A Note on Victims and Victimology

In the comment thread at the foot of Thomas Bertonneau’s latest post, Tom expands on the relation between postmodern victimology and premodern sacrifice.  That there is a relation should be obvious from the fact that the word victim strictly denotes a creature that is killed to appease a supernatural power or being. 

A living creature that is killed by mischance is, strictly speaking, a casualty.  If a woman is raped to satisfy the requirements of a satanic rite, she is a victim.  If she is raped to satisfy the lust of a loutish looser, she is a casualty.  If I toss a man into a flooding river in the hope that this will make the waters recede, he is a victim (albeit an inefficacious victim).  If that same man drowns after slipping on the riverbank, he is a casualty.

No man, however unfortunate, is a victim unless he suffers or perishes as the innocent party in a rite of expiation.  This means, of course, a rite that is intended to repair a broken relationship between the one who offers the victim and the one to whom the victim is offered.  Expiation roughly means “out of piety,” which I take to mean an act done out of a pious desire to return to a right relation with an offended god.

Thus, a man who sheds the blood of a victim is secretly praying that Horace was wrong when he wrote:

Dira detestatio nulla expiature victima.

Which I will freely render as:

No victim can placate righteous anger.

* * * * *

Christianity of course teaches that Horace was 99.9 percent correct.  There is no detestation (detestatio) so dire—which is to say so urgently in need of placation—as the detestation God feels for a man who has impiously smeared himself with sin.  So, when a sin-smeared man wakes up to the fact that he has placed himself in the dire positionof being detested by God, he naturally looks about for a means of returning to divine favor.

This means that a sin-smeared man with a guilty conscience looks about for a suitable victim.  He looks for a creature he can kill in order to “get right with God.”

The bad news of Christianity is that there is no such creature.  Search as he might, from one end of creation to the other—from icy Himalayan summits to inky oceanic abysses—there is no creature—finned, feathered, or furry—whose blood will placate God’s righteous anger.

Christianity teaches that there are no victims here below. Plenty of ersatz victims, counterfeit victims, wannabe victims, imaginary victims—but not one of these is, you know, an efficacious victim.  At least that would seem to be the implication of this line.

“I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.”  (Isaiah 1:11)

The fact that God is not delighted by the blood of beasts, or even of men, means that the position of a sin-smeared but conscience-stricken man is far, far more dire than he at first supposed.  Not only is he detested by God, but there is absolutely nothing he can do to set things right.

This man is, in a word, all but doomed!  He is all but doomed because Horace was 99.9 percent correct.

No victim can placate righteous anger. 

In fact, this man is doomed unless there should be one victim who can placate righteous anger, and who can do this because he does not come from here below.  The good news of Christianity is, of course, that there is such a victim, that he did in fact come, and that his blood was delightful—as delightful as it is possible for a victim’s blood to be.

“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14)

One and done, as they say. Or as Christ more impressively put it, “it is finished,” it being all need for any further victims (John 19:30).

* * * * *

Since God was not delighted by the blood of man’s victims in the days of Isaiah, I can only suppose that he is even more not delighted by the blood of man’s victims in the days since his son said, clearly, distinctly, and at a highly dramatic moment, “it is finished.”

* * * * *

As Tom makes clear (to me at least), our first step towards understanding postmodern victimology is unraveling the garbled postmodern grammar of sacrifice.

For instance, the people postmodern victimology would have us view as victims are, at best, casualties of sin.  If Blacks were victims of slavery, then we must ask what crime their enslavement was meant to expiate.  If Jews were victims of the Holocaust (and the name suggests that this is how they would like to be seen), then we must ask what crime their deaths were meant to expiate.

Are we really expected to see slave-traders and the Einsatzgruppen as sin-smeared but conscience-stricken men who offered up innocent victims in the hope of expiating some other sin?

Of course not, because in postmodern victimology, making someone a victim is the sin.  In serious theology, making someone a victim is an (obsolete) means to atone for some other sin.  In postmodern victimology, a man is guilty because he has made someone his victim.  In serious theology, a man makes someone his victim because he is guilty!

* * * * *

In postmodern victimology, the “victim” is the innocent party in the act that is the sin.  In serious theology, the victim is the innocent party in the act that removes the sin.  The difference seems fairly plain to me.  How about you?

In fact, when you come right down to it, there is no real victim in postmodern victimology.  There are the culprits and the casualties of sin, and there are the mendacious postmodern priest muttering their misprized mumbo jumbo.

But there is no lamb

I know.  The casualties imagine they are the lamb, but a casualty cannot be the lamb (especially when he is a spurious casualty).  The priest thinks he is the lamb, but he cannot be the lamb (even if he is a she).  That’s just not how the grammar of sacrifice works.

As if the grammar of sacrifice matters any more.  “It is finished” and

“there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18)

* * * * *

As Tom makes clear, this knowledge has been lost in the post-Christian world, and this is why human sacrifice is returning, albeit in a stupider form.  Because this recrudescent human sacrifice is stupider than its blood-bespattered ancestors, it is marked by congenital malapropism.  Where it should say victim (the one sacrificed), it says culprit.  Where it should say casualty (the one harmed), it says victim.  Where it should say atonement (a return to piety), it says justice (but it means revenge).

Because human sacrifice is recrudescent in this age, when “there is no more offering for sin,” it must be inefficacious as well as stupid.  This is why we should expect it to grow more frequent, more frenzied, and more furious, until the blood flowing from victimology temples will suffice to excite admiration in the ghost of an Aztec priest.  Futility is the mother of fury, just as in the days of St. Paul.

“every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” (Hebrews 10: 11)

12 thoughts on “A Note on Victims and Victimology

  1. JM: Thank you for clarifying for me a number of my intuitions, which I had not sufficiently articulated on my own. The modern victimary posture is obliquely confessional. Those who accuse other parties of racism, sexism, or class-prejudice, must be, themselves, profoundly wracked by a sense of guilt, which they avoid by projecting it on innocent parties in their endless rituals of sacrificial expiation. On the modern scene, a sure sign that someone is filled with hatred is his declaration that someone else is a hater. The crisis of the moment is entirely a crisis of and on the left, where there is a mimetic frenzy to posture oneself as the purest of the pure — and the manner of demonstrating this perverse form of piety is the vehemence and frequency of one’s cry of “Witch!” Now the great student of the sacrificial crisis, Rene Girard, has noted that said crisis is internally resentment-driven — that is, covetous at its core — and that in the rush to demonstrate supreme righteousness, individuals ironically “undifferentiate.” That is, when everyone chases after the same badge, everyone also yields up his individuality and becomes generically like everyone else. This fact explains something that I have noticed about the endless parade of “diverse” speakers who accept three-thousand dollar fees to give speeches on campus: They all tell the same insipid story; they all use the same jejune neologisms; and they are all essentially alike. Their efforts to distinguish themselves are thus entirely in vain.

    • The crisis of the moment is entirely a crisis of and on the left, where there is a mimetic frenzy to posture oneself as the purest of the pure — and the manner of demonstrating this perverse form of piety is the vehemence and frequency of one’s cry of “Witch!”

      Yes. Back in the old VFR days, I denominated the “mimetic frenzy” of which you speak as attempts at being, or projecting oneself as being, “leftier-than-thou.” One of the main reasons I do not “do” Facebook or Twitter, and similar forms of “social media,” is because leftier-than-thou-ism seems to be rampant in those largely mindless forums. Indeed, the only reason I have taken that impression is because certain of my kith and kin *used to be* in the habit of sending me screen shots of posts in these forums, in which they themselves were chief among the participants. Given that these people are people I care about, I have taken the time on … dozens of occasions to point out their own leftier-than-thou posturing, and to strongly advise against it due to its soul-destroying nature. Most of which advice, I take it, has been ignored, but at least I don’t receive screen shots of Facebook and Twitter posts anymore, and that’s a good thing in my estimation.
      Concerning the ignoring of advice given, I had to learn the hard way a number of years ago to be very skeptical of persons who come to you asking for advice. Many such persons are seeking advocacy, not advice. This is sometimes easily discernible in the way certain of them ask; for others (who are better at concealing their real motives) not s’much initially, but it all eventually comes out in the wash. Now, I don’t like being made a fool of anymore than anyone else, hence my (reluctant) adoption of a general skepticism towards persons who come to me under the often specious mask of seeking sound advice. I don’t have to like it, but it’s the world I live in, so there ya go.
      Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

      • A person who asks for advice is like a writer who asks for “criticism.” Both are lying. They want encouragement. It took me a long time to learn this about writers, which was stupid since I’m just the same as they are. What I want is praise, not criticism. So, if I were honest, I’d hand someone a sheaf of paper and say, “I’d really be interested in hearing your praise of this essay I’ve written. I don’t want you to hold back, so really lay it on thick.” Advice works in the same way.

        “Well, Terry, I’d like your advice about something. I’ve been having an affair for the past few years, and my, err, mistress is now pregnant. I, or rather she, is thinking about an abortion. But she says, after that, the time has really come for us to run away together. I can see her point, of course, but as you know, my wife has cancer and is sometimes beaten up by our son Billy, who has, you know, ‘special needs.’ So you see, I’m in a bind and I need your advice.”

        “Well, Roy, I can really see what a tough spot all these other people have put you in. I think you’re bearing it all like a saint, and think its time that you finally start thinking about yourself. Your wife and Roy junior have made your life a living hell for years, and it may be that the time has come to turn over a new leaf. It’s a shame about the baby, but it’s really not your decision, and I’m sure you will be able to forgive, err, what’s her name?”

    • Your comment is interesting in light of the idea of a “classless society.” If we set aside the Marxist concept of class and think of classes as social sets, those sets are “differentiated” in a variety of ways. Fields of competition is one of those ways. One set competes at darts, another at dressage, another at lavish entertainment, another at conspicuous piety. And of course the more fields of competition there are, the more “winners” there will be. And the fewer “losers.” Convergence on a single field of competition (“undifferentiation”) increases the frenzy of the competition and the number of losers.

      Back when the social sciences and humanities were clearly differentiated, or in other words different fields of competition, we could have the a great art historian, a great literary critic, a great sociologist, a great anthropologist, etc. But now that these fields have all merged into Critical Social Theory, all the art historians, literary critics, sociologists and anthropologists are straining after the same prize.

  2. I always have trouble imagining that modern, liberal men are wracked by any sense of personal guilt, since a more self-satisfied group would be hard to imagine, but then I remember that you didn’t say they felt personal guilt. They certainly do think (white) society is guilty, and they are busy at work offering up victims to expiate this guilt, although the victims are presumed to share the guilt of the collective.

    As you said, Horace was 0.1% wrong. The good news of Christianity is that sacrifice has worked, which does mean we don’t need any new ones. Anyone who wants to participate in this sacrifice can find the opportunity daily at his local church.

    • Self-satisfaction is the opposite of humility. Christ said that the meek, which is a synonym for the humble, not the self-satisfied, would inherit the earth. The saying that “the last shall be the first” applies itself with exquisite irony to those who want to be first in the moral rectitude of denouncing witches.

    • A traditionalist feels guilt when he looks within. He can of course feel guilty about brazenly wicked acts, but it is in most cases an examination of conscience that reveals that he is not really such a fine fellow. A liberal feels guilt when he looks without. Ride through a city in a car with a liberal, and he will very likely tell you all the things he “feels bad” about. He doesn’t feel bad about his lake of charity towards the redneck he just got fired at work, but he does feel bad about that bum sleeping on the old refrigerator box. Thus the guilt-wracked traditionalists hungers for a new heart, and the guilt-wracked liberal hungers for a new world.

  3. Pingback: A Note on Victims and Victemology | Reaction Times

  4. There is a strict logic to the modern roaming (c)atholic:

    Salvation by self-annihilation.

    In contradiction is the Roman (C)atholic… Er… The white (S)upremacist, secular-squeaking. He abhors “salvation by self-annihilation.”

    He does not expect to expiate his sins by self-sacrificing for a (g)od as though he were a righteous victim.

    Christ does not promise salvation by self-annihilation.

    The roaming (c)atholic believes perpetuating self-annihilation to be the path to salvation.

    “Leftist” minions just act this out on a more degenerate “playing field.”

    The alternative is a racist* Roman Catholicism, ie., white (S)upremacy.

    *Anti-racism is the “inspiration” for roaming (c)atholic self-annihilation.

  5. The classic example of wrongful and wicked sacrifice was the worship of Moloch.

    Whether Moloch actually existed or not (and the old testament seems to imply he existed only in his believers imaginations) sacrifice to him was demon worship. Since Moloch worship was the official canaanite religion, it seems likely that promoting Moloch worship in Israel advanced the power of canaanite states, much as promoting progressivism in other countries advances the power of the state department.

    The believer, by sacrificing his children, likely advanced his career in the canaanite state apparatus, much as the progressive who sex changes his children advances his career in our state apparatus.

    Social Justice Warriors always project – but they are not projecting their own sins onto official victims, but onto witches who are supposedly victimizing these victims.

    So, when they call official victim groups victims, they are have no intention to sacrifice these official victims, but rather are projecting their own practice of human sacrifice onto other people.

    • I’m not sure if Moloch is different than Baal-Ashteroth. Both seem to have been fertility gods, and both cults seem to have been phallic. I don’t think this sort of nature worship requires reinforcement from the state, since staying on the right side of the life-force is so obviously a good idea. In fact, I would say that nature worship is the default position for humans. The progressive’s god is History, so they make their sacrifices to “get on the right side of History.” Sometimes they massacre their victims; nowadays they just demean them.

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