The Crusade Against Hate-Speech

David Myatt


Applying Myatt’s Philosophy To The Real World:
Part Two

The Crusade Against Hate-Speech

The term “hate-speech” is, like the term “racist”, a modern abstraction and is an integral part of the new political crusade “against hate”.

The term “hate-speech” originated in America in the late 1930s and was used in a newspaper article in reference to a speech made by Adolf Hitler. It became current in the 1980s as a mass-noun to refer to speech or written material which is deemed to be inciting hatred or intolerance with especial reference to that directed at a specific ethnicity or to a religious belief or to a sexual preference for someone of the same gender.

In terms of its definition and use what is important is the fact that the speech or written material is assumed or believed by someone, or by some others, to incite hatred or intolerance, and that this assumption or belief by some is projected onto or imposed on others.

For, as with the term “racism” {1} implicit in the abstraction “hate-speech” is a moral judgment, a political belief, by some or by special interest (pressure) groups or by politicians that “hate-speech” is “bad” and has to be challenged, fought, and eradicated. That there is or there should be a dialectical conflict between those who are deemed to have incited hatred or intolerance and those who crusade “against hate”, with the State having a moral duty to manufacture laws which punish not only those deemed to have incited hatred or intolerance but also those who are believed to have, or are judged to have, intended such incitement.

The result is conflict, ideological, political, and practical; the projection of the denotata “hate-speech” onto words spoken and written; demands for punishment of those deemed to be the offenders; and dehumanizing propaganda in the media and elsewhere about those alleged offenders.

In brief, there is one more modern zealous crusade based on abstractions such as “defeating hate and countering hate-speech” with the crusaders assuming they are the righteous ones and represent the moral high ground as zealous crusaders – be they political or religious – always do and always have done.

              In terms of Myatt’s philosophy the error of all this is not only the perpetuation of the separation-of-otherness by means of impersonal abstractions with the inevitable dialectic but also because of the continuing manufacture of modern abstractions which remove us ever further from the insight, the wisdom, the understanding of physis {2}, that he states can only be discovered through personal empathy and via pathei-mathos.

As Myatt wrote in his The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis,

“A personal pathei-mathos [is] one of the primary means whereby we can come to know the true φύσις (physis) of Being, of beings, and of our own being; a knowing beyond ‘abstractions’, beyond the concealment implicit in manufactured opposites, by ipseity (the separation- of-otherness), and by denotatum.” {3}

In his most recent essay he wrote

“empathy and pathei-mathos lead us away from the abstractions we have constructed and manufactured and which abstractions we often tend to impose, or project, upon other human beings, upon ourselves, often in the belief that such abstractions can aid our understanding of others and of ourselves, with a feature of all abstractions being inclusion and exclusion; that is, certain individuals are considered as belonging to or as defined by a particular category while others are not.” {4}

In The Real World

While all this mention of empathy, pathei-mathos, and ipseity might seem obscurely philosophical it amounts in Myatt’s view to one important thing: that both empathy and pathei-mathos are personal and thus that what they reveal to an individual is only relevant to that individual and cannot be “abstracted out” from the moment or moments of revealing.

In practical terms in the real world this means that such insights cannot form the basis for any political or religious dogma, agenda, ideology, or belief. For such political and religious things are by their nature – their physis – supra-personal, and based on the claim, the assumption, or the necessary belief, that individuals should place such dogma, agenda, ideology, or belief before their own insight and judgment.

According to Myatt’s philosophy the philosophical mistake of millennia, continued with the manufacture of new abstractions such as “racism” and “hate-speech”, is and has been some individuals believing that their own always fallible instinct or their understanding and insight can be or should be generalized and applied to others; that their interpretation or view of the world or of events is the correct one with others opposed to their instinct or interpretation or view needing to be challenged and challenged in ways which more often than not involve practical conflict. Thus have military, political and religious leaders and teachers emerged and, latterly, political parties and ideological movements.

Myatt’s philosophy is a move away from all this. A move toward what he describes as wu-wei, a Taoist term which based on his study of Taoism while living in the Far East signifies

“a personal ‘letting-be’ deriving from a feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to their nature, their φύσις, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, toward the error, the unbalance, that is hubris, an error often manifest in personal arrogance, excessive personal pride, and insolence – that is, a disrespect for the numinous.”

In practice, the knowledge, the understanding, the intuition, the insight that is wu-wei is a knowledge, an understanding, that can be acquired from empathy, πάθει μάθος, and by a knowing of and an appreciation of the numinous. This knowledge and understanding is of wholeness, and that life, things/beings, change, flow, exist, in certain natural ways which we human beings cannot change however hard we might try; that such a hardness of human trying, a belief in such hardness, is unwise, un-natural, upsets the natural balance and can cause misfortune/suffering for us and/or for others, now or in the future.

Thus success lies in discovering the inner nature (the physis) of things/beings /ourselves and gently, naturally, slowly, working with this inner nature, not striving against it.” {5}

For me, this expresses the fundamental and personal insight of paganism both modern and old.

Rachel Stirling
February 2019 ev

{1} qv. Part One, available at

{2} Myatt’s use of the term physis is explained in essays such as Towards Understanding Physis, published in 2015.

{3} The essay is included in his 2014 compilation One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.

{4} Physis And Being: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos. 2019

{5} The Numinous Way Of Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 9781484096642