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Berke, J.H. (1996). The wellsprings of fascism: individual malice, group hatreds, and the emergence of national narcissism. Free Associations, 6(3):334-350.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(3):334-350

The wellsprings of fascism: individual malice, group hatreds, and the emergence of national narcissism

Joseph H. Berke

In this article I am concerned with hatreds which go beyond the bounds of rationality, which are more than aggressive reactions to the threatening behaviour of others. I am concerned with another kind of destructiveness, an ill will which may not have obvious causes, but which is deep-rooted, very intense, and is associated with rage, chaos, malice, and evil.

Interestingly, popular culture is indubitably, almost obsessively, aware of such motivations which have long been described by Christian theologians as ‘the seven deadly sins’, or considered by pre-Christian writers in terms of ‘the evil eye’.

Three ‘sins’ essentially account for the seven deadly ones. They are envy, greed, and jealousy. I intend to demonstrate that these destructive impulses are not only personal and interpersonal phenomena. Rather they underlie a multitude of social and macro-social events.

In 1921 Freud provided an illuminating analysis of the transformation of individual enmity to group enmity during the course of discussing the ‘herd instinct.’ (Freud, 1921) He observed that a herd instinct or sense of group solidarity develops when an older child suffers the birth of a sibling or is sent to nursery school and has to compete for love and attention with other children. Intense envy and jealousy arise.

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