The Dynamics of War



No surprisingly,  since my last post in June, given the current events, Dr. Scapegoat has recieved several emails from Africa and the Middle East about the definition of Scapegoating in politics and warfare.  More specifically, how do we understand the continuation of  mutually destructive points of view, backed up by rhetoric,  kidnaping and war,  in terms of scapegoating dynamics? Does it help in any way to do that ?

Great questions prompted, I think, by frustration and agony.

I will take a try at answering. As I keep reiterating, scapegoating is a group and collective process. By scapegoating a  person, subgroup or even an idea, the group keeps a homogeneity which allows identity, comfort and the status quo. If you look at my South African  Scapegoating TedX talk  on You Tube, or dip into the book  Up from Scapegoating  you’ll find descriptions and diagrams about how scapegoats are constructed and then expelled by the  group. One of the pre-scapegoating dynamics is “jockeying for position”, basically politicking for power and alliances that will allow for  dominance,  at the least expelling some one beside oneself from the group.

Part of the this jockeying process results in many different pairs, alliances, and oppositions being formed,  all prelimiary  to  collective decision about who gets scapegoated. But if the group gets stuck in  oppositional pairing, and there is no third or fourth position, or some compromise  within the group or intervention from the outside, the aggressive pairing just goes on and on. Eventually the group loses any sense of purpose except managing this opposition and   adds revenge dynamics which as we know can last a very long time indeed.

This may seem overly complicated but we see the process in almost every group with major issues at stake. As implied above there is almost always the need in these situations for a special person or force, from within or outside the collective involved,  representing a bridge between the two positions to help move the group forward. People who take up this challenge have to be very skillful; often they help by themselves becoming the group scapegoat.

Unfortunatelywhen  scapegoating occurs in political venues and in particular in and between nation state groups, these oppositional pairings may  play out as wars. One point of view literally attempts to eject and  destroy  the other.  the loser often moves  into the revenge dynamic as Germany and Hitler did between World War One and Two.


  1. Dr. Dario T. Cappucci says:

    Do you have examples/citations of General (then President) Dwight David Eisenhower utilizing scapegoating in either wartime and/or politics?
    I seen copy of a speech(commencement address given by the Dean of the Yale Law School in May 1993 about scapegoats)* mentioning Private Edward (Eddie) Donald Slovik, who was the only American soldier executed by a military firing squad for desertion in World War Two ( in January 1945), and who served as a scapegoat. There were thousands of cases and convictions for desertion of American military personnel in World War Two, and 49 of them were death sentences. But, of those, only one was actually carried out – Private Slovik was the only American deserter executed since 1864! To date, there have been no further executions for desertion by the American military. Ironically, your website quotes Eisenhower as saying: ” The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”
    * reference source:

    DTC 28 January 2016

    • what an interesting example and sadly I dont have a quote. It would be interesting to know what he stands for in our american history and who , and under wha influences and auspices the scapegoating group acted. certainly in retrospect he follows the path of messianic scapegoats ” who die for our sins” though I’m sure he was an innocent in those terms

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