My take on the question of externalized honor and hate is that these two together makes up an explosive mix and that those who are applying them will not be able to change for the better until these two factors have been changed.
Hate is a concept that is inherently apart from reason. As a consequence reason cannot overcome hate. It is said that justice is blind, unfortunately so is hate. As a person that has been drilled in martial art techniques since early adolescence and as an ex green beret I can also with confidence say that hate is seldom a factor in a successful endeavor. A fighter that hates looses, a green beret that hates makes mistakes. Hate in itself has really no end goal other that itself and to spread it. It is almost like hate is a pathological condition that just like a virus only wants to spread its poison to others. Hate cannot build anything, only destroy and tear down and concurring with thinker/philosopher Hanna Arendt’s reasoning, violence and therefore also hate can never create power.
I have also found that hate often is combined with tendencies of megalomania. I have yet to find a person that is humble that also is seething with hate. One of the fundamental conditions for a successful dialogue is the ability to acknowledge your own responsibility in any situation. Without that ability there can never be dialogue. It is self evident that a person filled with hate and megalomaniacal tendencies is unresponsive to reason and unable to be self critical and therefore unable to participate in a dialogue based on reason. It also seems like megalomania and love are incompatible human traits.
Since hate is oblivious to reason it is also by consequence by definition irrational and its consequences usually equally irrational, such as pointless violence. Hanna Arendt has an interesting opinion which in a way supports this. Violence in itself is not irrational, according to Arendt, violence that helps you reach your goal is rational but violence that does not achieve this is irrational. Therefore it is not so strange when people look at the pointless violence in the middle east and in Gaza or the West Bank and can’t make any sense of it, because it doesn’t make any sense since it cannot create anything. It is irrational violence with no outlook to succeed in achieving the goal. It is just an expression of hate and as such it has no need to be based on reason or even make any sense. Hate is unresponsive to reason, it is therefore also by definition based on ignorance. Unfortunately ignorance can only be cured by an act of will, which is highly unlikely to take place within some one who is consumed by hate. There is hope though, and the Palestinian Mossad Hassan Yousef is a living example on how that may take place, but it requires a fundamental change of heart.
Camp David summit in 2001, Clinton and Barak suggested a two state solution, which was declined by Arafat. An act that Palestinian author Mosab Hassan Yousef, author of Son of Hamas, described as betrayal of the Palestinian people by the Palestinian leadership in order to be able to continue filling their own bank accounts with international aid money. Had the peace offer been accepted we would today have a two state solution and people would have been able to start building their lives in normalcy, but Arafat wanted differently and the result we are seeing today. Although there were no solution agreed at he Camp David summit, it teaches an important lesson and that is that peace is not impossible, it is just that it is not wanted and therefore it will not come.
The second tier, the tendency to externalize honor, endorses and strengthens hate as it legitimizes it. The consequences in society of the combination of the two are dramatic. Many have heard of “honor killings,” it is for me a concept that i very hard to understand, yet it is predominantly in the middle east a cultural fact. In Sweden the issue of honor killings, although it is acknowledged as a problem, is downplayed due to political reasons, mainly by the socialist camp in the political spectrum. Honor killing can only exist in a society where honor have been externalized, i.e. it has moved from the person to be dependant on actions of family members for instance, in such a way that their actions directly affects one and another’s honor. In western society it is generally acknowledged that honor is found within a person and is only reflected by a person’s own actions. The problem with externalized honor is that it endorses abuse and violence against anyone that is perceived to taint “your honor.” In western society, where honor to a large extent is an internalized phenomena, ones honor can only be tainted by ones own actions.
Externalized honor allows for conduct and acts without honor, such as killing of women, children, defenceless elderly, people of another faith or journalists that write disapprovingly and so on. To the contrary internalized honor promotes civil behavior and an internal need, compulsion, to act with grace towards others. In discussions about this tendency to externalize honor I have sometimes heard from cultural apologetics that it is explained as being dependent of “group think” and an evolved group mentality. I respectfully disagree. There are other societies that have group mentality but for that matter doesn’t have this kind of external honor concept. One that comes to mind is Japan, where group mentality is essential in daily life, but honor is highly personal.
The combination of hate and the externalizing of honor makes for an explosive mix. For one it eradicates the rules of engagement in normal social situations. Usually when transgressions takes place, the general tendency with people is to retaliate in kind. If some one insults you verbally, the normal conduct is to reply likewise. If the assault is physical, usually a brawl follows. It is an unwritten rule of engagement we have learned from childhood. I can remember as a child, the conversation could go something like this; “my dad is smarter than your dad” and the other kid would respond, “Oh no my dad is smarter than your dad” and so on… in adolescence the language would change but generally it would be the same pattern. When hate and externalized honor is combined these rules doesn’t apply. A verbal or other kind of non physical conduct that is perceived as an insult, may instantly be met with severe violence even lethal force. An insult of a third party, it doesn’t even have to be the aggravated party himself, is immediately met with severe violence sometimes even lethal force. This behavior is due to the combined effects, the pathological synergy of hate and externalized honor. It is in its own right the symptoms of a pathological social dysfunction and it needs to be changed.
I think that if these tendencies are left unchecked the evolution from tribal societies to modern democracies is not going to happen in the middle east. This evolution has happened before, look at the social and cultural development of Europe. It was not until the older concept of externalization of honor was replaced by internal honor that Europe where able to evolve out of the medieval chaos of constant waring fractions and build successful nation states. The concept of external honor is incompatible with things we take for granted, such as rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of thought and religion, in other words, the idea of externalized honor is incompatible with modern western democracy. Without a change from externalized honor to internalized honor, I believe that progress in the middle east will not come and hate will not dissipate.