Two years ago, Şeyda Kurt wrote in her book "Radical Tenderness" that love is political. Her thoughts about intimate togetherness beyond monogamous couple relationships met with great interest, especially among younger readers who began to pass quotes around on Instagram. Subsequently, Kurt feared that he would be remembered as a "little hippie of hearts". Under the title "Hatred – On the Power of a Resistant Feeling", she now wants to set the record straight: Radical tenderness is "not an invitation to be kind to Nazis". Sometimes hatred is a good right, perhaps even a political duty.

Although she admits to feeling uneasy about a supposed pigeonholing in Western philosophy, Kurt traces the Western history of ideas of hatred: since Greek antiquity, hatred has been understood as a desire for harm, as a dangerous affect. The Christian tradition has done the rest, declaring hatred to be an apostate element of resistance to the divine and earthly order. The Western tradition could still gain something from other negative emotions. The outrage, for example, is downright "noble in the face of the injustices of the world", and the anger is accepted as long as it is "tongue-in-cheek, lifestyle feminist and just not too aggressive".

Is it possible to decide on a feeling?

Distancing himself from this, Kurt wants to gain something productive from hatred. It counters the thesis that hatred, no matter who it comes from, is morally reprehensible. In contrast to Carolin Emcke, who wrote in 2016 against the hatred of the right, Kurt focuses on the hatred of those who were and are hated by right-wingers: colonized, black or Jewish people, women and queer people. She writes about the armed resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, about the Kurdish revolutionary Sakine Cansiz and about Luisa Toledo Sepúlveda, who lost three children to the fascist military dictatorship in Chile. It tells of Ilya Yakovlevich Lunev from Maxim Gorky's novel "Three People" and of her personal hatred of fascists, whose marches she blocked in her youth.

On the basis of these stories, peppered with quotes from Frantz Fanon or Achille Mbembe, Kurt presents hatred as a resistant form of action that can drive political change. She calls this form of hatred as an instrument of self-defense "strategic hatred". It is supposed to be a kind of hatred that does not happen to people, but is chosen by the oppressed to defend themselves or to take revenge.

The other side of the same coin

The question arises: Is it even possible to vote for hatred? Is it possible to decide on a feeling? Or, if strategic hatred is not a feeling, is it still hatred at all? Kurt herself anticipates this analytical blurring as well as other weak points when she writes in the prologue that she will contradict herself. Such a reflection revolving around itself seems like an all too easy way out.

Şeyda Kurt knows that hatred is presumptuous by its very sound – it whistles "awkwardly and hostilely, like a cold, irrepressible draught". She deliberately chose hatred to expose the "peace-joy-pancakes" mentality of those who believe that injustice can be eradicated with hearts on cardboard signs or rainbow bandages.

Although the title suggests a counterpart to her bestseller about tenderness, "hate" turns out to be the other side of the same coin. Hating the right people is not the opposite of radical tenderness, but is also part of Kurt's idea of a world free of domination. It wants to undermine almost all political structures of the Western constitutional state. The aim is to develop a politicized, moral society in which courts and prisons become superfluous and all colonial and patriarchal patterns are overcome. These demands will certainly remain a utopia at the moment.

Şeyda Kurt: "Hate". Of the power of a resistant feeling. HarperCollins Verlag, Hamburg 2023. 208 p., ill., br., 18,– €.