The Dynamics of Minority Hatred

The Dynamics of Minority Hatred

Men and women carry beneath the burden of their impotence a spark of life, however buried, that flares at the sight of the Stranger. And in this blind light they see his strangeness as the mark of a terrifying freedom.

ALL HATREDS of minorities are produced by the same psychological dynamic. In all cases the energy involved is, to begin with, a healthy energy. It is the irrepressible energy that beats against the wall of our Judaeo-Christian antisexual ethos. (All those who have overmended Freud are asked to remember the sexual anguish, of, at least, their teen-age years.)

Minority hatred is produced by a corruption of primary, creative, biological energy. This process of corruption has two phases, which develop over a period of many years and which are related to the growth of the typical neurotic personality structures of our society. In the first phase, the primary energy is blocked and largely transformed into an energy of rebellion. In this phase the energy is still a healthy energy. It is not flowing freely in its natural channel, but it is moving in its natural direction, and it is fighting for its freedom. In fighting for freedom, it encounters the same forces that thwarted it to begin with—the forces of the culture-authority, now firmly established in the psyche. The conflict produces intense anxiety.

The second phase is a brilliant neurotic maneuver: At one stroke the energy of rebellion is transformed into an energy of self-repression: By attacking the most available symbol of nonconformism—the minority group —one reaffirms one’s submission to the culture-authority.