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The Ideology of Hatred:The Psychic Power of Discourse

The Psychic Power of Discourse

Niza Yanay

Publication Year: 2012

The 21st century might well be called the age of hatred. This is not because there is more violence in the world but because hatred has been transformed from a concept perceived to be a by-product of personal or collective violence into a discursive field. But what if longstanding antagonisms, especially those between social groups, turned out to involve desire rather than revulsion? The Ideology of Hatred develops a psychosocial framework for understanding this new phenomenon by interrogating unconscious mechanisms within national discourse. It opens new and timely venues for thinking about the paradoxes of love and hate while raising questions about social attachment and otherness. Is it possible that hatred operates by maintaining a safe closeness, enhancing the illusion of separateness as well as a sense of proximity at one and the same time? Could it be that love actually survives through the discourse of hatred as an invisible relation of attachment, necessary but unthinkable? A key term in the book is the "political unconscious," a concept signifying the transformation of the unthinkable into a language that disavows the desire of and for the Other. Invoking this and other psychoanalytic concepts, the book proposes that at the heart of all national conflicts lies a riddle: the enigma of desire. The discourse of hatred works today as both a defense mechanism and as a political fantasy whose dream is to annihilate the Other of desire, that familial and different, threatening and intimate Other. Yet because love-in-hatred is denied but not erased, love can therefore also be reimagined. This suggests that untying and recognizing relations of intimacy and dependency can, under certain circumstances, change the discourse of hatred into relations of peace and even friendship. In addition to its strong theoretical component, the book is also based on extensive empirical research, especially into hate relations among Jews and between Jews and Palestinians in Israel.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. v-6

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pp. vii-x

The movement in circular fashion from the individual subject to society is self-evident to me. Psychology and sociology, as I see them, are not two different modes of perception, not even two points of view. The psyche and the social always operate in tandem and form who we are as subjects and who we...

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pp. 1-19

Years before 9/11, living and working in Israel, I was perplexed by the diverse and mostly invisible workings of the word “hatred” and its place in national rhetoric and politics. When in 1989 I accidentally came upon about 400 letters of hate mail written by Jewish fundamentalists and sent to members of...

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1. Hatred and Its Vicissitudes

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pp. 20-31

After the two world wars and the Holocaust, how is it possible that at the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first century we have come to witness so much hatred toward the Other? Obviously, as Hardt and Negri have pointed out, globalization (the new politics of proximity...

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2. The Political Unconscious

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pp. 32-55

In this chapter I focus on developing the concept of the political unconscious.1 My main purpose is methodological: to establish the relations between discourse and the unconscious or, more precisely, to outline the unconscious elements of discourse and draw attention to the power of unconscious...

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3. The Mechanisms of Social Idealization and Splitting

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pp. 56-70

Many who have studied conflict and reconciliation believe in the power of dialogue and discussion between neighbors, communities, or nations as a necessary process toward renouncing violence and ending conflict. Lately scholars have added to their list of recommendations public confessions,...

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4. The Lure of Proximity and the Fear of Dependency

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pp. 71-102

The response of hatred in reaction to a hidden fear of personal and collective dependency is perhaps intuitive yet not obvious. In psychoanalysis the connections between dependency and hatred is a common idea recognized as part of the oedipal drama of development. The dependency of the child...

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5. From Justice to Political Friendship

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pp. 103-124

What is the relation of hatred to friendship? Following the logic that possible means (strategies and techniques) and possible ends (violence or peace) are not always directly connected, this chapter attempts to suture the working of hatred with the possibility of political friendship in a present tense....


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pp. 125-149


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pp. 151-155

E-ISBN-13: 9780823250523
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823250042
Print-ISBN-10: 0823250040

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Text