Friday, May 23, 2008

Politics of Hate & Manipulation

Years ago, when I read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer, the section about how propagandists use hate to manipulate people really hit home with me. Here are some excerpts.

“Common hatred unites the most heterogeneous elements… Hitler used anti-Semitism not only to unify his Germans but also to sap the resoluteness of Jew-hating Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and finally even France. He made similar use of anti-communism.” (p. 86)

By concentrating hatred on a single foe, Hoffer notes, it unites disparate groups as “adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category.” (p. 87)

With the advent of the internet, I have been on the receiving end of quite a few “pass this to ten friends” emails that foster hatred toward either Muslims or Hispanics. The Democrats do nothing to discourage hatred either, though with a different object who goes by the name Dubya.
The Oscar winning film Crash showed the corrosive power of prejudice, fear and mistrust. And the tragic consequences at an individual level.

On the national level hatred, whether from left or right, may unify disparate groups for a time, but it does not lead to a good society in the end. If the masses are led by manipulators instead of educators, we will most assuredly see them manipulated in ways that are not good for us.

My big concern today is that in the name of freedom from (Muslims or illegal immigrants or whatever we can be coerced into being afraid of) we will give up our still more of our freedoms.

In the light of history, it is not unwise to be wary.

6 comments:

LEWagner said...

"With the advent of the internet, I have been on the receiving end of quite a few “pass this to ten friends” emails that foster hatred toward either Muslims or Hispanics."

Gee! What kind of people do you hang around with? ;>)
Actually, I can't remember ever getting an email like that, in 6 years I've been on the Internet.

"The Democrats do nothing to discourage hatred either, though with a different object who goes by the name Dubya."

Well, what "Dubya" did, was to start a war based on lies, that has killed at least tens (and more likely hundreds) of thousands of people, just about 100% of them Muslims.
And that war has caused untold suffering for millions of people. Little kids Alex and Devon's age with arms and legs blown off, and stuff like that. And "Dubya" started that war with a grin on his face.
Having a strong dislike for (hating, despising) a person like that has nothing whatsoever in common with hating an entire *race* of people *because of their race*.
By the way, "Dubya" is what Bush's supporters in Texas called him, with affection, I guess. In my opinion, it's too good a name for him. He started an aggressive war. In other words, he attacked a country that had NOT attacked the United States, and in fact, had no means to. Several of the Nazis who were hung at Nuremburg were hung for that very same war crime.
It's pretty business, and no doubt, Bush is aware of that. Which makes me suspect he may declare martial law in the US, and seize total power. The police already have a huge amount of power in the US, which already has the highest proportion of incarcerated people in the world (and that doesn't even include locked hospitals, treatment centers, nursing homes, etc). The police would obviously have no compunctions against enforcing martial law, either. The Constitution of the United States means nothing to them. It's sad to see what the US has become since the 1970's.

LEWagner said...

It's "serious business", not "pretty business".
Actually it's really ugly business.

Ed Newman said...

You are correct that hating a person and hating a race are different. The point I was seeking to make was the utilization of hate to unify disparate groups.

Hoffer goes on to state that hating does damage to the hater as well as the hated.

LEWagner said...

>>>>>>>The point I was seeking to make was the utilization of hate to unify disparate groups.

"Utilization of hate to unify disparate groups" is NOT, in itself, "a point".
To borrow from English grammar, your sentence has a subject, but no predicate.
However, in your second to the last paragraph of your original post, you did come to the point that the utilization of hate to unify disparate groups (subject) is not a good thing (predicate).
And I in my reply, was seeking to make the point that, while hating racial or religious groups is a BAD thing, hating aggressive war, lies, and a smirking attitude towards the death of 10's or 100's of thousands of innocent civilians and the sufferings of millions of others, etc., etc., is something altogether different: It is a GOOD thing. And, that hating war crimes and war criminals is certainly better than supporting or condoning them.

>>>>>>>>Hoffer goes on to state that hating does damage to the hater as well as the hated.

In the short run, that is certainly true. Compare Josef Goebbels and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example. One sat at the right hand of Adolf Hitler, and the other was hanged with piano wire on a meathook for being privy to plots against him.
Also on the subject of hate being either a bad thing or a good thing:
Searching for: HATE EVIL
PSALM 97
10 Ye that love the LORD, HATE EVIL: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
PROVERBS 8
13 The fear of the LORD is to HATE EVIL: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
--END--

Ed Newman said...

1. As for my grammar, you might say that this may be an example of why grammarians were concerned about the degrading of language... people writing fast with little concern for proper punctuation, sentence structure, spelling. etc.
It may not be a point, but an idea I was seeking to conveigh. ;-)

2. Yes, God does indeed state that we are are hate evil. My original post was intended to express my concern regarding the loss of freedoms that may come about in the near future from the Right.

There are some who imagine that if every American were i.d.-ed (how do you write that?)and placed in a massive supercomputer database, it would be a good way to recognize the "bad guys" (illegal aliens)... Prety scary in my opinion. But some people think this would be good.

In my efforts to have a blog read by a wider audience I try (somewhat ineffectively at times) to be balanced and not heavy handed from left or right. For example, Chomsky can say some profoundly insightful things, but the Right won't hear it because Chomsky said it and he is on the Left.

Whether from Left or Right, the Twentieth Century has been a perpetual march in the increase of State power and loss of freedoms, and property by individuals. In other words, we have been robbed, are being robbed and will continue to be robbed in the future, by the State.

LEWagner said...

"My original post was intended to express my concern regarding the loss of freedoms that may come about in the near future from the Right.
There are some who imagine that if every American were i.d.-ed (how do you write that?)and placed in a massive supercomputer database, it would be a good way to recognize the "bad guys" (illegal aliens)... Prety scary in my opinion. But some people think this would be good."

I believe that database is already well along to having been built, not just for illegal aliens, but especially for anti-war, anti-torture, anti-corporate-power dissenters.