The Nature of Evil and Collectivism

January 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Commentary

One of mankind’s deepest, longest asked questions is “Why is there evil?” It is a valid question to be asked. I’m not sure if anyone has the correct answer, or if there even is a correct answer, or if there is an answer at all. Certainly many theories have been proffered, and many reasons given even by those who create evil in the world, but do any of these truly answer the question of why it exists? There are explanations as to why it becomes physically manifest, but how far does it stretch into the metaphysical? As a writer of both fantasy and horror, a study into the nature of evil is essential in helping me to create good fiction. It can also help explain why it exists and how it can be conquered.

When studying any subject it helps to start with the basics. In this case, one might want to define evil. What, exactly, is evil? Does one know how to define it, or is it like pornography, tough to define but one knows it when one sees it? Well, I suppose one can define evil as something that is done against the wishes of another. Of course, that’s a rather over simplistic way to look at it and it can be easily argued that sometimes one has to do something against the wishes of another for that other person’s own good. So, for this essay, I will define evil as something done against the wishes of others which is detrimental or causes harm to some even though it might be to the benefit of others, and which somehow benefits those carrying out the harmful behavior.

Evil is as evil does. In other words, evil doesn’t just sit there in the world looking, feeling, sounding or smelling ugly, evil is evil because of its behavior. Thoughts and feelings are not evil. Fear, hatred, anger, envy, greed, et al. aren’t necessarily evil, but they are more likely to lead to evil behaviors. Conversely, courage, love, passivity, generosity, et al. are more likely to lead to good behaviors. All the thoughts and emotions described above, however, can lead to either good or evil behaviors, depending on how they’re channeled. The key lies in expressing freewill, and most importantly in allowing others to do the same.

Evil, by its very nature, subverts the freewill. This can be done either overtly or covertly. When done overtly, fighting it is easy. Of course the easiest way to subvert freewill is to take the life of anyone who would exercise it. The evil of this behavior is obvious and self evident. The evil is just as self evident when one resorts to brute force, threats, bullying and other such methods to subvert freewill. Men of power who resort to such methods often come to a violent and untimely demise. Their evil is so manifest the people see it clearly and rally to depose it. It is for this reason that men of evil designed systems that would perpetuate their evil under the guise of doing good. The less resistance they encountered, the easier it would be for them to subvert individual freewill. And if they couldn’t accomplish this in their lifetimes, then they wanted to be sure their progeny would be able to complete what they started.

Evil in its subtler forms can lead to evil in its more overt forms. This happens because a few might start to recognize the evil that is being perpetrated. They may try to point out that the good intentions of the many subvert the freewill of a few. This isn’t readily accepted by the many, or by the powers that be, and so they move to silence those who speak the truth. They will ostracize these people, keep them from speaking in a public forum, shout them down, censor them, call them names, question their sanity, whatever it takes to discredit them or keep them quiet. If the powers that be think someone’s message is dangerous enough or if they worry that too many people may be listening, they can use the power of authority to make someone’s life a living hell, even to the point of causing the death of that person, again either overtly or covertly.

Then there is power, and the lust for it. People like to be in power. They like to have power over others. They like to be idolized and adored by the masses. They like it so much so that many will stop at nothing to obtain such power. Even if it means subverting the freewill of those who would oppose them. Even if it means engaging in evil behavior. They may not want to admit this is what they are doing, they may not want to look at themselves in the mirror and think of themselves as evil, and so they will put on the mask of claiming that what they are doing is for some elusive greater good.

I don’t believe in the idea of a Utopia. Those who would try to sell that idea are usually doing so for their own benefit. A collectivist society claiming authority to do the greatest good is also capable of doing the greatest evil. By allowing individual freewill to flourish as much as possible, any evil that may occur is mitigated because it will only have the power to flow through the individual. It will not be able to flow through the powerful collective as a whole. In this way evil does the least amount of damage possible.

In modern society, political debates have come to the forefront involving prohibitions against certain goods and services. What are prohibitions if not an attempt to subvert freewill? People on both sides of the issues point to this statistic or that scientific study to make their points about building a better society through prohibition, but politics is not about science. Most politicians aren’t scientists. Politics is about philosophy. Politics is about who is going to control your life, and the lives of others, who is going to pay for it, and how much are they going to pay. Politics is about forming a collective with enough power to subvert the freewill of anyone who questions the motives of that collective. Government has become about forcing everyone else to submit to the will of that authoritative collective.

Evil may have come into being because of the desire to do good. It may have come into being because of a desire to keep others from harm. Those who have been through the school of hard knocks may wish to keep others from experiencing the same pain and disappointment as they’ve experienced. While explanations and the way of gentle persuasion is fine, restrictions subverting the freewill of the individual are not the way to go about teaching. This is not how humans learn. The freewill of others needs to be respected, as you would want others to respect your freewill. We must allow for mistakes to be made. We must allow for failure if genuine learning and human growth is to take place.

From the drug war to the war on the second amendment, from free speech zones to TSA warrantless searches, from the monopoly on currency creation to the corporate cartels dominating world trade, the evil in the system has become obvious to anyone who cares to look. You can turn your eyes away from the ugliness and claim it doesn’t exist, or you can make the claim that these are “necessary evils,” but denial and excuses aren’t going to solve the problems faced by modern society. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. A necessary evil is still an evil. Until we as a society recognize this and stop tolerating the subversion of freewill, evil will exist because we want it to exist, because we believe it can be tamed and domesticated.

Evil will likely always exist. There will always be those who wish to control others, who wish to subvert the freewill of individuals for their own benefit. The trick is to minimize the effect these people have on the rest of us. This is done by dissembling centralized institutions of power and decentralizing government. This is done by creating a voluntary society where there is no ruling class claiming authority to steal from a working class. This is done by creating a system that does not allow for force to be used against the individual, unless that individual is somehow harming or stealing from others. This is done by condemning the ideals of collectivism and exalting the ideals of individualism. This is accomplished when the governed refuse to give consent to those who would govern them.

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Ron Paul’s Wisdom, A Layman’s Perspective. A Collection of Opinion Editorials. By Szandor Blestman

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The Colors of Elberia; book 1 of The Black Blade Trilogy. By Matthew Ballotti

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