Ethnic Divisiveness: Fomenting Hostility

Leaders of groups have a lot of influence, as described earlier (4.3.1).  Some try to increase their power at the expense of other groups – creating hostility which undermines peaceful pluralism.

They can exploit the underlying potential for hostility described above (, by demonising other groups to strengthen their own group’s sense of identity.  The use of divisive language raises complicated issues if freedom of speech is to be protected, though, which is a moral dilemma (4.4.6) and potentially a legal problem (5.4.6).

Fear of immigrants can be whipped up into hysteria.  For example, an American e-book called Stealth Invasion was advertised with the following text:

“Americans are shocked by ongoing news reports chronicling growing chaos in Europe, where massive Muslim migration is wreaking havoc on the continent – including horrendous acts of mass terrorism, an epidemic of rape and sexual assault against European women, and large, jihadist-rich enclaves where even police are hesitant to enter.

Yet, few realize that America is heading down the same suicidal path.”

An EASO report, Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Focus, argued [in section 2.1] that “the dissemination of interethnic hatred was a key technique to divide BiH [Bosnia and Herzegovina]” – to make its partition, into ethnically pure enclaves, permanent.  In other words, atrocities were committed against other groups so that hatred would endure forever and make political reconciliation impossible.

These techniques heighten the underlying potential for ethnic conflict.  Aggressive campaigns against people from other ethnic groups are a way of pursuing influence: changing how people think.  If politicians use such techniques to pursue political power, they are practising ‘identity politics’ (



This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/4452a.htm