Leftist Rage, Conservative Hate

Years ago, when we were very young and contributing promiscuously to the reviews departments of various intellectual publications, a misguided editor sent me a review copy of a leftist rant by an author whose name I have long since banished from memory, while clearly recalling the title.  It was The Dying of the Light—taken, of course, from the Dylan Thomas poem, a stanza of which was chosen to serve as an epigraph: “Go not gently into that dark night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  Lost to memory also is the identity of the Good epitomized for the writer by the Light—the Spirit of Liberalism, I suppose, or the Rights of Man as established in 1789.

What did make a lasting impression is the use in context of the word rage, obviously considered by poet and author alike as a fine, even a noble, thing.  According to the Chinese proverb, “So long as a man is angry he can’t be in the right.”  Rage and hate both are aspects of anger.  They are not, however, equivalent.  “I love a good hater,” said Samuel Johnson.  He meant that hate implies a corresponding love, which responds reactively to its threatened opposite.  For a man to hate, he must first love; and he who loves, inevitably hates.  Hate is a directed thing, focused like a laser beam.  By comparison, rage is undirected, unfocused, generalized, indiscriminate—an...

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