Mimesis, Scapegoating and Financial Crises: A Critical Evaluation of René Girard's Intellectual Legacy
René Girard's pathbreaking work, especially on mimetic (imitative) thought and behavior, can be used to reinforce Marxist explanations of financial crisis. Yet Girard's concept of the scapegoat mechanism is less applicable to the modern world, and failure to recognize this can lead to confusion. A prime example is the contribution of the neo-Marxist scholar Henri Guénin-Paracini and his co-authors, who hold that the same mechanism Girard identified as existing in ancient times reconciles workers to contemporary capitalism's financial crisis tendencies. A close analysis of their argument reveals that this mechanism explains nothing about post-crisis social reproduction. Nevertheless, Girardian cognizance of scapegoating and the persecutory impulse is useful in ensuring that resistance to financialization is depersonalized. Girard's theory of mimesis, however, can contribute to a systemic account of factors leading to financial crises. In particular, his mimetic theory has the potential to bridge Keynesian and Marxist explanations of why such crises occur.