Saturday, 27 November 2010

Rene Girard - The Scapegoat

Girard argues that human history is based on the scapegoat principle: there is unrest in society, borders and differences have been abandonded and thus mimetic violence spreads. Someone, just anyone, is sacrificed, no matter whether he is guilty or not. Just by everybody believing in his guilt in causing the unrest, will solve the problems. And since the scapegoat solved the problem, he is declared sacred with hindsight. That is mythology.

The more societies still believe in this principle and havenot uncovered its injustice the more primitive they are. To Girard the bible is not a myth among others, because the passion uncovers this principle by taking the side of the victims for the first time. “reject sacred ambivalence in order to restore the victim in his humanity and reveal the arbitrary nature of the violence that strikes him” (Girard, 1986, p.104). Thus the bible doesn’t even use the term ‘scapegoat’ but the term ‘lamb of god’which clearly indicated innocence (Girard, 1986, p.117).

“The victim of the Psalms is disturbing, it is true, and even annoying compared with an Oedipus who has the good taste to join in the wonderful classic harmony” (Girard, 1986, p.104).

Moreover, the victim breaks the cycle of mimetic violence by claiming: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”

“If it is by the spirit of god that I cast out demons, the soon there will be no more demons or expulsions for the kingdom of violence and expuslion will rapidly be destroyed. (…) Instead of casting it out he (Jesus) is himself cast out, thereby revealing to men the mystery of expulsion” (Girard, 1986, p.190).

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