Niza Yanay - the ideology of hatred: the psychic power of discourse
November 15, 2012 4:08 PM   Subscribe

"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict."

Niza Yanay teaches in the Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. She has written on the ideology of hatred, national conflicts, and prejudice and stereotypes; her new book is The Ideology of Hatred: The Psychic Power of Discourse (an extensive sample of this book is available on Google Books).

More from Gordon's interview with Yanay:
YANAY: ...After 9/11, the word hate began colonising new spheres, operating as a social and political force that can both manipulate and mobilise an entire public in very specific ways.

People began using the word hatred in the context of terrorism, particularly referring to Islamic groups who had expressed anger and criticism towards the West and the ravages of capitalism. The word hatred was thus transformed, becoming a signifier for danger, mostly the danger of Islam. In President Bush's rhetoric, the world was schematically divided between Muslims who hate on the one hand, and the West which had become the target of irrational hate on the other hand. I found it interesting that the West does not hate.

This distinction between hatred as an experience and hatred as ideology underscored the need to ask new questions about the relation between politics and hatred. And these new questions, I believe, need to focus on power relations between different groups, such as coloniser and colonised, ruler and subject...

GORDON: Can you give me a concrete example of this ideology at work?

YANAY: Most people consider "suicide bombings" as motivated by hate, while very few people consider air strikes on populated areas to be hate crimes. The media often describes the suicide attack as a hate crime, but I have never come across a report describing the US drone attacks in Pakistan - that have killed over 3,500 people - as hate crimes. This suggests that hatred as ideology is at work. And this ideology helps determine who is blamed for being the initiators of hate, who becomes the target of hatred, and, in fact, when hatred counts as hatred at all...

YANAY: The point I want to make is that we need to start thinking about the ideology of hatred as a symptom of desire. This might sound contradictory to many people, but actually hatred is always constructed within an already inevitable bond between two unequal groups or sides of rival power. Intense hatred assumes a prior and intense relationship.

Consider the famous speeches of President Habyarimana of Rwanda between 1973 and 1994. He continuously attacked the Tutsi for being counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie traitors; but at the same time, he constantly referred to them as brothers. This, I argue, is typical and symptomatic.

The use of intimate familial language to characterise the so-called traitor is a common practice in many ideologies of hatred. So, when we hear, speak of, or examine hatred, we must pay particular attention to issues of proximity, attachment, intimacy, desire and even love. Of course, these forces are not obvious when we think of hatred. But, if we want to understand how people become our hated enemy we must study the conditions of closeness and proximity.

GORDON: Someone might say that this is counter-intuitive. Don't we commonly understand hatred in terms of distance, difference and enmity?

YANAY: You are right to say that the ideology of hatred produces and means to produce separation and estrangement. But this is exactly my point. The paradox of hatred is that hatred aims to produce distance precisely because the two rivals are considered to be too close, too intertwined.

Think about the Hutu and the Tutsi, the Serbs and the Croats, the Turks and the Armenians, the Israelis and the Palestinians, and so on. I am not simply saying that love can turn into hatred or vice versa, but that hatred is always an ambivalent experience and a hyperbolic concept. One cannot hate an individual or a group without attachment and closeness, without love. Lack of attachment tends to produce indifference, not hatred.
*Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian - New research shows the terrorizing impact of drones in Pakistan, false statements from US officials, and how it increases the terror threat
*Mark LeVine in Al Jazeera - Why 'they' still don't hate 'us': the myopic nature of the 'us' versus 'them' worldview
*John Miller in e-flux - Politics of Hate in the USA, Part I: Repressive Tolerance (followed by part II and part III)
*Llezlie L. Green - Sexual violence against Tutsi women in Rwanda in 1994 - specifically, point #2 "Gender propaganda" (trigger warning)
*Michalinos Zembylas - The affective politics of hatred: implications for education (PDF file)
*Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic - What High School Taught Millennials About the War on Terrorism
posted by flex (13 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
This is really outstanding, flex, thanks for posting.
posted by clockzero at 4:35 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is an incredible post. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 5:16 PM on November 15, 2012

Excellent post, flex. Thanks for putting this together.
posted by homunculus at 5:25 PM on November 15, 2012

*Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic - What High School Taught Millennials About the War on Terrorism

More on this: Lies My History Teacher Told Me About the War on Terror
posted by homunculus at 5:26 PM on November 15, 2012

*Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian - New research shows the terrorizing impact of drones in Pakistan, false statements from US officials, and how it increases the terror threat

posted by homunculus at 5:29 PM on November 15, 2012

thank you, this is really a fantastic post!! I've read about half the linked articles....very important information that needs to be sent out.
posted by supermedusa at 7:27 PM on November 15, 2012

What kind of amateur-ass cowboy outfit did the lettering on Ronald Reagan's birthday cake? It looks like the frosting just sort of trickled down the cake.

flex, my coming Saturday morning is now spoken for. Epic post. Thanks!
posted by kengraham at 8:32 PM on November 15, 2012

Fascinating, I never thought about it exactly this way but i do beleive that ascribing hate or malice to another group or person (rather than just self-interest or incompetence) does require believing that you understand their motives. Which implies an understanding of them. Really interesting.
posted by fshgrl at 11:40 PM on November 15, 2012

I haven't read the articles yet, but the quoted bit about how hate can only form if there's been a previous closeness is fascinating in the context of politics and nationalism. Great find and supporting links, I'm looking forward to digging into them.
posted by harriet vane at 2:23 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just think of the repeated, obsessive notice in the NYC subways: "If you see something, say something."

Such an utterance not only speaks of suspicious objects, but creates relational mistrust that paradoxically bonds people of all walks of life together through a fearful gaze, suspicion and prejudice. So, hatred has become a political apparatus that creates a community through the horror of the strange and the different.

This is a fairly insightful way of framing this, I think.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:27 AM on November 16, 2012

Nifty Thanks
posted by Smedleyman at 7:59 AM on November 16, 2012

I do wish John Miller had followed through on the come-on of his title and actually discussed how Marcuse and the idea of repressive tolerance illuminate the other stuff he talked about.
posted by jfuller at 12:59 PM on November 16, 2012

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