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Absolution

Ernest Gellner's Saints of the Atlas as quoted in the Hall biography, on baraka (charisma or holiness). As Hall describes Gellner's position, "The local belief is that the possession of true baraka is the result of divine favour. Gellner felt certain that, in this case, vox populi was vox dei."

But it would never do to have this overtly conceptualized: if baraka were merely the consequence of the decisions of the lay tribesmen, it could not claim authority over them. What is in reality a choice - albeit not one made by an individual and not on any one occasion, but by many and over a long time - appears not as a choice but as the recognition of an objective and indeed transcendental fact. The 'objectivity' of the allegedly recognized characteristic has the social consequence of absolving him who 'recognizes' it from the responsibility for it, which would attach to such an act if it were seen to be a choice.

This is related to, but in the end dissimilar from e.g. mob violence, where no one person may be singly to blame, but each knows that he shares some small part of the crowd's actions and its consequences. Two better analogies. (1) The Ouija board. The otherness of the planchette's movement is precisely a culmination of the semi-conscious choices of those whose hands are laid upon it, re-presented to them as something alien and entirely outside their control. One person alone cannot use the planchette; a plurality is required for absolution. (2) The market, as theorized by Hayek, von Mises and their heirs, and in a less conscious way by e.g. the standard microeconomic theory of perfect market competition. "The market" or "catallaxy" is abstracted in such a way as to obscure its origins in actual - and usually political choices made by economic actors (the conditions for true perfect competition, or genuine catallaxy are so stringent that even rough approximations are vanishingly rare in the real economy). After this transubstantiation, they are returned to public argument, immaculate, washed in the blood of the Lamb.

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