The Legitimate Scapegoat

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Colonisation has had an everlasting effect on world politics, effecting some nations more than others. This is why people often think of the world divided between the global north and the global south. North comprising of Europe, North America and most of Asia. The South containing the entirety of Africa, South America, the Caribbeans and various other islands in the Pacific.

The countries abiding in the north are typically wealthier, more stable nations. What we would refer to as first world or developed countries. Countries in the south however are typically seen as poorer nations, with third world standards of living and often times plagued by corruption and violence.

I’m not a fan of seeing the world like this, cause, y’know…Australia. It’s kind of like how when we talk about the West, but we really just mean “White People” and not even all white people. When we talk about the West we don’t refer to Russia, so what the hell do we even mean by it?

I don’t know. The conversation can at times be irksome, but dialogue is important and that’s why today I wanted to address some trend in world politics I’ve found particularly troubling.

In the bible, a scapegoat is an animal that has been ritually burdened with the sins of others, then cast away into the wilderness. The concept was introduced in Leviticus, but there’s evidence to suggest that the practice dates as far back to the kingdom of Ebba in Syria and even the Ancient Greeks.

More recently the term has changed it’s designation from referring to an animal to a person, more specifically a community of people. It can refer to an ethnic minority group such as black or Asian people in the west to immigrants and the LGBT community. Basically, whoever the majority fears or does not understand will get blamed for the nations problems.

An example of this can be seen in how the British right wing try to blame the failings of the NHS on immigrants. Which of course is incorrect. There is no correlation to suggest that an increased immigrant population detracts from the quality of healthcare provisions. In fact immigrants use healthcare provisions less than native citizens, because they’re typically younger and healthier.

The reason the NHS is going through such turmoil now is because of severe under-funding and staff shortages. All of which will get a lot worse when thousands of EU NHS workers will be forced to migrate back home as soon as Brexit happens- but we’ll talk more about that another time.

A scapegoat acts as a means for the powerful to place blame upon the powerless, the most vulnerable. All so they can avoid the consequences of their own actions. But in some nations, particularly developing countries, the powerful seem to place blame on the powerful.

You can see this in how Hugo Chavez and Nicolos Maduro use anti-American rhetoric to coerce the people of Venezuela (Chavez being one of the few world leaders to condemn the assassination of Osama Bin Laden) the rhetoric is especially effective due to Latin Americas shaky history with the US. The latter being responsible for the instalment of several fascist regimes and the millions of deaths that followed. Even in Venezuela, where they had a role in the 2002 failed coup to oust Chavez.

You’ll see a lot of Middle Eastern and Asian countries talk a lot of shit about America, often times their leaders will directly blame the US’ influence for their problems. You can see that in North Korea. But it doesn’t just have to refer to an imperial power, it can be referred to a community that has persecuted you.

An example of that can be seen by the ANC in South Africa issuing policies that will reclaim land from white farmers. Often times you can see the ANC blame all the nations problems on the white community, however other parties have pointed out that the nations issues are a result of the government’s corruption and incompetence.

What we’re seeing around the world is a common trend of powerful people who belong to a previously persecuted or colonised community placing blame on a former persecutor or coloniser. While they may be at fault in many other situations, this one is not their doing.

It’s not the USA’s fault that people are starving in Venezuela, nor is it the white communities fault for the current ails of South Africa. But it’s harder to shake the blame off these people because they have previously done great harm. There’s some legitimate anger there, authentic pain. A powerful weapon that can be utilised effectively in the world of politics; a legitimate scapegoat.

Because while immigrants have done nothing but help a nation, you can’t say the same about colonisers. Even when they have done nothing wrong in this given situation, it’s immensely difficult to shake off that prejudice.

But you’re going to have to. Because as trends go, this is one of the more concerning ones. Not only do you have to keep an eye on powerful people, you now have to keep an eye on the right powerful people.

 

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