A few posts ago I examined the Ku Klux Klan and their basic ideologies. Their "racialism," as they call it. I concluded on the topic of their incentive, pointing out that their racially-segregated utopia was nonsensical due to the fact that collectivized whites have been no more peaceful amongst each other than any other racial grouping, over time. I'll delve further into the matter of incentive because it deserves further examination.
Hate, according to Rush W. Dozier Jr. in his book Why We Hate: Understanding, Curbing, and Eliminating Hate in Ourselves in the World, has four core elements: "obsessive, intense dislike; negative, binary stereotyping and generalization; a lack of empathy for the object of the hatred; and a basic sense of hostility that can trigger aggression--the fight response." (139) Hatred is rooted in our primitive brain, or reptilian brain, known as the amygdala, which is primarily concerned with emotion and motivation. The amygdala has connections to other parts, but its main function is to provide the mammalian, or advanced, brain with preconscious warning to potential harm: Fear. Hatred is not a natural byproduct of fear though, it's actually a phobia of fear, as Dozier says, and since phobias are instinctive and subconscious reactions to avoiding pain or harm, hatred is a cocktail produced through mixing fear and instinctive repulsion. This is why our hatred is so easily demonstrated and felt, but is impossible to intellectually communicate since it's subjectively and emotionally based.
But hate-groups inclusively hate the same thing, so there's your proof that it's not just a mental construction, some will say. Groups like the Aryan Nation and the KKK use circular reasoning, or tautologies, to justify themselves. They'd something like: "Our group all agree that blacks are violent and lascivious; if they weren't violent and lascivious, we wouldn't exist in the first place, so they must be violent and lascivious." The problem with circular reasoning is not that just it asserts an ideal of truth, but that it's self-affirming. Not only can you not examine it, but you can't disprove it because it affirms itself in the same breath as it asserts its claims.
Ideals of truth by themselves aren't destructive because they simply make a claim about the nature of reality; it's what we do with these ideals that either makes them destructive or potentially enlightening. Scientific hypotheses are truth-ideals that take the form of suppositions based on limited evidence. A reasonable, demonstrable process follows, using the hypothesis as the framework that is either proven or disproven based on evidence presented. Hate-based thinking and the circular reasoning it precipitates avoids this through a myriad of target-destructive, self-affirming mechanisms. Hatred has diverse manifestations, but is simple at core because it operates on generalities, Them-development, and emotional festering. This festering is what allows multiple people to believe in the same nonsense, affecting each other through cycles of affirmation and fierce Us-grouping. In short, a wolf-pack mentality does not require reason or logic, just a simple desire to be a part of something and a willingness to suppress your advanced and analytical brain.
Emotional festering in itself is an incentive because from a scientific perspective, it feeds our amygdala, which provides a pleasant feeling after one avoids harm or pain. It's a chemical response. The problem is that since the amygdala is so primitive, it doesn't have a built-it mechanism for delineating real sources of harm versus fabricated sources of harm. Hatred thus feels natural in those who don't willingly engage their advanced brain because the amygdala is self-affirming, left to itself. Circular reasoning thus becomes easier and more natural-feeling. Hate-groups (no matter what they want to call themselves) chase this feeling of amydgala euphoria, flexing their primitive neurons and literally developing their ideologies and directing their lives via the process of fear, which was originally supposed to protect humans from fast and brutal physical harm levied by the natural environment which we hadn't yet learned to control.
When posing questions about incentives, we often direct our attention toward the outer reward we receive through fulfilling an activity. Money, acquisition of stuff, etc. However, incentive isn't relegated to obtaining a reward from the outer world. The incentive for having a healthy relationship is sharing, experiencing, and guiding each other, which means it's not always our turn. The more relevant topic to this discussion of incentive is how incentives correspond to values; we are incentivized by what informs or develops our values. The willingness to examine and adapt our values gives the potential to alter our incentives. There's no magic here; we can willingly change what we treat as a reward and see as an incentive through mere evaluation of our values and belief systems. But as long as hate groups like the KKK treat their beliefs and values as universal truths, their incentive--the amygdala addiction--will never change.
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