A certain kind of psychological phenomenon that involves thought distortions around authority and legitimacy

I found a fascinating article on a weblog from 2016, and eventually wrote a comment on the post. However, it's been six years, and the author has moved on to other weblogs, so my comment sits in her moderation queue, where it may sit forever. So I'm posting it here.

The weblog post in question is this: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/ra/

It's about identifying a kind of systemic attitude, or "a certain kind of psychological phenomenon that involves thought distortions around authority and legitimacy" that pervades Western Civilization, which traces all the way back to ancient times. The author calls it "Ra" after the Egyptian sun god, and one of the commenters says that "Sol Invictus" is probably a better name for it. You can read the article itself for more context. I think it's a brilliant insight which ought to be explored more formally.

Here's my comment:

If you want a key to understand Ra, which is very well described here, within a context that describes it from a different angle, Ra is the power structure which derives from implementing the Scapegoat Mechanism, as discovered by Rene Girard. For example, this contex immediately explains precisely why Ra must be vague; to cover up the truth of what is happening to the scapegoats who are being regularly sacrificed within the system.

It's also described in a sophisticated metaphor found in the book Watership Down, again from a different angle, with the rabbits who live in a warren that has "made peace" with a human (a nearby farmer) who regularly harvests rabbits, in exchange for good quality food delivered in an easy-to-access manner. The psychology of the rabbits in this warren, the way they avoid certain topics, never talk about someone who died, have changed their mythology, are basically domesticated, yet have the appearance of being wild but are all beautiful and well-fed compared to the visitors, who are being secretly prepared to be sacrificed to the human... it's the same dynamic.

The great clue on how the Ra model aligns with the Scapegoat model of Girard is at the end of this article: "Ra is easy to overcome." The Scapegoat Mechanism is, too. As it is a dynamic that is so common it arises in any group, basically defining the "pecking order" of the internal group hierarchy, operating in a nested manner so that sub-groups have this same dynamic, which then feed into the larger groups, it seems so pervasive, vague, all-powerful, etc., that you cannot even imagine overcoming it.

And yet you can overcome it, by simply describing how the Scapegoat Mechanism operates to all members of the group in such a way that they openly and consciously understand how it works. It immediately ceases operating, because what was unconsciously happening is brought to the light of conscious awareness, and people automatically stop feeding into it. In other words, they are horrified at what they've been secretly doing without being aware of the consequences of their actions, and cease doing it.

However, as easy a solution as that seems... pretty much all of humanity is deeply embedded in this subconscious way of scapegoating, so eliminating the Ra model requires many, many, many, iterations of showing people how it works, so they can stop feeding into it, before it reaches a critical mass of enough millions of humans who get it, that it starts to recede on its own.

Posted in Everything, Phlosphy Stuff on Mar 02, 2022