Our Strength Lies in Our Diversity
More rebuttals come in by the hour, such as Aed Dubh’s defense of hierarchy:
The Gods are not human. The Gods are greater than humans- in power, in knowledge, in vision, in perspective, in so many things. Of course we’re in a hierarchical relationship with them! I firmly believe that we retain our agency and sovereignty in dealings with them (and I for one believe that if we didn’t, They wouldn’t want to have relationships with us), but still… They are greater than us. Does recognition of that make us somehow more vulnerable to hijacking by the New Right? No.
One of the dangers of Rhyd’s polarizing “Us vs Them” rhetoric is that it actually aids the racists and radical right-wing nutjobs who are attempting to co-opt our traditions, because any criticism of the article is taken by his followers as tacit approval of those elements, as you can see in this exchange on Reddit. (Their tactics are so disgusting and underhanded that I have no intention of quoting anything, but do have a read for yourself.)
Which is why it’s all the more important that people like Markos are speaking up:
I identify as an Apolitical Devotional Polytheist, I have ‘traditionalist’ inclinations but am not a reconstructionist. The only time I am ever involved in politics is when my practices are under threat and I see this as a threat, I’m highly critical of the intention of this statement and have publically pointed out the hypocrisy of the statement.
I therefore fit within the categories of Rhyd’s “New Right”.
The “New Right” Statement enables groups of people to label me, to define me as something I’m not. It gives people the power and justification to bully, to harass, to intimidate, to censor, to ban ANYONE that fits within the broad definitions of “New Right”. These tactics have been already utilised to attack polytheists, not just online. It has serious real world consequences, as proven by the Bakcheion debacle that not only cost the members but also local business real financial consequences.
If folks can’t see what this is, then the Polytheist community is totally broken and lost.
These attacks aren’t just dangerous, they’re flat out wrong, as G. B. Marian eloquently demonstrates:
It seems like the term “devotional polytheist” is becoming a “dirty word” among some of the more outspoken Pagan figureheads, and I can’t seem to figure out why for the life of me. When I refer to myself by this term, I am using it in the simplest way possible. I am a “polytheist” because I believe there are many Gods (though I leave it for others to debate what the Gods actually are), and I am “devotional” because my spirituality revolves around praying and making offerings and keeping shrines to Them (i.e., I don’t really care about magic or spellwork, except when it comes to execration rituals). That’s all there is to it, man. Yes, I worship a Force of Nature that I consider to be infinitely greater than myself, and I believe I’ve been appointed to serve as a priest of this awesome Being; but guess what? Everyone else in my tradition is clergy as well. There is no laity in LV-426 for us to stratify. We make all of our group decisions democratically, and even when we do interact with laity – which for us means anyone who isn’t a devout Seth worshiper – we never treat them like we have all the answers or that they should just do whatever we say. Furthermore, our chief God is not the sort of God who gives commandments or who threatens to punish anyone for disobedience. I can’t speak for other devotional polytheists who are devoted to different Gods, but the idea of mixing Seth and hierarchy has never made any sense to me personally.
And they’re incredibly hypocritical and setting up a double standard, as Jehana Silverwing points out:
It is interesting that the author of the above article considers European or European-descent people fascist if they talk about the loss of their despoiled lands in Europe — but give American Indians a free pass if they do the same (here). Frankly — BOTH groups have a strong case, and the author is just being hypocritical. (Meanwhile, I agree, we of European descent should not appropriate Native American culture for our own ends.)
There are ways to be critical of politicizing threats to our communities – whether from the Left or the Right – without going way off into Cloudcuckoo Land, as Cold Albion does here:
I can totally see newbies and those with axes to grind against various paganisms and polytheisms reading it in a less than critical/charitable manner and being put off/gaining ammunition
On the other side however, when said author is saying, on their publicly accessible Facebook Page “It’s amazing to see members of otherwise well-respected polytheist groups be in full agreement with people who are not only known New Right ideologues, but all out racists.” then I begin to wonder if such generalisations are actually held differently, and the author actually believes the aforementioned groups are somehow inherently racist, or grounded in New Right Thought – after all, doesn’t the article point out that these points of agreement are precisely what supposedly make them vulnerable to the New Right in the first place?
Hitler was a vegetarian. Other vegetarians agree with him on the issue of vegetarianism. Does this mean that all vegetarians agree Hitler fully, on all issues? That all vegetarians concur with Nazi doctrine? I rather doubt it.
Over all I am very proud of how our communities are handling this debate. Keep speaking up folks – but remember, it’s ideas we’re debating, not people however tempting it might be to go there. We don’t have to sink to Rhyd’s level to defend ourselves. We can – and will – do better than that.