“By intensity of hatred, nations create in themselves the characters they imagine in their enemies. Hence it is that all passionate conflicts result in the interchange of characteristics.”
~ George William Russell (1867-1935)
In a shorter version, “We become what we hate” is an old yoga maxim. I would extend this expression to include fear because it isn’t just hatred that drives certain actions, fear does as well. I see the two, fear and hate, as two points on a continuum. It seems we hate what we fear, implying we must feel fear first. If one accepts that premise, we progress toward a paradox of opposites where we first become what we fear and then we become what we hate, a phenomenology in which it is part and parcel of the very nature of passionate conflict to turn one into his own enemy.
I think about this often as we see history unfold before our eyes.
Supposed anti-fascist forces utilizing fascist tactics in their fights. People decrying others as Nazis while emulating Nazi methods. Corrupt politicians fighting corruption with corrupt practices. People thinking the path to non-discrimination is through targeted discrimination and the most effective way to secure individual freedom is to initiate total control over the lives of every citizen.
These are not so much contradictions as they are a juxtaposition of the “passionate conflicts” of which George William Russell, the Irish writer, editor, critic, poet, painter and Irish nationalist, wrote.
One could deduce that this inversion of identities is facilitated by a loss of sense of propriety in the pursuit of a goal. That would seem to argue that the adoption of an “ends justifies the means” ideology that allows a person or group to believe that bad actions, even evil ones, are acceptable if the goal is achieved.
Webster defines “propriety” as: “the quality or state of being proper or suitable” or “conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech”. In my lexicon, propriety is that set of unwritten rules by which mutually understood limits are observed, limits which are necessary to the preservation of a society, the protection of a culture, a respect for, and awareness of, precedent and the maintenance of the institution of civil government.
In short, propriety is the process by which we each ask ourselves this question: “If just because we are not forbidden from doing a thing, should we do it?”
As the French philosopher Albert Camus noted, “’Everything is permitted’ does not mean that nothing is forbidden.”
When one observes the actions of the political right, one can see at least a modicum of respect for boundaries, a minimum attention to propriety. There is a respect for the constitutional “guardrails” Democrats profess exist (but only for their opposition) and a willingness to stay within those boundaries has been a “win” in a philosophical sense but a loss from a practical and political sense.
When one observes the actions of the contemporary Democrat Party toward an unexpected president (at least unexpected in their minds), one can see the evidence of the fear and the hatred – and the process by which they have sought (and continue to seek) his removal. In many ways, they have exhibited – and are exhibiting – characteristics far worse than those of which they accuse President Trump.
Nowhere is this more evident that Democrats have dispensed with propriety (and adopted the scorched earth principles of the end justifying the means), than in the phony “impeachment” process.
The evidence is legion that Democrats have finally become what they profess to fear and hate.