Political history is a long history of destruction. It’s hard to study it and not come away ashamed to be human. Almost all the history we know is the history of POP Cults – patriarchies run by people-of-power for their own benefit with incomprehensible suffering among the lowest on the ladder.
The life-story of Guatama Siddharta, later known as the Buddha, really begins with the pivotal moment when he saw three forms of suffering – illness, old age and death. The sight was enough to send him out of civilization, to a wandering life of exile from the political world.
The suffering inflicted by nature compelled him to search for the truth of what it is to be human. It has nothing to do with society, civilization, politics. This search is really every one for her or himself.
I wonder, if he had seen instead the murder of a man, the rape of his wife, and the taking into slavery of his child, what his reaction would have been?
Can a person who has found something of truth turn away from the sufferings inflicted by society? Would the three principal kinds of suffering caused by POP Cult — murder, rape and enslavement — cease if POP Cult was itself destroyed? What would or could replace POP Cult?
Perhaps because they knew they would otherwise destroy each other, POP Cults instituted boundaries that protected each from each. I would call it a “gentleman’s agreement” except that there is nothing honourable about it. They gave each POP the right to do whatever he wanted within his own kingdom, whether that was a hovel containing only himself, his wife/wives and children, or many square miles occupied by millions of people.
No POP will trespass on another’s property unless he wants it for himself and is prepared to fight to the death for it.
So, for centuries men could beat, enslave and sell their family members with impunity. And for centuries rulers could beat, starve and kill their populace with impunity. No ruler would presume to act in any way that would stop the destruction.
POP Cults have regularly practiced genocide, seeing it as a solution to a problem. Absent some other human quality that we don’t really know how to name or define, genocide is a reasonable solution to a population problem. If a developer wants to develop a property site, the first thing he does is raze everything that’s already there. From the empty ground he can construct his new buildings without any obstacles. So, a national ruler, the head POP, might put up with people who are “other” on his property as long as they’re not in the way, but once he decides he needs more room, more opportunity, more money for his own sort, the most efficient solution is to exterminate the “other.”
Why do most of us find this so repulsive? What is it in us that revolts? Any words we might use have been so corrupted by other patriarchal institutions that have oppressed people as to be terribly suspect. Do we have a “soul”, that demands we not kill other humans? A “spirit”? Is it a matter of “heart”? Or is it some genetic, purely biological factor that works to prevent us from slaughtering our own, for the benefit of the species?
At last in western society the law has wriggled into the homes of men. Police can arrest and charge and convict a man for beating his wife, even if she refuses to cooperate. A man who murders his wife is not let off with a slap on the wrist because other men understand this “crime of passion.” Social workers can remove children from abusive homes. Children are no longer the private property of a single man, the one whose sperm went into their creation.
And what about genocide? Since the start of the twentieth century there have been many, beginning with the Turkish massacre of Armenians, continuing with the German massacres of Jews, Poles, homosexuals and Roma, then the massacre by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge of Muslims, Buddhist priests and anyone who wore glasses. Next were the murder of Tutsi in Africa , of Muslims in Yugoslavia, of Kurds in Iraq. Millions and millions of people slaughtered in a mere 100 years.
Is the ruler who does this the only perpetrator? What about all the other rulers who continue to trade with them, who take a ‘business as usual approach’, who continue meeting with them, who supply weapons to them?
International POP Cult is a boy’s club and all the rulers support each other regardless of what they do within their private kingdoms.
When Dylan Roofer in Charleston went into a church and shot 9 people, mostly older men and women, because they were “raping our women”, he was engaged in fantasy genocide, he was playing at being POP. And he was doing what POP tells men to do. Real men charge for the top because they deserve the top. Real men take because they have the right to whatever they want and because only inferiors ask. Real men destroy whatever is in their way to the top and all its entitlements.
Roofer was playing like almost every boy in America who plays with toy guns, who plays “cowboys and Indians”, playing at domination, murder and genocide. And he was playing like almost every boy in America who plays violent video games, slaughtering human images with gun images.
Of course Roofer took the fantasy play into the real world and killed real people with a real gun. But he’s only one out of thousands of boys who take the fantasies into the real world, trying to be men in a world where men are still taught to kill, rape and take.
Racism will only stop when patriarchy, with all of its fatal messaging, stops.
How can it end? And what can replace it?