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Although seemingly ridiculous as a characteristic belief of the marginalized, interest in vampires continues to develop. Metaphorically "vampirism" continues to be applied in the assessment of certain strategic agendas, notably by those on the left -- and especially by the marginalized.
The following exploration endeavours to scope out the extent to which civilization has been drawn into a mode of governance that might usefully be described metaphorically as vampirism. Such an exploration is potentially a useful alternative framework against which to assess meetings of the G8 and other global agenda-setting gatherings. They may increasingly bear a strong resemblance to Roman Polanski's classic Bal des Vampires [more]. This concern is effectively expressed, as Director of Campaigns and Policy at War on Want, by John Hilary (Bloodsuckers' Summit: why the left should rendezvous with G8 in Gleneagles, June 2005).
There is a curious symmetry to the perception of vampirism in contemporary culture. On the one hand the world's elites tend to be labelled as "vampires" and "bloodsuckers" by the political left -- speaking on behalf of the marginalized victims of policies developed and supported by those elites. On the other hand, those perceiving themselves to be most socially alienated from modern society, the Goths, personally identify themselves as vampires embodying and symbolizing their isolation.
Vampires have a long history [more]. Vampires (vampirs or vampyres) are recognized under various names and forms in cultures around the world [more]. Examples include: Albania (Liogat, Sampiro, Shtriga); Australia (Yara-Ma-Yha-Who, Garkain); Bulgaria (Ubour; Ustrel); Central America (Soucouyan, Civatateo); China (Ch'ing Shih); France; Germany (Alp, Blutsauger, Nachtzehrer); Ghana (Adze, Asanbosam, Obayifo); Greece (Bruculaco, Catacano, Callicantzaros, Empusa, Keres, Lamiai, Vrykolakas), Haiti (Loogaroo); Hungary (Liderc, Nora); India (Baital, Bhuta, Brahmaparusha, Churel, Raksas, Rakshasa, Yakshis); Jamaica (Ol' Higue); Lithuania (Wempti); Malaysia (Penanggalan, Pontianak); Middle East (Ekimmu); North America (U`tlun'ta); Philippines (Aswang, Manananggal); Poland (Upior, Viesczy); Romania (Moroi, Murohy, Norferat, Nosferatu, Strigoi, Varcolaco); Russia (Myertovjec, Upyr, Vourdulak); Serbia (Veshtiza, Vlokoslak); South Africa (Impundulu); South America (Azeman); Trinidad and Tobago (Soucoyant); Turkey (Uber). There are also many different species or divisions of vampires recognized throughout the world. [more]
Belief in the reality of vampires is such that Malawi was the subject of a widely reported vampire "epidemic" in 2003 (and not for the first time). The governor of the capital was attacked by vigilante groups on suspicion of harbouring vampires following rumours, triggering mass hystgeria, that vampires were attacking people, drugging them and drinking their blood. One person was stoned to death.[more][more][more]
There is considerable fictional literature on vampires [more]. The first vampire novel was that of John William Polidori (The Vampyre, 1819). Vampires have provided a metaphorical framework for a wide variety of literary treatments, whether as an alternative culture or as a disease. The relationship to AIDS, porphyria and haemophilia has reinforced the interest. Themes explored include the moral issues in the relation between the "living mortals" and the "undead immortals" that are dependent on them.
Vampire literature has provided language for those who experience themselves as outsiders in relation to mainstream society. Bram Stoker (Dracula, 1897) significantly contributed to giving them human form. Anne Rice (Interview With The Vampire, 1976; The Vampire Lestat, 1985) gave them an emotional dimension as sensual creatures living on the edge of human society. This provided the contemporary Gothic subculture with a language to describe their alienation -- providing them with a universal symbol [more].
The interest in vampires developed in popular literature has been reflected in many vampire movies and in a popular TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997-2000 (cf Irene Karras, The Third Wave's Final Girl: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Thirdspace, 1, 2, March 2002; S Owen. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Vampires, Postmodernity, and Postfeminism, Journal of Popular Film and Television, 10 October 2000). The series has sustained and developed the mythology, incidentally linking it to the challenges of feminism. Such media representations, with attractive people portaying vampires with more sexual attributes, are recognized as having modernized and humanized the vampire into a blood sucking, attractive, sexually provocative being [more][more]
There are considerable resources on vampires on the web [more ]. These are of very uneven quality and are seemingly designed to appeal to those fascinated by the dangerously strange. They do however assemble information regarding the nature of vampires as variously recognized in myth and legend. This information is notably of interest in games. Curiously even Microsoft has developed a collective learning exercise for students using its statistical package Excel (Do Vampires Really Exist? 2004) -- which is indicative of the recognized level of interest in the theme amongst an unexpected audience.
Vampires are a key theme in many popular games, notably the World of Darkness suite that includes card games (Vampire: The Eternal Struggle), live action roleplaying (Vampire: The Masquerade), and PC games (Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines). Those involved may further develop the mythology of vampire society, often providing extensive guidebooks and manuals [more | more]. The BBC offers a guide to vampirism on its cult site [more]
There are many "vampire societies" in support of these activities, notably the International Society of Vampires [more | more | more | more]. The contemporary vampire subculture is marked by an obsessive fascination with, and emulation of, contemporary vampire lore, including everything from fashion and music to, in the more extreme cases, the actual exchange of blood.
Given the curiosity about vampires, "health" warnings have even been formulated for the unwary who may be susceptible to those in some way impersonating vampires on the internet (cf Preventing Tragedy: Safety, the Internet, and Vampires). This is especially appropriate in the case of those exploring the topic of "psychic vampires" -- a theme of concern to occultists and others (cf Michelle Belanger, The Vampyre Codex, Sanguinarium Press, 2000). As noted by S.C. Raven: "There are many dangers, both hidden and obvious, why it is not safe for anyone to join these cults. However as long as there is a tantalizing curiousity to find a vampire, there will always be more victims that come out of these pacts". [more]
According to the Wikipedia entry:
Most modern practitioners of vampirism do not believe themselves to be undead creatures; rather, they use vampirism as a means of practicing magic(k). For example, they claim that they are taking life energy or qi from another (usually a willing donor who also practices vampirism) to increase their own energy and vitality. Vampirists do not necessarily obtain this energy from blood, but will use other physical, spiritual or psychic means to obtain this energy (for example, there are self-styled "sexual vampires" and "psychic vampires"). [more]
The widespread interest above has also encouraged the development of a range of non-fictional studies of issues relating to vampirism [more]. Vampire fiction has notably proved to be a rich domain for literary studies, usefully reviewed by Sally Miller (Nursery fears made flesh and sinew: vampires, the body and eating disorders -- a psychoanalytic approach, 1999) and by Torben B. Poulsen (The Postmodern Vampire - Examining Nosferatu in various guises). See also The Vampire in Modern American Media 1975-2000.
One unexpected consequence of the above interest has been the publication of a range of studies of vampires by university publishing houses (see references below).
The work of Georges Bataille as reviewed by Adrian Gargett (Vampire: George Bataille and the philosophy of vampirism, Richmond Review, 2002) provides rich insight into the functioning of the vampire myth:
The Vampire legend operates mythically, that is, as a series of narratives that serve to explain why the world is the way it is. In this sense Myths also exist to provide solutions for eternal questions; - the creation of the world, the relationship between men and women and beasts, the notion of the other. The myth provides solutions to these problems by positing an initial pair of binary oppositions such as life and death, nature and culture. This initially irreconcilable opposition is mediated by the introduction of a third term, which in some way partially inherits the nature of each opposed term. The third term, however, invokes its own opposed term, but this new binary opposition is not as completely intractable as the first. The process repeats, each new opposition being a little closer together than the previous one, until a set of oppositions that can provide some kind of cultural modus vivendi is reached. The vampire legend clearly illustrates this process.
Adrian Gargett highlights aspects which are important to understanding the relevance of the myth to the strategic dilemmas of governance in the 21st century:
As with other mythologies the Vampire legend conveys its message through metaphor, symbolism, repetitions of narratives, and variations upon themes; through over determination and juxtaposition rather than logical exposition. The core of the Vampire motif is the encounter with the other, that elusive - if not illusive - figure who has come to pervade the pages of literary-criticism, anthropology and psychoanalysis. This spectrum of horrors around the Vampire legend convincingly replicates perversions or a distortion of the three functions or social categories - sovereignty/force/fecundity - which underlie the whole corpus of Indo-European mythology.
Blood as the source of life, is central to many religions (notably Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and medicine. Blood has been the basis for many oaths and contracts. Throughout history the many liquid substances (milk, honey and wine) offered in sacrifice to the dead, to spirits and to gods, were symbols of blood. Sacrificial blood was itself obtained from animals in classical times, and from human sacrifice among Asians, Africans, aboriginal Americans, and from prehistoric Europeans. [more]
The importance of this symbol is recognized in many uses of the term "lifeblood", for example:
As expressed by surgeon Paul Brand (Blood: The Miracle of Life, Christianity Today, 1983):
Christianity too is inescapably blood based. Old Testament writers describe blood sacrifices in painstaking detail and their New Testament counterparts layer those symbols with theological meanings. The word "blood" occurs three times as often as the "cross" of Christ, five times as frequently as "death." And daily, weekly, or at least monthly (depending on denomination), we commemorate Christ's death with a ceremony based on his blood.
In Judaism, in the light of the Torah, it was believed that blood was the container for the soul, it was that which fed the soul, nourished it and kept it alive [more]. For this reason the consumption of blood is prohibited [more]
The symbolism of blood has been the subject of two recent major exhibitions. It was explored in 2002 Frankfurt in an exhibition entitled Blood: Perspectives on Art, Power, Politics and Pathology. This brought together some 160 works showing how artists at different times have expressed the changing understanding of one of humanity's most powerful symbols [more]. In Geneva the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge had a year long reflective exhibition on the symbolism of blood in 2004 [more]. It explored the theme from five perspectives:
From a biblical perspective, as noted by Stephen Peele (The Blood of the Covenant, 2003): "Blood to the believer is like oil to an engine, neither can survive without it". Blood is understood as an appeasement to God, first exemplified in the garden of Eden by his slaughter of two animals to cover the sins of Adam and Eve. Peele argues, with detailed scriptural evidence, that the significance and power of the blood shed by Jesus is demonstrated from eight perspectives:
Peele points to the challenge implied by the Old Testament biblical injunctions:
The role of blood is strongly stated for Christianity as follows:
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me (John 6:53-37, NIV).
Peele further indicates the manner in which wine was understood to substitute for blood in celebration:
Alex Lucard (Nyogtha, 1, 22, 9 May 2005) notes that due to the overwhelming popularity of vampirism in the 20th century, the vampire is now listed in some fields of psychology as an archetype, namley an intrapsychic psychological interpretation in the collective unconscious [more].
From a Freudian perspective, any dreams about vampires or other forms of the undead, are a metaphor for the fascination and fear mankind has with the concepts of death and the dead. For Freud:
All human experiences of morbid dread signify the presence of repressed sexual and aggressive wishes, and in vampirism we see these repressed wishes becoming plainly visible.
From a Jungian perspective, according to Alex Lucard:
For Jungians, the fact that the Vampire developed in nearly every culture in the world at the same time without contact amongst developing humans, this is both proof of the vampire as the archetype, but also proof of Jung's concept on the Unconscious Collective. The concept of vampires and vampirism indicated that vampires are not mere stories or explanations created by personal experience or folk tales, but are in fact a species-wide psychological structure that all humans share in primitive thought, What this means is that Jungian believe vampires are an intuitive concept to the human psyche. Something we understand in some way, shape or form, from the moment we exist into this world. Vampires reflect significant issues universal to all human life. For Jung himself, the vampire was the representation of a psychological aspect he called, "the shadow." [more]
Kathleen C. LaFlamme (The Savage Garden: Goth And The Vampire Archetype, 2001) stresses the shadow status of the vampire, especially in its related to the alientated:
Indeed, the vampire is a perfect shadow figure. Human in appearance, this shadow resembles us. Living in darkness, it is hidden from those who walk by day. Feeding on the blood of the living, it draws its power from the "normal" world. Immortal: this shadow will not disappear. It continues to fascinate.
It cannot be overstressed here that "vampires" are best understood as a living evolving myth or legend that is in process of elaboration and development under the influence of:
On this point, as noted by Martin V. Riccardo (Liquid Dreams of Vampires, 1996):
The vampire may be an escape -- an escape of all the limitations of human reality. In our own minds, we can make the vampire whatever we wish it to be....
The term "vampire" -- as with "bloodsucker" and "parasite" -- is a fairly common pejorative judgement in the invective of political discourse, notably in declarations from various factions of the political left. In the case of "bloodsucker", for example, consider the much-cited analysis by John Hilary (Bloodsuckers' Summit: why the left should rendezvous with G8 in Gleneagles, 2005). "Political parasite", "social parasite" and "economic parasite" are also very commonly used.
Many comparisons of vampires and multinational corporations have been made. At a Global Dialogue in 1998, Susan George compared MNCs with vampires in old folk legends:
Vampires are strong, have long teeth, live in nice castles and live off peoples' blood. So do MNCs. But there is one weakness in all vampires : if you shed light on them, they shrivel away! We need light to expose MNCs [more]
The metaphor was also employed by Michael De Gale (The Vampire Mentality of MNCs, 2005) of Trinidad and Tobago:
It is common knowledge that Multinational Corporations, particularly those involved in the energy sector, suck more than oil and gas from the host countries, they suck the very spirit and the lifeblood of working people. With the exception of a handful of individuals, every "Third World" country in which MNC’s operate are left more improvised and environmentally devastated than before their arrival.
In a commentary by Mark Ames (WTO Stands For "Worship The Oligarchy", 2002) he notes:
Multinationals are a lot like vampires: they know that they can destroy any developing nation's industry, if only they can get invited in the house. The question is how to convince the local population that it's in their interests.
The French activist Jose Bove (Revolting Choice, Guardian, 13 June 2001) stresses the vampire-like role of MNCs from a different perspective:
We now have a worldwide dictatorship [governed by multinationals]. If you are not in the market place, you're a nobody. We no longer live under conditions of traditional management and inter-state conflicts, but in the middle of a war between private powers with the market as the battleground. To understand the extent of this, all you have to do is look at how the traffic in money makes more profit than traditional production and trading activities combined. Today, money works by itself. This has produced a new breed of parasite; vampires thirsty for money. Money addicts.
The communist-inspired Internationalist Notes (17 April 2001) described the Summit of the Americas (Quebec City, April 2001) under the heading "A Gathering of Vampires":
As we have seen previously, "The struggle for the parasitic appropriation of surplus value will become increasingly fierce and the global village is destined to become smaller and smaller for the growing number of vampires who inhabit it." (Globalisation and Imperialism, ICR #16) Numerous siren songs are once again attempting to cover the voices of the tiny forces that try to maintain the red thread of history and stay the course towards a true liberation of humanity. This ultimate emancipation can only realise itself in a stateless, classless and moneyless society. [more]
Brian Holmes (A Politics of Identitarian Retreat, 27 October 2002) comments via the Interactisist Info Exchange:
Being suspicious of the resistance movement's cooptation by social-democratic politicians is just plain realistic. The vampires are out there, looking for a new consensus. But thinking that the autonomous movement can create a "public decision-making structure" by retreating into its own networks seems to me like a total illusion, and also a disavowal of the overall movement's strength at moments like Seattle and Genoa — which in both cases broke a ruling consensus through a powerful mixture, or even contamination, of different political and social positions. I think the identitarian retreat can actually foster the crypto-hierarchies. And that's a pity, coming from the anarchist side which is best when it's mobile and tactically open. The only way to make the dissident, transformational ideal into reality is to confront the existing systems of public decision making with a better structures and processes, ones that can actually generate large-scale solutions to the large-scale bankruptcy of the neoliberal program. The confrontation entails dialogue, ideas and experimental media.
Less common is the use of the term "vampire" by the political right as a judgement on segments of the population perceived as draining vital resources required for their support. The preferred term is then "parasite".
As might be expected the parallels between the vital role of blood for the human individual and the vital role of oil for human society have been explored.
In a preliminary comment on a literature survey regarding the available blood supply, Douglas Starr (Sample text for Blood: An epic history of medicine and commerce) notes:
Of course, blood is not processed by the barrel or handled in quantities anywhere near those of oil. (Only about sixteen million gallons of blood and plasma are collected annually worldwide--the equivalent of thirty-two Olympic-size swimming pools.) Indeed, the world market for blood and its derivatives probably does not exceed $18.5 billion per year, versus $474.5 billion for petroleum. Yet one cannot avoid comparing the two resources. Just like the oil industry, the blood trade involves collecting a liquid resource, breaking it into components, and selling the products globally. Red cells, being perishable, tend to remain within national borders, but certain portions of blood--plasma in particular--are traded among multinational companies and on a worldwide spot market. Just as with oil, one region has become the premier harvesting ground, providing much of the resource for the rest of the world. The United States, with its liberal rules regarding collection, has become known as the OPEC of plasma.
This recognized parallel has encouraged use of the metaphor of vampirism.
A much-cited early parallel was drawn in poetic form by William Butler Yeats (Oil and Blood, 1933):
In tombs of gold and lapis lazuli
Bodies of holy men and women exude
Miraculous oil, odour of violet.
But under heavy loads of trampled clay
Lie bodies of the vampires full of blood;
Their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet.
Another poetic articulation is made in The Vampire Beast:
The vampire bares its fangs,
Ready to sink them deep in faraway lands...
The beast is US,
And there's just no denying it.
Another use of the metaphor is to be found in Rick Marianetti (Fossil-Fuel Vampires, Alternatives, 2005)
One blogger writes (Black Blood of the Earth 17 April 2002):
Oil obsesses. It has replaced its sister, Coal, and become the primary source of power in the world. Nations go to war over it, and its influence has illuminated (and perhaps even Illuminated) the world. One thinks of Ahriman, lord of the lie... Lucifer, the Lightbringer... Nyarlathotep, the bearer of starry wisdom...figures who seek to impart a progress that kills... Some Islamic nations call America the Great Satan, while we demonize them as well. Are we both really just pawns to an entity that was born out of mass death, a being that lives in the black fluid which we drink like vampires out of the veins of our world?
Oil is undisputedly necromantic, and our society is run on the energy created by death. Death, which converted the sun's light (and again we have that overlap between the sun, giver of life and light, and death) stored in the matter of the living into the fuel we today use to light our homes, power our machines, and transport ourselves worldwide. And it destroys as we do so, as if it were infused so thoroughly with the death-agonies of those beings who became it that it cannot but punish us for disturbing its rest.
Oil, it sometimes seems, is the real lord of this world, and its specter makes for a convincing Satan. It corrupts the just, maddens nations, brings forth plagues, tempts us to sloth and gluttony and wrath...and if it weren't for this lightbringer, I couldn't be writing this now.
In their acceptance speech for the Sophie Prize (Oslo, 1998), Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth (Nigeria) remark:
Needless to say that the perversion of the environment in Nigeria took on an unprecedented dimension as a result of the discovery of oil in commercial quantity, especially in the Niger-Delta of Nigeria. The huge petro-dollars accruing from oil exploitation has become the mainstay of the economy. The consequence of this has been the well-known unbridled exploitation of this resource to the total defilement of the land. The oil rigs, like vampires continue to sink their teeth into the necks of the people. [more]
The metaphor is even used by CNN (Don Knapp, New power supply may drive out 'energy vampires' 31 October 2000), although only with respect to inefficient technology.
Given the widespread recognition of the role of oil in dictating the policy of the Coalition of the Willing in intervening in Iraq, and in other Middle Eastern countries, it is not surprising that the metaphor of vampirism has been called upon. Just as colonialist policies can be framed metaphorically as the act of vampires seeking to drain resources from their colonies, so to can humanitarian initiatives in relation too oil rich countries.
From an Islamic fundamentalist perspective, one anonymous author writes (Prophecy: The Holy War in Fallujah 9 November 2004):
It is so moving, so deeply touching what they are doing those Muslim Holy Warriors in Fallujah. They are doing it for Iraq, for the children, for their future, because there certainly won't be much a future for Iraq once that blood soaked oil sucking vampire bat finishes draining the veins of that place, and then, as is typical for colonialism, just throws the empty ruined wreck onto the scrap pile of other poor robbed penniless ruined nations of the world. That vampire might return later to neo-liberalize those poor countries some more later, increasing world poverty as the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, as has happened over these last twenty years, since apparently even colonialism wasn't a bad enough ruination to inflict, but rather neo-liberalism had to be added on as well.
But perhaps a more significant application is recognizing resistance to the environmental consequences of the way of life associated with the SUV as effectively a plea to "Save US Vampires".
The degree of surveillance and focus on acquisition of information, irrespective of any privacy considerations, may be legitimately perceived a form of vampirism. Academic plagiarism and industrial espionage may be seen as variants. The concern with information security and confidentiality may be understood as a response to such threats. These all point to a form of knowledge vampirism -- draining creative insight to ensure the competitive advantage of certain elites.
This phenomenon has notably been remarked in terms of the legal control over knowledge. For example, Lilliam Riera (Patents System, Pharmaceutical Transnationals or... Vampires, 26 March 2001) notes:
The patent system and above all the pharmaceutical transnationals are essentially the vampires of this era, which we paradoxically call "modern."
The phenomenon is even more striking and blatant in the case of indigenous knowledge that is drained to the advantage of such elites.
The relationship to vampirism was dramatically recognized by protesters dressed as vampires on the occasion of the anniversary of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of chemicals) in 2004. They were campaigning for the adoption of by EU lawmakers, who had procrastinated for a year, of the identification and phasing out of dangerous chemicals. The law was strongly opposed by the US even as test after test shows rampant chemical contamination of human and animal species. [more]
The evolving business models of web search engines may also be seen as supportive of insight vampirism.
The psychoanalyst Messaoud Haïne argues:
Pendant que continue la mimique de la surprise, l'exaspération des appétits recommence et s'insinue dans le tourbillon de la technique. Dans des calculs identiques depuis la nuit des temps, les vampires de la jouissance ne disparaissent pas : A Davos, en Suisse, les hommes les plus riches de la planète se sont inventés un petit réseau privé sur Internet, destiné à leur propre usage, pour se concerter en cas de crise aiguë. Ce système très hermétique, se soustrait même au contrôle des gouvernements.[more]
There is widespread recognition, as noted above, of efforts by elite groups to acquire and control information (whether texts or images) -- notably through surveillance, espionage, copyright, security or classification systems. The focus on information is extended into knowledge -- indigenous knowledge in particular. Knowledge vampires may be understood as those who live through the effort of other knowledge workers.
More subtle however is the manner in which significance is drained from cultures and belief systems that are supportive of individual and collective identity. This process is a feature of cultural imperialism and those who catalyze and benefit from it. In industrialized countries this alienation is evident in the recourse to various forms of substance abuse, mental disturbance and voter apathy. There is a recognition that those in industrialized countries tend to act as "cultural vampires" as the following examples indicate:
Why do we, as Americans, study these other cultures? Is it because we are lacking a richness of experience in our culture? Are we cultural vampires as well as material resource gluttons? [more]
Japanese copy food, clothes, culture, architecture, design, technology, etc. from the west, but if a western person shows an interest in Japanese aesthetics or language, he is said to be "henna gaijin." This asymmetrical relationship means the Japanese are often "cultural vampires," sucking in things from the rest of the world and not giving anything back. [more]
Cultural vampires who want the best things. in the language and won’t study the
language are fools [more]
Those who take freedom from others are like cultural vampires who for whatever reason at one time lost their own freedom and take freedom from others so that they can regain that perception of freedom which they have lost. [more]
Semantic vampires are recognized as sucking meaning out of value systems, as noted by Charles E. Hamilton, III (The Lawyer’s Place in American Society, 2005):
In the past, one of the streams that fed our legal system was the sense that law was an expression of, and a search for, moral values. Concepts like fault or negligence were used not only as devices for apportioning blame but also as principles by which we would govern our conduct -- and as "safe harbors" in which we were, if we were not "at fault", sheltered from attack.... Insurance changed much of that in the twentieth century.... Many lay people came to perceive lawyers and judges as semantic vampires sucking the meaning out of words like "fraud" and "intent", leaving them as empty shells to be manipulated to a desired end.
The drain on hope and exploration of potential has now been associated with the expression "value vampires". For Julie Plenty, their negativity is one of the reasons people do not achieve their goals: "They are the naysayers, the doom and gloom merchants who influenced you and killed your idea in its infancy" [more][more]. For Jon Katz (The Value Vampires, 1996):
One of the grizzliest legacies of the boomers is that sometime during their watch, American politics was hijacked by Value Vampires: politicians, institutions, and movements with no ideas, solutions, or values of their own to advance, who feed off the perception that everyone else's values are evil and dangerous. American political discussion is now dominated by callous, hypocritical, and sometimes indecent and immoral people talking about decency, values, and morality.Leaders of many religious organizations continuously betray the humanity, pacifism, freedom, and tolerance taught by courageous philosophers like Jesus Christ and the early Hebrew and Muslim scholars - in the name of promoting religious values. Fundamentalists and other born-again fanatics are not content to practice their own faith, but instead have corrupted our political system in an effort to force their faith on everyone else.
The demonization of political and ideological opponents is commonplace -- and at the highest level. Islamic political and religious leaders have regularly accused the USA, and the supporters of its Christian crusade, of satanic associations [more][more]. Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing supporters of the USA regularly label Islam and its jihad as satanic, notably in relation to terrorism. [more] [more] [more] [more] [more] [more]
Traditionally vampirism is understood to have satanic associations. Anthony Masters (The Natural History of the Vampire, 1972) states:
Vampirism was one of the most demonic outbreaks of mass hysteria ever to sweep the world. Its origins are rooted at the beginning of time and almost all of them are founded on superstition.
It is worth noting the comparison made, by such as Steve Bernheisel (In The Blood: a serious look at vampire-myth origins), between the consumption of human blood by vampires and the symbolic consumption of the blood of Christ, in the form of wine, during the Catholic Mass -- ensuring eternal life with God. From the latter perspective the former is necessarily to be understood as a demonic perversion -- characteristic of a Satanic Mass.
It is appropriate to recall the overturning of the Aztec "industrial scale" system of human sacrifice, and the associated drinking of blood -- practices perceived as absolutely vital both to sustaining their world and to enforcement of their form of governance. Every effort was made to eliminate traces of the practice, perceived as demonic -- replacing it by Catholic Christianity.
The examples above all reflect very specific insights into a vampire-style role in a range of different sectors. Of greater possible interest is the extent to which world governance as currently pursued can be understood as meriting a comparison with vampirism. It could be argued that the enthusiasm and cautious optimism regarding world governance at the end of the 20th century has now been shown to be a sham in the light of the blatant disregard for law and order -- however rationalized -- that has prevailed in the first years of the 21st century. Worse perhaps, if it was not a sham, is the complete inability to prove that this is so -- given the prevalence of spin at the highest levels of every authority structure.
Despite major efforts at government news management and a high level of commitment to "spin", there has never been more information available on the fundamentally problematic status of leadership and governance of major powers -- and within the international community in general. Examples include:
Within such a context, it is appropriate to ask exactly what world leadership has to offer for the future of global civilization. It would appear to be the case that the individuals that can be identified have absolutely nothing to offer.
They are directly responsible for:
In their efforts to disguise their incapacity behind positive-seeming project proposals in defence of fundamental values, leaders can be appropriately judged as dishonourable in the extreme (cf Honour Essential to Psycho-social Integrity: challenge of dishonourable leadership to the nameless, 2005).
Can the metaphor of vampirism be usefully applied to them?
To the extent that there is a recognized "fit" between the myth and social reality as some perceive it, it is then useful to explore what is understood about vampires in the myth as a template for understanding the nature of their analogues in social reality. Table 1 identifies and compares the basis functions and agendas.
|Table 1: Functions of "Vampires" of Myth and of Social Reality|
|Myth / Legend||Social Reality|
|Dependence on blood as their prime source of energy||Dependence on oil as their prime source of energy|
|Committed to preservation of their "way of life" by any means||Committed to preservation of their "way of life" by any means|
Table 2 identifies and compares the strengths and advantages of "vampires" over those of the average human being.
|Table 2: Strengths of "Vampires" of Myth and of Social Reality|
|Myth / Legend||Social Reality|
|Greater physical strength than the average human.||Greater strength than the average human, whether in physical terms (including access to weaponry), legal terms (through ability to engage, or bypass, legal processes, notably to ensure impunity), credibility terms (through ability to reframe reputations), intellectual terms (through ability to draw upon superior intellects), moral terms (through ability to reframe the moral high ground).|
|Greater resistance to physical harm.||Greater resistance to harm than the average human due to ability to draw upon the resources identified above|
|Greater agility than the average human.||Greater agility than the average human, notably in the ability to move rapidly: physically, through procedures, through social influence, and in news management|
|Heightened capacity of senses compared to average human -- to the point of discerning blood types and differentiating heartbeats over background noise||Heightened capacity of senses compared to average human -- through deployment and access to surveillance systems, and in the ability to bypass privacy constraints|
|Greater stamina than the average human||Greater stamina than the average human -- through ability to engage relatively unlimited resources over an extended period of time|
|Enhanced charisma and powers of persuasion and coercion, especially of the weak minded or paranoid||Enhanced charisma and powers of persuasion and coercion, especially of the weak minded or paranoid -- notably sustained by public image-building processes|
|Greater elegance and refinement of appearance and style than the average human being||Greater elegance and refinement of appearance and style than the average human being, notably through association with fashion|
|Ability to play on fear of people in the process of grooming them as an acquiescent source of energy||Ability to play on fear of people in the process of grooming them as an acquiescent source of energy|
|Enhanced adaptability to environment and circumstances in predation and in stalking selected prey with stealth||Enhanced adaptability to environment and circumstances in predation and in stalking selected prey with stealth -- notably through use of security services and ability to use targetted assassination|
|Enhanced capacity to detect and track potential prey, especially when in need of energy||Enhanced capacity to detect and track potential prey, especially when in need of energy|
|Nocturnal with natural night vision capacity to operate in obscurity and darkness||Nocturnal with natural capacity to operate under conditions of obscurity, non-transparency and secrecy|
|Skilled in martial arts using blades||Skilled in arts of verbal swordsmanship|
|Occasionally skilled in shapeshifting||Occasionally skilled in shapeshifting in the chameleon-like ability to present many faces to different people or to reinvent themselves having been exposed in a particular role|
Table 3 identifies and compares the weaknesses and disadvantges of "vampires" over those of the average human being.
|Table 3: Weaknesses of "Vampires" of Myth and of Social Reality|
|Myth / Legend||Social Reality|
|Dependency on sustaining energy through feeding||Dependency on sustaining energy through extraction of resources from other people or from the environment -- notably through taxation or extraction of oil|
|Inability to tolerate exposure to light. Extended exposure results in continuous burning.||Inability to tolerate exposure to light, typically any form of transparency. Extended exposure results in continuous burning ***.|
|Vulnerable to a wooden stake through the heart which incapacitates them until removed or they are destroyed by other means||Vulnerable to interference by stake-holders in the heart of their operations, which incapacitates them until removed or they are destroyed by other means|
Vulnerable to wounds causing bleeding and hence depletion of energy, possibly to the point of destruction
|Vulnerable to wounds causing bleeding and hence depletion of energy, possibly to the point of destruction ***|
|Craving for the blood of "wildseed", namely neither human nor undead, but with tendencies of both||Craving for talented "new blood", capable of operating creatively outside conventional bounds|
|Marked tendencies to obsessive compulsive disorder triggered by particular circumstances -- and capable of substituting for priority agendas||Marked tendencies to obsessive compulsive disorder triggered by particular circumstances -- and capable of substituting for priority agendas|
|Variously vulnerable to running water, symbols of faith held by a believer (crosses, etc)||Variously vulnerable to running water, symbols of faith held by a believer (crosses, etc) ***|
|Tendency to be constrained by protocol, preferring to be "invited in"||Tendency to be constrained by protocol, preferring to be "invited in"|
The nature of a society of vampires has been imaginatively explored in fiction and film. For example, Kim Newman (Anno Dracula, Carroll and Graf, 1992) takes a notably high metaphorical road and explores the politics of a vampire society. Newman ponders an England where Dracula has won, where the vampire has become the New Breed in the class mix of Victoria's Albion. The film Eyes Wide Shut (1999) offers an imaginative exploration of a supportive context.
Conspiracy theorists have been highly creative in identifying secretive, interlocking elitist groups that could be claimed to be the leading features of a global civilization of vampires. Groups identified in this way include:
Many more elite bodies are identifed as overlapping or linked to these. Some are identified in a new Global Elite Wiki -- with bodies such as the World Economic Forum. Any such list would be extended by some to include secret(ive) societies such as the Freemasons or Opus Dei.
The interesting challenge for all such bodies faced with accusations and possible misperceptions is that, given their ability to sustain secrecy and manipulate information concerning themselves, they are now completely unable to prove credibly that they are other than they are claimed to be by their accusers. Their every apparently positive initiative is now recognized to be liable to problematic reinterpretation and broken pledges -- or to be indistinguishable from public relations and tax avoidance agendas.
The difficulty of providing such proof is exacerbated by the following:
Phenomena such as the following could be interpreted as supportive of any global civilization of vampires:
It is appropriate to explore the extent to which news management and "spin" is being used to induce despair in the population -- as a means of draining hope, and any confidence in the future, to the advantage of elites who control that process.
For those within the modern vampire subculture, the process is recognized at the individual level as "psychic vampirism" practiced -- knowingly or unknowingly -- by "psychic vampires" (cf Michelle Belanger, The Psychic Vampire Codex, 2004). There are extensive web resources to various degrees of the process explained in a variety of terms.
More generally a "psychic vampire" is a living person recognized as having a talent for "draining" others emotionally whether empathically or metaphorically. The person may also be described as a "user". The process may be understood as draining psychic energy from other people for personal benefit. In more extreme cases the attacker may effectively feed off victims energetically leaving them "drained". The sensitive and vulnerable tend to be more suceptible to this form of "psychic attack" .[more]
There is considerable concern with the need to develop means of protection against psychic attack (cf Eileen Nauman, Psychic Attack and Saran Wrap, 1999).
It has been suggested by Joe Slate (Psychic Vampires) that:
"At a global level, it can literally drain the earth of its survival resources and interrupt its harmony and balance...In the group setting, psychic vampirisrn can involve multiple vampires and victims. It can occur within groups and between groups, with power, wealth, and control being among its major goals. Highly competitive groups whose goal is to subdue or defeat the opposition, along with heated political campaigns, seem particularly vulnerable to group psychic vampirism. In its most dangerous form, it can include the organized activities of predator gangs, criminal groups, and drug trafficking networks." [more].
Related to expressed concerns about "psychic vampirism" are those about the insidious process of "spiritual vampirism" (cf Charles Wilkins Webber, Spiritual Vampirism, 1853; Marty Raphael, Spiritual Vampires: the use and misuse of spiritual power, 1996; Alexander D. King, Soul Suckers: vampiric shamans in Northern Kamchatka, Russia, Anthropology of Consciousness, 1999, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 57-68). This concerns a form of abuse people would rather believe does not exist. Metaphorically, orthodox Christians have deplored the "spiritual vampirism of the spirit of the age and its temptations and technologies" [more]. For some "spiritial vampirism" is to be understood as the way in which ancient spiritual truths have been blocked from current awareness by religions.
As noted earlier, there is a curious symmetry to the perception of vampirism in contemporary culture. On the one hand the world's elites tend to be labelled as vampires and bloodsuckers by the political left -- speaking on behalf of the marginalized victims of policies developed and supported by elites. On the other hand, those perceiving themselves to be most socially alienated from modern society, the Goths, personally identify themselves as vampires embodying and symbolizing their isolation.
Following Carl Jung, analysts, such as Julia McAfee (The Vampire Archetype and Vampiric Relationships, 1991) the vampire is understood as the shadow self. In the commentary of Alex Lucard (Psychological and literary criticism, 2005):
The vampire became a key fixture in society according to Jungians, because it became a mental scapegoat of sorts. It allowed humanity to project the negative aspects of ourselves onto something we could both openly revile and admire without actually acting out the desires and impulses ourselves. The vampire acts in the way humanity wishes it could, but can not due to social restraints. The Jungian interpretation of the vampire assumes that all humans have a vampire inside of them. We have an unconscious understanding this archetype is real and part of us all, and that it is both evil and yet tragic at the same time. However, the majority of humanity fails to grasp that the vampire is in fact an expression of our inner selves, that it represents a fragile reality that is both elusive and yet threatening, and that one can only engage in it through empathy and effort. [more]
Through her work as a psychotherapist Dorothy Hayden (Psychological Dimensions of Masochistic Surrender, 2001) became aware of the forces drawing her clients into the subculture attracted to the vampire archetype and the masochistic dynamics of submission:
Masochism may be imagined as cultivation of what Jung called the "shadow" -- the darker, mostly unconscious part of the psyche which he regarded not as a sickness, but as an essential part of the human psyche. The shadow is the tunnel, channel, or connector through which one reaches the deepest, most elemental layers of psyche... Embracing the shadow, on the other hand, provides a fuller sense of self-knowledge, self-acceptance and a fuller sense of being alive. Jung's idea of the shadow involves force and passivity, horror and beauty, power and impotence, straightness and perversion, infantilism, wisdom and foolishness....
Empathizing with her clients, Hayden then argues that:
Submission to masochistic pain, loss of control and humiliation serves to embrace our shadow rather than deny it. The result is the achievement of an inner life that accepts and embraces all aspects of our selves and allows us to live with a deeper sense of our true selves.Such a perspective raises fundamental issues regarding attitudes to "surrender" to dominant cultural forces by the marginalized who may be understood as effectively draining them of energy threough a varieties of exploitative processes. Hayden then concludes, controversially:
... the psychotherapeutic community needs to re-examine masochistic submissions to see it not as a pathology but as a healthy vehicle for surrendering fixed defense mechanisms, for relinquishing control to something or someone greater than themselves, for achieving freedom from the pervasive and relentless need to cultivate, promote and assert the self, for gaining some relief from having to make innumerable choices and decisions, for engaging in healthy fantasy enactments, and for the exploration, acknowledge and acceptance the "darker" or "shadow" side of their personalities. In addition, many patients speak of achieving a loss of self-awareness that they describe as ecstasy or bliss in which the individual transcends his normal limits and ceases to be aware of self in ordinary terms.
It is however the Jungian insight that all persons have a vampire within themselves that perhaps offers a lead into reframing the current situation relating to a "vampire civilization" -- especially when attributes of vampirism are projected onto dominant others such as the elites of the world. Bluntly put, we are indeed vampires to some degree and our civilization is to some degree designed in those terms.
Is there a sense in which humans deliberately tend to place themselves in situations -- in a "civilization" -- in which they are effectively drained of tangible and intangible resources through processes that can be characterized, or caricatured, as vampirism? Is this also a useful way of framing the relationship of people to those that they themselves dominate -- and to the tangible and intangible resources of the environment that they exploit? This would then justify any description of the modern global civilization as a "civilization of vampires". Governance, as suggested by the subtitle of this paper, is then indeed through "demons and vampires" using spin to frame the situation in "positive" terms. Whether as major or minor "demons", all are then complicit in this demonic process.
Like it or not, the elites are those to whom people have attributed such functions to a higher degree in our "vampire civilization". In cybernetic control system terms, the rather fine distinction from the Aztec "industrial scale" approach to the use of human blood (as a vital feature of their system of governance) is far less than it is convenient to accept consciously. Hence the tendency to use the term "vampire" in metaphorical invective applied to demonized others -- but also the tendency of the underprivileged to give an active reality to the existence of "vampires" and the "undead" in society, even to the point of identifying with them.
In terms of our acclaimed and preferred values, the challenge then is the "civilization of vampires". How can our society render its vampire tendencies more civilized? The Catholic Church seeks to achieve this through its dematerialization of blood in the ritual of Mass. But an important step is the recognition of the extent to which our civilization is indeed based on vampirism, if only psychically or metaphorically.
More important perhaps is recognition of the extent to which most in society are vulnerable to "vampire attack" -- again if only in the psychic or metaphoric sense. Ironically, there is a real sense, according to vampire lore, that people or groups, functioning as vampires, are "invited in" by their victims. Some forms of advertising, for example, might be seen in this light. It is through this process, rationalized and ennobled through the highest degree of spin of which value-based public relations is capable, that people get "suckered" -- to use an appropriate piece of jargon.
There is much debate about the need for education regarding "safe sex" as a protection against HIV. Is there not a case for an analogous debate on the need for education regarding "safe intercourse" in a more generic sense -- as a protection against attacks on psychic immune systems? Whatever reality is attributed to "psychic attack", the commonly recognized symptoms of being "drained" by modern psychosocial processes are worthy of heightened attention. Any tendency to vampirism does indeed need to be subject to a greater degree of civilization. G8 gatherings of elites are a good place to start!
Patricia Altner. Vampire readings: an annotated bibliography. Scarecrow Press, 1998.
Nina Auerbach. Our Vampires, Ourselves. University of Chicago Press, 1995
Andre Bourguignin. Vampirism and Auto-vampirism in Social Dynamics of Antisocial Behavior. 1983
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