What Is a Scapegoat World History?

In world history, the term “scapegoat” has been used to describe a person or group of people who are blamed for the problems of others. This concept has been around for centuries, and it continues to be relevant today. In this article, we will explore the history of scapegoating and its impact on society.

The Origin of Scapegoating

The term “scapegoat” comes from an ancient Jewish ritual described in the Old Testament. According to this tradition, a goat was chosen by lot to bear the sins of the community. The goat was then sent into the wilderness, symbolically carrying away their transgressions.

This concept of transferring blame onto another being has been present in many cultures throughout history. In ancient Greece, for example, a practice called “pharmakos” involved sacrificing a person or animal in order to purify the community from evil.

The Use of Scapegoats in World History

Throughout history, leaders have often used scapegoating as a way to deflect attention from their own failures and maintain power. During times of economic hardship or political instability, it is not uncommon for politicians to identify certain groups as responsible for society’s problems.

One infamous example is Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews during World War II. Adolf Hitler and his followers blamed Jews for Germany’s economic struggles and portrayed them as enemies of the state. This led to the systematic extermination of millions of Jewish people in concentration camps.

In more recent times, some politicians have used immigrants or minorities as convenient Targets for blame. This can lead to discrimination and violence against these groups.

The Impact on Society

Scapegoating can have far-reaching consequences on society. It can create divisions among different groups and lead to prejudice and discrimination. When people are blamed for problems that are not their fault, it can cause them great harm and even put their lives at risk.

In addition, scapegoating can distract from the real issues that need to be addressed. Instead of focusing on solutions, people may become fixated on finding someone to blame.


Scapegoating has been a part of human history for thousands of years, and it continues to be a problem today. By understanding the origins and impact of this phenomenon, we can work towards creating a more just and equitable society. Rather than blaming others for our problems, we must take responsibility for our actions and work together to find solutions.