Imagine you're out in the country, visiting one fine summer's day, and you ask your host to give you a walking tour through some of the beautiful countryside surrounding his house. He's agreeable to your suggestion, and you spend a pleasant hour hiking up and down the surrounding low mountains.

"Let's sit here," he says, as you come to a nice shady spot looking down on a clearing below which forms a sort of natural amphitheatre. After a while, he excuses himself for a moment, leaving you all alone. You think back to the three large mugs of fine brazilian coffee you had before you left, and you don't feel the need to ask where he's going. Instead you soak up the weather, for it's a glorious day.

Unbeknownst to you, however, your host has not chosen this particular shady spot by chance. He is working in cahoots with a friend of his, a director for the new Reality TV show called, "You Are REALLY There," a 21st Century upgrade of the great "You Are There" series hosted by Walter Cronkite in 68 fine episodes from 1953-1957. The director has begun shooting as soon as your host left, shooting from remote-controlled cameras hidden all around the clearing and focused on you. You don't realise it, but you are the star of the show!

Sitting all alone, here is what you see:

A middle-aged man comes over the ridge on the other side of the clearing, accompanied by a young man. The middle-aged man says something you don't hear to the younger man, but you hear the younger man say, "Yes, Father."

They select a spot near the center of the clearing and set their belongings down. They begin collecting brush, twigs, sticks, and logs, and make a large pile, as if for a bonfire. Then the father binds his son's hands behind his back with stout rope, and ties his ankles together. Then the father gently lays the son upon the pile of wood. The father pulls out a large Bowie knife, and raises his hand up in such a way as to be able to strike at the son's throat. He stands there, frozen, knife-arm upraised for a long moment. Then he says something to the son, sheaths the knife, unties the son, and they both walk back over the hill from whence they came.

At this point, your host returns, and asks, nonchalantly, "Anything interesting happen while I was gone?"

You were there, what do you say? What would you tell your host?

* * * * * *

Since the "you" in the last sentence is the plural "you", there are a number of responses. But I would be very surprised if there were any among them that didn't contain at least one of the following: shock, horror, anger, fear, outrage, questions about the father's sanity. Several among you may even have run down the hill trying to stop him. Whatever your response was, I'd be willing to bet a small fortune that it was of a negative, disapproving variety. And don't forget, we do have your reaction on videotape.

So the overall conclusion, for an incident which you have seen with your very own eyes, and without anyone being present to influence you in any way, is negative.

This is your instinctive, natural response.

It is a human and a humane one.

There is, there really is, no possible excuse for inhuman behavior.

Case closed.

Or is it?

Genesis Chapter 22
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: 'Abraham'; and he said: 'Here am I.'

2 And He said: 'Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.'

3 And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he cleaved the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife; and they went both of them together.

7 And Isaac spoke unto Abraham his father, and said: 'My father.' And he said: 'Here am I, my son.' And he said: 'Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?'

8 And Abraham said: 'God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.' So they went both of them together.

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said: 'Abraham, Abraham.' And he said: 'Here am I.'

12 And he said: 'Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him; for now I know that thou art a God-fearing man, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.'

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.
Now this is precisely the same scenario as I described above, so you should have exactly the same reaction to it. Right?

But you don't, do you?

I don't know the exact proportion of you who find that your opinion of the events has changed, but again I'll wager another small fortune that there were quite a few. There's some reason, some justification, some extenuating circumstance, some excuse - something - that makes you find the events more acceptable.

That something is a Paramoralism.

From A. Lobaczewski's, Political Ponerology:
Moralizing Interpretation: The tendency to impart a moralizing interpretation upon essentially pathological phenomena is an aspect of human nature whose discernible substratum is encoded in our specific instinct; namely humans normally fail to differentiate between moral and biological evil.(p.148)
In the countryside scenario, you saw the action for what it was - a pathological act - and you reacted with a fully awakened moral outrage; your conscience spoke. But when you looked at the same event through the medium of Genesis 22, something happened to your conscience.

Lobaczewski again:
The conversive features in the genesis of paramoralisms [...] prove they are derived from [...] repression from the field of consciousness of something completely different, which we call the voice of conscience. (Political Ponerology p.151)
Lobaczewski defines 'conversive thinking' as "using terms but giving them opposing or twisted meanings." Thus the paramoralist uses "appeasement" when we would use "peacefulness";


appeasement........................ peacefulness


backward.............................. traditional

mob..................................... rally

small-mindedness................... efficiency

Thus, by conversive thinking, something that was reprehensible is somehow made to look acceptable. This is not some mystery; there is a definite mechanism at work here.
The existence of psychological phenomena known to pre-Freudian philosophical students of the subconscious bears repeating. Unconscious psychological processes outstrip conscious reasoning, both in time [speed] and scope, which makes many psychological phenomena possible: including those generally described as conversive, such as subconscious blocking out of conclusions, the selection, and, also, substitution of [for] seemingly uncomfortable premises. (p.152)
Are there any restrictions on this substitution process?
Thus any insinuation framed in moral slogans is always suggestive, even if the "moral" criteria used are just an "ad hoc" invention. Any act can thus be proved to be immoral or morally proper by means of such paramoralisms through active suggestion, and people whose minds will succumb to such reasoning can always be found.
What, then, is the suggestion being made by the Biblical story The Sacrifice of Isaac?

To do whatever God commands, no matter how insane or cruel - and killing one's own child is right up there at the top of such a list - without question. All will work out in the end.

Nothing less than total submission is required.

Strangely enough though, in the experience of the overwhelming majority of the human race since the beginning of time, it turns out that God Himself only very, very, very rarely asks for anything or gives any commands in a way that we could objectively verify that the request or command actually came from God himself. That seems to make the Abraham-Isaac drama relatively useless.

However, it just so happens that there are people who identify themselves as God's representatives here on earth. They claim to speak for God, although they do not produce any verification for their "Divine Deputization", so to speak. Now for this group of the self-appointed, this story seems ideally suited to enable them to get whatever they want, by command or request. And they can claim God's backing for this.

Lobaczewski states:
Pathocracy is a disease of great social movements followed by entire societies, nations, and empires. In the course of human history, it has affected social, political, and religious movements,... and turned them into caricatures of themselves....(p.199)
If my suggestions about cui bono? (who benefits?) seem outlandish or unreasonable when it comes to God's "representative", then consider this:
In the light of historical data, it appears obvious that religious systems have also succumbed to ponerogenic processes and manifested the symptoms of a similar disease.

...Two basic possibilities for a relationship between this [pathocratic] phenomenon and a religious system can thus be adduced. The first occurs when the religious association itself succumbs to infection and the ponerogenic process...destruction [works]from within, its organism becomes subordinated to goals completely different from the original idea, and its theosophic and moral values fall prey to characteristic deformation ...(p.270-1)
In conclusion, it should be made very clear that neither Prof. Lobaczewski nor the science of Political Ponerology is against religion. Quite the contrary.
The ponerological approach throws new light upon age-old questions heretofore regulated by the dictates of moral systems and must of necessity bring about a revision in thought methods. As a Christian, the author was initially apprehensive that this would cause dangerous collisions with ancient tradition. Studying the question in the light of Scriptures caused these apprehensions gradually to fade away. Rather, this now appears to be the way to bring our thought processes closer to that original and primeval method of perceiving moral knowledge. Quite characteristically, reading the Gospels can provide teachings clearly convergent with the method of understanding evil derived from naturalistic investigations on its origin. At the same time, we must foresee that the process of correction and conformation will be laborious and time consuming, [and] which ultimately probably prevent any major tumult. (p.268)
Ponerology can thus help in recovering the moral elements of the original teachings that have been lost or distorted - or completely inverted.

Perhaps you remember war movies where U.S Army chaplains blessed the troops as they were sent forth to kill - all In The Name of Jesus, The Good Shepherd, The Prince of Peace. It's not too hard to get the idea that maybe something important has been lost along the way.

And then there's also the problem that the enemy is praying for the very same thing - to the very same Jesus!

This was brought home to me by looking at war propaganda posters for other countries. This one is German, from World War I:

Translation of the picture's caption:
Go, O soldier, and fulfill thy duty.

Christ, The Good Shepherd, watches his flocks.

O Lord, Thy Kingdom Come,

And As Thy Will is in Heaven

May it also be on earth.
What is required is a combination of both religious insights and scientific study. Professor Lobaczewski gives an idea of how this could be done.
If individuals and groups believing in God are able to accept an objective understanding of macro-social pathological phenomena, especially this most dangerous one, the natural outcome will thus prove to be a certain separation of religious and ponerological problematics, which qualitatively occupy different levels of reality. Church attention can then revert to questions regarding man's relationship with God, an area for which churches have a calling. On the other hand, resistance to ponerological phenomena and their worldwide spread should be largely assumed by scientific and political institutions whose actions are based on a naturalistic understanding of the nature and genesis of evil. Such a separation of duties can never be quite consistent, since the genesis of evil includes the participation of human moral failings, and overcoming these based on religious premises has been the responsibility of religious associations since times immemorial.

In spite of existing differences of conviction and tradition, the basis for cooperative effort on the part of people with good will should contain that characteristic convergence of the conclusions we deduce between the precepts of the Christian Gospels (and other monotheistic religions) and a ponerological view of the genesis of evil. The faithful of various religions and denominations do in fact believe in the same God, and at present they are threatened by the same macrosocial pathologic phenomenon. This creates sufficient data to enable a search for cooperation in affecting achievements whose value is so obvious.(276-7)