Earlier today I read about a nice looking, normal appearing woman who was defending our new practice of separating families prior to deportation. She kind of casually said that it was no big deal, being no different from the established practice of removing children from the home when their parents are arrested for other crimes. This defense of apparent evil came from the head of the Department of Homeland Security.
My first thought was that this woman was herself evil, and that her defense of those evil acts was an even greater act of evil. But then I wondered. Her statement was very offhand, it didn’t seem that she had actually given the matter much thought. I had the feeling that she had been taught this answer, and that she had used it previously whenever the question came up. I doubt if she could discuss the issue any further, and I would find it impossible to believe that it represented her own well-considered position on the matter. It was just something that they were doing; she had provided the answer that had been formulated for that question.
I believe that more substance than that is required for something to rise to the level of true evil.
Our Post-Civilized World
Everything now is Post-Modern. That is, subsequent to that which was modern. The word is associated with the work done in the mid- to late-Twentieth Century in multiple disciplines, notably architecture and criticism.
We live in a world that is famously Post-Ironic. That is, it is no longer easy to separate the earnest from the ironic; they have blended together into a big, gray middle.
Much of the world is moving into a Post-God posture. I would suggest that this happens anywhere that religion has manifestly ceased to function as an organizing or a motivating factor for a critical portion of the population. Much of Europe and the Western Democracies in general are now in this situation, not to mention entire countries and cultures in Asia.
Some places are specifically Post-Christianity. As is the case in much of Northern Europe, this happens when people substitute an unspecified “higher power” for Christ or the God of the Old Testament.
Many societies are becoming Post-Marriage. The lower classes are dropping out of the entire marriage option. Why bother? It will just complicate things down the line, and it will doubtless add unmanageable expenses at some point, and all without doing much to repay the effort in the meantime. So fuck it, if you want a baby, just have the baby. Firmly in the Post-Marriage column are the women with strong drives for careers and earning the big bucks.
The whole world may be Post-National any second now. Western nations are diluting their brands and losing their identities as they seek to become more modern and diverse. Other countries are Balkanizing as local ethnic groups seek more autonomy. This last bit includes places like the United Kingdom and Belgium, and that’s before you even get to the places in Asia, Africa, and South America that no one knows or cares anything about.
What’s the surprise if this delightful “totally new every fifteen minutes” world of ours decides to shit-can the entire idea of evil? We’re obviously past worrying about goodness, so can evil be far behind?
Our Exciting Post-Evil President
Our fabulously coifed and very determined looking president does numerous awful things every day. As do many prominent members of congress, like the current party bosses, Mitch McConnel and Paul Ryan. As do all of the heads of Federal agencies that were appointed by this president. This group of Republicans, with the active or passive help of many Democrats, is working feverishly to destroy our democratic institutions from the ground up, and all of them. Everything from the public schools, to our university system, to our police forces and our military, to our judicial system, from the Supreme Court right down to local Workmen’s Compensation Boards, to our scientific establishment, and every social program from Section 8 housing and food stamps up to Social Security, all of it is being degraded rapidly every day in preparation for doing away with all of it entirely. Certainly, Mr. Fred, that must represent true evil. Don’t you think?
I’m not so sure anymore.
I don’t see any clear reasoning behind any of this wanton destruction. Even the obvious greed component doesn’t seem focused or reasonable. Anyone can see that the value of what is being destroyed is infinitely greater than the usable benefit that anyone of the wreckers could hope to gain by their actions.
The greed is real, and it is a big motivation in this orgy of destruction, but there does not seem to be any philosophy at its foundation.
Regarding Trump, there is no conventional reason that he is doing these terrible things, just like there was no conventional reason that he wanted to have sex with all of those women. My guess is that Trump is more gratified by the control that he feels when he pays the women off, or humiliates them in various ways, or grabs them by the pussy just because he can. The dynamic favors power and control; everything else is incidental. Trump takes on too much debt, and assumes risks that are too great, to convince me that even the money is important to him. It’s the power and control.
Regarding the McConnels and the Ryans of the cast, it often seems that their primary motivation is simple destruction. Like pyromaniacs, they obtain gratification from reducing something of value to a pile of ashes. The New Deal, Obama’s legacy, destroy! Destroy! They move forward into destruction like a pack of Daleks on Dr. Who. The money that they are accumulating for themselves is inconsequential in today’s financial matrix. A billion dollars is the buy-in to play at the big-boy’s table, and they are hopelessly short of that. They would be lucky to die with fifty million dollars as an estate, and even Willard Romney laughs at that. Today, in fact, the number of people that would laugh at your billion dollars is shockingly large. If you are not at least closing in on one-hundred-billion dollars, you might as well be flying economy.
Trading in mere destruction, either as a control marker or for its own sake, seems like a low bar for the identification of true evil. I believe that evil would require a motivating philosophy based firmly in immorality. This bad behavior that we are suffering with today seems more like amorality. Amoral means “the absence of, indifference towards, or disregard for morality.” Doesn’t that sound about right?
Put me down for Post-Evil.
The Nazis were evil. The Soviets were evil. This vampire clique hanging on our necks is more like a child who smashes his friend’s toys with a hammer out of pure spite. It’s bad, people are suffering, we may lose our hard-won American way of life, but calling it evil is giving it too much credit.
It’s just bloody stupid is what it is.