Might is Right: The Authoritative Edition
Introduction by Peter H. Gilmore; annotations by Trevor Blake
Baltimore: Underworld Amusements, 2019
From Sandy Hook to London tower
From Jaffa to Japan,
They can take who have the power
They may keep who can.
— Ragnar Redbeard
This well-preserved and surprisingly detailed illustration shows us that ancient humans, people we refer to as cavemen, were capable of surprisingly sophisticated thought and probing insight, asking themselves mankind’s oldest philosophical question: Who would win in a fight? — Dr. David Whitley
Another day, another mass shooting. Well, actually, that’s only true of shitholes like Chicago or Baltimore, but the ones that count, despite being rarer than lightning strikes, are the ones involving the usual lone white gunman from Central Casting.
For example, take the recent Garlic Shooter (which sounds like something you’d buy off a late-night TV commercial), who apparently “Plugged a White Power Manifesto on Instagram.” An unfortunate choice of words, I’d say, but our correspondent, one E. J. Dickson (a pseudonym if ever I heard one), goes on to breathlessly inform us further: “‘Might Is Right’ book dates from the late 1890s, but it’s become a staple in the white supremacist canon.”
Another source gives us more details on the “plugging”:
Santino William Legan, a 19-year-old who opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Gilroy, California, killing three people and injuring 12, was apparently influenced by the book. Days before his shooting rampage Legan mentioned Might is Right by name in an Instagram post making a remark about the festival congesting the countryside with “hordes” of mestizos and Silicon Valley white “twats”.
If, like me, you find it unlikely that a book that “dates from the late 1890s” has much relevance to “white supremacy,” to say nothing of mestizos or “Silicon Valley twats,” you might want to check it out yourself (funny how these moral panics seem to work that way). If so, then you’re in luck, as the good folks at Underground Amusements have recently gifted us with a fine new edition.
Of course, there are plenty of other editions out there; you might even have it already, unknowingly, since Anton LaVey plagiarized a good deal of it for his Satanic Bible (more on that anon). A book of hard-hitting prose without copyright, preaching – well, that might is right – it appears to be catnip to basement publishers who have put out innumerable crummy editions over the years. I suppose you can find it free on the Web.
But that would be a mistake; this is the edition you should have, due to what merchandisers would call its “value-added features.” First, as one expects from Underground Amusements, it’s a big, well laid-out book, a pleasure to hold and to read. There is an Introduction from Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, no less. It has been extensively annotated by Trevor Blake, who has also collated and compared the five official editions to produce this definitive text. After the text itself, there is a 72-page section of “Mechanical Annotations” (again, of which more anon). There is a Select Bibliography of works referred to by Redbeard or used in the annotations, and for the first time, an Index!
A note on the copyright page tells us that the text “has been given Chapter, Section, and Paragraph signifiers, similar to what is found in the Bible since the Sixteenth Century.” These allow the Mechanical Annotations to collate references to any variation, from “punctuation mark to punctuation mark, character to character, word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter.”
It also gives the work a subtly biblical look and feel, and that’s the key to what’s unique about this edition.
Blake says that this authoritative edition is “a harmonized text,” which is “one text drawn from several sources,” such as when Christians have, “for nearly two thousand years,” sought to “[make] the story of Jesus into a single narrative, but each attempt only reveals more contradictions.”
Actually, harmonization is not limited to, as Blake seems to imply, taking the four gospels and trying to make one story out of these supposed “eye witness accounts.” The New Testament is such a ragbag that harmonization can seem to be required for any given incident within the narrative, such as the stories of the Resurrection, or separate out two or more texts that have been combined so as to bring together rival factions. But what Blake is really alluding to here is the work of modern scholars of the so-called Higher Criticism, who attempt to understand the scriptures by unwinding and unpacking centuries of rewriting, editing, blunders by scribes, and outright falsification.
I’ve taken this brief detour into the perils of paleography because that’s what makes this a unique edition. Blake and Gilmore are treating Might is Right like holy writ. Thus, the 72-page accounting of every “jot and tittle” (Blake uses the biblical phrase) of the previous five editions, like something produced by the Jesus Seminar (but printed in two columns, like ye olde fashioned King James Bible).
And Gilmore, in turn, uses (implicitly) the scriptural analogy in his anodyne account of what others have called LaVey’s plagiarism of Might is Right:
The Satanic Bible . . . made for a slim book. It didn’t yet have the sense of being like the Christian scriptures in making dramatic, stentorian pronouncements. To beef up this first book, LaVey appropriated the Enochian Keys . . . and he “Satanized” them . . . [But he still] needed something more, words that would enflame his reader’s righteous anger against the creed of servility and self-abnegation.
And so he turned to the inflammatory phrase of Redbeard which had so excited him in his youth . . . [In] homage he extracted passages wherein Redbeard parodied Christian scripture as they were perfect for the explosive curtain-raiser section, “The Book of Satan.” They provided the sought-after sense of this book being a contrarian “black gospel” – particularly once the words were edited to be consistent with LaVey’s individualist vision.
I’ve done a little editing myself here, to emphasize the points where LaVey (according to Gilmore) is basically acting like the writers of the New Testament: Taking an older gospel or epistle, say, and creating their own by cutting out some parts and adding new material, original or swiped from somewhere else; later scribes would make their own changes, to “update” the text to refer to contemporary concerns, or to suppress what seemed to be “heresy,” or perhaps just by accident.
Indeed, LaVey has set a neat trap for the Christians; if they discover and cry foul over his “plagiarism,” he can counter with the example of the New Testament – tu quoque! Or should I say, touché, and pari passu!
Mechanical Annotator Blake concludes, with not unjustifiable pride, that, like a proponent of the Documentary Hypothesis:
My annotations could be used to unweave this Authoritative edition into its five sources. When I see a quotation from Might is Right I can determine what edition the quote is from based on my notes. If I were presented with an incomplete copy of the book, or a single page, or a fragment of a page, I could determine which edition it is from.
By “notes,” Blake is referring to the aforesaid “Mechanical Annotations.” Additionally, most pages bristle with footnotes, running down what surely must be every allusion and reference. At times, these seem a bit obsessive, if not otiose; does the audience for this book really need to be told who Napoleon was, or what year the Declaration of Independence was issued? Perhaps, in another manifestation of religiosity, the idea is to produce an edition for the ages, to be read thousands of years in the future, like the New Testament.
As for allusions – perhaps a polite word for the borrowings and close paraphrases we’ve been discussing – we learn, for example, that Redbeard’s jovial examples of cannibalism throughout human history seem to have been lifted from, of all people, Charles Dickens.
Frequently turning up in these notes is the name of Max Stirner; indeed, a glance at the index shows Stirner’s name occurring more than anyone’s, other than God and Christ, with Darwin a close fourth. And here the patience of our reader is rewarded; he has no doubt been wondering when we would begin to discuss the actual content of the book.
Well, I assume that a lot of folks reading this out there already have read Might is Right, or have heard about it, or, well, can just infer the content from the title. It’s basically Stirner – whose chief, indeed, almost unique work, Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum (usually badly translated as The Ego and His Own) received its own fine new translation/edition from Underworld Amusements back in 2017.
As Blake notes, Redbeard’s reliance on Stirner – like the author of Luke on Mark’s gospel – is so close that he even uses the odd expression “wheels in your head,” which Steven T. Byington used to render Stirner’s “Du hast einen Sparren zu viel!, despite Byington’s The Ego and Its Own not appearing until over twenty years later – as well as using the same quote from Goethe,“I have founded by affair on nothing,” that Stirner would use to bookend his own book.
It’s also interesting that Redbeard’s book is as saturated with biblical quotes and allusions as Stirner’s, perhaps even more so; though Stirner had been a student of Hegel himself, he barely qualified to teach at a school for young ladies, with his examiners concluding that he “lacked precise knowledge of anything but the Bible.”
The major difference between the books is that, as Blake says, “Might is Right is a book of action, not belief.” Stirner despised belief as well, but chose to express his contempt by writing a kind of parody of German – especially Hegelian – philosophy. Even so, his notion (we seem to keep falling into concepts and beliefs after all) was that what oppresses us are our beliefs, and especially other people’s beliefs. Ideas like “progress,” “justice,” “morality,” and so on are produced by us, yet have taken on an objective quasi-existence, demanding our unquestioning obedience; Stirner calls them “spooks” (as in those “wheels in your head”).
Redbeard, on the other hand, in trying to create a book of action rather than belief, seems to have jettisoned the Hegelianism – hard going even when an author isn’t, like Stirner, writing a self-parody – in favor of Darwinism, red in tooth and claw. Ironically, though, it is Redbeard who is living in his head – his bat-infested belfry – not Stirner. While Stirner critiques Hegelian notions of State, Freedom, Morality, Love, Duty, and so on as our own mental creations, given a fictitious existence and turned against us as spooks, Redbeard mocks and slashes out at them for being stumbling blocks on the path to mastering the world in the name of his own spook, “survival of the fittest.”
“The survival of the fittest” is the scientist’s translation of the heroic age’s “Viae Victus.” Grim and harsh it may appear to nervous souls, but it is TRUE TO NATURE.
It is this massive contradiction that Blake, and to a lesser extent Gilmore, in their implicit role of Higher Critics, document extensively and deplore throughout. Buried in a footnote is this damning insight:
Redbeard crosses over from saying might is right to might makes right. Like all other claims of natural rights, humanism and religion, when what a man says should be is elevated above what is, that man is no longer his own but instead he serves his idea.
And as if from this proton pseudos, dozens more contradictions crop up throughout, each carefully cataloged by Blake. One recalls Gore Vidal’s verdict on Henry Miller:
The paradox is that if he really meant what he writes, he would not write at all. But then he is not the first messiah to be crucified upon a contradiction.
Most amusing is this one, which is typical of someone with a certain kind of spook in his attic:
Kings . . . and their brain-drugged subjects have been “bonded” to the Israelite. The Jew has been supinely permitted to do – what Alexander, Caesar, Nusherwan and Napoleon failed to accomplish – crown himself Emperor of the world, and collect his vast tributes from the “ends of the earth.”
Which provokes this note from Blake:
Not a few pages earlier, Redbeard wrote: “Among the Vertebrates, the king of the herd (or pack) selects himself by his battle prowess – upon the same ‘general principle’ that induced Napoleon to place the Iron Crown upon his own brow WITH HIS OWN HAND.” By Redbeard’s own words and reasoning, “the Jew” is not only Emperor of the world but justly so.
I’m not sure Blake is playing fair here; if the goyim have foolishly allowed the Jew to get the upper hand through his trickery, that may not be quite the same as being defeated on the battlefield (might making right and all). I suppose all that matters in the end is that one gets away with it, and the goyim have no one to blame for that but themselves. Still, you would think our author could make us his mind: Did Napoleon crown himself or no? Redbeard shows the same cavalier attitude to mere facts throughout.
This brings up a final point; both Blake and Gilmore are at pains to either absolve Redbeard of the usual charges of racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, or, failing that, to deplore Redbeard’s supposed “inconsistency” in writing a supposedly “individualist” rant that falls into such supposed contradictions. No doubt this is a wise preemptive strategy, as shown by the media hoo-hah we noted at the start.
But it’s not at all clear that racism and anti-racism, for example, are equally spooky. As I pointed out to the academic Marxists who would coopt Stirner as a cooler kind of Marx, Stirner is not an idiot; he disparages spooks, but recognizes facts, like Berlin or China, Germans and Chinamen, and does not think they are “social constructs.” To use an argument of today’s anti-Darwinists, there are theories (spooks) and there are facts.
As Stirner says:
But with the dialectical trick . . . neither you nor I will cancel the great facts of modern natural research, no more than Schelling and Hegel did.
In each case, the supposed crimethink is simply recognition of facts, while the supposedly moral anti-term is the spook. As John Derbyshire has said:
Race-denialism is all over the Western world – the notion that race itself is a sort of optical illusion; that different races can, after a bit of social engineering, be brought to present the same statistical profiles on all traits; that when they present different profiles the only possible explanation is malice on the part of white people; these are the great dogmas of our age [Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion, by John McWhorter, Daily Beast, March 14,2017 ] carved on stone slabs and worshipfully preserved in the temples of our culture.
“Anti-Semitism” is another spook; that is, the charge of “anti-Semitism” is a spook, intended to mislead and conceal:
In my examination of Robert Wistrich’s Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, I pointed to that author’s typically contorted argument that a “virus” existed in Europe, in which “pagan, pre-Christian anti-Semitism grafted on to the stem of medieval Christian stereotypes of the Jew which then passed over into the post-Christian rationalist anti-Judaism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.” Needless to say Wistrich’s phantasm, and similar poorly-fabricated ‘theories,’ are prejudiced at a very early stage by the employment of that fundamentally meaningless term: ‘anti-Semitism.’ By its very nature the term places the Jew or the ‘Semitism’ immediately in the passive position, thereby avoiding confrontation with the true essence of the problem — that there is a mutual friction between two essentially different entities, with divergent group interests and goals.
A doctrine such as “white supremacy” may well be a spook, but White Nationalism is simply the recognition of the danger of white displacement, replacement, or genocide. White Nationalists don’t want to rule over the black chappies; in fact, they don’t want them around at all.
Nevertheless, I’m glad that this fine new edition from Underground Amusements has given me the opportunity of finally getting around to reading this legendary work. Like the Bible, it’s really a rollicking good read, laugh out loud funny in places, and well worth spending two or three afternoons on.
 Wikipedia, quoting Kelly Weill and Andrew McNamara (July 29, 2019), “Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting Suspect Santiago Posted Far-Right Book Moments Before Shooting”.”
 Blake acknowledges two previous editions as being “worthy”: the Loompanics (1984) and Darrell Conder’s Dil Pickle Press (2005); the first is the one I was guided to by Ivan Stang’s High Weirdness by Mail (that’s how we had fun before the internets); the second has been offered for sale at places like Counter-Currents. Neither, however, is as “authoritative” as the one here under review.
 “And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimonies of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places, my friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space? . . . My friend, you have seen this incident based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn’t happen? . . . God help us . . . in the future.” Criswell, Plan Nine from Outer Space (Ed Wood, 1957), intro and outro. Is Plan Nine a (deliberate or not) parody of the New Testament, just like – according many critics, Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror”? After all, Wood’s previous film Jail Bait (1954) is a remarkable “overlay” of Judeo-Christian motifs on top of a re-enactment of the Egyptian myth of Osiris, at least according to critic Rob Craig.
 “If much critical gospel scholarship is anywhere near the mark, it becomes clear that there was a significant evolution of, or at least diversity in, the resurrection idea within the New Testament. Was Jesus ‘spirit, not flesh,’ or ‘flesh, not spirit’? Was he slain in body and raised in spirit, or raised in a spiritual body, or raised in a body of flesh, nail scars and all? Or was he ‘exalted’ or ‘raised’ to heaven directly from the grave, so that ascension and resurrection are one?” Robert M. Price, “Is There a Place for Historical Criticism?”
 For example, the Book of Acts narrates one set of deeds in the first half, which it attributes to Peter; then recapitulates them under the name of Paul, so as to “harmonize” the work of the two rivals, and thus bring together their rival sects. Critics have also discerned a “Pastoral Stratum” in passages later interpolated into the (possibly) authentic letters of Paul, to provide his authority for matters of church discipline that cropped up decades later (such as “Women should not be heard” so as to silence the female Gnostic preachers who arrived long after Paul).
 See for example, Bart D. Ehrman, Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (New York: HarperOne, 2011).
 Actually, some of those basement publishers issued Might is Right in double columns as well, no doubt to save on paper.
 The Epistle to the Hebrews, for example, appears to be an Essene text with “Jesus” crudely taped over the references to their martyred Teacher of Righteousness. The three letters attributed to someone named John (though not the author of the gospel or the Apocalypse) are a good example of the expansion process: an original letter edited and amplified twice (though in reverse order, 3 John being the shorter original, 1 John being the last and longest). For an excellent survey of all this, look at the prefaces to each book in Robert M. Price’s The Human Bible (Cranford, N.J.: American Atheist Press, 2015), which I reviewed here.
 “Touché! And pari passu! Our point is that if biologists were to approach the paleontological record as innocent of evolutionary biases as Medawar is unencumbered by Teilhardian ones, their frustration in the face of the claimed scientific status of the evolutionary theory would rival Medawar’s frustration on reading the assertion with which The Phenomenon of Man opens and on which the book turns; the assertion that “this book . . . must be read not as a work on metaphysics, still less as a sort of theological essay, but purely and simply as a scientific treatise.” Huston Smith, Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), p. 133.
 “Declaration of Independence; An artefact of Revolutionary War propaganda.” Lucifer’s Lexicon (The Portable L. A. Rollins); revised and expanded edition (Baltimore: Underground Amusements, 2018).
 The Unique and Its Property by Max Stirner; translated with a new introduction by Wolfi Landstreicher (Baltimore: Underworld Amusements, 2017); see my review here. Though generally superior to Byington’s 1907 translation, Landstreicher loses this link to Redbeard: Byington’s “Might is a fine thing, and useful for many purposes; for ‘one goes further with a handful of might than with a bagful of right’” becomes “Power is a fine matter, and useful for many things; for ‘one goes further with a handful of power than with a bagful of right.’”
 See Max Stirner: The Ego and His Own, edited and Introduced by John Carroll; in the series “Roots of the Right: Readings in Fascist, Racist and Elitist Ideology” (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971), p. 18.
 Landstreicher correctly translates this as “bats in your belfry.” The relation between such spooks and Jason Reza Jorjani’s “spectral” entities deserves some study; see his Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos Media, 2016).
 “Stirnerite, n. Someone who may have missed Stirner’s point.” Lucifer’s Lexicon, op. cit. Redbeard mocks “Puling, hollowchested nonentities hoping to restrain the proudly murderous blond beasts”; Stirner was killed by the bite of a poisonous insect (see Carroll, p. 28), which Marx found hilarious. Curiously, both men went into a dairy business with their wives – Stirner selling milk, Redbeard selling ice cream; Stirner failed almost immediately, while we aren’t told what happened to the Ser-Vis Ice Cream and Candy Company.
 Gore Vidal, “The Sexus of Henry Miller,” Book Week, August 1, 1965; reprinted in United States (New York: Random House, 1993), p. 265.
 Note quite the “Rule of Three”: “Star Trek captains (especially Picard) would frequently list off three examples of some well-known cultural phenomenon. Typically, two of them would be what we would consider ‘classic’ examples, and one would be either contemporary to us, or alien. For example, he might say, ‘Ah, yes, the great poets of history; William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Zyglorty Mospiqxot of T’pingnit.’ Or, ‘I’ve always been interested in classical music; Bach, Beethoven, the Beatles.’(Red Dwarf did this precise gag with ‘Mendelssohn, Mozart, Motorhead’.)”
 And, according to Jordan Peterson, lobsters too.
 Oddly enough, “Jew” does not appear in the Index at all.
 Or perhaps he isn’t that literal: “Actually, RR may be advocating ‘power’ more than bloody battles, thus helpfully broadening the concept of might. No one has to tell us that power is extremely important to human lives, but again, we should pay attention. This issue is at the heart of a recent debate between Eric P. Kaufman and Kevin MacDonald concerning the precipitous decline of the West and of WAS(P) and Northern European dominance of the United States.” Anthony Hilton, reviewing an earlier edition at The Occidental Observer, September 29, 2009.
 The aforesaid Bible is full of stories lauding Jewish trickery. Christians constantly tell the story of David and Goliath as a moral tale; in reality, David doesn’t kill Goliath with his slingshot; he cheats by hurling the stone from a distance (like a wrestling heel throwing a chair from outside the ring), knocking out Goliath, and then cutting off his head with his own sword. Not quite sporting, eh?
 One might compare the modern Christian who either deplores, say, Paul’s male chauvinism, or else figures some way to blame it on scribes or mistranslation. Few have the courage to take God for the author and boldly say, “And so, what’s wrong with slavery anyway?”
 Max Stirner, “The Philosophical Reactionaries,” in Stirner’s Critics, translated by Wolfi Landstreicher (Berkeley, Ca.: LBC Books & Oakland, Ca.: CAL Press, 2012), pp. 106-107.
 John Derbyshire, “Forget Gun Control—Knife Crime Is Plaguing U.K. But You Can’t Notice Who’s Responsible!”, Unz, August 20, 2019.
 Andrew Joyce, “Reflections on Hilaire Belloc’s “the Jews” (1922),” Unz, September 17, 2014.
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