Addressing Unreasoning Hatreds

Article excerpt


Lots of ink has been spilled trying to explain a hatred of the United States that can cause the terrorism of September 11, regimes devoted to our destruction, and even actions of "allies" to embarrass and undermine America. The problem is that much of the America-hating, incited by governments distracting citizens from their own abysmal records seems completely unreasoning. For this, the best insight may be in the 1927 book "Liberalism," by Ludwig von Mises, which seems particularly relevant today:

"The root of the opposition ... cannot be reached by resort to the method of reason. This opposition does not stem from the reason, but from a pathological mental attitude. ...

"Resentment is at work when one so hates somebody for his more favorable circumstances that one is prepared to bear heavy losses if only the hated one might come to harm. ... They hope that the rich, whom they envy, will also suffer under it.

"The Fourier complex is much harder to combat.

"Scarcely one person in a million succeeds in fulfilling his life's ambition. ... Plans and desires are shattered on a thousand obstacles, and one's powers prove too weak to achieve the goals on which one has set one's heart. The failure of his hopes, the frustration of his schemes, his own inadequacies ... constitute every man's most deeply painful experience.

"To render it bearable ... [the neurotic] takes refuge in delusion. ... The 'saving lie' ... not only consoles him for past failure, but holds out the prospect for future success ... . The consolation consists in the belief that one's inability to attain the lofty goals to which one has aspired is not to be ascribed to one's own inadequacy, but to the defectiveness of the social order. The malcontent expects from the overthrow of the latter the success that the existing system has withheld from him. Consequently, it is entirely futile to try to make clear to him that the utopia he dreams of is not feasible. . . . The neurotic clings to his 'saving lie.' ... For life would be unbearable to him without the consolation that he finds in the idea. ... It tells him that not he himself, but the world, is at fault for having caused his failure. ...

"[They] consider any means as permissible if it seems to give promise of helping them in their struggle to achieve their ends. …