Lately we’ve been hit over and over again with examples of how hatred seems more popular, more financially gainful, more politically powerful than any other force. This is supremely evident in the difference in giving between charities like water for Flint Michigan and fascist spunkbuckets like Jordan Peterson’s patreon. The latter is way more successful. Likewise, in internet wars between haters and people who want to make the world a better place, haters have more stamina.
I know why hate is more profitable than love, why selling hate is always more successful than selling the common good. It’s because doing good things costs effort, sometimes nominal, sometimes a lot. But it always costs something. And hatred? It actually gives something back to haters, gives them pleasure.
So imagine this. Two lines. One, you go to put in a penny for charity. Oh, easily done. Why not? But if you’re a little busy or distracted, you might miss it. Line Two, you go to eat a free banana split. Hey, maybe the banana split costs a little money, but it feels good to eat, right? Motivation. Whatever good feeling you get from the charity is remote, high-minded, fleeting and ephemeral. Line two is sweet food in your mouth now.
So far I’ve mostly stayed away from sexual metaphors, but that’s a mistake. Because I genuinely believe the pleasure slyme pitters nazis rethuglicans terfs dominionists and daesh get from hatred is – if not always sexual – sex adjacent.
There was a bit of pop science that did the rounds on the internet a few years ago saying it determined looking at pics of cute animals lights up the same areas of the brain as looking at pornography. Why? I’d guess it’s because they’re visual information that speaks to a kind of sensory pleasure. You can pet a cute animal, get busy with a cute human, something like that. And I guarantee you that when Roseanne Barr or some other nazi sees a swastika or a racist meme, that same area of the brain lights up.
The movies American History X and Romper Stomper both included scenes which equated glorying in racist hatred with sexual energy. Fairuza Balk said the N slur with flared nostrils, heavy breaths, dilated pupils. Boned Norton with the same energy. Russell Crowe reading from Mein Kampf during naked time with his main squeeze. Those directors were reading the same thing I’m seeing in the fascist thugs running the world right now. Sleazy pleasure.
So here’s the math: Good deeds don’t feel amazing, and Evil deeds literally help some bad people get their rocks off. Therefore there will always be an energy differential that favors evil in the world.
We can try to ameliorate it by seizing platforms, seizing the means of production, stuff like that. But we’d be a lot more assured of success if we could figure out how to change the math. Maybe we should all train ourselves to get horny for goodness? That’s a joke, but I’m serious about the aim. Can we, by seeing the math at the core of our problem, find a way to change the equation?
I hope so. I can’t see how, but I hope so.