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The tyranny of pathological kindness The cruel streak in progressivism has become dominant

'It’s this licence that gives progressive activists permission to clothe antisemitism as anti-colonialism.' (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

'It’s this licence that gives progressive activists permission to clothe antisemitism as anti-colonialism.' (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)


October 26, 2023   7 mins

A New York psychiatrist tells an audience at Yale School of Medicine of her fantasies of “unloading a revolver in the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless, with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favour.” She later prays for the rapper DMX, who died of an overdose.

One of the founders of Extinction Rebellion boasts that he wouldn’t let an ambulance through if he was blocking the road, even at the cost of a patient’s life.

A biological male with criminal convictions for kidnap and attempted murder says at a Trans Pride rally: “If you see a Terf, punch them in the fucking face.” The crowd, holding placards about love, kindness and human rights, cheer and applaud.

Students at California State University glorify a Hamas terrorist paragliding into Israel to slaughter the innocent, while Harvard students write an open letter blaming Jews for their own execution. They grieve the “slow and sudden” deaths of Palestinians.

Acts of kindness bear witness to our shared suffering. But when kindness becomes pathological, it is cruel and divisive — as with these examples. And it is on the rise. In the West today, there are people whose suffering is deemed to be non-existent or of little value, and so judgement takes the place of understanding, punishment that of mercy. The result is a purity spiral whereby extreme kindness towards an in-group gives unlimited licence to act with cruelty towards an out-group. It’s this licence that gives progressive activists permission to clothe antisemitism as anti-colonialism.

Following the Hamas massacre, a lecturer at Stanford University used “identity-based targeting” to force three Jewish students to stand in a corner so they could feel “what Israel does to Palestinians”. He asked them how many Jews died in the Holocaust. One of the students said “six million” and the lecturer replied that “colonizers killed more than 6 million. Israel is a colonizer”. In New York, activists tore down posters pleading for the safe release of Jewish hostages, many of them women and children, while London saw a 1,353% increase in antisemitic attacks.

In the intersectional narrative inhaled by activists, kindness for the “oppressed” legitimises unspeakable cruelty against the “oppressor”. For normal people, whose instincts are not numbed by ideology, the dissonance of cruelty clothed in kindness is disorientating. In 2021, Milli Hill, founder of the Positive Birth Movement, challenged use of the phrase “birthing person” to describe a pregnant woman. Fellow birthing professionals denounced her — in the name of kindness. As the attacks intensified and the language became increasingly violent, Milli lost her sense of reality, telling an interviewer: “Am I the person I think I am? Do I have this dark side that’s violent and hateful and toxic and all the things they say I am?”

Polish psychiatrist Andrew Lobaczewski, who spent his early life under Nazi occupation, analysed the political and psychological processes that generate this loss of reality. He called it ponerology, or the “the study of the origin of evil”. Collaborating, in secret, with a number of dissidents in post-war communist Poland, he sought to explain the “pathological inversion of a normal social hierarchy” in which “psychological deviants” take power and create a “pathocracy…wherein a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people”.

This minority is the “pathological underbelly” present in every society, about 6% of the population, of which a tenth are psychopathic — characterised by grandiosity, narcissism, personal charisma, impaired moral and psychological reasoning, a systemic incapacity for self-criticism and the sadistic pursuit of pleasure. Under communist rule, Lobaczewski witnessed such people, riven with mediocrity and oblivious to their incompetence, become leading members of the party. As their grip on power tightened, one malignancy bred another, until academics, scientists and psychologists succumbed to communist ideology. They acted as if in possession “of some secret knowledge; in their eyes we became their former colleagues, still believing what the ‘professors of old’ had taught us”.

From Mao’s attack on the Four Olds — old ideas, old customs, old habits and old culture — to the assault by critical race theorists on the universalism of the civil rights movement and the sublimation of antisemitism into support for Hamas atrocities, a defining factor of pathocracies is historical amnesia and psychological naievety. This allows for the separation of the “Old” from the “New”, and the metastatic transformation of what Lobaczewski called the “pathological underbelly” of society into the ruling elite.

In the West, progressive activists are denying their cultural dominance, despite using this dominance to shame, de-bank and destroy their enemies. They compete for status by aligning themselves with intersectional destitution to manufacture a world in which discrimination, inequality and climate deaths are increasing, when the evidence shows the opposite is true. Ultimately, elite pathocrats become totally isolated from the world of normal people. Their language becomes esoteric and they speak only to each other. The Polish philosopher Angnieszka Kolakowska described this descent into unintelligibility among Communist Party members as a defence mechanism: when they “feel cornered, they automatically lapse into textbook communist jargon”, she wrote. “Their words simply fail to refer and the result is gibberish.”

Gibberish, in the mouths of elite pathocrats, becomes wisdom, creating a utopia of nonsense, detectable in sentences like this, from the activist Rosa Lee: “By remembering the metaphorical character of any scientific model, we can draw out the insights of the theory of performativity while putting it into conversation with our other Marxist metaphors.” The end point is “communisation, the transition to new communist selves”. The mystique of this language cements the separation of ideology from reality and pathological elites from the “normal man”. Faced with struggle sessions, shaming, bullying and violence — and fearing for their sanity — normal people lapse into silence, unable to comprehend the pathocratic trauma unleashed upon them. When an individual is compelled to violate what she knows to be true, to substitute an ideological fantasy for reality, the result is psychological disintegration.

When an individual is compelled to violate what she knows to be true, to substitute an ideological fantasy for reality, the result is psychological disintegration. Such a spectacle is a source of pleasure to the dominant elites for whom “forcing others…to feel and think like themselves becomes an internal necessity, a ruling concept”. This “necessity” can never be satiated. No level of deindustrialisation can cleanse the West of its “abuse” of Mother Earth, no ritualistic recitation of pronouns can redeem the “sins of the cis” and no atonement can ever be sufficient to repay the debt owed by the Jews for their “crimes”.

This impossibility of salvation makes sadism eternal.

This process is viscerally described in Juliette, a novel written by the Marquis de Sade. In it, the eponymous heroine meets Pope Pius VI and demands that he offer up a dissertation on murder. The Pope obliges, arguing that to commit murder is in accordance with Nature:

“from time immemorial, man has taken pleasure in shedding the blood of his fellow man and to content himself he has sometimes disguised this passion under a cloak of justice, sometimes under one of religion. But, and of this let there be no doubt, his purpose, his aim has always been the astonishing pleasure killing procures him.”

Ideology, in other words, is used to conceal the sadistic desires of the libertines, to legitimise the raw exercise of power. Normal, virtuous people are imprisoned, tortured, brutalised and killed by aristocrats, priests and popes — purely for the pleasure of it.

Pathocrats who seek the collapse of open societies do everything they can to conceal the “astonishing pleasure” they get from having the power to punish. They do so by redefining concepts like “justice”, “safety” and “kindness” in a language accessible only to the elite. Like contemporary identitarian progressives, Sade’s libertines speak only to each other. This enables them to hide the sadistic psychology that drives them.

And because it is impossible to prove that people are thinking “correctly”, the elite’s desire can never be satisfied. Pathocrats and libertines cannot be appeased. In a futile attempt to appease her attackers, Milli Hill offered her online platform to a Bame birthing expert. For this, her accusers amplified her guilt by adding racism to the accusation of transphobia. They shamed her for not paying the Bame woman for her work, and accused her of being a “white saviour”. The simple fact of Hill’s continued existence was an irresistible invitation to degrade her further. But still, they cloaked their cruelty in the language of kindness. Lacking the courage of the Sadean libertine, her tormentors clung to their progressive ideology, for fear, as Lobaczewski observed, that without it “nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive”.

It’s that nakedness we see when a mob is implored to “punch a fucking Terf” or a Hamas terrorist decapitates a dying Jew with a garden hoe. Yet those who raise their fists in support are, without doubt, on “the right side of history” — that is, the winning side. Pathocrats almost always win, the few silencing the many, because it’s easier to be kind than to love.

If we are to survive this cruelty in the name of kindness, we need to separate what’s benign and beautiful in progressive ideologies from the pathological underbelly that’s overwhelmed them. We need to salvage tolerance and inclusion for all trans people from the attack on science and single-sex spaces undertaken in their name. We need to rescue the universalism of the civil rights movement from an anti-racism that reverses the terms of a malevolent racial hierarchy in the name of justice. We need to protect present and future generations from the consequences of environmental degradation without sacrificing the poor to gratify an apocalyptic vanity. And we need to seek justice for Palestinians without glorifying unspeakable violence.

Lobaczewski concluded that normal people protest against pathocrats “from the depths of their own souls and their human nature”. They protest against the evisceration of their language, the denigration of their values and the unjustified status of the elites who govern them. If we allow pathocrats to control our institutions and corporations, the future will #BeKind.

We must remember that it’s their weakness, not their strength, that compels the pathocrats to silence dissent. As the anti-apartheid campaigner Nadine Gordimer wrote: “No social system in which a tiny minority must govern without consent over a vast majority can afford to submit any part of control of communication.” To break their power means isolating the minority within the minority from the decent people who have become cruel out of fear, contagion and opportunism. In this struggle, we’ll find unexpected allies.

Having been one of the last prisoners in the Bastille when it was stormed in July 1789, the Marquis de Sade later found himself in the improbable position of a revolutionary judge. When the family of his estranged wife, responsible for his long years of incarceration, were brought before him for judgement, he chose mercy and spared them from the guillotine, saying: “Such is the revenge I take upon them.”


Dr Peter Hughes is a philosopher, psychologist, entrepreneur and author of A History of Love and Hate in 21 Statues

DrPeter_H

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Daniel P
Daniel P
6 months ago

In my opinion, what I just read is a damn near perfect description of where we are, what we face, and what happens if we do not find the courage to stand up NOW.

Civil society always exists on a knifes edge, always. It is work to keep it just as it is work to be a useful member in a democracy.

We all must refuse to go alone. We all must have the courage to stand up for what we know to be right and true in the face of demons dressed up and declaring themselves angels.

Harry Child
Harry Child
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

A major problem is the tolerance of free speech as a bedrock of our western democracies. Karl Popper put his finger on the same dilemma, which he termed the paradox of tolerance: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
6 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

Who decides what is tolerant and what is intolerant? that is the problem. The progressives claim anything that disagrees with them is intolerant and they justify their shutting down of “intolerant” dissent in the name of promoting tolerance and fairness.
It is only by allowing all to express their views, no matter how distasteful you may find them, that safeguards against what the author has described. If something is clearly wrong then there is always a clear counter argument that the majority will agree with. Hence why progressive fear and attempt to close down counterargument. Indeed the meaning of fascist and bigot has become: someone I disagree with but cannot find a decent counterargument to what they are saying.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
6 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

To tolerate means to accept that everything is permitted. This, no sane person can do. All true liberals are driven into the arms of hypocrisy and it doesn’t take very long. What we are watching is what we were all along destined to watch: The collapse of that on which we place all our hopes and dreams — liberal democracy.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
6 months ago

Provided that both sides/all sides of an argument must tolerate people who disagree with them, then the superior argument ought to win out, other things being equal. There’s a very good reason that the ‘pathologically kind’ are so quick and eager to shut down dissent, and that’s because in a truly tolerant intellectual space they’d be revealed as the charlatans and frauds that they are.
Whether something is ultimately permitted by a society or group is the result of discussion. If all views are tolerated, they all get an airing.
I get your point that permitting anything is ultimately anarchy, but if tolerance is taking to mean permitting the expression of opposing opinions, it’s the bedrock of a stable and health society.

Ddwieland
Ddwieland
6 months ago

Tolerance doesn’t mean acceptance of everything, but it does imply allowance of things considered distasteful or simply out of favour.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ddwieland
T Bone
T Bone
6 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

I think you’ve been mystified by Applied Postmodernism. Free Speech is not the problem. The “problem” is a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature. A critical mass of People in the West abandoned the traditional understanding of how humans think and behave. There used to be a general understanding that all humans were capable of bad acts because all humans are driven by self-serving instincts.

Rousseau and the Jacobins flipped that concept on it’s head saying Man was inherently good, it’s just the “oppressive conditions” of Modernity that make him act badly. Every Leftist movement since that time has coopted that Creed. They identify the so-called Bad People creating the conditions and rile up the “Good People” to overthrow them in a Manichean battle of Light vs Dark. In this struggle, there is no time to evaluate people as individuals. Everyone is fit into an easily identifiable box and declared Sacred or Evil.

In the 60s the Left made their intentions known and it was easy to identify what they were after. After it became clear the Neo-Marxist Left couldn’t achieve its goals through persuasion or revolution, they slowly began coopting the language of the purely analytical Postmodernism to confuse the masses into Manufactured Consent. Since Postmodernism is just an analytical tool the Left can always claim what they’re doing is analytics not Marxist Activism. Its incredibly confusing.

The overwhelming majority of Progressives know not what they do. They’ve been indoctrinated into a language system that coopts traditional words with double meanings and the contradictions aren’t apparent because Critical Theory will not allow it’s proponents to hear opposing thoughts. Most Progressives simply can’t process that they are living in an alternate reality. Likewise your average person has no idea this is going on and by default has to make pragmatic assumptions and since Progressivism sounds good and opponents of Progressivism are perpetually dubbed “Conspiracy Theorists” it seems rational to just go along with Progressive ideals.

Stevie K
Stevie K
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

What a beautifull, persuasive and definitive description of the path to the destruction of contemporary intellectual life – Bravo!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

Agreed. This is why I advocate being viciously abusive towards the woke scum.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

And there we have an enlightened comment, folks!!

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
6 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

In my view, the issue isn’t so much a tolerance of speech as it is a hesitation or reluctance to respond when confronted with outlandish statements. Sometimes, I think the most effective form of resistance we need is simply more individuals bold enough to express their genuine thoughts, rather than conforming to expected narratives – that nothing more extreme than that is needed.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

Wow, love it. It sounds like R.D. Laing’s ‘Knots’.

Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

What exactly does stand up mean? If you stand up they will likely shoot you down. This has to be organised as a counterinsurgency because if you don’t have the capacity to exact a cost to their actions they will just walk right through you.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
6 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

If you can’t stand up, then heckle and take the p1ss from your seat. Look for opportunities to confirm reality with strangers you meet. Support those who do stand up. Spread common sense and truth through platforms like this. Pass on jokes about them. Challenge where you can, and ask them to explain their ridiculous positions. Take pride and comfort in being as honest as circumstances allow.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I think the joke thing (provided they are good jokes; people too far down any rabbit hole, on either side of any argument, tend to rely on too many tropes to be funny) could be really powerful, actually.
Just unabashedly making fun of silly people and ideas; kind of a lighter version of the idea that bullying needs to be brought back.
Perhaps we really do need to be (a little bit) cruel to be (truly) kind ;).

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

There seems to be enough cruelty out there already.

John Davis
John Davis
6 months ago

One of the first targets of the Progressives was the comedians, under the label of “causing offense”, “hate speech” and the like. They realized the danger of ridicule and acted to stamp it out as a priority.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Amen.

Daniel P
Daniel P
6 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

It means a lot of different things, but one of them certainly is being willing to be unpopular, to stand up and call out the BS when you see it knowing that it may result in being fired or heckled or harassed.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

It takes courage to be the only one in a group with a dissenting view.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Who are the “they” that “we” must watch out for?

Jim M
Jim M
6 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Kill them where you find them. Defund universities, support their opposition and have lots of conservative children.

Poet Tissot
Poet Tissot
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Age -old battle between good and evil – in a confusing disguise.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

You can over intellectualize the issue. There has always been a small minority of people driven by hate. Inside they know it is shameful but sometimes society gives them the opportunity to dress it up as virtue. In the old day religion was vehicle, more recently it has been Marxism and equality.
The New York psychiatrist mention by the author hates white people and has found a cloak that allows her to spew her hatred in public. Unless the environment forcibly represses people with these inclinations they flourish like weeds and the hate within them progressively burns brighter. Four or five decades ago someone in the audience would likely got up and stuck one on her (as they say) and she would have been in trouble with the governing body and probably lost her job. Of course she would have been aware this was the likely outcome and kept quiet
As to why she hates white people so much, she is simply unable to see beyond race. She inhabits a world created by white achievement and being unable to deal with the resultant sense of inferiority and resentment is driven to wishing to destroy her benefactor

Last edited 6 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

So what would be the reason a white person in that position might hate black people? A sense of inferiority and resentment still apply. And for both the bottom line is fear.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I would say fear as a result of otherness, physical threat and previous injustice afflicted

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

Which could apply to people both black and white.

Jim M
Jim M
6 months ago

The races were not meant to be in the same society. It was an unhappy historical accident that we would up with blacks in this country and it lead to a civil war. Diversity is strength!

michael harris
michael harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You must describe, if you can, why a white person might develop a sense of inferiority to a black person.
Can’t dance? Can’t play basketball? Ancestors raped and pillaged? Just because…?

michael harris
michael harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

But a white person is not in that position.
It would be simpler if I, a white person, simply said that. though I enjoy Shakespeare and get the benefits of the Industrial Revolutions, I have made none of this myself. Similarly though the Industrial revolution may or may not have been enabled in part by money accumulated through slavery I, myself, have enslaved nobody.
And a black person now living (not a rhetorically made POC) is well able and does enjoy said writer and said industrial benefits without having made them or suffered from them.
Time may according to quantum mechanics be free to run backwards but responsibility stops with death.
Clear now, identity mongers?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

The author hits so many nails on the head!

colin menniss
colin menniss
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

You describe my exact thoughts as I read this article. Then to see your comment was both uplifting and terrifying.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
6 months ago
Reply to  colin menniss

Living Australia’s dystopia I subscribe to UnHerd to read (and upvote) comments as much as for the articles. Maybe there is still hope.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago

Really enjoyed this essay. Some fascinating insights that are new to me. The author didn’t give details, but I assume only a small percentage of progressives are actual pathocrats – the majority are useful idiots being led by the mentally disturbed.

I don’t think many people are truly cruel. I think most go along to get along, or they are easily persuaded, or they need to add meaning to their lives.

I also wonder where luxury beliefs fit into this? It must fit somewhere. When I see people marching with signs saying Queers for Palestine there is a disconnect so profound that it’s hard to comprehend. Why would someone support a movement that ultimately hates them?

Paul T
Paul T
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

For likes.

Muad Dib
Muad Dib
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Author makes some good points, but also there is a sense of agenda, trying to associate things that don’t seem to fit together to support his view.
Much of the progressive narrative I find deeply disturbing, not least the ease with which irreversible changes to the children bodies are done. There is in deed cruelty in the name of ideology in our society.
However, the idea that violent psychopaths tend to be more present in the progressive groups doesn’t make sense to me, I wish they were. I’m afraid they are evenly distributed, probably tend to move toward dominant narratives as it gives them platform to indulge their narcissistic/ sadistic fantasies.
If an idiot is willing to block an ambulance for his/her protest, that tells us something about that idiot not much about the cause they support.
If we look at history, institutions which are famously non-progressive and conservative, e.g. Catholic church, were complicit in many acts of unspeakable cruelty in the name of kindness. Inquisition would happily torture its victims because they were trying to save their souls, crusades were eagerly supported, accusing Jewish people of killing Christ which led to huge suffering, cosy relationships with Nazis, covering up abuse of children…
Anyone that justifies murder of innocent civilians in Israel, is certainly a deluded idiot as well. Btw., a lot of people supporting Palestinians are religious muslims, they are not the most progressive bunch, quite the opposite.
That brings me to the most obvious example of cruelty in the name of kindness, which author omitted somehow. In response to those horrific and unjustifiable killings in Israel, around one million Palestinian children are effectively imprisoned, cut off from water, food, electricity and bombed constantly, being killed and injured by thousands. How can we justify such cruelty? By kindness to other victims? I certainly cannot.

Last edited 6 months ago by Muad Dib
Chana Shor
Chana Shor
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

Yes, the suffering of Palestinian civilians in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas is very real — and one can debate whether “strategically” cutting off food and water and fuel (which, btw, Israel actually normally supplies to Gaza, so it’s really just a matter of turning it off at the source, not blockading or the like) as a strategic move is in itself ethical.
However, there is a moral difference overall between Israel’s declated war on a terrorist group, where Israel makes a point of warning the civilians where they will be bombing, and a horrific, terrorist attack specifically carried out on the innocent.
Furthermore, Hamas intentionally uses its own people as disposable human shields, and prevents them from leaving areas of danger by stealing their car keys, making blockades and the like, and making threats of execution if they try. Such that the likelihood that some civilians may be killed in the process carrying out their objective, becomes an absolute certainty. Hamas considers Israelis to be “soft” and “sentimental”, meaning that the IDF do not divorce themselves from feeling for the innocent, and do avoid killing them. (Which is precisely why Hamas has until now been successful in shielding the greater part of their operation.)
Hamas bears, therefore, a great deal of the responsibility for the deaths of its own citizens.Obviously, for those killed or wounded, that is little comfort.
And they will blame Israel, as Hamas has fed them on the idea that what Israel really wants is to wipe them out. Which is ironic, since Hamas publicly, in its own charter, states that its objective is genocide — of the Jews, who are evidently sullying a Muslim landscape.
Please, therefore, avoid making an equivalence between an absolute atrocity carried out, in person, with glee, on babies in front of their mothers, on pregnant women, on parents in front of their children, on teens, many of whom were raped, and some burned alive — and a war on Hamas — that organization which rules Palestine with an iron fist, and has no inherent respect for human life. Israel ceded the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in the hope that it would help them in their work toward statehood. Instead Hamas has used donor money that was intended for the Palestinians as a whole, to instead use it to build tunnels under residential areas to hide in, and an arsenal of rockets aimed at Israel.

Arthur G
Arthur G
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

You need to be careful to separate the reality of Catholic Church history from the “Black Legend” propagandist history promulgated in the English speaking world. Not to say there weren’t bad acts committed, but the scope is widely exaggerated, and similar acts were committed by every religious and non-religious group of those eras.
The Inquisition executed something like 3,000 people over 300+ years. The Crusades had nothing to do with the Jews; they were a response to Muslim aggression against the Byzantine Empire. The atrocities of the Crusades were of the same kind and scope as in any other war of that era. Multiple modern dictators have been responsible for more deaths in a single year than the Church was in 1700 years.

Last edited 6 months ago by Arthur G
Muad Dib
Muad Dib
6 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

I simply mentioned Catholic church, as a counter-argument to author’s claim that this pathological kindness is somehow new and progressive phenomenon. Unfortunately, most dominant ideologies will resort to cruelty at some point to enforce their view of the world.
I’m sure you know more about Catholic church then myself, but it’s still pretty dark history for an organisation claiming to be a moral benchmark and representative of God on Earth.
Of course, crusades have nothing to do with Jews, they were not there at the time. I mentioned persecution of Jewish people as a separate item on the list. They did officially blame Jewish people for the murder of Christ (Deicide) and they did so until the 60s. This effectively started antisemitism in Europe, with grim consequences.

starkbreath
starkbreath
6 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

It would be interesting to make a comparison between the Inquisition, Crusades, etc and 20th and 21st century murderous regimes on a per Capita basis. Or put another way, how many more would they have brutalized and murdered if they’d had larger populations to prosecute? BTW this is not leaving out the countless campaigns of oppression and genocide carried out by authorities of every ethnicity.

Anna Clare Bryson
Anna Clare Bryson
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

No, the deaths of Gazan civilians as a result of Israel’s response to the Hamas pogrom are not justified by anyone as “kindness” to anyone, and so fall outside the focus of the ATL. The author is not saying that all actions that might have cruel consequences are based on appeal to kindness, but is just considering those that are.
In my view, the people who are primarily responsible for the deaths of Gazan civilians are Hamas, and Hamas supporters among Gazans, and Hamas’s abettors and suppliers elsewhere. While they may weep sentimental tears for all the poor Palestinian victims of infidel Zionist wickedness, and use their suffering to stoke righteous indignation, and indeed hatred in the hearts of Muslim and other sympathisers, the last thing they have is a kind attitude to Palestinian civilians…They do not have the power to overthrow Israel by force of arms, and so to do all the killing and raping they dream of. They therefore try to turn the “kindness” of the world against Israel by cynically sacrificing their own duped people – the more that they can goad, and indeed force Israel to kill, the better and the merrier. Dead Palestinian children are the very best! Which is why Hamas gives not a toss for the Gazan population, refuses to protect them and take care of their needs, as far as possible refuses to let them move to areas designated safer by the Israelis, stockpiles fuel needed for their hospitals… For reasons of their own security and responsibility to their people, Israel has to respond to Hamas’s atrocity and continuing attacks, and this is inevitably costly in human life although as far as possible Israel tries for a minimum loss of civilian lives compatible with its security. Hamas though is going for a maximum loss of Palestinian as well as Israeli lives. How can you justify such cruelty? Maybe start asking them. Not many people seem to be doing so…

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

Something I learned just recently – with more than 300 miles of underground tunnels, the Hamas have not built any public bomb shelters.

Muad Dib
Muad Dib
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Well they are terrorists, blinded by their hate, I guess sort of pathocracy proposed by author. I expect nothing better.
My view is quite simple, nothing justify mass killing of innocent civilians, especially children. Not by Hamas or anyone else. For me children are always innocent.
The moment we try to construct some moral justification, exceptional circumstances, anger and fear, why we must kill thousands of children, we are doomed.
It appears I have triggered some valiant attempts of justification here. I’m sorry I don’t see it like that. I know it is an emotional topic, it is for me as well although I have no connection to either side.
If we let the worst terrorists set standards of what is acceptable, then they win. Somebody said here Hamas wants Palestinian children to be killed to support their cause, if this is true why do it then?
This will lead us to another form of pathocracy, under guise of some moral necessity. We have seen this many times in history, it is how our biggest tragedies start.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

The thing is I agree with the sentiment here. The only solution IMO is the eradication of Hamas. We know a ceasefire won’t work because Hamas will violate in truly barbaric ways. What is the solution then?

Muad Dib
Muad Dib
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Not sure I have a solution. I would frame the challenge differently, the goal should be safe, peaceful and prosperous Israel and Palestine. In the world like that there is certainty no place for organisations like Hamas. On the other hand I can see the world where every member of Hamas is as you say ‘eradicated’, but still suffering and hate continues on both side. It seems to me this is the current direction of travel.

Last edited 6 months ago by Muad Dib
michael harris
michael harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

The recent attempt to bring about your goal, Muad, was called the Abraham Accords. It hoped to build a stable framework of states around the conflict to corral the Israel rejectionists and the Greater Israel supporters into some resentful truce that might in time (much time) lead to peace and prosperity.
Unfortunately this initiative was supported strongly By President Trump and was, therefore, sabotaged by his incoming opponents. Their chief act of destruction was to revive peace overtures to Iran. Trump was clear that the Accords only stood a chance if badly intentioned outsiders (principally Iran but also Russia) could be kept out of it.
The vicious and wanton assault by Hamas (Iran’s catspaw) intended to drive a stake through the Accords. And seems to have succeeded.
Now what? US carrier groups to the Gulf. WW III? No amount of US muscle will make up for lack of strategic clarity and for cowardly diplomacy.

Last edited 6 months ago by michael harris
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

So true and that says it all.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Muad Dib

It’s not a matter of either or. That’s where people get stuck.

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The motivations, nature and aims of the movement are irrelevant once they have acquired the saintled status of ‘oppressed’.
There is a league table of the ‘oppressed’ currently topped by trans (several years in the top three now) and Palestinians. Some genuinely oppressed groups never get a look in – where were the taking of the knee and 100,000 strong marches for the Uyghur Muslims?
It shows that activism is about the activists not their cause.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The fact that Israel is by far the most tolerant state toward LGBT people in the region must never be mentioned.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Going along to get along” is moral cowardice. The old quote of evil being able to proliferate if ‘good men do nothing’ applies. If we know wrongs are taking place, we should all be prepared to stand up and take the slings and arrows as they come.
Goes as much for vicious misogyny as it does for pathological violence.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

One and the same.

starkbreath
starkbreath
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Absolutely. If you’re not man or woman enough to back them up, your ‘beliefs’ are empty grandstanding. Amazing how alleged liberals have thrown one principle after another under the bus over the last 50 years or so, just so they can be ‘good liberals’.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Total ignorance.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
6 months ago

I enjoyed this. I don’t think the way out of this mess is going to be very easy. If you spend time around woke ideologues you realize that they are immune to rationale discourse. Many of them self select in particular because they aren’t particularly bright – so anger and fervour make up for talent. It is interesting to me that many of the people who seem to relish calls to violence and societal upheaval- woke women – university professors – would be the least able to defend themselves were society to actually break down. It may actually be this distance from actual fear and violence that makes it so alluring to them.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Interesting thought. I’ll have to think about that a bit more.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Michael Savage was correct when he coined the phrase, “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” (Back then, liberalism had a different meaning than today, which is why they had to change the word to progressivism.)

David McKee
David McKee
6 months ago

Excellent article. And it puts us in the dock. If all we do is write worthy comments to Unherd articles, the pathocrats will love us and our nice, quiet lives. We’re no threat to them. Or we can exert ourselves by actively opposing and overcoming them.

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.”

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

That perhaps is the tragedy of humanity. Quiet, moderate people have an excess of humanity when it is inhumanity that is necessary to counter inhumanity to maintain a quiet moderate society.

As Orwell put it, “people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

In the long history of civilisations, democratic tolerant societies have been a footnote. The defect causing their dissolution is in their design. Our society too may be a footnote about to be written.

Last edited 6 months ago by Nell Clover
David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Quiet, moderate people have an excess of humanity when it is inhumanity that is necessary to counter inhumanity to maintain a quiet moderate society.

And there, is one of the key arguments that pathocrats put forward to justify their inhumanity to their opponents – they are doing it so save you, gentle reader, from the evil people who would do you wrong!

Simon Riley
Simon Riley
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Absolutely, and I think the thought that we might have to do unpleasant things to defend society jars with the too-comfortable morality of many of my fellow progressives. I’m from N Ireland and there is a very strange belief system that has taken hold in much of the (otherwise laudable) centre ground there that is as critical, or even more critical, of what police and army did against terrorists than the terrorists themselves. “We must hold the state to a higher standard” etc, as an excuse for piling in on those people who put their lives on the line everyday. It’s become unfashionable in progressive or centrist circles to show empathy for those at the coalface, paid a meagre salary to put their lives at risk every day and suffer PTSD and depression for decades afterwards – those lucky enough to not have been murdered, that is.
The delusional “morality” of the comfortable in which such people are left out to dry absolutely disgusts me. But it’s everywhere, not just N Ireland. At some point, people will stop volunteering for the dirty or dangerous work if we go on this way.

Last edited 6 months ago by Simon Riley
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Riley

I think it is the decline in toughness, physical, mental and spiritual and therefore honesty.
When one reads how Arthur Bryant writes about the British character, especially the middle and upper classes in the early 19th century, after the Revolutionary Wars we can see the degeneration.
p1 The Search for Justice. They were free as individuals to rule themselves which made them self-reliant, resourceful and morally as well as physically courageous. “is Liberty which gives us this flower.” Hatred of power was an obsession. There was no police force and a small army. yet crime was almost unknown. Lifeguards( soldiers) were often jeered in London. Hustings for MPs were usually loud and often violent with produce being thrown at those who wish to stand but it was test of their character
As there was no police force to secure property and privilege, the gentry had to preserve these themselves. They had to learn to command respect by force of character, courage and good sense. Fearless leadership was a by product of libertarian laws. The gentry were expected to take part in sports:bareknuckle boxing, cudgel fighting, hunting- taking a hedge at a full gallop, cricket, rowing. At public schools the sports were bare knuckle boxing, cudgel fighting, fencing, rowing, cricket nd rugby/football. All were expected to box as it was the national nursery of manliness. Byron, Keats and Shelley boxed.
The village cricket team comprised landowner and labourer, parson and blacksmith. GM Trevelyan said if the French landowners had played cricket with their tennants there would ahve been no revolution.
A gentleman was expected to to be a proper man with his fists and now to clear a lane of men with his morleys.Bare knuckle boxers were respected by all: Hickman, Sutton( a coloured man )Mendoza ( Jewish ) Belcher, and Cribb.
Within the framework of law and property the English rule was that a man should look after himself and the have the freedom to do so.
What has taken place since the WW1 and especially after WW2 is massive increase the proportion of the middle and upper classses who are incapable of looking after themselves, both financially( they are employed by the State) and physically defend themselves from attack. Ibn Khaldun wrote in 1400 that men protected by walls and garrisons lose their uprightnss and manliness – he compared town dwellers with beduin..
A gentleman did not tell a lie for that was cowardice, he did not cheat, go back on his word or flinch from the consequences of his actions.
Men who can take blows and stand their ground tend not to the nastiness, viciousness and vindictiveness of the morally and physically degenerate who are easily hurt and desire vengeance.
I have worked with tough competent men;ex rugby league players, many who had boxed and they were honest, straightforward, hardworking and despised the sly, spiteful and vicious. However, they did expect a man to stand up for himself and go down fighting rather than submit. They respected pluck and despised cowardice.They judged character, not class. Their ancestors were the yeoman who drew the war bow at Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt.

B Moore
B Moore
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

As Orwell put it, “people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

Or indeed Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men”

H H
H H
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Your call to action is understandable, but the quotation you chose does not support this. Hamlet’s beautiful mixed metaphor of “tak[ing] arms against a sea of troubles” actually expresses the futility of active opposition, as one cannot take up arms against the sea itself.

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
6 months ago
Reply to  H H

No, you’re misreading the speech. Hamlet’s train of thought continues to other things, but not to futility. It is after this that he hatches a plot to expose Claudius and his mother. It may not succeed completely, but he makes the attempt.

H H
H H
6 months ago

I disagree with your reading, Martin. Hamlet does not persuade himself that life is not futile in this soliloquy. Rather, he is dissuaded from ending it as he fears what might await him in the afterlife. Furthermore, the attempt to expose Claudius’s crime (and the possible complicity of Gertrude in that crime) is very much the response of a delightfully educated early modern man, but not that of a future king. The Wittenberg scholar is homo rhetoricus par excellence, but this renders him a thoroughly ineffectual political operator, definitely not monarch material. His humanist education has, as he admits himself, inculcated in him a compulsion to think “too precisely on th’event.” He is no match, therefore, for his Machiavellian uncle. Indeed, when confronted with the perfect opportunity to kill Claudius, his “native resolution/ [i]s sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

Last edited 6 months ago by H H
N Satori
N Satori
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

OK McKee, tell us how, exactly, we can take up arms against this sea of troubles. I’d have to agree that forums such as this are a kind of safety valve – indignation as a substitute for action. Yet the only effective action would need to be outside of the normal democratic process – a long counter-march through the institutions if you will.
The West is suffering death by do-gooder. White Westerners (especially white men) don’t even have the self-confidence to expect acknowledgement for their tremendous achievements. Rather, we are expected to pay obeisance to the world’s under-achieving underdogs and their moralising activist enablers.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

There are ways to fight back. Look up my name to see some of my attempts being forced to fight against Australia’s corrupt Victoria Police officers openly participating in organised crime.

DenialARiverIn Islington
DenialARiverIn Islington
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

The readiness is all.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

You first.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
6 months ago

“ Acts of kindness bear witness to our shared suffering. But when kindness becomes pathological, it is cruel and divisive — as with these examples.”

I’ll give you another one. Here’s Rachael Maskell, MP for my old constituency, responding to the migration crisis in 2015 by suggesting that the UK should not just accept 20,000 or 30,000 migrants, but:

“We will keep going until we hit our saturation point because what does it matter if we have to wait another week for a hospital visit?“

Would you look at that? A Labour MP willing to cause damage to infrastructure – even to ‘Our NHS’ – in order to demonstrate her compassionate principles.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
6 months ago

Is the author describing something new, or has it always been thus? I suspect the later, which should give us hope that liberal sanity will prevail (to some extent) in the future. The ingrained bug of “pathocracies” is that they tend to spontaneously destroy the societies they have infected; in much the same way that anti-capitalism leads to poverty, which leads to discontent and reform, which leads back to capitalism.

We can see this process happening right now – I believe – with so much of “woke” dogma coming off the rails, from the steady support for Israel, to push-back against biological men in women’s sports, to the utter disgrace of Defund the Police, to the disaster of open immigration. Indeed, I can not think of a single “woke” program that is other than on the defensive.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
6 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Sadly I don’t share your optimism. Here are a few counterpoints.

Support for Israel? The next PM of the UK yesterday caved in to protests organised under the umbrella of religion to demand Israel “pause” its war while Hamas continues its.

Woke coming off the rails? Our academics have this week reached peak woke by using intersectionalism to justify the killing of babies.

The pushback against trans ideology? The closure of the Mermaids clinic turns out to be a distraction from the plan to open dozens of copycat child-sterilising units across the NHS.

Defund the police? There’s no need, they do very little policing. The police are happy to ignore all property crime, disregard anti-terror laws, lecture us on the meaning of Jihad, and at the same time as telling us drawing H*tler moustaches on pictures of dead children is not illegal, they prosecute those who make comedy videos of pets raising their right paw.

Last edited 6 months ago by Nell Clover
Kevin McCann
Kevin McCann
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

A sadly perceptive and highly accurate description of where we currently stand (or crawl) in the U.K.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

What you are seeing is not pathocrats seizing the reigns of power – it’s would-be pathocrats alienating their potential support base.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

This is the sad truth. On the ‘trans’ issue, it appears that the small and very vocal fetish lobby have even managed to get their agenda into the King’s speech next month, thanks to Sunak’s U-turn on ‘conversation therapy’. This is of course the term that the ‘trans’ lobby uses for giving children some breathing space and “time to think”. Which basically means that instead of being able to talk to anyone about why they feel the way they do, to come to terms with the real and natural body they have, and to realise the truth about sex, children must be offered instant affirmation. A generation of children is being groomed into lifelong medication and sterilisation, and young people who may simply be gay are being ushered into the nonsensical idea that they can change sex, so it’s basically back to homophobic conversion. It’s grotesque.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

the small and very vocal fetish lobby

Who’s that?

Last edited 6 months ago by David Morley
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

From what I have read all aspects of the trans issue are much bigger in the UK than the US.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Nell: UK is less further through the cycle having received the virus from us late into our own madness. We may be coming out of it; I suspect UK will too.

John Williams
John Williams
6 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Couldn’t agree more. I suspect that the ‘pathocrat’s’ furious and utterly inhuman response to the 10/7 pogrom stems from the realisation that the actions of Hamas have blown the ‘kindness’ citadel to pierces.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Williams
David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

The ingrained bug of “pathocracies” is that they tend to spontaneously destroy the societies they have infected

And on a smaller scale, and more benignly, they tend to destroy the movements they have infected. It takes a lot of consolidated power to keep pushing a line which is at odds with reality, common sense and normal moral feeling.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
6 months ago

I think the author is right (even though, at this time in the morning, my head is not up to fully absorbing this kind of thing) and I’ve felt such revulsion to the #bekind mob in the last few years that I’ve started to recoil from the words “kind” and “kindness”.
This is terrible. Random acts of real kindness are so important. Reaching out and making human connections in hte moment can literally change lives and it’s good for both the giver and the recipient.
Read some of the comments on this article to restore your faith: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/well/family/random-acts-of-kindness.html

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Good comment, but I’m afraid the NYT article is behind a paywall, and there is no way I am financing those wokers.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Then just Google “random acts of kindness” – but in any case, read about nice things! God knows we read about enough nasty stuff.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I agree that we all could do with connection to more true kindness. But if we stop thinking and connecting with all the crap going on at the moment, there will be less ands less of that real kindness to enjoy. We mustn’t turn our heads away from the awful stuff just because we can’t stomach it.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You don’t have to pay. Google up ‘archive today’ which should get you to https://archive.is/ Paste in the URL.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago

Thanks for that, I’ll give it a try.

Stevie K
Stevie K
6 months ago

Nice link, it works a treat to get the article itself, but not the comments underneath. Still a very useful addition to the research toolkit!
Thanks

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It really doesn’t matter what other people do as far as kindness goes, one can still continue to be kind.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
6 months ago

I always try to be genuinely kind, but I draw the line when I am told to ignore reality and basic facts. Men are not women. People cannot change their sex. Killing innocent civilians is never provoked or justified. The subversion of reality is a mind control that has been at work for a while.
My students (and I’ve been teaching HS for 25 years) are increasingly not in touch with reality and lack empathy. The two things have happened in tandem with each other. If someone can witness women raped so violently that their pelvises break, babies beheaded, elderly women beaten, and not have a visceral human reaction of horror, anger, and grief, one is no longer fully human.
The only way out is to speak truth to power. Speak of reality. Basic scientific reality. Basic facts.
I never want to hear the phrase “authentic self” again – there is no other kind of self. You don’t create who you are – you are born who you are and you define yourself by your actions, not your imagination.
The narcissism, delusion, and individual “reality” must end. People need to put down their phones, open their eyes, read multiple news sources – not TikTok, discern facts, and stop tribally following a political party.

Last edited 6 months ago by Samantha Stevens
Simon Neale
Simon Neale
6 months ago

Acts of kindness bear witness to our shared suffering. But when kindness becomes pathological, it is cruel and divisive — as with these examples. And it is on the rise. In the West today, there are people whose suffering is deemed to be non-existent or of little value, and so judgement takes the place of understanding, punishment that of mercy. The result is a purity spiral whereby extreme kindness towards an in-group gives unlimited licence to act with cruelty towards an out-group.

My view is that it never was real kindness. The genuinely kind people I have met seem to have good will for everything and everyone as a starting-point. It’s more of a universal predisposition than something they have wrangled themselves into as a result of reading Lenin or Fanon or whoever.

Mat G
Mat G
6 months ago

It is a relief to read such an excellent article that explains so well how many of us feel.

In addition, it is worth pointing out that the pathological kindness is usually not even very kind to the purported beneficiaries – it is not kind to paint a false picture of victimhood nor propagate a falsehood (like it being desirable or possible to change sex).

Richard M
Richard M
6 months ago

Brilliant. Thank you. I wish I could write like that.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
6 months ago

This idea of a fervoured perverted few causing good people to disintegrate and acquiesce reminded me of the following poem by WB Yeats:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

– An extract of The Second Coming by WB Yeats.

Last edited 6 months ago by Nell Clover
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I’ve always thought the contradiction in the Yeats poem is the line asserting the best lack all conviction. That would make them not at all the best, surely?

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago

A similar observation was made by Bertrand Russell. I think it has psychological truth.

John Williams
John Williams
6 months ago

Perhaps he meant that the most intellectually able lack conviction per se and so stay aloof from any struggle.

Simon Riley
Simon Riley
6 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Mind you, one of the contradictions of Yeats was that he supported “the worst” in Ireland, at least for a time

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago

It’s fascinating to see a new language of resistance emerging. And hopeful – because we know that you win by defining the language.

‘Pathocracy’ is terrific. But we still need a word to describe the individual perpetrators. ‘Pathocrat’ doesn’t quite have the punchiness of ‘fascist’.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

‘Fascist’ has now lost all meaning through over- and mis-use.

Dorian Grier
Dorian Grier
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Blairist?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

My preferred phrase to describe these people is of course “woke scum”.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

That says so much about you, Richard.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago

Chilling and important. Words matter. And woke does not capture the malevolence toxicity and pathology of the Equalitarian cult and anti discriminatory mania we face. It spawns race hate (Palestine/,Muslim top of Victim Pyramid, Jews Ultra Privileged White) but the deranged drive to eliminate all forms of inequality/discrimination is more potent than old Communism. It is killing meritocracy. Warring on private enterprise. Making every teen girl bi. Triggering the lockdown catastrophe. Driving Pol Pot style Net Zero fanaticism. We are in grave danger. I must repeat- it is quasi religious and similar to hardcore Calvinism. The chosen few..The Elect..monopolize virtue. And the rest are Damned, unworthy of pity unworthy of life. This is the mind virus cult and tyranny that has captured our timid meek compliant elite. Beware The Elect.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago

This minority is the “pathological underbelly” present in every society, about 6% of the population, of which a tenth are psychopathic — characterised by grandiosity, narcissism, personal charisma, impaired moral and psychological reasoning, a systemic incapacity for self-criticism and the sadistic pursuit of pleasure.

Oddly omitted here is the tendency of people with personality disorders towards black and white thinking. Narcissists, as well as people with borderline personality disorder, exhibit it.

Last edited 6 months ago by David Morley
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Exactly, David. “Black and white”, and “us and them”. Lots of it here.

DenialARiverIn Islington
DenialARiverIn Islington
6 months ago

Well, I must say, that’s just about as perfect a description of the. Pathology of that which we face as I have seen in print. Without such analysis, the madness of this crowd is extremely hard to fathom. Here in Britain, much of that we are witnessing seems profoundly antithetical to common British values and wildly impractical. I think that’s why many of us are confused by it and yet, there seems to be a huge following.

For my part, I encourage all readers to stand up against this nonsense and speak your mind (I do). Never let a nonsensical comment pass. Always challenge. Be brave. Fight back.

If we don’t, the pathology will prevail.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago

Brilliant essay.

William Cameron
William Cameron
6 months ago

Are Palestinians oppressed ? In part yes but predominately they occupy self governing areas. They do not seem to have chosen their local govt in a very open democratic fashion. And that local govt seems more interested to attacking Israel than providing clean drinking water.
Most of the marchers seem to think (wrongly) that Israel is all Palestinian land. It is not.

Paul T
Paul T
6 months ago

Progressivism always Always ALWAYS becomes excessiveism with its attendant purity spiral.

Paul T
Paul T
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

For examples you have, currently, train drivers and consultants striking. They have the best employment terms of anyone in the country. They are very highly paid, with exceptional holiday entitlements, pensions, job security. These people then use bogus figures to come up with eye-watering demands whilst screaming at us all how much they care and how wicked and horrible we all are; “scum” is what they think of the rest of us.
All those Red Wall seats that might go back to Labour; why? Rayner has already said that these people are now and will always be scum to the “Labour Movement” even if they do vote for Labour next time. She uses the word “hate” to define herself, her politics, her view of other human beings who might disagree; she keeps telling us she hates us and thinks we are scum but apparently people don’t listen.

Let me say it again; whatever you are, wherever you are, Labour probably hates you.
We have Extinction Rebellion stood in the way of ordinary people “we are doing this for you scum” whilst aiming a kick at the head of enraged workers unable to get on the DLR whilst XR pose on top of it. They offer no solutions only hellfire and damnation with their death cult.
We have Stonewall that should have folded but instead decided to go excessive and empower Trans Rights Activists to get the word “woman” removed from NHS documents – but not “man”; in fact no men are expected to change in any way – unless they decide one morning they are women. It is without doubt that by the end of Stonewall’s attentions trans rights may well have gone backwards.
What does progressivism actually mean anyway? Once basic rights are achieved what then? Luxury rights? That seems to be what Progressivism means; “We Demand Luxury Rights or you are all scum” and “[whatever it is] Its okay when we do it”.

Last edited 6 months ago by Paul T
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Self loathing and self hatred. The massive growth in clerical work and the effete affluent middle classes has resulted in people who have no practical use to society. They are hollow, they have no substance, no worth , no use, no self respect, nothing solid to show for their existence. Consequently they are insecure, inadequate and therefore full of self loathing and self hatred. I think a person needs to have some practical worth, some use, to society to obtain self respect and a sense of security and adequacy.
If most of these people were in plane crash or a ship wreck which landed in a remote area would any of them be an asset for aiding survival or would they be a liability? Are they a waste of space ?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

And you are not a waste of space?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I develop water supplies and have been part of construction teams. It is the ability to point to a structure or an object and say ” I helped to build/ make that ” which gives people a sense of satisfaction. One aspect which is ignored is the change from agriculture and industry to service sector and many admin jobs means people can no longer gain a sense of satisfaction and self worth from something tangible they have made or constructed.
“Wren Fecit” is rare today. .
One can also judge and be judged easily. The object works or the building stays up.The service sector is far more subjective.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
6 months ago

They might claim to suffer from post-colonial ressentiment but they are using the cultural turn of the former socialist Left as a vehicle to seize power.. I suspect Islamism has gone in this direction using the guilt tactics of BLM.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
6 months ago

A New York psychiatrist tells an audience at Yale School of Medicine of her fantasies of “unloading a revolver in the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless, with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f*****g favour.” She later prays for the rapper DMX, who died of an overdose.

“Physician, heal thyself!”

Dominic A
Dominic A
6 months ago

Paul Bloom’s ‘Against Empathy’ theories shed more light on this – he posits that ‘emotional empathy‘ (where one feels the pain of the other) rather than cognitive empathy (where one understands the pain of others) is behind much cruelty, and yet is usually thought of as angelic. For example, emotional empathising with a kid on a surgery waiting list would lead many to bump the kid up the list, no matter the several other kids that would be bumped down the list.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
6 months ago

‘ he chose mercy and spared them from the guillotine, saying: “Such is the revenge I take upon them.’

Well done the Marquis de Sade. Such style!

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
6 months ago

“pathocracy…wherein a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people.”
Time will tell if we’ll be able to reverse the disease and return to normal or if the pathocrats have seized control of too many of the levers of power while we were busy going to Little League games.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
6 months ago

Who shouts and screams and refuses to discuss and silences any dissent?

The person with a convincing and rational argument?

Or the person who knows their argument would never stand up to objective scrutiny?

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
6 months ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

William Cameron
William Cameron
6 months ago

People have been brainwashed into binary thinking.
They find it impossible to be opposed the actions of Hamas while also holding the view that Palestinians are oppressed.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

Exactly, but I wouldn’t say it’s brainwashing. The good versus bad dichotomy is so much easier to live by because it’s simplistic, and doesn’t require much thought.

Dominic A
Dominic A
6 months ago

Hmm – you could say your comment is B&W thinking – “They find it impossible”. I’d guess most people, if carefully questioned, would show that they are perfectly capable of opposing Hamas and understanding that Palestinian people are oppressed (and not just by Israel).

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
6 months ago

It was ordered of the people of the past that they love their neighbour and hate their enemy…(Matthew 5). But now, ‘do good to those who hate you’.
As for the right side of history, how many sides does it have? Perhaps it’s triangular. Or a quadrilateral.
Mercifully, history, or histories, do come to an end. No history of the Pictish people survives. How they thought of themselves is completely lost. They might have thought themselves on the right side of history – that self-serving and self-righteous delusion – before it disappeared.
Every person has their own history. Not necessarily something that accurately reflects the truly astonishing fact that each is unique, but rather a highly expurgated version of their limited memory and biased self-assessment. After they die others will, as others did with the Picts, construct their own version of that person’s history, until fact becomes legend, and legend myth, until the believer in such a narrative passes away themselves, and it all becomes irretrievably lost.
As for the lessons of history, they always arrive too late to do anyone any good. One such lesson is that the Central Powers need to be victorious by 1918. History will be right after that.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago

Excellent thoughts. Incidentally, there is now something of a move among those with the ability and will to do so (archaeologists and Celtic historians) to delve into whatever remains of the Pictish culture to rescue it from the depths of time.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
6 months ago

The only reason to ‘do good to those that hate you’ would be the certainty that they would recognise your moral strength in doing so and feel contrition. In the example of the Marquis de Sade the family probably did, the act of mercy itself becoming a form of punishment. But I fear that in the case of Hamas, or even the ‘trans activist’ set, they would just think you were weak and stupid.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

Yes, how ironic it is that the lessons of history arrive too late!

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago

Pathocrats almost always win, the few silencing the many, because it’s easier to be kind than to love.

I’m more optimistic. We just remember the ones who win, not the potential pathocrats who didn’t. Only in certain circumstances does this worst case happen, and it happens in situations which are already un democratic. The secret ballot is the normal persons key defence against this.

In normal circumstances the mentally troubled amongst activists serve to alienate normal people who might otherwise support (a milder form of) their cause. This is why such things come in waves. Woke is a rebirth of PC, and feminism almost be definition comes in waves.

The real danger is the concentration of power in the hands of a small elite, prone to ideological capture, without sufficient democratic checks. While the average person can’t diagnose an activist who is off the rails, for many alarm bells still go off.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

The sad thing is, as with PC, humor has to be suppressed, and, consequently, we’re less free to be funny. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves but few people can. It’s hard for stand-up comedians to not offend someone. John Cleese bemoaned PC because he said it had severely restricted comedy. Dave Chappel was severely chastised for referring to trans folk as the alphabet people. They didn’t think it was funny, if they had things might have gone a long way in their favor.

Last edited 6 months ago by Clare Knight
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
6 months ago

“By remembering the metaphorical character of any scientific model, we can draw out the insights of the theory of performativity while putting it into conversation with our other Marxist metaphors.” 
This is the entire premise of the “Libs of Tik Tok”. Just repost what they say and stand back.

Anne Torr
Anne Torr
6 months ago

~Be Kind – the movement that has been subverted and used in situations ranging from the most egregious to the banal. It has transformed into one of the worst passive-aggressive movements and illustrates perfectly what this author is saying. I live in a small market town in the North of England where all these movements have been as though in another country, far away from a London I do not recognise from my childhood. But even this town is being drawn into this pathology: the doctors surgery has a running tape in the waiting area alternating between ‘#Be Kind’ and ‘ZERO Tolerance’ (the ‘Zero’ flashes); the supermarket staff uniforms now have ‘Be Kind’ printed on their backs. The phrase that sums it up for me is ‘cognitive dissonance’ . Who is pushing this manipulative phrase?

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
6 months ago

In the late 1970’s June Lait who was Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at University College of Swansea ( now Swansea University) was involved in the increasing professionalisation of social work. When asking about the need to act with love and compassion required , especially with children, she was told that we don’t use terms like love and compassion. We use non-consuming warmth. Says it all really.

El Uro
El Uro
6 months ago

«As the anti-apartheid campaigner Nadine Gordimer wrote: “No social system in which a tiny minority must govern without consent over a vast majority can afford to submit any part of control of communication.”» – I would agree, but replacement Rhodesia with Zimbabwe raises some doubts about the expected result.

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
6 months ago

This bloke just explained the world – and Labour under Corbyn. Frightening.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
6 months ago

Brilliant piece! A revelation.
Thank you Dr Hughes.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
6 months ago

A good piece, but I highly recommend Angelo Codevilla’s “Millenarian Mobs” from the Summer 2020 Claremont Review Of Books, for a more historically grounded, and more pessimistic (I would argue, more realistic) view.
https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/millenarian-mobs/

Emre S
Emre S
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

This was a great link, thanks so much for sharing it! This piece though is almost childish in its historical depth and naivety of suggestions going forward.

Last edited 6 months ago by Emre S
Evan Heneghan
Evan Heneghan
6 months ago

A truly great article, thank you.

0 0
0 0
6 months ago

Holy psychological projection, Batman! This thing totally sums up the mindset at the left. Ideiology is just simply a rationalization and a cover for their impulses, it’s personal resentment that motivates them. it’s very Nietzsche in nature in nature.

Last edited 6 months ago by 0 0
Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
6 months ago

Normal, virtuous people are imprisoned, tortured, brutalised and killed by aristocrats, priests and popes — purely for the pleasure of it.

Or, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
As demonstrated by Victoria Police in Australia flashing their uniforms in broad daylight participating in organised crime alongside bikies even in Melbourne suburbs of million $ homes. Aided by similarly feral insiders from the Australian Signals Directorate.
Beware: Australia faked its way into AUKUS, Five Eyes, etc.
What Raymond T. HOSER documented paying a very high price in 1999 became far worse, thanks to 21st century technology.
Victoria Police Corruption. (736 pp.) Kotabi, 1999. ISBN 0-9586769-6-8 – shared for free with the author’s permission.
Victoria Police Corruption 2. (800 pp.) Kotabi, 2000. ISBN 0-9586769-7-6

Last edited 6 months ago by Katalin Kish
B Moore
B Moore
6 months ago

Absolutely top notch analysis.

Waffles
Waffles
6 months ago

“When an individual is compelled to violate what she knows to be true”

An article against political correctness uses politically correct pronouns. It’s so jarring I had to stop reading. Just say what they know to be true. It keeps the argument flowing.

Richard M
Richard M
6 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

I don’t understand your criticism. How is the feminine personal pronoun “she” politically correct?

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

Maybe we can avoid all this pronoun nonsense by saying “… when individuals are compelled to violate…”?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Absolutely, there’s usually a way to avoid having to acquiesce to the wrong pronouns.

R M
R M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

But in the context of the article, the author appears to be using “she” to refer to a female (albeit a hypothetical one).
Regardless of what one feels about the use of She by other people (e.g. trans-identifying males) its surely not right to erase the feminine pronoun for women is it?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

So true. The pronoun thingy really pisses me off, and when writers cave in to it, as you say, the work becomes unreadable.

Emre S
Emre S
6 months ago

Normal, virtuous people are imprisoned, tortured, brutalised and killed by aristocrats, priests and popes — purely for the pleasure of it.

I see, so it’s the priests and popes who are at the root of our problem of super charged progressivism of today.

We need to salvage tolerance and inclusion for all trans people from the attack on science and single-sex spaces undertaken in their name.

And looks like the solution is to be purer and more cognizant than all of those people who are trying very hard to be pure and cognizant.
What a great article with deep insights and practical suggestions for solutions.

Last edited 6 months ago by Emre S
David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago

We need to be careful here that we do not fall into the trap of simply pathologising our opponents as a cheap way of avoiding having to deal with their arguments. The Frankfurt school (on the left) was prone to this.

For example, it is very easy to pathologise trans activists, while “failing to notice” that some of their opponents exhibit the exact same traits. This is not something that affects only one side of a debate.For evidence, a read of some of the articles and comments here on Unherd will suffice.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
6 months ago

Some interesting stuff hiding in a bar room rant.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

When there’s not much of value coming out of academia and other august bodies, let’s listen to what is being said in the bar-rooms.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I can’t remember who said it but “I would be more willing to trust a caveman’s instincts than an academic’s expert opinion”. Hear, hear.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
6 months ago

I’m afraid the sheer number of big words defeated me. I wonder if the same ideas couldn’t have been more simply articulated.

David George
David George
6 months ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

It’s well worth persisting with Keith.
If you highlight any word you’re not sure about, right click on it and your search engine should take you to a (or choice of) definitions. That’s what I do anyway.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  David George

Sounds like a good tip, better than pausing to google.

Richard M
Richard M
6 months ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

To summarise:
“Ultra-progressives use the concept of kindness in an unkind manner to impose their will on everyone else, because they are mentally ill.”

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

Don’t ‘ya hate big words when you don’t know what they mean!!

j watson
j watson
6 months ago

Bit muddled with broad brush sloppy definitions. Pathocrats? ‘Let’s create another bogeyman, but let’s keep it vague and difficult to define so can be as meaningful to as many as poss who want to hang their bias upon it’. Groan.
That said the general point about the saying ‘being cruel to be kind’ has a timeless role in discourse, and that in some environments the ‘tough love’ any parent might occasionally deploy seems to have been lost from other debates impossible to disagree with. Play the issue not the person, and think about one’s way of countering a daft position constructively.

Andrew R
Andrew R
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The usual banalities and deflection (argument free comment) we come to expect from you and “Progressives” in general.

I’ll make it easy for you; “Progressives” are on the whole narcissistic, deeply inadequate and have more than a hint of psychopathy about them.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Thanks for dealing with the woketard.

Dominic A
Dominic A
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

The pathocrats from the other side have their knives out for you JW. There are none so blind as they who will not see.

Last edited 6 months ago by Dominic A
Andrew R
Andrew R
6 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

He doesn’t have an argument (has never had one) and neither do you.