In this episode of the Gnostic Warrior Podcast, I have the honor of interviewing American philosopher and theologian Carl A. Raschke. Raschke is a Past Chair and Professor of Religious Studies Department at the University of Denver, specializing in continental philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and the theory of religion.
He is an internationally known writer and academic, who has authored twenty books and hundreds of articles on topics ranging from neoliberalism, postmodernism to popular religion and culture to technology and society.
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Carl’s most recent books include Neoliberalism and Political Theology: From Kant to Identity Politics (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), Postmodern Theology: A Biopic (Cascade Books, 2017), Critical Theology: An Agenda for an Age of Global Crisis (IVP Academic, 2016), and Force of God: Political Theology and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2015).
He is also Senior Editor for the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory and Senior Consulting Editor for The New Polis. From 2016-2018 he served as managing editor for Political Theology Today (currently Political Theology Network).
Join Carl for discussions on philosophy at TheNewPolis.com
To find out more about Carl Rashke and his great work, please visit his website.
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Carl on Satanism;
There was a whole PR campaign to try to sanitize what was happening, and I was the target of a lot of these groups because I had the kind of intellectual authority. Satanism was not my thing. I knew a lot about it. I’d heard a lot about it on the ground, the narrative that let’s call the PR campaign, which is pushed by, I would say, less than reputable academics who were just kind of in it to protect themselves and protect their research clients.
I’m not saying there was necessarily a thing corrupt about it, though. There have been rumors that occasionally there were, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of like the tobacco industry, you know, tried to tell you, you know, in the early days, you know, tobacco is not as harmful as they’re saying. So what they did was they got the road authorities together, and they created this narrative.
That Satanism was a panic, you know, based on the idea of a moral panic, that term was posed by a guy. I can’t remember his name, but it was called satanic panic. It came out in the nineties. It was a sociological term that basically tried to look at the whole phenomenon as if it were just a bunch of spooked out people who didn’t really understand what was going on, who were panicking.
I mean, that’s totally false because the thing emerged kind of organically and slowly the go back to Satanism mean. There is no such thing as Satanism per se. Just like there is no such thing as Christianity per se, but that’s, that was always the argument. You’re talking about Peter Gilmore, by the way, when you mentioned the church of Satan, did you?
I had a kind of debate with him on the TV back in the early nineties. There have been all sorts of schisms and arguments, and everybody was calling themselves Satanists.
Etiology there that there must be this pure thing, purity you call Satanism, which you know, is being slandered and abused and blah, blah, blah. And you know, so the whole thing was just, you know, literally a shit show. Uh, and, uh, I got caught up in the middle of that and the book I didn’t expect that I was just trying to honestly write from, uh, the notes and the interviews and the stuff I read, you know?
And you had everything from Anton. The Church of Satan, I was told by Anton Lavey’s daughter, Carla, who I met at a time, that he actually had a copy of the book and liked it. I don’t know if that’s true, but then there was Michael Aquino, who I guess is dead now. Supposedly nobody knows if he’s dead. Maybe he’s ascended going on to some new dimension or so forth, but he had the Temple of Set, and he was at war with, OR I should say, not war literally.
Carl: Yeah. And you know, there were all these underground movements around the world are trying to claim that they’re there the true Satanism. But what I was trying to show in the book was just sort of the history of all these things. The moving parts of this and components and the McMartin case were weird because I never really got into the ritual abuse thing. As far as I know, you know, that’s still a mystery. I have my theories about what was going on with that whole thing. I don’t believe that it was simply known to a therapist who we’re putting things in people’s heads to me in that sense.
According to cognitive psychology and neuropsychology, that’s not possible the way it’s being claimed, but something was going on there and that became kind of the focus you had. Entrepreneurs, spiritual entrepreneurs, uh, out there, many of them, you know, we’re hucksters preachers.
They tried to use my authority and said, no way, you’re going to do that. They would say this is the great satanic, great satanic scare. You know, like the subtitle of the book was, How Satanism is ravaging our communities, this word, I didn’t choose that title.
I didn’t want that title, the publisher insisted on it, and of course, they got the blowback they did. They said, oh, well, it’s not our fault. I was trying to be. You know, somewhat guarded about all this. I was trying to show that it doesn’t matter who’s selling certificates to be a Satanist and whether they’re bad people or not.
Obviously, there were a lot of funny things going on that I’ve heard about, but who knows. I was concerned about how this ideology was spreading and being used by people like the night stalker or this guy Constanta, Amanda Morris. They would say, well, he’s not a Satanist.
That’s practicing poly me. Well, yes. I mean, Satanism, academically, is a kind of broader term. That means you’re into various forms of black cultism or black magic.
Carl on Neoliberalism
That was what I call the darker side. A kind of land virus. What was essentially a cultural transformation was going on, which led to this idea, encapsulated in a best-selling book in the seventies called Looking Out for Number One. You know, the me generation, and that became sort of the founding ethos of what we call neoliberalism.
Now, what I do in my book on neo-liberalism political theology, I try to show how this was not about religious conservatives but about religion. Primarily Progressive’s who essentially got on the whole social justice bandwagon, primarily in the early part of this millennium, but the Obama administration accelerated and so forth.
It’s we get the term virtue signaling. It’s all about me, but it’s me. Masquerading has this idea of we, but it’s not by doing anything concrete that will change the world. It’s all about building your own kind of personal human capital. I cited a lot of academics. This is totally different book than “Painted Black.” What most academic research is citing other theorists.
It’s like, you can recreate this kind of virtual world, this world of goodness. What it’s really about, essentially, is gaining power under the pretense that you’re saving the world or saving the planet or helping others. And in fact, you’re not doing a damn thing.
Neoliberalism, as we understand, it began out of the Jeffersonian ideal, but like all systems of emancipation, they become corrupted.
Like what happened in Soviet Russia with those who, you know, first get emancipated. It’s like, they don’t want anybody else to be emancipated. So now I went to college. My father was the first of his generation to get a college education. He got a bachelor’s degree. He barely got it now to make sure that his children got more of an education. He did it because he saw it not as a way of getting a job, but as a ticket to virtue to make sure that his kids could carry on the moral legacy.
Unfortunately, he died before I got into graduate school, and it’s probably because of that I did end up going to graduate school becoming who I became. But I’ve always carried that with it, particularly the idea of a liberal arts education. You become a true citizen. With the political responsibilities, somebody like Jefferson who said, which is a religious obligation, which goes back to the question I’m looking into right now, sovereignty, you know, if you have virtue.
And that’s what we don’t understand. If you have virtue, you don’t have to worry about whether you own a gun or not. I mean, people own guns, you more guns at 50 years ago than they own. Now, we have a few people who have a lot of guns, the less people own guns, and there’s a whole. Kind of a toxic debate going on in our society, but you know, people used to own guns.
They didn’t kill each other because the more, the moral that’s called the moral substance of our democracy, as you know, going out the window. So much of that has to do with what I would call libertarian excesses that led to the neoliberal regimes and criminal rules.
And then we see where it gets corrupted because it goes back to Jefferson’s idea of libertarianism and the leaf and the people, but they had to have virtue today. Everybody’s I don’t think you could call Jefferson libertarian. Libertarian is a modern word.
Libertarian means basically someone who focuses on Liberty without the virtue.
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