Concerning Accusations of Plagiarism
© 2013 C.E. by L. Hernandez
So many pretentious would-be Satanists have attempted throughout the years to accuse Anton LaVey of plagiarism. I’ve seen two such Tumblr posts saying as much in the past five minutes; one with the usual Might is Right accusation and another saying LaVey plagiarized Nietszche, Rand, and Crowley. As I deal with the Might is Right accusation below this initial topic, let’s look at the other three names mentioned.
Firstly, Anton LaVey always cited his sources and influences. As a young teen in the 1980s, I would not had heard of Friedrich Nietszche or Ayn Rand were it not for the writings of Anton LaVey, and at that point I was already long tired of Crowley’s mystical mumbo-jumbo. The mere fact that I learned of Nietszche and Rand through LaVey’s writings should already show he was not a plagiarist, as plagiarism means claiming another’s work to pass off as your own.
LaVey was intelligent enough to know that, though Nietszche was mostly a fanatical idealist nut-job, there was a lot of what he had to say that merited not throwing it all out completely. He was astute enough to be able to sift through the ranting and salvage ideas that were very congruent with Satanic values. He never plagiarized these ideas, as he presented them as actually being from Nietszche and referring to them as Nietszchean in many of his essays, much as one would call ideas congruent to the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, Machiavellian. This was a pragmatic weeding and filtering process that left the bulk of Nietszche’s ideas with yesterday’s trash—hardly plagiarism.
The story regarding Ayn Rand is very similar, and the differences between Satanism and Rand’s Objectivism have been previously discussed in this essay by Magister Nemo:
LaVey made it abundantly clear on more than one occasion that Satanism was a synthesis of the best of previous ideas that can best be termed Satanic, revolutionary, adversarial, etc. This was not limited to bit-parts by Rand and Nietszche, but moreso inspired by the romantic writers’ descriptions of Satan (Shaw, Twain, Milton, etc.), as well as study of the human animal itself.
As far as people claiming LaVey plagiarized Crowley, this is the most ridiculous of the accusations. LaVey published his own translation of the Enochian Calls, which Crowley did not write. John Dee authored the original Enochian Calls/Keys and LaVey felt Crowley’s interpretation was far too watered down (and LaVey made it known that he didn’t think very highly of Crowley, who died a lonely drug-addict, to begin with), so he stripped the whitewashing off and presented a stronger, much more Satanic translation.
Satanism does not include standing in “protective” circles, calling spirits or ritual drug use. Satanism does not advocate mysticism. Satanism has nothing to do with Crowleyanity or any of that Golden Dawn/A.*.A.*./etc., garbage. Yet, they accuse LaVey of plagiarism?
Finally, on the topic of Ragnar Redbeard’s Might is Right, my blog on the topic is printed here:
On The Satanic Bible & Might is Right
A young woman on Twitter recently posted that she thought Anton LaVey plagiarized Ragnar Redbeard, saying, “A good bulk of Lavey’s ‘Satanic Bible’ was plagiarized off of Ragnar Redbeard’s #Might is Right.” This is not a new accusation, however untrue.
Here is the truth of the matter: Anton LaVey was known to often credit Redbeard for the bits and pieces he edited down to use in The Satanic Bible’s Book of Satan (pages 30-35). Bearing in mind that TSB is 272 pages long, and MiR is roughly 208 pages long (minus the Forward and Afterward), 5 pages worth of re-edited material hardly constitutes “a good bulk,” and the parts he did edit and condense for inclusion were used in a specific context. Try matching the lines between both books and you’ll be jumping around lost due to the entirely different arrangement and use.
That said, in the centennial edition of Might is Right, the Forward is written by none other than Anton LaVey, where he describes how he first came upon Redbeard’s book and why parts were edited for inclusion in TSB. Part of this Forward may be read here:
To put things into further perspective, LaVey also included Ragnar Redbeard in the original dedication page of TSB, along with many other influences, copied and pasted here with link to source following:
THE SATANIC BIBLE
To Bernardino Nogara, who knew the value of money
Karl Haushofer, a teacher without a classroom
Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, who knew the magic of a child
Sir Basil Zaharoff, a gentleman
Allesandro Cagliostro, a rogue
Barnabas Saul, the link with Mount Lalesh
Ragnar Redbeard, whose might is right
William Mortensen, who looked & saw
Hans Brick, who knows the law
Max Reinhardt, a builder of dreams
Orrin Klapp, the walking man
Fritz Lang, who made moving blueprints
Friedrich Nietzsche, a realist
Phineas Taylor Barnum, another great guru
Hans Polzig, who knew all the angles
Reginald Marsh, a great artist
Mark Twain, a very brave man
And to: Howard Hughes, James Moody, Marcello Truzzi, Adrian-Claude
Frazier, Marilyn Monroe, Wesley Mather, William Lindsay Gresham, Hugo
zachinni, Jayne Mansfield, Frederick Goerner, C. Huntley, Nathanel West,
Horatio Alger, Robert Ervin Howard, George Orwell, Howard Phillips
Lovecraft, Tuesday Weld, H.G. Wells, Sister Marie Koven, Harry Houdini,
Togare, and the Nine Unknown Men.
The fact that the publisher dropped the original dedication page from subsequent editions is not on Anton LaVey, but on the publisher. At least one other foreign language edition (from another publishing house) restored the page.
So, we see that Anton LaVey was not hiding anything and never hesitated to give credit where it was due.
There would be no need for me to repeat this if people only did their homework! Remember LaVey’s famous quote: “Satan demands study, not worship.”
Needless to say, the very ones making the loudest accusations claiming plagiarism are the very ones who can’t even tell you what the Hell was supposed to be plagiarized, blindly believing wholeheartedly what they were told by some other moron and parroting to sound like they know what they’re talking about. This is why you’ll often hear the accusation of LaVey using most of Might is Right in his Book of Satan, when the Book of Satan is five pages and Might is Right is over 200 pages (see the my previous post linked above).
People will make any and all sorts of baseless claims because they assume no one will check up on, or already have studied, the facts.
If you know what you’re defending, you cannot be made an ass of. Do your homework, kids!