The term human sacrifice conjures for many in western society exotic rituals from the South Americas, Africa, or Polynesia. Bodies tumbling down ziggurats, bodies tumbling into volcanoes, bodies tumbling from pyres, are probably what many consider human sacrifice. Blood ritual in western society amounts to fetishization of sensational scenes from non-western cultures. Something to gawk about while congratulating each other on enlightened western civilization moving past such barbarity.
However, this view is backward, because most human sacrifice has not been carved out hearts offered to gods of the distant past. Human sacrifice happens daily. In America the blood rituals have become more abstract. More likely to be performed by sons and daughters of the elite, educated in the ivy league, than a gore soaked priest. More likely to be done in service of corporations pulverizing the labor and lands of the poor than in dedication to a traditional god.
Yet what happens in America is blood sacrifice all the same. If compared to all other human sacrifice, American blood ritual would sore past in death count by the millions. American blood ritual would weigh more heavily on the scale of devastation. The bones of genocide, two continents of stolen land, the world’s most despicable slavery trade, centuries of racial oppression, centuries of military colonialism, centuries of ironclad class stratification, it is all blood ritual.
White scholars and popular writers often speak of “human sacrifice” as if it were a practice confined to the Aztecs, Carthaginians, Pacific Islanders, or other non-European peoples. Since 1978, however, perhaps a quarter of a million Indian lives have been sacrificed in Central America for the sake of the social status and profits of wealthy people and corporations.
America is built on humanity cannibalizing itself. America is an eater of culture and land, grown fat by devouring other pieces of the body of humanity, grown fat by eating its own grandmother the earth. All this cannibalism is made possible by the myth that those outside of America are somehow inferior creatures. This myth of inferiority also applies to anyone inside America’s borders who has something America needs to exploit.
Like most abusers, the American myth tries to hide its violence behind excuses, behind a facade of faked goodness. The white savior industrial complex in Africa and elsewhere, the “freedom” bringing excursions to the middle east, missionaries funded for their cultural sabotage in South America — look past the whitewashed surface and you’ll find cannibals going about the work of American blood ritual.
We must no longer allow eurocentric scholars to define “human sacrifice” in such a manner as to lead us to believe that a priest in a weird costume must cut the heart out of a victim in order for the act of sacrifice to become human sacrifice. Quite the contrary, the greatest and most extensive acts of human sacrifice have been, or are being, carried out by secular forces acting within the framework of ideologies that justify the necessity of sacrificing human lives for some larger goal, be it the attempted Nazi conquest of the Soviet Union, the anti-communist crusade, the earlier Roman Catholic crusade to convert the America’s, or the capitalist’s demand for cheap raw materials and compliant economic fiefdoms. Perhaps most victims are now being sacrificed at the feet of the god “Profit”
“Profit” is a god whose altar stinks like a slaughterhouse from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the arctic to the south most tip of Chile. “Profit” slurps more oceans of blood than any god of the distant past ever did.
Despite its great military might, all the wealth, and stranglehold on the worlds forests, oceans, and plains, American cannibalism is a naked emperor. Despite all the justifications for pillaging the world, America is still human, not some half-divine thing granted the right to devour. So when I look on America, I do not see the indestructible juggernaut of money and power. I see a sad creature, tearing out its own eyes, ripping off its own fingers, eating its own heart. Because whatever delusional hubris America feeds itself about a right to dominate, America’s destiny is tied with the land, and with other human beings on the planet. All the carnage, all the war, the lopsided dealings, the meddling, the colonialism, it will hurt this country in the end. It will hurt as much as a man insisting on plucking out his own organs and eating them.
We live in a pyramid in America, a pyramid of human sacrifice. Through blood rituals, the top feeds on the middle, and all feed upon the bottom. The whole thing, this whole society, floats through history on a river of blood, a bed of crushed souls. If you live in America, look outside. All the land you see was obtained through genocide. All these products, the cars, the clothes, the computers, were likely made possible through the exploitation of someone. Everything we eat, from the vegetables to the hamburger, was brought about by suffering. The whole country from Portland to New York is unhappy, underpaid people, droning in a new age slavery for corporate profits. Coast to coast, its the same story. One class of people suffer so that another class of people can live easy. Nearly every single luxury we have in America needed the oppression of someone to be obtained and enjoyed.
Living in America, it is easy for those higher in the structure to miss these invisible pyramid walls, miss the roiling of blood spilled to make the American way of life possible. For us on the bottom floors, the blood of history still speaks to us, and pyramid walls are something we bash against everyday trying to get by in life.
(*Quotes from Jack Forbes, Columbus and Other Cannibals)