Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"The pleasure of hating"

At the Wall Street Journal yesterday, one explanation of our current predicament:
.... We Americans are becoming ever better at vilifying people who disagree with us. This taste for hate seems perverse, an intentional pursuit of displeasure. Hate disturbs one’s inner peace, as does being hated.

But the compensatory pleasures of hatred—in particular its enhancement of self-esteem—are underrated. Hatred is self-congratulatory. It involves expressing superiority to its objects, and patting yourself on the back for not being them.

The pleasure of hating is also the quickest and most effective method of bringing people together. When you declare your opponents to be obviously evil and stupid, you are congratulating not only yourself but the people who agree with you for being intelligent and good. Any expressions of disagreement in your vicinity, on the other hand, threaten your sense of the purity of your own motives and the indubitable truth of your opinions. Such things menace your self-regard, and hence the meaning of your life.

Meanwhile your opponents are off in their “bubble,” “silo” or “ghetto” congratulating themselves and one another by their vilification of you and your ilk. This makes everyone feel good, but also makes any sort of political dialogue across the line impossible, not to mention dangerous.

For a couple of generations, educators have taken as obvious that their purpose is to enhance young people’s self-esteem, and that extreme self-esteem is tantamount to redemption. A couple of generations of Americans who grew up in those schools learned that having their self-esteem damaged is tantamount to being violently victimized. ....

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