Hubris and Scapegoating and Sacrifice, Oh My!

 Posted by on 14 January 2005 at 8:47 am  Uncategorized
Jan 142005

A while back, I found this astonishing article by Bob Wallace via my “Ayn Rand” Google News Alert. Since it wasn’t time-dependent and I didn’t have time to blog it right then, I filed it away for a rainy day.

The article generally concerns the related evils of hubris and scapegoating. Wallace describes hubris as “conceit, arrogance, grandiosity, the belief that one is god-like and can transcend human limitations, usually through violence.” He claims that it “devalues other people into mere things” and is “the sin of Satan, as described in the Bible.” As such, hubris is “the only true crime that exists, because it is the basis of all other crimes.”

According to Wallace, “hubris always leads to scapegoating” and “scapegoating always leads to human sacrifice.” He defines scapegoating as “when one person or a group projects problems onto another person or group, then tries to destroy them.” In such cases, the scapegoaters claim that “Since we are good, then you must be evil. Being evil, you are the cause of our problems. If we destroy you, evil will cease to exist and our problems will disappear.” As such, “scapegoating requires splitting groups into pure good and pure evil, into grandiose and devalued.” And “that splitting — indeed that belief — in pure good and pure evil automatically leads to scapegoating and human sacrifice.”

Having described the theory, he then considers some examples. He writes: “In the 20th century, the best-known practitioners of scapegoating and human sacrifice were the Nazis and socialists. They weren’t the only ones, just the best-known. All societies do it. The US did it to alcohol users during Prohibition and does it today to drug dealers and sellers.” Even the behavior of serial killers can be explained by reference to scapegoating, he claims.

Then, after considering various other examples, Bob Wallace hits the jackpot:

The novel that most clearly shows the sequence of hubris to scapegoating to human sacrifice, and the function of the scapegoat, is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. In it we have her god-like heroes, whose problem are due to “looters” and “parasites,” all of whom Rand describes as subhuman. Her heroes are all-good; the villains, all-bad.

Rand, by casting all problems, all evil, onto her villains, has them function as scapegoats that must be sacrificed to assure the creation of a better world. Her heroes withdraw into Galt’s Gulch to await the destruction of all evil through violence and death. Then, they plan on returning to a fresh, new world. It works in fiction. In real life it wouldn’t.

He then continues his bizarre ravings for a while longer, including an absurd little plug for the Gospels as the only literature in which “the scapegoat function was brought to light” and “finally seen as a bad thing,” meaning that it was “supposed to put a permanent end to hubris, scapegoating and human sacrifice.” There’s more, but I’ll leave that to you to explore if you so choose.

I would find the whole article utterly revolting, except for this one deliciously amusing twist: Wallace himself is guilty of scapegoating… the scapegoaters. His whole article cries out to the scapegoaters: “Since we are good, then you must be evil. Being evil, you are the cause of our problems. If we destroy you, evil will cease to exist and our problems will disappear.”


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