The Girardian “sacred king” as behelit

This article is an excellent summary and I recommend it in its entirety. But the part that stuck out to me was how the major themes of Berserk could be interpreted as Girardian.

Thiel’s support for Trump’s populist authoritarianism, which has led some to demand his removal from Facebook’s board, can be parsed in exactly these terms. On one hand, this political stance makes little immediate sense business-wise, and does not seem ideologically consistent with his libertarianism. On the other hand, support of Trump’s political scapegoating follows neatly from Thiel’s strategic appropriations of Girard. At its most basic level, rightist scapegoating represents the opposite vector from revolutionary violence directed toward the powerful–what Thiel describes as the violence of the 99% versus his violence of the 1%. Like the social media platforms on which it has thrived, Trumpism channels violence mainly toward victims it wishes to marginalize.

But we should recall that there is another dimension to the scapegoat mechanism, also addressed by Thiel in “The Founder’s Paradox,” which is a counterintuitive connection between the scapegoat and the ultimate figures of authority: kings and gods. In Girard’s speculative history, this is because scapegoats were originally persecuted outsiders, but they also assumed divine status by virtue of their ability to polarize violence and instill social unity. It stands to reason, then, that if the politics of scapegoating is first and foremost based on the persecution of arbitrary victims, the figures it empowers will nevertheless partake in some of the scapegoat’s qualities–specifically, a capacity to serve as an object of collective opprobrium and vituperation as well as the standard bearer of violent power.

As it happens, two ideologically opposed observers have interpreted Trump himself in exactly these terms. Shortly after the election, the anthropologist David Graeber asked on Twitter: “could Trump be a sort of Girardian sacred king, marking a break with humanity by his crimes, but thus taking on the sins of his people…” He added: “if so it can’t end well for him. The ‘exploits’ or transgressions that make him divine at first make him a sacrificial victim in waiting.” But Graeber had been preceded in this insight by conservative commentator David Gornoski: “Trump even viscerally looks the part of the old scapegoat kings who would be ceremonially paraded before being sacrificed.” The Reddit users who dubbed Trump “God Emperor” seem to have had a similar intuition. While various observers detect this symbolic efficacy in Trumpism, Girard’s analysis also makes clear the instability of its polarizing force.

Guts and Griffith pose an interesting duality, because they are two sides of the ubermensch coin, the form and the function, and both have been sacrificed by Griffith to Griffith’s dream. With the subtlety typical of anime, they even end up dressing the same:

The dress code for Byronic heroes was apparently written by Batman.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Girardian “sacred king” as behelit

  1. Obadiah says:

    Not sure if Trump supporters wanted him to be a scapegoat sacrifice. Instead I believe that his true core of supporters wanted to see true redemptive heroic action from him; they wanted to see him go “all the way”, cross the Rubicon and become a heroic rallying point for the west. Didn’t even matter if he won or lost–we needed that impassioning psychodrama. We didn’t get it and that’s why many (on Gab for instance) are turning on him to an essentially irrational/unreasonable/religious extent as reality starts to set in.

    One of the most prolific /pol/ tripcode posters in the “President Trump general” threads was named “Trump the Redeemer”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s