On This Page:
Hatred: Everybody says hatred is a bad thing. This is strange because there are so many hateful people. What is the alternative to hatred? It’s not love, that’s for sure.
Hatred Versus Empathy
We are often told that hatred is not a good thing to feel. Those who urge us not to hate suggest that we replace hatred in our hearts with love. This is a sweet sentiment, but it is very naive.
First, I know of very few people who are capable of loving those they now hate. Those who are capable of loving their enemies do not hate in the first place.
Second, I am suspicious of those who say they love their enemies. They usually want to express their love by doing something really bad. The Church loved heretics I suppose, but it burned them at the stake nevertheless. People are still being killed occasionally in exorcisms performed by nutty exorcists. From the point of view of the heretic it surely does not feel like love. Fundamentalist Christians presumably loved Bill Clinton as they do all of God’s children, but their love for him seemed like a very angry love to me. A mother who drowned her children said that she did it because she loved them and wanted them to be in Heaven sooner.
Third, love is a very complex concept. Telling someone to feel love can be heard a million different ways.
Human nature expresses itself in every generation in a wide range of personalities, each of which speaks and acts in its own special way. We generally oppose people who are not like us and we generally like people who are like us. From the Machiavellian perspective, the opposite of hate is not love but empathy. Empathy is developed by understanding why a person is like he is. What is it like to be in his shoes? What caused him to speak and act the way he does? To feel empathy for, say, a pedophile, a Nazi, or a thief does not mean that you like him or want to be around him. It just means that you understand why he is the way he is. Who shall we hate?
- Pedophile: Everyone hates a pedophile. A 30 year old man in Yemen who copulates with a nine year old girl is probably not a pedophile. He is probably the girl’s legal husband. Marriage is legal in Yemen to girls as young as nine as long as they have begun menstruating. However, if the same man copulates with a thirty year old single woman, he and the woman might both be put to death for the crime of adultery. Anyone raised in this social environment, including you and me, would accept this as normal. He might be a good husband and she might be a happy wife. Why does he deserve your hatred?
- Nazi: Everyone hates a Nazi. Werner von Braun was a member of the Nazi party and chief designer of the V-2 rocket that was used to bomb London during World War II. He built the rocket by the use of slave-camp labor. The conditions of the work were so severe that more people died building V-2s than were killed by them.
Immediately after the war, he designed American rockets while living in El Paso Texas and Huntsville Alabama as head of the US Army’s rocket development team. He worked with Disney Studios to develop television programs about space exploration. He developed the Jupiter-C rocket that carried America’s first satellite into orbit. He headed the team that developed the Saturn-V rocket that powered American astronauts to the moon. He retired from his position as NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning in 1972. He became vice-president of Fairchild Industries, a consultant to private aviation corporations, and a member of the board of directors of Daimler-Benz. Von Braun never seemed to have any interest in politics, only rockets and space travel. I suspect he was as happy working for the US Army and NASA as for the Third Reich. He was probably an interesting man; certainly a brilliant one. He was a Nazi but he was an American too. Our missiles and anti-ballistic missiles are based on the scientific concepts that he pioneered. He advised our Presidents and did perhaps more than any other single person to put an American on the surface of the moon.
I never had the opportunity to meet Werhner von Braun, so I don’t know if he was a nice guy or a jerk. Many people have criticized his work for the Nazis, but I wonder what I would do if some SS Trooper stuck jabbed me in the ribs with his rifle and asked me if I loved Adolph Hitler. Would you choose to die rather than build Nazi rockets?
- Thief: Everyone hates a thief. The physician who steals from Medicare by consistent over-billing hates the thief who steals hubcaps from his Lexus. The thieving contractor who bills a homeowner for work not done or supplies not used hates the carpenter who steals power tools from the work site. The music studio that steals royalties from a recording artist hates the teenagers who steal their music by downloading it. The high schooler who steals music hates the thief who swipes his iPod.
There are many thieves in our society, from petty shoplifters to bank robbers to medical corporations that overbill our government by hundreds of millions of dollars. Don’t hate them. Understand them, expect them to try to grab your possessions, and protect yourself from them.
In these examples, I am not defending pedophiles, Nazis, or thieves. I am pointing out that hating these individuals blinds us to the details of their personalities. If we want to deal with them, we must understand them. Hating them is like putting on a blindfold. It may give you a smug feeling, but it won’t help you move toward your goals.
Download or read online: Machiavelli’s Prince in English translation by W. K. Rowling
Read a brief summary of Machiavelli’s life and works,
written by W. K. Rowling as the Introduction to his translation of The Prince
A readable summary of Machiavelli’s Prince can be found at
The Modern Prince:
Better Living Through Machiavellianism
Download PDF - $4.95
Order the Book - $14.95
Amazon Kindle - $4.95