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Sacrifici umani

Peter Leeson ne suo saggio “Human Sacrifice” elabora e verifica una teoria del sacrificio umano come pratica razionale.

Ecco la tesi:

… I argue that human sacrifice is a technology for protecting property rights. It improves property protection by destroying part of sacrificing communities’ wealth, which depresses the expected payoff of plundering them… immolating a live person is nearly impossible to fake… it overcomes public good problem by presenting as a religious obligation…

Sarebbe quindi un modo per rendersi vittime meno appetibili in un ambiente altamente ostile.

E in effetti la pratica del sacrificio alligna laddove i conflitti sono frequenti.

… “here we find a warlike ferocious race, delighting in cruelty and devastation, we may be assured that they will have deities delighting in slaughter, and rites polluted with blood.”…

Si tratta di un’idea originale poiché di solito questa istituzione è citata a supporto dell’irrazionalità umana.

… human sacrifice in support of behavioralist doubts about the canonical rendition of “economic man”…

La teoria ci dice molto anche sulle origini della povertà volontaria, un fenomeno ben conosciuto anche da noi cattolici:

… My theory builds on Allen (2002) who introduced the idea that lowering an asset’s gross value might sometimes be a sensible way to improve its enforcement… If conflict’s cost is sufficiently high, it is cheaper for communities to protect their property rights by destroying part of their wealth

Il fenomeno non è sconosciuto nemmeno ai giorni nostri:

… it helps explain why some persons who live in unsafe neighborhoods drive cheaper cars than persons with similar incomes who live in safer ones…

Ma spiega anche altri fenomeni storici:

… why persons in ancient societies expended inordinate resources building monumental tombs, such as pyramids; and why these same persons buried their most valuable goods with the dead…

In alcune società la povertà volontaria sembra avere la medesima funzione postulata dalla teoria di Leeson:

Zomia people of Southeast Asia who choose to live at near subsistence levels. Gypsies, who have traditionally prevented themselves from accumulating greater wealth by refusing even basic literacy, might exemplify such a group too.  So may the members of ascetic groups, such as monks, who take vows of poverty, or the Jewish Essenes, who, famously, lived in voluntary destitution for centuries… what distinguishes them from others may not be different preferences for material wealth…

Molti sacrifici umani restano comunque esclusi dall’analisi, penso agli Atzechi:

… The Aztec’s sacrificial victims were overwhelming one of two sorts: captured enemy soldiers and criminals. Here human sacrifice was little more than capital punishment…

Dobbiamo tenere conto del fatto che il sacrificio umano è un fenomeno altamente spettacolare e quindi genera un messaggio pubblico potente:

… human sacrifice is spectacular, communicating a sacrificing community’s wealth destruction far and wide…

Inoltre, è un atto che risulta difficile da falsificare:

… unlike burning a mound of crops, which can be manipulated to appear to destroy more wealth than is in fact destroyed, immolating a live human is nearly impossible to fake

La condizione essenziale che valida la teoria è che il sacrificio umano deve distruggere una quota cospicua di ricchezza comune:

Purchasing innocent humans with valuable property, such as part of a community’s land or that land’s output, and then slaughtering them accomplishes this…

Inoltre, per comprensibili motivi, chi vende la vittima deve essere un outsider rispetto alla comunità che sacrifica:

… Sacrificed humans must be purchased from outsiders… only persons who lie outside the society the community inhabits will be willing to sell it victims for immolation…

Inoltre, la frequenza dei sacrifici deve correlarsi con l’abbondanza dei raccolti:

… my theory also suggests that when relatively favorable agricultural shocks are stronger— i.e., produce relatively more output— communities should destroy more wealth and thus should sacrifice more innocents…

Per verificare l’esistenza di queste condizioni Leeson analizza nel dettaglio le abitudini dei Kond, una popolazione indiana formata da tante tribù sempre in lotta tra loro nel XIX secolo, vivevano nei dintorni collinari al limite della regione bengalese. I Kond con un magro raccolto non si peritavano di assalire e saccheggiare le tribù Kond loro vicine. Il compito poi è facilitato dai precisi resoconti del colonnello Macpherson che per conto della Compagnia delle Indie inseguì fin laggiù un Marajà che aveva evaso il tributo agli inglesi.

Kond communities sacrificed humans. Their victims were called meriahs. Konds purchased these persons from meriah sellers called Doms (or Pans) who I discuss in Section 4.16 In principle meriahs could be persons of any age, sex, race, or caste. In practice they were nearly always non-Konds…

Innanzitutto, si riscontra la chiara “pubblicità” dell’evento:

… Sacrifice was “celebrated as a public oblation … both at social festivals held periodically, and when special occasions demand[ ed] extraordinary propitiations”… These festivals’ main event was the immolation itself, which took place on the party’s third day. On this day the sponsoring Kond village’s head brought the meriah, intoxicated with alcohol or opium, to a spot previously appointed for the sacrifice… In some cases the victim’s arms and legs were broken to prevent his motion. After this and some final prayers, the priest gave the word, and “the crowd throws itself upon the sacrifice and strips the flesh from the bones, leaving untouched the head and intestines”… Wealth Destruction is Public and Verifiable…

Poi si riscontra che la vittima è acquistata a peso d’oro dalla comunità:

… According to Kond belief, “To be acceptable to Tari a victim had to be purchased” by a sacrificing community… In slaughtering meriahs, communities destroyed the valuable property they exchanged for them… A life consisted of property such as “a bullock, a buffalo, goat, a pig or fowl, a bag of grain, or a set of brass pots…. A hundred lives, on average… consist[ ing] of ten bullocks, ten buffaloes, ten sacks of corn, ten sets of brass pots, twenty sheep, ten pigs, and thirty fowls” (Macpherson, 1865, p. 64)… This constituted a “very great expense attendant upon procuring the victims”

C’è una chiara relazione tra i tempi del sacrificio dell’innocente e il ciclo stagionale:

… By sacrificing humans between the sewing and harvesting of crops, Kond communities destroyed wealth preemptively. Communities did not learn their natureassigned output values, and so could not sensibly choose whether or not to aggress against their neighbors’ property…

Ecco una difficoltà: è facile sapere del sacrificio ma come sapere dell’acquisto della vittima?

… How could immolation-festival attendees, and thus those who heard about such festivals second-hand, be sure that the victim a community immolated was a purchased victim?…

La comunità fa di tutto per pubblicizzare l’acquisto.

…Kond communities ensured others that the meriahs [è il nome dato alle vittime]… they sacrificed were purchased by leveraging the persons who sold them meriahs…

Aiuta il fatto che esisteva una specie di borsa degli “agnelli sacrificali” cosicché è possibile dedurre la spesa affrontata dalla comunità (d’altronde i possibili predatori sono sempre Kond, ovvero tribù a loro volta acquirenti di vittime sacrificali e quindi conoscitori dei prezzi):

… Knowing a meriah had been purchased was not the same as knowing how much that meriah had been purchased… First, as themselves buyers in the meriah market, communities knew the approximate price of a meriah… there was “a fixed price for each person” set by custom

L’acquisti e il sacrificio era un bene pubblico. Per incentivare la colletta è lecito attendersi che queste operazioni ricadessero tra gli obblighi religiosi. E così era anche per i Kond.

… Konds’ solution to this problem was the second means they employed to overcome the collectiveaction problem that threatened their ability to use wealth destruction to protect property rights: human sacrifice was rendered a religious obligation

Abbiamo visto che i venditori dovevano venire da fuori (affinché la ricchezza uscisse realmente dalla disponibilità della comunità). La storia dei Kond conferma.

… Kond communities purchased meriahs from the members of an untouchable caste called Doms (or Pans)… The meriah trade was simple. Doms “purchase[ d] them without difficulty on false pretenses, or kidnap[ ped] them from the poorer classes of Hindus in the low country” (C.R., 1846a, p. 61). 22 Having done so, they traded their human victims to Kond communities in the hill tracts for wealth in the forms described earlier… Because these Doms lived outside Kond society, when they received Kond wealth in exchange for meriahs, that wealth exited Kond society with them…

La teoria prevede anche la fine di queste orribili pratiche, e la vicenda dei Kond si uniforma a questa previsione:

… Human Sacrifice Ends when Government Protects Property Rights… Kond communities should have ceased to sacrifice humans when government became available to them to protect their property rights…

Prima, gli inglesi ci provarono con le buone (educare) e con le cattive (obbligare) ma fu un fallimento:

… threatening the Konds with violent punishments if they refused to abandon human sacrifice, and attempting to reason with the Konds by “educating” them about the barbarity of the practice and the scientific baselessness of their belief in the necessity of satisfying an earth goddess with the blood…

Solo la difesa dai saccheggi esterni ebbe effetto, e la teoria del sacrificio umano illumina sul perché.

COMMENTO PERSONALE

Idee stimolanti, prima ancora che per capire l’origine dei sacrifici umani per comprendere una delle origini storiche del sentimento pauperista.

sacrificio umano

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