Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is there such a thing as EVIL in politics?

Wow, I haven't posted in five days. It seems longer from here, I swear. Been working out like crazy, almost everyday, and spending the rest of the day either sleeping it off or the regular family/work routine.

I did find some time (not too much) for some political banter via emails and boards. Something occurred to me that I thought was worth posting about. I see the word "evil" used in connection with the current American government and it bothers me. Now, to make it clear, I am not a supporter of the current American President. I think he's done a lot of damage to the Middle East and probably elsewhere as well. However, can a government, any government (even the neo-cons!) be evil?

I can actually see how individuals can be evil. I am not talking about doing something that is hurtful, violent, "bad", but actually being evil. It's a psycho-pathological issue to me. Some people take joy in hurting others and exist for that end. Fortunately, they are uncommon and when they act by their sick drives they are hopefully locked away in some mental institution where they belong.

But whole governments/regimes/countries/societies? I think some people use the phrase "evil" too lightly there. What bothers me the most is that these are the exact words used by Bush and co. The "Evil Axis" is comprised of "Evil" countries and entities. According to them, some countries are evil in those very simplistic biblical (or comics - take your choice) terminology. Apparently, to the neo-cons, Iran is "Evil", Syria is "Evil", the Hezbulla is definitely "Evil", not to mention Dr Evil himself - Osama Bin Ladden who leads a whole secret evil empire from his hiding place.

I think that coloring any group of people as evil is wrong. I think Bush and co. are wrong to be doing this. By the same token, I think some of my leftie friends are wrong for coloring the American government as "evil". Governments are usually stupid, not evil. Maybe I spent too many years within "the establishment" lol, but I absolutely will not accept the conspiratorial theories of a group of people sitting together and thinking up "evil" plans. It just doesn't work like that. They may do horrible things, for sure, but they have some logic in which these actions are meant to serve some kind of good. The same is true for Al Kaida even. It's even true, dare I say it, for the Nazi regime.

We can and should question their world view and argue against it. But I think we shouldn't take the easy route out and label them as "evil" or "bad" guys. The world is more complicated than that and life just isn't a comics book... Trying to put yourself in the other side's position, trying to learn their logic, however thwarted it may seem to you, is the only way to move forward with some sort of bridge building process. It's the only way to somehow get the other side to change its views, at least soften them, and prevent more bloodshed.


steve said...

Well, you'll catch some grief for making such a sweeping statement. Evil, as Hannah Arendt implied in her great book following WW2, is "banal", seemingly innocuous, even innocent or popular on its face. The US desire for revenge was what allowed the Perfect Storm of neo-con dreams of literal Empire to coalesce with the voting public. Two interescting lines which, together, resulted in some heavy evil. If evil is definied as I believe it should be, it won't matter how innocent its origins. It will definitely confound all those who wonder how their own country could "do such things" and, unfortunately, when the casualties of history are finally totalled, those enabling it will be gone, probably.

In a way, it cries, still yet and maybe more than ever, for some discipline dealing with Mass Psychology.

twilite said...

Hi Israeli Mom (IM)! Thank you for sharing your candid thoughts. You're one thinking persons I meet on the blog world. Refreshing indeed.

IsraeliMom said...

Thank you twilite, that is very kind of you indeed.

Kari said...

Just wanted to say that I agree with your comment about generalizing evil. It is definitely wrong to generalize and call a specific group evil because it closes the dialogue between the parties to work their difference out. I also think it implies that everything they do is intentionally evil. I definitely do not and will not ever support the current American war, and as an American I hope that others will realize I am not evil and we are really trying to change things here in America, but as many countries have experienced such problems with their government before, it's taking a long time.