A scourge called hate

María Jiménez and Álvaro Herrero de Béthencourt

Defining hate is complex. In a general approach, hate is defined as dislike and aversion to something or someone who the hater would like to see harmed.1 Aristotle distinguished between hate and anger: the former can arise without previous insult and be aimed at a group, while the latter can only be directed against individuals. In more modern conceptions, Gaylin portrays hate as an irrational emotion, a distortion of perception, as it tricks the mind and needs an object to attack.2 However, it could be argued that hate is not always, or necessarily, irrational, but can be manifested in more or less sophisticated ways. Furthermore, as we can glean from the data in this report, hate can take the form of a premeditated, planned and even discursive strategy designed to achieve a serious of objectives.

The discourse that impregnates each of the catalysts of hate is not a condition for violence in itself: there are people who spout fanatical utterances but do not take any action afterwards. However, discourse is a necessary condition for ideological violence in particular, and hate violence in general. Its institutionalisation in the form of the rise of political organisations and parties that spread messages of hate has coincided with a rise of hate crimes in Europe.

A discourse is a necessary condition for ideological violence in particular, and hate violence in general

Some studies suggest that hate is the key to understanding the phenomenon of intolerance, which is defined as a negative (and almost instinctive) reaction to an external group that is perceived as threatening. Applied to the world of politics, there is evidence that hate feeds political intolerance, i.e. the refusal, or willingness to denounce, that a particular group in society has access to equal rights and democratic values. Other studies, however, suggest that the role of hate, like fear or fury, is not as strong when generating intolerance, which also features an element of rationality and is influenced by national contexts. In any event, the debate takes place within the undisputed rise of political intolerance, one of the most problematic phenomena in modern-day democratic societies for many researchers.3

This report sets out to explore the rise of hate through the civil society organisations that work more directly with its victims and effects.

1 1Real Academia Española:http://dle.rae.es/odio
2 Sternberg, R.J., & Sternberg, K. (2008). The nature of hate. Cambridge University Press
3 Gibson, J.L. (2006). Overcoming apartheid: Can truth reconcile a divided nation? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 603 (1), 82-110; Halperin, E., Canetti-Nisim, D., Hirsch-Hoe er, S. (2009). The central role of group-based hatred as an emotional antecedent of political intolerance: Evidence from Israel. Political Psychology, 30(1), 93-123; Gibson, J., Claassen, C., & Barceló, J. (2020). Deplorables: Emotions, political sophistication, and political intolerance. American Politics Research, 48(2), 252-262; Fischer, A et al. (2018). Why we hate. Emotion Review Vol. 10, No. 4 (October 2018) 309-320