This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The moral paintbrush

Closely linked to the desire to hate is the desire to feel justified in one’s own opinions and behavior. Each man wants to be affirmed, wants to be “right,” and wants to claim for himself the banner of truth. And this is not a matter of simple theoretical truth, but ultimate truth, which is to say, moral truth. He does not want to be “right” as one is right about a math problem; he wants to be “justified” not only in regard to rational error, but also in regard to sin itself. He wants to be righteous! Here again propaganda is more than happy to accommodate him. As it provides him with an enemy toward which he may express his hatred, so also he is encouraged to impute to this enemy all evils in the world. Every social problem, every human suffering, will be traced in some way to “the enemy,” so that nothing remains a simple difference of opinion. Party allegiance becomes an ultimate question—a spiritual question. Philosophical differences become religious differences. It becomes impossible to conceive of two men who seek truth but come to different conclusions. There is only good and evil, and the line is clearly drawn. This process is an immense simplification of the kind carried out by Hitler against the Jews. Great masses of individuals who may themselves vary greatly in character and opinion are group indiscriminately into one entity as “the enemy,” and all must be despised together as if they were so many limbs of the devil himself. Again, although this does rely on the exploitation of hate, we have no gone further and are seeing the exploitation of pride. This is not simply a sanctioned resentment of one’s neighbor; it is a sanctioned claim to self-righteousness. Who can resist such an offer?

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