Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Girardian carnival



I've written before about Rene Girard, a Catholic literary scholar, cultural anthropologist and philosopher who is in my view the seminal cultural thinker of the past couple of centuries.

Girard's theory of man-- Mimetic Theory-- has much to tell us about the tempest over the killing of Trayvon Martin and about the agitators and politicians who are manipulating it.

If you are not familiar with Mimetic Theory, I give a synopsis at the linked post.

In the black community, as in much of America in these hard times, there is much turmoil. There is resentment, bitterness, envy, anger. Such ferment gives rise to mimetic contagion-- an irrational war of all against all, usually violent, always destructive.

This periodic turmoil is a normal dynamic in human culture. It characterizes human culture, Girard points out. The natural and common resolution of this fratricide is through the mechanism of scapegoating-- picking out a person or group who is held to blame, or held as a symbol, for all that ails the community. The resolution of the conflict is the uniting of the people against the scapegoat, who is sacrificed or banished by the mob.

Mimetic contagion is spreading rapidly in the black and leftist community. Leftism has long been a hotbed of Girardian conflict. The scapegoat obviously is George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who is innocent of any crime, is bizarrely held responsible in a not so subtly symbolic way for all of the violence that afflicts black America, which is a lot of violence.

Girard points out that it is Christianity that most effectively defeats mimetic contagion and scapegoating. Mercy, forgiveness, and refusal to take part in mob hate and violence is the antidote to mimetic contagion.

I have noted in an earlier post that Zimmerman's acquittal is an enormous victory for those who are busily escalating this violence. The Obama administration is plainly using Martin's death to stoke hate and fear, for obvious electoral advantage.

Although it's doubtful that Chicago political gangsters like Obama and Holder know anything about Girard's work, they clearly have a powerful intuitive grasp of mimetic conflict, scapegoating, and the political uses for hate and fear.

Obama and Holder understand that it is premature to allow sacrifice of the scapegoat (Zimmerman). It is useful to identify the scapegoat, which they have done at trial, but actually convicting and jailing Zimmerman (sacrificing the scapegoat) would quell violence, which is antithetical to their goal.

The Zimmerman acquittal-- the perpetuation of the hate and violence and scapegoating-- was the goal of the prosecution. Zimmerman's conviction-- the sacrifice of the scapegoat-- would have calmed the violence and hate.

For Democrats, the scapegoating must be redirected in order to be of maximal political use. It is Republicans, not Zimmerman, who must be the scapegoats sacrificed, at the polls.

Democrats will keep the contagious hate and violence going, and use it for political ends. It is their most effective strategy for 2014, and it's working nicely.

It's Girard's world, and the leftist gangsters in Washington and elsewhere who are orchestrating the Trayvon Martin carnival of hate understand it frighteningly well.

29 comments:

  1. Superb post. Thanks for the insight.

    Mimetic theory expands on Kierkegaard's and Nietzsche's concept of ressentiment: "a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one's frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one's frustration. [...] The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability."

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  2. Girard's 'mimetic theory' is just a 'just so' story. A 'theory' that just explains, but doesn't predict, isn't a theory.

    If Christianity is the antidote to mimetic contagion, then why pogroms against Jews so endemic in Christian countries? Jews were persecuted, not because they were innocent scapegoats, but because they were (wrongly) thought to be the source of misfortune, including the Black Death and Germany's defeat in World War I.

    George Zimmerman wasn't innocent. He killed an unarmed 17 year old, who was also defending himself. According to reports, the jury was split, with some jurors wanting him to convict him. Even a juror who voted for acquittal noted that he went too far, and the killing could have been avoided if Zimmerman had retreated and waited for the police to appear. Hardly an overwhelming expression of belief in his innocence.

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    1. No 17 year old with operative fists and a handy concrete sidewalk is UNARMED.

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  3. Holder's the barker at this carnival of hate: "DOJ solicits email tips in Zimmerman civil rights probe".

    "The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday afternoon appealed to civil rights groups and community leaders, nationally and in Sanford, for help investigating whether a federal criminal case might be brought against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, one advocate said.

    "The DOJ has also set up a public email address to take in tips on its civil rights investigation."

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  4. " Jews were persecuted, not because they were innocent scapegoats, but because they were (wrongly) thought to be the source of misfortune, including the Black Death and Germany's defeat in World War I."
    Because in the analogy being used (contagion/disease) the antidote was not pure or strong enough.

    "George Zimmerman wasn't innocent. He killed an unarmed 17 year old, who was also defending himself."
    Bach this sentence is both a category error (philosophical innocence vs legal innocence/not guilty) and a self refuting statement. Or have you suddenly, and for this single case, become an advocate of pre emptive assault?
    One does not defend one's self (Martin) by attacking another individual. Mr Martin could have done exactly what you later suggest Mr Zimmerman should have done. He could have simply avoided Mr Zimmerman. Only a few more minutes of avoidance - with no broken nose, no head slamming etc - and the authorities would have arrived. Instead he chose to confront and assault.

    " According to reports, the jury was split, with some jurors wanting him to convict him."
    I heard the jury polling, Bach. They voted for acquittal to a person. It was not a hung or split jury. They did so in under 17 hours. The reports you are reading are about the deliberation process. Both sides of the argument were discussed and a conclusion reached: NOT GUILTY.

    "Even a juror who voted for acquittal noted that he went too far, and the killing could have been avoided if Zimmerman had retreated and waited for the police to appear."
    Sure. Many people feel that way. But obviously that does not mean Mr Martin was justified in his behaviour or that the defence argument was invalid. Again, legal innocence does not imply philosophical innocence. No one is suggesting that Mr Zimmerman is a completely pure individual with no element of error or sin - just that he defended himself in a extremely violent attack with legal force.
    In an ideal situation there would have been a conversation. Mr Zimmerman would have explained who he was, and Mr Martin would have been a well balanced young man who explained where he was going and what he was doing. The situation resolved. That is not what happened.

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    1. Crusader Rex,

      Trayvon Martin wasn't a 'mister'. He was a 17 year old teenager. Unfortunately teenagers, particularly males, aren't psychologically mature. Which usually doesn't happen till the age of around 25. George Zimmerman, owing to his age, should be expected to retreat more readily than an immature teenager.

      Zimmerman got off because he was considered by the jury to defending himself in circumstances he precipitated. By the same argument, Trayvon Martin was also defending himself, but he didn't survive to make his case.

      Although George Zimmerman, as is his right, declined to testify. I wonder what questions the prosecutor would have posed?

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    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJuly 17, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      blankfield, an attack is not a defense.

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    3. Georgie,

      How do you know that Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman? He didn't survive to be able to give testimony. George Zimmerman didn't testify, so we don't know whether his testimony would have survived cross-examination.

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    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJuly 17, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      A note of sanity from a juror, who saw and heard all the evidence:

      "I [Juror B-37] wanted to find him guilty of not using his senses, but you can't fault anybody," she said of Zimmerman. "You can't charge him with anything because he didn't do anything unlawful."

      She said she believed the situation got out of control, partly because of what both Zimmerman and Trayvon did.

      "George got in a little too deep," she said. "But Trayvon got mad and attacked him."

      --- USA Today [emphasis added]

      It is dangerous and stupid to attack strangers. Not only might they be armed (and not necessarily with a gun), they might simply be a major badass. Hands, feet, and fists can kill you, sometimes inadvertently.

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    5. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJuly 17, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      But, blinkfast, I can appreciate how a man capable of observing invisible gorillas might know more about the circumstances than a woman who sat through every second of the trial. Or believe he knows more, at any rate.

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    6. Bach,
      Would you prefer master (under 12 or 13),wee, or baby Martin? Perhaps Mrs Martin?
      Mr Martin was a male person. A young man. Mr is more than appropriate.

      Anyway, to the point: I guess someone like you cannot appreciate what a teen is capable of until you are on the receiving end of a rocket propelled grenade fired at you by one of them. Or perhaps seen the remains of a young child (5-7) sodomized and decapitated (and the ordeal recorded) by a group of them?
      Maybe then the question of maturity will become a little more solid. I am not suggesting that Mr Martin would not have outgrown this stage, but he did not. He chose to attack (viciously - see the forensics) an armed man. The state of maturity of mind of teenagers does not give them a license to attack (or even kill) people they don't like. If they do so, it is at great peril - as this case clearly illustrates.

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    7. When I was in the Navy, many MANY moons ago, I wasn't yet 18. I was addressed as Mister.

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  5. Mike,

    I must admit that I am not completely familiar with mimetic theory. It does sound fascinating and well worth a look into. I will do so.
    In your medical analogy (contagion) I would be inclined to say that such a 'cure' would need to be altered and administered in an effective course for each case. That we cannot expect to be inoculated (as in a vaccine) by our Christianity - but instead must return to the 'medicine cabinet' and take the full course of the 'cure' each time the illness rears it's head. Skipping a pill because we feel bit better would be analogous to dropping a course of antibiotics when symptoms begin to subside.
    However, with all that said, I am more than slightly inclined to see a biblical analogy here. Christ casts out the demons. '..we are legion' seems an apt description of the madness that spreads among men. Like most biblical tracts these episodes have a manifold meaning expression within them. There is both the literal and metaphorical weight to them.

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  6. “Girard points out that it is Christianity that most effectively defeats mimetic contagion and scapegoating. Mercy, forgiveness, and refusal to take part in mob hate and violence is the antidote to mimetic contagion.”

    That’s funny considering how Christians are always blaming somebody, gays, immigrants, liberals, blacks, Muslims etc. for all our woes, and that one of the most famous symbols of mob hate is the burning of a giant Christian cross.

    “Democrats will keep the contagious hate and violence going, and use it for political ends. It is their most effective strategy for 2014, and it's working nicely.”

    The irony is that you are doing exactly what you are complaining about by coming up with this conspiracy theory to blame Democrats for the backlash against the pervasive right-wing racism so clearly on display during the Zimmerman trial.

    -KW

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    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJuly 17, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      Popeye: "That’s funny considering how Christians are always blaming somebody, gays, immigrants, liberals, blacks, Muslims etc. for all our woes..."

      That's funny, Popeye, since Progressives are always blaming white men, Christians, blue-collar workers, conservatives, Jews, vast right-wing conspiracies, Israelis, "voices", dog whistles, Republicans, "the rich", greedy doctors, scheming corporations, Big Oil, Big Pharma, "the 1%", etc., etc. ect. ad infinitum for all our woes.

      So explain the irony. Is it a vast right-wing conspiracy?

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    2. "That’s funny considering how Christians are always blaming somebody, gays, immigrants, liberals, blacks, Muslims etc. for all our woes,[...]"

      Actually we (should) blame our own short-comings. Human beings are imperfect sinners. Not just any single group. All of us.

      "[...]and that one of the most famous symbols of mob hate is the burning of a giant Christian cross."
      Does the burning of an American flag reflect American patriotism? I am not so sure you understand what you're saying here. At any rate a far more virulent (and international) symbol of mob hate for our era would be the hammer and sickle or the red flag. Thousands have been intimidated and killed under a burning cross. Hundreds of millions under the red banner. But Che T shirts are cool, right?



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    3. “Does the burning of an American flag reflect American patriotism? I am not so sure you understand what you're saying here.”

      If you’re actually suggesting that the Clan burn crosses because they’re anti-Christian then you’re a bigger idiot than I thought.

      -KW

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    4. KW,

      I am no doubt much bigger (than you) in every way you can imagine, kid. I am pleased for you that you were able to muster a thought, though. You should try it more often. Maybe next time try to form your own?

      I am observing that the symbolic nature of burning the flag or the cross is beyond your level (capacity?) of understanding.
      No, I am not suggesting it is anti-Christian in it's core symbolism. But, I would suggest that the movement behind the clan is profoundly misguided and thoroughly anti Christian in practice.

      Funny how you did not respond the rest of my comment. I guess red cherries don't get picked?

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    5. What? Comparing the mob mentality of the Clan to the Stalinist purges? That was just too stupid to even acknowledge.

      And anybody that feels they need to say “I’m much bigger than you” isn’t.

      -KW

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    6. KW. I never could figure out why the Klan burned crosses. I mean, what IS the point? Perhaps you could enlighten me?

      Delete
  7. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJuly 17, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    Apparently, the DoJ is going full Stasi on Zim:

    The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday afternoon appealed to civil rights groups and community leaders, nationally and in Sanford, for help investigating whether a federal criminal case might be brought against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, one advocate said.

    The DOJ has also set up a public email address to take in tips on its civil rights investigation.

    --- Orlando Sentinel

    Egnor, you have some commenters who might like to get some action. I'll throw in a genuine Stasi-approved set of jumper cables to the Proglodyte with the Best Denunciation.

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  8. Guys, guys, guys!

    Leftists are *always* liars, are *always* intellectually dishonest, will *always* say just anything ... and its opposite. So, of course bachfield is goint to falsely call Martin's unprovoked assult on Zimmerman an act of self-defense.

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    1. Ilion,

      Go back and reread my comment. I wrote that the jury accepted the defence case that George Zimmerman was defending himself. I also wrote that by the same argument, Trayvon Martin was also defending himself too, but he didn't survive to make his case. If he had survived, then perhaps the police would have been able to come to a conclusion as to who was to blame.

      But anyway. Trayvon Martin wasn't unprovoked. He was returning from a shop and was bailed up by a much older male at night. What would you do in the circumstances? Fleeing might be just as hazardous as fighting - particularly as Zimmerman was armed and Martin wasn't.

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    2. Bach. Martin had already made it to safety. He returned to confront Zimmerman. So his knowledge of Zimmermans being armed or not is quite irrelevant.

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  9. intellectually dishonest fool: "Girard's 'mimetic theory' is just a 'just so' story. A 'theory' that just explains, but doesn't predict, isn't a theory."

    Ah! he means like 'modern evolutionary theory', aka Darwinism, isn't actually a theory, since it "explains" everything ... and its opposite ... but predicts nothing at all.

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    1. If you want to read a "just so" story, google the "evolutionary" account of how the middle ear evolved. Its priceless.

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    2. Verdad,

      Why do you think the evolutionary account of how the middle ear evolved (presumably you mean in mammals) is 'priceless'. It was first described in 1837 (before Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species') by Reichert. It's well discussed in Robert Asher's book 'Evolution and Belief. Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist'.

      Darwinism isn't necessarily atheistic. Religious scientists such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins and Robert Asher accept it as being true, without having to abandon a belief in God.

      Darwinism is only incompatible with certain forms of theology, such as ID or Egnor's Thomistic evolution (whatever that is).

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  10. In the black community, as in much of America in these hard times, there is much turmoil. There is resentment, bitterness, envy, anger. Such ferment gives rise to mimetic contagion-- an irrational war of all against all, usually violent, always destructive.

    This sums up nicely the conservative base. Bitter, resentful, and thoroughly irrational.

    Hoo

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    1. What's wrong with bitter? It's a Flavor, isn't it? Like sour or sweet? Why do you discriminate against bitter?

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