2018–The Year of Living Hatefully is the title of a recent post by Roger Simon:
Practically no one was happy. Or if they were, they didn’t show it. All they wanted to do was vilify the opposition or even their neighbors. Democrats hating Republicans (see the new movie “Vice”) and vice versa were just the tip of a rancid iceberg. Never Trumpers hate Trumpers and the reverse, Sanders supporters hate Beto supporters, Antifa hate the bourgeoisie, the Proud Boys hate Antifa, FOX hates CNN and MSNBC hates FOX…It goes on and on. Families and friends split from each other. People shut up at work for fear they’ll be fired. Thanksgiving is a festival of hostility, Christmas (when we’re allowed to speak its name) is only slightly better.
Roger attributes the toxic atmosphere in large part to the decline in religiousness. I’m not convinced by that explanation; there are plenty of examples of religion as a cause of mutual hostility as well as cases where it has served as part of a cure.
One factor in the development of the toxic atmosphere, IMO, has been the cult of “self-esteem development” carried to an excess…this seems to have resulted in a large number of people who simply cannot stand challenge or disagreement.
Still, there are plenty are angry and hostile people who are old enough to have missed the era of self-esteem indoctrination.
Another factor is social media,which seems to lend itself to the formation of on-line lynch mobs, as I discussed in my post freedom, the village, and social media.
Economic fear and uncertainty surely also plays a role. Although Roger remarks that “all this (craziness and anger) is happening in a country awash in affluence, also as almost never before, with close to full employment for all ethnic and racial groups,” it remains true that many people are highly disappointed in their failure to advance more economically, and many who feel that their children will be less-well-off than themselves. Economic factors aside, there are also many who have been severely disappointed in their relationships and blame this disappointment in large part on society.
A friend of mine once remarked that “if someone is bitter, then he is publicly announcing that in his own eyes he is a failure.” I thought this was a profound comment, and by that measure, there are a lot of people in America today who consider themselves to be failures.
But still, there are a lot of people who are doing very well economically, who seem to have excellent relationships/family lives, but who also have a lot of anger at a large number of their fellow Americans.
Also, I remember something Ralph Peters wrote many years ago:
Man loves, men hate. While individual men and women can sustain feelings of love over a lifetime toward a parent or through decades toward a spouse, no significant group in human history has sustained an emotion that could honestly be characerized as love. Groups hate. And they hate well…Love is an introspective emotion, while hate is easily extroverted…We refuse to believe that the “civilized peoples of the Balkans could slaughter each other over an event that occurred over six hundred years ago. But they do. Hatred does not need a reason, only an excuse.
This also is, I think, a profound remark. And today’s intense focus on group identities has surely led to much more viewing of people as avatars of a group, rather than individuals–making it that much easier to despise and attack them.
And a significant part of American academia is endlessly busy manufacturing new and revised group identities, and stirring up resentments based thereon.
Do you agree with Roger that 2018 was the most Hateful year in recent history? If so, what do you see as the primary causes and the potential remedies, if any?