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+3 votes
Does it really make a difference to hate people who are themselves full of hatred? Doesn't it make you as bad as them in a way and only create and solidify more hatred?

Does being violent against your percieved oppressors make you just as bad as them and not solve anything?

does loving people who are lovable and caring accomplish anything?

i think both questions, along with many similar ones, have the same answer. as yosemite mentions below, the emotions themselves are unlikely to accomplish anything, but their expression outwardly might. and the emotions may well lead to behavior that could accomplish something.

of course the question gets raised in my mind: is there a desired or intended accomplishment?

also, emotions themselves can have a physiological impact on the person feeling said emotion. hatred and anger can lead to stress, which often has physical impacts. just as an obvious example.

the whole moralistic approach that seems to underlie the question is kind of irrelevant to me, and was addressed pretty well below. i particularly like dot's enumeration of associations/assumptions embedded in the question.

finally, i would question the target of said hate. unless you are talking about an individual that you know rather well, is it even really possible to hate them? as opposed to hating their behavior, which i find rather easy. there are moments when i can truly hate the behavior of someone i actually love.

edit: i can imagine amor fati having an interesting take on that last paragraph. :-)

Your question asks one question, and your description asks several. I think that while violence, hatred, bigotry, and oppression are interrelated, there are differences.

First of all: bigotry, racism, and the well known hatred of both. In general, I don't see the point in yelling at facists/neo-nazis or beating them up. Me and my friend were talking about the anarchist banner "make racists afraid again", but we asked "wouldn't them being afraid make them more racist?" among ourselves. All authoritarian impulse is directly related to fear: it would not be out of the question for an anti-facist genocide to happen, the issue in the end is not skin color or "race" (which doesn't actually exist because all the "races" can breed with each other without creating some type of sterile animal like a mule) but identifying a certain type of people based on [whatever] and targeting them.

However, this is subject also doesn't work well with absolutes...there are still good times to mess with fascists, this i believe to be one of them!


If you are not aware, richard spencer is a white nationalist who comically/idiotically distances himself from his extremely racist points of view. He basically has a brand of hipster-intellectual-white-supremacy, he claims the hitler salutes of his fallowers are just "ironic" and claims that he is a white supremacist because they believe in "lording over and enslaving" while he just wants to "peacefully" use policy to expel immigrants from the united states. Not only that, many of his fallowers on the alt right website talk about the "whining" of special interest groups...but I don't see any other purpose of white nationalism other than to whine to the state and "protect" them. Him getting punched in the face on camera atleast shows that people shouldn't have to feel like they should tolerate this type of idiotic and cowardly rhetoric. Racism and bigotry (especially in the nationalist form) implies a large scale and systematic violence and this should not be ignored.

As far as using violence to counter oppression, it really depends on the situation, pacifism is a dogma that preaches that violence in universally wrong...which I sympathize with but would ultimately disempower everyone except for the state.

3 Answers

+1 vote
not sure this totally has to do with anarchy, but ok... it's certainly a common argument.

here are some of the associations that are implicit in the question...

a. that we hate the people we disagree with

b. that hatred is always a negative, unhelpful emotion

c. that hatred is the only thing motivating us

d. that emotions are equal, in different people and different situations, etc. just by having the same name...

e. that hatred = violence

f. "as bad as" is undefined and so exists in a moral/existential vacuum (with christian implications)

and so on.

as for a sort-of answer: as i have said on other threads on this site, my anarchy is not about making people better, or fairer, or whatever. my anarchy is about changing the scale of the bad things that people do to each other to be more human-sized.

maybe this doesn't count as an answer. <shrugs>
by (52.9k points)
+2 votes
The 'doesn't hating something make you as bad as it' argument doesn't really have any basis. Take a government operative in fascist Italy. Is he 'evil' because he hates people, or because he murders, oppresses, imprisons, exploits, and enslaves them? If you think it's the former, well, I don't know what to say to you. I guess, sure, hatred of al things is equally bad at all times.

But I'm willing to bet you think the former is what makes him a bad person. In that case, why would hating him make me just as bad? I would have to murder and enslave people to be just as bad, wouldn't I?
by (360 points)
edited by
To answer; does it accomplish anything? I'll try and respond simply. I can't think of any Revolution that succeeded without channeling anger. Anger is powerful. Hell, even major social reforms that more or less kept the same society in tact required anger.

The school system doesn't want us to think so, of course. In the US, I learned about a fictionalized, whitewashed MLK while Malcolm X and the black panthers are at best ignored and at worst vilified. I was taught that Ghandi was the only activist to lead the fight against England and his was the only tactic. That was about it for positive portrayal of revolutionaries outside of revolutionary war fantasies and a cartoonishly evil depiction of the French and Bolshevik Revolutions.

Point being, it's all bullshit. Anger, like love, can be a powerful political and even moral tool.
note: the question didn't talk about anger.
Fair enough. What I said about anger applies to hate, too, in some cases. I guess I read into this a bit as the typical statement that we should act only out of love and so called positive emotions, where anger and hate are often lumped together. That was my extrapolation, though, you're right, the OP never said all of that.

My spiel is more of a general rant against the arguments for moderation so 'you don't stoop to their level.' I'm not convinced by appeals to moral purity or calls to forgive people for my own  sake. Overall, I'm sure it's better to err on the side of graciousness, but I won't expect it of people, and it's not the correct response in every scenario.

'Doesn't hating bigots make you as bad as them,' struck me as part and parcel of that whole mentality.
+2 votes

Does feeling hatred for someone achieve anything? Not by itself, that much is obvious. In addition to the list to assumptions that dot pointed out, I'd like to pose a few questions in counterpoint to some of the assumptions embedded in the questions. Does hate, or any other emotion need to accomplish anything? Why does hate, or any other emotion need to be justified by having a purpose? How does feeling hatred make you 'bad'?

I don't think emotions need to have a purpose, they just are, and despite our instinct to try and control them, it's enormously difficult to do so. It may be a bit easier to control our expressions of emotion, rather than emotions themselves, but the fact remains that we are not wholly rational creatures and our behaviour is often determined by how we feel rather than a rational interrogation of the consequences of our decisions. That's not a moral fault or failing, but is often treated as such. Emotional policing, and even emotional-self policing are mostly futile endeavours. I think Ted Kaczynski's writing about oversocialisation is instructive here, particularly the idea that  setting a higher moral standard than can be achieved by individuals, and then denouncing or punishing them for failing to adhere to the unattainable moral standard is a powerful tool of social control, because they invoke guilt and shame which are both incredibly powerful and encourage self-policing. It's clear to see in religion and in the laws of the state. The point I'm trying to make is that requiring people to justify their emotions with a purpose, with achievement, is absurd when emotions, including hate, are emergent rather than intentional phenomena. The only purpose that can serve is an authoritarian purpose. An attempt to police emotion is even more egregious than an attempt to police thought, because it isn't just about controlling how we process and react to the world, it's also about controlling how we perceive the world.

"Does being violent against your percieved oppressors make you just as bad as them and not solve anything?"

It only makes you 'as bad as them' if you believe in an objective morality that everyone is accountable to. Furthermore there is a difference between violent conquest or aggression, and violent emancipation. Anything that increases my autonomy is desirable. Does it solve anything? That depends on the volume, intensity and persistence of the violence, along with a myriad of other factors. Violence isn't inherently morally wrong, and the success of violence is not dependant on whether it's 'right' or 'wrong'.

PS. Kudos for reframing the perennial 'is it okay to punch a nazi?' question in a more interesting way.

by (6.3k points)
edited by

this answer is my favorite by the way, the goal of so many people (including myself sometimes) is try to be certain type of individual, but those of us who really  try to be that type of person realize that it's impossible, the closest you can get is some sort of roboticized charicature/role. There is a poem I wrote about this subject that addresses this:

The War on the Self

Resolution and satisfaction:

Are these the elements I cannot find?

To seek victory is to beg defeat,

pitiful is the struggle of my solitary mind.

It is the tyrant fixating on comfort dearly,

who casts his shadow when he is ignored.

Who dares to control what he knows not,

consuming his freedom along with the world.

I ask myself so frequently,

I repeat to myself so loudly,

The angry conflict running my soul.

And I cannot for the love of me solve the mystery,

of the illusion of self-control.

Now that I say these words to you,

I feel so naked and not so great.

But I'm enamored with my confession so freely,

That I have become the thing that I hate.

I know what you mean, it's a peculiar kind of alienation that modernity seems to have socialised into us, we're alienated from ourselves by our own conception of what we are. It's like a homunculus or spectre of ourselves, that we imagine to be the 'true' representation of ourselves, and so we adjust our behaviour to try and fit this idealised self-image. When I was a teenager the phrase 'be yourself' frustrated me because I didn't have a strong self-image, I didn't have a firm grasp on what 'type' of person I was, and so I didn't know how to behave in line with 'who I am'. So I tried instead to act like the type of person I wanted to be, but I didn't know how to behave in line with that either because I'm not the type of person I wanted to be, and now I try not to think of myself as any 'type' of person. It took me a while to figure out that 'being my authentic self' is a matter of ontology, not epistemology, of doing rather than knowing what to do. It's still a struggle for me, and I think it's always going to be.
It seems like all teenagers go through a version of that, I think mostly due to the fact that our society doesn't allow much for personal development, which can only be achieved through a vast freedom to explore. When I was that age, I wanted to be some smooth-talker who always dated girls, and then when I went to college I started to see how illusory a lot of my thinking was, being able to do what I wanted during the day probably contributed to that.