|If your desire is to submit, the only question is to what?|
It's impossible to miss the alliance between progressives and Islam.
Many have tried to explain it, myself included, by pointing to humanitarian or altruistic ideals. The progressives are caring people. I used to think the alliance was about suppressing the progressive's true enemies - the traditionalist Christians - and to be fair, raw Machiavellian games is definitely a factor. Anyone who gains power wants to protect it.
But I'm starting to suspect that progressivism and Islam are actually the same thing.
Why? Because both religions use the scapegoat - the single-victim mechanism - to manufacture and achieve power in a system of society the Bible refers to as "powers and principalities." The magical effect of the scapegoat might have been exposed by Jesus' death on the cross, but its lure over humans remains. Jesus' project was to counter this structure of power, which is why both progressives and Muslims want to destroy any legacy of his anti-sacrifice message. In this disturbing way, the progressives are the true reactionaries. That's not a sentence you're going to read anywhere else.
Jesus wanted to offer humanity another way to live together without the need for violence, he called it the Kingdom of God and it has nothing to do with the afterlife. Satan fell from heaven because heaven is a place where the scapegoat mechanism does not work, and Satan is the name for the scapegoat mechanism. Wherever the scapegoat mechanism operates, heaven cannot exist. Jesus idea was the only out-of-the-box thinking that has ever actually mattered. Every previous (and subsequent) idea of society has required either the ritualisation of the scapegoat or the raw plague-like grip on a community demanding the expulsion of an innocent victim, generally with a lot of blood.
In other words, only two attempts at building society have been made in a million years: the sacrificial and the non-sacrificial. For the eternity of history, the sacrificial model has dominated all cultures. As French philosopher Rene Girard points out, Jesus was the first to outline the second option, a non-sacrificial model, by standing on the shoulders of his Jewish prophet forebears who were also chipping away for centuries to answer why their tribe was always singled out for blame. That Jews are the progressive's most vocal and vicious propagandists today should make them embarrassed.
Islam has a built-in permission to offer sacrifice because it is a deeply sacrificial religion, choosing first to use the archaic myth of the scapegoat and rework it for power. Here's how Girard sees it:
Islam maintains a relation to death that convinces me that this religion has nothing to do with archaic myths .... The mystical relation of Islam with death makes it even more mysterious to us. At first, Americans took these Muslim kamikazes [of 9/11] for "cowards," but, very quickly, they began to see them differently. The mystery of their suicide thickens the mystery of their terrorist act.
Yes, Islam is a religion of sacrifice in which we find also the theory of mimetic rivalry and the model. The candidates for the act of suicide are not lacking when terrorism seems to fail. Imagine, then, what is happening now when -- if I dare say -- it has succeeded. It is evident that in the Muslim world, the kamikaze terrorists embody models of saintliness.
[I]n Christianity the martyr does not die in order to be copied. The Christian can be moved to pity over him, but he does not desire to die like him. He is suspicious of it, even. The martyr is for Christians a model to accompany them but not a model for throwing oneself into the fire with him. In Islam it's different. You die as a martyr in order to be copied and thus manifest a project of transforming the world politically.
[Christian passion] narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.
Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.Some elements in Islam can sublimate the violence produced by mimetic desire, but its antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity, not because they are rival religions, but because the non-sacrificial model of society is the deepest challenge to the core power of the sacrificial model.
What really bothers me is that the most successful form of Christianity extant today - progressivism - looks and sounds suspiciously like Islam. After all, progressivism is arguably the default setting of "the good society" for the entire planet. “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword” refers to how those who use the scapegoat to attain power will, in turn, be removed from power by the same mechanism. This reciprocity, revenge and envy saturate progressivism and Islam in everything the religions do.
What do the progressives see as the scapegoat? White men. A white man's social purpose is simple: build and maintain the system. Building means exactly what you think it means, but maintaining progressive society requires that white men appear as targets of blame to keep the rest from killing each other. Arabs, Chinese, blacks and women would have no other reason to like each other aside from their uniform instruction to hate white men. The great fear in progressivism is that once the minorities stop believing that the white man is universally evil, the glue holding multiculturalism together will be gone. At that point, it'll be a race to the nuclear codes. Progressivism depends on the white man scapegoat for its very existence.
I talk about the scapegoat a lot on this blog, and I get that it's hard to see the mechanism at work in society because it hides itself so well. But if you know where to look, it is disturbingly obvious. For example, have you ever wondered why humans find it so easy to play sports?
Let's ask this in a different way. Why can two basketball teams play together, but a basketball team and a soccer team find it impossible? "They're not playing the same sport, duh." Sure, but that doesn't explain why playing the same sport matters more than playing any sport at all. If it were just about sport, then a soccer and basketball team could mingle on the same field. Since they can't, there's something about similarity that creates a sport. This is a clue.
This goes all the way back to when you were a baby. Humans aren't born knowing what to want, and they are almost never taught how to want, so we copy (mimic) our parents and nearby tribe. That's fine, and there's nothing wrong with copying so long as the model being copied cannot ever be exactly copied. Another clue. The problem is when two people mimicking each other do it so well they become mirror-images - desiring the same object in the same way. At that point, the object of desire no longer matters and all that remains is a one-track need to remove the other, the rival, twin or double. This is the core of all myth, legend and comic book story.
Either the twins come to blows, or they deflect their rivalrous energy back onto the world. This deflection is meant to avoid either rival giving up their desire and genuinely becoming an individual, thereby cancelling any need for violence. Since most people on this spiral of rivalry don't know they're on it (and humans will do anything to avoid change) the rival twins rationally assume the cause of the tension must be coming from outside. "It can't be me, it must be that guy!"
And since the reason they're rivals in the first place was the copying, then agreeing that the problem ain't them is too easy. Maybe the rivals aren't strong enough to remove the scapegoat by themselves, but when an entire group of people mimic each other to the point of mimetic crisis? Woo, mama. Better get out the mop, cos there will be blood. When a society becomes too similar, it creates cataclysmic moment as the crowd turns on a single victim, driving it away in a frenzy, often killing it in the process.
Why would anyone do this? It is a massive payoff if a group can keep believing the Other was the cause of their tension, especially when the release of violence created a magical calm over the crowd and they all feel they can live together once more. But since the fundamental problem was not solved (the copying and mimicry), tensions inevitably rise again until another scapegoat is required to dispell. I suppose, in the absence of truly becoming a society of individuals, picking a single victim is better than all-on-all combat. But that doesn't make sacrifice a good thing.
So, the way I see it, this is exactly what's going on when two teams of basketball players can play a sport, but a soccer and basketball team just stand around awkwardly. The two basketball teams are mimicking each other. They have the same shirts, follow the same rules, share a common goal/desire, speak a lingo, gather on the same court, etc. The object of desire may be the basketball itself and getting it through the hoop more times than the rival team, but the common desire could also be competition for an actual or hypothetical woman, or perhaps money, a fancy car or prestige.
Both teams cannot win the game, but both desire to. This creates a tension that can only be solved by defeating the rival and differentiating the two teams as winner and loser. If one team is a winner and the other a loser, the two are no longer identical and the tension ends (as does the basketball game). The object of desire is secured by one rival, but not the other. In this way, basketball is revealed as a ritualisation of a system that used to - and sometimes still does - result in proper violence. The two basketball rivals (a word regularly used in sport) can always return next week for another round of mimetic tension-and-release. After all, "basketball" is never over.
Yet basketball fails if everyone wears ten different shirt colours, they do not appear alike enough, even though the rules haven't changed. That's why uniforms are key to "civilised" sports, and why "streetball" is vicious. And have you ever tried introducing a second basketball into the game? Everyone gets confused because there is no longer a single object of desire. That's why soccer players on a basketball court is dumb, even though, technically, both teams want to play a sport.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because earlier this month a man walked into two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and killed 49 Muslims. I didn't want to write about this because I couldn't get my thoughts straight. And besides, all mass shootings come from the same place: "I don't care what anyone else thinks." I also figured it wouldn't be very useful to say again how narcissism is leading us into a mimetic crisis of global proportions that will at least end with a beautiful nuclear fireworks display over a city near you.
However, on the evening of March 15, I made a point to write down every thought I had about the shooting as it came to mind. In my life, no one close to me has died yet and although I write about terrorism and security issues for a living, it hadn't happened in my country. I wanted to watch my reaction like a psychologist. And now I understand why Jesus told Peter no matter how strong he thought he was, when the crowd starts rumbling, no one avoids the single-victim mechanism.
Below are my chronological thoughts in all their freshness, ignorance and rawness. Pay attention:
- They won’t call him crazy
- Lone wolves are tough to spot
- What if his narrative is correct?
- Proximity + diversity = conflict
- Lots of anger against Muslims from previous attacks
- Aimless, loser men, no capacity of the system to absorb them
- Will there be integration programmes for young, loser white men?
- When you remove the ability for people to express their dissatisfaction officially, you leave only the option of violence
- This is identity politics
- The result of the scapegoat
- Churches offering Muslims a place to pray - do none of these people believe in their religion anymore? So inauthentic. No wonder people think religion is hollow
- Do people really think this is a widespread thing? Like, one guy shoots up a mosque and police tell all mosques to look out in case the horde of other shooters living on the edge seize the moment?
- Why can’t I defend men as a sex?
- Not terrorism, only the left deals in terrorism
- 44 Christians killed by Muslims in a church bombing on Palm Sunday in 2017, crickets from the media
- As Marshal McLuhan said, WW3 will be fought by everyone against everyone, without distinction for soldier or civilian. Is this what bin Laden meant by “in a democracy, all people are legitimate targets”?
- Silly man. All actions that mimic progressivism only serve to boost progressivism
- I thought you said terrorism was just something we all must live with in a modern nation? Now you want to clamp down? Either the Muslims were pussies and easily won over by trinkets and the promise of sex, or the real battle was always between different kinds of white men
- What do we do with all these people? Will UBI be enough to stop us rioting?
- I can’t see how any of us are a group. What does it mean to be a New Zealander? What, aside from soil, do we have in common? What’s the project? Why are we living together, rather than apart? What’s the point of cities? What’s the point of a nation-state? What are the ties that bind, the lines that connect? Why was my first feeling about this just apathy? Can anyone describe what this all is for, why I should care, I mean, outside the raw human aversion to violence? But even then, is it true there is never a reason for violence?
- His problem is simple. He blames other men for his inability to have sex with the kind of women he thinks he should be able to fuck
- Is this what it felt like for the Muslims when ISIS/AQ killed westerners?
- If we’re at war, then this apathy makes sense. What should we make of the people who say we’re not in conflict? Does a denial of conflict display power or weakness?
Can you see what happened? Even looking at these a week later is nauseating. You can see the tribalism and immediate blame as I move through the night. My mind pulls together threads, desperate to make sense of the event. I have no real depth, no unique thoughts. Just spiralling around and around, ever-upwards until...
Until, a friend sent me this message at about 1030pm:
"It's days like today that your mantra 'the problem is always you' rings loud and clear."And just like that, I snapped out of my trance. I suddenly saw how easy it was to slip into the crowd and join the frenzy. I found myself on a team, playing metaphorical basketball, without ever being in control of my actions. Before that evening, I was sure I could sidestep the crowd in its most mimetic form, but now I understand it is nearly impossible. Unless you do it like Jesus.
When Jesus approached the yelling crowd in the town square preparing to stone a girl for adultery, he made a point not to look into their eyes and crouched down to draw in the sand as he spoke. He knew that making eye contact would reveal only the madness of the single-victim mechanism, the power of the scapegoat. He could see the crowd was too similar, too undifferentiated. Full of doubles, rivals and obstacles. Each one identical to the next in their hatred for the girl. She was the reason, they thought, for their anxiety and pain. She must die.
But Jesus interrupts them, turning the crowd's eyes, still red with the deepest magic, onto him instead. At that moment, if Jesus looked up, he would be stoned in the frenzy of the mechanism, not the girl. He knew that. So Jesus looks down, forcing the crowd to see each other in their bloodlust, revealing just how similar they all are. And Jesus says “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And the spell is broken. There is now someone different in the crowd. The mimetic crisis has failed.
Lacking a scapegoat, the crowd revealing itself to itself, the magic of the single-victim mechanism cannot manifest. Satan is cast aside, rejected, without power. The crowd begins to break up. It’s members glimpsing the unspoken truth about human society: the problem is you, it’s always you. The crowd walks away. Jesus stays crouched, playing in the dirt until no shadows surround him and the birds sing again. All that remains in the square is a crumpled girl with a tear-stained face and the only man who ever understood how to defeat the scapegoat. He stands up.
But one day soon after, Jesus is killed by that same crowd because his actions in the square weren't enough to prove the evil of the scapegoat. He chose to become the scapegoat to reveal the truth that has been hidden since the foundation of the world: society is built by the crowd's murder of innocents. He dies so that sacrifice can be unmasked and its power broken. Nietzsche was right: there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross. Every "Christian" since has struggled not to ally itself to the sacrificial model, and failed. The scapegoat remains in control. I know, I felt it on Friday, March 15.
The Christchurch shooter's violence was an invitation to join him, to mimic him. The scapegoat wants mimetic rivalry to build to a crisis, that's how it wins. Violence is the undercurrent call to become a mirror-image, to discard our individuality and be part of the crowd. The only answer is to turn the other cheek, defusing the mimetic spiral before it escalates to all-on-all violence. Forgiveness is not ethereal or wishy-washy, it is a path towards a society without the need for blood. We must refuse every invitation to mimic another person.
Forgiveness at all costs. It’s not the most satisfactory answer to Christchurch, but it’s the only one that will save us. Unfortunately, I have never heard a Muslim or a progressive forgive. It is this, above all else, that makes them exactly the same thing.