THE ENEMY


“So you want x to be destroyed, as OB does . . . I assume you know him.”

OB is a fanatic. He’s also an x. Better to keep away from him. I don’t want to destroy the x. I might even say the x are my best allies. I’m interested in the morale of the . . . people. It is my wish (and the wish of those I hope to please) that these people do not direct their discontent against the T. We therefore need an enemy. There’s no point looking for an enemy among, I don’t know, the y or the z, as despots have done in the past. For the enemy to be recognized and feared, he has to be in your home or on your doorstep. Hence the x. Divine providence has given them to us, and so, by God, let us use them, and pray there’s always some x to fear and to hate. We need an enemy to give people hope. Someone said that patriotism is the last refuge of cowards; those without moral principles usually wrap a flag around themselves, and the bastards always talk about the purity of the race. National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same. Hatred has to be cultivated as a civic passion. The enemy is the friend of the people. You always want someone to hate in order to feel justified in your own misery. Hatred is the true primordial passion. It is love that’s abnormal. That is why Christ was killed: he spoke against nature. You don’t love someone for your whole life — that impossible hope is the source of adultery, matricide, betrayal of friends . . . But you can hate someone for your whole life, provided he’s always there to keep your hatred alive. Hatred warms the heart.”

Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery

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