Thursday, 10 November 2011

False opposites in political correctness: e.g. Love, Hate, Fear, Pity, Disgust


This is only one aspect of a general abuse of language, but it is striking how the Liberal/ politically correct impute to their enemies attitudes which are false opposites of the attitudes of the Left.


For example, there are various groups, often 'victim groups' for which the PC express Love and Admiration.

They impute to their enemies what they regard as the opposite of Love and Admiration, which they claim is is Fear and Hatred - hence the imputed label of 'x'-phobia' used to characterize the non-PC.

However, although some victim groups are indeed feared, and others are perhaps hated - the true attitude may more accurately be characterized as Pity and Disgust.


In effect, Leftism conflates Fear and Disgust.

Yet Fear and Disgust are, according to a lot of research, distinct emotions, with different biological functions, instantiated in different parts of the brain.

And of course they feel different - we might fear a savage dog, but be disgusted by that dog's excrement. 


So if a group evokes disgust, this is a very different matter from evoking fear.

But - for the group under discussion, it is much 'cooler' and more self-gratifying to suppose that you are feared than to admit that others find you disgusting.

People often, indeed usually, fear high status groups - but if they are disgusted by a group, then they regard that group as being of intrinsically lower status.

A person might even want to join a group that they hate (if the group has high status and if they got the chance); but would almost-never want to join a group which evokes their disgust - unless as a deliberate act of humility (a Saintly act, perhaps).


Furthermore, Disgust is distinct from Hatred.

In general the attitude towards entities which evoke disgust is to keep one's distance - it is akin to a fear of infection or contamination.

Disgust - if carried through - may lead to destruction of that which evokes disgust; as one might exterminate plague rats to remove the threat of infection.

The Nazi attitude toward Jews seem to have been one of disgust, indeed disgust, specifically, was carefully cultivated by Nazi propaganda.


What prevents the destruction of that which Disgusts is pity.

If humans are threatened by something that disgusts them; then they may try to destroy that threat.

But if not threatened, they may instead pity.

But usually people don't like to be pitied - they want to be admired. And if they can't be admired they prefer to be feared than pitied.

(Yet, in reality, we are all piteous creatures; and it is pride which makes us resent the pity of others.)


So a group which actually evokes Pity and Disgust may deny this is true, and claim that they are instead Feared and Hated - yet, it may be pity which defends that group from the consequences of disgust.

Disgust coupled with Fear may be a deadly combination.


Hatred is more complex and variable in its manifestation - it is more like a belief that others have evil intentions; and this may or may not be true.

It is rational to hate that which is motivated to harm you. 

In a sense, then, hatred is potentially a virtuous human emotion - although, of course, one which may lead to evil.

For Christians it seems that hatred is necessary (e.g. 'hate the sin, love the sinner'), or at least allowed; while resentment (refusal to forgive) is completely forbidden - so resentment-free hatred might be a valid and virtuous state.


This, then, is another false antithesis of the Left: the Left claim to Love, and impute Hatred to their enemies.

The Left (therefore?) regard Hatred as a sin, indeed the cardinal sin - and advocate that people should never allow themselves to experience hatred.


(What actually happens if Hatred is suppressed is that it may be replaced by Disgust. And Disgust leads to the desire to avoid contamination, to cleanse that which is disgust-evoking. When they will not allow themselves to Hate their enemies views but Love the enemy himself; then Leftists may begin to feel disgust for their enemies as entities: to regard them as noxious vermin. And people may actively seek-out and exterminate that which disgusts them - especially if they fear 'contamination' by the disgust-evoking group.)


But the opposite of Love is not hatred but Pride.

This Leftist error of assuming the opposite of Love is Hate therefore does the further harm of disguising the cardinal sin of Pride; and Pride becomes - for the Left - a virtue.

Think about it: the greatest Christian sin is remade into a Leftist virtue. 


So these false antitheses have a way of ramifying, and causing damage in all kinds of places.

As Charles Williams used to have it (I paraphrase):  

Precision, Precision - always and everywhere. The devil is imprecise.



ajb said...

"The Left (therefore?) regard Hatred as a sin, indeed the cardinal sin - and advocate that people should never allow themselves to experience hatred."

Yet, the Left probably hates more than the non-Left. If so, they are guilty of two of their top sins, Hate and Hypocrisy.

Bruce Charlton said...

Reflecting on the above; it strikes me that any socially-weak/ minority group which evokes disgust from the majority and/or the powerful - should perhaps try to counteract disgust with pity as their main defence - and not to endanger themselves by tending to evoke fear, envy, or hatred.

Anonymous said...

But the opposite of Love is not hatred but Pride.

That's an interesting idea. (Is that a quotation from C.S.Lewis? It sounds like something he might write.) I thought the opposite of Pride was Humility. Does this mean Humility equals Love?

Bruce Charlton said...

Sorry not to publish the comment which discussed specific examples. Because I publish under my real name, I don't allow this.

@pg - I'm glad you noticed this! The idea is that Love and Pride are opposites because they are the greatest virtue and the worst sin; and they are opposites because (Christian) humility comes from Love of God.

So that Love of God is primary, indeed must be primary; and humility is a consequence of this Love.

Humility which is *not* based on Love of God is *submission* not Christian humility.