The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

A Perfectly Clear Discourse on Evil

Clearly, it seems to me that Hillary Clinton is: a) a liar and an
amoral scoundrel who ought to be serving jail time; or b) an upstanding woman
of the highest character and virtue and a paragon of honesty.”
I’ve
seen that one-step-forward-two-steps-back syntax too many times in written and
verbal statements. If something seems to
be
to a person, then it isn’t clear at all to him, regardless of the
subject matter He is confessing that he isn’t quite sure what it is he is pronouncing
judgment on. We can thank a long line of philosophers – for example, Rene
Descartes
– for making that contradiction of certainty-cum-doubt ubiquitous
as a bad thinking habit, and as a repeated element in common language. We can
also cite David Hume and John Dewey, among others.
It’s
a far more grievous error than speakers and writers, in making comparisons,
saying different than and not different from. Different than means absolutely nothing. As a conjunction, than is not synonymous with the preposition from.
It seems to me is also symptomatic of a
lack of courage and resolve to be forthright in one’s statements. It’s a woozy
approximation that is supposed to stand in for rock-solid certainty. It’s
cowardly. It’s a half-full/half-empty glass of nothing. It’s like Michael Moore
substituting for Cary Grant, or Rosie O’Donnell for Audrey Hepburn.

So,
you’d never catch me saying, “Clearly, it seems to me that Barack Obama is
evil.” I say that he is evil, and
knows it. All the evidence – all his actions and statements over the last eight
years – is incontrovertible proof of his evil, and of his evil intentions.
What
is evil? Wikipedia begins a
description of it with “Evil,
in a general context, is taken as the absence or complete opposite of that
which is ascribed as being good. Often, evil is used to denote profound immorality.”
Wikipedia offers only economy-sized definitions of good and evil.
The
Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971),
however, makes some critical distinctions:
A. The antithesis of GOOD in
all its principle senses.
                1. Morally depraved, bad, wicked, vicious.
                2. Doing or tending to do harm; hurtful, mischievous,
prejudicial.
The
Oxford entry on good is one and a half pages long. So I’m going to settle for the Wikipedia
treatment of the subject. It has this entry on the subject of good and evil.
These basic ideas of a dichotomy [between
good and evil] has [sic] developed so
that today:
  • Evil is typically associated
    with conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, discrimination designed to harm
    others, humiliation of people designed to diminish their psychological
    needs and dignity, destructiveness, and acts of unnecessary and/or
    indiscriminate violence.
It’s
not a perfect definition of evil, but it’s acceptable for the time being. I’ll write
the OED a note about it.
There
are two species of committing evil.
There
is what I call the “passive” commission of evil. This is evil committed from
ignorance of its consequences, from a failure to identify them, from a habitual
disinclination to face facts, or from a refusal to think. It’s people voting
for Obama a second time after they’ve seen the disasters of his first term in
the White House. People who commit passive evil do not originate the evil. They
simply cash in on it, oblivious or indifferent to its maleficent consequences. They
do not originate evil, but enable it.
The
evil can also be mistaken for being a good, again, because of an absence of any
critical thinking or the absence of all but standard values that could serve as
a measure of what one stands to gain or lose if the evil is enabled. The
perceived “good” could be a second term of Barack Obama, again, in the face of
overwhelming evidence that his first term has caused incalculable damage to the
nation, to the economy, to people’s lives, including the lives of those who
voted for him twice. It is choosing him with the knowledge that he is also a
liar and a fraud.
These
are the kinds of people who will vote Democratic no matter what, even when a
liberal (just “a totalitarian screaming to get out”) campaigns for office wielding
a whip garlanded with daisies and bluebells.
The
second species of evil is that originated by those who consciously wish to do
harm, the achievement of such harm being integral and even intrinsic to an evil
person’s reason for living and acting. This person is a nihilist, a destroyer
who acts to destroy the good for being the good, who lives to instigate
destruction in any realm. This is the kind of person who will paint a moustache
on da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or add
tennis shoes to Michelangelo’s statue of David.
This
is the kind of person who, like Barack Obama, will act to destroy a nation and
turn it into a continent-sized correctional facility in which few or no
individual rights exist, in which the economy is driven by “capitalist
cronies,” financial fraudulence, and is a parasites’ paradise in which the
unearned is created and paid for by a shrinking productive sector. Obama wishes
to fundamentally “transform” America from one once anchored to the principles
of limited government and the rule of law into one which is lawless and
governed by unlimited government power.
I
think it is fruitless to try and choose who have been the most evil political
leaders in recent history. One would need to begin with Barack Obama. He is the
one Americans are most familiar with. His Canadian clone, Justin
Trudeau
, recently elected in part with
Obama’s help
, as the new prime minister, wishes to be a kind of white Obama,
friendly
to Islam
and “climate change,” and is also out to “transform” Canada, just
as Obama wants to “remake” America.

Then
we could toss a coin or two for the ones we don’t know as intimately: Josef
Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, and even Angela Merkel. There is small fry like
Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and big
fry like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the “supreme
leader” of Iran, and his equally malevolent predecessor, Ruhollah Moosavi
Khomeini, are in a special class of evil all by themselves.
Choosing
to initiate evil can begin in a person as early as pre-school, sometimes in
adolescence, and definitely in adulthood. Wanting to destroy the good for being
the good can begin with envy or jealousy or hating the sight or knowledge of
happiness in others. I think the best literary description of how an evil
person develops is Ayn Rand’s account of archvillain Ellsworth Toohey’s growth
from childhood up to adulthood in The
Fountainhead
.
Ellsworth Monkton Toohey was
seven years old when he turned the hose upon Johnny Stokes, as Johnny was
passing by the Toohey lawn, dressed in his best Sunday suit. Johnny had waited
for that suit a year and a half, his mother being very poor. Ellsworth did not
sneak or hide, but committed his act openly, with systematic deliberation: he
walked to the tap, turned it on, stood in the middle of the lawn and directed
the hose at Johnny, his aim faultless – with Johnny’s mother just a few steps
behind him down the street, with his mother and father and the visiting
minister in full view on the Toohey porch. Johnny stokes was a bright kid with
dimples and golden curls; people always turned to look at Johnny Stokes. Nobody
had ever turned to look at Ellsworth Toohey.
Little
Ellsworth faces his parents and the minister, states that Johnny Stokes is a
bully at school, and awaits his punishment.
The question of punishment
became an ethical problem….it seemed wrong to chastise a boy who had sacrificed
himself to avenge injustice, and it was done bravely, in the open, ignoring his
own physical weakness; somehow, he looked like a martyr. Ellsworth did not say
so; he said nothing further; but his mother said it. The minister was inclined
to agree with her. Ellsworth was sent to his room without supper. He did not
complain. He remained there meekly – refused the food his mother sneaked up to
him, late at night, disobeying her husband. Mr. Toohey insisted on paying Mrs.
Stokes for Johnny’s suit. Mrs. Toohey let him do it, sullenly; she did not like
Mrs. Stokes.*
In
Ellsworth’s mother we see how a passive sanction of evil promotes and enables
an active instance of it. From there on Ellsworth Toohey developed into a
full-scale villain. To Ellsworth’s mother, the bold, undisguised destruction of
a value – not even her own, but Johnny Stokes’s suit – is a sign of virtue, of
goodness, of almost sainthood. Ellsworth’s willingness to be punished for it is
also, to her, a sign of self-sacrifice, what her minister doubtless preached in
church was a moral ideal. To her uncritical, unthinking mind, her son is moral
person who deserved praise, not condemnation or punishment.
Assiduously
created and maintained multiple layers of fragile onion skin can hide the core
evil of such men from themselves and from others: special attention to social
decorum, public appearances, dinner table etiquette, kissing babies, political
speeches, perhaps a smartness in dress – these and other ostensive marks of a
civilized, nominally cultured person go into the task of disguising a core soul
and ultimate ends. Peel away the layers and one will finally come to the
poisonous glop that is the driving force in all that such men do or say. It
takes a lifetime to refine these layers to erect and sustain an elaborate façade
and pretence of a “good” person who seems to be the epitome of benevolence. But,
beneath the polish is festering putrescence.
The
maquette that presents itself to the
world and preaches sacrifice and the sly but “harmless” corruption of values –
or even the wholesale, wide scale sacrifice of them, such as Merkel’s
willingness to sacrifice Germany and the rest of Europe to the Muslim hordes,
who are themselves venomous malignancies – hides a very real monster, a
nihilist, a destroyer. He is small in his own and in others’ eyes, he assumes a
deceptively modest mien, but his ambition is not modest and retiring.
His
evil is clear and writ large in today’s culture, here and abroad.
*The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. 1943. New
York: The Centennial Edition, Plume/Penguin, 2005. P. 301

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6 Comments

  1. Unknown

    Ed,

    I don't know if you heard Yaron Brook's recent show on immigration.

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yaronbrook/2015/10/17/radical-capitalist-episode-16-the-immigration-debate

    He says that if America were a free country we could have 10 immigrants per American and he would be "completely confident" that we would convert them or their children to the cause of liberty in 1 or 2 generations. That's right, a free America could have 3 billion third worlders and there would be nothing to worry about. It's ar 32 mins.

    SJ

  2. Edward Cline

    Steve Jackson: There was a lively debate on the subject of immigration with Brook on Facebook. I didn't participate because I got tired some time ago of reading Brook's duck-and-dodge answers to questions others asked. The official ARI position on immigration is pure Fantasy Land. Brook argued in a manner suggesting he was representing someone else's position on the subject, and he was just a proxy. So, there was no chance of convincing him of the insanity of his position. A friend who observed the debate wrote me that he had heard that ARI and TOS (The Objectivist Standard)are being funded now offshore, that is, by foreign money. I wonder what happened to John Allison, the BB&T executive who promoted ARI (I know he took over CATO). It just gets stranger and stranger. Well, I say what I way here on RoR and elsewhere.

  3. Unknown

    There was a recent press release from the ARI that said you could get a funded student internship with Koch Foundation support.

  4. madmax

    Was that debate between Brook and Peikoff? I'm tempted to listen but after listening to Brook and Ghate I don't think I could. They were ignorant of the actual data on immigrants and their welfare usage and their voting patterns. Also, they don't seem to understand that the Left is using non-white immigrants to change the racial demographics to capture total power of the nation. Leftists say this openly. There was just an article by a Leftist (I forget where) in which he openly stated that once whites were a minority the Democrats could abolish gun ownership. And its true, Hispanics don't vote pro-gun. So the Left want's to disarm whites and organized Objectivism thinks nothing about it. They have no awareness of how group voting patterns effect the cause of liberty.

    Even further, Onkar Ghate thinks that if some Guatemalan has a dream of making a life for himself and he is denied entry into America, then he is entirely entitled to hate the people who denied him entry. Think about that. Not only does it encourage hatred of whites by non-whites (which is what the Left constantly seeks to do) but it resembles some religious vision of what America means as a nation. That view totally destroys the very concept of nationhood. It actually seems to me to be somewhat Christian. And of course, Brook and Ghate are not aware of Robert Putnam's data on how racial diversity lowers social trust and cohesion. Why am I not surprised.

    ARI funded off shore? Interesting.

    Immigration is the hardest issue in politics IMO. Its true that the current economic system is terrible and the infinite price controls and regulations make untangling the mess near impossible. But the open immigration viewpoint is destructive to liberty as it makes libertarians and Randians look insane. Also, Brook mentions explicitly that he feels if you are not open immigration then you weaken the case for liberty. That right there is the problem. It takes real knowledge and insight to untangle that mess. Right now no one can.

  5. madmax

    "He says that if America were a free country we could have 10 immigrants per American and he would be "completely confident" that we would convert them or their children to the cause of liberty in 1 or 2 generations."

    Mollyneaux destroys this claim; with data. It actually shocked me, but I've seen this hatefact now in multiple places. 2nd generation immigrants are more anti-libety than 1st. 3rd generation immigrants are even worse than 2nd. Even with Asians. Now, it can be argued that this is because of the Progressives domination of the education system and even because of the public educations system itself. But that is a fact of our current societal organization. We don't live in Galt's Gulch. In this world, left-liberalism + immigration = further drift leftward = eventual hell on earth.

    I would love to see Brook debate Mollyneaux. He won't because Stephan is better at it.

  6. Prashant

    No nation is obligated to help other people no matter how deserving of asylum if it is at the cost of its own destruction. People from ARI are dropping context when talking about free immigration as Ed has mentioned in previous articles.

    Hence, the argument that Americans can't do the jobs that would be left unfilled if immigration is stopped or controlled. Left out is the impact of regulations, minimum wage, welfare policies and other crippling laws, while lowering education standards resulting in dumbing-down of generations that will be good enough only to vote and riot.

    The challenge right now is to get government out of education and having that second renaissance in the realm of ideas. I am thankful for this blog for putting things in the proper perspective.

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