The overwhelming majority of influence on Western culture’s norms comes from Europe’s scarce landscape and the human dysfunction its scarcity caused. It is that culture along with its dysfunctional past that drive the majority of today’s social ills. One of the most tragic effects of this phenomenon is Westerners’ propensity to place economic and political gain over compassion and empathy. Cutthroat conditions shaped the West and desperation caused early Europeans to exploit everything and everyone for individual and factional advancement. The Westerner learned to avoid intimating feelings by hiding emotions as a reaction to this tendency. This practice lead to the sidestepping of passions and eventually developed into the more recent maxim of finding it admirable and even necessary to make considerations absent of emotional influence; Europeans had to eliminate passions from their considerations because their history proved those passions to be a liability. This may explain why brain music, such as classical, which is more easily explained on paper and conceptualized via a controllable medium such as written music, derives from Europe. Conversely, Soul music, like Rock and Roll, Jazz and Hip Hop, on the other hand, come from people regarded by classic academic America as less in control of their passions. John W. Burgess, one of the founders of the Political Science field, said, “Black skin means membership of a race that cannot subject a passion to reason…” Subjecting passion to reason was a virtue to him and the founders of political science because the cultural lens through which they viewed humanity, demonstrated that untended emotional reactions often meant death and destruction; one could not embraced their emotions without causing incessant warfare and perpetual barbarity. Europe’s scarce landscape created an environment where a whole continent had to try their best to agree to disagree. Western culture today still has an underlying, unspoken yet subconsciously influential sense of scarcity, which makes people conflate true happiness with social safety and comfort. This is why if you ask someone if they’re happy, they’ll usually tell you about their financially security and safety rather than the joy various aspects of their life brings them. The overarching sense of scarcity and its ill effects are why Western culture has institutionalized various means of scapegoating the ill and immoral behaviors seen as normal in today’s society.
The first example historically is unquestionably religion. Men blamed their own will on a ghost in the sky. They codified sexual control of women into the Bible, barring man’s equal, if not superior counterpart, from activities contrary to male dominance. For instance, women being virgins until marriage has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with men’s insecurity about diseases, paternity and, more recently, their ability to satisfy their partner. Humans are hardwired to procreate and absent the social standards set forth by Christianity, women would still practice discretion. They are the ones who have to think “big picture” when it comes to the act of sex. However, to abstain from sex until a marriage ceremony is unnatural. The institution of Marriage is another scapegoat. It brings a ghost (God) into two people’s commitment to each other.
Another early Western institutionalized scapegoating practice is the “corporation.” The word, “Corporation” comes from the Latin, “corprare,” which means “to embody.” This evolved to “corprationem,” which meant, “assumption of a body.” In other words, a corporation makes a business a person. This so-called “person” can ignore the moral aspects of business and side-step good faith because it’s not actually alive and only serves as a morality shield for the people controlling it. A corporation suffers death only by dissolution or insolvency. The people controlling this societally created “person” get to puppet reckless behavior without true consequence. If a corporation loses people’s money, rather than the victims confronting those responsible, they are made to confront the corporate straw man, which can simply declare bankruptcy and disappear, while the humans truly responsible, remain unscathed.
The religious era ushered in literacy and a new scapegoat for Western people, words. Western dominance and Christianity began the era we are currently in, where humans regard abstractions of truth, words, as superior to the truth itself. We often look to scripted concepts and give those constructs more weight than the truths from which they derive. I give the example of Murder laws in my book, To Pimp a Nation. Formal murder laws began very simply with “thou shall not kill.” This short phrase embraced all the nuances of the wrongfulness of killing other humans. It also respected this cardinal rule by not trying to capture it in word form. However, as Western society grew and its inadequacies caused citizens to kill each other more and more, those citizens sough to exploit the unlitigated nuances in the cardinal rule by manipulating the unsoundness of the words we focussed on in lieu of it. As society continuously impeached and codified each distinction between murder and rightful killing, the laws became wordier and wordier. Today, the focus on the worded concepts and not the actual deed of killing causes Western citizens to not consider murderous police officers who actually kill people, murderers, and passengers who have never killed anyone but are in a car that commits a drive by shooting, murderers; we put more weight in words than the deeds themselves. This is called “intellectual scapegoating” and it comes in different forms. Whenever someone tells you “the rules” restrict him or her from doing something he or she could actually do, this is intellectual scapegoating. When police say they “have to” ticket you for speeding because it’s against the law, they blame the laws themselves instead of admitting that their profession simply exploits laws to tax citizens. When tech companies collect and use your data then point to the user agreement you agreed to in haste by pushing a button while urgently trying to book a flight or pay a bill, they are using intellectual and technological scapegoating (discussed in the next section) to avoid respectfully and forthrightly informing you of their intent and asking in good faith for your consent.
As we transition into the computer age, technological scapegoating is the latest bad faith scapegoating technique. Technological scapegoaters blame “the algorithms” for what they pay programmers to devise their tools to do. Blaming algorithms functions similar to the Bible in that algorithms are complicated voluminous labyrinths designed by others based on their aims and goals. To combat them would require mastering the technology they built and usually the wielders of these disingenuous tools don’t even understand them completely. During the overdraft fee debacle, banks often blamed the computer programs for processing account holders’ deposits from largest to smallest, racking up tons of overdraft fees. For instance, if someone had $100 in their account, made four $10 purchases and then a $100 purchase, rather than charge one overdraft fee for the $100 transaction that overdrew their account, banks would charge the $100 transaction first then charge four overdraft fees for each $10 purchase. While bank managers continued to blame policy and computers, no one raised the issue that humans set these policies and programmed these computers because we regarded the corporations and their technology as larger than life. In fact, this banking practice was the epitome of unethical yet we blame the bank itself and not the humans around the table in corporate board meetings devising these sinister overtures on citizens’ pockets.
Parking tickets are an example of intellectual scapegoating that shifted to technological scapegoating. Parking Enforcement Officers used to tell those who confronted them while writing a ticket, “Sorry but I already started writing the ticket.” Today they use machines and tell people who encounter them while writing it, “I already started and the machine won’t allow me to stop.” In truth, they can stop; there’s no way initiating a ticket means they have to finish. But even if it did, human beings are responsible for programing the machines to begin with. In reality, whether blaming a machine or the fact that they already started writing, Parking Enforcement Officers know they’re hurting people and avoid the candor a face-to-face encounter engenders by anonymously leaving tickets on windshields. I once caught a Parking Enforcement Officer writing a ticket for an expired meter on a night where the time shifted backward for daylight savings. The meters turned off at 2:00AM but since the time shifted back to 1:00AM the meters were all expired for the second 1:00AM to 2:00AM period of the day. This Parking Enforcement Officer was writing anonymous tickets, being a horrible human until I confronted him, which made him stop. The wrongfulness becomes apparent when they get caught carrying out the city’s agenda and they begin scapegoating technology or the process itself; anything to avoid responsibility for doing what they’re doing.
The last scapegoating technique I’ll discuss here is Economic Scapegoating. Now that America is finally sliding into a long-overdue recession and inflation is rampant, we have prime examples of economic scapegoating right before our eyes. As mentioned in my blog post about our supposed “shortage of employees,” corporate America isn’t experiencing any truly dire situations until executive perks get cut drastically and profits decrease dramatically. As long as companies have the money to pay executives exorbitant salaries and they continue to fly private jets, companies aren’t really in trouble and those at the top don’t take it seriously. However, they do convey seriousness to the public in order to exploit whatever event related to their business is in the news cycle. For instance, oil companies are experiencing record profits despite the US cutting off a whole oil producing country from the world market. These companies have not taken the new oil market circumstances seriously and decided to respond by gouging customers and intensifying their never-ending “drill baby drill” campaign to increase their ability to produce and profit from oil sales. Within their price increases remains their executive jets, expensive salaries, retreats, meal write offs, expensive hotel stays, and many other fringe benefits. Corporations fit these expensive and unnecessary costs into their expenditures and everything they can’t pass off as business expenses are considered profits. The oil companies’ profit margins come before lowering prices for the consumers and just like inflation exploiters, their price increases include an extra cut for themselves. Companies raising prices due to inflation are too taking a little extra for themselves. They know an economic catastrophe is coming and are scapegoating “economics” to take a bit extra from consumers in order to pad their own coffers. They blame “the economy” instead of admitting they’re making overtures on the American consumers’ pockets in preparation for the upcoming crash.
Economics is a field of study designed to skew citizens’ perception of their own labor value. It came into vogue at the time the American government was pushing the idea of a human labor value filter, aka central banking, onto the populace. It worked and today, rather than blame an inept social model that confuses humans about their labor value then profits from it by collecting their labor fruits, siphoning off a portion of that value then redistributing what’s left to the laboring masses, they simply blame “the economy,” or “inflation,” or “opec,” or “the interest rate.” Humans control each and every one of these entities but the larger-than-life image we’ve given them makes them easy subjects for scapegoating.
Whether theological scapegoating, intellectual scapegoating, technological scapegoating economic scapegoating, or any other innovations of the like, they all have the same root; to avoid standing behind one’s own actions. Technology, the corporation and words are all man-made creations that we fool ourselves into thinking can take the blame for our moral shortcomings. The root of all this is Western dysfunction. It causes citizens to believe a good-faith society is impossible and preclude them from considering it when dealing in day-to-day life. A proper society is possible but we have to first be able to imagine it. With Western history eclipsing all others in education it’s no wonder we can’t imagine peace, good faith or a society where personal gain isn’t at the root of every citizen’s actions. I suggest reading the journals of Europeans who explored pre-colonial Africa. Francis Moore, Mungo Park and Heinrich Barth immediately come to mind. These explorers marveled at the lack of concept of personal property in many African societies. Mungo Park even distinguishes between African societies conquered by Muslims versus those that had not been. He commented that the ones that had not been converted were of better virtue and less likely deal in bad faith with him. They also didn’t scapegoat religion as the Muslims, who were ravaging the continent after being expelled from Spain, did. We should look at scapegoating as a symptom to a bigger problem. That bigger problem is a society where the citizens are not dealing in good faith and trying to take advantage of one another. Whether it be the city using people to tax others or technology companies placing 10-page legal agreements between you and that urgent email you need to read, we are living in bad faith with one another then scapegoating the resulting behavior. The first step to fixing this is realizing it and understanding that it doesn’t have to be this way.