Sunday, March 5, 2017

Victimhood as a form of scapegoating

Kirby Center
Hillsdale College
"in a society that retains its Judeo-Christian moral reflexes but has abandoned the corresponding metaphysics, . . . claiming victim status is the sole sure means left of absolving oneself and securing one's sense of fundamental moral innocence. . . .
". . . When one is a certifiable victim, one is released from moral responsibility, since a victim is someone who is, by definition, not responsible for his condition, but can point to another who is responsible.
     "But victimhood at its most potent promises not only release from responsibility, but an ability to displace that responsibility onto others.  As a victim, one can project onto another person, the victimizer or oppressor, any feelings of guilt he might harbor, and in projecting that guilt lift it from his own shoulders.  The result is an astonishing reversal, in which the designated victimizer plays the role of the scapegoat, upon whose head the sin comes to rest, and who pays the price for it.  By contrast, in appropriating the status of victim, or identifying oneself with victims, the victimized can experience a profound sense of moral release, of recovered innocence.  It is no wonder that this has become so common a gambit in our time, so effectively does it deal with the problem of guilt—at least individually, and in the short run, though at the price of social pathologies in the larger society that will likely prove unsustainable."

     Wilfred M. McClay, "The strange persistence of guilt," The hedgehog review:  critical reflections on contemporary culture 19, no. 1 (Spring 2017):  47-48 (40-54).

Bosworth on "the sociopathic collective" of right and left

Department of English,
University of Washington
"Whereas in the seventeenth century the challenge confronting the West was how to both license and tame the new social and intellectual atomism spurred by the printed book, the crisis today is how to express and restrain the messy, multifarious togetherness of the digitally interconnected field. . . .  Today, it is not the rogue individualist who threatens the social order but the sociopathic collective, whether the new gang of cyber-thieves or vandals, the virally vicious digital mob, or, more profoundly given its ever-increasing global power, the post-modern corporation, which has been adopting all the technological tools of togetherness while applying them for purely self-serving ends—which, like the Machiavellian plotter of old, has been usurping the authority of public governance while shirking that authority's traditional responsibilities."

     David Bosworth, "Knowing together:  the emergence of the hive mind," The hedgehog review:  critical reflections on contemporary culture 19, no. 1 (Spring 2017):  30 (18-31).