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Obligatory Sacrifice and Imperial Projects (From State Crime in the Global Age, P 45-66, 2010, William J. Chambliss, Raymond Michalowski, and Ronald C. Kramer, eds. - See NCJ-230909)

NCJ Number
Frank Pearce
Date Published
22 pages
This chapter focuses on the role played by "sacrificial discourses and sacrificial practices in the organization of states and in the pursuit of their goals" as an aid in understanding the contemporary "American Imperium," using as an example the discourses and practices in the social organization of the 16th century Aztec empire.
The chapter develops the argument that successful imperialistic societies always impose great sacrifices, including death and physical injury, on the members of the societies that they dominate. In the process, however, they also sacrifice the lives and well-being of many of their own members. The chapter's major resource for theorizing about sacrifice is Emile Durkheim, who argues that sacrifice is integral to all human societies as a means of advancing their values and goals. This chapter notes that in an unequal and undemocratic society, the interests of the masses of the population will often be sacrificed to those of the privileged, who are intent on holding on to their wealth and power. One section of the chapter focuses on "sacrifice in the United States." This is followed by an overview of the role of sacrifice in Aztec society. The concluding section returns again to the role of sacrifice in the American experience, with a focus on members of the military and the sacrificial ideology and requirements with which they must comply under the current Code of Conduct for Members of the Armed Forces of the United States. 4 figures


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