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Saturday, May 25, 2019

On The Unifying Power of Hatred

Eric Hoffer
The True Believer has a section entitled “Unifying Agents,” in which Eric Hoffer talks about the elements that hold a mass movement together. Hatred, he notes, is the most important of these elements. Hoffer writes:
"Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and future, frees him of jealousies and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass… Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil."
Hoffer is correct when he says:
"Whence come these unreasonable hatreds, and why their unifying effect? They are an expression of a desperate effort to suppress an awareness of our inadequacy, worthlessness, guilt and other shortcomings of the self. Self-contempt is here transmuted into hatred of others and there is a most determined and persistent effort to mask this switch. Obviously, the most effective way of doing this is to find others, as many as possible, who hate as we do. Here more than anywhere else we need general consent, and much of our proselytizing consists perhaps in infecting others not with our brand of faith but with our particular brand of unreasonable hatred."
Every movement or cult which believes that they own “the one and only truth” will try to unify its members by preaching hatred against its ideological or political enemies. Hoffer notes that in the long run hatred comes at a heavy price: “We pay for it by losing all or many of the values we have set out to defend.” I think one should always distrust those who blindly follow someone else, never questioning their own beliefs.

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