Secrets about People: A Short and Dangerous Introduction to René Girard 2/2
Alex Danco, 2019-04-28
Hierarchy and Religion as early defences
Hierarchy helps resolve conflicts: the one higher up is sufficiently far away and differentiated —> if people are not peers, there’s no jealousy.
Hierarchies don’t fit our modern understanding of fairness / equality, but they suppress violence (esp. in the old times when it was very relevant).
Authority works best when it’s “natural” (mandate of heaven, divine right, etc.) rather than meritorious (CEO) as it can’t be challenged.
Example: CEOs (merit) are in many ways less effective than founders (divine right). Not possible to challenge the founder’s title as it’s out of reach.
Envy to become a founder is productive in starting new companies.
Similar thing with religions: god / priests are not your peers. And this allows suppressing conflict.
Human sacrifices are no different from scapegoats —> the community celebrates the return of differentiation.
… but this all only provides temporary relief, as the root of the issue is still there.
What about the modern life?
The internet brings people together —> reduces distance, increases the peer set and the unhealthy wishing as a result.
Instagram allows people to see and envy their peers 24/7.
Social networks in general perpetuate this lack of distance and are not making people happier.
Trumpism – the rejection of the idea that we are and ought to be undifferentiated.
As funny as it sounds, diversity is the answer. Diversity of experiences, backgrounds, cultures. But it’s easy to confuse discrimination for diversity.
Cancel culture is the modern scapegoating when someone gets sacrificed for something justifiably wrong within their peer set.
If the victim is not neutral, it’s a tit for tat revenge.
However, not everything is lost as social networks once again give rise to one-on-one conversations; smaller private groups succeed public groups. Who gets into one’s peer set again gets under one’s control.
Relationships get from “opt-out” back to “opt-in”. No need to look good in front of everyone, pick your targets wisely.
Group dynamics (originating with the peer set) are responsible for some of the bad things happening; you pick your heroes and models – or not, and that’s fine.