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Lecture by Carolin Emcke

Spiral of hatred. From Online Networks to Political Reality


The journalist and philosopher Carolin Emcke draws attention to the alarming rise and spread of manifestations of hatred in today’s societies where they are frequently used for political ends. In this lecture, Emcke will talk about the origins and mechanisms of hatred since understanding these aspects is essential for combatting it.

In recent times displays of hatred and violence have become more frequent and almost routine, not only in countries in conflict but also in the heart of democratic societies in times of peace. Individuals, frequently anonymous trolls, propagate hatred online but they are not alone in this because political representatives also demonise certain vulnerable groups, using hatred as their main instrument for channelling political conflict.

The German journalist and philosopher Carolin Emcke, one of the most determined critical voices in her country speaking out in defence of minority rights, denounces the impunity enjoyed by sowers of hatred in a spiral which is now being manifested as the xenophobic and homophobic discourse of populist parties, aggressions against refugees and immigrants perpetrated by citizens’ groups, through to extreme phenomena like racially motivated killings and large-scale terrorist attacks. Emcke, combining her direct experience of violence as a former war correspondent and her philosophical reflections on human behaviour, urges us to think about the deep roots of this hatred. What frustrations and fears are lurking behind this discourse and these acts? Is hatred a structural part of society or contingent on moments of crisis such as we are experiencing at present? What arguments can we use to combat it? For Emcke, understanding—which is not justifying—the origins of hatred and the mechanisms which fuel it is a necessary, basic step to take if we are to be able to defuse it.

Moderators: Judit Carrera

Participants: Carolin Emcke

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