On violence and fratricide
December 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
In his Bloodlust Russell Jacoby takes an interesting angle on the issue of violence, one that is quite illuminative and pertinent. Rather than focusing on the different ways in which we exclude and attack the “other,” that which is foreign and different, Jacoby contends that most acts of violence can be traced back to different”narcissisms of minor differences.” It is the small divergences and disparities, Jacoby suggests, that “provoke greater hatred than do the large ones” (xiii), and it is in that sense that fratricide is to be seen as the true archetype of human violence. One only needs to look at different forms of ethnic strife , civil wars, church feuds, and instances of domestic violence to find at least some corroboration of that thesis. Jacoby writes:
“The killing of Abel by Cain has been called the first genocide. Half of mankind slays the other half. Several millennia later, not much has changed. Despite an ocean of words about violence – its origins, course, and prevention – something has gone virtually unrecognized: its primal form is fratricide. This observation contradicts both common sense and the collective wisdom of teachers and preachers, who declaim that we fear – and sometimes should fear – the ‘other,’ the dangerous stranger… The truth is more unsettling. It is not so much the unknown that threatens us but the known.”
+Russell Jacoby, Bloodlust, ix.