Preface to Updated Book
There are two kinds of pain a writer can experience in the time between completing a project and its final publication: impatience, and regret. Unfortunately, the former can often lead to the latter. In my case, still being rather young for a writer, the continuous honing of my craft left me as a better writer by the end of this book than I had been at the beginning. Most of the content is closer in skill-level to where I had started—in November of 2015—than where I finished in February of 2017.
Someone once said that they were forced to write a long letter because they did not have the time to write a short one. I confess that not only did I lack the experience to write clearly in an intuitive fashion, but I was also impatient to get the argument out in the world—pressing as I believed the subject to be. As a result, the prose is in places unnecessarily difficult. With the clarity of hindsight, I apologize to the readers who attempted to slog through the first edition, and congratulate those who managed to cross the finish line.
I have attempted to touch things up for this second edition, making sentences less wordy and pretentious. All of the arguments themselves remain untouched, except for the very last section which discusses Christian theology and the concept of agape love, which is now excised. That section was not merely clumsy, but incorrect. My sincere apologies to any I may have inadvertently misled.
Overall, however, and in spite of the clumsiness and impatience of my waning youth, I believe the arguments themselves have held up to the scrutiny of exposure. As political tensions continue to escalate and battle lines are drawn, I believe the contents of this book are even now more pertinent than they were two years ago. I am very glad I was able to get the book out in 2017, even in its imperfect form, and I hope that in this second edition, the same arguments for love and hate might challenge, entertain, and inform in a more readable and enjoyable fashion.
October 7, 2018
A political operative in any day and age is required to pay careful attention to his words. And in a modern, liberal-democratic society, the word “hatred” is absolutely forbidden.
The exception, of course, is when one is lamenting the hatred promoted or engaged in by the other side. A Democrat can talk all he wants of Republicans who hate immigrants, racial minorities, and women. A Republican can talk all he wants of Democrats who hate America, Jesus, and freedom.
But if I were to say that I hate traitors; if I were to say that I hate the financiers and leftists who have sold out my country; if I said that they deserved the wrath of my hatred – what then?
If I were to say that I hate the jihadists not because of their radicalization or their unfortunate circumstance, but because they are an existential enemy that must be annihilated – how long would it be before every party leader and talking head in America denounced me as a greater threat to our way of life than the jihadists themselves?
Such is the way of things now. In order to get along in politics, you must wear that mantle of republican hypocrisy and show all the world how reasonable and incapable of hatred you are. So it is that to write the Foreword to a book in defense of hatred is tantamount to political suicide.
At first, Mr. Robertson had asked for nothing more than my constructive criticism of his manuscript. Having ten thousand things to do at any one point in time, I decided to speed read the manuscript over breakfast one morning, expecting to make nothing more than corrections to stylistic flaws and points of grammar.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that a work of monumental importance had just fallen into my lap. I still ended up reading the entire book in a single sitting over breakfast, but not because I was speed reading something on my action-item list: it was because I was absolutely engrossed.
Mr. Robertson has not just given us an excellent writing; he has done us all a much greater service. In resurrecting hatred as a virtue of a strong people, he has restored an essential part of human nature long-suppressed by the present cultural paradigm.
Hatred as a virtue—“a moral good,” as Mr. Robertson calls it—is indeed counterintuitive to a people who have been conditioned for generations to value tolerance as the summum bonum. Needless to say, the very thought of hatred as a virtue is an abomination to anyone who cherishes love.
Ah, but only at first blush, Dear Reader. For as Mr. Robertson points out, hate is born of love.
If you do not hate that which harms those you love, then you do not really love them. I am reminded of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who harangued us all on the campus of the University of South Florida. I was young and stupid at the time and had not yet learned the wisdom of picking my battles.
So I would argue with him about the text of the Bible, about the theology behind it, about the morality of Christianity, and everything else. God only knows what we fought about; it was too inconsequential for me to remember. But there was one point he made that I will remember for the rest of my life. In speaking of his hatred of sin he said, “If my child has cancer, then I hate that cancer. I hate the cancer because it is killing the child I love.”
I have thought about that preacher’s words for about a decade now. But it was not until reading In Defense of Hatred that this primal sentiment was finally given a coherent voice and a constructive channel. That breakfast with this book was a Eureka! moment for me like no other. This is one of those books that give a framework for something you have felt intuitively all your life but have never been able to put into words.
For this I am in Mr. Robertson’s debt. We all are.
Augustus Sol Invictus
Orlando, Florida USA
“They say you never forget your first love. I can remember my first hate […] with real vividness, and the feeling that it was a strong motivator to write. It wouldn’t be an interesting one to share with you, but I can remember it very well, and it’s how I learned an important distinction: many people are fond of saying ‘it’s more important to generate light than heat.’ You may have heard this wised-up remark made by people. It sounds so judicious, doesn’t it? Poppycock, of course. I mean there is no other source of light but heat. Where else could light come from, but heat, if you think about it? Totally false distinction.”
—Christopher Hitchens, 1997
A few years ago, the premise of this book was as foreign to me as it probably is to most people. The concept didn’t occur to me even as the seeds were being planted in my brain, listening to Christopher Hitchens defend hate speech at the University of Toronto (you’ll know you are listening to the right one if he begins, “Fire! Fire, fire, fire…”)1. But eventually the question had to be asked: why do we seem to unanimously hate hatred? How did we all agree on that?
The question is not dissimilar from a more specific question: why do we generally agree that hate speech should be avoided, or even banned? Because of the similarities and crossovers between the former emotion (hatred) and the latter action (hate speech), we can expect there to be some similarities between the justifications for hate speech and the justifications for hatred itself.
The question being argued, in Hitchens’ case, was whether freedom of speech allows for the freedom to hate. The normal arguments were advanced by the opposition: hate speech begets hateful action, just think of the Jews, think of the American blacks. Think of the homosexuals. Think of all the victims. Hitchens’ main argument, distilled into a simple question, was, “who gets to decide?” Choosing the judge of what counts as “hatred” has always proven to be an impossible task to complete objectively, and the power of deciding was often abused by misinformed judges, or even hateful people themselves.
To add metaphor to analogy, consider the quintessential example of a proper limit to otherwise free speech. The famous supreme court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. offered the argument that even the most stringent protection of the plaintiff’s first amendment rights would not allow him to falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, on the grounds that it would pose a clear and present danger to the surrounding public, and therefore ought to be treated not as speech, but as an action.
The famous “fire in a crowded theater” test comes from a 1919 Supreme Court case—Schenck v United States—regarding the printing and mailing of pamphlets to eligible draftees, which condemned the draft as a violation of the rights of citizens, rights which citizens had a duty to defend. These pamphlets were deemed, by the court, to be a clear and present danger, as they were printed in a time of war, and potentially adversely threatened the war effort.
There are three important circumstances to remember about this case.
First, the argument was never literal, but an analogy, and a poor one at that. Charles Schenck was not in a theater, nor shouting “fire!” nor causing anything like the “clear and present danger” we imagine in the theatrical thought experiment. His crime was to have disagreed with America’s involvement in WWI, distributing pamphlets to young men urging them to join him in abstaining from the draft. Given that the harms to the United States, or to anybody else, were uncertain, ambiguous, and suspended somewhere beyond the moment or the immediate future, it would be impossible to argue that Schenck’s actions constituted either a clear or a present danger, let alone both. If America was harmed by a lack of voluntary soldiers, then surely being in the war constituted an equally valid threat to the soldiers themselves, a threat worthy of discussion. And the distribution of pamphlets is itself hardly a fast or decisive action. Present dangers, in theory, do not allow for free speech because there is not time to reason through the arguments for and against (like a real fire, in a real theater). So not only was the Justice’s opinion an argument by analogy, but an argument by bad analogy. It was, in fact, completely illegitimate by the analogy-maker’s own standards for it being analogous at all.
Even the true intent of the pamphlets was decided by inferred insinuation, and not by what was objectively stated in the offending pamphlets:
It said “Do not submit to intimidation,” but in form, at least, confined itself to peaceful measures such as a petition for the repeal of the act […] Of course, the document would not have been sent unless it had been intended to have some effect, and we do not see what effect it could be expected to have upon persons subject to the draft except to influence them to obstruct the carrying of it out.
Secondly, the argument was not even an original creation of the Justice’s. It had actually been lifted without attribution from a less reputable and experienced prosecutor. If we are reasoning by symbolism, metaphor, and analogy, then we ought to remember that symbolism works in both directions. If your foundational argument is a poorly-applied plagiarism—as the argument against free speech in America is—then perhaps your stance deserves some reevaluation.
Finally, even Holmes himself was ultimately unconvinced by his own analogy. He argued for a far more liberal interpretation of the First Amendment eight months later in his dissent from the Abrams case, saying “I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.” Despite retaining the “clear and present danger” precedent, Holmes notably dropped the illustrative metaphor while reversing his opinion on a nearly identical case. If one of the most famous and respected Justices in American history can rescind his opinion on the issue, then it may warrant some reconsideration from us lesser mortals too. The omission of this historical detail should not escape our notice.
And what if there actually was a fire? As it turns out, WWI was a perfect example of very literal fire in a very crowded theater (perhaps the closest the analogy ever came to real-life). It was also a war which, in hindsight, America could have and probably should have avoided entirely, but which cost us over 116,000 soldiers, and wounded another 200,000. Having attempted to awaken America to the danger, Schenck was more similar to a firefighter than to an ill-intending prankster. In accordance with the old saying, he was judiciously punished for his good deed.
Looking back, it is easy for us to say that Justice Holmes got the call in Schenck v. United States backwards. But the wrongness of the decision is not as much of a problem as the precedent itself, which served to silence unpatriotic or seditious speech. What appears to be seditious may in fact be an attempt at protecting the nation, just as the person shouting “Fire!” might, surprisingly, be alerting theatergoers to a very real fire. And yet the example lives on in our collective memories: you cannot shout “fire!” in a crowded theater.
Is sedition itself really so terrible? Our nation would not exist without some rebellious, freedom-loving—even anarchic—instinct. One could say our nation’s founding emotion is sedition, that primal feeling of injustice which prompts revolt, an innate sense that we all have rights and freedoms, granted to us by nature’s God. When you consider the many paths and possibilities—all the forks in the road a nation can take when confronted with creeping assertions by other powers against their liberties—one cannot actually have freedom without some seditious instinct, and a willingness to act upon it when the occasion requires it. Yet if asked, most people would tend to praise the virtues and wonders of freedom without giving that dirty, grey concrete foundation of sedition its due share of credit.
The arguments against hate speech are all claims to clear and present harm induced by the hateful speech. However, they are even more vague and ambiguous than something as visceral as a stampede in a theater. They are, in other words, worse than a plagiarized bad analogy rescinded by its primary user.
In a building clearly and presently filling with smoke, speech that might be attacked as “hateful” can often be more beneficial than kind words. For this reason, it is better not to dismiss the first firefighter who shows up to a burning building, literal or figurative.
It is in this seditious spirit that I will now endeavor to defend the one great evil of the modern age: not hate speech, but hatred itself. I do not want to cast it as something ugly that we need to learn to live with because it is necessary or inevitable. Rather, my goal is to show that it is, in fact, an intrinsic moral good in its own right, and a moral necessity when the time and situation requires.
Like all emotions, there will be contexts in which it is inappropriate. I trust that the reader will be intelligent enough to avoid the “not all” fallacy that has been plaguing modern conversations on social issues: not all of X does Y, therefore general claims about X doing Y are false. Not all bears will maul you, but no thinking person is going to walk up and pet one.
So, without further ado, I present to you a defense of hatred.
January 24, 2017
I. Hatred: Good or Evil?
“All passions have a phase when they are merely disastrous, when they drag down their victim with the weight of stupidity — and a later, very much later phase when they wed the spirit, when they “spiritualize” themselves. Formerly, in view of the element of stupidity in passion, war was declared on passion itself, its destruction was plotted; all the old moral monsters are agreed on this: il faut tuer les passions. The most famous formula for this is to be found in the New Testament, in that Sermon on the Mount, where, incidentally, things are by no means looked at from a height. There it is said, for example, with particular reference to sexuality: “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.” Fortunately, no Christian acts in accordance with this precept. Destroying the passions and cravings, merely as a preventive measure against their stupidity and the unpleasant consequences of this stupidity — today this itself strikes us as merely another acute form of stupidity.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
Hatred as Intrinsic Moral Evil
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Attributed to him, among various others, is the aphorism that hating is like “swallowing poison and hoping it kills your enemy.”
Mother Teresa followed a similar script: “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” Perhaps judging is not synonymous with “hate,” but it is certainly a prerequisite, and still frames love not merely as a good, but as something owed to all.
And of course, there is Gandhi: “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”
Being moral saints of the modern age, these patrons of inclusion and diversity have set a tone for what our expected relationship with hatred is to be… or perhaps they are merely a product of that expectation. For us, it makes no difference. What is important is whether they are right.
We are told that hatred is unproductive, and worse, that it is the source of the very things we are fighting all around the globe: destruction, violence, division, and despair. It makes us no better than them. We are told that hatred is the opposite of love. Compassion, understanding, and empathy are the solution. War is not the answer. This is the endless message of the media, of politicians, of school administrators, and worried citizens, eager to show they are not one of them… “them,” of course, not being known or understood explicitly but broadly acknowledged as hateful people. Even the Bible—moral compass and map for many—appears to say that hatred is wrong: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart.”
This belief can be seen on smaller scale, more personal instances too. I remember growing up hearing “One Tin Soldier” sung to me as a lullaby, the song from Billie Jack that equated greed with hatred. Of the fairy tales from Grimm, Aesop, Anderson and the rest, the one I remember most clearly was Baldwin’s story of Genghis Kahn and the Hawk, in which the king cuts down his favorite bird with a sword after it saves his life, over a misunderstanding. The sorry king laments how he has learned a sad lesson: never to act in anger. It would be wrong to conflate anger and hatred, but we cannot dismiss the priming of young minds for dismissing an entire emotional reaction as intrinsically bad. Nor should we ignore the similarity between anger and hatred, which is obvious even to a pre-adolescent boy.
The tale of the scorpion and the frog, by contrast, went untold:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.” The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?” Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”
In older times, both stories would have been considered true and relevant, applicable based on context. The balance would give a more holistic and true vision of the many sides of human nature and of wisdom. Nowadays, the choice in emphasis (and omission) attempts to tell young children a different set of tales, tries to hide the harsher world from children—and disarm them of the tools necessary to take on that harsh world—rather than preparing them for it.
Far from being a mere cultural institution, our moral rejection of hatred is enshrined in various codes, bylaws and government agencies. There are so-called “hate crimes,” which we are to separate from “crimes.” The FBI dutifully explains:
A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.
For the moment, we still have freedom of speech, however begrudgingly allowed, and for who knows how much longer. “Hate speech” is illegal in many European countries, and just within the last few months (as I write this in August, 2016), police have raided the homes of ordinary citizens for the horrendous crime of criticizing European immigration policy on Facebook. But speech is not the primary issue here; it is merely an expression of the problem.
Hatred bears the dubious honor of being the only emotion which large numbers of people around the world seem bent upon making illegal. If you ever believed Orwellian “thought-crime” to be (at the least) difficult to implement, imagine feel-crime for experiencing the wrong emotions.
At universities, businesses, clubs and groups of all sorts, one can be expelled for anything that is perceived to be motivated by hate. At the college I attended in Bellevue, Washington, for instance, “bias incidents” are against student policy, and are grounds for disciplinary action, potentially including expulsion. The school defines it as “conduct, speech, or behavior motivated by prejudice or a bias toward another person that does not rise to the level of a crime.”
That’s right; something that “does not rise to the level of a crime” can functionally be treated as one, in the pseudo-judicious eyes of administrators and academic disciplinary boards. I know this because the school distributes pamphlets which say so, entitled “Do not let the haters win.” Bias itself is considered bad. “Biased news,” “biased grading,” “biased results,” all carry a heavy negative connotation of ethical wrongdoing, just barely short of illegality.
The big problems we used to discuss at schools—on civics, engineering, physics or philosophy—are no longer the most important subjects. Now the primary directive of every college is the eradication of a universal emotion and expression: hatred.
The problem of hatred is not viewed as universal, however. They seem to be mostly concerned (perhaps only concerned) with the hatred coming from whites, males, heterosexuals, conservatives, and Christians. Being four out of these five, I speak as much from experience as from observation.
Preference, or “bias,” is what anti-hate activists are really challenging on moral grounds. After all, how can you hate something without a preference? Hatred cannot be attacked without also attacking the concept of preference, because hatred only comes from a confrontation between something you prefer and oppositional forces in the world.
But if you attack preference, does not love itself also come under fire? Love is an act of elevating one thing above others, and if you attack hatred via preference, then love is the collateral damage. The preferences of people that anti-hate activists oppose are the initial targets, but all preferences will eventually fall to this moral attack, including those of the anti-haters themselves.
The activists I refer to go by many names: “progressives,” “regressives,” “cuckservatives,” and “social justice warriors” all might fit under this category. But their work is often done by more ordinary people, people who are not “activists” and who might describe themselves as “liberal” or “conservative,” but who act as if the most important part of life is to get along with other people. They are agreeable to a fault, but they do not stop there; they will get mad at you if you are not also agreeable to a fault.
My argument is not that the negative side-effects of hatred are over-stated. They are over-stated, but that misses the greater moral deception. Hatred is not evil at all; it is a moral good. It is the proper emotion to act on when the situation requires it, because it can be a powerful weapon to protect the people, places, objects, and ideas that you love, including yourself. Failing to act upon it, in fact, is a betrayal of love, and failing to feel it at all is a moral shortcoming that ultimately makes you unlovable.
But before going further, let me clarify exactly what I’m talking about when we refer to the emotion called “hatred.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines hatred as “intense or passionate dislike.” This is a useful shorthand definition, but there is no precision or context, and the description is broad. My passionate dislike of asparagus is not the kind emotion that Mandela, or King, or anyone is talking about when they explain the evils of hatred.
Merriam-Webster is a bit better: “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” Now there is context, a cause, but this definition is still too broad. Hostility from fear is short-lived, and is essentially an extension of fear itself. It is not the unique sensation we normally think of when we imagine “hatred,” and neither is hostility from injury. This we usually call “anger,” and it is distinct from hatred because it has a moral dimension, justifying itself by the democratic opinion of others. It is less intense, less permanent, and despite its reputation, rarely causes violence or brutality on the scale that hatred can.
The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology gets extremely precise in its symptomatic description, calling hatred a “deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object.” Penguin disregards context, but captures the difference in depth between hate and something like anger or annoyance.
All of these definitions describe the symptoms of hatred, and one gives us a glimpse of a source, but none of these truly capture its nature sufficiently for the purpose of moral exploration.
Note that all three of these definitions use the word “intense.” Aside from Merriam-Webster, they all miss context, and only Penguin gives us precision. Without grasping the full nature of hatred, we cannot make useful moral judgments about it. We need something better.
Freud defined hatred as an ego state that seeks the destruction of the source of its unhappiness. Here we have a cause, and a desired resolution. Expressions of intense animosity and hostility are natural if something is making us unhappy. It would be normal for us to want to stop whatever it is that is doing it, and if there is no way to get away from this animus, or to persuade it, or to stop it peacefully, then it is perfectly logical to destroy it, particularly if “unhappiness” might include the impending or threatened death of our loved ones or ourselves. “Live and let live” is nice, but only if they are going to keep their side of the bargain.
But hatred does not necessarily mean you want to destroy what you hate. When Achilles withdrew from the attack on Troy, or when Galt shrugged the world and withdrew from society, they were not seeking destruction, though they were certainly acting out of hatred. Destruction is only one possible expression. You might want to keep the object of hate at a distance, or to merely get away from it yourself. You can even imagine a situation where you might want it to survive and to succeed, to better show others why it is worth hating and staying away from. And for many, calling hatred “an ego state” begs the moral judgment of the emotion.
“Ego” has become a derogative term for an aspect of the self, packed full of connotations about poor introspection and short-sighted selfishness. It leaves no room to account for hatred on behalf of a loved one or a stranger. It precludes the possibility of deep opposition of principle, and insinuates mere personal preference of a more superficial kind.
A better and more helpful way of thinking about it can be found by exploring the nature of two other separate but related emotions: anger and disgust.
Disgust is among the most powerful emotions we have, and one of the easiest to elicit. And the reason disgust is so powerful is because it is so valuable. “Just like fear offers us protective benefits, disgust seems to do the same thing,” says Cornell Associate Professor of Psychology, David Pizarro, “except for what disgust does is keeps us away not from things that might eat us, or heights, but rather things that might poison us, or give us disease and make us sick.” In other words, it is our involuntary reaction to things that might harm us. Feces, vomit, blood, rotten food, spiders, maggots, all of these things are sources of harm, or indicators of harm nearby.
The feeling of revulsion towards these things that compels us to avoid them is a survival instinct that keeps us safe. Hatred has a similar feeling to it, being a kind of revulsion. But when we are “disgusted” by a dead animal, we do not “hate” it. If something is not choosing to act against us, there is no usefulness in hating it, even if it poses a danger to us. Hatred cannot deter or intimidate a cow pie, nor would we need to work ourselves to a heightened readiness for violence and brutality in order to dispose of a puddle of last night’s undercooked chicken lasagna. A pure revulsion is sufficient to keep us safe from these things. Hatred, and anger, are more complex because they deal with more complex causes.
Unlike disgust, anger is always being directed towards a conscious mind. While we may describe being “angry” at a malfunctioning washing machine, we are usually just being sloppy with our language, when we really mean to say “annoyed” or “frustrated.” When a person is difficult to work with, or bothers us in some way but is not wronging us, they might be “irritating,” or “obnoxious.” But true anger is reserved for when we are wronged, and only conscious minds can do that.
Anger is always directed at people and because of this, is always marked by its outward expression: indignation at an injustice. It is an appeal to those around you that some wrong has been committed against you, and some sort of compensation is owed. Fundamentally, anger is about fairness, and fairness can only be achieved by showing others that something that just happened is not fair.
Now, appeals to fairness depend on other people sharing your view of what is fair, or at least accounting for your opinion in their own. What happens if the unfairness was not accidental or incidental, but intended? What do you call the feeling you experience when you understand that your unhappiness is not a misunderstanding, not an accident, but a matter of the very nature of another person? What is it when you recognize that you will never convince the person that is causing your unhappiness that they are in the wrong? What if the nature of the person, or people, is not just unfair, but is dangerous to you?
This is both the source and the nature of hatred—disgust towards mind. Our definition of hatred, then, is as follows: it is the feeling of recognizing fundamental opposition of nature, unconstrained by time or circumstance as with a simple grievance or general danger.
The definition of hatred as disgust towards a conscious mind is useful for three reasons:
1.) It encapsulates what people generally mean when they say “I hate ____.”
2.) It seats the word in the context of its psychological origins, making it easier to understand holistically than mere descriptions would, and as a result, easier to judge accurately when we place it under the microscope of game theory, evolution, ethics, and philosophy.
3.) It is precisely the emotion that people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and the anti-hatred culture are referring to when they expound upon the evils of hatred.
We see the essence of hate perfectly captured in literature when Achilles tells Hector: “Fool, prate not to me about covenants. There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out and through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall fall and glut grim Mars with his life’s blood.”
Because of whose side you are on, what you have done to my cousin, to my men, my friends, and what I know you will continue to do unless I stop you, there is no point in talking. If we were to talk, our words would themselves be swords, attempting to weaken or destroy each other. We are enemies.
Like every other definition of “hatred,” this one might sound a little similar to “fear.” It feels like there might be some overlap. And as a result, many people have found it convenient to confuse hatred and fear, even overtly conflating the two. Hatred of gays is “homophobia,” dislike and distrust of foreigners is “xenophobia,” etc. A more sophisticated reader may ask why anger and fear were not combined, rather than anger and disgust. At first, this seems more logical and helpful, since the source of hatred is very often the source of fear—a sentient threat—while disgust is triggered by inanimate contaminants.
But they are threats experienced over different periods of time. Fear wholly and completely exists in the moment. Hatred can only be felt when someone recognizes that the conflict is in some way eternal, and will not pass with time. This is why anger and fear cannot be experienced simultaneously. Robert Plutchik puts anger and fear on opposite sides of his wheel of emotions, and the degree to which you experience the one, you cannot experience the other, just as you cannot simultaneously experience sadness and joy, interest and distraction, disgust and trust, surprise and anticipation. What inspires fear can later transform into hatred, but only once the feeling of fear dies away.
Hatred expressed as intimidation, or a call to combat, can easily become an act of provocation if the other side calls your bluff. Put another way, manifest hatred requires courage. If someone is fearful, acting with hate would not be acting on that fear, but overcoming it.
This difference is reflected further in how these separate emotions appear in behavior. Like disgust, fear only drives us to action (usually, “run!”). There is no showmanship in fear. We might even be ashamed if we show that we are afraid. Hatred, like anger, has an expressive side. Anger says “listen to me!” It is an appeal to the natural social instincts towards justice and fairness that we all share. Hatred, by contrast, says “fear me,” if it says anything. When hatred is most powerful, we do not want to show it at all; when fear is most powerful, we cannot help but show it, and often do not care that we do. Fear is unthinking and spontaneous, which is perhaps why we do not like to admit that we are scared. It might also be why the anti-haters like to conflate hate and fear: it makes hate out to be uninformed and non-rational, as we imagine fear to be.
Some may object to my definition’s target, saying that you actually can “hate” an idea, or an object, or a place. I think this is merely hyperbole, and in many cases, just a thin cover for cowardice. An idea cannot harm you without people acting upon it, and ideas are the product of people anyway. Saying that you hate an idea is merely an evasion from saying you hate the people who create or implement the idea. Indeed, you wouldn’t even be aware of the idea unless someone was expressing it to you, by word or action. Because ideas are never the ones acting against you, hating an idea is as useful as being angry at the washing machine. I promise you, the machine will not recognize the injustice, and the idea will not fear you.
As for objects and places, “caution” and “dislike” are not synonymous with “hatred,” in our experience of the feelings or in how we act upon them. This is because there is no mind behind objects and places. Perhaps someone might genuinely feel “hate” towards some inanimate object, but we are no more obliged to take them seriously than we would if they were angry.
A cynical reader might think this definition conveniently primes people to see hatred as something that might be beneficial. I do not ordinarily debate cynics, and I especially dislike dealing with criticisms that do not address whether something is true or false (the philosopher Stefan Molyneux habitually labels these kinds of points “not an argument”). But in case you feel compelled to defend this definition from mind-readers, who want to begin this debate on the assumption that hatred is not beneficial in some way, you can give them the following analogy:
One of the most persistent myths in pop-psychology is that “we only use 10% of our brain.” We actually use 100% of our brain. What we do not use deteriorates, just like our unused muscles, and then other parts of our brain take over the underused area. One of the prominent theories explaining the phenomenon of “phantom limb”—in which amputees feel sensation on their missing body part—is that when one part of the brain takes over the unused sections that once monitored sensation in the amputated limb, some neurons have not fully changed over. When the amputee is touched on their left foot, for example, it might feel as though they are being touched on their departed left-hand, because the part of their brain responsible for their foot has taken over where the neurons for the unused hand once were. Efficiency is the name of the game, because energy is literally the stuff of life, and any unnecessary use of energy make the challenges of living that much more difficult.
Evolution is a ruthless pruner, and hatred takes energy. We all know the feeling of exhaustion after getting particularly angry at a news story, or a stressful encounter with a rival at school or work, once the adrenaline dies down. Hatred formed too quickly and with poor information can be costly, in money, dignity, and freedom. If hatred was an evil emotion, with all these detriments and no counterbalancing benefits, then why is it here? Why the high expenditure of energy if hate is bad? To say that hatred is imprudent would be to claim that all the hundreds of thousands of years spent forging our finely tuned social instincts and skills went wildly wrong from the beginning, and to claim it is immoral would, by the same token, separate morality from our survival.
Now that civilization has advanced, is hatred still a viable emotion to entertain and value? Surely, liberal democracy and the rule of law have rendered hatred not only unnecessary, but an undesirable and dangerous facet of the human psyche. Better to train people out of it, or if need be, perhaps even genetically prune this character quality away from the species.
Such positions seem to be held explicitly by many of the visionary architects of some future utopian society, and are tacitly held by a surprisingly high number of lay people. Yet to view civilization as a justification for the elimination of hatred is to put the proverbial cart before the horse. If civilization is of any use at all, it is because it is a positive, adaptive environment for human beings to thrive in, and human beings have hatred built into them. The transhumanist position that this part of human nature should be sliced off views the human psyche as a compartmentalized structure. We do not know very much about the human brain, and the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know, but the interconnected nature of many of our neural systems is very nearly concrete proof that human beings are not compartmentalized collections of emotions, from which one or two can be easily or simply removed. As I hope to show in this book, hatred is quite inextricably entangled with many things of which we should never, ever let go.
The human being, and not civilization, is the end goal. Whether civilization, or democracy, or any other social institution is the proper means for human preservation and flourishing is the question. The question cannot be “is the human being the best means for the preservation of civilization?”
If hatred truly is incompatible with civilization, and if civilization is—as it is imagined in the minds of those who advocate it over human nature itself—the best thing for the preservation and flourishing of humanity, then we would do better to trust evolution to naturally trim away those whom civilized society finds to be maladaptive in their hatefulness, rather than taking proactive measures. After all, evolution is far more trustworthy than the humans who attempt to “help it along,” humans who are almost universally wrong about what the future will require of man, and of how man works as it pertains to the changes they seek to implement.
Needless to say, this is almost never their proposed course of action.
The question then is not whether hate is beneficial, but when. When is hatred justified? When is it dangerous? How finely calibrated should our hate-response be, and how fast should it accelerate from 0-60? These questions require an accurate, precise, and complete definition of “hate” to answer. The definition of hate as “disgust towards mind” does not answer these questions by itself. But it does make attempting to answer the question possible, in a way that Oxford, Merriam-Webster, Penguin, and even Freud, do not.
Is Hatred Really Inevitable?
Before moving on, let me address the Randian Objectivist and pacifist critics, who believe that at the bottom of things, all existential opposition of this hateful kind is an illusion—not the product of real conflicts of interest, but simple failures of communication. Or perhaps failures of understanding about what your best interest really is. To these people, there are no Homeric lions and men, no wolves and lambs struggling in intractable opposition, just human beings trying to live and get along; all striving towards basically the same goals. With this view, hatred is irrational.
Although this perspective appears to hold true with most strangers, I do not believe this viewpoint is helpful when encountering the occasional exceptions. Without the aid of large governments, the exceptions might very well be the rule. It is easy to imagine your success in getting along with many could be extended to getting along with everyone. Maybe one day it could be, but in the course of a single lifetime, you are not going to be able to share the light of reason with everyone. History shows us that such crusaders are often the biggest dangers, and not the answer to the dangers they thought they could solve. One day we might all get along in love and peace and harmony, but we would do better to live assuming that people will go on doing what they have always done.
People have always lived in different groups, pursuing different interests that come from a combination of resource scarcity and from differing beliefs about what is good and bad. These differences, as we shall see, define who you are as an individual. So long as people love themselves, resources will matter, and will be worth fighting over in a world where there is not enough to go around. And so long as people’s sense of well-being, security, and success are affected by the collective action of groups, disagreements arising from imperfect knowledge will cause opposition between people.
We can deal with the ethics of a post-scarcity, post-ignorance society when we get there. But “education” has not shown itself to be the solution, all platitudes to the contrary. And even if we could move to a post-scarcity world with resources like food and shelter, that would only shift the variables without eliminating demand for other limited resources. How will the future economy account for any given man’s demand—in the market sense—for attractive women generally, let alone that particular attractive woman? Limited resources naturally result in conflicting interests, whether it is fighting over land, power within a group, or the heart of a woman.
There has always been competition and differences of opinion between people, as there will be for the foreseeable future. What this means is that contrary to American folk-wisdom, there are no sheepdogs: only wolves and sheep. Lt Col Dave Grossman speaks of these three classes of people in his classic book On Killing, describing the peaceful, salt-of-the-earth people as “sheep,” who are sometimes preyed upon by psychopaths, religious zealots, and mindless killers: the wolves. Appearing similarly to the wolf, but protecting good people, is the sheepdog. It is a romantic view, and pastoral to boot.
Between flocks, however, another man’s sheepdog will look, and act, like a wolf, at least in the eyes of the next flock.
To stretch the analogy, if all of these sheep were communists, peacefully sharing the grass on a five-year grazing plan, where no one starved and all were happy, then the sheepdogs would be exactly as we imagine them. But if you have two flocks competing for one field, then one side’s sheepdogs are just wolves by another name. Competition and intractable differences make “right” and “wrong” as much a matter of loyalty as any other moral standard.
Does this mean there are no universal “true” wolves? Of course not. But the vast majority of the people who the sheepdogs kill in wars, or even that cops kill from gangs, and justify in their minds as “wolves,” are really sheepdogs to another flock.
It is true that libertarian ideals of treaties and trades are possible, and are the goal most of the time. But these are not possible when mutually exclusive groups intermingle, or even come within proximity to each other. It is dangerous and stupid to pretend otherwise. Our moral beliefs ought to dwell in the reality that is, not the reality that some people would like to bring about sometime in the next millennium. Within these conflicts between groups, some of them will be differences of opinion, or conflicts of interest, that you will not be able to change by persuasion.
Put plainly, there will be people who gain from destroying you, and who either cannot or will not reason with you. To reject the morality of responding with hatred—disgust towards mind—is to reject the validity of your own existence.
“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.”
—William Shakespeare, King Henry V
There is more to morality than “what is beneficial to me and mine,” and the fact that hatred may be beneficial does not establish hatred as moral. But the origins, nature, and usefulness of the emotion gives us reason to suspect that it can be moral.
By comparison, what is the support for the argument that hatred is a bad and evil emotion? “History?” “Racism?”
It is probable—almost certain, in fact—that you would not be here today, reading this moral defense of your ancestors, if one of them had not acted on violent hatred against a dangerous enemy. Perhaps those enemies hated your ancestors because of their race. One day, your great-great-grandchild may think similar, contemplative thoughts about you, but only if they are alive to think them.
II. The Nature of Hate
“What would you say, if I should let you speak? Villains, for shame you could not beg for grace. Hark, wretches! How I mean to martyr you.”
—William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus
The Face of Hatred
So, what does disgust towards mind look like?
Titus Andronicus is a demonstration of one of hatred’s more emphatic forms. In this Shakespearean tragedy of injustice and vengeance, Andronicus is a valiant and patriotic Roman tribune, with the competence of the ideal patrician, but without the pathological ambition that so often characterized that social strata. In the war with the Goths immediately preceding the story, we are told that he had lost twenty-one of his twenty-five sons, and yet he didn’t seek any higher office for himself, but judiciously negotiated to maintain the peace between others vying to be the next Emperor.
In among the captives from the Goths, however, were the queen—Tamora—and her sons. As a religious sacrifice for the twenty-one lost sons, Titus kills one of Tamora’s sons, Alarbus. Tamora and her remaining two sons—Demetrius and Chiron—spend the middle portion of the play avenging their dead brother.
There was no malice in the sacrifice of Alarbus, and the three remaining Goths were in fact elevated to relatively high status by the remaining Romans. But Tamora’s heart is filled with the desire for vengeful anger, leading to the death and exile of Titus Andronicus’ other sons, the amputation of his hand, and the rape and mutilation of his daughter, Lavinia. Whereas the sacrificial murder of Alarbus was a one-time injustice against Tamora, the directed actions of Demetrius, Chiron, and the serpentine Moor, Aaron, all represent an ongoing and obsessive drive to the destruction of Titus Andronicus; retribution far exceeding the perceived crime, and with no visible end in sight. That is why, when Titus finally perceived their angle, he reacted with such brutal hatred, killing Chiron and Demetrius, and then feeding them to their mother Tamora:
Here stands the spring whom you have stain’d
This goodly summer with your winter mix’d.
You kill’d her husband, and for that vile fault
Two of her brothers were condemn’d to death,
My hand cut off and made a merry jest;
Both her sweet hands, her tongue, and that
Than hands or tongue, her spotless chastity,
Inhuman traitors, you constrain’d and forced.
What would you say, if I should let you speak?
Villains, for shame you could not beg for grace.
Hark, wretches! how I mean to martyr you.
This one hand yet is left to cut your throats,
Whilst that Lavinia ‘tween her stumps doth hold
The basin that receives your guilty blood.
You know your mother means to feast with me,
And calls herself Revenge, and thinks me mad:
Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust
And with your blood and it I’ll make a paste,
And of the paste a coffin I will rear
And make two pasties of your shameful heads,
And bid that strumpet, your unhallow’d dam,
Like to the earth swallow her own increase.
This is the feast that I have bid her to,
And this the banquet she shall surfeit on;
For worse than Philomel you used my daughter,
And worse than Progne I will be revenged:
And now prepare your throats. Lavinia, come,
Hate induced Titus to act with deceit, violence and cruelty. And it can do that to us as well: given what was done to his sons, his daughter, and himself, it is hard not to sympathize with Titus, and to silently cheer him on as he achieves his vengeance. Yes, we might say that he went too far. We might even believe ourselves. But it is hard not to be thankful, deep down, that some people are so vicious in their vengeance, because we know that other people will be a little bit more reticent to go about destroying our lives and our families. If you are a sociopath, you might want to take advantage of people and toss them away at will, but it is hard to know who will roll over and die, and who will snap and feed your children to you.
Better play it safe.
Hatred is about movement or violence. It can be expressed as a threat, designed to intimidate others to move or stay away, or it can be directly as an action. Sometimes, it can be both simultaneously. When Vlad Dracul III of Wallachia lined the road into Romania with the impaled corpses of 20,000 Turks, the Ottoman general Mehmed II—who had conquered Constantinople—decided not to push further towards Targoviste, Vlad’s capital city. “Vlad the Impaler,” as he is known today, spent six years of his childhood as a resentful hostage of the Turks. His terrifying cruelty served both to destroy those who had captured and harmed him, and to powerfully deter others who might think of doing the same.
Clearly, this does not mean that all violence, cruelty, and aggression comes from hatred. Psychosis, anger, low self-control, and other disorders can induce some people to act in ways that seem foreign—inhuman—to more ordinary people. Vlad the Impaler himself was almost certainly a sadist of the most ruthless kind.
But that is just the point: most people are not delusional, sadistic, or psychotic. Most people need hatred to summon up the will to act with violence or brutality, even if their survival or the survival of their loved ones depend on it. They lack the requisite training or sociopathy to simply take someone’s life, let alone opposing an enemy who seeks your destruction into the foreseeable future. Remember, we are not merely talking about the fight-or-flight flurry of self-defense when we talk about hatred.
By the same token that not all violence and cruelty is the result of hatred, neither does all hatred result in violence and cruelty. There are many other varieties, and other forms include intimidation, or if action feels impossible or the hatred is not very strong, simple resentment. One of the most common and basic ones is avoidance. Just like with disgust, if something is hateful to you, you stay away from it. These varieties—especially as they fall into “justified” and “unjustified” hatred—will be discussed more in chapter six.
Like disgust, and like anger, there is a face for hatred. But that face is not the rage of anger, or the grimace of disgust. Nor is it the asymmetric smile of contempt, or the glower of ordinary resentment.
The face of deepest hatred is totally blank and expressionless.
The Physiology of Hatred
On the subject of disgust, if hatred is a mixture of disgust and anger, why does not hatred feel much like disgust? Disgust feels instinctive, irrepressible, and immediate. It makes our stomach flip, and turns our head and body away seemingly without our brain having any say on the matter. Hatred does not feel much like anger either. While disgust and anger are useful in explaining the function of hatred, the differences in cause and outcome between these emotions mean that they will have different effects on the body. To better understand the feeling of hatred, we should first look into the physiology of what hatred is preparing us for: combat.
In his book On Combat, Lt Col Dave Grossman describes the different stages of combat readiness on a scale from white to black. White refers to the unprepared stage of ordinary life, perhaps sleeping, or eating cereal. Yellow is next, which symbolizes a heightened state of awareness and mental preparedness. Red stage is characterized by accelerated heart rate and heightened blood pressure, allowing you to lift heavier objects, run faster, and hit harder, but at the cost of fine motor skills, some vision, and higher mental processes. You fall back on instinct and training, what you have programmed yourself to do, or what nature has programmed you to do. Beyond Red is Black, where the body begins to shut down completely from stress.
When you are disgusted, no severe change in state is required. You just need to get away from whatever it is that might contaminate or poison you. You might feel your stomach churn, in case you need to vomit, but this is not function designed to deal with an external threat.
Like disgust, anger does not prepare us for serious violence. We may feel more inclined towards aggression, but people have used violence to settle their differences since time immemorial. These fights are not over irreconcilable disputes but slights and violations that are often forgotten within a few years, if not a few weeks. The intent is not serious injury or death. If someone says something false and damaging about you, then you might feel yourself ready to punch them in the face, but completely unprepared to draw a knife up their torso or smash their head in with an axe. You might even be horrified by the idea.
Hatred is designed to prepare you for that greater escalation. True violence—not the posturing and hierarchy-establishing ritual violence of duels—has no room for restraint or mercy. Mercy can come after the battle, if it is prudent in the long run, but winning comes first.
Winning means preparing your body for blows and injury without incapacitating yourself. Vasoconstriction will direct blood away from your extremities and to your vital organs, to better keep the essentials full of oxygen for performance, and to keep blood away from the areas most likely to be hit. Feeling “one’s blood run cold” with fear is to quite literally feel the blood drain away from potential targets.
But hatred is not fear. Fear delivers us immediately to what Grossman calls condition Gray, the point between Red and Black that puts us at optimal physical performance, but with little to no conscious control of our bodies. Sometimes, we can even lose subconscious control of our bodies. Condition Gray is often where people lose bladder control. Fear is a temporal response, reacting to a threat in the moment with physiological changes that benefit us in the moment.
Hatred is not so time-constrained. It seeks to position us in condition Yellow, where we are physically prepared, but can also think. Hatred is cool and alert; it remembers, processes, scans, and strategizes. You might feel your “blood run cold,” in moments of deep hatred, but unlike fear, you will probably have the self-awareness to notice as it is happening, and to feel the incredible power behind hatred. If the hate is abstract, then in it is place we feel a moral or social superiority, and anticipation of the more intellectual battle we might face. In either case, hatred feels good. We’ll discuss the dangers of this later in chapters six and seven.
In short, hate is a weapon of the mind: first a deterrent, then a physiological lever, preparing your body for combat, and your mind for destroying. If you cannot get away from what you hate, as disgust does with inanimate objects, hate empowers us to persuade the dangerous person to move themselves. Either the outward expression of hatred deters the dangerous person, or the feeling itself permits us to act violently, and by setting an example, hopefully prevents other, similar conflicts in the future with anyone who remembers your power and cruelty.
III. Beyond the Self
“We need other people to achieve individuality. For others to play this role for me, they have to be available to me in an unmediated way, not via a representation that is tailored to my psychic comfort. And conversely, I would have to make myself available to them in a way that puts myself at risk, not shying from a confrontation between different evaluative outlooks. For it is through such confrontations that we are pulled out of our own heads and forced to justify ourselves. In doing so, we may revise our take on things. The deepening of our understanding, and our affections, requires partners in triangulation: other people as other people, in relation to whom we may achieve an earned individuality of outlook.”
—Matthew Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head
The Foundation of Identity in Objects and Others
So far, I have described hatred in terms of biological self-interest. But anyone observing hatred in action will see that not all expressions of hatred are selfish. In fact, most of them are not, especially when they are intensely personal. People become violently angry, or turn cold and vengeful towards another person or group, over affronts that do not directly involve themselves. This is because our identities as individuals do not lie solely within our physical bodies.
While the materialist may take this as a biological, literal claim, and roll their eyes at this new-age-sounding talk, the concept of viewing people, places, ideas, and objects outside of your body as a very real part of you is a perfectly pragmatic perspective. It is not even a particularly spiritual one.
For example, picture a Neolithic hunter-gatherer. He might rely upon his spear to fend off attackers, to hunt game, and to support himself on rocky trails or in deep rivers. Without his spear, his very survival would be made more tenuous. If someone were to take away his spear, they may as well be cutting off his hand. It is a tool designed to help him succeed in his life, and attacking or removing that tool directly undermines his odds of thriving, or even surviving. For all intents and purposes, it follows that the spear is a functional extension of his body, of his will.
In principle, places and objects become a part of who we are no less than our digits and limbs. The body is a universal tool, because we are all born with one. The dissolved and forgotten sensation of learning to use our fingers, now replaced by them simply do what is wanted without thinking, is not actually a function of the limb being intrinsically a part of “us.” If it were otherwise, the removal of a few digits ought to make us a fundamentally different person.
Aside from this universality, however, there is no obvious reason we can distinguish the various parts of the body from any other tool we may use to accomplish our desires. The only meaningful difference is that a man can forget his spear, drop his wrench, or crash his car much more easily than he can temporarily misplace a finger.
To the master marksman, his gun does not feel like a tool, but like a part of himself. To an experienced truck driver, the gearshift, the sound of the engine, and even the texture of the road are not “interpreted through the machinery,” but felt by the driver himself. These tools of the trade influence what we do, and how we do it, by extending the range of our sensory experience. As one becomes more intimately connected with a given object—from a tool to my tool—that connection transcends what is physical to what is metaphysically a part of the craftsman while he works. Most of us tasted this kind of connection when we became proficient operators of spoons, pencils, and automobiles. At one time, the challenge of using the tool was greater than the value gained by its use. But eventually, we all eat our soup, write our sentences, and arrive to work on time without giving a passing thought to the mechanics of operation, because our focus is on the end goal, the task to be completed, not to be performed.
Though we all may wish we had a letter opener handy at the precise moment that we needed one, and may curse its inconvenient absence, few of us are as deeply sorrowed as the hunter who has lost his spear over a cliff. Most of the things we use in day-to-day life are expendable and easily replaceable. We have no Neolithic connection to the things we can easily get elsewhere and do not rely upon to survive.
Even in this modern age, some people still have this connection, and we see it because it is not normal. There is something almost mystical about the connections some people can forge with their equipment when their lives do rely upon the integrity of the tools of their trade, and this is especially true in warrior cultures. The Marine’s rifle, the Samurai’s sword, the Spartan’s shield, all of these are culturally imbued with a symbolic energy and significance due to them being functional extensions of the wielder. Their owners and wielders spent hours upon hours training with these weapons, and knew them better than they knew most people, maybe even better than they knew themselves. Perhaps this is why the passing down of weapons from one generation of warrior to the next is traditionally an event of such reverence: it is a literal transference of a part of you to someone else, a veritable organ donation. And in this transference, a binding of identity takes place between the participants.
Thomas Harris captured a facet of this in Hannibal:
There is much tradition and mystique in the bequest of personal weapons to a surviving comrade in arms. It has to do with a continuation of values past individual mortality. People living in a time made safe for them by others may find this difficult to understand.
What we often fail to notice, because of its ubiquity, is that we all have this relationship with other people. Here, more than with objects, they are direct participants in our coherent identity. These are bonds that require no sacred warrior-cult rituals to establish, though often they are strengthened by such rituals. The biggest factor in who we are is not geography or technology: it is other people.
In The World Beyond Your Head, Matthew Crawford argues that a great mistake of the enlightenment philosophers was to define the human outside the realm of reality, apart from the context and even the physics of where we were born, raised, and lived. This was a new idea, engineered to preserve the concept of “free will” from philosophical attacks, but it succeeded by isolating the human identity from its traditional sources. Cooperation and the division of labor are methods humans have always used to survive difficult climates, defend ourselves, feed ourselves, and—most importantly—replicate ourselves. Children are portions of us, and siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews carry some small part of us with them too.
The people around us, just like objects and places, make us into who we are. Nearly every person alive has one particular teacher who made a lasting impression on us when we were younger. A lifetime of lasting impressions, of sage advice at critical junctures, of kept promises and fulfilled expectations, are the foundations of our personal growth and character development. The people with virtue—intelligence, skill, empathy, compassion, courage, curiosity, beauty, strength, loyalty and wisdom—make our lives better. They can be trusted to help us when we need help, to watch our back, to teach us, to entertain us, and in general, to empower us in living enjoyable, successful lives.
For most of us, spending time with these people can feel like the very reason for living. Other people are a basic human need as important as food, sleep and sunshine. Interrogators would not use isolation as a form of torture, nor would prison guards use it as punishment, were this not the case. The catastrophic consequences of social neglect on developing children are well documented. But growing up does not shed the psychological and survival need we have to be near others. As we age, more is expected of us in return for companionship, and longer periods of relative isolation are no longer fatal, but human contact nevertheless remains an essential need.
The good people in your life are a part of your identity. They may be annoying and irritating at times, and there will always be disagreements, but when you consider the sacrifices people make to help and to be around others, we must view others as a bodily staple, as necessary as sleep or sunshine.
Orienting Values by Identity, and Identifying Love and Hatred by Values
Not all change to your life is bad. In fact, most people, places, objects, and ideas do not really impact your life at all. They’re not a part of it, and they do not really assist you in your own personal goals. But some number of these things matter, and a small number matter a lot. They assist you in moving towards the goals in your life, whether it is security, a happy family, or merely the companionship of other people. Without direction, without an object of love whose interest is worth caring about, nothing is bad. Nothing is an attack. Without an object of care, you become like the invincible Dr. Manhattan from Alan Moore’s Watchmen, disconnected from everything. Caring about nothing. Outcomes do not matter, because there is no desired goal which different outcomes might move you closer to or further from.
In the words of Jack Donovan, “identity is everything that matters.” It is the context, the why. Without identity, we would have no answer to the Cheshire cat asking Alice where she wants to go. As you become part of a coherent identity, all the elements of that identity become who you are.
When other people, places, things, and ideas are extensions of yourself, then they are more important than other things, just as your own life is more important than the lives of strangers. Opposition and aggression against those people, places, things, and ideas becomes an attack against you, just as an attack on the spear of the Neolithic hunter is an attack on the man himself.
Again, not all change is an attack. Sometimes, change can be an improvement. You can swap your wooden spear for carbon-fiber. Or someone might hand you a rifle. But too often, the person promising improvements is hacking your spear in half and saying that you’ll be better off without it. You’ll often catch them gloating over their shoulder to their people about how they disarmed you, how stupid you were to believe them. We all know the type, and know the difference between change sincerely attempted for the better, and attacks deceitfully re-framed as change that will “be better for everyone.”
Since love is the foundation of the positive elements of our identity—the things we seek out in the construction of ourselves—it is clear that hatred and love are not opposites. They are two expressions of the same relationship between your mind and the world outside of it: care. Perhaps this is why the neural circuitry for love and hate are so similar, and pass through many of the same regions. If you truly love something, you will want to preserve it and protect it from things that would destroy it. And when someone threatens what you love—whether that object of love is another person, a place, an object, or yourself—the rational thing to desire is stopping that threat.
Perhaps you hope it does not come to violence, but if you are not at least willing to destroy someone who would destroy your wife, or your children, or your culture, or your faith, then either you do not really love them, or you have decided that you love the abstract moral principle called “do not hate” more than flesh and blood human beings.
Hate is not opposed to love. It is inextricably derived from love, and is an expression of love. The feeling of hatred is revulsion towards someone who would destroy what you love, and it is expressed by becoming something that will inspire fear in the mind of that threat. It is the logical and necessary emotion to have when an object of love comes under attack.
This means that calling on people to reject hatred is not just wrong, but a sinister injunction, because to abandon hatred completely, you must give up on love. Even love of yourself. So why are we told that hatred is evil? Why are we afraid to hate?
IV. Fearing Hate
“The heart is like the eye: it is absolutely worthless without focus. And to focus is to discriminate, to say that this thing is more important than that thing. In the open field, it’s the charging bear that matters, not the grass. Without focus, everything would be a blur. Things would appear to be the same, even when they weren’t.”
The Inconsistency of Militant Anti-Haters
Like hatred itself, the fear of hatred, and of being called hateful, comes from other people. Legions of activists opposing hatred in all its forms have arisen since the days of King, Ghandi, Mandela, and Theresa—both formally, as in the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Anti-Defamation League, and informally, a la your average college student. But do they really believe what they are saying? Consider the following analogy:
John is a man who is “anti-gun.” He claims that guns are immoral. Indeed, they are what is wrong with the world, and that if only we could get rid of them, we could get on with the joys and difficulties of living, without the unnecessary danger of lethal violence breathing down our necks.
John also carries a gun.
When asked about this apparent hypocrisy, he vehemently declares that this does not in any way mean he likes guns, or is not anti-gun. His gun is only to shoot other people with guns (“or people who support gun ownership,” he adds as an afterthought). But that is why everyone else owns guns too, you point out. You are not an anti-gun advocate fighting fire with fire: in defending the legitimacy of your own gun carrying, you have become, to whatever small degree, a gun-rights advocate.
“Not at all,” he says, “because unlike those guys, who just love to carry guns, I’m doing it because gun-owners deserve to be shot.”
This caricature of an anti-gun-rights activist ceases to be a caricature when looked at metaphorically. Remember, hatred is a weapon of the mind. It really is a kind of gun; a fundamentally coercive mental state designed to intimidate others or to allow yourself to commit violent action of which you would be otherwise incapable.
What does this mean? It means that John’s manifest position is not actually ridiculous. What is ridiculous is only his articulated characterization of himself as anti-gun. He’s not against guns, but against guns being used by the wrong people, and for the wrong reasons. Stefan Molyneux describes the scenario in a more literal and political context:
“If you are for gun control, then you are not against guns, because guns will be needed to disarm people. So it is not that you are anti-gun. You’ll need the police’s guns to take away other people’s guns. So you are very pro-gun, you just believe that only the government (which is, of course, so reliable, honest, moral, and virtuous) should be allowed to have guns. There is no such thing as gun control. There is only centralizing gun ownership in the hands of a small political elite and their minions.”
The anti-gun activists bristle with coercive force, using the gun behind the law to gradually reduce other people’s ability to own and use guns.
In the same way, the anti-hate activists, in all their forms, ooze with hatred. Like John, they attempt to square this circle by saying that they only hate “the haters.” Their intolerance is reserved for the intolerant. But this does not make them “anti-hatred” any more than John’s justifications make him “anti-gun.”
More interestingly, and perhaps more tellingly, they never bother to explore why the targets of their own hatred hold the views that they do. Like John, they just assume that those people are just nasty, stupid bigots. Who cares if the haters also claim only to hate others who are hateful or dangerous? Who cares if the haters only carry a gun because they know someone like John does too? None of that matters: my hatred is valid. Your hatred is not.
The paper-thin nature of this supposed “anti-hate” position becomes more obvious when we observe people who actually are anti-hate in practice. Many Buddhists manage this, as do Christian pacifists, Jains, and others—religious or secular—who not only shun violence, but the very mindset that leads to and reciprocates violence. To return to our analogy, they are the honest anti-gun advocate who does not themselves carry: those who see death at the hands of armed attackers as a necessary burden to bear in the onward march towards a gun-free world.
This ideal is almost as unlikely as a world entirely devoid of violence, but at least these people who advocate it are internally consistent. I certainly disagree with these pacifists on both their aim and their method, but at least they are people who can be disagreed with.
Yet in talking to the virulent anti-hater—the Johns of the world—it becomes clear that they feel no sense of hypocrisy. They feel entirely justified in utilizing the power of hatred when the targets are threats to their group. As with disarming firearms, it is never 100% universal.
Charging others with the moral crime of hatred may sometimes be meant with sincerity. Perhaps it is the legitimate belief of a would-be martyr, as would be the case of the aforementioned genuine pacifist. Or perhaps the anti-hater may just be trying to get others to get along, because it seems to make life easier. They believe that if people would stop disagreeing, the underlying causes of the disagreement might be negotiated, because they believe that everything can, in principle, be resolved through negotiation.
There are also insincere anti-haters who are not malicious. Narcissists, insecure people, and lonely individuals have discovered that they can get the social validation they crave by saying the right things. They will be told how courageous, how noble, how good, how clever they are, for saying things that require no courage, nobility, virtue, or intelligence, either by other people seeking similar commendations, or by people like John, seeking to disarm an enemy. These narcissists—whose behavior has recently been labeled “virtue signaling”—will regurgitate talking points of anti-hatred rhetoric, to prove that they are good people. They commit harm, but their attention is not on the enemy so much as it is on themselves.
But in the realm of politics, opposition to hatred is far more frequently a bludgeon used selectively by those with a grudge against groups whose interests are in the way of the bludgeoner’s goals. Many times, the confused do-gooder, the self-conscious virtue signaler, and the cowardly get-alonger are all drawing their anti-hatred rhetoric from the man with the bludgeon. As for the sincere pacifist, even if they did get their ideas independently, the idealist’s vision of harmony falls apart the moment that real existential incompatibility becomes apparent. And when their goals become impossible, the honest pacifists and other idealists become tools of convenience for the Johns of the world, just like the social harmonizers and the virtue signalers always were.
What a powerful tool stated opposition to hatred can be! With this social dynamic in mind, it is clear that John’s inconsistency is not stupidity at all. It makes far more sense if his words are understood as deceptive tools to disarm the listener so that the speaker can remain armed himself—with guns or with hate—and thereby have an advantage over those who he himself hates or wants to control.
The Usefulness of False Allegations
Consider the LGBTQ activist. I do not mean your run-of-the-mill gay person, but the person—as often straight as gay—involved with “the community.” His vehement opposition towards Christianity is based upon an interpretation of the faith as being “anti-gay.” It is opposed to who he is, or to the people he claims to represent. It is a threat, and so he hates the religion. This makes sense.
To the Christian on the receiving end of this, however, the hatred can be a bit baffling. By her New Testament reading, as by most Christians’ reading, the Bible is not so much “anti-gay” as it is anti-homosexuality of action. It no more condemns gays for who they are than it condemns any other sinner for their own particular sins, be it murder, lying, or failure to keep God first in their life. The skeptic might attempt to differentiate, saying that since homosexuality is a permanent state, rather than a single act, gays receive an unequal degree of attention and opposition.
But this ignores the Christian premise that all humans are born sinful, and that all sin, no matter how big or small, constitutes and deserves separation from God. The argument that homosexuality is a lifestyle, rather than an act, misses the entire tragic conception of human nature under Christian theology. Every human is in need of redemption and will always be in need of redemption in order to avoid the suffering of Hell. Especially for the evangelical Christian, who believes it would be the most uncompassionate, un-Christian thing imaginable to allow someone in her life to spend eternity in the pits of Hell for behaviors that she could have helped that sinner to overcome.
In this way, we can see that the Christian concern for homosexuals comes not from hate, but from love—however misguided it may appear to non-Christians.
Now, rather than being honest and calling Christianity “opposed to gay marriage” (or, slightly more provocatively, a “threat to the homosexual lifestyle,” which would be historically and generally true), the LGBTQ activist does something peculiar: he says Christians hate gays, and then conflates this hatred with fear.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a brother who overdosed. The family was devout, except for the brother, who was gay. The boy went through a combination of bad influences, low self-esteem, and a theologically motivated existential crisis. This in turn led to some poor decisions, attempted suicide, breaking and entering, theft, and finally, his death. Even as he committed crimes against his own family, they continued to love and attempt to help him. To this day, they are extremely supportive and loving towards gay acquaintances, despite disagreeing theologically with the lifestyle of most gays. They do this out of natural Christian compassion, as well as in memory of their loved and lost family member.
Did religion cause the young man’s death? It is not so easy to say with certainty. Many young adults go through existential crises, theological or otherwise, and come out the other side alive. If I were to guess, I would say that religion was not at fault.
What one cannot say, however, is that his family hated him, or any other gay. They felt nothing even remotely resembling the disgust towards mind that describes all true hatred, whatever disagreements they may have had with their estranged family member. Quite the opposite; they loved him with a depth and compassion deeper than many straight children will ever experience from their parents.
This anecdote does not prove that no Christians anywhere hate homosexuals. But it is representative of a pattern that anyone can see among mainstream Christians: one of gentle but firm disapproval of homosexual behaviors, which often comes from a place of sincere care for the gay individual and the fate of their soul before God. Is it right for Christians to disapprove of homosexuality? Is it right for Christians to vote against allocating government money to gay couples who will probably never have children? Those are excellent questions, and there are intelligent voices on both sides of the argument.
But why discuss the issue on those grounds, when you can simply smack people over the head with the most damaging claim imaginable?
It is not that your theology is wrong; it is that you are a hateful person.
Note that the pointed allegation of hatred comes from a place of hatred itself. It is designed to push away or to destroy. It is a weaponized word, and it hurts because people—particularly Christians—really do not want to be seen as hateful. They are afraid of hate.
But this fear rests in a much larger context, now so universally assumed that people often forget that it is there. They also forget that it was not always there, and that fear of being a hater is an incredibly modern invention. Why have we so recently come to fear being labeled as hateful?
In a word, the Nazis.
The Nazis and Hatred
Whatever hatred the Nazis once held for the Jews, it pales in comparison for the loathing we hold towards the Nazis today, safely extinguished as they are. One wonders if we would have the courage to hate them as we do if they were still alive today. Given the apologia awarded to the variety of fundamental incompatibilities Islam imposes on the Western world, I can only assume we would not. This is not to make excuses for the Nazis of course. Adolf Hitler was the worst thing to happen to Germany since the Treaty of Versailles, his hubris wrecking Germany through unnecessary war and subjecting half of it to 40 years of ruinous communism. But it wasn’t the state of Germany that gave us our relationship with the politics of German National Socialism. It was their final solution to the “Jewish Question.”
For centuries, German culture has been characterized by the Teutonic virtues: austerity, punctuality, discipline, cleanliness, efficiency. You know the archetype. German engineering has a reputation that, arguably, exceeds the engineering that has been coming out of Deutschland in recent years, and the butt of nearly every German joke revolves around their tendency for literalism and the concrete (“How many Germans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One: we’re efficient, and have no sense of humor”).
This does not represent an ideal for all nations and cultures. But it does represent the revealed preference of the German people, one which is as legitimate as the Chinese preference for social harmony, and my own Anglo-Saxon/Scottish/American obsession with “freedom.” The origins of these group preferences—usually held with the seriousness of any love—are ultimately irrelevant. Perhaps they are genetic. Maybe they are geographic. Maybe it is some combination of the two, or something else entirely. Again, the origins of these national preferences do not really matter.
The preferences of different groups of peoples have variously evolved into coherent and sustaining systems of life that we call “cultures.” There is a temptation to immediately evaluate them as “superior” or “inferior” to each other, but biologically speaking, there is only one measure for objectively calling a culture “superior” or “inferior,” and that measure is sustainability.
Is the society still alive? Will it be alive in a few decades? A few centuries? Matriarchies tend not to last. Pacifist cultures tend not to last. Excessively aggressive and combative cultures tend to succeed for a time, and then get destroyed, if they do not winnow their own numbers down first. Expansive, global, multicultural societies tend to dilute themselves into nonexistence. Empires tend to boom and then bust, as Agent Smith observed in The Matrix, (and then conflated with human nature itself):
I’d like to share a revelation during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.
Because humans are genetically very similar across countries, a common pattern of values emerges. But this does not mean that there are no differences, or that these minor differences are not important. They are often so essential to your identity and your relationship to those around you that an attack on these values amounts to an attack on yourself: worth fighting, and even dying, to oppose.
There are many ways for people to live in a sustainable society, thriving, growing, and enjoying their own particular manner of life in accordance to their unique values and preferences. None are objectively superior to others, outside of the parameters of our own preferences, but within those preferences, there are superior and inferior societies for everyone. Being a freedom-fanatic myself, the social order of China is not ideal for me, exemplary though it may be for others.
Back to the Germans. The Treaty of Versailles ended the First World War, and also heralded in the Weimar Republic, a period of German history starkly at odds with Germany’s historical nature. Characterized by intellectual chaos, freedom that crossed over into the libertine, and parliamentary democracy that was relatively new to the hierarchical, Prussian nation, Weimar Germany was a veritable Wild West for the order-loving Germans. The universities were championing deconstructive ideas that further eroded traditional identity in the name of freedom. Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and other members of the Frankfurt school began their work here. In many places, Germany more closely resembled Las Vegas than anything it had been before. After a losing war, and suffering the economic fallout of vindictive reparations and the Great Depression, it is understandable why they were in no mood for the insecurity that this cosmopolitan, vaudeville culture brought with it.
Many blacks in the United States look on their high rates of incarceration, violent death, addiction, low income, and generally low standard of life, and conclude—understandably, if incorrectly—that a history of white racism is the source of their suffering. In a similar way, many Germans understandably looked upon the Jews in the banking syndicates, in organized crime, in the universities, and in successful businesses, all seeming to champion this culture of chaos and destroying the classical German values through deconstruction. The Jews, and their culture of critique, were probably no more consciously conspiring to destroy German culture than White Americans are today conspiring to do away with blacks.
But if the Jews have a different way of life, perhaps one which they thought the natives might prefer, and project their own preferences onto native Germans, we can easily see how the young National Socialists would have thought that this threatened the “German-ness” which they loved and with which they identified, and how anti-Semitism would build without a “Jewish conspiracy” ever being necessary.
This is not to justify the Nazis, but to dig away the soil and examine the roots. And what do we find, if not love? A cherishing of everything “German” was at the heart of the Third Reich, which by itself is no less noble a goal than the Latinos, the Blacks, or the Japanese who attempt to maintain and celebrate their own heritage and values. What is highlighted in the Nazi mistake is a danger of blinding hatred, and of hubris.
The interpretation Europeans, Americans, and the world have internalized from the holocaust, however, was more simplistic: Hatred leads to the war. Hatred leads to genocide. Any nationalism, any love of one’s own culture (at least if you are white), any expression of frustration with another ethnic culture, or worse, an expressed view of incompatibility between one’s own culture and another’s, is antithetical to peace, to civilization, and to love, despite itself being derived from love.
The Nazis are not the only extinct boogeyman to be paraded out as an exemplar of moral depravity, with whom association equals social and moral death. The Ku-Klux Klan is an organization with between 5,000 and 8,000 members. In the context of American political influence, this is extremely below notice.
And yet the KKK get trotted out every four years as a great and terrifying danger to the unity of the nation, the malevolent hand directing the collar of the conservative right in America, and a threat to blacks and other minorities everywhere. We are left to presume that KKK membership swells by orders of magnitude every 48 months.
We do not seek to understand the Nazis, because we fear that even attempting to understand them will be seen as support for them. So, without understanding them, we hate them blindly because it is safe. Not to hate them, in fact, is vastly more dangerous. And now every other form of hate has become amalgamated into an unholy army, marching under a ghostly Swastika. Hate makes you a Nazi. And Nazis—despite their similarities to most groups around the world—are the incarnation of evil itself.
And so, the Western world has moved, gradually but forcefully, as if to eradicate hatred itself. And it was successful in many individuals, who drank in the corrosive message of anti-hatred like fish in a poisoned pond. Children have grown up into young adults, and young adults into parents and voting citizens, believing that hatred was a moral evil on par with dishonesty, lust, or gluttony.
We do not go out hunting hatred, but we’ve become more psychologically susceptible to allegations of hatred. The history lessons drummed into us, stripped of meaningful context, have made us react to signs of hatred like Pavlov’s dogs salivating at the bell, flinching and condemning without looking any deeper. This association makes people controllable; they are so fearful of hatred, or worse, being thought hateful, that they will do virtually anything to appease someone who claims to perceive them as hateful. Many individuals and groups have utilized this power of allegation or insinuation to great effect, and hold enormous sway in politics today.
But why take my word for it? Rabbi Yosef Ben Porat explains at length the relationship of the Jews to Germany, and the hatred bred from the conflicts of identity, better than I can:
Important stories, important facts that clarify things we didn’t receive in school. We didn’t receive in the curriculum. They didn’t teach them even in high education. I gave lectures in front of history professors. Why Hitler really hated the Jews? What did he want from them? How did they bother him? But it’s all written here in Mein Kampf. This book was published only recently. It just got approved to be translated into Hebrew. It was forbidden all these years.
But there is an earlier translation that was made by Yad Vashem. They were allowed to. Hitler claims in his book that the Jews are communists. They made the Russian Revolution. They killed there 30 million Russians. All the intelligent ones, in a cruel and horrific way, and that’s part of their plan for the entire world. The next country in line is Germany. They founded the German Communist and Socialist parties, and it’s true. “If we don’t defeat them now, they will eliminate us. They will slaughter another 20 million. All the intelligent people.” And that’s how they went, from country to country. So eventually the only intelligent ones remaining would be the Jews. And he repeats it many times, make no mistake.
And he is right. The Russian Revolution was made by the Jews. The Russian army was built by Trotsky, who was an incredible genius. An Anti-Semite like no other. He created the Jewish division of the Communist Party, which members informed on their father, mother, brother, and son. Whoever owns a Siddur or even a Hebrew learning book—I’m not even talking about Tefilin and Mikveh—he destroyed everything. Also by the Jews, but for sure by the Russians.
In the first picture of the Russian government, out of thirteen members, six were Jews. Who founded the KGB? Jews. So everything is clearly written. He didn’t hate the Jews because they had “Peos.” He didn’t hate them for observing Mitsvoth. Because they are Communists, and he writes it clearly: “They spread in Germany the heresy in G-d.” That’s how he writes. “I feel like the messenger of G-d, to exterminate the Jews.” Because they don’t believe in him. He writes this right here.
Now you understand why they don’t teach it in schools? Because who writes the curriculum? Those same leftists. Of course they will not write that Hitler wanted to kill the Jews because they are the forefathers of the Left and the forefathers of Marxism, Communism, and [Leninism]. But that’s what he writes. They destroyed all the values. Poisoned literature and theater. Who did it? Torah observant Jews poisoned the German theater? Out of nine large German newspapers seven were owned by Jews.
There was one of the great composers in the world—Wagner—whose pieces are still forbidden to be played. Up until now he was banned. Because he was an Anti-Semite, long before the Nazi era. And I was very interested to know what he really said. So the Hebrew University published his book, translated to Hebrew. So I’ll tell you what he writes there:
“I don’t like the Jews. The religious ones, I don’t like them. But what do I care? The Jews who left the Torah and the Mitzvoth, and look like the gentiles, I hate. Because they merge into our society and destroy our culture and poetry, and the German being. Those who converted to Christianity, I see them as a fifth column. Traitors that are going to destroy the German nation. If we don’t defend ourselves from them now, they will finish us, because they are disguised to the Germans, but they are not Germans, they are Jews.” So do you understand why it is forbidden here to teach about him and what he says?
Just how everyone hates the Nuremburg Laws without even knowing them. Nuremburg said that a Jew can’t marry a gentile, so for sure the schools here call it racism. To say that a Jew is different than a gentile is racism, here in this state unfortunately. Nuremburg just copied what’s written in the Torah. Wagner just said what’s written in the Torah. That a Jew is a Jew, even if he wears a mask, even if he converts to Christianity. “A Jew who sinned is still a Jew.” “You,” he writes, “are merciful people. We are cruel people. You destroy our culture.” Yes, that’s how Wagner writes. Therefore his entire book is aimed against the Jewish composer Mendelsohn, whose father converted to Christianity and baptized him in church when he was five years old. He writes to him: “Listen, do you think that if you speak German, and converted to Christianity, you are German? No! Your poetry is of a crybaby, your music is not authentic, and you poison our culture, because people think that this is German music. German music is filled with pride, and you can’t do it. And therefore you are called the enemy of German culture.”
So isn’t he right? Of course he is right! “You chose us from all the nations,” true, we are humble, merciful, shy, indeed. This is our source of pride. So understand that things didn’t just happen, not a coincidence, it didn’t happen without alerts. “Our sins sent us to exile, out of our land.”
And thank G-d we returned home, and we have to be careful not to repeat the same mistakes, and re-assimilate right here, and give legitimacy to that low self-esteem in front of the gentiles, and the will to be like them. We came to this world to be different, we were created in this world to be Jewish, and our entire purpose is to be with G-d, and whoever really wants to be with G-d, G-d is with him. In any place, in good times and bad, here and also not here, that G-d will say to our troubles “Enough.” In any form, and in any situation, and in any place, any may we have the merit for the eternal redemption, and to eternal happiness.
Anti-Hate Hatred in Politics: A One-World Order
Implicit in the modern allegation of hatred is the latent accusation of Nazi-like bigotry and unfair hatred. But how to pin such a specific crime to the local guns-rights activist, Christian, or conservative commentator? To make these allegations stick, the activist relies upon his victim assuming they are both on the same team, and like a con-man, appealing to her trust and good faith if she ever begins to question this assumption. Christians readily fall victim to this, as the teachings of Jesus are easily interpreted as meaning to love thy neighbor and turn the other cheek no matter who has done the infraction upon you. Most conservatives in general will fall for this as well, believing as they do that “we’re all Americans here.”
People most fear being viewed as hateful when they believe they are on the same team as their verbal attacker.
Like disgust, hatred leads to destruction or distance. Either they will leave, you will leave, or they will attempt to destroy you. If you are in the same group, none of these options is attractive. In fact, all of them are terrifying, especially option three. Grossman calls combat the “universal phobia,” and even the potential of generating some cause for interpersonal conflict (such as public speaking) causes more irrational and overpowering fear than snakes or spiders.
If someone gets upset with you, but they live overseas, speak a different language, answer to different laws, and worship a different God—that is, they are not in your group—you probably will not lose any sleep.
But there cannot be hatred within a group, or it will fall apart. If others view you as “hateful” towards members of the group, you become a threat to the whole group. The allegation of hatred becomes a threat of social ostracism, or worse. This is why it is so effective. And in the 21st century, it is generally believed that we are all on the same team. Even the man overseas, under different language, law, and liturgy, is another citizen of the world, and any hatred at all makes us unworthy of civilization in the eyes of the world.
And of course, John’s gun goes quietly unnoticed. The social power of speaking on behalf of a world-society simply slips into the fingers of those who claim it: something our ancestors—the unintentional writers of our social dynamic programming—could never have envisioned. The viciousness of the anti-hater is missed as everyone follows his pointed finger. He is secretly thinking of his victim not as a fellow citizen and team member, but as an enemy to be destroyed, by any means available. And why? Whatever the reason, it is not because she is hateful. Though that might be the justification given, or even believed by the anti-hater, it is simply validation for his own hatred.
What is the purpose, the end goal, for the strident anti-haters? Most call for diversity, for inclusion, for tolerance and acceptance. It is meant to lead to a harmonious global future, one in which we are all truly achieving world peace, and learning from and teaching all people how to be our best selves while still retaining the best of each of our traditions.
Perhaps we are already one world, or are growing that way through technology. Maybe these divisions into sub-groups will grow irrelevant in the very near future? If that unlikely scenario were true, then it may well appear that the entire premise of this book has been undermined. If there cannot be any hatred within a group, and we all share this planet together, how can any hatred at all be justified?
This is the underlying assumption that the anti-haters—the Johns of the world—are relying upon you to hold. But they clearly do not hold this view themselves.
The unstated and irreconcilable problem with the one-world-tribe believer’s proposal is that to be implemented, a monoculture must be established. There is no reconciliation between a gay man and someone who thinks that any homosexuality at all will bring about the death of civilization. There is no way to group an Islamist, who seeks peace through the submission of the entire world to Allah, with a dedicated atheist who insists on bowing to no one, let alone to the confabulated delusions of an epileptic or a fraud.
Someone must be the arbiter of these intractable differences.
In steps John and the anti-haters, who are more than happy to sort the haters from everyone else. They are not working to purge themselves of hatred, but to channel it, and to charge others with hatred, real or imaginary. Even assuming the whole world was one big family, to give in to people who lie or who go hunting for thought-crimes in others would be to cede power to the worst among the tribe.
The members of a group should not give credence to members who use the leverage of division to seek personal gain. As Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams said of the dominant North American ‘tribe,’ “…the worst thing a presidential candidate can do is turn Americans against each other.”
The reality is that we are not one big, happy clan of humanity. Even America is not one nation, and technology does not narrow the gap of differences between groups. Indeed, it may even widen them. Groups are defined by their commonalities, and while all humans certainly share common characteristics and needs, the differences in goals, values, worldviews, and most importantly, of preferences, make some groups of people at existential odds with others.
For those who espouse the virtues of “diversity,” this vision of a world of many nations is what real diversity would actually look like. The lip-service we pay to diversity by merging and combining different groups within the same borders will instead dilute and destroy them. In a truly diverse world, cultural enrichment can be achieved by going over there to where other people have different customs, different values, different religions, and different preferences, and then coming back with this knowledge.
Differences are not a bad thing. They are what make the world an exciting, interesting, and—from an evolutionary-strategic viewpoint—more secure place. We are right to love and to embrace the things that make us unique, and it should come as no surprise that differences which lead to existential opposition are often held so strongly that people would rather die than give them up. “Give me liberty or give me death!”
And little do the anti-haters know, that a world without hate would also be a world without love.
V. Cutting Out the Heart
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
It is clear that preaching anti-hate can sometimes be an effective tool for one tribe to use against another, if the second is attempting to work under one roof with the first. Accepting that hatred is always evil, and attempting to purge yourself of hate, makes you vulnerable to the kinds of dangers that would otherwise incite you to acts of intimidation or destruction to defend yourself.
But what if the premise—a unified, hate-less world—could actually be achieved? Wouldn’t that be nice?
Hatred—disgust towards mind—would be useless and therefore unnecessary without love. But love itself is actually impossible without the latent potential for hate.
Hate as an Expression of Love
Consider the case of Titus Andronicus. As you read how Demetrius and Chiron plotted and then executed the savage rape of Titus’ daughter, Lavinia, before cutting off her hands and ripping out her tongue, it would be impossible for Titus not to hate these two Goths. Even the reader may have a difficult time not loathing these fictional characters, after coming to enjoy the gentle and lovely Lavinia, and the fair and just Titus Andronicus. The reader might even smile with glee as Titus gets his brutal vengeance upon the Goths and his nation for betraying him.
It is certainly possible for one to be outraged and angry with the two brothers without emotionally connecting to the protagonist or his daughter. You have only to think abstractly, to observe the principles violated by the action of the two, and the injustice it represents. But as previously mentioned, anger is not hatred. The former is consensus-seeking, and appeals to principles. The latter recognizes that moral consensus is either late, insufficient, impossible, or irrelevant, and that principles are a means to an end, and not the end in itself. With both emotions, it is dysfunctional to feel one when the other is more appropriate, and in the case of Titus Andronicus, the correct emotional response is not anger, but hatred.
Attempt to put yourself in the mind of a rapist for a moment, especially one in ancient Rome. Think of the fates of Demetrius and Chiron, and of the words of countless fathers around the world, talking about what they’d do to a man who did not “treat their daughter right.” The hate-inspired actions of a few, especially when backed up by the perceived kindred spirit of many, has an enormously powerful deterring effect.
The protection of latent hatred, in other words, is one of the benefits of love. We destroy those who destroy what we cherish.
But suppose hatred was eradicated. What if you were not allowed to hate? Or worse, what if you were not able?
Speaking Truth to Democratic Power
There is an archetype in story-telling of an antagonist with something powerful to say. Perhaps the author was simply morally careless, but it always seemed more likely to me that they felt they had some truth to convey that an audience was not prepared to hear from a winning, likable protagonist. Better to plant a seed, and let it grow over the years, or centuries if need be. I suspect these characters are more often constructed subconsciously than consciously, but that is pure speculation on my part.
Colonel Nathan Jessup from A Few Good Men is one of the more powerful and well-known cinematic examples of such a character. Jessup stands accused of ordering a “code red,” a form of vicious hazing which, in this case, resulted in the death of a marine. The accuser is a young Naval officer, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, with no combat experience, something which Jessup holds in contempt, as it places Kaffee outside the realm of relevant experience to morally judge something like a code red. Jessup reveals both his guilt and his contempt in the climactic final court scene, where he justifies his actions to the court to whom he had been previously hiding them:
Kaffee: Colonel Jessup, did you order the Code Red?
Judge Randolph: You don’t have to answer that question!
Jessup: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled!
Jessup: You want answers?!
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessup: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like “honor,” “code,” “loyalty.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “thank you”, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!
Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?
Jessup: I did the job that—
Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?!
Jessup: YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!
Although Jessup is a villain, it seems unlikely that an author, playwright, or director would give such a powerful moral argument to the “bad guy,” while putting such an underwhelming response in the mouth of the ostensible “good guy.” Especially if the response relies upon the same lack of relevant combat experience for moral judgment in the judicial audience, to whom the case is being made.
One of my personal favorites among these truth-telling bad-guys is Henri Ducard from Batman Begins. In one particular scene, he speaks to Bruce about the self-destroying nature of losing what you love:
I know the rage that drives you. That impossible
anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved ones is just poison in your veins. And one day you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed, so you’d be spared your pain. I wasn’t always here in the mountains. Once I had a wife, my great love. She was taken from me. Like you, I was forced to learn that there are those without decency that must be fought without hesitation, without pity. Your anger gives you great power, but if you let it, it will destroy you, as it almost did me.
When asked what saved him, his answer is “vengeance.” In matters of anger and injustice, all of classical wisdom implores us to move on once a score has been settled, rather than internalizing, universalizing and becoming the grudge. But when it comes to true enemies, beyond the realms of decency or the possibility of redemption, his experience contains a powerful truth. It is not the hateful rage that is self-destructive. That, as we already know, is an adaptive response. What is corrosive is the unrequited loss. If you love something, and that thing is destroyed, you will feel angry, perhaps even hateful. But if you are not allowed to feel hateful, or cannot meaningfully act on or express your hatred, a truly curious thing happens: your mind convinces itself that you didn’t really love that object. The incongruous reactions of your body and your feelings of loss or pain force your brain to choose which reaction is the “real” one.
A similar process can be observed when very young children fall over or knock into things. Often, they will look around first, as if to gauge what their reaction ought to be. Then, if they see sympathy or perhaps fear, they will implode into a blubbering mess on the floor. If, however, they see impatience or disinterest, they will often jump back up as if they felt no pain at all.
Something peculiar we have learned in the realm of psychology—backing up the intuitions of Nietzsche more than a century ago—is that not only are our memories and moment-to-moment moral justifications usually constructed retroactively, but so too are our feelings themselves. In matters of sexuality, for example, consent is occasionally retracted after the fact, and in some instances, is even given retroactively. Perhaps neither of these strike us as morally permissible behaviors, given the veneration Western culture has vested in “consent” ever since Locke built the legitimacy of government upon the consent of the governed. Nevertheless, the retroactive nature of these feelings remains true, uncomfortable though it may be for our desired moral system. Even our political consent is, by nature, somewhat retroactive: if a particular policy, law, or representative works, then we consider it to have been “good,” i.e., representative of the will (“consent”) of the polity. If it does not work, then we declare it to be “bad,” and a misrepresentation of the collective will of the polity.
By itself, this retroactive logic is not actually a bad thing. Sometimes, real-world consequences helpfully reveal that we actually do not love something as much as we thought we did. If the baby knocks over a vase that you really liked, but your first thought is concern for the baby’s safety and not your own sadness at the destruction of your living room center piece, then the real-world consequences reveal that your perceived priorities were slightly out of line. The vase, it appears, was not quite as big of a deal as you thought it might be.
It is not within the scope of this book to determine which things ought to be loved and which do not, but it absolutely is within its scope to declare that for everyone, something must be worth devotion, admiration, and reverence. If children are raised to believe first and foremost that hatred is evil and to be avoided, and if it is true that meaningful love will always carry a latent potential of reactive hatred, then meaningful love becomes impossible. Affinity, preference, “liking” something, all of these might still be possible, because they are shallow varieties of love. But they are contingent and tenuous. They are founded solely in the object’s existence and proximity, not upon some lasting quality or virtue that the object holds and which you value.
In other words, these kinds of “love” have very little to do with you and what you like, and everything to do with petty convenience of circumstance, like enjoying the visual appeal of a plastic katana, because you are not allowed to own an actual sword. All the things that make the sword a sword are missing. A samurai deprived of his sword—like the Neolithic hunter deprived of his spear—is critically injured by its loss. A weeaboo deprived of his plastic replica loses nothing. It is just a weak (and hopefully momentary) attraction, one that has nothing to do with virtue or ideals, but upon whim constrained by social acceptability. The morality of anti-hatred is the morality of a ship with no anchor and no desired destination. Not the interests of the individual, and the virtues he himself sees, but the currents of democratic opinion will determine what he will like, because the only meaningful resistance that comes from sincere love—hatred—is the one unforgivable sin.
In the moment, anti-hatred might merely be a dishonest but convenient moral weapon with which some attempt to dispatch their adversaries. Over time, however, the believed lies can crush the very passions that really do lead to hatred: all the things that we love.
A brief digression on love and purpose: Viktor Frankl started his practice of what he calls logotherapy—a version of psychiatry—based upon his observations of fellow prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps. He saw that many men who seemed otherwise unlikely to survive the grueling ordeal managed it, while others, who seemed fit and more likely to survive, gave in to starvation, cold, or simply ceased trying. According to Frankl, the one most important thing that determined a prisoner’s chances of making it out alive was whether or not they had something to live for. Sometimes their reason to live was something deeply moving, and sometimes it seemed superficially trivial. Whatever the appearance of importance to an outsider, it gave the prisoner something to hold on and persevere for. Now, love and purpose are not exactly the same, but it is difficult to imagine a purpose that is not primarily driven by love. Like love, making something our purpose is an act of elevation above other things, and like purpose, destroying the bond of love destroys our tie to life itself. We often do not remain very long after that severance. Some people even depart voluntarily, taking their own life.
This observation may seem familiar to you. Frankl was not the first to point out this correlation between purpose and vitality; most people notice it to varying degrees in their own day-to-day lives. Bear it in mind as we move forward.
Over the last few decades, there has been a marked increase in alcoholism, especially among the young. After a decline in the late 80’s, suicide rates turned around in 2001 and have been on the rise ever since. Anxiety, depression, ADD, and other disorders that indicate a failure to find one’s place in society have also exploded, and while some of this reflects an expansion of diagnoses for a variety of reasons, its parallel to inclining suicide rates indicate that broader definitions and more aggressive diagnosing are not the whole trouble.
Most notably of all has been the so-called “demise of guys,” or what Milo Yiannopoulos has called the “sexodus:” young men simply dropping out of society into video games, pornography, or some hobby that otherwise takes them off the social map. Many of these hobbies are self-destructive, most of them are useless, and virtually all of them betray an increase in cynicism and apathy. While some people blame economic hardships (which no doubt play some role), the suicide rate was higher in 2014 than it was in 2009, the height of the housing-market crash, and the rate began climbing well before 2008. Not everything is a matter economics.
Meanwhile, an obsession with “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “anti-hatred” infiltrates nearly all of our organizations and institutions, the ones we live our everyday lives within. Schools, businesses, government agencies, neighborhoods, sports teams, political movements, hobby groups, and private clubs, all of these have, to some degree, begun espousing and enforcing the religion of tolerance. Its golden rule: thou shalt not hate. While we would be wrong to credit this emotional disconnection from passion with all of the aforementioned nihilism and apathy, it is clear from example after demonstrative example that the religion of tolerance—of anti-hatred—bears at least some of the responsibility. If we are being honest, it appears to be a primary source of the spiritual disease festering among the younger generation, and not merely a symptom.
And why should we be surprised by this? If we cannot hate, then we will retroactively convince ourselves that we didn’t really love it. And the danger of unrequited loss by establishing a meaningful preference, might not be worth it. It might be better to never love. To wish that what you loved had never existed, so you could be spared your pain. Without something to love, without something worthy of fighting and dying for, there is no reason to set goals, to improve yourself, to date, to learn, to earn, and to make yourself truly great.
Ironically, the ideology of anti-hatred does not even decrease the net amount of hate, even when it is internalized and practiced seriously. It merely diffuses it, spreading it more evenly across larger groups of people.
This is partially because in place of physical objects of love like people or places, abstract things like ideas, codes, and concepts simply stand in for them—not as “love” per se, so much as commitments and dependencies; ideologies that poorly take love’s place, not really being able to love in return.
Perhaps it is the Republican party, or the Democratic one. Maybe it is “liberalism” generally, or “the Constitution.” It is fine to enjoy these things, to embrace them and fight for them. But when they become the end in itself, rather than a means to a greater end found in other people, they lose their own intended purpose, and can even turn against it.
The law against hate is no exception to this rule. There are no misanthropes so decidedly contemptuous of others as the dedicated anti-bigot. They imagine a possible world of peace and harmony among all mankind, predicated upon understanding and empathy, and decide that this is the most important thing. But they do not empathize with others who have different ideas, because in their eyes, nothing could possibly be more important than world peace.
And so they see disagreements between people as necessarily motivated by stupidity, stubbornness, and bigotry. They see “hatred” all around them. The incorrigibility of man’s differences causes them to lose hope in their ideal, and they descend into a cynical, apathetic, condescending disdain for the rest of their own species. The anti-hater becomes the most universal hater.
Anti-hatred does not fix hate. It just polarizes. To the degree that it does reduce hate, it reduces love as well, which makes us weak, apathetic, short-sighted and cynical.
It also makes us harder to love.
Power Makes You Lovable
Few writers have more powerfully addressed the entangled relationship of agency and morality in literature than Anthony Burgess in his classic A Clockwork Orange. The protagonist, a violent and psychopathic teenager, is conditioned so that he is psychologically incapable of doing harm. But this conditioning does not change who he is. He becomes a “clockwork orange,” a piece of machinery that only looks like a real fruit on the outside. He is not properly human, and his interests, motivations, and actions are not properly his.
“Love” from such a being does not feel like love, at least not any more than love from a computer. Clear agency is required for our love to feel like love to others. Consider, if a prisoner were released on condition that he find someone and love them, we would be right to suspect his sincerity, or at the very least, the depths of his love if he happened to select us. Compelled love is not love at all. And the expression of agency requires power.
I do not mean power in the zero-sum, tyrannical or political sense. The politician who we might call powerful might actually be compelled to oppose things he likes, or claim support for ideas he dislikes, depending on financial backers or the demands of his party. He wields a fair bit of influence, but it very often is not really him that is wielding it. His will may or may not be free.
On the other hand, the love of a drugged-up vagabond, while superficially charming (or at least a little amusing), is not a particularly valuable achievement. Like an idiot, he probably loves everyone. Being loved by people who love everyone is nothing special; it does not mean anything. What gets our heart pounding is earning the love and respect of people who we admire and look up to.
Ultimately, power is the ability to enact our will in the world. To make a broken machine work again requires power, and whether that means purchasing the time of a mechanic, or putting your own mechanical skills to use, or simply buying a whole new machine, is ultimately irrelevant. Influencing people, staying healthy, moving from point A to point B, educating a child, possessing a castle, or making a crowd laugh, all of these require power to some degree. The exertion of will requires power, and it requires there to be a preferred state of things to move towards or an adverse state of things to move away from, or else there would be no purpose in action at all. Put another way, action requires purpose, and purpose requires preferences. Preferences and purpose give us reason to acquire power.
Not all preferences are necessarily love, but love is a particularly passionate form of preference. At least the preservation of yourself is deserving of more than mere “preference.” Love is a kind of preference, but is more than merely preference. Like armies, when forces of will collide, the stronger of the wills generally prevails. So it is natural that when people are certain of something—be it the truth of some idea, the loveliness of a woman, or the vicarious self-affirmation of a child—they will not be content to merely “prefer” it, but will “love” it. Your favorite peanut butter texture is a preference. What you are willing to die for, and live for, is love.
What makes something worthy of love is its quality. The steel we like is very hard, durable, and pure steel. The flowers we like are ornate, delicate, colorful, and have a pleasant smell. The food we like is tasty, nutritious, and preferably digests easily. What qualities make a person lovable? This will vary from judging person to person, but there is a common core of the classical virtues, which include such things as strength, physical attractiveness, intelligence, humility, compassion, perceptiveness, empathy, mastery, humor, truthfulness, loyalty, wisdom, and courage.
The majority of these, including the most important ones, require agency and power to actualize. Intelligence requires the conscious awareness to discern what is relevant from what is irrelevant; compassion requires the capacity to see the suffering of others; courage requires the ability to perceive danger, and to act in the face of that danger, etc. The man who does not allow himself to hate relinquishes the power of hate, which is the power to protect the most important things.
There is a word to describe someone that wants to achieve something but is powerless to do so: pathetic.
We do not love what is pathetic. We might feel compassion for the woman who has tragically lost a child in a freak accident, but our hearts do not go out to the woman sobbing over her dead child she herself left in a scorching car on a hot day for four hours. We might feel compassion for the deceased child, but only contempt for the woman, no matter her grief. We might laugh in amusement at a clumsy kitten attempting a great flying leap and greatly undershooting its intended landing point, but our amusement might fade to indifference or even frustrated annoyance if, when the kitten grows up into an adult, it is still incapable of killing at least a few of the mice taking over the basement. A man who does not, or cannot, experience hatred, lacks the power that hate would give him to protect what he loves. It will either make him pathetic—desiring, but incapable of protecting what is dearest to him—or it will erode his feelings of love, not least because he cannot stand to be pathetic in his own eyes or in the eyes of others. Impotence can lead you in one of two directions: with honesty, it will lead you back to potency, by reacquiring a capacity for hatred and violence; or it will lead to learned helplessness, Stockholm syndrome, and apathy. Translated into more visible symptoms: video games, involuntary but accepted celibacy, and cynical snarkiness, even on matters of true importance. There is no reason to take care of your health, your honor, or your future, and your decisions will reflect this.
Hatred is by no means the sole source of power. But just as all the wealth in the world will not save you from a hungry tiger, all the kindness, reasoning, empathy, technology, and honesty in the world will not stop someone who fundamentally wants something different than what you want. It cannot stop someone who rejects your values, and is willing and happy to destroy you, your family, or your country to have what he wants. Hate is the tool that evolution has given us to handle dilemmas like that. At the end of the day, love and preference drive action, and when the expression of love demands a reserve of hatred, the rejection of hatred will eventually force a man to let down, betray, or reject what he loves. In these three cases—those of the pathetic man, the traitor, or the nihilist—a man becomes as unworthy of love as he is incapable of expressing it. He is, in effect, a clockwork orange. His heart has been cut out.
VI. Varieties and Criticisms
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
“Hot” and “Cold” Hatred
Here, after a defense of the morality of hatred, it is essential to grant credit where it is due to some of the criticisms of hatred.
It is said that “love is blind,” but if we wanted to be more accurate, we would say “love blinds.” Fear can also blind, and like love and fear, hate can blind us too, if we are not careful. This moral defense of hatred, after all, is not a moral defense of all hatred, but hatred that is “just,” which is to say, proportional. Disproportionate hatred can make an unnecessary enemy, or harden an existing one. It can also waste energy.
There are as many sources and expressions of hatred as there are willed threats in humanity. Within this range, there are two broad but distinct roads that hatred often takes when people invoke its power. One we call “rage,” the berserk state that comes when we simply unleash our hate in a raw and unrestrained form. The other has no name, but we can refer to as lucid or cool hatred. There may be some game-theory argument for going berserk, but it is usually a hazardous and ineffectual kind of hatred. Rage is like a freight train: it moves with tremendous power, but its momentum makes it very difficult to stop, and very easy for others to predict. It is a state more suited for psyching yourself up or for fighting against instinctive animals, or against some difficult task, than it is for facing down intelligent, thinking, and scheming humans, who can skillfully dodge the raging man like a matador dodging a bull before gracefully stabbing it in the heart.
In martial arts, good teachers will instruct students on how to punch without “telegraphing” their move—indicating which hand they are punching with and where it is going, thereby giving their antagonizer the chance to anticipate the attack and take advantage of it. A productive kind of hate will be like an effective punch: unpredictable, sudden, and capable of anything. This does not mean non-demonstrative, as we discussed earlier in the book. No one mistakes the bull that stalks around the matador, rather than immediately charging, as friendly. The stalking animal’s hatred is more effective. It is more terrifying for its coolness.
The face of hatred is not that of rage—nostrils flared, eyebrows furrowed, and spittle flying. As stated before, it is the expressionless mask of blank indifference, and beyond that, no one can know for certain. They can only imagine the worst.
The model to follow is given by Rudyard Kipling, in “Wrath of the Awakened Saxon:”
It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.
They were not easily moved,
They were icy—willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.
Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.
It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.
It was not suddenly bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.
Cool hatred is easier said than done. How do we best channel our hatred, and curb the rage that turns us into clumsy and predictable playthings for enemies.
Before answering this, there is another important criticism of hatred worth acknowledging. When we are blinded by hatred, not only is our hate less effective, but we might be investing energy opposing something that we shouldn’t be opposing. Our blinding by emotion can not only make us vulnerable to others, but to ourselves. It can make innocent people vulnerable, including friends and family members in extreme circumstances. This blindness has been a consistent source of material for tragic literature, including the story of Oedipus and Laius, arguably the greatest tragedy ever written.
In modern form, this criticism has been broadly condensed under the label of “bigotry.” For better or for worse, however, the term has been used so excessively and liberally that it has essentially lost all original connotation. Whereas it once meant “someone who hates another without just cause,” it now is best understood as “someone with whom I disagree.” The word may have lost its meaning to sophists and the dishonest—and there is even reason to believe that the people who most often use the word and its family (racist, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe) are often projecting—but the underlying argument remains true. How can we avoid this misguided variety of hatred? How can we simultaneously grant the legitimacy of the emotion, but check against its excesses and dangers? What is the season for hatred?
The Grounds for Just Hatred
The answer to both of these concerns is understanding. Recall from Chapter 1:
It is a recognition of willful opposition.
And from our model, Kipling:
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.
You can certainly hate an enemy without understanding their intentions or nature. But you will not have truly effective hatred without recognition of your enemy’s intention. And you cannot recognize intent without understanding their nature. Remembering this solves the problem of predictable, wrathful hatred which loses power rather than gaining it, as well as the problem of hating things unjustly and disproportionately. It does this by imposing a requirement of knowledge about—even an empathy for—the enemy, which grows alongside your burgeoning hatred, as in the case of Vlad of Wallachia. Even in the object of hatred itself, we can see another, more shadowy version of the innate connection between hatred and love.
Many people of the hatred-is-evil persuasion seem to believe that understanding is the solution to hatred (and therefore, hatred indicates either a lack of understanding or stupidity). It is often with this thought in mind that they’ll say that “education is the solution.” But while deeper understanding and empathy can sometimes remove false differences and opposition, it can just as often deepen the divide, and turn mere anger or incredulity into actual hatred.
A brief personal example: I did not “hate” the progressives whom we colloquially call “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) for a very long time, even as I opposed them and their ideas in the college newspaper I worked for. I viewed their ideas as merely “wrong,” and the activists themselves likewise as “wrong,” They were not “enemies,” but people who were fundamentally on the same page, and had the same goals, but who had—for whatever reason—come to different conclusions. And while I had no illusions about the universal sanity of all politics, I at least thought that we all shared the value of “what is best for America.” I thought this bound us together, no matter what our differences of opinion were.
It was education and deeper understanding that separated me from the SJWs, rather than bringing me closer.
American Patriots and the Social Justice Warriors do both want what is best for “America,” but their different views about what America is makes this supposed point of agreement completely moot. Patriots view America as a collection of people, one that shares a love of freedom in addition to their own shared aesthetic about what makes the good life and the good city. SJWs have a completely different, and mutually exclusive, idea of what “America” is, or ought to be. They see America as a civic proposition and an experiment, rather than as a nation more classically defined (a separate and distinct group of people). It is a proposition characterized by collective moral responsibility, an obligation that transcends the individual, the nation, even the generation. To SJWs, this obligation trumps the intrinsic goods of beauty, quality, or the desires of any particular individual or group. Even if one of these groups founded for itself and its’ posterity the nation which the SJWs are now claiming ownership over. Advocates of Social Justice will nominally oppose all power discrepancies on the basis that because everyone is equal, any discrepancy indicates that someone, somewhere, at some time, must have cheated justice. And if equity is the highest goal, then no price is too high to rectify the cheating that they have deduced from these differences in outcomes.
America has achieved an enormous degree of power and success in the world. This means that even if most SJWs enjoy success for themselves, their appreciation for the wealth of their own country is very often overshadowed by a belief that that success was acquired by theft or coercion. They have come to believe that America owes something to the rest of the world, both for the crimes it must have committed to create the discrepancy, and intrinsically because of the discrepancy exists.
If you define America as a “nation,” rather than a dream, an idea, or abstract mental invention, then it is no exaggeration to say that advocates of Social Justice really do hate America. They do not think that they do, but only because each side is using the same word to describe wildly different objects of love. What America represents to classical American Patriots is destructive to what SJWs claim to love (their philosophical ideal), as well as to what they actually love (most often their own power and social influence). This is discernible through the web of inconsistencies, lies, and omissions that their movements often make.
I do not want to go into details about the nature and problems of SJWs, which have been addressed in more depth and detail elsewhere. The principles here, in fact, apply to SJWs as much as they do to people like myself, who prefer quality to the mutually incompatible value of equality. I am as much their enemy as they are mine, due to our existentially opposed systems of values and objects of love. Their successes are my failures, and vice versa. Education for the sake of understanding the other does not resolve this impasse, but clarifies and deepens it.
Resolving the conflict can only be achieved in one of three ways: distance, destruction, or dilution. It is the goal of hatred to achieve one of the first two, and it is often the goal of hatred cloaked as anti-hatred to destroy the enemy by the third. It is therefore based upon understanding, curiosity, and clarity that hatred is justified, as I believe my hatred for Social Justice is itself justified. This avoids the dangers of blinding yourself by hatred. It is worth recognizing that it is this very blinding lack of empathy and understanding that explains why SJWs cannot win debates, and are gradually but consistently losing support, political control, and their confidence across the Western World.
There is a time to love, and a time to hate. Just as the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference, the opposite of hatred is also indifference—both being facets of caring. We should not love blindly, nor should we hate blindly. As the old saying goes, guard your heart above all else, because everything else comes from that. Do not let it be cut out, nor let it run wildly, and the appropriate seasons to love and to hate will become more clear.
Hatred That Traps; Hatred That Self-Destructs
My favorite work of fiction and a great inspiration for this work is Homer’s Iliad. People often believe it to be a story of the Trojan war, and indeed, it does take place within it (albeit in only a few weeks out of what we are told is a 10-year war), but it is not really about the war. It begins with the conflict well underway, and ends long before the resolution of the fighting. The infamous Trojan Horse has not even been conceived yet, let alone built. The protagonist of the story is not Paris, nor Menelaus, Priam, Hector, Agamemnon, nor even Odysseus, who is to be the hero of the Odyssey. The subject is quite literally described in the first line, which reads as follows:
Sing, Goddess, the wrath of Achilles, Peleus’ son, the ruinous wrath that brought on the Achaeans woes innumerable, and hurled down into Hades many strong souls of heroes…
The book is about the excessive anger of Achilles, and his refusal to let it go. Achilles gives us a perfect demonstration of the hatred he is feeling when he tells Hector, immediately before killing him:
There are no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out and through.
Here, visible to everyone, stands the impossibility of agreement between mutually opposed wills. But when this story is looked at in context, it can illustrate some of the dangers of unjust hatred as well.
In the story, Achilles’ was dishonored by the tactless king Agamemnon, and the great warrior, responding to the king’s injustice, withdrew himself and his men from the fighting. This action is not properly hatred; it represents just anger, being proportional to the dishonor. But when the king sought to right his error, and Achilles rebuffed his offers of compensation which far exceeded the damage of the offense, the anger became unjust. One can easily imagine the lone soldier, stalking the beaches and the rocks as the fighting goes on nearer to the walls of the city, stewing in his own fury and justifying it all in his own head in an endless loop, until the righteousness of his rage could not be satiated by anything. He became trapped inside his own anger to the point that only the death of his close friend and companion Patrocles was able to pull him out again.
Hatred unchecked by understanding can make one vulnerable, or dangerous even to one’s friends. Let it ferment too long, without action of some sort, and it can also leave you depressed, paranoid, falsely superior, self-righteous, impervious to new information or reconciliation, and eventually, exhausted and apathetic. It can trap you in an endless loop, stealing away all your attention and your emotional energy. You only have so much time to give attention to things, and you can only love, cherish, improve, and protect that at which you direct your attention. If hating something draws away all your attention, you will functionally cease to love anything. It is in this manner that hatred, while at once an expression of love, can also overtake and override the very love that drives it.
Like Achilles, we can spend all our energy justifying our rage, only to find that we haven’t spent any energy enjoying and building anything that we love. Fruitless hatred, and hate that ignores love, can ultimately become as soul-killing and self-defeating as an unwillingness to hate.
I speak from personal experience on this. Like many young Millennials, I’ve spent thousands of hours online, debating people on social media, reading headlines and articles, and listening to videos online about current events, religion, politics, and the like. I do not count the time as wasted: my writing and debate skills were honed while listening to persuasive speakers, reading good writers, and getting into arguments with skillful opponents.
But the vast majority of the issues I argued over do not really impact my life in a tangible way. There’s nothing I can do about a school shooting in Texas, or ISIS decapitating four people in Iraq. If I was merely informing myself, that would be one thing. But in my experience, these conversations always metastasized into an argument, in which both sides would pour out their souls in righteous indignation about the morality of this, or the injustice of that, typically with extreme incredulity that anyone could hold a position other than their own.
Periodically, I would suffer from acute outrage fatigue. Every once in a while, the frequency and vitriol of these unproductive, directionless, and unactionable arguments would leave me feeling stripped of caring at all. I became so obsessed with finishing the argument and trying to sway the incorrigible that at several points I deactivated my online accounts so I could detoxify myself from the rampant online sound and fury.
Like the misanthropy of the idealistic anti-hater, the apathy of a tired hater eats away at love itself. The more you fight about everything, the less you care about anything. Again, if what you are defending is not something you love very much, your stamina in the furnace of hateful combat will be low, and you may soon find yourself wondering if anything is really worth loving strongly enough to justify the frustration, futility, and fatigue you feel.
And we know where that leads.
“It’s time to quit worrying and learn to love the battle axe. History teaches us that if we don’t, someone else will.”
—Jack Donovan, Violence is Golden
Case Studies in History
Boudica had ample reasons to hate the Romans.
In ancient times, the Romans were a double-edged people: generous in citizenship and the amenities of high civilization, but ruthlessly brutal to those beyond the circle of their empire. After the Romans had invaded Britain in AD 43 and conquered the southern region, the Roman historian Tacitus described the people of the British Isles as being generally amicable to the Roman occupation in Agricola:
The Britons themselves bear cheerfully the conscription, the taxes, and the other burdens imposed on them by the Empire, if there be no oppression. Of this they are impatient; they are reduced to subjection, not as yet to slavery.
Around AD 60, however, subjection had evolved into abuse, extortion, and, eventually, insult. In Annals, Tacitus described the fate of one particular Briton chieftain:
Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, famed for his long prosperity, had made the emperor his heir along with his two daughters, under the impression that this token of submission would put his kingdom and his house out of the reach of wrong. But the reverse was the result, so much so that his kingdom was plundered by centurions, his house by slaves, as if they were the spoils of war. First, his wife Boudica was scourged, and his daughters outraged. All the chief men of the Iceni, as if Rome had received the whole country as a gift, were stript of their ancestral possessions, and the king’s relatives were made slaves.
The whipping of Boudica and the rape of her daughters were not the first instance of Roman tyranny, but the pinnacle, and also the final straw. As word made its way around the country of the outrage, the Britons decided that they had had enough. Around AD 60, Boudica began rallying the tribes in revolt against the Romans. The new, massive army seemed to find a symbolic, vicarious identity in the crimes committed against their new Queen. Their unfettered hatred drove them forward in an unstoppable horde, annihilating all Roman forces and burning down settlements along their path, including London. They seemed invincible, and the Roman governor responsible for the abuse of the Iceni—Catus Decianus—fled across the English Channel, never to return.
But the Britons under Boudica had not really faced a prepared Roman fighting force. The Romans had grown arrogant in their domination of the island and their forces were divided. General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus had been off quelling a Druid rebellion on the island of Mona.
But now he had returned.
It had been a tactical decision of Suetonius to withdraw from London which allowed Boudica and her army to raze it so easily, not the force of their number or their rage. In the withdrawal, Suetonius had padded his own Legio XIV with auxiliaries from the city and a few extra detachments, bringing his army to an estimated 10,000 men.
The Britons, bolstered by their successes and by their massive numerical advantage, did not know what they did not know about the Romans, and charged.
Suetonius had very carefully chosen his battleground, and had arrayed his soldiers in a series of wedge formations to channel the Britons into close quarters. There, their inferior armor would make Boudica’s forces vulnerable, and the infamous stabbing short-sword of the legionaries—the gladius—would be at its most effective. Before the carnage began, the Roman general addressed his men curtly and confidently:
warriors. Unwarlike, unarmed, they will give way the moment they have recognised that sword and that courage of their conquerors, which have so often routed them. Even among many legions, it is a few who really decide the battle, and it will enhance their glory that a small force should earn the renown of an entire army. Only close up the ranks, and having discharged your javelins, then with shields and swords continue the work of bloodshed and destruction, without a thought of plunder. When once the victory has been won, everything will be in your power.”
The victory was absolute. The well-trained legionaries mechanically and industriously dispatched Britons, who could not advance against or injure the Roman formation, but could not retreat, due to their own soldiers pressing them forward. Tacitus claimed that the Romans lost only about 400 men, while killing perhaps 80,000 of the enemy.
It is claimed that Boudica poisoned herself soon afterwards. But the revolution had been poisoned, in a manner of speaking, from the beginning. The Britons did not truly understand the nature and capabilities of the enemies they fought. Prasutagus did not understand who the Romans were when he signed away his daughters and his kingdom to “Rome,” nor the idiosyncrasies of the politicking Roman governor to whom he was submitting. And his wife did not understand the equipment or tactics of the supremely competent Roman general against whom she was fighting. She was blinded by hatred, justified by righteousness but not justified by knowledge of her enemy, and the tragic consequences for the Iceni—and all the other tribes of Britain—were predictable.
There were many other European rebels against the Romans, including such noteworthy names as Vercingetorix and Viriatus. Both men led campaigns against the Romans that were surprisingly successful, despite ultimately failing to hold back the most powerful military in the world.
One commander, however, stood out from the others; not only in his success, but in the permanence of his victory: a twenty-five-year-old Cherusci tribesman named Arminius.
The decisive victory took place in a single battle in 9 AD. The Roman General was a wealthy patrician named Publius Quinctilius Varus, an inexperienced military leader but effective and ruthless political administrator. At his disposal, Varus had three legions (XVII, XVIII, and XIX; between 20,000 and 36,000 men.
At Arminius’ disposal: a rough, underequipped, contingent of mutually-opposed Germanic tribesmen. Perhaps 15,000 or 20,000 men, though some estimates range as low as 12,000.
It was September, and Varus was already departing with his entire force from their summer camp, near the Wesser River, west to their winter headquarters near the Rhine. At the time he was to depart, he got wind of an uprising, and decided to attend to one final military action en route before settling in for the year. The road to the embattled area took them north of their planned route west, through unfamiliar territory. But a small tribal uprising would have seemed a minor task to Varus, with a trained and seasoned Roman army under his control, before continuing along his way.
There was no uprising in the north, and Varus would never reach that destination to find out.
Arminius began his three-day attack after the Romans had been marching northwest for a day. Varus’s forces were stretched out long and thin, with the vanguard building roads and bridges as it went for the rest of the army. Cassius Dio reported that the Romans “were not proceeding in any regular order, but were mixed helter-skelter with the wagons and the unarmed,” as they passed through the narrow strip of traversable land between Kalkriese hill and a peat bog. This meant that when the Germanic soldiers appeared at the top of the recently fortified hill and began pelting the Roman line with javelins, the legions were “unable to form readily anywhere in a body, and being fewer at every point than their assailants, they suffered greatly and could offer no resistance at all.”
The Romans fought back as they could, and even attempted to take the hill, though they were quickly repulsed. After sustaining heavy casualties in miserable and confusing conditions, the Romans finally managed to secure a nearby location for setting up camp. There they burned their wagons and other unnecessary baggage, in hopes of being able to travel lighter and faster, and perhaps to survive the next day.
The next day, however, turned out worse than before. The road took them through the woods, and there the Germans had set up yet another ambush. Varus suffered tremendous losses, and it seemed as if more German tribes were joining in after hearing of the initial victories.
On the third day, the Romans—tired, wet, surrounded, and exhausted—attempted to fight back, but to no avail. According to Cassius Dio, Varus finally admitted his defeat:
They were still advancing when the fourth day dawned, and again a heavy downpour and violent wind assailed them, preventing them from going forward and even from standing securely, and moreover depriving them of the use of their weapons. For they could not handle their bows or their javelins with any success, nor, for that matter, their shields, which were thoroughly soaked. Their opponents, on the other hand, being for the most part lightly equipped, and able to approach and retire freely, suffered less from the storm. Furthermore, the enemy’s forces had greatly increased, as many of those who had at first wavered joined them, largely in the hope of plunder, and thus they could more easily encircle and strike down the Romans, whose ranks were now thinned, many having perished in the earlier fighting. Varus, therefore, and all the more prominent officers, fearing that they should either be captured alive or be killed by their bitterest foes (for they had already been wounded), made bold to do a thing that was terrible yet unavoidable: they took their own lives.
Things did not go so well for the other officers or soldiers, who were butchered or enslaved. Roman officer and historian Velleius Paterculus recorded the mayhem:
Of the two prefects of the camp, Lucius Eggius furnished a precedent as noble as that of Ceionius was base, who, after the greater part of the army had perished, proposed its surrender, preferring to die by torture at the hands of the enemy than in battle. Vala Numonius, lieutenant of Varus, who, in the rest of his life, had been an inoffensive and an honourable man, also set a fearful example in that he left the infantry unprotected by the cavalry and in flight tried to reach the Rhine with his squadrons of horse. But fortune avenged his act, for he did not survive those whom he had abandoned, but died in the act of deserting them.
The body of Publius Quinctilius Varus was decapitated, and the head was sent back to Rome in a basket, whereupon Emperor Augustus, hearing of the totality of their defeat, walked up and down the palace, shouting “Quintili Vare, legiones redde!”
Though two of the Aquila—the Eagle standard used by each legion—were eventually retrieved, around 16 AD, the legions were never reassembled. After a fruitless campaign of vengeance against Arminius and the Germans, the Romans withdrew, never again to expand the Empire north of the Rhine.
What made Arminius so different from Boudica?
The German commander was no ordinary Cherusci tribesman. The son of a Chief, he had been sent off to Rome with his brother Flavus, when they were both children. He grew up as a Roman, became a citizen, and eventually even became an equestrian. He joined the military, and quickly rose up the ranks until he became an auxiliary lieutenant to a rather wealthy political administrator, named Publius Quinctilius Varus.
So close was the young Arminius to Varus that when another Cherusci tribal elder (and Arminius’ father-in-law) named Segestes came to Varus before the battle, and warned him that Arminius had planned to betray him, the Roman commander dismissed him without a thought.
It had been Arminius who organized the various German tribes against the Romans in secret. It had been Arminius who had invented a rumor of an uprising somewhere up north, immediately before the legions departed for the Rhine, and who had destroyed the various Roman outposts in preparation for the ambush.
Arminius hated the Romans, we may presume. His aspirations and identity were German, not Etruscan. The way that Varus treated his people—the Cherusci and the other German tribes—might have angered him. Such psychological musings are, of course, speculation, but the idea that a promising young officer in the Roman army would abandon and even oppose everything he had grown up with, and leap into a comparatively weaker, tribal nation, full of people who distrusted him, is hard to attribute to greed, ambition, or boredom.
Arminius acted as a hateful man acts. He did so with patience, deep understanding, and while keeping his head cool. His hatred was justified in his understanding of the Romans—their methods and their nature—which allowed him to evaluate them, try them before the judgment of his fellow Germans, and then massacre them.
The stories of Boudica and Arminius are not the purest independent examples of “hot” and “cold” hatred, but they are comparable. Let your emotions drive your actions without knowledge, and you may fail in humiliation and defeat at the hands of your oppressors. Channel your emotions, and pursue their fulfillment with knowledge and discernment, and perhaps you may get the chance to humiliate and eviscerate them.
It should be said that hot, unjustified hatred is not the worst thing, since it at least signifies a moral pulse. So long as you are not a nihilist, you are not dead, and until death, there is always time to improve and grow in your character. But the ineffectiveness and dangers—physically, emotionally, and psychologically—of unjustified, hot hatred should be in your mind when running down the warpath. This is not so that you avoid hatred altogether, but so that you execute its purpose most effectively and safely for yourself and those you love.
What happens if you do not righteously pursue those who you ought to hate? Is it so bad to abstain from hate?
Enter Segestes, the man who tried to reveal Arminius to Varus in 9 AD. It was known that Segestes had not approved of his daughter Thusnelda’s marriage to Arminius, and from this we can infer that his attempted betrayal of his son-in-law was not circumstantial, but rooted in a hatred of his own. Tacitus makes clear that Segestes preferred Roman rule, and resented Arminius’ love of German independence and, more crucially, his willingness to fight for its attainment.
In 15 AD, Segestes took his pregnant daughter away from Germany to give to the Romans as a hostage, as a sign of loyalty. Tacitus reported his words as something to this effect:
This is not my first day of steadfast loyalty towards the Roman people. From the time that the Divine Augustus gave me the citizenship, I have chosen my friends and foes with an eye to your advantage, not from hatred of my fatherland (for traitors are detested even by those whom they prefer) but because I held that Romans and Germans have the same interests, and that peace is better than war. And therefore I denounced to Varus, who then commanded your army, Arminius, the ravisher of my daughter, the violator of your treaty. I was put off by that dilatory general, and, as I found but little protection in the laws, I urged him to arrest myself, Arminius, and his accomplices.
That night is my witness; would that it had been my last. What followed may be deplored rather than defended. However, I threw Arminius into chains and I endured to have them put on myself by his partisans. And as soon as you give me opportunity, I show my preference for the old over the new, for peace over commotion, not to get a reward, but that I may clear myself from treachery and be at the same time a fit mediator for a German people, should they choose repentance rather than ruin. For the youth and error of my son I entreat forgiveness. As for my daughter, I admit that it is by compulsion she has been brought here. It will be for you to consider which fact weighs most with you, that she is with child by Arminius or that she owes her being to me.
Despite destroying Varus utterly, and fending off the attempted punitive campaigns of General Germanicus, Arminius was robbed of his wife and son by the very people he had attempted to free from ignominious servitude. In 21 AD, his own family and tribe—most likely with the aid and direction of Segestes—killed him.
Having grown up and served as a Roman, he knew the Romans well, and he rightly pointed out that his father-in-law did not know the eventual price of Roman rule:
Other nations in their ignorance of Roman rule, have no experience of punishments, know nothing of tributes, and, as we have shaken them off, as the great Augustus, ranked among deities, and his chosen heir Tiberius, departed from us, baffled, let us not quail before an inexperienced stripling, before a mutinous army. If you prefer your fatherland, your ancestors, your ancient life to tyrants and to new colonies, follow as your leader Arminius to glory and to freedom rather than Segestes to ignominious servitude.
Perhaps Arminius did not understand the nature and intentions of his own people well enough, to whom he had given his loyalty. This demonstrates once again that understanding does not always eliminate hatred, but proves and justifies it, and that the consequences of refusing to hate what seeks your destruction can be fatal. One can only wonder if, in his love for his own people, he was afraid to recognize the existential danger that his treasonous father-in-law posed to himself and to Cherusci independence from Roman tyranny.
Hate, Love, and Fear
I would not have introduced this book with Christopher Hitchens if I believed its principles to be dependent on the reader’s religiosity. Nevertheless, I believe that at the heart of modern opposition to hatred sits a justification found in religion generally, and in Christian theology specifically. Given the deep psychological roots this subject may have in many readers, it is worth taking some time to excavate, regardless of your own religious inclinations. After all, there is wisdom in Homer and Dostoyevsky, regardless of one’s supernatural beliefs; in the same way at least, there is wisdom also in the Bible, whether you believe in a God or not.
Christians or former Christians reading this book may have already picked up on a concept from the Apostles that reframes this matter in spiritual form. Any pastor will tell you that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
—1 John 4:18
What is rarely connected is that the opposite of hatred is also fear. It is true that the source of hatred and fear are the same: a threat. But that does not mean that our reaction to them—fear or hatred—are related, or even compatible. The degree to which someone feels fear is the degree to which they cannot feel hatred. They may repress their fear, and thereby make room for hatred. But if they let fear control their mind and direct their actions, hatred is relegated to the outer edges. Attention given to fear is diverted from the protection of what we love. Frank Herbert was right: fear is the mind killer, but only because it is the love-killer, and by extension, the hate-killer.
This brings us to a counterintuitive solution to the problem of the fear of hatred.
The answer is not trying to manufacture hatred in ourselves. That is empty hatred, or at best unjustified hatred. Rather, it is to love, deeper and more passionately and more honestly. Let sincerity and joy drive out your fear. Any hate that you may require will arise organically and naturally from the unfettered love that you hold. Put another way:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
This book was not motivated as much by a love of hatred as it was by a deep personal hatred of dishonesty. Deep down, I believe most of us hold certain people in deep contempt. Often there are good reason to feel this way, and many times there are not. But it is troubling when people do not allow themselves to admit that hatred, even to themselves, because they have been convinced that it is an evil emotion. It does not matter whether their feelings are just or unjust, hot or cold: lying to themselves about it helps no one.
Acquaintances of mine, who clearly and justifiably hate certain ideologies and those who practice them, who hate politicians who threaten their livelihood and identity or academics who would destroy their children’s minds, will still say “it is not about hate.” Perhaps they mean that in the sense that it is actually about love, which is certainly correct. Somehow it seems unlikely.
But there’s a creeping dishonesty and defensiveness in their tone, as though in appearing to be motivated by hate, they would somehow be betraying their purpose. Even among hardened and jaded culture warriors familiar with the language traps and philosophical acrobatics of SJWs, activists, and gun-toting John, the admission of hatred remains something of a psychological weakness. This hesitancy to admit feeling hatred induces a pallid dishonesty, filled with lame defenses that do not convince anyone. Pointing out the hypocrisy—“democrats are the real racists!”—they are patently unwilling to embrace their own hatred and justify the foundation upon which their ideological structures rest.
It is hard to overstate the importance of honesty in pursuit of truth, wisdom, character, and the good life. But while we peruse platitudes about the importance of being earnest, we often make excuses for little lies, and the little lies we tell ourselves are the easiest of all. Lies we tell ourselves have no external check, no one to call us on our bullshit. And big lies we tell ourselves can destroy our integrity. They can destroy your Self.
“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
—George Orwell, 1984
Lying about hatred is a big lie. It is like saying that two and two make zero, and the conclusions are just as dire. Without objective truth, without values that you care strongly enough about that you would be willing to defend their preservation with violence, then you have no map, no compass, no orientation to guide you. You cease to have an interest at all, and have no reason to resist others who would happily use you for their own interests, whoever those others happen to be.
Perhaps they simply forgot to drop their own preferences, loves, and hates.
But this book is also for them. I do not want my enemies lying to themselves. Perhaps they have something important to say, that I can learn from. I can see the hatred of my enemies—Social Justice Warriors, Feminists, Marxists, Multiculturalists, and many, many more—and I can see the psychological damage they are wreaking upon themselves by lying. I want strong enemies. When I was in debate club in college, I could demolish liberal students whenever a politically partisan issue came up because none of them had read conservative arguments, as I had. They were unprepared, weak. And I was a less skilled debater than I could have been because of it. Lying to their enemies, I can understand, and would expect. That’s Sun Tzu-101, and a favor I’m happy to return to them. It is the lying to themselves, and amongst themselves, that is… problematic.
And is it not simply more satisfying to defeat stronger enemies? Whether it is in literal warfare, or the more metaphorical variety—politics, law, culture, or even sports—the strong man never gets a sense of satisfaction from defeating pathetic, weak enemies. It is only from defeating challenging enemies, worthy of one’s hatred, that your own strengths can be vindicated and demonstrated. As Nietzsche pointed out many years ago, it is in this way, at least, that we can learn to love our enemies.
It is not love of my enemies, however, which motivates me to write this book. Rather, it is hatred for them, and love for the things and values which they threaten. I hope that those who share my love of freedom, of beauty, of justice, will read this, and free themselves from the fear of being “hateful.” I hope that they will see and understand that we cannot love without the possibility of hate. I hope they will see that nothing is worth avoiding at the expense of love. I hope they will see that hatred is love, and is love’s greatest and last defense.
If, by happy chance, a few of my enemies happen to read this, I am glad for them and for myself. With luck, their understanding of my arguments will be clearer, their arguments will be stronger, and perhaps from this they will find the courage and the ability to put away slander and violence, and once again make the battle one between ideas.
And if not, the greater the glory for those of us who saw the war coming in time to prepare.
 “The passions must be suppressed.”
 Dio estimated that Boudica’s army approximated 230,000 men, though Tacitus believed this to be an exaggeration.
 “Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!”