YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

January 12, 2013

Hate, “hard liberty,” quick fixes

mammon_11-0x550LOVE VERSUS HATE. First, take a look at this blog on Bullies: http://clarespark.com/2012/09/19/bullies/ . Although the Harvard education school was mostly fixated upon the controversial switching of gender identities and the promotion of Love as against Hate, Harvard hasn’t noticed that the “binary opposition” of love and hate is one of the staples of Western Civilization. One of the great fears of the “paleo-conservatives” is that the Religion of Love will lose its authority, hence unleashing sinister forces (the “neocon” haters) upon the land. Paleos dig Chuck Hagel.

Here is how “Ishmael” described the most striking feature of Ahab’s personality: “He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it” (p. 184)

That word “hate” is omnipresent in our political and social discourse: we condemn “hate speech” as if changing the language with which we describe the poor, minorities, women, and gays will remove “prejudice” against them and summon that lost “unity” we believe once characterized “the nation.”

And before Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick, the British essayist William Hazlitt declared his hatred of tyrants:

[William Hazlitt on love and hate, 1819:] “To be a true Jacobin, a man must be a good hater;…The love of liberty consists in the hatred of tyrants…I am no politician and still less can I be said to be a partyman: but I have a hatred of tyranny, and a contempt for its tools…I deny that liberty and slavery are convertible terms, that right and wrong, truth and falsehood, plenty and famine, the comforts or wretchedness of a people, are matters of perfect indifference. That is all I know of the matter; but on these points I am likely to remain incorrigible.”

Both authors, Hazlitt and Melville had read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, written under censorship. Surely each of these close readers noticed this speech from Book II, possibly Milton’s own (semi-silenced) voice speaking through “Mammon,” who counsels the other fallen angels to avoid war with the heavenly Deity:

…how wearisome

Eternity so spent in worship paid

To whom we hate. Let us not then pursue

By force impossible, by leave obtain’d

Unacceptable, though in Heav’n our state

Of splendid vassalage, but rather seek

Our own good from ourselves, and from our own

Live to our selves, though in this vast recess,

Free, and to none accountable, preferring

Hard liberty before the easy yoke

 Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear

 Then most conspicuous, when great things of small,

 Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse

 We can create, and in what place so e’er

 Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain

 Through labour and endurance. This deep world

Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst

Thick clouds and dark doth heaven’s all-ruling sire

Choose to reside, His glory unobscured,

And with the majesty of darkness round

Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar

Mustering thir rage, and Heav’n resembles hell?

As he our darkness, cannot we his light

Imitate when we please? This desert soil

Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;

Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise

Magnificence; and what can heaven show more?

Our torments also may in length of time

Become our elements, these piercing fires

As soft as now severe, our temper changed

Into their temper; which must needs remove

The sensible of pain. All things invite

To peaceful counsels, and the settled state

Of order, how in safety best we may

Compose our present evils, with regard

Of what we are and were, dismissing quite

All thoughts of war: ye have what I advise. (II, 247-283)

HARD LIBERTY. (Milton’s seventeenth century puritan readers would have understood that mining was a symbol for discovery and the search for knowledge.)

As I write this, the media are obsessed with the gun control debate, as if further restricting access to certain weapons and ammunition, in tandem with greater attention to “mental health” and the “culture of violence” will prevent future massacres by deranged young men. These would be amusing quick fixes were not the cultural issues so deeply conflicted and elusive. Why are they so hard to explicate and pin down?

  1. There is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes mental health, nor has there ever been. Freud is still an offbeat interest and thought to be crazily sex-obsessed himself (thus fulfilling the image of the carnal, divisive, lucre-obsessed Jew).
  2. No one can measure the effects of “media violence” or pictorial violence; for centuries images of violence were thought to provide a salutary catharsis for the pent-up rage that all civilized societies inflict upon children. And since Freudian ideas are off the table, for instance that siblings consciously and unconsciously harbor murderous impulses toward each other and toward one or both parents, we have no critical tools to evaluate “violence” by psychopaths. True, the better “profiler” shows on television do point to parental abuse as the long term cause of serial killing. But they do not mount any substantial critique of masculinity, even when favorite sports figures sacrifice their lives, like gladiators of old, to entertain the masses.
  3. As for the femmes fatales (the woman with gun), the general subject of motherhood is evaded, even as film noir is celebrated by film critics. (See http://clarespark.com/2011/04/27/james-m-cains-gorgon-gals-2/.)
  4. Who doesn’t hate anything smacking of “the Puritan” today? We throw around the words “freedom” and “liberty” as if these had the same meaning to everyone, or worse, we invert freedom and slavery, so that we do not see our lust for “servile pomp.” Nor would we imagine that such a dark passion only binds us closer to Leviathan.
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5 Comments »

  1. [...] [For an earlier blog on this subject, see http://clarespark.com/2013/01/12/hate-hard-liberty-quick-fixes/.%5D [...]

    Pingback by Hatred and sanity | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — April 28, 2013 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  2. [...] and policies, along with pressure from organized groups to control speech in public space ( see http://clarespark.com/2013/01/12/hate-hard-liberty-quick-fixes/, and http://clarespark.com/2011/05/26/who-is-a-racist-now/) the question of free speech remains a [...]

    Pingback by “Free Speech” and the internet | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — March 2, 2013 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

  3. [...] One of America’s most significant founding principles was a product of the Enlightenment: that each citizen would be capable of rationality and independent judgment based on shared perceptions of facts or things as they are. We were supposedly educable, no matter how lowly our birth by traditional European standards. Such ideals were asserted against all prior forms of coercion, pomp and demagoguery of political establishments. (For a related blog see http://clarespark.com/2012/04/02/touch-me-touch-me-not/, also http://clarespark.com/2013/01/12/hate-hard-liberty-quick-fixes/.) [...]

    Pingback by Harvard’s “Alpha Dogs” « YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — January 13, 2013 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  4. William Hazlitt wrote “I deny that liberty and slavery are convertible terms, that right and wrong, truth and falsehood.. are matters of perfect indifference”

    Only religion , dogmatism or tyranny can divide in an absolute way between right and wrong. The remark is on “absolute”, following the words of Hazlitt “perfect indifference”.

    It was Hegel, and then Marx, and then Freud, and before those, Zen and the great thinkers from the Far East, that explained that truth and falsehood, right and wrong, liberty and slavery, and even hate and love, are “convertible terms”.

    Asher Frohlich, Israel

    Comment by Asher Frohlich — January 13, 2013 @ 6:03 am | Reply

    • To Asher Frohlich, I would never put in the same box, Hegel, Marx, Freud, or your unnamed Eastern philosophers. Perhaps the term “Jacobin” was alarming, but the French Revolution attracted many bourgeois adherents in other countries. They were not protofascists either, but rather classical liberals. I recommend Frank Emanuel’s book on utopian ideas in Western thought, or his Prophets of Paris.

      Comment by clarespark — January 13, 2013 @ 5:17 pm | Reply


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