Revenge Fantasies

Updated 28-Jun-2024

It seems that revenge fantasies are a significant part of the waking (and dreaming) life of many. By this I mean the cinematic, graphic, or otherwise detailed portrayal of justified violence -- violence that is good or legitimate. A big part of this is the notion of revenge, as Nietzsche has so eloquently, and poignantly indicated: small revenge is more human than no revenge at all.

> For man to be redeemed from revenge, that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms. Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful! -- Thus Spake Zarathustra

The basic kernel of fascistic policies are usually driven in this way, with a kernel of a revenge fantasy. It doesn't matter how truthful or realistic that fantasy is, indeed it is best if a rarity. By building on this (the rare as commonplace, and revenge as motive) large numbers of people can be convinced of the truth of a thing.

Recipe as follows:

  • Find an enemy. They can be anonymous or merely a mysterious threat with no substance. In terms of national politics, they should be a persecuted and oppressed minority or a foreign worker or immigrant (from a country with less economic and political power than one's own).
  • Find a story of bad behavior. It could be real or imagined, or better are half-truths. Those are hard to dismiss and easy to change. Make sure this is a rare event.
  • Assign the enemy to the story, and thereby distract the public, keeping them occupied.
  • Assign your political opponents as those who are trying to prevent justice from taking place. That is, preventing revenge on the enemy for their bad behavior.
  • Focus the public on the enemy, the bad behavior, those who would defend the enemy


  • Defensive Gun Use (fantasy of revenge on the attempted rapist)
  • Royhinga, cambodian migrant workers (revenge on the dirty foreign worker), Myanmar for past sins of winning battles, Cambodia for having to give back land to them
  • Xingxang Chinese (as breeders)
  • Americans (as colonizers)
  • Death Tax

Problem of Estimating Rare Events

  • Misclassification
  • False Positives
  • Personal Presentation Bias
  • Overestimates of Rare Events