White Magic vs Black Magic

François-René Rideau


This is an approximate translation of an article previously published in French under the title magie blanche contre magie noire. The underlying idea of this article has been considerably developed in a latter essay of mine: Government is the Rule of Black Magic.

In an earlier article published in French[1] we saw how the creed in the benevolent power of the State shared the nature of the superstition by which some people expect miracles from some divinity in exchange for humiliations. [2]

That's the principle of black magic: to expect miracles, happiness, success, redemption from failures, etc., from external and superior entities that feed from the humiliation of those who voluntarily make sacrifices to them and who reduce unbelievers to subjection, from spirits that rejoice from one's destruction of oneself and other people, from gods that demand one's contempt for oneself and other people, from supernatural beings with unlimited powers and arbitrary desires that are not bound by any law knowable by reason but are meant to be influenced by a show of feelings from their humiliated followers. In short, this black magic consists in the irresponsible tying of one's hope of future satisfactions to the whim of external and superior intervening powers.

Now, divinities that could be corrupted by such sacrifices do not deserve being sacrificed anything whatsoever. They are abject beings against which any self-respecting human being can but revolt. Those that grovel at the feet of such divinities are slaves, swine, creatures lacking the dignity of their own free will, and who are prompt to forsake it indeed.

But such is not the only way magic can be conceived. There is another magic, white magic. Its principle is: work and strive to earn as a reward each and every blessing that one enjoys. In as much as this attitude can be explained in terms of divinities, these divinities are bound by knowable laws, and it is from respect of these laws rather than from their whims that one seeks to obtain blessings, through hard work. In a certain way, these divinities are not supernatural beings existing above nature and free from its laws — they are the laws of nature themselves and nature itself. They do not demand adoration and submission but understanding and acceptance. They are satisfied not by the abjection of worshippers but by the raise in dignity and talent of their observers. They reward not the scared humiliation of submissive humans, but the respectful mastership of proud individuals. They do not promise to believers the future grant of surreal relishes but invite the wise to reevaluate their present desires considering the constraints of reality.

These divinities are untouchable but well-meaning; they have no superiority complex, and do not demand an extensive display of groveling submission through an uninterrupted sequence of sacrifices. They offer us a non-hierarchical relationship between equals, or rather, between unequals, where matters not the appearance of periodical external shows, but the depth of a permanent internal discipline over oneself, a discipline that aims not toward debasing oneself to submit to the gods, but toward enhancing oneself to master them.

Prayer in black magic is passivity and destruction, in an attitude of humiliation and worship. Prayer in white magic is work and creation, in an attitude of determination and respect. The disciple of black magic does evil with the hope that some good will emerge out of it through a miraculous violation of the laws of nature. The disciple of white magic does good by consenting to an effort appraised as the least evil according to the laws of nature. Priests of black magic invoke authority as the source of knowledge, and claim that the ways of their gods are unfathomable to anyone but them. Priests of white magic propose conjectures that are subject to the open review of everyone's reason and experience, and gaining insight into their divinities is the very essence of their religious practice. Priests of black magic extend their cult by subjecting the infidels to their creed, by humiliating and degrading other people. Priests of white magic extend their religion by subjecting their beliefs to the criticism of other people, by freeing and bettering themselves. Believers of black magic are the slaves of their gods. Believers of white magic are the masters of their gods.

Black magic and white magic coexist in traditional and instituted religions. They are two opposite poles of behaviour between which are each of our acts. Black magic always wins in appearance[3]; you will always see it dominate the established institutions, glorified by formal rites and astonishing shows. But it is white magic that actually makes the world go round, even if it requires discernment to see that; it is white magic that continuously adapts to the world, from which stems all creation, that serves as the basis for civilization itself.

There is an opposition between Good and Evil, but it is not the cosmic struggle proposed by the priests of the cult of the dead; it is not a conflict between superior gods, where Good would be to submit to the god of one priest rather than to other gods. On the contrary, it is the opposition between on the one hand a culture of destruction, of humiliation and of spectacle, and on the other hand, a culture of creation, pride and work.


[1]: The article was entitled L'étatisme, forme moderne de la magie noire, which roughly means ``the modern form of black magic: statism´´. In a first part, the article deconstructed the pseudo-rational justifications for the establishment of governmental power; it then went on to analyze the nature of the irrational belief in Government. We delivered a speech based on the same topic at the Liberty 2002 Conference, on November 10th 2002, and latter wrote an essay that elaborates on the speech: Government is the Rule of Black Magic.

[2]: On a related topic, but using the expressions ``black magic´´ and ``white magic´´ with a different meaning, see also this 1999 speech by Christian Michel, How Should We Think About Economics Today?.

[3]: But this appearance is often deceiving. Black magic likes to impersonate white magic and to claim its creations, so as to gain power and legitimacy. The black magicians, the great destructors who dominate society, will dress in white, and claim to be great creators, whereas they will dress in black the enslaved white magicians who actually create. Thus, people who believe what they are taught by schools and mass media will often have an inverted idea of what is white magic and what is black magic, of who is being exploited and who is exploiting, of what are the principles of creation, and what are the principles of destruction.

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