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The limited value of anger

Fred Bauer writes for National Review Online’s blog “The Corner” about the potentially debilitating impact of political anger.

The assumption that anger confers moral force suffuses the contemporary culture war. Elements of both the “alt-right” and the “woke” Left profess a belief in the moral legitimization of wrath. Partisans spend a considerable amount of effort adjudicating who is allowed to feel a given amount of grievance for what, but more energy could be spent exploring the moral limits of rage in the first place.

In a recent New York Times column, the novelist Jennifer Weiner makes a case for anger. …

… On both a personal and a political level, indulgence in anger can be both corrosive and paralyzing. Wrath can blind us to the dignity of other human beings, and a politics of vengeance based on collective guilt can all too often become an incentive for new injustices. At the end of Great Expectations, the adult Estella makes a leap of moral insight beyond the facile psychology of revenge. She turns to her childhood friend Pip, who long had been infatuated with her: “suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.” The greater virtue is in understanding and reconciliation.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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