You Can't Reason with Evil

In relative terms in the concept of politics and the world, I am young. I'm a millennial in my 20's struggling to survive. But it didn't take long to understand some basic principles about what drives America and this world, about its political body and what inhabits it.

One observation that isn't necessarily unique I imagine to myself is this:
The greater evil is not the monster that kills simply because, but the monster that kills yet still sees themselves as good.

In pop culture, you have serial killers such as Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger. Ranging from giddish enthusiasm to silent machine, there was never any pontificating about how they were good and righteous people. They hurt and killed people because of a singular purpose or pure amusement.

But that is the story of movies, of fiction, of extreme horror tropes that you can munch on some popcorn with. What about real life?

The thing is is that real life is more horrifying than fiction.

In our hierarchy of power - and for simplicity's sake - we have 3 tiers:
1) Owners
2) Managers
3) Pawns

Our owners are the billionaires, the corporations, the people who control the world like a piece on a game board.

The managers are a varied lot. They are political parties, media enterprises, celebrities, and pundits. They are meant to divide and corral people into various pens, to keep them locked and caged within their place as a slave to capitalism.

The pawns are everyone else. The disposables. One issue is that many of the pawns refuse to see themselves as such, and so will defend the system, defend their masters - even with their very lives. They prevent the other pawns from rising up to destroy the managers and owners. The pawns align themselves with the managers, deifying and personifying them as if they were their own flesh and blood.

So what does this all mean?

It means that within each tier of power, there is an almost insurmountable level of evil that exists.

So far this is relatively abstract and without an anchor into real-world actions. The number of examples I could give are terrifying in variety and scope, but I'll just give a few that pop into mind:

The Democrats and Republicans decided that Vietnam did not have the liberty to be their own nation and so sent their imperialist death squad to see to the deaths of 4 million people. To see women raped, men tortured, children killed, chemical weapons dropped, and much more. All because the people refused to bow before the capitalist masters. And through that, from the owner class to the pawns, they still see themselves as righteous and good.

The Palestinian people are ignored, being forced to live in an open-air prison with a free hunting season imposed on them by Israel. Yet, both Democrats and Republicans support Israel and the brutal regime and slaughter against the Palestinian people. The pawns will retort that Israel has to defend themselves from children with flags and rocks. In their mind, they somehow see themselves as being good people, incapable of actually listening to what they are saying. Sniping children because they have a rock is not evil in their eyes; it is just, and daresay, holy.

George W. Bush was rewarded a medal by Biden; both of these men are war criminals responsible for the Iraq War and the death of seemingly 100,000 - 1,000,000 people. But these men are revered now as good folk. Good folk for butchering those people for having done nothing except be in the way of American imperialists' interests.

Ted Cruz, in his run for President in 2016, boasted how he would make the sand glow in the Middle East, a reference to the use of nuclear weapons. And yet his supporters cheered. Somehow nuking an entire region of the planet and killing everyone within still again allows these people to see themselves as not evil, but decent, wholesome folks.

No matter how you try to speak to these people, they adamantly refuse to see themselves as evil.
Making the people of Libya slaves was a "necessity".
Letting poor people die because they can't afford healthcare is the free market working.
Killing Muslims because they don't believe in Jesus is just because they don't believe in Jesus.

The thread that connects those examples is the rationalization, the justification. No matter the atrocity, there will be the shrug of the shoulder and the justification.

You can't reason with such blatant evil. And yes, in my eyes, that is evil. That is terrifying.

I don't fear the Michael Myers of the world.
I fear those who justify their atrocities and still somehow believe they are good people.

At least Michael is honest.

Edit: grammar and word changes.

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gulfgal98's picture

I am not sure how to respond to it because it echoes a lot of what I believe.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

Azazello's picture

That's a paraphrase from one of those old Greeks, Socrates I think.
Every evil-doer believes that he is doing good.

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Strife Delivery's picture

@Azazello

Every evil-doer believes that he is doing good.

And isn't that the most frightening thing though?

You have fundamentalists who cheer at nuking entire regions of the world and somehow they believe they will be greeted with the pearly gates swinging open for them. That somehow killing people who don't believe in the same deity as you makes you good.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Azazello I don't agree. I'm pretty sure Rahm Emanuel and Dick Cheney don't believe they're doing good. There's definitely a subset of evildoers who think the entire concept of good and evil is shit.

After all, we tortured some folks. But don't get too sanctimonious about it.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Keep pushing the door open. Light the corners till the melt.
--Magiamma

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

And the evil ones celebrate themselves. I've seen people do it. I think it gives them a sense of power, or something. There's a dark streak in some people, like black lightning. Road to hell, good intentions, and all that, but sometimes the road to hell is just a road to hell.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

Daenerys's picture

I think I read somewhere a while ago, not even Stephen King can write horror villains so terrifying.

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This shit is bananas.

Big Al's picture

Evil is as evil does. He seems a perfect example of that, going around killing innocent women and children while seemingly thinking he's the shit. Of course, Obama had an air about him that exuded confidence and nobility, all the while he was a stone cold killer.
Ain't democracy great. What kind of evil will we get after Trump?

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Strife Delivery's picture

@Big Al Well, I didn't discriminate from D or R.

Obama though, you were right; not only with the confidence, but simultaneously that sense of detachment.

"We, uh, tortured some folks."

And that was that. No outrage, no justice, no reaction. Just blase, like picking up the Sunday paper.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Strife Delivery @Strife Delivery One of the two signs recently that our civilization is already dead.

The other one: "Well, Tamir Rice wasn't a good boy, you know. And he was big for a twelve-year-old."

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Keep pushing the door open. Light the corners till the melt.
--Magiamma

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Big Al Obama was the even greater evil. When he visited Flint Michigan and put water to his lips. Pure concentrated evil.

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Big Al's picture

@Battle of Blair Mountain Many actions taken under the authority of our presidents are evil, period. I've got an essay drafted listing the incidences of women and children being killed in Syria by U.S. bombs. 80 one night, 44 another night. Kids. That's under Trump, a despicable human being. Those apologizing for Trump, and I use that term because that's what they're doing, purposely ignore those actions, just like the Obama apologists did and still do. Obama was no better but it really signals a sort of inherent sickness in how humans go about inhabiting the planet. Doesn't seem like we're ever going to resolve that.

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mimi's picture

@Big Al
The first lived in 'camouflage' outfit, the second in full combat gear. Both doing the same.

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QMS's picture

Evil and reason seem not to occupy the same space. There exists good in us after all. You hit on an interesting idea. Justification for destruction is a sickness being fed us by the ones profiting by said means. Inoculate.

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Listen to your higher mind.

@QMS

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My first thought on seeing your choice of the word "pawn" to describe the masses was that this implies a lack of agency. The common image of "pawn" is someone powerless who is manipulated and controlled by others. But then again, in the actual game of chess -- if a pawn makes it all the way across, it becomes powerful, but no longer a pawn: it changes identity. Now, I'm no chessplayer, but IIRC correctly, properly employed, the pawn can be a powerful agent in its own right.

And frankly, the masses don't have much of a sense of agency. This may be why the alt reich has so much appeal. The National Socialist White People's Party opened an office in Baltimore in the 70's (in a Polish neighborhood; long story there). They were profiled, somewhat sympathetically, in a book by a Dutchman hitching around and observing the US. He described them as pathetic, powerless and poor, and seizing on bigotry as the only perceived route to counting for something.

A couple of songs to look up: Only A Pawn In Their Game, by Dylan, about the assassin of Medgar Evers, and Pretty Smart On My Part, by Phil Ochs.

Good essay, it made me think.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

polkageist's picture

You have hit the nail on the head. I didn't learn what you know until much later in my life than you. I just had my 83d birthday and, after reading you, I realize that I had a much easier time, Korea and the atom bomb notwithstanding. Our corporate masters no longer need hide their greed and nastiness as they once did. I just hope that the younger people will act on what they see.

Thank you for a very well written essay.

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Greed is not a virtue.
Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.

@polkageist

From the insurrection of the Boomers; they're now practicing psyops, street theater, media manipulation, and guerilla tactics, and seized some of our own tactics: "freedom of speech", "tolerance", affinity groups,. etc. Plus lots of new stuff: less-lethal weapons, sound cannons, kettling. And the timeless: infiltration, provocateurs, divide and conquer. The very word "radical" now means "terrorist": "he got radicalized" appears in every backstory; it's about the only sense of the word now.
This while the opposition is balkanized and busy ice-picking each other over identity, purity, beliefs, proper targets and goals. I guess it's always been like that.
In some ways they're more in the open, but in other ways they're subtler than ever. Mass data! Gotta show ID to buy groceries (discount card = data sold. Hint - I always ask for the store card). They took the high egalitarian hopes of the early mass computer age and commoditized it into the greatest mass surveillance machine ever seen, with the joyful participation of the masses. Hell, every progressive and left group I come across has a Zuckbook and Tooter presence, and uses gmail. We need the opposite of Gab. Bag?
They destroyed the print word. The big difference between print and digital is that, whereas in the past you might pick up a pamphlet left out strategically, now everyone is digitally self-kettled.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

ggersh's picture

@pindar's revenge I look at that as if they destroyed "language"

They destroyed the print word. The big difference between print and digital is that, whereas in the past you might pick up a pamphlet left out strategically, now everyone is digitally self-kettled.

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The US markets will be closed tomorrow in honor of George H. W. Bush.

We should have a memorial day for the truth, which we have allowed to be led down the blind alley of our willful delusions, and strangled.

Lord have mercy on us.

@ggersh

The right is so much better at controlling the discourse by seizing the language, e.g., "pro-life" for anti-abortion. They operate on the primitive parts of the brain with simple, vivid language. Talk radio. I picture the Kav hearings where that D senator was droning on about Latin legal phrases while Murray the K was crying and shouting (not that I'm calling a D senator "left").

What I actually had in mind about the printed word was the disappearance and/or attenuation of newspapers, from the big regional ones to the local freebies and community papers. This channels people to tv and internet, and removes connection with our immediate, i.e., community, environment. Internet audiences are self-selected and most discourse is preaching to the choir. Amen!

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

It appears at a younger age you have the ability to see things that most others don't. Like polkageist said above it has taken me many years to acquire this ability. Actually I think I have always had it but for some reason I wouldn't let myself believe it, anyway I hope there are many more just like you.

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k9disc's picture

And good and evil are completely fungible depending on where you stand.

This is how they capture us. They claim to want to rid the world of evil, and as a youngster, I was right with them.

Let's not forget that we were good in WWII, or so we thought. But then we won and eradicated that evil. Never mind that we imported the useful evil peeps and put them in charge of missiles and spycraft to fight the evil communists. When the evil Nazis fell, our good was distinctly less good; because there was no more evil. So we had to find some more evil to destroy.

We were fighting "the real evil" in Vietnam. Saddam was evil, and then evil again. Taliban was evil. Gadaffi was evil. ISIS is evil. Assad is evil.

We've been fighting evil the whole time. That means we're good, right?

You can't have good without evil. Good is dependent upon evil for the scale of it's goodness. Actions for good are responses to evil.

The Resistance is fighting evil. They are fighting Drumpf and the Republicans. That means they are good, right? If you are not with the resistance, you are siding with evil.

People who wholehearted fight the evil in our world scare the shit out of me. There is little doubt in my mind that they will burn the place down to eradicate evil.

In the yin and yang, if white wins and eats evil, the result is not complete good. It isn't even good any longer, as there is no black to contrast with. Good and evil are facts of life. I'm done fighting evil.

They need the pawns to "fight evil". Fighting evil is what they all do. Fighting evil requires pawns to buy into the binary set up, and if you choose the wrong side, guess what? You're evil.

And when you're fighting evil, especially existential evil, anything goes.

Quite the slippery slope, eh?

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

k9disc's picture

so...

You draw attention to it, as you have done. You tie it to people's everyday reality. You don't name it evil and decry it, you describe it, viscerally, emotively, and clearly. Uncover the ugly it so the listener or the jury can come to their own conclusion that it is evil. If they come to their own conclusion then they will stand in the light with you.

All that has to happen to defeat this evil is to opt out. Not standing with Jim Acosta for instance. Not watching TV. Not voting for the lesser to two evils. Not falling in line with "one side or the other", not buying the binary, will emasculate them. They depend on us to do the work for them because we are fighting evil. They know many of us will do and say anything to stop it, and that includes throwing potential allies under the bus.

A critical mass just not playing ball will most likely destroy their omnipotence. It's happening as we speak too.

Although, we might be past that point right now. So many controls in place already. The boot is poised above us. They hold food, water, privacy, information, travel, military, borders, money, monetary system, etc. Not good.

Add to it the existential evil on both sides - Nazi racists and their followers vs billionaire cannibal pedos and their followers - not a lot of grey area there. Opting out of the fight is to change the game and redraw the lines of good and evil.

BTW, I think you did a fine job of this in this piece. But how to move forward...

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

In my experience people can justify anything if they really want to.

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mhagle's picture

Thank you!

It's what is frightening about the religious right in Texas. Justifying evil from the pulpit.

There is plenty of good in the pawns. It is up to us to keep touching the good in them.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Raggedy Ann's picture

I, too, lament the fact I did not understand this until a few years ago and I'm in my 60's. However, I have to credit the 2016 election with assisting in the awakening of our fellow citizens, including, most importantly IMHO, the millennials. It is your generation, and Gen Z behind you, that will lift us from this place. It is your generation, where no child was left behind, that can see the injustices, the evils that have grown to the monsters they are.

Yes, the concept of evil is subjective. But, we are facing a great evil, on which, collectively, most agree. Will your generation and Z behind you be able to pull off the coup needed? I'm actively watching.
Pleasantry

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"If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government." Emiliano Zapata

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Raggedy Ann Not sure evil is always subjective. At least, if you're talking about wiping most life off the planet, you'd have to have a truly interesting subjectivity to parse that as somehow "good."

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Keep pushing the door open. Light the corners till the melt.
--Magiamma

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

SnappleBC's picture

@Raggedy Ann

let's discuss things like slaughtering a million people so that a few rich guys can get their 3rd yacht. I'm pretty sure that if I did a quick poll of major world religions and philosophies, most of them would agree that murdering someone then stealing their stuff is... well... evil.

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A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

Lookout's picture

https://www.theworkingworld.org/us/

The current system is rigged as you describe. Seems to me you have to step outside and create a life worthy of living. Rejecting the capitalist approach is essential to happiness from my view. You are young enough to create a better life for yourself. I chose to be a homesteader. It's not for everybody, but there are many options...coops, moving to a better country, starting your own green business, and so on. Don't get caught on the corporate tread mill friends. Live your dream, not their nightmare. All the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

And people wonder why mass shootings are a problem. We are controlled by murderers and we wonder why so many people have no respect for the sanctity of life these days. Absolutely sickening Sad

I have argued with many that this is the real problem. Our society is violent and that violence is celebrated at the highest levels. It is no longer a surprise to me that society is this way.

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If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Managers is an apt term. It's all those Harvard, Yaleies and those other elite school graduates that don't have family fortunes under them. They made the connections to their masters and were bred to herd and corral us for our own good. That's the reward for all those perfect SAT scores and internships for the ultra wealthy. These people have a refined contempt for those deemed lesser than themselves. Why we couldn't we do what they did? How can we be so needy and poor when we're the same color as them. How embarrassing. We think the deplorables are just Trump voters, but really it's all of us who don't measure up. And don't they deserve rewards for "helping" us?

At this point I'm judging everything in the light of "what's in it for me"? my family, my friends? the people I care about. It sounds selfish, but I think most people are like me with the same fears and needs, wondering why this country asks for so much of us and returns so little.

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@Snode

About a year ago, I read a piece saying this "buffer class" is the object of most class resentment. After all, the professionals with education and expertise are the people with whom the lower classes actually come in contact: lawyers, rent managers, store managers, doctors, etc. The plutocrats are remote. This allows common folk to adore or ignore their real masters. After all, it's not Rump who says to them "You're fired!", it's the plant manager.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

Dragonkat's picture

From Jingo

“It was much better to imagine men in some smokey room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over brandy. You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn't then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told the children bed time stories, were capable of then going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people. It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was Us, then what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.”

On the mundane level of our one party system it doesn't matter where you stand. Democrats see Republicans as "evil" and the reverse exists as well. We could go into specifics like the hypocrisy of Dems joining Trump in endorsing Pelosi (but aren't we resisting everything he does?) or Obama celebrating his piece prize while being the biggest arms merchant in modern history. Or the insanity of Biden giving Bush a medal.

but specifics are pointless and facts are meaningless when our cause is just and right! *sigh*

It's summed up perfectly by a very disturbing quote posted by a diehard vote blue cultist i have a habit of tweaking. "In life it's important to know when to stop arguing with people, and let them be wrong."

Or the crux of this excellent essay. You can't argue with a dieharder of any stripe, like the folks at TOP on one side or infowars on the other. What they call "false equivalence" those of us looking in can see it for what it is. Bomb dropping, vote rigging, corporate sponsored Evil. The only thing that changes is the letter in front of the name. But god help you if you try to convince either side of this. And the irony of someone to whom it is impossible to hold an argument with saying there is no point in having an argument because they are right. And being blind to see themselves in what they are saying. It really does speak for itself. If in a twisted circular logic kind of way.

Not that it matters when it's them who are to blame right?

And that's the part that bothers me the most, not so much the inability to debate an alternate viewpoint outside the spoon fed media narratives. But the refusal to even consider any view point but their own as the right one.

It's the dead end mentality of the flat earthers and the folks who thought the earth was the center of the universe. And these chuckleheads need to be called out now.

12 years and counting to do so.

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See, their morals, their code... it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be.

-The Joker-

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Dragonkat Not really. It's perfectly possible to know that ordinary people are capable of doing extremely evil things and also understand that it's the people with the most concentrated wealth and power who are running the show--and that there's very little give in the system. Those in control are striving for absolute control.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Keep pushing the door open. Light the corners till the melt.
--Magiamma

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

YouTube recommended this to me this morning, but in spite of that, it turned out to be pretty good.

"The moral roots of liberals and conservatives - Jonathan Haidt"

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Strife Delivery's picture

Some have wondered why I used the word "Pawn" for the last tier.

In every facet of our life, how our society is structured from top-to-bottom, we are pawns. We are disposable. We are the ones who are sent to the meat grinder of war to make the owners more money. We are the ones who do the drudge work of society. We are the ones who, if we become unable to do our job, are kicked to the curb and our replacement is shipped in via H1-B. Hell, even if we can do our job, our replacement is still shipped in from H1-B.

If you see the system as maddening and insane, you yourself are the one that is insane. A normal human reaction and malaise that follows becomes labeled with major depressive disorder and so comes out the Pez dispenser of Big Pharma. If you find life to be unbearable and contemplate suicide, the police will haul you away against your will to be locked up for several days. They say it is for your own good but that's the PR stunt. A dead worker is one that isn't making the owners any more money. Then, when you leave the forced imprisonment, you receive a bill for 10 grand.

Everything in life is commodified, usable, disposable. Even us.

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@Strife Delivery

and I concluded that it was appropriate, with several levels of meaning. There's a quick, shallow interpretation of pawn, that of a doofus just being manipulated, but in chess the pawns can play a really powerful role.
I'd like to see the masses achieve a sense of power, something we haven't had in a really long time, if ever. There was a hopeful illusion of achievement when a black man was elected to the residency, but the illusion was quickly evident.
A hundred thousand people marched in the rain for science, and absolutely nothing happened, nothing came of it.
A quarter million people marched for the climate, in the hot sun when the temp on the street was hitting 100 F, and the climate was ignored in the "blue wave".
I'd like to see us pawns reach the back row and become queens and knights. Or at least make a coordinated play, and force the king to castle. So much for metaphor. Meanwhile, like you say, we're disposable.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

Clearly put.

I'd say there are a few who straddle the line between owners and managers--mostly people in organizations like the CIA and the NSA. And the info-tech people could do the same, but have chosen not to, so far, for...some reason.

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1 user has voted.

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Keep pushing the door open. Light the corners till the melt.
--Magiamma

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Dragonkat's picture

(not sure why this posted below, but it was meant as a reply to my above comment)

But accepting the fact you know it are two different things. The crux of my comment, and to an extent the essay. Anyone here knows what the problem is.

But tell that to people who still embrace Pelosi and the dems as the good us vs the evil them represented by the repubs. And in the case of the "progressives" let themselves be gleefully herded by the newest sheepdog ahem "champion" of the us in the form of AOC campaigning on change then falling right back in the corporatism fold after her win. Anyone who thinks you can change the system but back the single biggest proponent of that system is delusional, a fool, or both.

And yet these people still think they're making a difference, when all they are doing is being played. It's the reverse of the essay in a sense. You can't reason with evil, but you also can't reason with the zealotry of those who think they're fighting evil, but are just spreading their own brand instead.

And when you can interchange both parties with the above sentence by a couple mad lib style policy positions that's the problem right there. We have met the enemy and they ARE us.

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See, their morals, their code... it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be.

-The Joker-