For clarity, let’s define “evil” as “the willful abuse of other humans.”
By this definition, any person or persons who purposely manipulate other humans to their own ends – anything from tricking them into a bad business deal to extorting money from them to murdering them – are engaging in evil.
From television, politicians, and endless “authorities,” we learn that evil is pre-eminent. God may be supremely powerful, but he’s powerful somewhere far away; Satan is powerful here. We can slide into evil with ease, but being good is difficult. Western man is convinced that darkness is stronger than light, whether he defines it in religious terms or secular terms.
The fear-sellers, we must admit, have won the day.
This primacy of fear and darkness is necessary to authority of course; without it, how would we be driven into their arms?
So, when someone comes along and calls evil a weakling, we think they’re a bit crazy, and maybe we worry that the devil might notice and chop them down.
Carrying such fears around every day, people seldom realize that evil is weak. And not weak temporarily or in a certain situation, but fundamentally weak. Here’s why: Evil does not produce.
Armed robbery is a good example of evil, and it is clearly contrary to production; we could almost define it as “anti-production.”
Evil is massively wasteful: it burns crops, it breaks down bridges, it steals important, useful assets, and it kills people. Evil, therefore, must take advantage of healthy and effective life if it is to prosper.
Genghis Kahn had to get his arrows, horses, and shields from somewhere, and he didn’t produce them himself. Likewise for Mao and Stalin and Tamerlane and the rest. One way or another, they required basically decent people to produce for them. Regardless of whether these producers were tricked or intimidated, it was they who armed evil; evil didn’t arm itself.
And this brings us to one of the great, simple truths of our times:
If goodness ever stops allowing evil to take advantage of it, evil is simply finished.
The good don’t need the evil, but the evil are fully dependent on the good.
It is the good (or at least the basically productive) who permit evil to continue. These decent people are laboring under fears and flawed ideas of course, but without their acquiescence, evil could accomplish very little. And this is massively good news: Evil is vulnerable… deeply vulnerable.
Changing the Game
Right now, evil has tricked millions of productive people into doing its will. At this point, most think acquiescence is the right thing to do, or they simply don’t realize any option exists. And being in that position, they accommodate themselves to it. This can be seen in the moral confusion that is currently endemic. How else could people believe that what is immoral for one person is somehow moral for another?
So, the very first step toward the defeat of evil is to clarify morality. And here we can get a quick start, because morality is simple. It boils down to this:
What is hateful to you, do not do to any man.
From there, we can move on to things like, “Do not encroach upon anyone or their property,” or, “Keep your agreements,” but those are just extensions of the first statement… and that’s all we really need.
Yes, a professional philosopher can come up with strange exceptions, but those aren’t serious concerns. Send the one-in-a-million scenario to a specialist and get on with the other 999,999.
Act with integrity and you’re guaranteed to do the right thing 99.999% of the time. Do you think any of the complicated, academic systems of ethics will touch that percentage?
Furthermore, integrity is a simple concept that can be understood by any functional adult. This means that moral clarity is not only possible, but universally accessible.
Once we’re clear on morality, we simply start calling things by their true names… and we don’t stop.
After that, evil openly displays its weakness every time it objects: It shows that it cannot abide – cannot survive – the persistence of simple truths.
* * * * *
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8 thoughts on “Evil Is Weak”
Nice read Paul. Thanks for sharing. A little bit of my thinking on this general topic of good vs. evil, follows.
I guess you could say, my thinking is not so black and white. I’m more along the lines that, in this world, as this hard life is experienced, that “nothing is as simple as you think”. How dare I quote Bono, lead singer for the nefarious and notorious global outfit (gang) known as the U2 Corporation! But really..isn’t it the truth, that anyone doing something of significance in this world, that involves anything more than miniscule amounts of money, has some kind of deal with the Devil going on?
I’ll set Bono aside, and instead consider a popular subject of discussion that continues, known as Steve Jobs, who apparently was also a good friend of Bono. Jobs at times was far from a man of 100% integrity (and Steve Wozniak, who was taught by his father to always be 100% honest, did not like that difficult truth about his friend, and called him to account for it and expressed his disappointment in Jobs’ behavior, on more than one occasion). But did Jobs, overall and by the end, live a good life, or a bad life? There’s differing opinions but God’s truth is either this one man he did more good than bad and was judged favorably by the Spirit inside his soul at the end of his run, or he didn’t. And isn’t that true for all of us?
Then there is the topic of love. What about love? Love is the force and the power, and individually or collectively we aren’t going very far without this power. Yet it is also certainly true that love alone is not enough in life. When love is turned into a game of abuse or control the love we once had fails us. We (individuals and couples, parents) need to do love right, survive love when it goes wrong, and transform the energy of love into a force of liberation, instead of allowing it to degenerate into just another element of pathological coercion and control. Love done right can really and truly be the saving grace, the personal salvation, as a reflection of an actual human experience of God (as opposed to the God that is taught to us in a church, churches being places where in almost all cases God is very hard to find, to say the least).
You said: “…isn’t it the truth, that anyone doing something of significance in this
world, that involves anything more than miniscule amounts of money, has
some kind of deal with the Devil going on?”
I hate to think this is the case, but it has been my observation that this is far more true than not. Thus, I do not think Mr. Rosenberg’s ratio is correct. While it is important to have moral clarity, the application of that clarity is no easy task and certainly not 99.99% of the time.
As always though, the article was fine food for thought.
Nope. Evil has no rules. There are some things good people will not do to win; evil has no such prohibitions. Sure, you can tell evil you will not support them anymore, Paul. Then evil will kill you or kill your family. If they need you, they will torture you or torture your family. Don’t take my word, the proof is all around you.
Hayek spoke about that very thing when he discussed why bad men always seem to get to the top — of politics at least.
In an episode of the original “Star Trek” Dr. Leonard McCoy said, “I’ve found that evil usually triumphs… unless good is very, very careful.”
I know it’s not over, and will never be over. However, we need to acknowledge how devastating for “good” were the Progressive accomplishments of the 20th century, which have clearly continued, as Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute has recently pointed out rather bluntly.
Clearly I am equating “good” with the advancement of liberty and “evil” with its opposite and specifically the Progressive agenda. Given that the proponents of “good” are relatively such a small group, “good” needs to be very careful, indeed.
One might make reference to the movie Unbreakable here, a nice artistic presentation of your theme.
Of course people who do evil do it in the idea they’re doing good. Resistance to collaborating with evil will force more of those doing evil to face their contradictions. That can be enough to return them from their wrong path.
This sounds very much like a short treatise on “Atlas Shrugged”.
I am particularly interested in that section:
“If goodness ever stops allowing evil to take advantage of it, evil is simply finished.
The good don’t need the evil, but the evil are fully dependent on the good.“
This is what I observed with (actual) narcissists that run rampant in our society nowadays. They abuse someone and good people enable and amplify the abuse because they believe the lies and are manipulated (even brainwashed). Narcissists want their target to commit suicide. What could be more evil than that ? But a narcissist is nothing without a circle of people who worship him. That’s his weakness.
Neoliberalism has enabled narcissism to spread. To destroy evil, we must get rid of neoliberalism. Only then can morals, spirituality, philosophy, peace, prosperity and real capitalism return.
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