Enzensberger’s descriptions match up with what Rene Girard refers to as “mimetic desire”:

One great characteristic of man is what they [the authors of the modern theory of evolution] call neoteny, the fact that the human infant is born premature, with an open skull, no hair and a total inability to fend for himself. To keep it alive, therefore, there must be some form of cultural protection, because in the world of mammals, such infants would not survive, they would be destroyed. Therefore there is a reason to believe that in the later stages of human evolution, culture and nature are in constant interaction. The first stages of this interaction must occur prior to language, but they must include forms of sacrifice and prohibition that create a space of non-violence around the mother and the children which make it possible to reach still higher stages of human development. You can postulate as many such stages as are needed. Thus, you can have a transition between ethology and anthropology which removes, I think, all philosophical postulates. The discontinuities would never be of such a nature as to demand some kind of sudden intellectual illumination.

Wolfgang Palaver has applied the theory to Sender massacres directly. Writing in reference to the Montreal massacre, he suggests:

Girard’s mimetic theory helps us to explain the rise of violence in egalitarian and competitive societies. The more our pride and ambition forces us to be foremost the more likely it becomes that we will be defeated. Trying to be ahead of all the others forces us to turn them all into our rivals. We are never satisfied as long as there is anyone in front of us. Mimetic rivalry leads us to run those races which we cannot win and directs us towards insurmountable obstacles. The more we try to succeed the more we will increase the resistance against our claim. Resistance soon becomes the object of our quest itself and will lead to an idolization of violence. If only those objects are worth to fight for which we cannot get, we are easily led to the fatal conclusion that violence is the true God of the world. We seek defeat because it brings us closer to this God and we will also use violence ourselves because by imitating this God we hope we soon can become his equal. Mimetic desire has a tendency to fetishize violence and it would not be wrong to conclude that all anthropological and philosophical theories that result in an ontology of violence – like Hegel dialectics – are in fact worshiping this false God.

The false God is what Burroughs calls “the human virus.”


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