“Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion is weak, men mistake medicine for magic.”

– Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (Routledge, 1973)

Did human sacrifice ever end?

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Imagine if you will an ancient empire where a new disease spread through the land and terrified the inhabitants. Among the population of 1,000,000 it killed 1,000 every year (0.1%). One night, the holiest holy man heard the voices of the gods tell him that if the people sacrificed 10 children every year, the plague would end. It seemed reasonable. That 0.1% toll of death would suddenly be reduced by a factor of 100 to 0.001%. After the sacrifices began, the plague faded away, as plagues do naturally, but the people understood this to mean that the gods had kept their promise. Thus began the empire’s acceptance of ritual sacrifice to appease the gods.

However, not all the holy men were in agreement with this new custom. Yes, it was wonderful to have fewer people dying, but they objected on two points. First, why was there such an unfair burden on the young? Most of the victims of the plague were old and had already lived a long life. It was unjust for them to buy more years of life with the blood of the young. Second, there was an important difference between people dying by forces beyond human control and people committing sanctioned murder. The dissenters argued that the emperor and his scientific council should concentrate on finding treatments for the disease and a full understanding of its causes and mysterious ways.

On the first point, with the people being so traumatized by the epidemic, the emperor and his ministers dared not concede at all. Something had to be done. The people demanded it. On the second point, they consulted with the scientific councils and concluded, “Alright, we’ll find a way to do it stochastically.” They brought all the sacrificial candidates to a stadium and placed cups of “medicine” on tables. There was one cup for each candidate, and of the thousands of cups 10 contained a deadly poison. Each had to choose a cup. It was a great loser’s lottery of human sacrifice. All agreed this was a humane way to do what was necessary. It was one small loss of a man: an ethical giant leap for mankind.

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As of August 2021, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System of the United States has collected the following data on the health effects occurring shortly after Sars-Cov-2 vaccination:

7,000,000 people ages 12-17 have been vaccinated.

947 of them have suffered serious effects, 18 have died.

Among these young people, 808 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported, conditions which are not mere temporary annoyances. They are likely to have long-term effects, and in some cases will cause death in the short or long term.

Among vaccinated people of all ages there have been 35,881 serious injuries and 5,739 deaths. 13% of the deaths occurred within 24 hours of vaccination, and 19% within 48 hours. 34% involved an onset of symptoms within 48 hours of vaccination. The average age of death was 73.[1]

No one knows to what degree the harms are being under-reported or are going undetected.

The injuries and death among young people have so far been considered an acceptable level of sacrifice for the greater good. They are such a tiny percentage of the total number of people vaccinated, so insignificant—except to the people affected.

The Spanish overthrow of the Aztec Empire was justified by the Christian conquerors with the claim that they stopped the barbaric practice of human sacrifice. Was their form or sacrifice more barbaric, or have we just diluted our responsibility by making it stochastic and out of sight? Even the privileged classes accept the risk to themselves and their loved ones that they might be the ones who suffer. This is true not only for vaccination but for all the short-term benefits of technology that we want. We usually deny that there will be a cost to pay, but when we can’t deny it, we hope it will be paid by others.

Many readers will object here and say the pandemic is different. Too many people will die if there is no universal vaccination for Sars-Cov-2 and we must get to a state of “zero covid” with universal vaccination. That might have been a reasonable goal eight months ago, but even then there were dissenting virologists who predicted the failure of mass vaccination that we are seeing now. The vaccines lowered mortality rates for the most vulnerable, but it has become clear that there will be no “zero covid” world. The promoters of the vaccines are backpedaling now and saying they never said or implied there would be.

The dissenting scientists told us that corona viruses evolve into new variants that evade a vaccines’ power to give lasting immunity. They are not stable viruses like polio and smallpox that can be targeted easily with a vaccine. Unlike corona viruses, they do not persist after vaccination programs in animal reservoirs. We were able to eradicate these human diseases because the viruses were stable and there was no animal reservoir for the virus to hide in.

In the summer of 2021, it is unclear whether the vaccinated or the unvaccinated make up more of the patients suffering from severe delta variant infections, and it is unclear which group spreads the variant or which has been the reservoir for new variants to evolve in—and no one mentions the inconvenient fact that there are huge reservoirs of the virus in animals.[2] We could blame the animals, but it seems what is wanted now is subgroup of unclean people to blame for things not working out as expected.

It is unclear whether vaccinating young people and the previously infected provide a benefit to these groups that outweighs the risk, or whether vaccinating them benefits the general population. But the lack of clarity makes no difference. Something must be done, and the vaccinated majority has found a convenient minority to blame for the error of having a misplaced faith in the power of the vaccine to end the pandemic. Their impatient demand for quick solutions made them easy to deceive, and now their disappointment is immense. Meanwhile, there has been so little attention paid to the most effective way to respond to the pandemic—early treatment of patients to prevent the deadly inflammatory responses that occur in the second stage of the infection.      

The theme discussed here was elaborated very well by Charles Eisenstein in an essay that should be read by everyone who has been slow to realize the age of terror that is settling upon us like a soft poisonous fog. Excerpts below:

Excerpts from Mob Morality and the Unvaxxed by Charles Eisenstein, 2021/08/02

Rene Girard… believed that human sacrifice arose in response to what he called a “sacrificial crisis.” The original sacrificial crisis—the greatest threat to early societies—was escalating cycles of violence and retribution. The solution was to redirect the vengeance away from each other and, in violent unanimity, toward a scapegoat or class of scapegoats. Once established, this pattern was memorialized in myth and ritual, [and] applied preemptively as human sacrifice…

[Capital punishment] performs the same function: to forestall reciprocal violence through unanimous violence. It does so by monopolizing vengeance, truncating the cycle of retaliatory violence at the first iteration. This works whether the subject of execution or incarceration is guilty of a crime or not…

what we rationalize in the language of justice and deterrence is actually a blood ritual… Ritual springs up irrepressibly around executions: the last meal, the “dead man walking” to the special execution chamber, the witnesses, the medical procedures, the presiding physician, the signed papers, the last rites…

… legal scholar Roberta Harding offers several examples from the deep South during Jim Crow where judge, jury, and prosecutor well knew that the accused black man was innocent of the charge of raping a white woman. However, because the white supremacist social order was threatened by consensual interracial intercourse, they executed the accused anyway; if they failed to do so promptly, he was lynched. Partly this was to set an example and terrify the black population, but partly it was because something had to be done…

Not just any victim will do as an object of human sacrifice. Victims must be, as Harding puts it, “in, but not of, the society.” That is why, during the Black Death, mobs roamed about murdering Jews for “poisoning the wells.” The entire Jewish population of Basel was burned alive, a scene repeated throughout Western Europe. Yet this was not mainly the result of preexisting virulent hatred of Jews waiting for an excuse to erupt; it was that victims were needed to release social tension, and hatred, an instrument of that release, coalesced opportunistically on the Jews. They qualified as victims because of their in-but-not-of status…

Scapegoats needn’t be guilty, but they must be marginal, outcasts, heretics, taboo-breakers, or infidels of one kind or another. If they are too alien, they will be unsuitable as transfer objects of in-group aggression. Neither can they be full members of society, lest cycles of vengeance ensue. If they are not already marginal, they must be made so…

defying left-right categorization is a promising new scapegoat class, the heretics of our time: the anti-vaxxers. As a readily identifiable subpopulation, they are ideal candidates for scapegoating.

It matters little whether any of these pose a real threat to society. As with the subjects of criminal justice, their guilt is irrelevant to the project of restoring order through blood sacrifice (or expulsion from the community by incarceration or, in more tepid but possibly prefigurative form, through “canceling”). All that is necessary is that the dehumanized class arouse the blind indignation and rage necessary to incite a paroxysm of unifying violence. More relevant to current times, this primal mob energy can be harnessed toward fascistic political ends…

This program is well underway toward the Covid-unvaxxed, who are being portrayed as walking cesspools of germs who might contaminate the Sanctified Brethren (the vaccinated). My wife perused an acupuncture Facebook page today (which one would expect to be skeptical of mainstream medicine) where someone asked, “What is the word that comes to mind to describe unvaccinated people?” The responses were things like “filth,” “assholes,” and “death-eaters.” This is precisely the dehumanization necessary to prepare a class of people for cleansing.

Coincidentally, the American filmmaker Jordan Peele explored the theme of sacrifice in a film that confronted American audiences just before the pandemic hit and drove society into its current madness over the next eighteen months. People who know Jordan Peele as part of the comedy duo Key and Peele know that he is a satirical genius who can tap into many of his country’s dialects, subcultures, and entertainment tropes. As an auteur in the horror genre of film (Get Out and Us), he has proved adept at infusing every moment of tension with satirical social commentary.

In Us there is an underground nation that is home to the doppelgangers of every citizen living above ground. The doppelgangers are called the Tethered. They live deprived of the freedom and comforts of their fellows above ground. By having a mixed-race cast of bourgeois, upwardly striving Americans, Jordan Peele makes it clear this is not a simple tale of race relations. It’s about class and privilege within the country and the privileged position of the US (“Us”) in the world. He stated that in the film coincidences appear more frequently as the time of a great disruption approaches, and coincidentally his film appeared in 2019 just months before the pandemic. Unlike many directors who choose not to explain their films, in the commentary he produced for the film, he told us explicitly what he intended to convey.  

 

“There’s a family in our driveway.” Us (2019)

Jordan Peele Gives Us a Glimpse into Us

She who lives above: “Who are you people?”

She who lived below: “We’re Americans.”

One of the central themes in Us is that we can do a good job collectively of ignoring the ramifications of privilege. I think it’s in the idea that what we feel like we deserve comes at the expense of someone else’s freedom or joy. The biggest disservice we can do as a faction with a collective privilege, like the United States, is to presume that we deserve it, that it isn’t luck that has us born where we are born. For us to have our privilege, someone suffers. That’s where the tethered connection resonates the most. Those who suffer and those who prosper are two sides of the same coin. You can never forget that we have to fight for the less fortunate.

I thought to put the Hands Across America event [1986/05/26] in this film as an example of this American duality. Here you have this event. On the one hand, it’s a beautiful thing, right? We’re all going to get together. We’re going to hold hands, and somehow that’s going to cure hunger. It was the illusion that we are contributing to something that actually is making change as opposed to something that kind of makes us feel better and absolves us of our responsibility to enact actual change…

The animals in my stories represent this battle between science and religion for me. I tend to like to explore the gray area where religion and magic and the unexplainable meet science. Between the two you have an abomination, a metaphor for humanity. One of the motifs of this movie is the rabbits. They symbolize a lot of different things. The main connection to me was Easter. This story is a dark Easter of sorts. Red is the messiah who is rising from the hole where she was left for dead. The deer I used in Get Out, and the rabbits I used here, are woodland animals where there is something wild and unbridled behind their eyes, but there is also a distinct lack of what makes a human.

Part of what makes a human being a human being is that we value our family more than the one across the street. We can’t be beings of good exclusively when, in our DNA, we have this idea of tribalism. That’s at odds with any attempt to paint ourselves as inherently good beings. We’re animals. We were built a certain way by evolution. These things are in our DNA for survival. And right there, in the notion of good and evil versus the notion of what we are for survival, is right where this idea of science and religion meet. And the human monster is the abomination in the middle.

In this movie, there is the idea of coincidence. You can look at the event that is the creation of the Tethered, sort of as creating a rift in the fabric of the universe. As they get closer, coincidences pop up. Part of it, to me, is what we’re ready to see and our hunger to connect the dots, but to suggest that when you have one of those small connections that seems perfectly serendipitous, it might not be. It might be more.

Religion is scary to me. There is an “us” tied into the fabric of most religions. The connection to Jeremiah 11:11* represents Red’s voice, this war cry of sorts. Pluto, Jason’s doppelganger backs into the fire with his arms stretched out sort of in the crucifix position. And Red names her family. [Her husband is] Abraham. She chooses that name because as a seven-year-old child she learned was the great emancipator. And that’s kind of her family’s role to be this sort of royal family in a demonstration of freedom and emancipation. Obviously, there’s a biblical connection there, too.

There is this expanding idea of what the word “us” means. “Us” can mean many different things. The only thing consistent about the idea of “us” is that when you have an “us” you have a “them”. Every one of us and our doppelgangers share a soul. We have a faded connection that isn’t always exact. I described it as being a sort of poetic connection. Fate and the magic of the soul don’t work in a sort of scientifically dependable way, which is why the underpass as a concept didn’t work for the creators.

I think all great horror has a social message of some sort. When it works, it’s because it’s tapping into something that we’re suppressing, as a society, as individuals. Horror is often grounded, which is the way I love to do comedy as well. It allows something crazy to be going on, but you try to marry it with reality. So that’s really what I’m going for here. I have a definite world of symbols that I’m exploring and trying to say with this film things relating to our duality as human beings, the guilt and the sins that we bury deep within ourselves.[3]

*Jeremiah 11:8, 11

“They did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep… I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.”

Notes


[1] Megan Redshaw, “VAERS Latest Data Include 2 New Reports of Teen Deaths Following COVID Vaccine, as Total Reports of Deaths Exceed 12,000,” The Defender, Children’s Health Defense, August 2021.

[2] Dina Fine Maron, “Wild U.S. deer found with coronavirus antibodies,” National Geographic, August 3, 2021. Large reservoirs of the Sars-Cov-2 virus have also been found to exist on domestic mink farms in Europe.

[3] Jordan Peele, Us, director’s commentary, DVD, 2019, Universal Studios, 2019.