Girard and the Cathedral analysis

At root, the Cathedral concept is an attempt to articulate the behavior of crowds, individuals and groups in relation to power incentives and logical imperatives of their positions within society. The concepts is perpetually misunderstood by those who see it as a scapegoat mechanism in competition with other scapegoat mechanisms, but this is understandable. The concept also faces risk through the application of Liberal, or rather Rationalist conceptions of anthropology, as demonstrated in the form of such things as social contract theory and modern economic theory.

The work of Rene Girard has recently come into my focus, and it’s applicability to Cathedral analysis is quite extraordinary. For those unfamiliar with Girard, the central thesis of his works appears to be that human society prior to Christianity operated on a sacrificial basis to maintain large scale societies. The sacrificial system operated in such a way as to redirect all interpersonal mimetic conflict onto a single victim which had a cathartic effect on society, allowing a form of social bonding to occur. This premise is based upon the massively valuable insight that desire is mimetic, and not internally generated.We take our desires from others – this is as far from the base of Rationalism and Liberalism as is possible.

Girard exegesis of the bible, and in particular the Passion, is that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is an exposure of the nature of this sacrificial mechanism; and a rejection of it.This makes the Passion, and the Bible in which this rejection of the sacrificial victim of Paganism is repeated, a work of eminently valuable anthropology. The Bible thus demonstrates an understanding of humans that is exceptional. It also indicates that the Bible has been largely misunderstood for a long time – it is concerned with human anthropology and the actions of crowds, and societal formation.

The ramifications of these observations from the angle of the Cathedral analysis are that, as noted by Girard, society has reverted to a Pagan state in which care is not taken to reject the scapegoat mechanism, it is instead embraced, and a look at political theory will confirm this. One egregrious example of this can be seen in the work of Schmitt (who had a tendency of making Liberalism explicit,) and it is no wonder Girard trained his criticism on the Nazi regimes, Communist regimes and the Liberal regimes. Schmitt’s Concept of the Political is surely, if nothing else, the scapegoat mechanism with the enemy as the designated scapegoat which maintains the coherence of society against it.It is an example of what I believe Girard would note is Liberalism Pagan nature from a Girardian perspective (and do note, that Schmitt’s theory derives from Hobbes, so is very much within the Liberal scope.)

This scapegoat mechanism as a means of group coherence takes on added relevance when the analysis of De Jouvenel is put back into the Cathedral analysis from which it has been kept out for too long. What is the coherence of the left but as mass of people centered around the continual scapegoating of order and those who represent order? this is the central organizing principle of the high-low mechanism which binds the high and the low in union. “Racism,” proscriptions, duties, and now in a final act – Christianity in the form of rejection of the sacrificial mechanism. This mechanism has no rational actors who can stop it now, there is only power when you are part of the mob heaping stones at order, you go to the other side and receive the stones if you try to reverse course.

This final inversion of the care for the victim that is central to the Girardian interpretation of Christianity is an utterly delicious irony, and is a logical conclusion of the Phariseeism that is ingrained within the High-low mechanism. It is perpetual revolution held together by “being against” the enemy. It is a formidable distributed conspiracy, and the Cathedral analysis is a formidable criticism of mass movement mindless pagan Liberalism.

Those who think Liberalism can be redirected and salvaged in some form, fail to understand the fundamental problem of Liberalism – it has no coherent capability for rational actors to act in a multi-directional way – it is a ratchet. The only way forward is to conceive of some way in which Liberalism is removed root and branch, and a sovereign organisation is instituted that is built to manage human nature and societies with an understanding of human anthropology which Liberalism categorically does not possess. Moldbug was working towards that with the Patchwork conception which is utterly dependent on the sovereign entities being based upon a total rejection of mass movement politics and Liberalism. It has serious flaws, not least of which is the lingering Liberal influence, which is likely why we hear little more of it post 2009, but it was a start.