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Rene Girard’s deepest insight is the following: “Culture always develops as a tomb. The tomb is nothing but the first human monument to be raised over the surrogate victim, the first and most elemental and fundamental matrix of meaning. There is no culture without a tomb and no tomb without culture; in the end the tomb is the first and only cultural symbol.” (in Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, 1987).

But Girard’s concept of the “scapegoat”—a cultural outsider—is insufficient. The fundamental sacrificial victim is a cultural insider—the soldier. The fundamental cultural symbol is the tomb of the soldier.
Tombs of soldiers fallen in World War I at Saint Roch cemetery
German Soldiers Image 1