There are heretics hiding among us, spreading corruption and blaspheming the name of our Lord. We must cleanse ourselves of this blight.
There are witches in this town, cursing us and bringing the devil into our midst! We must find these witches and purge ourselves of these elements before they cast us all into sin!
The Jews have infested every facet of our society. They are leeching resources from honest Germans. It is necessary to cure ourselves of this disease.
Our entire way of life is threatened. There are communists operating at the highest levels of the government, and we must root them out.
The principles of human behavior really aren’t that complicated. There’s really nothing within human action that deviates from a few basic precepts. The same script plays out again and again and again and again.
Pattern recognition. Half of human understanding is pattern recognition. What are we to conclude of those who lack the basic ability to see the patterns that our lives follow?
It really is difficult to see the dignity and worth of each human being when so few of them seem to have even one of those things.
The way that the strong rule over the weak never changes. The way that the smart rule over the average never changes. The way that the powerful rule over the weak never changes. The way that the rich rule over the poor never changes.
The way that the moral guardians rule over those they claim authority over never changes. It matters not whether these guardians are self-appointed or not.
Moral panics never change. Moral panics are the same everywhere, done for the same reasons by the same types of people.
The people stirring up the moral panics don’t have to be wrong. Hell, most of them get at least a few basic facts correct. There were certainly communists in Hollywood and the government in the 1950’s. There were no doubt heretics in medieval Spain. There were certainly Jews in Germany, and Jews do tend to be economically successfully wherever they go.
Sometimes the people being purged are harmless. Sometimes they’re the ones running the show. Sometimes they don’t exist. None of this is actually relevant. The purpose of the moral panic is to precipitate a moral panic. The moral panic itself is just an excuse.
Nothing like a good moral panic to rile up the herd. Gets them all spooked and afraid and desperate for a leader like you who can calm them and show them the way out of the emotional wilds into which they have been plunged. Gets you status points. Allows you to show how dedicated you are to protecting others and keeping the herd safe. Gotta cast out the bad elements, don’t you know?
What’s that? Moral panics have a nasty habit of becoming vectors for their own pandemonium? No, that can’t be it. There are racists hiding here, don’t you know? If you don’t think this is problematic enough to drop everything and start lighting torches, you might be one of them. What’s that? This is getting out of control? Now I know you’re one of them! What do you mean this is going to come back to bite me one day? Nonsense! And who is this Robespierre asshole you keep bringing up?
A good purge is such a human constant you almost get the sense that the urge to do so is written into their DNA. Come to think of it, you’d probably have a more difficult time arguing that it isn’t.
I am generally of the idea that humans are going to have a purge sooner or later. Humans need their chaotic social frenzies the same way they need sex: it’s not absolutely necessary, but they tend to go a little off if they aren’t getting it. The pressure builds and builds and it really is better if you just let it out because not everyone can handle it and very few people can properly channel it into constructive avenues.
Imagine having a pet dog that is loyal and reliable, if a little dumb. Imagine that you love this dog, but that every once in a while it goes absolutely frothing mad and starts barking at everything and clawing at the walls and attacking your neighbor’s cat.
Well, fuck your neighbor’s cat. Your neighbor’s cat is probably an asshole, and hey, maybe this world would be a better place if it was gone. That doesn’t make any of this behavior any less disruptive, though, nor any less problematic.
What could you do with such a dog?
We do not have the choice to not have this dog. We are stuck with it. What we are left with is the burden of devising a plan to channel its impulses in such a way that they are minimally destructive.
How do you make the purge an effective ritual for dissipating their emotion urges without causing collateral damage? How could you time it so that it happens at a very particular time in controlled circumstances? Better yet, how could you set up a system that neutralizes panics before they begin while still granting people the release they need?
These are but a handful of the questions that need be asked in this realm. It is exceedingly difficult to know which questions are the right ones to ask. I cannot imagine how difficult it might be to find and implement the answers.