In this excellent five-part radio documentary series made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2011, IDEAS producer David Cayley introduces the thought of Rene Girard on the Scapegoat. The programmes feature interviews with Rene Girard, Paul Dumouchel, Jean-Michel Oughourlian and James Alison.
"Girard has demonstrated how the Gospel has definitively unveiled the Scapegoat Mechanism - the sacrificial system on which human society has been based. A system which demands the sacrifice of innocent victims. Now that it has been demystified, however, it has lost its ability to control human violence. This now presents humanity with a stark choice: either perish through increasingly uncontrollable violence or build a society based on love."
The CBC programme homepage can be found here or the five one-hour programmes can be listened to directly below.
Programme 1: Violence in Human Societies and How Religion Controls Violence Through Sacrifice.
Programme 2: The Breakdown of Sacrifice in the Ancient World and the Emergence of a New Approach to Social Order in the Hebrew Bible
Programme 3: The Gospel as an Intellectual Breakthrough in Human Culture The Definitive Revelation of the Scapegoat Mechanism.
Programme 4: The Innocence of the Victim: The Hidden Spell of Satan in the Scapegoat Mechanism Broken
Programme 5: Christianity: The Invisible Foundation of the Modern World A Christian Response to the Enlightenment, Nietzsche and Modern 'Political Correctness'
A hedgehog can burrow under fences and end up in very different places to which it started. Rene Girard, the French cultural critic, has been described as a 'hedgehog thinker' perhaps partly because like a hedgehog his work can burrow under fences and end up in very unusual places. Using Girard's work on scapegoating we would like to explore the connection between the 'scapegoat mechanism' and the Corrib Gas Dispute in the west coast of Ireland.
I just came across a series of interviews with Rene Girard recorded by Steven Berry which are worth a watch if you are a Girard fan and even if you're not. In the first video below Girard talks about the 10th Commandment as a miniature history of Mimetic Desire.
Below is a link to an article on the Raven Foundation website which does great work making the connections between Rene Girard's Mimetic Theory and everyday experience. The original story appeared on CNN about the scapegoating of an elderly bus monitor by 13-year-old children on the bus. A video of the incident subsequently appeared online. The Raven article explains that rather than these children being aberrant monsters it suggests they are in fact displaying a mob behaviour that all humanity is prone to and that even St.Augustine was aware of.
In a relatively short (about 36 minutes) interview with the influential French thinker Rene Girard, Peter Robinson from the Hoover Institution manages to cover much of the essential ground of Girard's work. At a time when religion in general has become increasingly unpopular Girard's work has helped rediscover the unique insights which the Gospels carry about humanity's dangerous propensity for violence but also how we can be saved from it. The topics covered are listed below.
1. Introduction. (0:00)
SEGMENT 1: INSIGHTS
2. 'Mimetic Desire' explained. (1:19)
3. How Mimetic Desire Leads to Confict. (3:38)
SEGMENT 2: THE SCAPEGOATING MECHANISM
4. The Scapegoating Mechanism. (7:37)
5. The Scapegoat in Mythology. (11:10)
SEGMENT 3: THE MYTH THAT HAPPENED
6. How Christianity Differs from Mythology. (13:57)
7. The Importance of Christianity. (17:50)
SEGMENT 4: RENE GIRARD AND THE MODERN WORLD
8. Analysing the Decline of Christianity. (20:19)
9. Differences Between Christianity and Islam. (22:47)