, and the compliment as well.

      I don’t think that ‘hard’ polytheism or voting for Bernie are at polar opposites. Hell, I’m starting to look at hard and soft polytheism less and less as a valuable division. If you’re polytheist…well, you’re polytheist. I’ll be voting for Bernie myself. I’m feeling less and less like I belong places, politically speaking. I think, though, that political litmus tests in polytheism should be avoided. Polytheism is plenty big enough for folks all over the political spectrum to find a place even if not everyone gets along.

    • April 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Now that I am sick too, I am getting caught up on all of this. I have been feeling out of place for awhile too. Politically I consider myself independent. This left/right stuff kind of gets to me. In a more general sense, I don’t feel like I know where I fit either. I kind of feel like I am outside of all this. I see things on both sides that I agree/disagree with. I think that we are discussing some of these things is important.

      All in all, a good piece.

  3. April 2, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Thank you for this article. I also haven’t had the time to check the pagan blogosphere for a while and only found out about this yesterday. It took me a while to figure out what was going on.

    Frankly, a lot of it looks like nothing new. The debate about the relationship between priests and laity is something that’s been going on for a long time. I’ve already weighed in on what I think about it.

    Tribalism – I used to use that word, because I think living in a tribal society is the most natural state for humans (since that’s how we lived for most of our history and have only become this hyper-individualistic recently), but I quit using the word because I think the popular connotation of that word is too negative. Most people think it means that if you have a tribe, you have to think your tribe is better than other tribes and you want to make war on other tribes. I don’t think that necessarily has to be the case – just look at the Aesir and Vanir – you can always make alliances with other tribes! But I think when most people see the word “tribalism” they think it means “nationalism” or “xenophobia.”

    And I think that for an individual person, you can’t keep your religion and politics separate. Of course one is going to influence the other, because humans aren’t compartmentalized that way. But I don’t think you can go on to say, “If a person is a member of this religion, then they must have these politics,” or vice-versa, because that is obviously not the case. Just look at Christians. Most of the Christians in my area of the world are extremely conservative (just look at my senator, Ted Cruz, ugh), but on the other hand you can also be a devout Christian and very liberal (for example, Jimmy Carter). I’m sure both Jimmy Carter and Ted Cruz feel that their religion is compatible with their politics, but they have both come to some very different political conclusions from them. It may be interesting to wonder about how or why that happens, but it’s obvious that it happens.

    So why would polytheism be any different?

    • April 2, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      I don’t see a big reason to stop using the word tribalism. The big reason I stopped using Pagan as my main identifier is that I saw it tied to theism, and enough Pagans did not to the point where I did not see much point in keeping on using it. Tribalism, on the other hand, has a very established meaning, as does tribe, and I am using it correctly. Folks using it to mean ‘arbitrary divisions’ and the like, as I am seeing it increasingly used, are not using it correctly, and this is one of many words I absolutely refuse to give up.

      As I said in my post above, I do not believe nor do I see that it self-evident that because I am part of a tribe that I will, as a consequence, make war because of being in that tribe. I will be more apt to come to those within my tribe’s defense, but that is because I hold more loyalty to those in my innangard than those utgard to it. To put it another way, I cannot be friends with all the world’s humans even if I hold we all should be treated as equals.

      I see no reason that polytheists should not, themselves, be political in whichever way they are called to. I just have deep issues with what I view as litmus tests being put on a person’s inclusion into that theological point and worldview in order for them to be accepted as a polytheist.

      • April 8, 2016 at 8:37 am

        Maybe you’ve had a different experience, but whenever I see someone using the word “tribalism” completely outside the context of modern paganism/polytheism, it always has the negative connotation of “my tribe is better than yours” or even worse “I only have to behave ethically towards members of my own tribe and can do whatever I want to members of other tribes.” I finally realized that I can’t keep using the word “tribalism” to describe myself, at least not to anyone outside of the pagan bubble, because they will assume that I believe things like that.

        I don’t like it either, because that leaves me without a word to describe what I believe, but since I have to deal with people who aren’t “my tribe” on a regular basis, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea.

        On the other hand, I keep “pagan” because people on the outside have no idea what the difference is between a “pagan” and a “polytheist” and probably don’t care either. I’m not a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or atheist, so I fall into that “none of the above” category of paganism.

        That’s just why *I* use/don’t use these words though. Other people are in other situations. I’m thinking more about “what if my boss or coworkers found out I identify myself with these words?”so I have to take into consideration what connotations they have to people in general.

  4. April 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Having lived through the “Red Scare,” which continued on in various forms into the 1970s, I can tell you that the language he uses is *exactly* the same as the John Birch Society used to tell people about communist infiltration. And because of my family’s anarchist leanings, the full force of not only the government but the local people were put on them. I ended up in the FBI watch list (even today – I have a listing) when I was 13 years old.

    So my reaction – mostly at Galina’s blog was in line with his language which is so much alike like the John Birchers. So apparently, the new left runs into the new right.

    There are ways to discuss the New Right without being so broad and general to the point of scaring people into looking for “fascists” under their beds.

    • April 2, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      It is especially comments like yours that really bring my worry on this language to the fore. You lived through this. You directly experienced how it affected you and your family. You are still feeling its effects. Granted, the folks at Gods & Radicals do not have the government’s ear, but that someone whose family was harmed by the Red Scare stands up and says “Hey, this rhetoric isn’t all that different from the John Birch Society!” should give folks on the Left pause, especially given the the hell the John Birch Society was, and how their rhetoric affected the Red Scare.

      I call this phenomena the left using the clubs of the right.

      • April 3, 2016 at 10:03 am

        Thank you.

        I actually freaked out with both of his writings. The language was the key. I see them as I would the true believers of the John Birch Society. Their belief is so entrenched that everyone is the enemy unless they think like they do. I see ignorance and blitheness of went on before, and little understanding of how language seeps into people’s consciousness.

        What may happen is that the goals that Rhyd stated he wants will incite or inflame people to look for heretics. And silence those who object to his statements. It has happened by telling those who reacted that they were making mountains out of molehills. And then telling them that their perceptions were wrong. When an authority tells you that your perceptions are wrong, and only rely on the authority’s statement, that is fascism. It means you lose your agency and that the authority is paramount. I saw this happened with Rhyd and his people telling the rest of us, we were wrong to react.

        I see the setting up of who is fascist by Rhyd as as a power play to determine who is or who is not “correct.” In other words, setting up a system where he decides how we should be. Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but when you use rhetoric and tactics out of the JBS playbook….. it doesn’t reflect well on you and your cause.

      • April 3, 2016 at 10:14 am

        *nods* I see positioning here, and the litmus testing being done here is not one I approve of.

        “It has happened by telling those who reacted that they were making mountains out of molehills.”

        Isn’t this a common gaslighting tactic?

        The other big problem I have with anarchism and folks who are anti-hierarchy is I have to keep asking a similar series of questions. Something along the lines of
        “Okay, you have identified the problems and you have set forth what you feel we need to do in order to take down the structures that enables these problems. What are you going to replace them with?”

        Again and again I ask variations on the question of “What are you going to build?” and I think it is telling I continuously get the proverbial equivalent of crickets.

      • April 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        Since I have a degree in economics and have edited jurried economic papers, I will offer my impressions of G&Rs and their war on capitalism. I think they are ill-educated in the matters of economic systems. I believe that they see capitalism as the evil that stalking society today. It is not capitalism but greed. Capitalism is an imperfect tool in economic systems of allocating goods and services. However, the alternatives may prove difficult. Sanders does speak of Democratic Socialism, which seems to provide an answer to hyper-capitalism.

        I worked with Alan Greenspan at the Fed. He believed in Ayn Ryn’s world view, and conducted monetary policy with that in mind. What he forgot is that people like Enron were not after the public good but their own private enrichment. They also manipulated markets and disrupted the supply and demand in electricity. Greenspan in his Congressional testimony after the crash of 2008 admitted fault and apologised for his lack of oversight and his belief system.

        I believe that G&Rs do not have a relationship with money or a comfortable one. Since they do not understand how money works and do not want to know, they reject its usefulness in correcting the system. What I do detect is an abhorance of money and a desire to undo the industrial system. They seem to want to return back to the system before modern age. Only thing is what do you do with your technology?

        G&Rs speak of a past that was simple and good. They also speak of both the past and nature in romantic terms. These are also things that fascists wax warmly on as well. Somehow the past was better, finer, etc. I’ll stop now. But I have put much thought into what they write, and frankly found it to be lacking when it comes to understanding economic systems.

      • April 3, 2016 at 2:33 pm

        
        “Since I have a degree in economics and have edited jurried economic papers, I will offer my impressions of G&Rs and their war on capitalism. I think they are ill-educated in the matters of economic systems. I believe that they see capitalism as the evil that stalking society today. It is not capitalism but greed. Capitalism is an imperfect tool in economic systems of allocating goods and services. However, the alternatives may prove difficult. Sanders does speak of Democratic Socialism, which seems to provide an answer to hyper-capitalism.”

        It seems to me, outside looking in especially in the field of economics, that the Nordic model provides hope. However, my deepest issue with economic fixes, any of them, is that they all run up against us all living with the assumption of infinite growth on a finite planet. I think that if any economic model is to actually provide helpful answers, things such as the cleanliness of water, habitat loss, pollution, plastics and other chemicals making into our waterways and oceans, and many other environmental considerations must be part of the equation. The biggest cause of species loss we have going on right now is due to habitat loss. The industrial engines powered by oil and coal are killing our ability to live on this planet. The Nordic model is the only thing I have seen close to addressing these things, but again, this is not my field of study. It’s just something I see over and over is a fairly big blind spot when folks in economics talk on addressing the issues facing this and the upcoming generations.

        …I could not begin to list the deep issues I have with Ayn Rand’s views. Having seen more than a few documentaries of how Enron was able to manipulate things to its own ends, and then cash out at their employees’ pensions, life savings, and others’ expense, and how billionaire hedge fund managers like Bernie Madoff were able to swindle their clients, I wonder how much Alan Greenspan shut his eyes to this, vs. forgetting. I just…the enormity of attributing that merely to error is hard to swallow.

        “I believe that G&Rs do not have a relationship with money or a comfortable one. Since they do not understand how money works and do not want to know, they reject its usefulness in correcting the system. What I do detect is an abhorance of money and a desire to undo the industrial system.”

        I think that a lot of Pagans in general do not have a good or comfortable relationship with money. A somewhat frequent refrain I hear is on why charging for spiritual services like divination is wrong, and occasionally this discussion raises its head, with folks like myself on one end and them on the other. From my perspective there needs to be Gebo, reciprocity, for the time I put in to study this and do it well and clean. Also, since we’re not in an economic situation where I can easily convert the goods a person could bring to me in offering for a reading, i.e. food for a reading, to take care of obligations I have to take care of with money, this is one avenue that’s often shut to those outside of familiar or tribal relationships with me.

        “They seem to want to return back to the system before modern age. Only thing is what do you do with your technology?”

        This is why I appreciate folks with me on the ride down The Long Descent. I think that utterly rejecting technology is a problem, but so is relying on technology that easily breaks down, is toxic to the environment, and only lasts 1-5 years before its life cycle ends. I think that living within our means as humans, in concert with the environment, is not only very possible, but well within our ability to manage without giving up every comfort we have come to enjoy, especially heating/cooling for keeping ourselves safe, and refrigeration. By this, I don’t mean that we cool the house to 70 degrees F. I mean keeping our homes cool so we’re not dying of heat exhaustion or warm so we’re not freezing to death, while wasting untold resources on keeping us, and all of our stuff, at ‘ideal’ temperatures artificially. So, some of this is retraining our expectations, and some of this is reweaving fabrics of interdependency between those who grow our food, our communities, and those who provide local goods and services we will need in the future in order to care for ourselves, and these communities. It may not be the answer, but then, I think that people and communities will find their own answers in a wide variety of ways.

        “G&Rs speak of a past that was simple and good. They also speak of both the past and nature in romantic terms. These are also things that fascists wax warmly on as well. Somehow the past was better, finer, etc. I’ll stop now. But I have put much thought into what they write, and frankly found it to be lacking when it comes to understanding economic systems.”

        It sounds to me what you are describing is neo-romanticism.
        I am curious as to you thoughts are on better places we can look to go, what models do you believe work better, and so on. Heck, if you’d be interested, maybe write some blog posts on better ways to envision Pagan and/or polytheist communities working relationships with money? If you have already written this, please let me know!

      • April 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm

        I have been thinking about this. One problem is that we are all Keynesian now in our economic system. Few schools teach anything but Kenynesian as the world view. Therefore to come up with something entirely new, takes a Martian sort to speak.

        However, economics is really the quantifying of human behaviour – what they consider important, and the value they place on it. Feudalism happened because people valued safety until the rise of the nation state which guaranteed safety in a large border. Taxes is what people pay for safety. Capitalism decided to present the idea that capital is as important to human society as is human labour.

        The problem is that we have reached the limit of capitalism, and are grappling with what to replace it with. Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. all have zombie economies. stagnant, with the government and the banks all using silly money to provide some sort of movement. It is not working. We are going through a transition to something else, that no one can imagine, and are muddling through.

        As to a new system, it has to be cultural specific in that each culture adapts whatever system to itself. China and Russia are two example of the same system applied differently, with traditional Russian and Chinese government coming back. China is not really capitalist or socialist but a government trying to stay in power by propping up zombie factories. Once the house of cards falls, then unrest begins, chaos, and the overthrow of the established order. Then the strongest personality will take over, and reform chaos into their sense of order.

        So first imagine the society that you want to live in. How does that society go about its business. Will it value religious leaders? Community property? Conservation of salmon (as in the Magna Carta)? How do you go about seeing that these values are upheld? People only change through pain unfortunately, such as not being able to drive SUVs and having to walk instead. They rebel against this since it is a restriction on their ability to do what they want. This is steeped in American culture and is highlighted in the Republican Party. What is the role of government in enforcing the values? What sort of government should there be?

        Reading science fiction may provide some of the answers since that is where the creative thinking of the future occurs.

      • April 4, 2016 at 1:32 pm

        Thank you for hitting the nail on the head and giving me some things to think on. It’s funny, when a lot of folks describe economy they don’t talk on things like other economic theories besides Keynes, border security, or even the role of taxes in shaping government, policies, public expectations, or how the use of our resources and GDP works through these things. When you pair this up with the Myth of Progress, it can be damned hard to break the worldview this places on people. Having watched more than a few documentaries, the complaint that the US and many European areas teach nothing but Keynes to their students comes up rather frequently.

        Something I find interesting is that a good number of folks who are in the Long Descent crowd are actively writing or have published sci-fi books imagining what the future after Peak Oil and Climate Change would look like. Many are upbeat in their own way, not pie-in-the-sky, but more of the notion of ‘look lower to find your happiness’ from what I gather.

        I think that these questions you place may well be a good basis for any community asking themselves “What do we do when the facade collapses?” in regards to the banking system, the fossil fuel industries and those that directly need them, and in places where the environment is becoming less amenable to habitation.

      • April 5, 2016 at 12:58 pm

        No, Alley Valkyrie *is* on an FBI watchlist for her activism in the meat space.

      • April 5, 2016 at 6:10 pm

        What I meant by ‘have the government’s ear’ is have it in the sense the JBS did: by having direct influence in it, over it, as it did through McCarythism, McCarthyites, and anti-Communists.

        I did not know she is on an FBI watchlist, though I find that very odd since the only activism I have read of hers has been for the homeless.. All the same, I’m sorry to read that. That’s a hard place to be in.

      • April 7, 2016 at 9:38 pm

        Her work for the homeless has been her primary focus in recent years (remember, she’s about my age, I think maybe a couple years older), and I think a large part of her current focus might have to do with prior arrests at certain protests, and also a stalker (I don’t know how much from each category played into it, but she pretty much felt it absolutely necessary to pack up and leave Eugene for Portland about ten years ago, as a matter of personal safety).

      • April 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        Oh. Okay, thank you. It’s absolutely terrible she has had to deal with that.

      • April 8, 2016 at 11:28 pm

        No worries. 🙂 I know not everyone keeps up with everyone on FB.

    • April 9, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      I love the term “Rhyd Scare” that’s being bandied about (started by Lucius Svartwulf Helsen, I believe. 🙂

  5. April 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if Rhyd is familiar at all with Theodism. What he describes (tribalism, sacral kingship, hierarchical relationships, and a reconstructionist/traditionalist approach) describes them to a tee, but the fact that “freedom of conscience” is a fundamental Theodish principle blows his whole argument out of the water. It explicitly states that politics is irrelevant to religion, and people of all political stripes are welcome within Theodism.

    • April 2, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      I’m honestly not sure, myself. Hell, I’m not Theodish but these things aren’t unknown to me, either, and even holding the relationship I do with Odin I still very much believe in freedom of conscience. I would not state the politics is irrelevant to religion, since politics can play into how religion flows out of its experiences with the sources of the traditions it takes up, and how it employs them. I do agree with the understanding that folks of all political stripes should be welcome within Heathenry as a whole even if we, as individual groups or even religions within the ‘tree’ of Heathenry, may not agree on all things.

  6. Keen
    April 2, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Rhyd’s call to action is nothing new in terms of radicalism either. Radical leftists have been wondering what to do re: “preemptive measures” since before Catalonia. As an anarchist, I’m disappointed that he doesn’t seem to be aware of the well-worn path he’s trodding – is an “us vs them” stance evil or not? 150 years later, and leftists have yet to arrive at a consensus.
    I don’t consider myself either left or right – it’s a dichotomy I reject – so there are a number of ideas that the New Right has (but definitely don’t have the patent on) that I like. Rhyd’s Mirror piece (I never read the original supplement which sparked all of this) commits the old crime of progressivism, that old ideas aren’t good by virtue of being old. Mounting evidence suggests that humans weren’t ever meant to function outside of groups of more than about 150 individuals, and that doing so has resulted in the myriad mental illnesses we see now approaching epidemic rates. Modern globalization isn’t necessarily a good thing either – especially not for our natural resources, not for the diasporas that result.
    But really, at what point do we put our feet down? When senators make inroads with the KKK? When they start passing legislation that the KKK would approve of? When that legislation starts getting enforced? “When they come for me”?
    I’m not sure that it’s important that polytheists, specifically, answer these questions, but the questions are getting asked now and it’s a good a time as any to sort ourselves out.

    • April 2, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      When folks say this is ‘nothing new’, I guess I may just be too young. I had to look up Catalonia because I wasn’t sure what you were referring to, nor what ‘preemptive measures’ you were referring to. I’m still not sure I full get it, either; would you mind explaining that a bit?

      This is kind of the point I was making above, though: it seems that folks in anarchist circles have lingo, history viewpoints, and/or education that even going to college and taking quite a few courses on philosophy and such that I simply do not. The original supplements which sparked everything are linked to above, namely Confronting the New Right which was supposed to have been connected with the article Fascisms Against Time.

      I do agree with your assessment that “Rhyd’s Mirror piece…commits the old crime of progressivism, that old ideas aren’t good by virtue of being old”, which is why I asked why the right specifically was being called to task on this, and why he viewed the left as being immune or more immune than the right in this regard.

      I do take caution in regards to stating causation between the theorized 150 individuals with whom we are meant to function theory, and mental illness. Mental illnesses have a wide variety of reasons, and I would ask we not pigeonhole them by stating this or that thing alone is the culprit or even the most likely.

      I certainly agree modern globalization has not been good for the planet. Taking a look at Inner Mongolia and the neodymium mining there, or the destructions of swathes of forests here in MI for copper and limestone mining.

      “But really, at what point do we put our feet down? When senators make inroads with the KKK? When they start passing legislation that the KKK would approve of? When that legislation starts getting enforced? “When they come for me”?
      I’m not sure that it’s important that polytheists, specifically, answer these questions, but the questions are getting asked now and it’s a good a time as any to sort ourselves out.”

      See, these question though are not specifically polytheist questions, so much as questions we should be asking all of our fellow citizens.

      • Keen
        April 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm

        “When folks say this is nothing new…”
        I was always under the impression that you were older than me! Not that it really matters because anarchist history isn’t something anyone formally teaches. I only bring it up because Rhyd identifies as an anarchist, and that history definitely points to the existence of an “anarchist tradition” even as he decries traditionalism. There is a culture, definitely, that is oftentimes esoteric to outsiders and even to each other, for better or for worse. Security Culture (the rules and habits that one ought develop to keep themselves or their cell safe from law enforcement, infiltrators, and actual self-identified fascists that like to smash things) plays a large role in shaping that, and so does our unique pedigree of philosophy. It can get pointlessly dense.
        I guess I meant “preemptive measures” more like how I phrased things at the end of my comment: At what point do we put our feet down? My husband has an old friend who infiltrates Stormfront and outs proximal members to the community, and does so at the risk of his and his family’s life, mind – I feel like that is a Good Thing to do. That’s not preemptive at all, though. I guess the question is, when it IS us vs them, when do we take action against the them?
        “I do take caution…”
        Well, as a person who has experienced a while host of mental illnesses throughout their life, spent many a year contemplating suicide, and done some researching into why I feel the way I feel, I believe that it is a very likely theory. I should note that it’s not the number of individuals, but rather that the societies where mental illnesses are reported to be very low (not nonexistent, of course) have no coercive elements – and in order for a society to avoid coercion, it tends to need to be of a certain size.

      • Keen
        April 3, 2016 at 1:32 pm

        PS- The societies studied run the gamut in terms of lifestyle as well – some peoples are stationary, some nomadic, with different diets, levels of technological complexity, and amounts of work that must be done to keep the group functioning. What else could it be? Genes? No, because these aren’t biologically isolated peoples. Diet? Maybe, but there are millions of miserable subsistence farmers around the world who eat well otherwise. Lack of urbanisation? What about the rural and miserable? It may not be a cause, but the correlation is very strong.

      • Keen
        April 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm

        PPS!- I also speak as a person who hardly knows anybody who hasn’t been too therapy or been on a medication for a purported mental illness. And one of the few turns we all have in common is that we live in the same society.

      • April 3, 2016 at 1:56 pm

        “When folks say this is nothing new…”
        “I was always under the impression that you were older than me!”

        …Maybe? I’m 30 if that helps. *chuckles*

        I’ve never read of anyone teaching anarchist history, but the philosophy courses I’ve been through only briefly touched on Marxist sources. Related, but not the same, but even that is scant on the ground. I wasn’t sure if there was something I was or am missing.

        If folks in the anarchist culture really do want to actually include the every-person then the language needs to be more accessible, or they at least need to come up with some comprehensive resources on how to understand what it is a lot of them go on about. I can see there’s a culture, but it seems unless you’re on the inside of it, it is damned hard to pierce. I could see why Security Culture may become part of the many of the anarchist movements, especially given some of the older anarchists’ introduction to things like COINTELPRO and other similar methods since employed with the USA PATRIOT Act and similar legislation, police actions, etc.

        Ah, I appreciate you clearing that preemptive measures bit up.

        When things are us vs. them I think that is where these community bonds, such as family and tribe that I keep on bringing up come in. You rely on one another, whether it is to keep each other safe, fed, or otherwise healthy.

        My main point is I don’t want to point to a single reason for mental illness since there’s so many reasons for it. I’m not saying the theory is unsound in the idea, and I will admit there’s something about it that strikes a chord in me. You have a good point in regards to coercion and groups needing to be of a certain size to effectively enforce that. I wonder what other traits these societies, groups, and places share. Correlation does not equal causation, but sometimes the correlations can help point the way to answers.

        “PS- The societies studied run the gamut in terms of lifestyle as well – some peoples are stationary, some nomadic, with different diets, levels of technological complexity, and amounts of work that must be done to keep the group functioning. What else could it be? Genes? No, because these aren’t biologically isolated peoples. Diet? Maybe, but there are millions of miserable subsistence farmers around the world who eat well otherwise. Lack of urbanisation? What about the rural and miserable? It may not be a cause, but the correlation is very strong.

        Interesting. Would you posting a link to this study? I remember having heard of it in a few of my psychology and philosophy courses, I just cannot remember which it is.

      • Keen
        April 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm

        …Maybe? I’m 30 if that helps

        Oh, not by much then, haha.

        If folks in the anarchist culture really do want to actually include the every-person then the language needs to be more accessible, or they at least need to come up with some comprehensive resources on how to understand what it is a lot of them go on about.

        I agree – Crimethinc attempted to do this with their To Change Everything pamphlet, which I actually think is pretty darned good for being as short and philosophy-lite as it is. Much of anarchism is far too dense for most people to give a damn about, and I’ll admit, the nerd in me appreciates some of the more impenetrable stuff, but it’s all pretty useless to folks on the outside or who aren’t really into philosophy for its own sake.

        When things are us vs. them I think that is where these community bonds, such as family and tribe that I keep on bringing up come in. You rely on one another, whether it is to keep each other safe, fed, or otherwise healthy.

        Michael Ruppert said something similar – the only way anyone is going to get through whatever the future brings is by fostering community and reciprocity.

        I will admit there’s something about it that strikes a chord in me.

        Growing up, I was never able to project myself into the future in any way that resembled normal – I imagined being homeless, actually, or being a hermit and living in the mountains. It never occurred to me that I would grow up and live in a house and go to work every day, or even do other kinds of normal adult things, like throw parties or travel. Something in me knew that I didn’t have a place in the world as it currently exists, and that deep sort of gnawing suspicion drove a lot of my teenage anger and despair. Sometimes it sucks being vindicated! I’m biased though – I do like the theory because it explains my story of depression, anxiety, and dissociative disorders. Why pills and therapy didn’t even come close to fixing me.

        Would you posting a link to this study?

        I don’t think it was a study so much as some anthropology work? At any rate, here’s a link: http://brucelevine.net/how-societies-with-little-coercion-have-little-mental-illness/

        Cheers!

      • April 10, 2016 at 9:05 pm

        

        I agree – Crimethinc attempted to do this with their To Change Everything pamphlet, which I actually think is pretty darned good for being as short and philosophy-lite as it is. Much of anarchism is far too dense for most people to give a damn about, and I’ll admit, the nerd in me appreciates some of the more impenetrable stuff, but it’s all pretty useless to folks on the outside or who aren’t really into philosophy for its own sake.

        I appreciate it too, but like you said, it’s pretty useless to folks on the outside.

        Michael Ruppert said something similar – the only way anyone is going to get through whatever the future brings is by fostering community and reciprocity.

        This will shock, I know: I heartily agree with him. I see this very model of relationship as the foundation to getting through peak oil and climate change.

        Growing up, I was never able to project myself into the future in any way that resembled normal – I imagined being homeless, actually, or being a hermit and living in the mountains. It never occurred to me that I would grow up and live in a house and go to work every day, or even do other kinds of normal adult things, like throw parties or travel. Something in me knew that I didn’t have a place in the world as it currently exists, and that deep sort of gnawing suspicion drove a lot of my teenage anger and despair. Sometimes it sucks being vindicated! I’m biased though – I do like the theory because it explains my story of depression, anxiety, and dissociative disorders. Why pills and therapy didn’t even come close to fixing me.

        Interesting. When I was a kid I always imagined myself living off the land in some way. That ‘gnawing suspicion’ I didn’t belong in the world as it currently exists has gnawed at me for a lot of my life.

        Thanks for the link!

  7. Keen
    April 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    My god, the phone typos are ridiculous, sorry. That’s all I’ve got to say though, promise.

    • April 3, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      You’re fine. I appreciate the dialogue!

    • ravenamber87
      April 10, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      Dear Gods…that idea about mental health makes *so much sense* in my situation. Thank you very much for posting, Keen!

  8. ganglerisgrove
    April 8, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Gangleri's Grove and commented:
    Check out the comments thread here. There are some really good comments and discussions going on there. Good job, Sarenth.

  9. Heather Awen
    April 25, 2016 at 10:27 am

    One of my main problems with him as a writer is that he is very much and trenched in the us versus them mentality while being oblivious to that. One of my main problems with him as a “activist” is that he offers no action. He has no solutions. He points out problems , and he is grasping at straws lately, and he does nothing to be involved in the nitty-gritty of doing the work. These labels “left” and “right” really only means something on paper and even then nobody can agree . When you are in the trenches making changes in the world, those labels don’t mean anything. Armchair activists have the luxury of staying in an ivory tower that holds back the real world. He doesn’t stick with any topic long enough to actually make any difference.

    His anti-capitalist magazine, that is the only criteria, is printed and distributed by a multinational corporation. How is that in line with his politics? Does he make things like this known to people? At the end of the day how does he live? It’s easy to judge people when you are in a little clique of people who are even less politically aware than you are who think you are amazing because they haven’t actually done the academic research to understand that he’s rather ignorant . All that he has offered paganism are more things to divide and be conquered by. He spends his time telling everyone what they are doing wrong , using vague political language to cover up his own opinion , and then he runs away before having to actually focus on how things could be done right. If you are not going to stick around and deal with the real world , in my opinion you don’t really have much validity because you’re working with opinions and theories .

    I showed some of his writing to some very effective activists in their 60s and all of them said maybe when he grows up he will have something worthwhile to contribute and then I told them that he was 40 and they said he was not worth reading or acknowledging. At the end of the day he doesn’t offer anything.

    • April 30, 2016 at 10:16 pm

      It’s unrealistic to avoid all capitalistic forms of distribution because capitalism is a structural problem, indeed this is why the co-op dreams continue to fail, you can’t compete with the large franchises and you will have to depend on people with higher incomes to get by. Even so-called free blogging services and social networking services depend on advertising because these sites can not exist without resources. The activists that I know understand that reality.

      However, this I do agree with, amongst other things:

      “I showed some of his writing to some very effective activists in their 60s and all of them said maybe when he grows up he will have something worthwhile to contribute and then I told them that he was 40 and they said he was not worth reading or acknowledging. At the end of the day he doesn’t offer anything.”

      Some of the details of what I know about him locally from local people would concur with that, I’m afraid.

      • Heather Awen
        May 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm

        Most activists I know of make choices about whether or not the involvement with a multinational corporation is worth whatever the project is. A poetry and complaining magazine with very simplistic analysis of capitalism without any examples of living as an anti-capitalist pagan ( that’s what someone I know who bought a beautiful resistance called it ) would not be considered worth the fossil fuels for production and distribution, of the harm to the workers from the VOCs , the use of paper and the poisoning of rivers , along with the landfill waste and giving money to a multinational corporation.

        However computers are far more detrimental to the environment as are cell phones. There are publishing companies that are committed to the future we want today like new society , they really are the most revolutionary of the publishers even compared to PM press because of how they publish , and there is a great “green” publishing company for everything from banners to books to business cards that the bioneers and other amazing groups use also don’t use VOC ink, everything is done on site , they are modeled after the type of future we want today.

        There’s no way anyone can be a purist but we all have to make decisions about the pros and cons , ” is this project worth the environmental toll ? ”

        If I was publishing an antiracism magazine and I had it published by the KKK, I would be supporting racism. If I have a magazine that only has one thing it’s against (capitalism ) and then using a multinational publisher and distributor says “I support capitalism.” Literally. Looking at how we publish especially luxury goods is much more radical than what we publish. Especially if nothing new was being offered , that’s when people have to make really hard decisions about the long-term goal and effect. What is the long-term goal of an anti-capitalist magazine and how do they expect to achieve that and is that going to be effective ?

        That sort of reflection is absent in the writings. There is so much black-and-white finger-pointing at others there isn’t the important self reflection about being human in a time with very little options to live how we really want . If he did that, if he looked at how he himself contradicts so many of his own very tightly held beliefs , he may have the compassion to see that others are in the same position and many of them, even though it’s not the way he would want it done, are changing the world in effective ways . But because they don’t label themselves the same way and because he doesn’t take the time to understand and instead uses broad generalizations he cannot see the vast amount of people he could have networked with to make a real movement; he just found enemies where there weren’t any until he named them . Like his amazing misunderstanding of devotional polytheism and its connection to community work , that’s one of the backbones of devotional polytheism.
        There is an anarchist capitalist movement. There are very many different types of anarchists, individual anarchists, national anarchists, communist anarchists (with a little c), so-called primitive anarchists, spiritual anarchists , pacifist anarchists , it’s a very diverse community that when filled with educated , secure people can focus on common goals and not argue over the details because obviously we are very far from Utopia and probably always will be .

        Effective activists know how to find common ground with others and to actively listen and let go of their tight grip of how everyone and everything must be. That requires some level of trust and in the atmosphere of paranoia he appears to live inside of he just cannot be effective because every bump in the night is a fascist . A term that he doesn’t use correctly .

        And his followers call him an anarchist but he calls himself a Marxist, which seems rather odd. The two have nothing in common as far as future goals and the way to achieve them . The editor of his magazine a beautiful resistance told me that he is not an activist and doesn’t say he is one. It doesn’t seem like a very open safe “collective .” That would fit with Soviet Communism but not with anarchism.

        So his own understanding about the politics he claims others don’t understand and that his followers keep saying no one understands ( anarchy) is actually worse than his understanding of what fascism is .

        Authoritarianism never has created a lasting change because the people will always revolt against the atmosphere of fear and removal of their natural rights .

        I’m really happy that pagans have refused to let someone so incoherent politically influence them . Given enough rope he hung himself. How PolyCon West is affected by his attacks on almost every kind of polytheist will be interesting to watch because freedom of religion is what my ancestors in the 17th-century swamps of Rhode Island as anarchists and freethinkers demanded and it’s why we have it in the Second Amendment , it’s why I get to be a Heathen like my many many generations of Germanic ancestors as well as worship the gods of my Celtic ancestors as well as revere the African Diaspora spirits who called to me , honor my ancestors who founded anarchist utopias with free education for children no matter how poor their families were , no slavery, no churches, women with equal rights, no missionary work and a call for people of any religion to live there, which at the time was unheard of because citizenship was connected to your religion , including Jews, Muslims , Hindus and pagans. Yes, 17th-century , pagans were invited.

        I greatly value the intrinsic right to freedom of religion and anyone who tries to take that from others based on mere dogma he is trying to shove down our throats, I’m happy people have decided to spit and not swallow.

        Everybody I know who is a devotional polytheist, including the editor of a beautiful resistance, is guided through their religious relationships with the gods and goddesses to have the strength to do more and greater work within the community helping human beings in a direct way . That’s how my ancestors in those swamps were when Salem Massachusetts refuse to accept them because they were “freethinkers.” Without understanding anything about devotional polytheism, if he read the book with that title he’d see how much of it is about community service and how many of the offerings devotional polytheists make to their community in time, money and other resources ( this is happening also with some African Diaspora religions ) , since he has no understanding of what devotional polytheist do his attack was towards the people who actually are the ones that are living the way he demands everyone live , but perhaps don’t come to it from the same place, perhaps they didn’t need political rhetoric to tell them how to serve their community willingly while keeping their own dignity .

        Evidently he has the most in common with the Nazi heathens since he demand that polytheism be based on a political stance . So I guess we have to watch Joseph Stalin scream that everybody’s a fascist while Adolf Hitler has nothing to fear .

        It’s so incredibly boring I’m quite happy that he’s painted everyone in such broad strokes that he’s painted into a corner .

      • Keen
        May 3, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        I just doubt he’s even an anarchist in the real sense of the word

        There is no such thing as a “real” anarchist. Against nation-states and against capitalism? Congrats, you’re probably an anarchist. It’s not a set of morals, it’s not a lifestyle, and it’s not an aesthetic. Anyone who claims it is either wants to sell you something or volunteer you to get arrested because going to jail means you’re hardcore, man.

        I would be surprised if he even recognizes this as a problem.

        Of course he does. Just probably not with himself and the things he cares about – I’d put money down on a figure of 90% of anti-authoritarians having this problem. Pretending that it’s just him is laughable.

        truly listened to people when they disagree with him

        He published my piece in the first G&R about nihilism, and he told me personally that he’d hated nihilism before reading my submission. He’s as much of an echo chamber as any of us are. Yadda yadda that old saying about having a mind so open your brain falls out. He’s doing what he feels that he needs to do. Just like the rest of us.

        What I don’t get – and Sarenth, I promise this is the last you’ll hear from me on this post – is why people just can’t help but go on and on and on about how politically impotent Rhyd is, how useless he is, etc. Look at all the digital ink spilled just in the comments of this one blog post. If he’s so stupid and ineffective, why can’t anyone shut up about him?

        I suspect some mass cathartic scapegoating is/was happening, and boy is it dumb.

  10. Heather Awen
    April 25, 2016 at 10:41 am

    And what does he say about tribalism to First Nations people?

    He is a very black-and-white thinker and people like that have never been able to make any changes in the world , except to create division which leads to war. He doesn’t have the most important trait of an egalitarian leader which is respecting everyone and understanding that he doesn’t understand what the values and reasons for why people are how they are , treating other people like equals that he just doesn’t understand yet who have the same fears and hopes as the rest of us including him. Without finding common ground all of that he finds are ways to hurt other people in his constant us versus them mentality, which stems so much from fear , not love , it’s really hard for me to take seriously somebody who expects everybody else to fix the problems that he defines and creates , there just isn’t any real commitment to the future , only having his name out there in the present.

    Someone told me that they were very happy I pointed out that he uses a multinational corporation for printing and distribution of his magazine because she read the magazine and there was nothing in it about how to live as an anti-capitalist pagan. No one is actually doing anything. So there are depressing poems and some political rants , but nothing offered about doing the work as a pagan. Starhawk is infinitely more effective than he is in actually understanding the complexity of the problems, and living committed to the solutions . It’s like this younger generation has never heard of her and thinks that he somehow has invented anarchist paganism . When he gives a terrible name to, because he doesn’t look for the big picture solutions which involve getting everybody involved, and he’s alienated so many different types of people there’s no way anybody would work with them, and I think that’s a really good idea because he’s not doing any work. Anybody can bitch and moan using vague political terms, what matters at the end of the day is how you live your life. And I’ve met a lot of rednecks who do far more for the community then most “radicals.” Because the so-called radicals think that they are above the common people. How ironic , Marx must be turning in his grave ( constantly).

    And then he brings out the story of being so poor growing up as if this somehow makes him one of those people from where he comes from as opposed to somebody in Seattle surrounded by other people who have the same superficial knowledge he does that congratulate each other . When he returns to his roots and tries to do something there working with that community, then the impoverished child taking care of his family story will resonate a lot better.

    • Keen
      April 25, 2016 at 11:01 am

      One of my main problems with him as a “activist” is that he offers no action.

      He self-identifies as an anarchist, and a good number of anarchists I know are allergic to publicly instructing people how to go about participating in or initiating actions – this is due in no small part because most effective actions are illegal. (And why wouldn’t they be? Of course those in charge are going to make it difficult to get real shit done without the police crawling all over them.) It is also because anarchism has a long tradition of being against authority (meant here in a specific context which I’m not going to go into) and anarchists that I would personally break bread with are not authoritarian in their anti-authoritarianist, though Rhyd seems to not really know how to handle this paradox.

      and he does nothing to be involved in the nitty-gritty of doing the work.

      Unless he’s specifically said so, this is a baseless speculation. It also depends on your definition of “changing the world”, which I’m sure all three of us would heartily disagree on.

      His anti-capitalist magazine, that is the only criteria, is printed and distributed by a multinational corporation. How is that in line with his politics?

      This is actually anarchism 101, which I encourage you to at least brush up on before you start asking what you think are rhetorical questions that have been sufficiently answered in multiple ways since the 1800’s.

      there just isn’t any real commitment to the future

      Believe it out not, some of us don’t actually care about this concept called “the future” as consensus reality defines it, or even believe it exists. I’m not even talking about time here, I’m taking about the progressivist social construct built around it. There have been a lot of books and think pieces written on the subject, and not all of them as abstract and theoretical as you probably imagine. I’ll provide links if you actually want to read any of them.
      – an anarchist

      • Heather Awen
        April 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

        Oh, I’ve been involved in anarchism for over 30 years. I think it’s the only political “system” that I know anything about at this point. From what I’ve seen a lot of people are just very ignorant about the history , plus there are so many different kinds of anarchists that it makes discussions almost impossible. However I do write to anarchists to imprison and I’m involved with the Anarchist Black Cross. I actually got my degree in college focusing on Catholic anarchists . My family includes Ranters, and in the late 80s and early 90s I was involved in different anarchist squat communities in London and New York City . It was such an amazing wonderful experience. Everything really was do it ourselves . I have friends who have gotten PhD’s in anarchy and they don’t seem to do very much . Identify as a spiritual anarchist and a communist anarchist , which has nothing to do with communism . One problem I find today is that people tell me they’re anarchists and when we get down to it they really are libertarians . Which of course was the word used for anarchist when it was illegal to print things that said anarchist . I have noticed in different cities that I’ve lived in that the anarchist collectives especially when working with each other to create regional meetings becomes very much problematic because so many different people have so many different ideas about how to be an anarchist that working together usually seems to end in people hating each other. My favorite group was MOMA in New York City out of ABC no Rio , maybe because my friend was in it as a founding member , but they really did stuff. On Mother’s Day they held free teach ins a park with everything from education about making your own cleaners that won’t cause asthma, breast-feeding, domestic violence, getting child-support, getting social services, dealing with the system in general . It was really amazing. That’s the kind of anarchy I enjoy, I learned when I was 13 at my first anarchist meeting that if you see a problem you are in charge of finding a solution. You don’t wait around for a savior. You organize right where you are .

        Having done all of the scholarly reading about civil disobedience when I was 15 and reading anarchist magazines since I was 13 and then getting another degree as a community worker where my focus was social libertarianism (anarchy) , studying Barcelona , knowing all sorts of radicals wanted by the police , at the end of the day what matters to me is who is going to deal with the septic systems when the façade of everything working completely falls apart , when those with money have isolated themselves completely, one in four jobs is about protecting private wealth , so when the system falls which it inevitably does , who is making sure that everyone will be getting Cholera? As someone with severe multiple chemical sensitivity, Lyme disease that is chronic along with a malaria like parasite that came from a New England tick bite, I cannot leave the room I live in because my body cannot process chemicals and I go into seizures and pass out , there is a whole movement of phoneless people with MCS called environmental refugees , so with that being something I am constantly aware of, that every advertisement on TV is something that could potentially kill me , that I belong to a community that is a major threat to all of the multinational corporations because we are the end result of their pollution , I don’t care about theory. I care about people doing things. That’s it. People have been saying the same things over and over again meanwhile I know from being on the front lines that people are doing anarchy. And it’s so empowering and so amazing! Not waiting for anyone in charge to make your decisions for you .

        Because I am confined and also incredibly ill and they’ve been working on the information for when I need help with suicide because I can never have surgery , also I have fevers that are very high most of the time , that’s why I now do prison support for anarchists but also for anyone in prison . I’m one of the main writers for a Celtic polytheist book written expressly for people in prison .

        But I miss being able to live in my own temporary autonomous zone . Although I really couldn’t stand a lot of what Bey wrote.

        There are so many people doing anarchism that doesn’t involve going to a multinational corporation for printing and publishing a bunch of essays about being upset , but actually does things in a community focus together decentralized that help each other and also the rest of the community, no matter what their politics are because people come before politics . I don’t let people who want to be leaders speak for me unless I earned my respect and he hasn’t.

        I find him incredibly boring and ineffective.

      • Keen
        April 25, 2016 at 5:29 pm

        OK, just making sure because a lot of Rhyd’s detractors have no idea that he’s an anarchist or even what an anarchist is.

        Re: is anarchism right action or right thought? I spent a year hearing both sides and I don’t give a fuck anymore. Lol at this point I’m probably more of a nihilist than an anarchist.

        I appreciate what he’s doing in theory, that he introduced the idea (to me, anyway) that one can have gods without masters, and that he is mobilizing a few people and not just whinging on social media. But, I have both very high and very low standards.

        Cheers!

      • Heather Awen
        April 25, 2016 at 5:27 pm

        Actually he does right things and asks people what are we going to do? One of them was about pagans in the military and it was like he had no idea of all the work that has been done already in informing people about how the military recruiters can lie, veterans for peace as a resource, what can we do? Get those brochures that I saw for free in every library in Los Angeles about how military recruiters can lie to you , get a folding table, get a sign , get some brochures about the fax about the wars that are not heavy dogma that will turn people off , have something about the obvious problem with if you’re only rule in the your religion is “if it harms nothing none do what you will ” and can you really have that be your religion and have a pentacle in a military graveyard ? ( I’ve written about this a while ago .) Then have a table at pagan pride Day or a festival and make sure the organizers know that there may be trouble and go over and get their support explicitly , never have less than two people at the table , and make sure, always make sure that they are trained in de-escalation .

        Most of the things that he writes about in such vague blurry us against them terms which seem to have the them constantly be changing , are things that anyone who has been involved in anarchist or Marxist activism for a long time knows so much more about that he makes us look stupid. And that is I guess that’s what I find so upsetting.

        Instead of pointing the finger at everyone else it would be so much more rewarding to read about him grappling with the fact that he has a magazine that has only one criteria , anti-capitalism , but he uses a multinational corporation to print and distribute it , is what is being said in that magazine as important as participating in the system all of those people say they are against? I personally know that we all have to make really hard sacrifices ethically. I now need electricity for all these medical things. I didn’t need that before. I don’t have my worm composter and I can’t even read used books because I’m completely intolerant to ink. I don’t get to live a pure life and no one else does either. When it comes to luxuries however that’s where I think we can have more leeway.

        I don’t think that there’s any way to plan for future that is always going to be changing especially bioregionally, I always thought that anarchist intellectuals main flaw was thinking everything would be one-size-fits-all , everyone’s really good at pointing out what’s wrong however they don’t seem to include themselves in the problem which I find to be a “holier than thou ” problem because it makes anarchist seem not human, not like we are like everybody else struggling , pretending that we have this stranglehold on truth with a T turns everyone away and why wouldn’t it?

        There are things about the future however that we do know are true and most of them are ecological and hand-in-hand with that economic. The different ways that local communities will form to adapt as things change is the beauty of the diversity that anarchy can be when it comes organically from the people involved, how I understood anarchy to be, but to keep throwing problem after problem and finger-pointing at everyone over and over again , that’s not Actionist or Solutionaries. There are so many amazing solutions already out there that he seems to not have any idea of and he could be educating people about what is possible because it’s happening now as opposed to rather juvenile understandings of how the world works vary in black-and-white terms . But I made the decision when I was 15 that I wasn’t going to hang out with the theory arguing people anymore and instead go where the energy is , and it doesn’t matter what their politics are because no one’s political utopia ever manifests. I don’t care what someone believes as much as I care about what they are doing . That’s one reason why I don’t like to write for anarchist magazines. The fifth estate asked me to be a writer and I said no because all that would happen is endless attacks. It’s one of the reason anarchist to label themselves as anarchists as their identity get so little done. Instead it’s all about fighting .

        Meanwhile I could just go help with food not bombs .

        I’ve seen a lot of activists who are activists because they like to fight with people , they are very bad at creating peace , of bringing people to the table , of having diverse groups understand that everybody has something at stake , of being with the people .

        If all you are going to do is alienate people you don’t really have any effect on the world. And it’s just boring. You obviously have been around the anarchist block for five times, this is stuff that I was taught to face within myself and then find solutions and make sure that I find ways for networking because just like having MCS , that links environmental justice, the corporate socialism of the United States, disability rights, ecology , and being in the first group that will be killed when things fall apart and nobody has sought to build alternative infrastructure.

        Luckily I know so many people who been building alternative infrastructure since I was born , and I don’t know why that isn’t discussed? The ways that have successfully worked. The ways that are successfully working! Because people are going to become so much more apathetic and discouraged they will completely give up .

        I just already heard all of this stuff in middle school from my friends . It’s like listening to a stoner. Meanwhile there are little old ladies in churches taking action to directly impact their community in a positive way. That’s who I will support.

        Religion and politics are just words , in real life things don’t stay in Cartesian little labels . Real life is messy and chaotic and I don’t care if I share the same beliefs with someone as much as I care about if we are doing something to improve the situation right now , regardless of what comes after that.

        But when you are dying you don’t really have a lot of time for self-indulgent “what if ?” accusations that everyone that you assume are different from you. I live in a very redneck area and everyone I speak to on the telephone like receptionists or someone at a shop has the same anger and grief as the rest of us , they are on my side whatever that means. They probably are Republican . But what does that matter in the long run?

        I don’t pay any attention to what happens on the Internet because life is so short and we have so many amazing things to do.

      • May 2, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        “…and anarchists that I would personally break bread with are not authoritarian in their anti-authoritarianist, though Rhyd seems to not really know how to handle this paradox.”

        I don’t think he understands much less cares about that or what anarchism even other than his own fantasies about it, and I would be surprised if he even recognizes this as a problem. If this conflict wasn’t just about himself and his vision of what he wants polythiesm or neopaganism to be and he had more empathy, truly listened to people when they disagree with him, and had a deeper and more intellectual understanding of political and theological concepts, he would probably have a lot more supporters and less detractors.

        While I am not an anarchist, there are some anarchists I can respect. I just doubt he’s even an anarchist in the real sense of the word, especially how he now wants all polytheists to adopt his views like this “co-creating” bull that has nothing to do with what I and many others believe in. As much as I prefer to avoid insults, he’s being pretty childish, will stay that way, and its probably too late for him to grow out of it.

  1. April 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm
  2. April 10, 2016 at 10:38 am

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