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The Crowd A Creature Of Hate

Probably the most telling point of likeness between the crowd-mind and
the psychoneurosis--paranoia especially--is the "delusion of
persecution." In cases of paranoia the notion that the patient is the
victim of all sorts of intrigue and persecution is so common as to be a
distinguishing symptom of this disease. Such delusions are known to be
defenses, or compensation mechanisms, growing out of the patient's
exaggerated feeling of self-importance. The delusion of grandeur and
that of being persecuted commonly go together. The reader will recall
the passage quoted from the pamphlet given me by a typical paranoiac.
The author of the document mentioned feels that he has a great mission,
that of exposing and reforming the conditions in hospitals for the
insane. He protests his innocence. In jail he feels like Christ among
his tormentors. His wife has conspired against him. The woman who owns
the hotel where he was employed wishes to put him out of the way. The
most fiendish methods are resorted to in order to end his life. "Some
one" blocked up the stovepipe, etc., etc.

Another illustration of a typical case is given by Doctor Brill. I quote
scattered passages from the published notes on the case record of the
patient, "E. R."

He graduated in 1898 and then took up schoolteaching.... He did
not seem to get along well with his principal and other
teachers.... He imagined that the principal and other teachers
were trying to work up a "badger game" on him, to the effect
that he had some immoral relations with his girl pupils....

In 1903 he married, after a brief courtship, and soon thereafter
took a strong dislike to his brother-in-law and sister and
accused them of immorality.... He also accused his wife of
illicit relations with his brother and his brother-in-law, Mr. S.

Mr. S., his brother-in-law, was the arch conspirator against
him. He also (while in the hospital) imagined that some women
made signs to him and were in the hospital for the purpose of
liberating him. Whenever he heard anybody talking he immediately
referred it to himself. He interpreted every movement and
expression as having some special meaning for himself....

Now and then (after his first release by order of the court) he
would send mysterious letters to different persons in New York
City. At that time one of his delusions was that he was a great
statesman and that the United States government had appointed
him ambassador (to Canada), but that the "gang" in New York City
had some one without ability to impersonate him so that he lost
his appointment. (Later, while confined to the hospital again)
he thought that the daughter of the President of the United
States came to visit him....

After the patient was recommitted to Bellevue Hospital, he told
me that I (Doctor Brill) was one of the "gang." I was no longer
his wife in disguise (as he has previously imagined) but his

Brill's discussion of this case contains an interesting analysis of the
several stages of "regression" and the unconscious mechanisms which
characterize paranoia. He holds that such cases show a "fixation" in an
earlier stage of psychosexual development. The patient, an unconscious
homosexual, is really in love with himself. The resulting inner conflict
appears, with its defense formations, as the delusion of grandeur and as
conscious hatred for the person or persons who happen to be the object
of the patient's homosexual wish fancy. However this may be, the point
of interest for our study is the "projection" of this hatred to others.
Says Brill:

The sentence, "I rather hate him" becomes transformed through
projection into the sentence, "he hates (persecutes) me, which
justifies my hating him."

The paranoiac's delusional system inevitably brings him in conflict with
his environment, but his feeling of being persecuted is less the result
of this conflict with an external situation than of his own inner
conflict. He convinces himself that it is the other, or others, not he,
who is the author of this hatred. He is the innocent victim of their

This phenomenon of "projection and displacement" has received
considerable attention in analytical psychology. Freud, in the book,
Totem and Taboo, shows the role which projection plays in the
primitive man's fear of demons. The demons are of course the spirits of
the dead. But how comes it that primitive people fear these spirits, and
attribute to them every sort of evil design against the living? To quote

When a wife loses her husband, or a daughter her mother, it not
infrequently happens that the survivor is afflicted with
tormenting scruples, called "obsessive reproaches," which raise
the question whether she herself has not been guilty, through
carelessness or neglect, of the death of the beloved person. No
recalling of the care with which she nursed the invalid, or
direct refutation of the asserted guilt, can put an end to the
torture, which is the pathological expression of mourning and
which in time slowly subsides. Psychoanalytic investigation of
such cases has made us acquainted with the secret mainspring of
this affliction. We have ascertained that these obsessive
reproaches are in a certain sense justified.... Not that the
mourner has really been guilty of the death or that she has
really been careless, as the obsessive reproach asserts; but
still there was something in her, a wish of which she was
unaware, which was not displeased with the fact that death came,
and which would have brought it about sooner had it been strong
enough. The reproach now reacts against this unconscious wish
after the death of the beloved person. Such hostility, hidden in
the unconscious behind tender love, exists in almost all cases
of intensive emotional allegiance to a particular person;
indeed, it represents the classic case, the prototype of the
ambivalence of human emotions....

By assuming a similar high degree of ambivalence in the
emotional life of primitive races such as psychoanalysis
ascribes to persons suffering from compulsion neurosis, it
becomes comprehensible that the same kind of reaction against
the hostility latent in the unconscious behind the obsessive
reproaches of the neurotic should also be necessary here after
the painful loss has occurred. But this hostility, which is
painfully felt in the unconscious in the form of satisfaction
with the demise, experiences a different fate in the case of
primitive man: the defense against it is accomplished by a
displacement upon the object of hostility--namely, the dead. We
call this defense process, frequent in both normal and diseased
psychic life, a "projection."... Thus we find that taboo has
grown out of the soil of an ambivalent emotional attitude. The
taboo of the dead also originates from the opposition between
conscious grief and the unconscious satisfaction at death. If
this is the origin of the resentment of spirits, it is
self-evident that the nearest and formerly most beloved
survivors have to feel it most. As in neurotic symptoms, the
taboo regulations evince opposite feelings. Their restrictive
character expresses mourning, while they also betray very
clearly what they are trying to conceal--namely, the hostility
toward the dead which is now motivated as self-defense....

The double feeling--tenderness and hostility--against the
deceased, which we consider well-founded, endeavors to assert
itself at the time of bereavement as mourning and satisfaction.
A conflict must ensue between these contrary feelings, and as
one of them--namely, the hostility, is altogether, or for the
greater part, unconscious, the conflict cannot result in a
conscious difference in the form of hostility or tenderness, as,
for instance, when we forgive an injury inflicted upon us by
some one we love. The process usually adjusts itself through a
special psychic mechanism which is designated in psychoanalysis
as "projection." This unknown hostility, of which we are
ignorant and of which we do not wish to know, is projected from
our inner perception into the outer world and is thereby
detached from our own person and attributed to another. Not we,
the survivors, rejoice because we are rid of the deceased, on
the contrary we mourn for him; but now, curiously enough, he has
become an evil demon who would rejoice in our misfortune and who
seeks our death. The survivors must now defend themselves
against this evil enemy; they are freed from inner oppression,
but they have only succeeded in exchanging it for an affliction
from without.

Totem, taboo, demon worship, etc., are clearly primitive
crowd-phenomena. Freud's main argument in this book consists in showing
the likeness between these phenomena and the compulsion neurosis. The
projection of unconscious hostility upon demons is by no means the only
sort of which crowds both primitive and modern are capable. Neither must
the hostility always be unconscious. Projection is a common device
whereby even normal and isolated individuals justify themselves in
hating. Most of us love to think evil of our enemies and opponents. Just
as two fighting schoolboys will each declare that the other "began it,"
so our dislike of people often first appears to our consciousness as a
conviction that they dislike or entertain unfriendly designs upon us.
There is a common type of female neurotic whose repressed erotic wishes
appear in the form of repeated accusations that various of her men
acquaintances are guilty of making improper advances to her. When the
"white slavery" reform movement swept over the country--an awakening of
the public conscience which would have accomplished a more unmixed good
if it had not been taken up in the usual crowd-spirit--it was
interesting to watch the newspapers and sensational propagandist
speakers as they deliberately encouraged these pathological phenomena in
young people. The close psychological relation between the neurosis and
the crowd-mind is shown by the fact that the two so frequently appear at
the same moment, play so easily into each other's hands, and are
apparently reactions to the very same social situation.

In Brill's example of paranoia, it will be remembered that the patient's
delusions of persecution took the form of such statements as that the
"gang" had intrigued at Washington to prevent his appointment as
ambassador, that certain of his relatives were in a "conspiracy against
him." How commonly such phrases and ideas occur in crowd-oratory and in
the crowd-newspaper is well known to all. We have already seen that the
crowd in most cases identifies itself with "the people," "humanity,"
"society," etc. Listen to the crowd-orator and you will also learn that
there are all sorts of abominable "conspiracies" against "the people."
"The nation is full of traitors." The Church is being "undermined by
cunning heretics." "The Bolshevists are in secret league with the
Germans to destroy civilization." "Socialists are planning to corrupt
the morals of our youth and undermine the sacredness of the home." "The
politicians' gang intends to loot the community." "Wall Street is
conspiring to rob the people of their liberties." "England plans to
reduce America to a British colony again." "Japan is getting ready to
make war on us." "German merchants are conducting a secret propaganda
intending to steal our trade and pauperize our nation." "The Catholics
are about to seize power and deliver us over to another Inquisition."
"The liquor interests want only to make drunkards of our sons and
prostitutes of our daughters." And so on and so forth, wherever any
crowd can get a hearing for its propaganda. Always the public welfare is
at stake; society is threatened. The "wrongs" inflicted upon an innocent
humanity are rehearsed. Bandages are taken off every social wound.
Every scar, be it as old as Cromwell's mistreatment of Ireland, is
inflamed. "The people are being deceived," "kept down," "betrayed." They
must rise and throw off their exploiters, or they must purge the nation
of disloyalty and "anarchy."

It cannot be denied that our present social order is characterized by
deep and fundamental social injustices, nor that bitter struggles
between the various groups in society are inevitable. But the crowd
forever ignores its own share in the responsibility for human ills, and
each crowd persists in making a caricature of its enemies, real and
imagined, nourishing itself in a delusion of persecution which is like
nothing so much as the characteristic obsessions of the paranoiac. This
suspiciousness, this habit of misrepresentation and exaggeration of
every conceivable wrong, is not only a great hindrance to the
conflicting groups in adjusting their differences, it makes impossible,
by misrepresenting the real issue at stake, any effective struggle for
ideals. As the history of all crowd movements bears witness, the real
source of conflict is forgotten, the issue becomes confused with the
spectacular, the unimportant, and imaginary. Energy is wasted on side
issues, and the settlement finally reached, even by a clearly victorious
crowd, is seldom that of the original matter in dispute. In fact, it is
not at all the function of these crowd-ideas of self-pity and
persecution to deal with real external situations. These ideas are
propaganda. Their function is to keep the crowd together, to make
converts, to serve as a defense for the egoism of the crowd-man, to
justify the anticipated tyranny which it is the unconscious desire of
the individual to exercise in the moment of victory for his crowd, and,
as "they who are not for us are against us," to project the crowd-man's
hatred upon the intended victims of his crowd's will to universal
dominion. In other words, these propaganda ideas serve much the same end
as do the similar delusions of persecution in paranoia.

This likeness between the propaganda of the crowd and the delusions of
paranoia is illustrated daily in our newspapers. The following items cut
from the New York Tribune are typical. The first needs no further
discussion, as it parallels the cases given above. The second is from
the published proceedings of "a committee," appointed, as I remember it,
by the assembly of the state of New York, to conduct an investigation
into certain alleged seditious and anarchist activities. These articles
well illustrate the character of the propaganda to which such a
committee almost inevitably lends itself. Whether the committee or the
newspapers were chiefly responsible for such fabrications, I do not
know, but the crowd character of much of the attempt to stamp out
Bolshevism is strikingly revealed in this instance. No doubt the members
of this committee, as well as the detectives and the press agents who
are associated with them, are as honestly convinced that a mysterious
gang of radicals is planning to murder us all as is the paranoiac W. H.
M. fixed in his delusion that his enemies are trying to asphyxiate him.
It will be remembered that Brill's patient "E. S." interpreted "every
movement and expression as having some special meaning for himself."
This kind of "interpretation" has a curious logic all its own. It is
what I would call "compulsive thinking," and is characteristic of both
the delusions of paranoia and the rumors of the crowd.

First clipping:


W. H. M. declares rivals are attempting to asphyxiate him. W. H.
M., an inventor, was declared mentally incompetent yesterday by
a jury in the Sheriff's court.... Alienists said M. had
hallucinations about enemies who he thinks are trying to
asphyxiate him. He also imagines that he is under hypnotic
influences and that persons are trying to affect his body with
"electrical influences."

Second clipping:


Several hundred men, formerly in United States Service, signify
willingness to aid in project. A "Red Guard" composed of men who
have served in the American military establishment is
contemplated in the elaborate revolutionary plans of Bolshevik
leaders here. This was learned yesterday when operatives of the
Lusk committee discovered that the radicals were making every
effort to enlist the aid of the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines
Protective Association in carrying out a plot to overthrow the
government by force. As far as the detectives have been able to
ascertain, the great mass of fighting men are not in sympathy
with the Reds, but several hundred have signified their
willingness to co-operate.

Just how far the plans of the Reds have progressed was not
revealed. It is known, however, that at a convention of the Left
Wing Socialists in Buffalo the movement designed to enlist the
support of the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Protective
Association was launched. This convention was addressed by
prominent Left Wingers from Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
Pittsburgh, and Paterson. They asserted that trained military
men must be obtained for the organization if the plans were to
be successful.

It was from this meeting, which was held in secret, that
agitators were sent to various parts of the state to form
soviets in the shops and factories. This phase of the radical
activity, according to the investigators, has met with
considerable success in some large factory districts where most
of the workers are foreign-born. In some places the soviets in
the shops have become so strong that the employers are alarmed
and have notified the authorities of the menace. When sufficient
evidence has been gathered, foreign-born agitators working to
cause unrest in factories will be apprehended and recommended
for deportation.

Later report:


Alfred Levitt, secretary of the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines
Protective Association, yesterday emphatically denied that the
organization was to be used as a "Red Guard" by the radicals
when they started their contemplated revolution. He said he
never had heard any of the members of the association discuss
the formation of a "Red Guard" but admitted that many of them
were radicals.

In the two instances given above, fear, suspicion, hatred, give rise in
one case to a delusional system in the mind of an isolated individual,
and in the other to the circulation of an unfounded rumor by men who in
their right minds would, to say the least, carefully scrutinize the
evidence for such a story before permitting it to be published. As
several months have passed since the publication of this story and
nothing more has appeared which would involve our returned service men
in any such treasonable conspiracy, I think it is safe to say that this
story, like many others circulated by radicals as well as by
reactionaries during the unsettled months following the war, has its
origin in the unconscious mechanisms of crowd-minded people. Every sort
of crowd is prone to give credence to rumors of this nature, and to
accuse all those who can not at once give uncritical acceptance to such
tales of sympathy with the enemy. Later we shall have something to say
about the delusional systems which appear to be common to the crowd-mind
and the paranoiac. In this connection I am interested in pointing out
only the psychological relation between what I might call the
"conspiracy delusion" and unconscious hatred. Commonly the former is the
"projection" of the latter.

One of the differences between these two forms of "projection" is the
fact that the hatred of the crowd is commonly less "rationalized" than
in paranoia--that is, less successfully disguised. Like the paranoiac,
every crowd is potentially if not actually homicidal in its tendencies.
But whereas with the paranoiac the murderous hostility remains for the
greater part an unconscious "wish fancy," and it is the mechanisms which
disguise it or serve as a defense against it which appear to
consciousness, with the crowd the murder-wish will itself appear to
consciousness whenever the unconscious can fabricate such defense
mechanisms as will provide it with a fiction of moral justification.
Consequently, it is this fiction of justification which the crowd-man
must defend.

The crowd's delusion of persecution, conspiracy, or oppression is thus a
defense mechanism of this nature. The projection of this hatred on those
outside the crowd serves not so much, as in paranoia, to shield the
subject from the consciousness of his own hatred, as to provide him with
a pretext for exercising it. Given such a pretext, most crowds will
display their homicidal tendencies quite openly.

Ordinary mobs or riots would seem to need very little justification of
this sort. But even these directly homicidal crowds invariably represent
themselves as motivated by moral idealism and righteous indignation.
Negroes are lynched in order to protect the white womanhood of the
South, also because, once accused, the negro happens to be helpless. If
the colored people were in the ascendancy and the whites helpless we
should doubtless see the reverse of this situation. A community
rationally convinced of the culprit's guilt could well afford to trust
the safety of womanhood to the justice meted out by the courts, but it
is obvious that these "moral" crowds are less interested in seeing that
justice is done than in running no risk of losing their victim, once he
is in their power. A recent development of this spirit is the lynching
in a Southern town of a juror who voted for the acquittal of a black man
accused of a crime.

It may be taken as a general law of crowd-psychology that the
"morality" of the crowd always demands a victim. Is it likely that one
of these mobs would "call off" an interesting lynching party if at the
last minute it were demonstrated that the accused was innocent? The
practice of lynching has been extended, from those cases where the
offense with which the accused is charged is so revolting as justly to
arouse extreme indignation, to offenses which are so trivial that they
merely serve as a pretext for torture and killing.

The homicidal tendencies of the crowd-mind always reveal themselves the
minute the crowd becomes sufficiently developed and powerful to relax

be seen in the rioting between the white and the colored
races--epidemics of killing--such as occurred recently in East St.
Louis, and in the cities of Washington, Chicago, and Omaha. The same
thing is evident in the "pogroms" of Russia and Poland, in the acts of
revolutionary mobs of Germany and Russia, in the promptness with which
the Turks took advantage of the situation created by the war to
slaughter the Armenians. This hatred is the specter which forever haunts
the conflict between labor and capital. It is what speedily transformed
the French Revolution from the dawn of an era of "Fraternity" to a day
of terror and intimidation. It is seen again in the curious interest
which the public always has in a sensational murder trial. It is evident
in the hostility, open or suppressed, with which any community regards
the strange, the foreign, the "outlandish"--an example of which is the
frequent bullying and insulting of immigrants in this country since the
war. Much of the "Americanization propaganda" which we have carried on
since the war unfortunately gave the typical crowd-man his opportunity.
One need only listen to the speeches or read the publications of certain
"patriotic" societies to learn why it was that the exhortation to our
foreign neighbors to be loyal did so much more harm than good.

The classic example of the killing crowd is, of course, a nation at war.
There are, to be sure, wars of national self-defense which are due to
political necessity rather than to crowd-thinking, but even in such
cases the phenomena of the crowd are likely to appear to the detriment
of the cause. At such times not only the army but the whole nation
becomes a homicidal crowd. The army, at least while the soldiers are in
service, probably shows the crowd-spirit in a less degree than does the
civilian population. The mental processes of an entire people are
transformed. Every interest--profit-seeking excepted--is subordinated
to the one passion to crush the enemy. The moment when war is declared
is usually hailed with tremendous popular enthusiasm and joy. There is a
general lifting of spirits. There is a sense of release, a nation-wide
exultation, a sigh of relief as we feel the deadening hand of social
control taken from our throats. The homicidal wish-fancy, which in peace
times and in less sovereign crowds exists only as an hypothesis, can now
become a reality. And though it is doubtful if more than one person in a
million can ever give a rational account of just what issue is really at
stake in any war, the conviction is practically unanimous that an
occasion has been found which justifies, even demands, the release of
all the repressed hostility in our natures. The fact that in war time
this crowd hostility may, under certain circumstances, really have
survival value and be both beneficial and necessary to the nation, is to
my mind not a justification of crowd-making. It is rather a revelation
of the need of a more competent leadership in world politics.

Unconsciously every national crowd, I mean the crowd-minded element in
the nation, carries a chip on its shoulder, and swaggers and challenges
its neighbors like a young town-bully on his way home from grammar
school. This swaggering, which is here the "compulsive manifestation" of
unconscious hostility characteristic of every crowd, appears to
consciousness as "national honor." To the consciousness of the
nation-crowd the quarrel for which it has been spoiling for a long time
always appears to have been "forced upon it." Some nations are much more
quarrelsome than others. I cannot believe that our conviction that
Imperial Germany was the aggressor in the great war is due merely to
patriotic conceit on our part. The difference between our national
spirit and that of Imperial Prussia is obvious, but the difference in
this respect, great as it is, is one of degree rather than of kind, and
is due largely to the fact that the political organization of Germany
permitted the Prussian patriots to hold the national mind in a permanent
crowd state to a degree which is even now hardly possible in this
republic. My point is that a nation becomes warlike to precisely the
extent that its people may be made to think and behave as a crowd. Once
a crowd, it is always "in the right" however aggressive and ruthless its
behavior; every act or proposal which is calculated to involve the
nation-crowd in a controversy, which gains some advantage over
neighboring peoples, or intensifies hatred once it is released, is
wildly applauded. Any dissent from the opinions of our particular party
or group is trampled down. He who fails at such a time to be a
crowd-man and our own sort of a crowd-man is a "slacker." Everyone's
patriotism is put under suspicion, political heresy-hunting is the rule,
any personal advantage which can be gained by denouncing as "enemy
sympathizers" rival persons or groups within the nation is sure to be
snatched up by some one. The crowd-mind, even in times of peace,
distorts patriotism so that it is little more than a compulsive
expression and justification of repressed hostility. In war the crowd
succeeds in giving rein to this hostility by first projecting it upon
the enemy.

Freud in his little book, War and Death, regards war as a temporary
"regression" in which primitive impulses which are repressed by
civilization, but not eradicated, find their escape. He argues that most
people live psychologically "beyond their means." Hence war could be
regarded, I suppose, as a sort of "spiritual liquidation." But if the
hostility which the war crowd permits to escape is simply a repressed
impulse to cruelty, we should be obliged to explain a large part of
crowd-behavior as "sadistic." This may be the case with crowds of a
certain type, lynching mobs, for instance. But as the homicidal
tendencies of paranoia are not commonly explained as sadism, I can see
no reason why those of the crowd should be. Sadism is a return to an
infantile sex perversion, and in its direct overt forms the resulting
conflicts are conscious and are between the subject and environment. It
is where a tendency unacceptable to consciousness is repressed--and
inadequately--that neurotic conflict ensues. This conflict being inner,
develops certain mechanisms for the defense of the ego-feeling which is
injured. The hatred of the paranoiac is really a defense for his own
injured self-feeling. As the crowd always shows an exaggerated
ego-feeling similar to the paranoiac's delusion of grandeur, and as in
cases of paranoia this inner conflict is always "projected" in the form
of delusions of persecution, may we not hold that the characteristic
hostility of the crowd is also in some way a device for protecting this
inflated self-appreciation from injury? The forms which this hatred
takes certainly have all the appearance of being "compulsive" ideas and

We have been discussing crowds in which hostility is present in the form
of overt destructive and homicidal acts or other unmistakable
expressions of hatred. But are there not also peaceable crowds, crowds
devoted to religious and moral propaganda, idealist crowds? Yes, all
crowds moralize, all crowds are also idealistic. But the moral
enthusiasm of the crowd always demands a victim. The idealist crowd also
always makes idols of its ideals and worships them with human
sacrifice. The peaceable crowd is only potentially homicidal. The
death-wish exists as a fancy only, or is expressed in symbols so as to
be more or less unrecognizable to ordinary consciousness. I believe that
every crowd is "against some one." Almost any crowd will persecute
on occasion--if sufficiently powerful and directly challenged. The crowd
tends ever to carry its ideas to their deadly logical conclusion.

I have already referred to the crowd's interest in games and athletic
events as an innocent symbolization of conflict. How easy it is to
change this friendly rivalry into sudden riot--its real meaning--every
umpire of baseball and football games knows. As an illustration of my
point--namely, that the enthusiasm aroused by athletic contests is the
suppressed hostility of the crowd, I give the following. In this letter
to a New York newspaper, the writer, a loyal "fan," reveals the same
mentality that we find in the sectarian fanatic, or good party man,
whose "principles" have been challenged. The challenge seems in all such
cases to bring the hostility into consciousness as "righteous

To the Editor:

SIR,--The article under the caption "Giants' Chances for Flag to
be Settled in Week," on the sporting page of the Tribune, is
doubtless intended to be humorous.

The section referring to the Cincinnati baseball public is
somewhat overdrawn, to say the least, and does not leave a very
favorable impression on the average Cincinnatian, such as
myself. I have been a reader of your paper for some time, but if
this sort of thing continues I shall feel very much like

W. L. D.

The extremes to which partisan hatred and jealousy can lead even members
of the United States Senate, the intolerance and sectarian spirit which
frequently characterize crowds, the "bigotry" of reformist crowds, are
matters known to us all. Does anyone doubt that certain members of the
Society for the Prevention of Vice, or of the Prohibitionists, would
persecute if they had power? Have not pacifist mass meetings been known
to break up in a row? The Christian religion is fundamentally a religion
of love, but the Church has seldom been wholly free from the
crowd-spirit, and the Church crowd will persecute as quickly as any
other. In each period of its history when Christian believers have been
organized as dominant crowds the Church has resorted to the severest
forms of persecution. Popular religion always demands some kind of devil
to stand as the permanent object of the believer's hostility. Let an
editor, or lecturer, or clergyman anywhere attack some one, and he at
once gains following and popularity. Evangelists and political orators
are always able to "get" their crowd by resorting to abuse of some one.
Let any mass meeting become a crowd, and this note of hostility
inevitably appears.

Notice the inscriptions which commonly appear on the banners carried in
political or labor parades. On the day after the armistice was signed
with Germany, when the most joyous and spontaneous crowds I have ever
seen filled the streets of New York, I was greatly impressed with those
homemade banners. Though it was the occasion of the most significant and
hard-won victory in human history, there was hardly a reference to the
fact. Though it was the glad moment of peace for which all had longed, I
did not see ten banners bearing the word "Peace," even in the hands of
the element in the city who were known to be almost unpatriotically
pacifist. But within less than an hour I counted on Fifth Avenue more
than a hundred banners bearing the inscription, "To Hell with the

That the man chiefly responsible for the horrors of the war should be
the object of universal loathing is only to be expected, but the
significant fact is that of all the sentiments which swept into people's
minds on that occasion, this and this alone should have been immediately
seized upon when the crowd spirit began to appear. I doubt if at the
time there was a very clear sense of the enormity of Wilhelm's guilt in
the minds of those laughing people. The Kaiser was hardly more than a
symbol. The antagonist, whoever he be, was "fallen down to hell," our
own sense of triumph was magnified by the depth of his fall. Just so the
Hebrew Prophet cried "Babylon is fallen," so the early Christians
pictured Satan cast into the bottomless pit, so the Jacobins cried "A
bas les Aristocrats," our own Revolutionary crowds cried "Down with
George III," and the Union soldiers sang, "Hang Jeff Davis on a Sour
Apple Tree." I repeat that wherever the crowd-mind appears, it will
always be found to be "against" some one.

An interesting fact about the hostility of a crowd is its ability on
occasion to survive the loss of its object. It may reveal the phenomenon
which psychologists call "displacement." That is to say, another object
may be substituted for the original one without greatly changing the
quality of the feeling. A mob in the street, driven back from the object
of its attack, will loot a store or two before it disperses. Or, bent on
lynching a certain negro, it may even substitute an innocent man, if
robbed of its intended victim--as, for instance, the lynching of the
mayor of Omaha. Such facts would seem to show that these hostile acts
are really demanded by mechanisms within the psyche. Many symbolic acts
of the person afflicted with compulsion neurosis show this same trait
of substitution. If inhibited in the exercise of one mechanism of
escape, the repressed wish will substitute another. Also anyone
associated by the unconscious reasoning with the hated object, or anyone
who tries to defend him or prove him innocent, may suffer from this
crowd's hatred. Freud has analyzed this phenomenon in his study of
taboo. He who touches the tabooed object himself becomes taboo.

I have said that the hostility of the crowd is a sort of "defense
mechanism." That this is so in certain cases, I think can be easily
demonstrated. The following news item is an example of the manner in
which such hostility may serve as a "defense mechanism" compensating the
self-feeling for certain losses and serving to enhance the feeling of



WASHINGTON, July 23.--A bitter partisan quarrel developed in
the House today when Representative ----, of Minnesota, attacked
Secretary Baker and the President for the government's policy
toward conscientious objectors. The attack was the result of
protests by the Marines Fathers' Association of Minneapolis,
Minnesota, representing between 500 and 600 young marines now in
France, all from the Minneapolis high schools and the University
of Minnesota, and many in the famous 6th Regiment of Marines
that took a big part in stopping the Germans at Chateau Thierry.

Upon learning of the treatment accorded conscientious objectors
in this country while their sons were dying in France, the
association asked Representative ---- to fix the responsibility
for the government's policy. Representative ---- fixed it today
as that of Secretary Baker and President Wilson, charging that
they extended the definition of those to be exempted from
military service laid down by Congress in an act of May 17,

"One variety of conscientious objector was not enough for Mr.
Baker," declared Representative ----. "He had 57 kinds...."

Representative ----, of Arizona, defended Secretary Baker,
asserting that of 20,000 men who were certified as conscientious
objectors, 16,000 ultimately went to war. The case of Sergt.
Alvin C. York, the Tennessee hero, who had conscientious
objections at first, but soon changed his mind, was cited in
defense of the War Department's policy.

Let us pass over the obviously partisan element in this Congressional
debate--a crowd phenomenon in itself, by the way--and consider the
mental state of this Fathers' Association.

In spite of the fact that the treatment of those who refused military
service in this country was so much more severe than the manner with
which the British government is reported to have dealt with this class
of persons, that many people, including the Secretary of War, whose
loyalty except to partisan minds was above suspicion, sought in the name
of humanity to alleviate some of the conditions in our military prisons,
it was not severe enough to satisfy these "fathers." It is doubtful if
anything short of an auto da fe would have met their approval. Now no
one believes that these simple farmers from the Northwest are such
sadists at heart that they enjoy cruelty for its own sake. I imagine
that the processes at work here are somewhat as follows:

The telltale phrase here is that these farmers' sons "were dying in
France." Patriotic motives rightly demanded that fathers yield their
sons to the hardship and danger of battle, and while the sacrifice was
made consciously, with willingness and even with pride in having done
their painful duty, it was not accomplished without struggle--the
unconscious resisted it. It could not be reconciled to so great a
demand. In other words, these fathers, and probably many of their sons
also, were unconsciously "conscientious objectors." Unconsciously they
longed to evade this painful duty, but these longings were put aside,
"repressed" as shameful and cowardly--that is, as unacceptable to
conscious self-feeling. It was necessary to defend the ego against
these longings. Compensation was demanded and found in the nation-wide
recognition of the value of this patriotic sacrifice. Expressions of
patriotic sentiment on the part of others, therefore, compensated the
individual and enhanced his self-feeling.

Successful refusal anywhere to recognize the duty which consciously
motivated this sacrifice strengthened the unconscious desire to evade
it. The unconscious reasoning was something like this: "If those men got
out of this thing, why should not we? Since we had to bear this loss,
they must also. We have suffered for duty's sake. By making them suffer
also, they will be forced to recognize this 'duty' with which we defend
ourselves against our sense of loss and desire to escape it." As a
witness to the values against which the ego of these fathers has to
struggle, the existence of the conscientious objector, in a less degree
of suffering than their own, is as intolerable as their own "shameful
and cowardly" unconscious longings. Hostility to the conscientious
objector is thus a "projection" of their own inner conflict. By becoming
a crowd, the members of this "Fathers' Association" make it mutually
possible to represent their hostility to conscientious objectors as
something highly patriotic. Secretary Baker's alleged leniency to these
hated persons is now not only an affront to these fathers, it is an
affront to the entire nation.

Another and somewhat different example of the function of hatred in the
service of the self-feeling is the following item, which throws some
light on the motives of the race riots in Washington. This is, of
course, a defense of but one of the crowds involved, but it is
interesting psychologically.


Dr. W. F. B. DuBois, of 70 Fifth Avenue, editor of The Crisis,
a magazine published in connection with the work of the National
Association for the Advancement of the Colored People, yesterday
attributed the race riots in Washington to the irritability of
all people and the unsettling of many ideas caused by the war,
to the influx of a large number of Southerners into Washington,
and to the presence in that city of many of the representatives
of the educated, well-dressed class of negroes which white
racial antagonists dislike.

Washington policemen are notoriously unfriendly to the colored
people, he added. Time and time again they stand by and witness
a dispute between a white man and a negro, and when it is over
and the negro has been beaten they arrest the negro, and not the
white man who caused the trouble in the first place.

The colored editor pointed out the similarity between the
present riots in Washington and the Atlanta riots which occurred
about twelve years ago. In both places, he said, white hoodlums
began rioting and killing negroes. When the latter became
aroused and began to retaliate, the authorities stepped in and
the rioting stopped.

Major J. E. Spingarn, acting treasurer of the National
Association for the Advancement of the Colored People, said the
soldiers and sailors who have been taking part in the rioting
in Washington resent the new attitude of self-respect which the
negro has assumed because of the part he played in the war.

"The soldiers," he said, "instead of fighting the negroes
because the latter think better of themselves for having fought
in the war, should respect them for having proved themselves
such good fighters." (The italics are mine.)

It is quite possible that in most communities where such race riots
occur certain members of the colored race are responsible to the extent
that they have made themselves conspicuously offensive to their white

But such individual cases, even where they exist, do not justify attacks
upon hundreds of innocent people. And it must be said that in general
the kind of people whose feelings of personal superiority can find no
other social support than the mere fact that they happen to belong to
the white race--and I think it will be found that the mobs who attack
negroes are uniformly made of people who belong to this
element--naturally find their self-feeling injured "if a nigger puts on
airs." Their fiction is challenged; to accept the challenge would force
upon the consciousness of such people a correct estimate of their own
worth. Such an idea is unacceptable to consciousness. The presumptuous
negroes who serve as such unpleasant reminders "must be put in their
proper place"--that is, so completely under the feet of the white
element in the community that the mere fact of being a white man may
serve as a defense mechanism for just those members of our noble race
who approach more closely to the social position of the colored element
in our midst.

As the moral standards of the community will not permit even this
element of the white race to play the hoodlum with self-approval, some
disguise or "displacement" for this motive must be found whereby the
acts to which it prompts may appear to the consciousness of their
perpetrators as justifiable. A misdeed is committed by a black man;
instantly this element of the white race becomes a crowd. The deed
provides the whites with just the pretext they want. They may now
justify themselves and one another in an assault on the whole colored
community. Here I believe we have the explanation of much that is called
"race prejudice." The hatred between the races, like all crowd-hatred,
is a "defense mechanism" designed to protect the ego in its conflict
with ideas unacceptable to consciousness.

The intensest hatred of the crowd is that directed toward the heretic,
the nonconformist, the "traitor." I have sometimes thought that to the
crowd-mind there is only one sin, heresy. Every sort of crowd,
political, religious, moral, has an ax ready for the person who in
renouncing its ideas and leaving it threatens to break it up. The bitter
partisan hatred of crowds is nothing compared to their hatred for the
renegade. To the crowd of true believers, the heretic or schismatic is
"worse than the infidel." The moral crowd will "bear with" the worst
roue if only he strives to keep up appearances, has a guilty
conscience, asks forgiveness, and professes firm belief in the
conventions against which he offends; one may be forgiven his inability
to "live up to his principles" if only his professed principles are the
same as the crowd's. But let a Nietzsche, though his life be that of an
ascetic, openly challenge and repudiate the values of popular morality,
and his name is anathema.

As an example of the hatred of the political crowd for one who, having
once put his hand to the plow and turned back, henceforth is no longer
fit for the "kingdom," I quote the following from an ultraradical paper.
It is hard to believe that this passage was written by a man who, in his
right mind, is really intelligent and kind-hearted, but such is the

AN EXPLANATION.--Owing to a failure of editorial supervision we
published an advertisement of John Spargo's book on Bolshevism.
We have returned the money we received for it, and canceled the
contract for its future appearances. We do not pretend to
protect our readers against patent-medicine swindlers,
real-estate sharpers, canned goods prevaricators, ptomaine
poisoners, fairy bond-sellers, picaroon nickel-pickers, subway
ticket speculators, postage-stamp forgers, pie and pancake
counterfeiters, plagiary burglars, lecherous pornographers, and
pictorial back-porch climbers, plundering buccaneer blackmailers
and defaulting matrimonial agents, journalistic poachers,
foragers, pickpockets, thimbleriggers, lick-sauce publicity men,
notoriety hunters, typographical body-snatchers, blackletter
assassins, and promulgators of licentious meters in free verse.
Against these natural phenomena we offer no guarantee to our
readers, but we never intended to advertise John Spargo's book
on Bolshevism.

Here again, it seems, the reason for hatred is "self-defense." One
important difference between the crowd-mind and the psychosis is the
fact that while the psychic mechanisms of the latter serve to disguise
the inadequately repressed wish, those of the crowd-mind permit the
escape of the repressed impulse by relaxing the force which demands the
repression--namely, the immediate social environment. This relaxation is
accomplished by a general fixation of attention which changes for those
who share it the moral significance of the social demand. The repressed
wish then appears to consciousness in a form which meets with the mutual
approval of the individuals so affected. Or, as I have said, the social
environment, instead of acting as a check upon the realization of the
wish-fancy, slips along in the same direction with it. Hence the will to
believe the same, so characteristic of every crowd. As soon as this
mutuality is broken the habitual criteria of the real again become
operative. Every individual who "comes to" weakens the hold of the
crowd-ideas upon all the others to just the extent that his word must be
taken into account. The crowd resorts to all sorts of devices to bind
its members together permanently in a common faith. It resists
disintegration as the worst conceivable evil. Disintegration means that
crowd-men must lose their pet fiction--which is to say, their "faith."
The whole system elaborated by the unconscious fails to function; its
value for compensation, defense, or justification vanishes as in waking
out of a dream.

Strong spirits can stand this disillusionment. They have the power to
create new, more workable ideals. They become capable of self-analysis.
They learn to be legislators of value and to revise their beliefs for
themselves. Their faiths become not refuges, but instruments for meeting
and mastering the facts of experience and giving them meaning. The
strong are capable of making their lives spiritual adventures in a real
world. The "truths" of such persons are not compulsive ideas, they are
working hypotheses which they are ready, as occasion may demand, to
verify at great personal risk, or to discard when proved false. Such
persons sustain themselves in their sense of personal worth less by
defense mechanisms than by the effort of will which they can make.

As William James said:

If the searching of our heart and reins be the purpose of this
human drama, then what is sought seems to be what effort we can
make. He who can make none is but a shadow; he who can make much
is a hero. The huge world that girdles us about puts all sorts
of questions to us, and tests us in all sorts of ways. Some of
the tests we meet by actions that are easy, and some of the
questions we answer in articulately formulated words. But the
deepest question that is ever asked admits of no reply but the
dumb turning of the will and tightening of our heartstrings as
we say, "Yes, I will even have it so!" When a dreadful object is
presented, or when life as a whole turns up its dark abysses to
our view, then the worthless ones among us lose their hold on
the situation altogether, and either escape from its
difficulties by averting their attention, or, if they cannot do
that, collapse into yielding masses of plaintiveness and fear.
The effort required for facing and consenting to such objects is
beyond their power to make. But the heroic mind does
differently. To it, too, the objects are sinister and dreadful,
unwelcome, incompatible with wished-for things. But it can face
them if necessary without losing its hold upon the rest of life.
The world thus finds in the heroic man its worthy match and
mate.... He can stand this Universe.

Indeed the path for all who would make of living a reality rather than
an imitation leads along what James used to call "the perilous edge."
Every personal history that is a history, and not a mere fiction,
contains in it something unique, a fraction for which there is no common
denominator. It requires just that effort of attention to concrete
reality and the fact of self which in the crowd we always seek to escape
by diverting attention to congenial abstractions and ready-made
universals. We "find ourselves" only as we "get over" one after another
of our crowd-compulsions, until finally we are strong enough, as Ibsen
would say, "to stand alone."

Timid spirits seldom voluntarily succeed in getting closer to reality
than the "philosophy of 'as if'" which characterizes the thinking both
of the crowd and the psychoneurosis. What indeed is the crowd but a
fiction of upholding ourselves by all leaning on one another, an "escape
from difficulties by averting attention," a spiritual safety-first or
"fool-proof" mechanism by which we bear up one another's collapsing
ego-consciousness lest it dash its foot against a stone?

The crowd-man can, when his fiction is challenged, save himself from
spiritual bankruptcy, preserve his defenses, keep his crowd from going
to pieces, only by a demur. Anyone who challenges the crowd's fictions
must be ruled out of court. He must not be permitted to speak. As a
witness to contrary values his testimony must be discounted. The worth
of his evidence must be discredited by belittling the disturbing
witness. "He is a bad man; the crowd must not listen to him." His
motives must be evil; he "is bought up"; he is an immoral character; he
tells lies; he is insincere or he "has not the courage to take a stand"
or "there is nothing new in what he says." Ibsen's "Enemy of the
People," illustrates this point very well. The crowd votes that Doctor
Stockman may not speak about the baths, the real point at issue. Indeed,
the mayor takes the floor and officially announces that the doctor's
statement that the water is bad is "unreliable and exaggerated." Then
the president of the Householder's Association makes an address accusing
the doctor of secretly "aiming at revolution." When finally Doctor
Stockman speaks and tells his fellow citizens the real meaning of their
conduct, and utters a few plain truths about "the compact majority," the
crowd saves its face, not by proving the doctor false, but by howling
him down, voting him an "enemy of the people," and throwing stones
through his windows.

A crowd is like an unsound banking institution. People are induced to
carry their deposits of faith in it, and so long as there is no unusual
withdrawing of accounts the insolvent condition may be covered up. Many
uneasy depositors would like to get their money out if they could do so
secretly, or without incurring the displeasure of the others. Meanwhile
all insist that the bank is perfectly safe and each does all he can to
compel the others to stay in. The thing they all most fear is that some
one will "start a run on the bank," force it to liquidate, and everyone
will lose. So the crowd functions in its way just so long as its members
may be cajoled into an appearance of continued confidence in its ideals
and values. The spiritual capital of each depends on the confidence of
the others. As a consequence they all spend most of their time exhorting
one another to be good crowd-men, fearing and hating no one so much as
the person who dares raise the question whether the crowd could really
meet its obligations.

The classic illustration of the manner in which the crowd is led to
discredit the witness to values contrary to its own, is the oration of
Mark Antony in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." It is by this means alone
that Antony is able to turn the minds of the Roman citizens into the
crowd state. It will be remembered that the address of Brutus, just
before this, while not at all a bit of crowd-oratory, left a favorable
impression. The citizens are convinced that "This Caesar was a tyrant."
When Antony goes up to speak, he thanks them "for Brutus' sake." They
say, "'Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here." He can never make
them his crowd unless he can destroy Brutus' influence. This is
precisely what he proceeds gradually to do.

At first with great courtesy--"The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was
ambitious; if it were so it was a grievous fault ... for Brutus is an
honorable man, so are they all, all honorable men." This sentence is
repeated four times in the first section; Caesar was a good faithful
friend to Antony, "But ... and Brutus is an honorable man." Again Caesar
refused the crown, but "Brutus is an honorable man." Caesar wept when the
poor cried, "sure, Brutus is an honorable man, I speak not to disprove
what he says" but "men have lost their reason" and "my heart is in the
coffin there with Caesar." The citizens are sorry for the weeping Antony;
they listen more intently now. Again--"If I were disposed to stir your
hearts and minds to mutiny and rage"--but that would be to wrong Brutus
and Cassius, "Who you all know are honorable men"--this time said with
more marked irony. Rather than wrong such honorable men, Antony prefers
to "wrong the dead, to wrong myself--and you." That sentence sets Brutus
squarely in opposition to the speaker and his audience. Caesar's will is
mentioned--if only the commons knew what was in it, but Antony will not
read it, "you are not wood, you are not stones, but men." The speaker
now resists their demand to hear the will, he ought not have mentioned
it. He fears he has, after all, wronged "the honorable men whose daggers
have stabbed Caesar." The citizens have caught the note of irony now; the
honorable men are "traitors," "villains," "murderers."

From this point on the speaker's task is easy; they have become a crowd.
They think only of revenge, of killing everyone of the conspirators, and
burning the house of Brutus. Antony has even to remind them of the
existence of the will. The mischief is set afloat the moment Brutus is
successfully discredited.

The development of the thought in this oration is typical. Analysis of
almost any propagandist speech will reveal some, if not all, the steps
by which Brutus is made an object of hatred. The crowd hates in order
that it may believe in itself.

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