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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

AUTHORITY    AND   THE    INDIVIDUAL
the blame on India, or red tape, or the capitalist
system, or the socialist State, you conjure up in
people's minds a mythical personified devil whom
it is easy to hate. In every misfortune it is a natural
impulse to look for an enemy upon whom to lay
the blame; savages attribute all illness to hostile
magic. Whenever the causes of our troubles are too
difficult to be understood, we tend to fall back upon
this primitive kind of explanation. A newspaper
which offers us a villain td hate is much more ap-
pealing than one which goes into all the intricacies
of dollar shortages. When the Germans suffered after
the first world war, many of them were easily
persuaded that the Jews were to blame.
The appeal to hatred of a supposed enemy as the
explanation of whatever is painful in our lives is
usually destructive and disastrous; it stimulates
primitive instinctive energy, but in ways the effects
of which are catastrophic. There are various ways
of diminishing the potency of appeals to hatred.
The best way, obviously, where it is possible, is to
cure the evils which cause us to look out for an
enemy. Where this cannot be achieved, it may
sometimes be possible to disseminate widely a true
understanding of the causes that are producing our
misfortunes. But this is difficult so long as there are
powerful forces in politics and in the Press which
flourish by the encouragement of hysteria.
I do not think that misfortune, by itself, produces
the kind of hysterical hatred that led, for example,
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