Lacanian Review Online 263: Hate in Bubbles

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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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LRO 263
10th December 2020


Hate in Bubbles
José R. Ubieto

The US elections have confirmed what the pandemic had already shown in the open: that hatred works today as a passion that groups people into bubbles, segregating them from one another.

Freud's thesis in his Group Psychology (1921) argued that the community was born from the identification that everyone had with a common object, the leader who embodied a collective ideal. Today, that is history; the charisma of leaders now does not function by embodying an ideal, whatever it may be, but by exhibiting a jouissance, the more obscene the better, and one able to resonate in each one. There is the: “I am not a rapist, but if I were one, I would not rape her because she is not worth it” by Bolsonaro (addressed to Congresswoman María del Rosario, while a law on rape was being debated) or the: “Why do we host all those people from shitty countries?” of Trump referring to African countries, and to Haiti and El Salvador (at a meeting on immigration). It is these echoes, in the body of each one, that form the bubbles of hatred and fracture the “we”, as linguist Jean-Claude Milner points out, leaving the enemy out.

Social networks, and the algorithms that guide them, exacerbate this hatred by favoring the echo chamber or filter-bubbles where we only find what we are looking for, what we recognize ourselves in, without there being any room for diversity or discussion of differences. Polarization, political and affective, widens the gap every day, and it is no longer a question, politically, of only stirring up fear, now what is aimed at – directly and without veils – is hatred as a guarantee of the vote. Twitter is your most valid tool, without forgetting others such as YouTube.

The problem is that hatred has its roots in each of us, since what is hated in the other is that which is most hated in ourselves. It is the extimate, our own and most intimate thing that we reject (our fragility) and place on the outside, as if it were radically alien to us. That thing of myself, which I do not recognize, remains on the other shore.

The pandemic, revealing the vulnerability of our bodies and our health and social policies, has found in hatred its main formula to deny that fragility. It is not the existence of the virus that is denied; what is denied is what that virus, in contact with the body, shows us: that we are born into an original helplessness and that, only by taking charge of it, and within the bond with the other, can we survive. Denying that evidence is a real fraud, especially for oneself.

For this reason, knowing something more about ourselves, of what agitates us and disturbs us, connecting with our singular way, which is always unique, of being fragile, can function as a vaccine against the hatred that we distil.

Translated by Florencia F.C. Shanahan

Originally published by Zadig in Spain 1 Dec 2020; Source:

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