“At all costs, never disturb our innocence.” - Arthur Miller
"Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual." - Wikipedia
I have been interested in human sacrifice for a long time, perhaps 15 years if not a little longer. Why I am like this I have no idea.
But I do know that all human sacrifice is also a fertility rite (the ancient Greeks noticed that with their god Dionysus – who for all practical purposes still exists and is still worshiped - who isn’t the god of drunken partying but of tearing people to shreds in orgiastic rioting). The most famous story about human sacrifice is Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” which involved stoning innocent people to death.
Human sacrifices are always considered guilty, and being guilty they deserve to be sacrificed.
It’s a bit different in war. The enemy who is sacrificed is always considered guilty and so deserves what happens to them no matter how hideous. (And these sacrifices are done by the rulers to consolidate their power.)
On the other hand, our soldiers are also human sacrificed, but they are idealized. You know, they made the “ultimate sacrifice,” no matter how hideously they are wounded or killed.
The enemy is always considered evil and always deserves to be sacrificed. Our soldiers are also sacrificed but they are considered good.
I’ve used this quote from Mircea Eliade before: "Since 'our world' is a cosmos, any attack from without threatens to turn it into chaos. And as 'our world' was founded by imitating the paradigmatic work of the gods, the cosmogony, so the enemies who attack it are assimilated to the enemies of the gods, the demons, and especially to the archdemon, the primordial dragon conquered by the gods at the beginning of time. An attack on 'our world' is equivalent to an act of revenge by the mythical dragon, who rebels against the work of the gods, the cosmos, and struggles to annihilate it. 'Our' enemies belong to the powers of chaos. Any destruction of a city is equivalent to a retrogression to chaos. Any victory over the attackers reiterates the paradigmatic victory of the gods over the dragon (that is, over chaos)."
What Eliade is writing about is the archetype of the horror story: good attacked by evil. The sacred "Homeland" under assault by fanatical, insane, evil mass murderers who will stop at nothing in their desire to destroy and conquer us. Heaven under attack by Satan. It's an old, apparently instinctive archetype and many, many people fall for it. Always have, and always will.
This is why “enemies” are always portrayed as homicidal maniacs bent on death and destruction. Monsters. So they have to be sacrificed in a fertility rite to save and renew our society, the way Aztecs ripped the hearts out of tens of thousands of living people so the sun wouldn’t stop in the sky (Mel Gibson portrayed that graphically in his movie, Apocalypto).
You might also want to watch the impressive The Cabin in the Woods, where every year several teenagers are sacrificed horribly (killed by monsters) to keep ancient gods asleep under the earth so they don’t awake and destroy the world.
We look to the past and wonder why babies were rolled into the fire-filled stone belly of Moloch (burnt offering is what “Holocaust” really means, as in the movie The Wicker Man), but is that any different than burning children alive with napalm in Vietnam, or in a firestorm in Dresden, or blowing them to pieces in Iraq and Afghanistan? (Except that we have advanced technology.) It’s always to save our society from that primordial dragon - chaos.
The late Rene Girard advanced the thesis that until the time of Jesus all sacrifices were considered guilty but his death was supposed to put an end to that since he was innocent. Unfortunately it didn’t exactly work because even today human sacrifices are considered evil guilty monsters and so deserve to be sacrificed.
I have no use whatsoever for religions such as Judaism and Islam because both still believe in sacrificing people to their tribal war gods.
Christianity was supposed to stop this sacrificing thousands of years ago but even today it hasn’t achieved that feat – it still believes in human sacrifice. Instead what we get is people using God’s name in vain – and the correct translation is for “vain causes.”
People should at least admit they’re still worshiping Dionysus but they don’t, as Miller suggested, want their innocence disturbed.
Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” – George Orwell
"This all raises the question of whether or not war itself is considered a sacrificial rite by the elite, who, along with their families, frequently escape such deadly ritual." - Acharya S.