Comment: Savages in Suits

"Knight Fighting Wild Men" by Lucas Cranach the Younger (c 1550)

“Knight Fighting Wild Men” by Lucas Cranach the Younger (c 1550)

I find it fascinating (albeit in a sad and terrifying sort of way) to see how oblivious modern Westerners are to the fact that our “leaders” are nothing but tribal chieftains who hide their naked barbarism behind fine talk, fancy titles, ersatz philosophy and elaborate rituals.  The “rule of law” is absolutely meaningless when society supports a parasitic class whose only function is to make more laws, to interpret them in such a way as to inexorably increase their own power, and to hire thugs in order to inflict violence upon those whom they can (credibly or otherwise) accuse of having violated any of the tens of thousands of arcane, abstruse, vague, overbroad and complex laws to which they add new (and invariably worse) specimens every week.  And despite their modern “scientific” or “democratic”  veneer, the vast bulk of those laws are based in superstitious concepts which any primitive would recognize:

…that plant matter or technological devices can be intrinsically evil; that certain words or images can be literally harmful to children or even to grown men and women; that the mere action of taking a photograph of a naked person (or in some cases, even a clothed child) is intrinsically inimical; that certain forms of human interaction can mystically harm the participants even if they freely choose to engage in the activity and suffer no physical damage; that magical vestments or talismans can grant power over other people or absolve the wearer of moral culpability for his actions; that official pronouncements from anointed leaders can make things vanish; and even that being given a spell-scroll of one variety can make a “dangerous” action into a beneficial one, while being given a different kind of rune-inscribed parchment can make an innocuous action evil…

The most astonishing part of all this is that Westerners can often recognize these principles for what they are when they are displayed by the “leaders” of a non-Western culture, while remaining willfully blind to the exact same behavior in our own.  Take, for example, this recent news item:  “A 20-year-old woman has been raped in public by as many as 12 men on the orders of tribal elders in a village in eastern India…as a punishment for an ‘unauthorised’ relationship with a man from another village…”  The rest of the article tries to fit this in with other gang rapes in recent years, but that’s nonsense; the latter are the actions of criminals, while this was the action of a group deputized by officially-recognized leaders.  The only reason the rapists and the officials were arrested is that a higher level of government disagreed with their actions.  But while comfortable middle-class Guardian readers tut-tut about how awful “those people” are, people in the UK, Europe and the US are harassed and punished by our own “village elders” for “unauthorized” relationships all the time.  Sex workers and our clients are humiliated in public, confined, assessed fines that are nothing but legalized robbery, and even punished by rape:

new Justice Department study shows that allegations of sex abuse in [American] prisons and jails are increasing — with correctional officers responsible for half of it  — but prosecution is still extremely rare…a growing proportion of the allegations have been dismissed by prison officials as “unfounded” or “unsubstantiated”…even in the rare cases where…[officials admit] sexual abuse occurred…fewer than half were referred for prosecution, and only 1 percent ultimately got convicted…

And as in India, the only time these officially-sanctioned rapists get in trouble is when a higher level of government decides (for whatever reason) to do something about it:

A Justice Department investigation accuses Alabama officials of…fostering an environment of rampant sexual abuse at the state’s Tutwiler Prison, where inmates “universally fear for their safety” and officers allegedly forced women to engage in sex acts just to obtain basic sanitary supplies…male officers openly watched women shower or use the toilet, staff helped organize a “strip show,” prisoners received a constant barrage of sexually offensive language, and prisoners who reported improper conduct were punished…“Officials have been on notice for over eighteen years of the risks to women prisoners and, for over eighteen years, have chosen to ignore them”…

We are all, every last one of us, intellectually indistinguishable from our ancestors who migrated to the far corners of the world over the past 30,000 years; the only thing which makes us different is the body of wisdom and learning we have accumulated over that time.  Basically, we don’t act like savages because we are taught from an early age not to.  But when society gives certain individuals – our “leaders” – explicit or implicit permission to ignore the constraints it places upon everyone else, we should not be terribly surprised when they take advantage of the offer.

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  • Hello Maggie! You discussed a very sensitive topic but you managed to make it interesting and decent. I also noticed that your posts are thoughtful and your topics are unique. Overall, your blog is very informative!

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