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Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Sacrificial Crisis

by Pierre Langelier, contributing to Ocean Drive


Rene Girard
René Girard




Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness through a designated man.
Thus the goat shall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness [Leviticus 16:21-22].
The West's attempt to explain the existential malaise in which it is currently mired involves, invariably, circular discussions concerning causality or the cyclical nature of History. Inevitable comparisons between the current state of our civilization and Weimar Germany or the Late Roman Empire, however appealing they may be, confine our explanations within the narrow boundaries of endlessly rehashed historical tropes. Worse yet is the borrowing of terminology from unrelated disciplines in order to illustrate our current predicament. Parallels to the "entropy of systems" or viewing empires, as they rise and fall, as somehow obeying Newtonian laws, are not just post hoc fallacies; such explanations also imply an element of predestination that necessarily precludes any possible resolution.

The objective of this essay, then, is not to deny that History is repeating itself. Instead, it is an attempt to understand the processes through which History is made to repeat itself and, through a sort of "spiritual autopsy," to place the moral relativism, degeneracy and general disarray that plague the White race and culture at the present time within a larger context.

Drawing from the writings of French philosopher René Girard, our main thesis is the following: the West is in the throes of a sacrificial crisis, not an existential one. Or rather, that the latter is a byproduct of the former. Girard's view on the very real purpose of sacrifice — and that of religious practice as a whole — centers around the notion that ritual institutions serve as a conduit to divert man's innate propensity towards violence and maintain order. All religious practice, then, is a commemoration, a ritualized re-enactment of the resolution of a primordial crisis, expunged of its violent connotations. The sacrificial crisis occurs when the foundations of these regulatory institutions are shaken, when the cathartic power of the sacrifice, or the ritual which alludes to it, is lost. In his 1972 book Violence and the Sacred, he notes:
The sacrificial crisis…is a loss of the difference between pure and impure violence. Once this distinction is lost, so too is the possibility of purification; and then impure, contagious, and reciprocal violence spreads within the community. The sacrificial crisis must be defined as a crisis of difference; that is to say of the cultural order in its entirety. Indeed, cultural order is nothing more than an organized system of differences; it is these differential gaps which constitute individuals' identities, permitting them to situate themselves in relation to others.1
Necessarily, the sacrificial crisis is a transitional period between the decay of the old order, and the creation of the new. The dissolution of all imaginable differences — between pure and impure violence, normal and abnormal, man and woman, and indeed, God and Man — can be viewed as a sort of plague that can only exist in the spiritual vacuum created by the death, or obsolescence of the old institutions.

One of Girard's truly original contributions is the idea of Greek tragedy as historiography; that is, the idea that tragedy is a romanticized and simplified account of an actual, historical sacrificial crisis, while its later counterpart — Greek myth — is the codified resolution of said crisis, the "unique version of events" or dominant narrative that has emerged after the fact. The myth, then, announces newfound consensus and stability, after the profound instability represented in the tragedy. The way this stability and consensus is realized or, in other words, the mechanism through which tragedy becomes myth lies, according to Girard, in the notion of the scapegoat.

The collective condemnation and murder of the sacrificial victim resolves the crisis of differences by creating a new foundational difference; that between the public and the scapegoat. The former is absolved of all sin and of its responsibility in feeding the crisis by projecting this responsibility onto the latter. Ultimately, collective violence against (or expulsion of) the scapegoat is, a symbolic sense, the expulsion of violence outside the collective. This sleight of hand, as well as the public's lack of awareness of it, is what enables social order to be restored. Lars Östman, in an essay on the topic, refers to this lack of awareness as the condition sine qua non of the process' effectiveness:
[The scapegoat] becomes the reconstituting element for the city norm, which has become sickened in the crisis. [This process] can function only as long as its reality remains hidden, that is, as long as the scapegoat is not revealed as an ideological construction, that is, as necessitas, a means needed to provide an illusionary solution. If the scapegoat as such is revealed...then the effect of the scapegoat is lost.2
Returning and adding on to our original thesis, hopefully the implication is evident by this point that the scapegoat in question, the "means needed" to resolve the West's sacrificial crisis, is none other than the White race and culture. In order for the myth of global equality (in the Greek sense) to be immortalized, for it to become the post-resolution "unique version of events" after the tragedy of interracial violent reciprocity, the function of the white scapegoat as an ideological construction designed to achieve specific ends must remain obscured.

As mentioned above, in order for the scapegoat to be an effective conduit, he must be cast as the other. The scapegoat must be dehumanized so that violence, sin, evil etc. can also be dehumanized, that is to say placed above and outside of mankind. The left's depictions of white nationalists (or really, any white person deviating in the slightest from egalitarian orthodoxy) as evil and racist, therefore impure, is an example of this dehumanization. The selection of a sacrificial victim that is outside of society is common to all sacrificial systems; this ensures that the final word of collective violence will not be avenged.

Girard identifies these precautions as being linked to the notion of ritual impurity. Due to the mimetic properties of violence, the threat of contagion — escalating blood feuds, vendettas, etc. — explains why many sacrificial societies including the ancient Greeks and Hebrews opted to simply expel the anathema (or cursed offering) into the wilderness as opposed to outright killing him in order to avoid contamination. As Girard notes:
Committing violence [against the scapegoat] is to allow one's self to be contaminated by his violence. It is preferable to place the anathema in a situation in which he cannot survive; no one...will be directly responsible for his death.3
This indirect sacrifice, if sanctioned by the State, this diffusion of responsibility away from itself and onto outside forces — the wilderness, the elements, the faceless mob — can also allow the Leviathan to retain its ritual purity. Östman makes this connection in reference to the crucifixion:
When Pilate decides not to crucify Jesus but instead hands him over to the Jews Jesus finds himself in a no man's land. He finds himself in a zone between profane and sacred law. He is about to cross the threshold of the law of the city and enter the lawless land outside (the angry crowd outside Pilate's residence).4
In this sense, through the indirect sacrifice caused by massive 3rd world immigration, the White anathema is similarly being cast out into the wilderness, in a situation in which it cannot survive. Liberal democratic States are able to reap the structuralizing benefits of the sacrifice without being tainted.

In light of all this, how can radical egalitarianism be considered as anything else than a sacrificial crisis machine? Cultural Marxism's ability, in tandem with the Jewish entertainment industry, to erode traditional institutions, create a crisis of differences in a previously healthy society, AND provide an ideological framework for White scapegoating, i.e. the germ of the manufactured crisis' ultimate resolution, seems to point in that direction.

Though he never explicitly stated that Western civilization was in the midst of a crisis of differences, In Violence and the Sacred, Girard nonetheless hinted at the sinister undertones behind the call for rampant hedonism and transgression characteristic of the modern era:
Beneath the joyous and fraternal veneer of the de-ritualized celebration, there is no other model than the sacrificial crisis and the reciprocity of violence. This is why true artists, nowadays, can sense the tragedy behind the insipidness of the celebration transmuted into a universe of leisure. The blander and more and vulgar is the celebration, the clearer is the horror and the beast lurking beneath.5





[1] René Girard, La Violence et le Sacré, Éditions Bernard Grasset, 1972, p. 43
[2] Lars Östman, "The Sacrificial Crises: Law and Violence," (PDF) in Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, no. 14, 2007
[3] René Girard, La Violence et le Sacré, p. 26
[4] Lars Östman, The Sacrificial Crises: Law and Violence
[5] René Girard, La Violence et le Sacré, p. 102

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