Sunday, January 3, 2010

scape goat mask

In the face of a systemic problem coming to light, the system looks for a scape goat. There have been a few examples of this happening in recent memory. As vast as recent can be in an attention deficit, strobing media society. Obama admits that the attempted attack on the plane over Detroit was a systemic failure. I admire his candor in admitting such a thing. Constructed opponents of the Democrats are blaming Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, about the incident. Ignoring the system that she is trying to run and the system that it is a part of. With the economic crisis, as with National Security, the complexity and widespread incongruity of what should be functioning parts of a whole, the financial system needed a figure head to personify, and scape goat for the problem. They found him in Madoff. The system stays in tact with the faithful to the systemic models preserving their own interests. Madoff goes to jail, the public is supposed to feel like the one bad apple is out of the barrel and the other supposed good apples can not continue on their way to ripen.

Because we are more familiar with the idea of an individual we look for a personification of a situation, event, or system in order to gain an access point to the illusion of the understanding of such a thing or idea. There are the figureheads of socialism which are all regarded as monsters, thus creating the image that the system is monsterous. The opposite is true for securing a system that is equally as flawed and disregards true human need. The system needs to find figureheads that have the sufficient appearance of a comforting face on the system that they paint as having the greatest potential for individual freedom (greed) and protection against threats (fear).

No change will come about if we are constantly looking for scape goats. You take out the spoke in the wheel and it gets replaced with another which is implemented to maintain the structural integrity of the same system. If that one fails the same tactic is deployed. This is a conditioning tactic of the system towards the masses as well. If people were to actually see the systemic failures in the conduct of everyday life (massive debt, multiple hours in front of the t.v. daily = killing ambition, poor diet, etc. etc. etc.) then they may regain some kind of critical awareness of the state of the multitude of systems that they are inevitably a part of and look for answers in places that are not offered by that same system.


  1. I'd add that in just about every system you mention, and others that would fall under the concept, it's simply easier and less embarassing to target a 'scape goat'. It's easier to throw Napolitano under the bus than to admit to America, "Hey, really, we've been going about this 'terrorism-airplane' thing all wrong. Sorry, we'll do better next time--promise."
    The inclination to save face probably comes from human emotion and personal awareness, however, any over-arching system is subject to further scrutinization, and thus normal human embarrassment is exponentially increased for the system that admits fault.
    The stronger minded humans who advocate for responsibility stand up out of that recliner and admit to too many damn potato chips; while the rest of the country come up with reasons for why they deserve that 'personal relaxation'.
    People will continue driving absurd distances for menial items, wasting time and spending fortunes for gasoline, because it's too hard to change habits and admit that their lives aren't productive enough.
    It's with bitter humour that I'm just now realizing how many times daily one probably hears an excuse for an arbitrary or completely incorrect action--you know, some reason or some other person that keeps those at fault free of charge.
    What's truly unnerving is that things get that much worse when you don't tell the truth. We all know that. We'll keep looking for sharp objects, they'll keep finding ways around what we're looking for, and we'll find someone else to blame for what follows.

  2. Absolutely.

    The tendency to blame others if an individual was the problem is the easiest thing to do. It encapsulates denial and dishonesty. The tendency to blame an individual in a flawed social system of any kind is the same action, denial and dishonesty. At the risk of sounding alarmist and cynical, it would not surprise me at all if within the systemic problems if the one(s) running whatever system, the same people singling out a scapegoat, are preserving what they have been controlling because they get rich off of it.

    One of the unraveling important disappointments that is coming to the surface with Obama is his turning away from a serious mantra of personal responsibility. We all knew that the system needed help, change. Obama was willing to paint himself as someone willing challenge the system but has proven in many regards, Health Care being one, that he does not want to overtly spend the political capital to challenge it but is reinforcing some of its most problematic components while holding up idealistic false utopian rhetoric while labeling himself a pragmatist. It may be noted that he does not have a tendency to fabricate scape goats, almost to a fault. He seems to be reluctant to hold some people accountable for major flaws that may have been avoided or intentionally committed because he is more concerned with, "Looking forward", or less concerned with, "Pointing Fingers".