The means employed by Nature to bring about the development of all the capacities of men is their antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of a lawful order among men.
By “antagonism” I mean the unsocial sociability of men, i.e., their propensity to enter into society, bound together with a mutual opposition which constantly threatens to break up the society. Man has an inclination to associate with others, because in society he feels himself to be more than man, i.e., as more than the developed form of his natural capacities. But he also has a strong propensity to isolate himself from others, because he finds in himself at the same time the unsocial characteristic of wishing to have everything go according to his own wish. Thus he expects opposition on all sides because, in knowing himself, he knows that he, on his own part, is inclined to oppose others. This opposition it is which awakens all his powers, brings him to conquer his inclination to laziness and, propelled by vainglory, lust for power, and avarice, to achieve a rank among his fellows whom he cannot tolerate but from whom he cannot withdraw.
Thus are taken the first true steps from barbarism to culture, which consists in the social worth of man; thence gradually develop all talents, and taste is refined; through continued enlightenment the beginnings are laid for a way of thought which can in time convert the coarse, natural disposition for moral discrimination into definite practical principles, and thereby change a society of men driven together by their natural feelings into a moral whole. Without those in themselves unamiable characteristics of unsociability from whence opposition springs-characteristics each man must find in his own selfish pretensions-all talents would remain hidden, unborn in an Arcadian shepherd’s life, with all its concord, contentment, and mutual affection. Men, good-natured as the sheep they herd, would hardly reach a higher worth than their beasts; they would not fill the empty place in creation by achieving their end, which is rational nature.
Thanks be to Nature, then, for the incompatibility, for heartless competitive vanity, for the insatiable desire to possess and to rule! Without them, all the excellent natural capacities of humanity would forever sleep, undeveloped. Man wishes concord; but Nature knows better what is good for the race; she wills discord. He wishes to live comfortably and pleasantly; Nature wills that he should be plunged from sloth and passive contentment into labor and trouble, in order that he may find means of extricating himself from them. The natural urges to this, the sources of unsociableness and mutual opposition from which so many evils arise, drive men to new exertions of their forces and thus to the manifold development of their capacities. They thereby perhaps show the ordering of a wise Creator and not the hand of an evil spirit, who bungled in his great work or spoiled it out of envy.
I have gotten a lot of flack for being ruthless, for ruining people, for going after my enemies with full force of mind and spirit, and particularly for enjoying it all (would Jesus do that? the God of the Old Testament seems to). What do we think of soldiers who enjoy killing? Monsters? What do we think of people who love beating their opponent soundly? Antisocial? What do we think of people who think that they are the best at what they do? Narcissists? Delusional? What do we think of people who are willing to get their hands dirty in order to achieve their goals? Primitive? Evil? One of my favorite things is to be beaten by a worthy opponent, so I have a hard time understanding when other people claim to be the "victim" of a sociopath who happened to, for example, outplay them at politics at work, or in a child custody battle, or business partnership, or any number of skirmishes that are necessary for the world to function as it currently does. I know that some people loathe the fact that this is life, that it makes us no better than animals. I love Kant's suggestion that it is exactly the opposite -- this antagonism is what prompts humans to strive to achieve something more than living like animals.
Along those same lines, from this NY Times article "Are the Roma Primitive, or Just Poor?" (which hilariously suggests that primitive/poor are the only possible explanations for their particular brand of "antisocial" living):
“It is very difficult to interpret their behavior based on our own 20th-century standards,” Alain Behr, a defense lawyer who represented two of the accused clan chiefs, explained by telephone from Nancy. “This community crosses time and space with its traditions, and we in Europe have trouble to integrate them. Yet they have preserved their tradition, which is one of survival.”