Ruling Classes Subjugate Opposition With Irrationality, Not Just Human Sacrifices (And Their Variants: Killings, Jihad, Signature Strikes).

Say you are a tyrant, You want Your rule as absolute as possible. You may have ecological problems, and you may need to decimate your subjects, or make them work harder. What is the best way to do this? Controlling your subjects’ minds, and not just with fear. Notice the sheep: they follow the pastor who milks them, and occasionally, cut their throats. What is the difference between flock and pastor? The pastor is much more clever, much more rational. The pastor is endowed with reason. Actually more than one. The pastor is full of reasons. The sheep is deprived of reason. Irrational. So, as a tyrant, irrationality you shall preach.

So how are you going to turn simple folks into a flock deprived of reason? Well, human sacrifices are a way to do this. Notice the king in the drawing below, sitting under an umbrella, just like a US president under his White House. A study published in Nature, in April 2016, explains that “Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies”.

Sacrifice Of The Annual Customs At Dahomey. Drawing By Foulquier, 1776. Engraving In “Le Tour Du Monde, 1865.”

Sacrifice Of The Annual Customs At Dahomey. Drawing By Foulquier, 1776. Engraving In “Le Tour Du Monde, 1865.”

The “Annual Customs” in Dahomey were also tax day for the free citizens of Dahomey (only war captives and criminals were sacrificed). The massive (several thousands) sacrifices stopped when the slave trade became too irresistibly profitable (the empire of Dahomey provided roughly 20% of the transatlantic slaves).

Honored European guests were allowed to attend the Annual Customs, as Dahomey had guns made locally, a professional army, and was perfectly capable of defending itself against the white man (as the British army found out, in Ashanti next door, suffering a terrible defeat where all soldiers were killed, but two, and the Anglo-Saxon commander was eaten, cooked like Cook).

But the outrages of superstitious religion go well beyond just roasting people alive, and are otherwise subtle in their deepest forms. The Bible evokes the Golden Calf, and rejects its cult. But that may have been a red herring. What upper classes need to rule best is for the lower classes to:


Adore irrationality, reject reason. Rejecting reason, makes one the master’s slave, because one becomes so stupid, one gets feeble-minded. Thus all enslaving religions trample reason, as reason is the weapon which could destroy them most. Reason, not love.

This is why all religions which help enforce plutocracy train their followers to obey senseless orders, such as not eating pig, crustacean, and only eating animals who were agitated by spasms, while experiencing anxiety and suffering as their throats were slit, etc.

Jared Diamond gives more examples in his book “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?”:

Virtually all religions hold some supernatural beliefs specific to that religion. That is, a religion’s adherents firmly hold beliefs that conflict with and cannot be confirmed by our experience of the natural world, and that appear implausible to people other than the adherents of that particular religion. For example, Hindus believe there is a monkey god who travels thousands of kilometers at a single somersault. Catholics believe a woman who had not yet been fertilized by a man became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, whose body eventually after his death was carried up to a place called heaven, often represented as being located in the sky. The Jewish faith believes that a supernatural being gave a chunk of desert in the Middle East to the being’s favorite people, as their home forever.”

One should not forget a Prophet (Muhammad) who flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse, before ascending to heavens, just like that other guy had done before. (Curious that Diamond forgot the founder of the second most major superstition.)

Superstitious religions sound very stupid, but the cult of unreason has its reasons that only the masters understand. Some of these orders are not just irrational, they are lethal: if they can claim you insult(ed) their little godly doggie god in the sky the excellent Judeo-Christiano-Muslim authorities could, or would outright order you killed.

Hence irrationality did not just rule, it killed, and demanded the utmost respect, doing so, lest it would have another irrational reason to kill you.

Let me insist: the very irrationality of religious commands enables the authorities to exert power whimsically. So it is the reign of Sharia, not Human Ethology (the later been approached by Roman law).

In the third century BCE, Chinese administrator Li Bing eliminated the sacrifice of young maidens to a river god during the conquest of Sichuan by the First Emperor. He called the bluff of a local racket in which families rid themselves of unwanted daughters while getting rich on the compensation they received. Thus “irrational” rituals bring all too rational, very prosaic gain.

Jared Diamond observes that embracing irrationality is the greatest divide between the fanatics and the rest (fanatics means: coming out of the FANUM, the temple):

“No other feature of religion creates a bigger divide between religious believers and modern secular people, to whom it staggers the imagination that anyone could entertain such beliefs. No other feature creates a bigger divide between believers in two different religions, each of whom firmly believes its own beliefs but considers it absurd that the other religion’s believers believe those other beliefs. Why, nevertheless, are supernatural beliefs such universal features of religions?”

As we just saw, “irrational” beliefs are something else reason to get ahead. Pure irrationality is rare. Searching the reasons behind apparent irrationality, what’s hiding in the Dark, oft reveals causality in full.

Jared Diamond rejects the explanation that believing in irrational things is just due to ignorance. Instead he views it as necessary for identifying in groups. There is no doubt that this is a factor. But one does not need sheer absurdities to identify in a group. Middle Age Muslims for example requested Jews and Christians to wear clothing which could identify them. So dressing in a special way can work.

In conclusion, Jared Diamond claims that “it’s irrational to be religious. Supernatural beliefs might not make sense, but they endure because they’re so emotionally satisfying.”

Well, sorry Jared, that’s mostly missing the point. There is a higher reason for imposing (the religion of) irrationality. The point is that irrationality makes people brainless, and thus easy to rule.

However, humans are naturally rational. So irrationality has to be taught, and preached. Some may sneer and ponder what’s in it for We The People. Why would We The People be so easily seduced by their own subjugation?

It is not as if the subjugation was a secret: Christianism brandishes “The Lord”, and compare people to “sheep” to be led (to slaughter?). Islam literally means: “submission”, from root of aslama “he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted.”

So what We The People get in exchange is… irrationality, a rest from the human condition. And just like the Lords themselves, brandishing irrationality to generate fear, cruelty, submission… We The People can do the same.

In almost all societies, killing “legally” within a tribe or clan is granted only to those with great authority. Thus ritual human sacrifice serves power structures—who sits at the top of the social hierarchy.

In a study published in Nature, Joseph Watts, a specialist in cultural evolution at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues analysed 93 traditional cultures in Austronesia (the region that embraces dozens of thousands of islands in the Pacific and Indonesia). The key was to analyze them before they were influenced by colonization and major world religions (generally in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).

Ethnographic records, show that the prevalence of sacrifice increased with increased social stratification: it occurred in 25% of cultures with little or no stratification, 37% of those with moderately stratified societies, and 67% of those with a pronounced hierarchy.

Mapping the evolutionary relationships between cultures, the researchers found that human sacrifice and social hierarchy co-evolved. Social stratification can change over time. However,  societies that practised human sacrifice were less apt to revert to milder degrees of stratification.

In other words, human sacrifice seems to bolster stratification: it helped to stabilize hierarchy, and conceivably, therefore, had a common role in the development of highly stratified societies that generally persist even today.

I hold that extremely lethal Jihadism is a form of human sacrifice, so this analysis carries to Literal Shia or Salafist Wahhabist Islam directly, and explained why these Muslim societies were unable to progress.

Human sacrifice is the privilege of priests or those who claim religious authority. Watts and colleagues say that this discloses a “Dark Side” to the social role of religion. (They have previously shown that belief in supernatural punishing agencies in Austronesian cultures encouraged moral observance, and thereby promoted the emergence of stratified, complex social structures).

Watts’s team reveals that human sacrifice wasn’t conducted for ostensibly religious reasons alone. Taboo violations, demoralization the underclasses, imposing class boundaries and instil fear of social elites, all build and maintain social control. In India, Untouchable touching higher caste individuals could suffer what are nowadays unimaginable punishments such as amputation, sitting in a red hot metal seat, etc.

Here is the conclusion of Watts and colleagues:

“Religion has long been proposed to play a functional role in society and is commonly claimed to underpin morality. Recent evolutionary theories of religion have focused on the potential of pro-social and moral religious beliefs to increase cooperation. Our findings suggest that religious rituals also played a darker role in the evolution of modern complex societies. In traditional Austronesian cultures there was substantial religious and political overlap, and ritualised human sacrifice may have been co-opted by elites as a

divinely sanctioned means of social control. The approach adopted in this paper demonstrates the way causal hypotheses about major transitions in human social organization can be tested by combining computational models and language phylogenies with a wealth of cultural and historical data. Unpalatable as it might be, our results suggest that ritual killing helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today.”

Say You are a tyrant, You want all to understand that Your rule is absolute, global as the plutocracy you lead with relish. So You order “Signature Strikes”, thus telling the world that any wedding You can kill, if such is Your good pleasure, as long as it happens in a far away land.

Were the killing by drones in “signature strikes” personally ordered by president Obama for all to see a form of ritual killing, of human sacrifices for all to see? Certainly. The scariest part is that ordering kills for all to see is something that even Chancellor-President Hitler, a solid reference for human sacrifices, was careful not to be associated to! This means that the Obama administration developed momentum to change the public’s mind about human sacrifice.

Human sacrifices violate human ethology, the evolution-given morality humans come equipped with. In the small groups in which humanity evolved for millions of years, human life was most precious, because the life of others was necessary to pursue one’s life.

So this means that the rise of civilization and its accompanying religions comprised a violation of human ethology.

The main theme of this essay is even more general: it considers not just the violation of evolution given morality, by “stratified societies”, but the violation of reason itself. Violating reason itself compounds the preceding moral problem: human ethology does not come just from “instincts” (whatever that means), but also from the usage of rationality (within a culture, or the individual).

The superstitious religions associated to the rise of demonic upper classes, plutocracy, have attacked reason itself. They are as inhuman as one can get, and survive. They enabled war maximally, annihilating their competition fully (although secular Rome and Literal Islam have unfinished business). Superstitious religions come short, for the future. Their carefully engineered irrationality and willingness to kill at the drop of a hat, will decapitate us, if we do not decapitate them first.

Make no mistake: irrationality has its uses, it allows to jump out of mental boxes. However, irrationality in a religion is different; it creates a common box, and create common, shared respect for irrational elements. Adoration for the Golden Calf is itself a particular case of irrationality. Making irrationality itself an object of adoration is a generalization of the cult of the Golden Calf, to the point of adoring the whims of the satanic masters themselves.

Collective adoration of senseless ways is collective adoration for the mania of the crowd, intellectual fascism at its worst. It’s a moral duty, moral from the ways of Homo, moral to go back to the free ways of our genus, which have made us what we are, the crown of the creation of reason, by enforcing reason, and not its exact opposite.

Patrice Ayme’

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  1. brodix Says:


    In ’96 Bob Dole had a campaign slogan, “We want you to keep more of your money in your pocket.” The thought that crossed my mind was, “Thank god it’s not my money, or it would be worthless.”

    The instinctive insight being that I’m not responsible for maintaining its value and I don’t hold any copyrights to it, so it is mine in the same sense the section of road I’m driving on is mine.

    Basically money functions as a social contract and medium of exchange, but it behooves the powers that be for people to think of it as private property, because then they will be much more attached to possessing it and treating their store of it as a personal temple. While sacrificing other assets, from time to personal relationships, to acquire it.

    Yet to the extent it serves as the medium holding society together, rather than organic trust and reciprocity, with everyone functioning as atomized individuals and reliant on that financial system, it allows the ones controlling it to extract value at a very granular level.

    Now does any economist ever take the time to point out that as a contract, every asset is effectively backed by a debt, usually drawn to the public account and that in order to create these enormous sums of notational value, equally enormous amounts of debt have to be generated, effectively mortgaging the very system presumably going to pay off these debts? No.

    It is much better that people think of money as personal property and experience it as quantified hope, thus worshiping those best at acquiring it, with billionaires as the current priestly caste.

    This bubble will pop too, but much of our lives are being conducted on the surface of that bubble and it will be a long way to fall to a more stable relationship with each other and nature.

    Life is waves and when it’s mostly foam and bubbles, you are at the crest.


    • John Rogers Says:

      Excellent. Thank you.
      And this is a good place to call up my favorite quote:

      “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”
      Alexis de Tocqueville
      letter to Ernest de Chabrol. June 9, 1831


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        ‘How much money will it bring in?’ worked, because the biggest question, the military question, defense, was solved by the US Cavalry. It was an ugly thing, mostly, and best, sights unseen.

        In Europe, defense (or attack) was always primary, because of the high density of population. That also brought other problems which civilization had to address, such as ecological problems: thus European cities were denser, to save arable land.

        Basically, the US was less civilized, from the simple mechanical reason that the reason for civilization is the polis, civitas. As the US spilled through the wastes of Americas, settlers settled in giant spaces, free of most constraints of civilization, except for a vague remembrance of the civilization they came from.


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        More friends moved, with children, 20 miles away, to suburbia: the American dream is to own a big house, a big commute, no roots, but money.


  2. dominique deux Says:

    Agree to all.

    Two observations, spurred by your Dahomey example.

    One – The picture is distinctly bowdlerized. Straightforward beheading? In fact the ritual human sacrifices in that part of Africa were an elaborate show of slow, horrendous torture and mutilation, much of it sexual, targeting breasts, genitals and orifices. The crowds loved it, like the Romans loved gladiator games, themselves ritual sacrifices at inception.

    Thus an addition to your essay: in addition to being terrifying and stressing the necessary rift between the unworthy and the worthy, rituals have to be entertaining.

    The beautiful hoard of superb sacred music in Western and especially Catholic tradition can be viewed in that light.

    Two – The weed of rationality is not easily uprooted, even after millenaries of enforcement of irrational oligarchic rule. Rogue individuals kept challenging the local dogma, way before the Enlightenment.

    A story that was told me in Africa as having really happened goes like this:

    There was a village, next to which sat a sacred forest.

    The village elders (aka the power structure) forbade trespassing in the forest, compelling villagers to walk kilometers to other sources of fuel wood and other forest products. They explained that irrational rule by saying there was a sacred pullet in the sacred forest. Merely glimpsing it was a sure sign of a swift death for the trespasser.

    A young man went to the assembly of elders, who were chewing the cud, as always, under a mango tree (they had lots of free time, as they cornered the wives market. Plutocracy takes many shapes). He respectfully asked if it was true that seeing the sacred pullet meant you’d promptly die.

    They shouted him down, reaffirming that obvious truth. “Why do you ask, you no-good boy?”

    “Well I did go to the forest” (gasps) “and I did see the sacred pullet, so I was wondering…” (nasty laughs)

    They gleefully assured him he’d die very soon. Surreptitious poisoning is another tool of power in those parts and in would serve in that case.

    “Then you’ll die too”, he said, opening his shoulder bag and throwing a bound pullet (coming from his own backyard) at their feet. “I ensnared it and brought it back for you to see.”

    I was not told the end of the story…


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique: Thanks. Correct, human sacrifices could be extremely gory. In the Pacific, the problem of preservation of the meat was solved, in some parts, by eating the victim progressively, over a period of weeks (the assassin of Orange in the Netherlands also went through progressive amputations and various deterioration over a period of 4 weeks, a month, in the 16C… So I am not trying to claim that the White Man was in any way inferior to the Black Man in this matter! ;-)).

      The case of the Annual Customs in Dahomey was special. I deliberately did not mention that, in its heyday, more than 10,000 were processed (because I did not want to sound exaggerated; I already took chances with Facebook, which has been known to close accounts for much less; the essay went to Facebook… Since the Guardian informed me that I was a Jihadist, thus censored, I am a bit leery; I self censored another reproduction by the Aztecs, earlier…). This is why they just decapitated, to go faster.


  3. Enslaved, But Saved? | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] truth we know that mass human sacrifices as happened during the “Grand Customs” in Dahomey were stopped, because the captives got sold as slaves instead of being chopped into bits. Instead of killing up […]


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