Thomas Mann once wrote, “Enemies are the necessary concomitant to any robust life.” Tyler Durdan described Generation X as a generation of “slaves in white collars” with “no purpose or place” because “we have no great war.” These are just two ways of re-expressing what some scientist types have come to believe: Much of our significance comes from the existence of our enemies.
The fastest way to unify a nation is to share a common enemy. The most surefire way to grow a blog is to pick a fight with another blogger, an idea, a company, anything. Superman has Lex Luthor. Rush Limbaugh has the left. Bono has poverty. Bush has terror. Hillary has Bush. McDonald’s has Burger King. Driscoll has femininity. Your favorite team has a rival. It seems at times as if everyone we admire, want to be, fall in line behind has an enemy.
Enemies define us, giving us something to be the antithesis of. Enemies encourage us, giving us something lesser to measure ourselves against. Enemies give us significance, providing us an evil we must defeat or else.
A person who doesn’t wake up each day and take aim at commies, capitalists, “coloreds,” racists, nazis, Christians, atheists, fascists, drug dealers, cops, democrats, republicans, corporations, southerners, northerners, the French, urbanites or ruralites is hardly living…some psychologists would say.
We all need an enemy, the theory goes. We’re hardwired for them, to create one even if they’re in short supply. And we’re short-circuited without them.