Sunday 13 November 2011

The Christian Victim-Perpetrator Syndrome

Daniel Pinchbeck writes in a comment on the victim perpetrator complex over at Reality Sandwich a much better contribution than I could:

This idea of unconditional love and unconditional forgiving not only seems like an impossible and non-human ideal, it also seems to me that it feeds into what John Lash calls the "victim - perpetrator bond" that was written into the Bible.

Lash's perspective in his amazing book, Not In His Image, is that the Judeo-Christian tradition was created intentionally as a deviation that took people away from the proper path of spiritual development. Lash writes from a Gnostic perspective, arguing that the Gnostics were the holders of ancient mystery school knowledge, and that they recognized Christianity was designed to imprison humanity in the spell created by the Archons and the Demiurge. Christian constructs such as "love thy neighbour as thyself, "turn the other cheek" and the underlying concept of "original sin" secretly functions to keep people enslaved in a culture based on domination.

This is most obviously the case with "turning the other cheek": This extreme form of masochistic, passive resistance allows the perpetrator of violence to have the upper hand, while the cheek-turner maintains a sense of moral superiority, despite the violence being perpetrated against them and others like them. According to Lash, such extremes of masochistic passivity coupled with idealized moral superiority were written into the Bible code by the Archons and the dominators to prevent the overthrow of the dominator culture by the oppressed, who far outnumber the oppressors, and could potentially make use of the means of violence to address their victimized state.

I remember when I visited the Hopi elder and I asked him what should be done with the CEOs and boardmembers of the coal company that was destroying their land and ruining their culture. "Cut off their heads," he calmly replied. I was shocked by this at first, but then as I thought about it over time, I could see his point of view.

Even Gandhi, who is associated with non-violence  promoted "active non-violence " direct action against the oppressors, and he also said that in situations where "active non-violence  could not be effective, violent resistance was preferable to "passive non-violence " What Harvey seems to advocate in his book is a toothless, passive non-violence that will ensure a personal sense of moral superiority but have no meaningful effect on changing the underlying structure of society, which is based on domination and oppression.

By nature, I support non-violence and pacifism. However, it may be that situations arise where violence - or at least the threat of violence - is the only answer to interrupting a cycle of domination. To cede the capacity for violence to the oppressors is, potentially, to give up any hope of making real change. I find it troubling to think these thoughts, yet I feel these subjects must be examined impartially and scrupulously, so that greater clarity can be attained.

Several people recently brought to my attention the connection between the Tibetan Buddhists, who promote non-violence  and the CIA. Is it possible that the Tibetan Buddhists are given so much cultural cache in the West because of their principled stand of non-violence  which also renders them helpless when facing a militarized regime? If we do away with moral absolutes and deal with the world as it is, we may have to find that there are times when violence is a necessary evil - for instance, against the Nazi regime during World War Two.

On an abstract and absolute level, one can "unconditionally forgive" Nazi torturers, Chinese armies, or corporations that profit off of the desecration of land and people. On the relative level of human actions, however, these malignant forces still need to be dealt with if we ever want to see our world thrive in peace. It may require means other than prayer or Harvey's rather meek brand of "sacred activism" to bring them down.

I am curious to hear others' thoughts on this complex, delicate, and extremely important issue.