I mean by “myth of redemptive violence,” in a nutshell, the quasi-religious belief that we may gain “salvation” through violence. People in the modern world (as in the ancient world), and not least people in the United States, put tremendous faith in instruments of violence to provide security and the possibility of victory over their enemies. The amount of trust people put in such instruments may be seen perhaps most clearly in the amount of resources they devote to preparation of war.
- Ted Grimsrud, “The Good War That Wasn’t – and Why it Matters.”
I hope in this post to tie together two different threads running through my mind. One is based on this idea from Grimsrud, cited above. The other is inspired by the recent attacks in Belgium.
Grimsrud uses the words “faith” and “trust” to describe the view held by many toward this myth – this god of war. Certainly it is not based on science or reality. It is obvious to all but the most willingly ignorant or willingly blind that the violence “over there” is easily paid back “over here.” Call it blowback, because that is what it is.
Does this stop the standing ovations at sporting events when military veterans are paraded out like saints? Does this stop worshipful treatment in every public venue? No and no. As if we are thanking them for the blowback they have caused.
Part of the effectiveness of this myth stems from its invisibility as a myth….We think we know as a simple fact that violence works, that violence is necessary, that violence is inevitable. We don’t realize that, instead, we operate in the realm of belief, of mythology, of religion, in relation to the acceptance of violence.
Citing theologian and social critic Walter Wink, to understand how this redemptive violence works toward achieving “salvation”:
“Violence is the ethos of our times. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It has been accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience unto death.”
Wink offers that this “spirituality” is more reflective of the Babylonian creation myth than anything deriving from Christianity: “It, not Christianity, is the real religion of America.”
The Babylonian creation myth, according to Wink, teaches that subduing chaos and establishing order requires violence. Let’s take a look:
The Enûma Eliš, is the Babylonian creation mythos (named after its opening words).
This epic is one of the most important sources for understanding the Babylonian worldview, centered on the supremacy of Marduk and the creation of humankind for the service of the gods. Its primary original purpose, however, is not an exposition of theology or theogony but the elevation of Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, above other Mesopotamian gods.
To make a long story short, there is an epic battle of the gods:
A lengthy description of the other gods' inability to deal with the threat follows. Marduk offers to save the gods if he is appointed as their leader and allowed to remain so even after the threat passes.
In the end, Marduk is called upon to bring peace to the situation:
When the gods agree to Marduk's conditions he is selected as their champion against Tiamat, and becomes very powerful. Marduk challenges Tiamat to combat and destroys her.
This victory is not enough – total and utter devastation follows:
He then rips her corpse into two halves with which he fashions the earth and the skies.
In subduing this chaos, civilization and order follow:
Marduk then creates the calendar, organises the planets and stars, and regulates the moon, the sun, and weather.
It is not enough to defeat the enemy – their cities must be devastated, bombed into rubble, burned to the ground. It is not enough to capture the perpetrators of terrorist activity, cities that had absolutely no connection at all to the alleged terrorists must be devastated, bombed into rubble, burned to the ground. It is not enough to stand in defense; one must pre-emptively divine and thereafter destroy any who might one day be a threat…maybe.
Again, citing Wink:
There can be no other gods before the nation….By divine right, the state has the power to order its citizens to sacrifice their lives to maintain the privileges enjoyed by the few. By divine decree, it utilizes violence to cleanse the world of evil opponents who resist the nation’s sway. The name of God – any god, the Christian God included – can be invoked as having specially blessed and favored the supremacy of the chosen nation and its ruling caste.
And in this manner, we are offered salvation. Salvation from life, it seems.
Death after life. Kind of the opposite of what the Bible suggests.
I said out loud the other day something I have never said before. Not to say it hasn’t been lurking inside, but to say something out loud in front of others gives it a different kind of reality – some real substance. It is difficult to take something back once you have let it go.
It was said in a discussion of the attacks in Belgium and the ongoing attacks recently in Paris. I don’t remember my words precisely, but something to the effect: either the United States and western Europe drastically change their approach to world affairs or the only way this all ends is in all-out war; I give it 15 – 20 years tops.
Now, what did I mean? The drastic change means to stop the violent interventions in the Middle East and North Africa. As to ending in all-out war? The next time there is an all-out war might very easily be the last time for all of us. I believe this verbalization was aided by staring this recent post in the eye – the forces for war are massive and well-organized. Repetitive failure does nothing to slow down this machine.
What else did I mean? Europe committed suicide in 1914. While the heart is still (barely) beating, and there is a faint hint of breath, the death is close at hand. Instead of stumbling through reasons why I believe this, I will offer the following, from the Saker:
… Europe has lovingly cultivated a[n] obscene friendship with three of the foremost sponsors of terrorism on the planet – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
…for decades now the EU has had an absolutely suicidal policy on immigration or, should I maybe say, no real policy at all, unless you consider “let them all in” a policy.
…instead of focusing on the clear present danger of the penetration of terrorists under the guise of refugees, Europe has concentrated its resources on countering the (non-existing) “Russian threat” wasting money on command centers, communication nodes, pre-positioned supply dumps and, of course, various exercises and maneuvers aimed at “deterring the Russian bear”. Even worse, the Europeans have, until now, categorically and repeatedly refused to collaborate with Russian on any security issues, including terrorism.
…the ruling elites of the EU have systematically branded those who dared to warn about the dangers of terrorism through immigration as “racists” while, at the same time, introducing all sorts of totally useless but very offensive anti-Muslim measures such as banning schoolgirls from wearing a veil (of course, kids in Jewish kippas were left unmolested) or raising a panic over the amount of [halal] butchers in Paris (of course, kosher stores were left unmolested).
Of course, Europe is pulled by a string held by Washington, aided by political leaders willing to sell their souls for a few shekels. As the Saker describes it, a “toxic mix of stupidity and arrogance….”
The wars will continue as long as people believe in salvation through violence. The wars will continue as long as the people cheer on the warriors. The wars will continue as long as we absolve the warriors and blame the politicians. The wars will continue as long as mothers and fathers take pride in the “service” of their sons and daughters. The wars will continue as long as the warfare state is able to fund itself.
The wars will continue until there is no more significant war – one way or another. They will end either due to an awakening or a mushroom cloud. In the meantime, what was focused in the Middle East will spread throughout Europe next.