This is the best FAQ summary of Rene Girard's work, mimetic theory and scapegoating I've ever read. An excerpt:
Q. Why is mimetic theory important?
A. Mimetic theory is important because it allows us to think clearly and honestly about the greatest threat to human survival: our own violence. It offers the best available analysis of the causes of conflict, the contagion of violence, and the pervasive use of scapegoating by individuals and communities. But its enduring value is found in the guidance it offers for how to end the plague of violence and establish a real and lasting peace.
... until I read this from Peter Leithart:
A brief overview of key elements of the thought of Rene Girard. Mimetic desire. Desire isn’t individual; it doesn’t emerge from isolated individuals. It’s mimetic. We desire what we see others desiring. This is the basis for the advertising industry; it’s obvious in any day care center, when children try to play with toys that other children are playing with; it’s evident in many of the romantic stories of Western literature (from Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale to Shakespeare and on).