In some respects, Thanos, the loving dad, conservationist and Marvel supervillain, who terminated half the life in the universe, which was surprisingly an even number, was fairer than the promoters of India’s population policy. Thanos did not pick who will not live. It was a lottery
In some respects, Thanos, the loving dad, conservationist and Marvel supervillain, who terminated half the life in the universe, which was surprisingly an even number, was fairer than the promoters of India’s population policy. Thanos did not pick who will not live. It was a lottery

Opinion | The right way to hate people and be healthy

Misanthropy is a trait in the sane and the intelligent who love life so much that they wish to pursue the highest form of living

The delicate people are saying about our times, “There is so much hate." They probably mean it in a bad way. After 23 May, when the election results will be announced, Indians will hate each other even more. We have been told that people hating other people is intrinsically bad. But then, there is a way of despising the world that is healthy.

Most people hate the wrong way. In fact, the first lesson that the right way of hating the world teaches us is that most things that most people do is plain wrong. The smart will never find truth or joy in what is popular and prevalent. The human majority is a giant sign to the few: “Be our opposite".

This is merely one of the many useful ways of despising or at least disliking humans. The English word “misanthropy", which simply means hatred for human beings, is too lame to capture the essence of the idea. In its literal form, it sounds like a mental disorder, yet there is no known mental illness that matches the state. Even men who commit genocide are dangerous only because they love the idea of another set of people to whom they feel they belong.

Misanthropy always was and is a trait in the sane and the intelligent who love life so much that they wish to pursue the highest form of living. It is never hatred for everyone or for individuals. We must like the people who like us, and be indifferent to those who despise us, and always seize the opportunity to pull the toes of a passing infant. I have noticed in so-called humanitarians that they claim to love humanity, but are so harmful to those who love them. A few days ago, Paul Graham, the billionaire co-founder of the start-up accelerator, Y-Combinator, tweeted, “The most surprising thing I've learned from being involved with nonprofits is that they are a magnet for sociopaths."

A misanthrope is usually never a charlatan. He is a lover to lovers, but is clear that he despises the giant noble herds of man. Slipping through the gaps of the herds without ever being a part of them has to a beautiful life.

Some aspects of misanthropy are actually more mainstream than people realize. As a result they have attracted herds who do not realize that they are being misanthropic. For instance, what can be more misanthropic than the idea of population control? Governments and pious intellectuals champion it: the idea that some humans should not occur so that other humans can live better? It is darker than that.

In some respects, Thanos, the loving dad, conservationist and Marvel supervillain, who terminated half the life in the universe, which was surprisingly an even number, was fairer than the promoters of India’s population policy. Thanos did not pick who will not live. It was a lottery.

In contrast, the respectable world’s population control is not about controlling the population of humans as it claims; it is about controlling the population of poor humans. The Japanese and Scandinavians and many others in the rich world beg their own to procreate a lot. Even India’s affluent Parsi community has taken out ads to implore their own to produce children. About four years ago, one ad said, “Be responsible. Don’t use a condom tonight." In effect, it is to the poor that the world says, “Let there not be many of you."

There are other mainstream misanthropic ideas. The civilised world itself is based on the premise that humans are untrustworthy and their society will collapse without authoritarian order. Across history, most ideas that overestimated human character have failed. All utopias have failed. The success of capitalism is based on its low opinion of human character.

Only a misanthrope is trained to see that social movements do not have moral foundations. They rise from a prophet’s insanity, or a lost soul’s search for meaning, or a feudal lord’s loss of prestige, which are misunderstood by the public as altruism. Let us take a recent moral lament and try to understand how mistrust for people who claim to have good intentions can help a misanthrope see clearly. For the past several months, a type of people in India have been lamenting “the destruction of institutions". A misanthrope would have framed the issue in this manner: Nehruvians from the social upper classes are expressing their anxiety that the great egalitarian outfits that they run (canned laughter) are now being ruined by semi-literate elected rustics. When we frame it this way, we can see social lament as something petty, a mere turf war.

In the end, was the Supreme Court diminished by provincial politicians or by the way sophisticates handled a sexual harassment case against the chief justice of India? And, in the end, was the Election Commission diminished by elected rustics or the intellectuals who destroyed the reputation of the Commission in the media just because it passed some orders that were not favourable to them?

It is the same mistrust for all that is popular and sacred that can push a misanthrope into healthy personal habits. The most dangerous food that people eat, they eat in the name of belonging and home. Culture is, in reality, a sugar-delivery device. By staying away from the social rituals of the majority, a misanthrope can stay away from junk food, spiritual fads, small talk and sleeping late.

If I may quote a character from one of my novels: “It is the misanthrope alone who has clarity. By standing outside the huddles of man, he sees a lot, and what he often sees is the evidence that people are not as smart as dogs think they are."

Manu Joseph is a journalist, and a novelist, most recently of ‘Miss Laila, Armed And Dangerous’

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