Once again it has been a while since my last post. Part of it was because I did not fare very well on the way back from Indonesia. I ended up getting a little sick and then a double outer and inner ear infection. Seriously? An outer and inner ear infection? What? What?
I have recently finished reading with my good friend Paul the Girard Reader. Students of Rene Girard I’m sure are very excited to see that someone else is actually reading this guy. Personally I am always skeptical to read anyone’s work while they are still alive, but sometimes I make an exception.
Girard is good, fairly good, and I know I have posted about him earlier. So instead of going into his stuff again, I would like to consider the Occupy Wall Street movement via Girard’s scapegoat theory. Just so all of you sticklers know, I am going to crassly simplify Girard’s theories. If you don’t like it, get the book and read it yourself.
People are not happy. They are not happy for a number of reasons, which I will not list here. When people are not happy they tend to look for someone or something to blame for their sorrows. The Tea Party blames the government (go figure). The Occupy folks blame the capitalist structure of sorts. It may be true or it may be because they Occupy folks really just want what they (the capitalist pigs) have.
In this theory the scapegoat needs to be similar but not exactly like the crowd casting blame, so Wall Street et al works well. What usually happens is that the anger will increase and increase until something or someone snaps and the metaphorical stone is thrown. At that moment the rest of the stones will come crashing down until the victim/scapegoat is dead. After that the scapegoat is deified or made into a savior of society and peace returns. For the time being.
This is not a happy scenario for those of us bleeding heart, peace loving, tree hugging, “can’t we all get along” wusses who want to avoid any bit of violence. We get squeamish and start to cry and look for a way around the violence. One way out of the stone throwing is for the scapegoat to willingly embrace his or her crowd-demanded punishment. For example if a billionaire would go public and give away all of his or her money or something else humiliating the desire for “blood” would be satiated. Such an action could then shame others to action and appease the angry crowd.
Now this is all theory so don’t start waiting for something to start throwing things. Don’t go to Wall Street or wherever you are and start throwing stones in hopes that more will happen. Oakland may be the first stone thrown, but maybe not.
Regardless, I think Girard’s theories are quite good and apt in this situation. The challenge is to look past the distraction of the scapegoat at the actual cause of unrest and inequity. It may not be Wall Street’s fault. Wall Street and company may just be a part of a systemic problem that goes beyond one group of people. But that is much more difficult to do and I have this great, smooth stone that I have been aching to throw. Now I just want to find a nice, big window or someone named Tessie Hutchinson. Shirley Jackson, eat your heart out (not literally).