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Requisite human sacrifice for effective point-making


Gruesome but Necessary: Global governance in the 21st Century? (Part #7)


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Human sacrifice and social transformation: Given a global culture of violence, it is valuable to review social change in the light of the "gruesome but necessary" drama of "human sacrifice". It can be argued that nearly all legislative innovations have only been brought about following an appropriate level of human sacrifice -- if only as a consequence of systemic negligence.

This is the case whether the legislation concerns the safety of children's toys, mercury pollution, or the independence of a country. To put it very bluntly, children have to be sacrificed before it is accepted that safety regulations on children's toys should be formulated. (It would not be impossible to count the number of such sacrifices associated with each piece of social change legislation.). Leadership too may call for personal sacrifice -- as with current arguments relating to austerity measures consequent on abysmal failures of governance.

New understandings of the widespread traditional practice of human sacrifice, especially as a means of placating divinity (under past regimes of faith-based governance), may provide a way of reframing the repugnant nature of disproportionate response. A prime example is human sacrifice in Aztec culture in which 84,400 were sacrificed over the course of four days in 1487.

Current variants of human sacrifice: In the light of the examples cited above, the following phenomena may be understood as modern variants of human sacrifice, as previously discussed (Contemporary reformalization of ritual "human sacrifice", 2006):

  • Abortion: The pro-life movement legitimately frames this as a form of human sacrifice to the god of convenience, whatever the implications of birth for the mother or the subsequent life of the child
  • Withholding contraceptives: This can be understood as ensuring that many are born, notably to most impoverished circumstances where a high rate of infant mortality is guaranteed
  • Withholding health care: The consequences have been evident in relation to the millions who face an early death, notably in Africa
  • Withholding the possibility of voluntary euthanasia: This maximize the level of suffering, lack of dignity and meaninglessness, and the benefits to the medical profession
  • Withholding food: This has long been evident in the inadequate response to mass starvation
  • Withholding protection from those subject to violence: Again the consequences have long been evident in the inadequate response to those subject to genocidal acts -- notably Srebrenica, Rwanda, Cambodia, Dafur and Eastern Congo.
  • Massive investment in weaponry: Whether in the form of small arms, landmines, cluster bombs, or weapons of mass destruction, this ensures the increasing quantity and effectiveness of human sacrifice (far in excess of Nazi gas chambers), notably to the financial advantage of the principal manufacturers and purveyors of such weaponry (who happen to be the permanent members of the UN Security Council)
  • Suicide bombing: This is certainly to be understood as a form of voluntary human sacrifice by the individuals involved, but especially by their supporters and mentors.
  • Holy wars: Whether as crusades or jihads, these offer every opportunity for personal sacrifice and for sacrificing others in one's cause
  • Indiscriminate military intervention: This can be usefully understood as sacrificing humans (notably civilians) in order to make some political point. Again it is noteworthy that it is typically the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as major purveyors of arms to combatants, that are most active in inhibiting initiatives towards the early termination of such conflicts.
  • Inhibiting preventive action on future causes of human sacrifice: This is most evident in the case of climate change and global warming with their expected exacerbation of resource issues on which people's lives are dependent (from reduction of arable land through rising sea levels and constraints on fresh water supplies)

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