Thursday, September 13, 2012

moral outrage

As a rule, beliefs that feel good deserve the most skepticism. Humans will always believe the best story their cognitive dissonance can handle.

Victim's rage feels good. I don't mean victimization feels good, of course, I mean a response to it that doesn't accept blame feels good. Screaming, punching, reading blog rants, what have you.  

Whether one is actually a victim or not in the broadest sense has little or nothing to do with the feeling of rage at having been victimized. The (further) destruction of Afghanistan in response to 9/11 was a case of victim's rage, even as that rage ignored the broader context in which America is the greatest victimizer of its time. The point being that the feeling is essentially the same whether you've actually been victimized or not. If the technology were available, I suspect it would look the same, or almost, on a brainscan.

Victim's rage is a lashing out at the thing that caused pain. The concept of agency is a way to justify this rage, to put the victim in the right on some cosmic or metaphysical level. Agency is an act of imagination.

"He knew what he was doing. He hurt me because he wanted me to suffer. He chose to do it." This is eerily similar to the evildoing Muslims haunting American dreams. "They hate us for our freedoms. They want us to suffer for no good reason." The evil victimizer who wants you to suffer can be hated. The hurricane that destroyed your house cannot. Convenient.

At the very least, I think agency as an intellectual construct should be seen as secondary, as a justification.  

No comments: