One of the most surprising phenomenons of our western societies is the simultaneous raise of both better defense of victims, and a rivalry between them. Our legal system is continuously creating new categories of victims to fight exclusion and protect individuals (and some say, it is even doing that too slowly). But in the same time it doesn’t seem to work exactly as intended, as we observe that more and more groups are instrumentalizing this situation to claim they are the “most victimized” victim of all victims. It is even sometimes thought to be a new form of political discourse, because it seems to be a good way to shed discredit on your opponents (“they didn’t suffer as much as we did, they don’t know what they are talking about”).
It is interesting because the categories used by contemporary intellectuals and politicians seem to be unable to clarify the dynamics at work behind this situation. On the one hand we all want more protection against exclusion, and on the other we also do not want people to use new rights for their private benefit at the expense of common good. If you provide protection to someone in the name of justice, you usually do not want that person to use that protection to gain an advantage in a fight with someone else, hence re-creating violence and exclusion on another level.
So, in a nutshell, our societies do not apparently have an appropriate representation of the situation - which means there is something about violence and exclusion they don’t fully understand. They try to lower violence and exclusion with the help of law, which in turn ends up being the tool for a new form of violence among victims. This is because the categories used to think and represent the world are missing something about violence.
For instance, those categories are usually the ones of action and psychology. Some people argue that what is happening is a political use of justice, that should be forbidden, or at the least dealt with (by de-bunking the real agenda hidden behind the claims of the so-called victim group). Some other people will argue that there is a subconscious motivation present in every victim, to escape its victim status by exacting against other victims, thereby gaining some psychological satisfaction.
But seldom do we hear anything about the relations between the victims themselves : their will to fight seems to be thought of as an individual attribute, more or less consciously present in the mind of the new perpetrators. But the reason why this will is there is not explained, and we cannot see in that perspective how to make it go away. At best can we try to keep it under the lid.
This landscape changes immediately if read through a “mimetic lens”. What seems to be happening in this perspective is that the mimetic dimension of the rivalry is unseen by the modern framework. In short, modernity is not capable of seeing why sacrificial behaviors are re-emerging inside the very system aiming at defusing them. Our system believes that by insisting on defending victims more and more in the same way, things will eventually, hopefully, settle down. But in so doing, never does that system think of or act upon the sacrificial nature of the situation itself.
Never does it represent the causes of this rivalry - which may (partly) be stemming from the configuration of the legal system itself, which the evolution of has been roughly criticized by its main actors (judges, lawyers). The gain of power of the victim in trials is one of the most visible evolutions of the system in the last decades, in court or in the medias, and the belief that justice is all about helping the victims to deal with their feelings has become prominent. The acceleration of procedures, and their simplification, is also a topic widely discussed, and almost always negatively. And from the anthropological standpoint, acceleration and simplification is equivalent to lowering mediation between individuals, hence giving room for a raise in (mimetic) rivalry.
The rivalry of the victims is only an apparent paradox. It is easily explained by the evolution of legal institutions which do not realize that by playing the game of acceleration and simplification of procedures, it is not becoming more democratic or adapted to the evolutions of the world, but it is actually giving room to an increase of rivalry that it cannot understand. Or maybe it is an adaptation to the world, but in this case we have to admit that nobody should be surprised of that increase of rivalry, since it is exactly what is the contemporary engine of the West’s development.
- thegirardreader posted this