Bryan Caplan  

Resentment Not Hate

Central bank infallibility is ... Attacking Civilians in War...
People often claim that their political opponents are motivated by sheer hatred.  Thus, we have "hate-mongers," "hate speech," "hate groups," and even "hate maps."  But almost no one openly claims "hate" as their political motive.  When accused of hatred, the normal reaction is something like, "My God, you're naive.  You can't even imagine that anyone on Earth sincerely disagrees with you.  Oh, we're all horrible villains." 

I say both sides are wrong.  Full-blown "hate" is indeed a rare motive.  But that hardly means that political actors are well-intentioned.  The emotional spectrum is wide.  And the emotion I routinely see in politics is not hatred, but its milder cousin: resentment.  Normal people don't want to literally destroy their political opponents.  But when they mentally picture them, they feel distaste.  And when they mentally picture their opponents defeated - or just aggravated - their normal reaction is what the Germans call Schadenfreude.  Literally, that's "shameful joy" - pleasure derived from the pain of others.

Doesn't well-meaning political disagreement exist?  Sure, but it's a laborious motivation.  First, you have to carefully listen to what your opponents say.  Then you have to study both sides of the issue, weighing arguments and counter-arguments.  And the whole time, you have to be careful not to make the disagreement personal. 

Disagreement based on resentment, in contrast, comes naturally.  Resentment requires no effort; it comes to you.  And once it fills your soul, it swiftly (though inaccurately) answers all your questions.  Who's wrong?  Those I resent.  Who's bad?  Those I resent.  Who stands in the way of all good things?  Those I resent.  Am I a bad person for hating them?  Of course not, because I don't hate them.  But I deeply resent them for slandering me as a hater!

Critics of my Simplistic Theory of Left and Right often assume I'm attributing hatred to both sides of the political spectrum.  But as I've said before, I think true hatred is rare.  My claim, rather, is that both sides are driven by contrasting resentments.  What unifies the left is resentment for the market.  What unifies the right is resentment for the left.  Indeed, every successful political group begins with easy-to-resent enemies: foreigners, the rich, corporations, Muslims, Jews, blacks, whites, Catholics, or Protestants.  It's not profound, but search your feelings - and the feelings of those you encounter. 

Back in 1966, Lyndon Johnson said, "[W]ar is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate."  Beautiful poetry, but exactly wrong.  Negative emotions do not require knowledge; negative emotions are the great substitute for knowledge.  And in politics, that substitute is almost all most human beings ever bother to have.

COMMENTS (36 to date)
C Harwick writes:

Not only is the emotional spectrum wide, it's also multidimensional. It's still a mistake to reduce all conflicts to a love/hate axis, even if you admit there are positions besides the poles.

Thomas Hutcheson writes:

Actually, the right seems to "resent" a lot more than just the "left." The resent progressive taxation, government pensions, and food and drug or gun safety regulations, none of which are very leftist. And When I read what my rightest friends say about the athletes who kneel in protest of racial injustice it seems much more concentrated than "resentment," more like "hate."

The left, may include some individuals who "resent" the market, but most just believe that this or that regulation or tax (for example, a carbon tax to address the externality of emitting CO2 into the atmosphere or a progressive consumption tax to make after-tax consumption "fairer") would make capitalism better.

Thomas Sewell writes:

@Thomas Hutcheson,

Would it surprise you that reading your reply appears to me as significant evidence for the point of the article?

You appear to claim your political opponents are driven by hate, while your side is mostly emotion-free.

Does it surprise you that someone who disagrees with your policy conclusions might have the exact opposite experience and feelings about these same issues regarding your side of things?

Curious if you can step back enough to see past your partisan blinders and reach the point of the article?

(Note, this isn't a total endorsement of the article contents, but you're making a strong argument that it's true in at least some cases.)

john hare writes:

I just came back from a date with a woman that turned out to be a flat Earther. I don't hate her, but I now have zero respect for almost any opinion she has. Where is that on the spectrum?

Daniel writes:

Nitpick: the literal translation of "Schadenfreude" is "joy from damage" and it is originally joy at people having a (new) problem especially if it is self-inflicted, not at them actually noticing that they have a (new) problem, which would be pain. You can feel Schadenfreude at someone who is and will remain completely oblivious to her problem.

Of course words have fluent meanings, it is just that you said you were being literal so I thought I'd better be German about it.

[broken link removed. Please check your links when Previewing.--Econlib Ed.]

Noah Carl writes:

How can you say that "what unifies the left is resentment of the market" when the biggest dividing line in politics at the moment is clearly immigration/multiculturalism, not state vs. market

Mark writes:

Relating to what Thomas Sewell said above, my experience tends to be the inverse of Thomas Hutcheson's experience. I spend a great deal of time in lefty coffee shops near a major university, so that's the background. I hear a great deal of what could probably even be called hatred of conservatives, resentment of white people or males (often by other white people and males), people seriously entertaining the idea that basically everyone who lives south of the Mason-Dixon line is terrible. Meanwhile, most of the conservatives I know are middle class, middle aged folk who mainly just want lower taxes and smaller government.

The temptation is always strong to say "but my side isn't that bad or is understandably frustrated, and the other side is the real problem", or, "when we do it, it's an exception that doesn't reflect on us; when they do it, it's a trend that defines them." If I'm honest, I should acknowledge that the disparity in my experience likely has something to do with the fact my exposure to leftism is specifically to an epicenter of hard left, university grade leftism, while my exposure to rightism is to urban, northern, educated, mild-mannered economy-focused conservatism, neither of which may be particularly representative of the broader political demographics.

Thaomas writes:

@ Thomas Sewell,

Yes, the though did come to me when I was considering the post. I base my characterization of the FB friends to whom I referred on the manner of their expression of their views, including their expression of their conclusion while refusing to discuss the evidence and reasoning that went into its formation. This I attribute to the level of emotion with which they hold their view having incapacitated their ability to articulate an argument.

Brian writes:

"Disagreement based on resentment, in contrast, comes naturally."


Yes, of course. There is no lack of resentment on both sides.

The problem with your simplistic theory is partly that the attribution of resentment is asymmetric. According to you, the left resents a societal structure, but the right resents particular people. I suspect one could do just as well and perhaps even better with a simplistic theory that says the right hates/resents sudden change and the left hates/resents the right. The latter theory does a much better job of explaining the reactions to gay marriage, for example, which has no obvious connection with free markets.

The reality is that the correct simplistic theory is symmetric and largely obvious. Conservatives (the right) favor the status quo and slow change. Liberals (the left) favor novelty and quick change. For both, policies and people that oppose their preferences are resented or hated. There's no need to make the political divide more complicated than that.

Daniel Klein writes:

Though not made explicitly, a distinction emerges in Adam Smith's TMS between passive sentiments, aptly called emotions, and active sentiments, aptly called passions.

The other-directed emotions most central in the book are liking/love and disliking/hatred.

The other-directed passions most central to Smith's analysis are gratitude and resentment.

So for Smith, the notable difference between resentment and hatred is active vs. passive.

An active sentiment (passion) is one that motivates, recompense in the positive case (gratitude), punishment in the negative case (resentment).

Passive sentiment (emotion) is more about one's disposition and emotional reaction upon receiving information or thoughts about the person liked or disliked, and doesn't necessarily motivate action that affects that person.

I see politics as more love and hate, passive sentiments, emotion.

As Paul Simon put it in the profound "Mrs. Robinson":

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates' debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose

Smith's two pinky-earthquake thought experiments are about passive versus active. Smith points out that our passive sentiments are "almost always so sordid and so selfish," whereas our active passions are more often "so generous and so noble." (Recall that in the passive thought experiment, the pinky looms larger, whereas in the active the earthquake looms larger.)

The governmentalization of social affairs throws us into the passive position. That is what liberalism understands.

Hazel Meade writes:

As a libertarian poised somewhere in the middle of the current spectrum, there is no question to me that the right is much more driven by hatred and resentment than the left.

This is not to say there aren't some leftists who are driven by resentment. The really hardcore Marxist types have a visceral loathing for everything "neoliberal" - but those people are a much smaller fraction of the left than the people on the right who have a visceral loathing for everything left or progressive.

I think the resentment in both cases is for similar reasons. People hate losing, and they hate being proven wrong. The American right, defined in terms of social and religious conservatism) has lost a LOT MORE in the past 50 years than the left. The left lost on the topic of capitalism vs. communism, but not much else. Thus, you see the hard core left filled with extreme loathing over their defeat on the subject of economics, but not really the cultural left, which really won, and keeps winning, on everything from gay marriage to war (both Iraq and Vietnam). And on the right, there are much larger numbers of conservatives who are enraged over losing on issues going all the way back to the 60s - civil rights, Vietnam, Nixon, women's lib, religious liberty, gay marriage, Iraq.

It doesn't really help that the left dominates Hollywood and persistently portrays everyone on the right as a backwards hillbilly racist idiot - even moderate conservatives like Bush. Rubbing it in just makes the resentment worse. So the right wing, for 40 years or so has been losing culturally and having it rubbed in their faces on television, over and over and over. That's going to build resentment.

And then, to add more fuel to the fire, there is a kind of bonding effect of hating the same people. So you end up with Christian conservatives sympathizing with Southern racists because they both got trounced by the left on civil rights topics. And all the people who have lost on every major subject kind of come together into one big coalition of resentment.

Richard writes:

@Noah Carl

Yes, some of us have pointed out the flaws in Bryan's model yet he hasn't responded.

It seems absolutely clear to me that liberalism is more motivated by a desire for equality between different groups and resentment towards anyone who stands in the way.

That's why every leftist in the world cheered for Macron (non-nativist, pro market) over Le Pen (nativist, anti-market). It's why David Duke and Richard Spencer are more hated than Rand Paul and Grover Norquist. It's why free marketers can give all the speeches they want on college campuses, but Heather Mac Donald, Ann Coulter, and Milo can only do so under threat of physical harm.

We have free markets in iPhones and mattresses and liberals couldn't care less. But if there's lack of black or female representation in anything--football coaching, bird watching, firefighting, leading movie roles, children's toys--they write dozens of think pieces for Slate and the New York Times about what must be done about this. While liberals occasionally shrug at the results of markets, no hint of "racism" or "sexism" is too trivial to send them into a passionate frenzy.

Hatred of markets appears to be somewhat incidental to the liberal desire for equality between various demographics, as they blame markets for not delivering equal results.

Mark writes:


I think you're right about the right losing more coloring their attitude relative to the left constantly winning in the cultural battles (though the 2016 election did some to reverse this, with the left clearly feeling that they lost big time and quite unexpectedly).

But I think there's an unavoidable symmetry here. The left winning the culture wars means that views on the right once in the 'let's agree to disagree' realm (such as gay marriage or public accommodation laws) are now increasingly in the 'you're a bigoted monster' realm, for the left. By definition, winning means you've rendered your opponents' views more socially unacceptable, and I would say, for most people, regarding someone as an unalloyed bigot is basically indistinguishable from despising or resenting them. In the legislature, winning and losing is just winning and losing; but the social/cultural battles, winning is making it acceptable (or even socially required) to detest your opponents. This is what happened with Jim Crow racism. It's not as though the winners magnanimously pat the losers on the back while the losers sulk. If you don't get to angrily defenestration the loser, you haven't really win.

Maybe the succinct way to put it: there are only sore winners in politics.

Hazel Meade writes:

Maybe it just hurts more to lose on a cultural issue like racism, because it's more of a hit to your moral standing. The cultural issues are much more about moral rights and wrongs, and being morally in the wrong makes you a bad person in a way that losing on legislation doesn't.

For me it's really hard to say that Jim Crow racists aren't bad people. Jim Crow really was evil, and it's supporters really were morally in the wrong. You can't just "agree to disagree" with someone who supports something that is not just bad policy, but morally evil.

Brian writes:

"As a libertarian poised somewhere in the middle of the current spectrum, there is no question to me that the right is much more driven by hatred and resentment than the left."


I find this assertion curious. Certainly, I wouldn't deny that there's plenty of resentment of the left by the right. But if you don't notice the same on the left towards the right, you must have your eyes sealed shut. As an obvious example, compare the left's reaction to George W. Bush and now Trump versus the right's reaction to Obama. The reaction to Trump has been much, much worse than anything we've seen before, and that reaction is strictly hate-driven. Republican "obstructionism" and "birtherism" towards Obama seems positively quaint and innocent by comparison.

You also say "People hate losing, and they hate being proven wrong."

This assumes, of course, that those people even recognize or accept that they've been "proven wrong." Given what we know of irrational voters, this seems rather unlikely.

And your opinion that "The American right, defined in terms of social and religious conservatism) has lost a LOT MORE in the past 50 years than the left," while possible, is not obvious.

Your examples seem more than a bit slanted. 50 years takes us back to 1967. Republicans (= right since Goldwater) have controlled the White House 29 of those years to 21 for the Democrats. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been a Republican nominee the entire period. Republicans have controlled Congress for much of that time. And of course, Republicans have dominated state and local governments over much of that period.

In terms of policies and outcomes, things like Roe v. Wade, gay marriage, and ObamaCare have undoubtedly been losses. But the defeat of Communism is the only win? What about the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, which are largely unchanged. What about welfare reform? Clinton's "the end of big government as we know it"?

As for war, Vietnam and Iraq ended up being unpopular, but I don't know many on the right who view them as defeats for conservatism. (Again, do people even recognize when they've been "proved wrong"?) We're still in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gitmo was never shut down.

Again, I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong about the left winning more, but I don't see it and at least it's not obvious. By many measures, the politics of the right has been dominant in the last 50 years.

Hazel Meade writes:

We have free markets in iPhones and mattresses and liberals couldn't care less. But if there's lack of black or female representation in anything--football coaching, bird watching, firefighting, leading movie roles, children's toys--they write dozens of think pieces for Slate and the New York Times about what must be done about this. While liberals occasionally shrug at the results of markets, no hint of "racism" or "sexism" is too trivial to send them into a passionate frenzy.

Isn't this a sign of progress? I'd much rather have people getting worked up over racism and sexism, which are genuine evils, than protesting against free markets in iPhones.

Mark writes:


I think you're proving my point. Racists (anti-black racists at least), in losing the culture war, became detestable in general society. The victors' resentment of the vanquished increased, and arguably matches the resentment the defeated have for those that pushed them out of the Overton window. In other words, I think this counts against your claim that the losers become more hateful than the winners in these issues. And what happened a few decades ago with racism, is now happening with opposition to gay marriage. It used to be a fairly common, normal position, but is increasingly regarded as evil, and those who hold it are increasingly considered not 'ordinary people we disagree with', but a class of bigots to be ostracized. And so to with public accommodation laws/freedom of association (in which many libertarians as well have fallen by the wayside of social acceptability).

You're arguing that losing has made people on the right more resentful for losing; I'm saying that losing a cultural battle virtually by definition means becoming more resented by everyone else, and one's resentfulness probably is in equal measure with how resented one becomes. Hence why so many position leftists of the 50s (or in the case of gay marriage, the 90s) once thought were just wrong, they now consider to be unconscionable bigotry.

In some sense, in as much as it *isn't* okay to despise people who hold a certain view or regard them as evil rather than just wrong, that group hasn't lost yet, or hasn't loss decisively. That's kind of what the culture wars are about; fighting over who gets ostracized from the public sphere, not just who's policies get implemented, which changes every 2-4 years anyway. So resentment goes hand in hand with winning as much as with losing.

@Brian: I think mostly you're saying the right has largely won on economic policy while losing on social and cultural matters, which I think is more or less in agreement with what Hazel said, and I would say this is true.

Clement writes:

@ Mark

I completely agree and can provide confirmation to what you wrote. Living in the rural deep South, I can tell you that the conservatism that exists here is pretty out there. For example, I might be in the minority where I live in believing that Obama was born in this country even though I never voted for him. There are obviously caveats and complications to the conservatism here, but I would yearn for an experience like yours in which my exposure to conservatives were more positive (not that I'm a liberal). One thing I would note, though, is that more education in these parts doesn't necessarily translate into a more moderate outlook.

Brian writes:


It's possible that I agree that the right has lost more on "social and cultural matters," but only in the sense that economic matters, which the right has consistently won, are 90% of all the issues that matter. Was welfare reform an economic or social matter? Either way the right won. The left has put much of their moral energy into global warming action. After 20 years they have accomplished little or nothing. The right has effectively won the policy battle. Is that economic or cultural? The left has also put a huge amount of their moral energy into income inequality. Is that growing or reducing? Is it economic or cultural? Either way, the right has been winning that battle. In recent years, the left has been putting a huge amount of their moral energy into supposed racist violence by police. But the accused police are mostly being acquitted or not even charged. The right has been winning that battle. Is that mostly economic or social?

I would argue, in fact, that the left has won very little of substance over the last 50 years. The only reason this isn't widely recognized is that the media tend to focus on successes of the left. And the distinction between economic and social issues is largely artificial since the two are often highly mixed.

Brian writes:


I forgot to mention gun control. Is that economic or social? Well, the left continues to spend much of its moral energy on trying to enact gun control, and has failed miserably. The right has won that battle, no matter how many mass shootings there are. And even the Cinton-era assault weapon ban was allowed to expire and has no hope of being re-enacted.

So where are all the winning social/cultural issues for the left?

Mark writes:

I would say gay marriage, abortion, and affirmative action come to mind as some victories for the left (and healthcare, though I would call that more an economic than a cultural issue).

And if we consider the size of the government in financial terms to be an important variable, we've been consistently above 35% of the GDP since the late 2000s, higher than any period in American history (except possible WW2, when we were at 35%). The respite of the 90s appears to be over.

Also, I don't think legislative accomplishments (or lack thereof) tell the whole story. Garnering sympathy among a larger share of the populace matters too, as unrealized political potential. More Americans than any time since the Cold War consider themselves socialists, for example. It's important to remember that a movement can got from 10% to 49% of the population without changing policy; that doesn't make such a movement irrelevant, as it's not far from there to 51%.

Thaomas writes:

This discussion seems to have two axles. 1) Does the Left or Right “hate” (instead of merely “resent”) more than the other? 2) What is the object of the “hatred”/”resentment.” Complicating the disagreements along these axes are different definitions of “hate” (and what counts as an expression of “hate”) and who counts as “Left.”

My personal experience leads me to think:

In recent years (2000-2017) the “Right” expresses more “hate” than the “Left” although there is too much (any amount is “too much”) of the “Left” of the “Right.”

The "Left" is much more ideologically diverse than the "Right," from neo-Liberal to Socialist.

The “Right” does “hate” “the Left” for their supposed characteristics – elitism, lack of patriotism, having less empathy for straight/rural/white/Christian people than for various “others.”

The "Right" has "lost" more on both social and economic issues than the "Left" and this contributes to it's "hateful"/"angry" mood.

The "Left" does not resent “the market;” it just does not think it is impossible to improve society with certain market interventions, especially redistributive taxation and expenditure.

The “Left” resents/”hates” the “Right” for successfully using “social” issues to thwart it’s preferences on economic policy, the election of President Trump being the extreme example of this.

Brian writes:


Perhaps your claims would be more convincing if you gave some evidence of them, as I have done above. I think you have nearly everything backwards--over the last 50 years the right have basically dominated the left in either maintaining their desired policies or instituting new ones. See my earlier posts for many examples.

And some of your statements are just factually wrong or illogical. Are you unaware that the term neoliberal is used to describe the economic right? Or that when it comes to political contributions (one objective measure of actual ideology), the right is much more diverse (about double) in the range of political ideology they support than the left? And if the left resents the right for thwarting their economic policies on social grounds, doesn't that imply that the right is winning on both economic and social grounds?

The reality is that political advocacy by the left is mostly designed to fail, and so it does. The left is far more interested in virtue signaling than in actually implementing anything.

Brian writes:


I agree with gay marriage, abortion, and healthcare. Those nearly cover all the significant left victories in the last 50 years. But affirmative action? Where do you see that? In the 70's and 80's, forced busing was all the rage. That died out. And race-based hiring and admissions are illegal. I'd say that's been another resounding defeat for the left.

The size of the Federal government/budget is still large, but has never really changed much in the last 50 years. I'll give you that as a continued victory for the left (a legacy of FDR), but it's not being much bigger is a victory for the right.

Finally, I agree that the populace may be favoring the left more now. The run of dominance for the right will have to change sometime. The left really dominated between 1900 and the mid 1960's. The right may have only 5 - 10 years before things start switching again. But that can't be viewed as a victory for the left until it happens.

Mark writes:


"The "Left" is much more ideologically diverse than the "Right," from neo-Liberal to Socialist."
This statement puzzles me because to me it seems obvious that the opposite is the case.

Look at the national-level GOP: you have Trumpian populists; quasi-libertarians like Paul, Amash, etc; domestically moderate neocons like McCain; and of course hard line Christian conservatives. The GOP is so ideologically diverse it's practically in a state of four way civil war. There are prominent Republican politicians on both sides of gay marriage, minimum wage, government healthcare, campaign finance reform, and other issues.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are in lock step with each other, as their voting records show. They are basically all social democrats, just some a little more socialist than others. It is much harder to find a major issue on which prominent Democrats fall on opposite sides. There are no more prominent 'market liberals' who favor deregulation; socially conservative blue dog democrats are nearly extinct at the national level. There are no more Joe Liebermans. At least at that level, the left has largely homogenized.


Fair enough, I think your assessment is reasonable.

Thaomas writes:

First, I was not attempting to demonstrate my view with evidence but to lay out a view.

As usual we have both a semantic and substantive possible substantive disagreement.
I agree I should have said “partially thwarting.” Over a 50 year period environmental amelioration continues, the EITC has increased, access to health insurance by low income people has increased, personal income taxation of low income people has decreased. But taxation of higher income people has decreased, and funding of universities has decreased. It would be interesting if we both felt that “our” side has been winning, if gradually, the arc of history and all that. :)

I consider “neo-Liberal” – use the market + cost effective regulation+ taxation to achieve social ends – as part of the “left.” I am aware that some on the “left” use the term, mistakenly in my opinion, pejoratively.

Brian writes:


There's nothing wrong with giving your view, but I think you owe it to yourself to base your views on actual evidence and not just feelings.

The things you mention are examples of standard, slow-motion progress. The right doesn't oppose clean air, low taxes on the poor, nor the EITC. The left and right share many common goals, but often disagree on how (or how fast) to achieve them. If you think the EITC is a reason for the right to resent the left, then I don't know what to say. Such a position would seem to be entirely divorced from reality.

Finally, in my experience, the term neo-liberal is used exclusively by the left to identify one of their enemies. No one on the right even uses the term. But to the left it definitely indicates someone on the right or center.

Noah Carl writes:


Absolutely right––good examples

Brian writes:


There's nothing wrong with giving your view, but I think you owe it to yourself to base your views on actual evidence and not just feelings.

The things you mention are examples of standard, slow-motion progress. The right doesn't oppose clean air, low taxes on the poor, nor the EITC. The left and right share many common goals, but often disagree on how (or how fast) to achieve them. If you think the EITC is a reason for the right to resent the left, then I don't know what to say. Such a position would seem to be entirely divorced from reality.

Finally, in my experience, the term neo-liberal is used exclusively by the left to identify one of their enemies. No one on the right even uses the term. But to the left it definitely indicates someone on the right or center.

Olivier Massin writes:

You seem to view resentment as some kind of mild hate or pleasure in the pain of other, but this sounds implausible. Perhaps Schadenfreude is one manifestation or effect of resentment, but it is unlikely to be resentment. Better accounts of resentments equate it with the disvaluation of what you cannot have or reach (sour grapes) and/or with some form of self-deceptive envy.

If you want to explain the left-right divide along these lines, you would then have to ask what each sides has that the other doesn't, and consequently disvalues. "Wealth economic success" is one common answer among libertarians to explain anti-market bias, but what is it that the left has that the right envies ?

Hazel Meade writes:


But it's not just a matter of opinion that racism is evil. You're sort of arguing as if the only people involved in the conversation over victors vs. vanquished are white people. There are huge classes of American who are legitimately the victims of the right wing's various forms of bigotry - blacks, gays, other minority groups. Those people (not to mention their friends), have a legitimate right to be angry about how they have been treated. (And would be treated again if the right had it's way).
There is not a moral equivalence between the two.

R Schadler writes:

Some distinct points:
The "wins" on the left most often cited are abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, ObamaCare. These were primarily wins because of Supreme Court interventions. Top-down rather than democratic wins.
It now seems likely that that will shift for the next 20-30 years, with not just GOP justices but justices who decline to intervene in the next wave of leftist causes. That semi-realization may be a part of the vitriol Trump is getting from the left and why the right pulls much of its criticism. It seems doubtful the left will win many of its battles via the more democratic institutions, and so past may not be prologue in terms of resentment.
My neighborhood has a great many "Love conquers hate" signs, but, presumably, none of the owners offer Trump or his supporters any love.
Equality is a chimera. It has to reduce complexity into a single criterion. Achieving "equality" in one way causes distortions in a great many others. Thus, the preferred target for equality has a deeper cause that needs greater understanding.
Much of politics is a tension between personal therapeutics and policy prescription. Feeling good about a election result may address underlying identity and self worth issues more than whose administration will make better policy decisions on the major issues confronting the polity.

Brian writes:


Yes, racism and other bigotry are genuine evils and the victors on the left (by your supposition) have every reason to be angry about them. But isn't that Mark's point? You said earlier the losers are angry about losing, but now admit the winners should be angry over the injustice of it all, and righteous anger at that. Doesn't that explode your own claim that the right is more angry at the left than vice versa?

Hazel Meade writes:

Well, as long as the losers stayed marginalized, then there was no reason to hate them. The trouble is the reappearance of the racist extremes via the alt-right and (potentially) manifested in influence over Trump administration policy means re-opening old wounds. If they aren't marginal, they have to be fought.

But still I'm not sure the word is hatred or resentment. Personally, my overwhemling feeling about the alt-right is disappointment.

Mark writes:

"But it's not just a matter of opinion that racism is evil. You're sort of arguing as if the only people involved in the conversation over victors vs. vanquished are white people."
How is this fundamentally different from so many other 'political questions?' In the minds of their opponents, are pro-life people evil for denying women access to abortion? Are anti-gay marriage people evil for supporting differential treatment of gay people? If one opposes minimum wage increases is one not evil for impoverishing poor people?

None of these issues are about our favorite flavor of ice cream. Everyone believes their opponents' ideas are wrong and dangerous, and as often as not, rooted in malice. The fact is, we more or less tolerate things we consider evil in polite society as long as enough people in the mainstream support those things. To me it seems it's actually once those views become uncommon and marginal enough that we no longer need to accommodate them for practical purposes that we declare them anathema and burn them in effigy. When heretics are 1% of the population, you can burn them at the stake. When they're 50%, you don't have much of a choice but have dialogue with them.

So no, I don't think that people by and large share your view that marginal views can be ignored. The highly marginalized views are the best ones to declare war on as one alienates fairly few people against an enemy with little social capital with which to fight back. Hence why a very disproportionate amount of political discourse is about extremes like Nazis and communists despite the fact that neither really play a big role in American politic, while more moderate worldviews that enjoy much greater support are treated officially with more respect, despite being more of a real threat to those who oppose them.

Brian writes:

"Well, as long as the losers stayed marginalized, then there was no reason to hate them."


Well, that depends on what you mean by marginalized. If you mean a relatively small group that has been ostracized from the mainstream, there are plenty of reasons to hate such a group. As Mark already pointed out, your hate can be relatively cost-free, so it's easy to indulge in. If the relatively small group is vocal, or otherwise effective at having its opinions heard, that's all the more reason to hate them. Victors don't like being told they're wrong and the existence of such a group, however small, reminds them that their victory is not complete.

However, if by marginalized you mean ostracized and quiet, then yes, there will be no reason to actively hate them. (Think pedophiles, who are largely ignored as long as they are hidden from view.)

What we see on the left, actually, is extreme hate towards groups on the right that are undoubtedly marginal (think Neo-Nazis). Leftist groups mike antifa are dedicated not just to opposing those marginalized groups, but to shutting them up by any means necessary,even violence. Trumps election hasn't made neo-Nazis more powerful; it's only made them more vocal, and that infuriates the left more than anything. And antifa behaves the same way towards relatively mainstream conservatives like Ben Shapiro, showing that it's mainly vocal opposition they hate.

So yes, the left reacts with hate towards any group that reminds it that it's victory isn't complete. Of course, they have all the more reason to react that way, in my view, because they haven't actually had much in the way of victories in the last 50 years.

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