Societies choose to make evil look sexy in order to distract us from real evil – called ‘banal’ by Hannah Arendt. Real evil is often done quietly and without intention, like climate change.

Societies choose to make evil look sexy in order to distract us from real evil – called ‘banal’ by Hannah Arendt. Real evil is often done quietly and without intention, like climate change.


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You mean, society shows us heavily armed street gangs to scare us while white collar executives steal the money and politicians take our rights?


The media shows us gangs because it gets them ratings, not because the Illuminati is scheming to distract us from white collar crime.


It all sprouts from the same greed. Media executives demand greater profits every quarter so just reporting the news isn't good enough. There's no money in being fair or well researched. You need people to think they could die if they look away. You need them to be outraged and addicted to it. You need to break the story first, even if it's wrong. Meanwhile, politicians are stuffing as much public funding into their private pockets as they can get away with (and they can get away with a lot). They give their friends no bid contracts and let them change 5x what the job is worth. They drag their feet or outright attack anything that might slow the torrent of money flowing upwards. And nothing is any better among the corporations. They eagerly moved their manufacturing to countries using slaves and factories dumping their toxic byproducts into whatever river is closest because it allowed them to pocket the difference. In the process they've created a global dependency on a violent, brutal, authoritarian regime. They're the same breed of people every time. Neoliberals spruiking economic ideas that never work. Pentecostals insisting that God wants them to be rich. Financial firms carefully calculating how to melt you down into money. They recognise one another instantly and will work together to keep their snouts in the trough, no shadowy meetings in secret lairs required. Just the right school. The right rhetoric. The right class. So no, the media is never going to hold neoliberal governments accountable. The government is never going to hold corporate psychopaths responsible. They have a unity that us penniless nobodies can only dream of.


White collar crime from my personal experience as an average news reader / television viewer is far more complex, technical and vague and hence "uninteresting" because of my inability to understand the scope, damage and method in which these crimes were done. Gangs however are easy to understand, relatable and feel like something that is more probable for me to suffer from.


I think this is really a result of how they're portrayed and reported on than a result of properties intrinsic to gangs or white collar crime. The media could instead choose to report on white collar crime by saying the CEO or whoever is a thief and essentially leaving it at that, or they could have lengthy discussions of all the confusing technical details and murky minutiae of drug trade or gang politics, but they don't.


You’re much more likely to suffer forms of wage theft from your employer than be mugged on the street, and it will add up to considerably more over time than a mugger would ever realistically take from you.


You can't make these kinds of accusations on public media until they're facts established by a court. Before that happens they're no more than ad hominem attacks, and there are legal repercussions for doing it.


Chicken or the egg, right? If the media didn't manufacture so many fears, people wouldn't feel the need to keep tabs on those fears. Fear mongering has been used to keep people in line for as long as that has needed to be done, western religious traditions definitely speak to that. Guys like Hearst and Murdoch just scaled it up. You are definitely not giving the distributors of media enough agency and instead choosing to put it all on the individual. You may have also gotten this perspective from various forms of media as well. Western media loves to emphasize personal responsibility.


Uhh we know where this began there is no chick and egg example here. You are evolutionarily driven to be more concerned with fear then you are with other things because your brain wants you to watch out for things that can end your life. Things like a gang member and gangs being active in your city shooting someone or so forth like kidnapping. These are clear things that jump at you. News agencies get ratings for bringing them up, without the news agencies you clearly wouldn’t know about many of these things, but the basic driver of it all is evolution and your brain it’s why it works. When it comes to white collar crimes, someone boning their company by say, taking some money out of a fund or something, does not only not hit the same, it also is often hard to follow by many lay persons, often involve following some difficult paper trail, and is no immediate danger to your life. You don’t have to avoid Wall Street for example due to someone committing a white collar crime. We know why all these hit different it’s just evolution.


Another mitigating factor is the greed inherent in contemporary society: greed glamorized by a superficial, materialistic culture. It ranges from the films and TV we watch, to the news we consume: all of it is driven by profit, which ties into your evolutionary narrative that fear motivates. And, in this case, it motivates ratings, which produces more profit for everyone involved. Now, you may respond that greed is another evolutionary mechanism. One designed to keep us with an abundance of resources to procreate and promulgate our genes. To that, I'd say yes.


I think you’re right and it’s good to look at these issues through that evolutionary lens and try to take emotion out of it so we can think about how we can actually affect some kind of change if that’s the goal.


Agreed. Society is a manifestation of human nature.


But also the guiding force for our nature today. Change society, our nature changes.


Nope. I’m with u/Larcecate here. There’s an evolution process here and a symbiosis between the people in power, the media and the people. To say that the media isn’t agenda driven besides money and ratings is Naive.


News outlets are driven by profit which can be related to ratings but is not the same. The decision to run certain stories or not run them is a function of what will make a media outlet or individual journalists more money. This leads to suppression of stories that show industry or the rich in a negative light, as well as suppression of narratives that make organized labor look good. Here is a short BBC article looking at how Enron was able to maintain good PR in the media before their fraud broke publicly: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/1817445.stm I believe you are correct that violence is something that people are interested in, and fear can command public attention. However, command of public attention in and of itself is not the goal. Profit is the goal. So, while violent stories are used in the pursuit of that profit, the choice to exclude stories about corporate evil and the wrongs committed by the rich are related to the profit motive as well. It’s not as simple as just saying that people are drawn to violence. The rich have an outsized influence on how the media portrays them and their causes.


If you think its just for ratings, I think youre over simplifying the issue or maybe you just don't know much about it. Mass media has been used to influence many aspects of our culture up to and including law/policy for years and years.


I’m not over simplifying nor do I not know about it, I didn’t say the world is black and white either all evolution and no control or Vice versa, the point is that with normal predictive models there is a desire to watch and therefore a want to turn out negative news/fear mongering that is at the core of humans, you need to give that the respect it deserves. It’s why every mass shooting ratings go up, by saying that does that not mean some left wing news organizations don’t want to cover it more and push for gun control? No it doesn’t mean that isn’t happening, but the reason in the spike of viewership is because of peoples fear. Fear mongering only even works because of this same evolution.


This ain't a chicken and egg thing. While there are many examples of governments using fearmongering for political means, like the Nazis demonizing of the jews. That's not what is happening with western media.


But that's exactly what's happening. Media, especially right-wing, protects the interests of capital by blaming all the ills brought on by capitalism on already-marginalized groups. "Wages aren't low because business owners are incentivized to exploit workers; it's because of Mexican immigrants!" "The government isn't in debt because we refuse to tax the rich for the infrastructure they are the main beneficiaries of; it's because of Black welfare queens!" "Women aren't objectified because capitalism commodifies anything it can sell to anyone; it's because the Jews invented porn to degrade society!" All of these narratives are straight out of the fascist playbook.


Blaming the media is just tiring at this point. Societies woes are too rampant and internal to be blamed on any one institution.


We live in the battlefield of many propaganda narratives, there is no one cause for the situation and no one solution. There is no ideological panacea.


For sure, but the number one reason is ratings. Bias of the station owner might be the #2 reason. It certainly isn't a conspiracy to hide white collar crime.


White collar criminals have lawyers, and if they are rich enough social media staff and P.R. firms. They know how to get out of a story and away from coverage. We also have a very underfunded media now, there are just less paid journalists, and the demand for content has never been higher. As such the easy targets are all that's covered.


True, legal objections create an effective block against reporting the greatest evil done by the most powerful people


It doesn’t have to be anything conspiracy-related to be true. The news media and white collar criminals are part of the same overall power structure. Do you think these people have to meet in smoke-filled rooms in order to cover each other’s backs? They communicate implicitly. No Illuminati conspiracy is needed.


They show it to drive a narrative. Something something guns are bad and scary. Give politicians more money and power to “keep us safe”


Lol who owns the media hmmmmm


They don't even show gangs anymore. Some cop shoots an armed goon and its a national story meanwhile 28 people get shot in Chicago over the weekend and nobody cares


Would be the case if they weren’t all owned by 2-3 famlilies.


Rights and money are created by humans. We created those and allowed those to regulate us for the positive development of society and humanity, and for that we lent it into the hands of a group of people from among us whom we trusted back then. Now the hands have switched, and these hands, which hold these powers, are no less than that of the devil itself. The real evil is the damage inflicted on the whole of humanity because of these people, but we are no less to blame, the natural characteristic of a human being, selfishness, destroys the whole of humanity if not controlled by our concious will.


There are some rights which are inherent. The right to life, for instance. Murder, for instance, has been criminalized in some form or another across cultures and millennia. Slavery and genocide are often justified through existential or racial superiority excuses, but these excuses are given precisely because it’s understood to be universally morally wrong. A state cannot take that right away. They can kill you, but they would have to justify your murder.


‘We investigated ourselves and found the ~~murder~~ police involved shooting was justified’


Inherent to what? I mean, there are some arguments for certain universal morality that may extend to primates, but rights, in the most general of a legal sense, are certainly created by humans.


>There are some rights which are inherent. The right to life, for instance. Tell this to a chimpanzee. There are no rights, only entitlements under the law, should you be lucky enough to live in a society.


False equivalence? We may be the only species who is able to comprehend about morals and rights. All other primate species -- and all animal species -- operate at a more existential and survivalist level. We in fact are recognizing the same inherent rights apply to other species and codifying it in protective laws. The law is a human construct, inherent rights aren't. They are simply recognized and codified in laws in organized societies.


>False equivalence? We may be the only species who is able to comprehend about morals and rights. All other primate species -- and all animal species -- operate at a more existential and survivalist level. We in fact are recognizing the same inherent rights apply to other species and codifying it in protective laws. I wanted to address this directly, too. If a right were inalienable it wouldn't require protection and wouldn't be available for invention. The only actual inalienable phenomena we know of we call natural laws. We all have an inalienable right to be acted upon by gravity, for example. Any ability that can be deprived is not inalienable in any meaningful way. You're talking about civil liberties. I think *entitlements* is a better word, but not many people seem to agree with me. The problem with calling civil liberties 'inalienable' is that it's untrue and it breeds false security. We need to remind one another that the freedoms we value are mutually assured through cooperation, not innate.


>The law is a human construct, inherent rights aren't. Inherent rights are absolutely a human construct. That's the point of the analogy to a close evolutionary relative. It's obvious that we invented the concept of rights. The idea that they can be inalienable makes no sense in a plural, secular reality.


Or while child molesters get minimal sentences for scarring children for life. Yet drug dealers selling drugs often have larger sentences. Often people buying drugs are people who have been abused. Hmmm yeah the system is fucked.


Fun fact: gangs are not illegal in the USA.


Technically correct, crime and racketeering, yes, but people have a right to assemble.


Are you trying to sympathize with gangs? They are evil bro


Its definitely **not** sexy to be in a street gang. It’s like you not good enough to be in a crime syndicate, so you in a street gang.


Kicking puppies vs quietly designing a society that keeps most of its members in perpetual precariousness.


Was just listening to a Terrence McKenna speech yesterday and he said EXACTLY this about evil and banality


A very Terrence McKenna kind of moment.


It’s nuts cause I woke up this morning thinking about exactly this concept and then opened Reddit and this was the first post in my home page




I was wondering why I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to buy Lightspeed Briefs™.


Which video / soundclip? I'm always up to hearing some McKenna pontificating.


If you are thinking about synchronicity you will inevitably encounter it.


Link? :)


Me too pls


I was listening to that same lecture. Wild. How weirdly synchronous when meaningful events happen to a lot of strangers all at once.


Do you recall the name of the lecture?


Okay you're the second person to mention, can u please link it??


Cocidences are actually way more common than people expect


"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." -FDR


The beetle is a member of Baader-Meinhof after all.


Do you recall the name of the lecture?


The real evil is blaming the individual for drinking out of a plastic straw while gas companies flare off all their natural gas because they don't want to store it.


I’m not wild about this narrative. Your everyday citizen isn’t the one dumping sludge or megatons of trash into the ocean, but I don’t think shirking off all blame to mega corporations is a great idea. Use non-plastic straws and pick up trash around you, regardless. It doesn’t really matter that your contribution to eliminating/reducing climate change is a drop in the ocean — every little bit helps. Certainly don’t give individuals the impression that they should feel apathy towards helping out with little things that could approve their local environment on a micro-scale.


The non plastic straw campaign was developed by the seafood industry who don't want us to know that 50%of plastic waste in ocean is discarded fishing nets. Straws is 0,001 percent. By all means don't use plastic straws, but also ask yourself why there is no campaign about the fishing nets.


Oh but we all know why there is no campaign about the fishing nets.


Big Fishing Net


We're all caught in it.


There are plenty of campaigns about fishing nets. And while I agree that straws are an infinitesimal part of the problem, that's true for most of the problem. We like to shift responsibility by saying stuff like oil and gas companies being responsible for the vast majority of CO2 pollution, but of course every single one of us is ultimately the beneficiary of that pollution. Acting like you wouldn't use gas if someone hadn't offered it to you, so you're not to blame, is at least a little obtuse.


The amount of blame on corporate pollution SHOULD be equivalent to their contribution. Same can be said for vocalization of and efforts at home to be greener: equal effort to to the contribution.


I think what you’re saying is simply “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do”. But I also believe we have to recognize that we could virtually erase our individual footprints and it would have little to no effect on climate change while companies and also entire countries are doing nothing, and actually demand the right thing of those who do the vast majority of the damage. I will continue to wash out my glass jars and takeout containers like a clown while my city fails to actually recycle them though.


Yeah I think I agree with you here. In general people have moved quite a bit onto the platform of curbing climate change, but when you put it to a vote and say "Everybody has to chip in $X a year to fix it," things get a bit more complicated.


They’re just highlighting how disproportionate the damage done by corporations compared to a single individual’s small-time choices. Of course we should all be conscious, and I don’t think we should shirk off all the blame to mega corporations, but we should shirk off most of the blame to them, that’s for sure


Also stop eating animals


I would say all-or-nothing thinking like Aredt's is part of the problem: they are seeing the world as inherently good or evil. But, when you scale up morality, it's endless shades of grey, because much of it is subjective and it rests on the sum of the individual actions of a collective. This all-or-nothing thinking produces morally apathetic individuals, like you said, in a society where "evil", as Aredt called it, is glamourized and people are shown their actions don't matter. The part everyone does not realize, however, is that if every individual was to change his or her actions for the better, then society would be nearly cured of its problems. Almost all of us can discern right from wrong by that niggling feeling called a conscience. We can understand the pain we cause through empathy. If everyone one of us set out to do our fair share to make life better for everyone else and the planet as a whole, things would be massively better. It's just that simple.


There's a certain irony in pointing out subjective differences and all-or-nothing thinking, and then turning to an answer that is "just that simple." Don't we all wish! I would certainly sleep better. But if it were, we probably wouldn't be in the mess, and we would certainly be doing better at getting ourselves out if it. Maybe if anything is simple, it's the obvious fact that ethics are complicated. Holding massive companies responsible for their climate contributions is at least one semi-solid, comparatively simple-ish answer, though. Maybe.


We should make the narrative not about corporations but rather about investors. Capital cannot do anything except that which it entices individuals to do. There *is* individual responsibility in these questions. We don't all bear that responsibility equally but one can't shirk one's share by saying someone else is more responsible than oneself. Vegan, btw.


The real evil called banal? Man someone doesn't know Hannah arendt's philosophy and or German. Banal means mundane and Hannah Arendt uses the mundanity of the evil to describe how the ns regime got away with their crimes in the minds of those committing them. What they did were simple banal deeds, counting, registering, transporting, guarding prisoners...all to systematically kill jews, disabled and unwanted people. She used this phrase of banality of evil to describe what was happening in ns Germany in relation to the process of eichmann. It has nothing to do with what the title claims...


The title is a little confusingly structured. It isn't saying that the name of real evil is "banal," but that real evil is described by Arendt as banal. I haven't read her stuff, but I'm familiar with the concept of "the banality of evil." I've never been under the impression she meant it to only be used in reference to Nazi Germany. That's just the example used. There are analogous banal evil action in relation to global warming


Well she used it specifically for the eichmann process so the word is intimatly connected to the ns history, but I give that since then the concept has developed by reception and is broadly understand as the concept in which evilness gets incorporated trough a kind of mundane process rationality. In this sense the way we have industrialised our nature and the destruction of nature for simple economic gains in ways of buisness activity it can be considered banality of evil. But I would still object the usage of that worth unless contextualizes to this broader meaning since it is so intimatly linked to ns history. The way the title makes it appear is definitely still BS in my books


Yes it does? Climate change will kill millions (*at least*), and it's being perpetuated because of millions of those little steps, like the title says.


Well sure but that's still not what Hannah Arendt was discussing with the banality of evil...banality of evil is not about banal things leading to bad things. It's about a system which is intentionally evil but hides this evilness in banality. Enviromental evils are not intentional, no one is intentionally harming the environment to destroy it and hides this through banality. Hannah Arendt's banality of evil is simply concerned with other things, mainly the question how a whole nation was able to intentionally kill entire groups of people all the while vast people were involved with it... Arendt's banality of evil shows its ways in the tweets of Donald Trump that led to anti Asian assaults and an insurrection attempt. Not in some abstract media criticizm...


Given suppressed information coming out from oil/energy companies in previous decades and the crackdown on immigration from affected areas to more wealthy ones, I would say there is at least some intention to do evil, or at least profit from it. Media criticism isn't abstract, social psychological research proves this. Only recently has dramatic media focused on things like economic crimes and the banal aspects of atrocities or violence, whereas previous decades got Scarface.


Man I don't even argue with you about your topics, you are absolutely right with all of that, but the way op involved Hannah arendt's topic of the banality of evil is simply too much of a stress. That's simply not what she was referring to... There are way better modern philosophists for that matter. Hannah Arendt is great and she said many profound things about many modern topics, but we shouldn't throw her around like she is a newborn in an orthodox baptism. I simply objected the usage of Arendt in this context because it isn't meaningful in that context, it's just namedropping and appeal to authority


Truly evil people are anomalies, unicorns almost. The way they think, the way they behave, the way many of them don't even think about any kind of consequences, and just overall how different they are from good or even neutral people is what makes them "sexy" or fascinating. Imo evil requires intention and taking the intent out of it means that everyone on earth is evil at some point which I think cheapens the meaning of the word. We're then using the same word to describe someone who drives around with a car that wouldn't pass an emissions test because they can't afford to fix it as we are someone who commits genocide. And that's silly.


It is virtually impossible for some *one* to commit genocide. It takes a bureaucracy, an entire state. The Holocaust was evil on an industrial, bureaucratic scale. This is all the more insidious. It’s almost like human beings have a collective blindspot to atrocities committed on this level. When there is so much complexity, so many moving parts and so many people involved it becomes exponentially harder to see what’s really going on. The fact it is natural for an individual swept up in all that machinery to assume the stance that they are not individually culpable is simultaneously true and *precisely what enables evil acts of this scale to function* and that is a terrifying realization. The only way we prevent it from happening is each of us as individuals developing heightened senses of vigilance and responsibility. Apathy and shortsightedness will allow tremendous destruction to be inflicted on this planet. The power we wield collectively is too great for us to get complacent.


I do like the example you put out for everyone, the Holocaust was systematic and required a number of people to work. Many of whom, didn’t even pull the trigger. I’m reminded of the many clerks, the construction teams, the corporate sponsors like BMW, and the police forces that caused this to happen.


Don't let IBM off the hook.


You mean what the did (are doing) with red hat?


I mean why stop there? Why not go back even further? The rise of Hitler and Germany ready to pop was a product of how Germany was being treated and shit on in the years leading to Hitler. If you truly want to stop such evils, not just play ideological games that suit your ideology and will lead to more evil by not being addressed, you need to be going to more root causal issues than most peoples brains ever put the effort into, otherwise you’re not solving anything.


Meh, a lot of countries have experienced things similar to post-WW1 Germany without responding *genocidally*


\>Meh, a lot of countries have experienced things similar to post-WW1 Germany without responding genocidally Cope. Any other country in their same situation would have done the same thing. Perhaps they'd marginalize a different group of people, or start the war a different way- but they definitely wouldn't just sit and take it. People love to pretend Germany was some one off evil caused by germans being bad guys but the average german was no different than you or me, or anyone else in that time period. Replace all the Germans with French people- run the same scenario and the same thing would happen. Nazi Germany is what happens when you push a powerful nation's people too far. We learned that lesson after the first war and were far more magnanimous in the second victory. As a result, Germany is now a close friend and ally rather than a spiteful enemy.


Genocide wasn’t remotely the reason Hitler had support, it’s pointless to bring that up if you’re trying to not allow these types of situations to happen.


Hatred of the "other" was one of Hitler's biggest draws, even if people weren't implicitly endorsing genocide it didn't make much difference


The Treaty of Versailles was dumb and created the conditions for Hitler’s rise, however prior to that it is misguided to paint Germany as some kind of victim of the other colonial empires. The whole situation was a product of colonialism and its strongest empires playing a zero-sum-game for resources while using wholly inadequate forms (in the long run) of diplomacy to massage its flash points. Germany was just the most powerful riser, to the British and French’s great chagrin, and conflict is inevitable when the system just keeps kicking cans down the road to the point when it all snowballs and you finally get a crisis you can’t massage anymore (hello Balkans).


Exactly right. I would wager that our biggest collective blindspot today is in regards to our treatment of animals. The suffering and death that lead to that burger you buy at McDonald's is completely abstracted and shrugged off and I think few would want to have to participate directly in factory farming and slaughter in order to get their meat.


I don’t entirely agree. What Arendt is suggesting here is well explained in her “Banality of Evil” idea which she wrote about after watching a Nazi officer Adolf Eichman being tried in Jerusalem after the war. It’s a real good read on the subject which may or may not provide a different take on the issue. She basically describes him as not a man who sought to commit evil, but did evil things without evil intentions. He was an incredibly plain, ‘normal’, bureaucrat type, who sought to advance his standing in the Nazi party almost as if it were any other job. And when he toured a concentration camp for an inspection he was on some level aware of the horrific acts being committed, but ultimately felt little about it as it was something he could choose to ignore. Her main point is the man didn’t wake up everyday smiling at the thought of genocide, full of joyful malice. He saw himself as just a normal guy, doing his job and living his life. If this man can commit such great acts of evil, can we still say he wasn’t evil if he didn’t see himself or think that way? Can evil necessarily require intention when there are many examples of people like Adolf Eichman who made careers of doing bad things who think nothing of it? That’s why Arendt doesn’t like the ‘sexification’ of evil, because a lot of evil outcomes are produced by people just choosing to be ignorant, not out of some malicious intention. Just food for though, hoping to have a good discussion about it.


So evil could be compared to a toxic family system where everyone ignored the elephants in the room and just tries to appease the parents. I see a lot of the similar thing with the trump stuff, a recreation of a toxic family system, dragging people into somewhat dissociated states focused on survival or success. One could say our society also does this, especially professionalism as it is instituted by corporations. I guess my final thought is maybe most nazi’s weren’t evil but people have an ability to shut out really bad things happening around them, to the point of holding the horrifying systems they take part in. Reminds of dissociation and reminds me of that Gandalf quote. Great men doing nothing, should maybe be great men focused on their own safety and success.


I think this is exactly it. Sort of the idea that when you see something wrong and don't do or say anything about it, it's essentially lying. And when enough people feed into this "lie" by turning a blind eye or not addressing the elephants in the room, it allows evil to take root. I think this is exactly what happened leading up to and during Nazi Germany.


So, where do we draw the line? Am I evil because I drive a car, drink milk, had a child, bought clothes made in Bangladesh, ate a hamburger last week? I ask myself these questions. Also, I work as a biologist for a permitting company. The projects I help assess impacts for range from solar to mountain bike trails to oil and gas. Am I evil if I am part of the process which allows for a single oil well to be put in? Perhaps I am! But more evil than someone who flies all around the world consuming vast amounts of petroleum? Who is and who isn’t evil? I think about these questions all the time. My response to my own questioning is to offer my time at a reduced rate on renewable projects, as I attempt to steer this old permitting company towards cleaner energy projects. However, the state in which I live obtains 40% of its income from O&G. There needs to be a large shift coming from many sides in order avoid the incoming climate change disaster.


Well said. I think you’re right, most of us in the first world are in some way complicit in harmful practices. I can’t and wouldn’t try to deny that, but I don’t think Arendt would call you evil based on your description. First of all, you recognize this fact and do at least something to slightly better align with your morale values. This already puts you in a completely different category than her banal evil. I also believe this needs to be applied relatively. Do we blame the individual workers who work oil fields just to provide for their family? No, I blame the multimillionaire board members who lobby to keep their business methods cheap at all costs at the expense of environmental damage. The difference between someone who works to maintain themselves and those they care about out of necessity versus those who are already comfortable and powerful overseeing harmful practices which they know to be harmful is an important distinction. I hope I worded that clearly enough I’m at work lol


It's stupid to try to categorize people into the buckets good and evil. People all are both


I agree with you, there are explicitly intentional, evil humans although rare. Imo, evil has always appeared "sexy" because it's easier to imagine and more interesting than good. Depictions of hell are far more abundant than depictions of Heaven. A scene of violence is clear and invocative, a scene of peace and serenity isn't universally as easy to understand.


Reminds me of the most prescient description I've ever read of Qanon, courtesy of The Onion: "a conspiracy theory which posits that world leaders are secretly evil, rather than openly so." Reality is boring, it's easy to distract people with sensationalized fantasy so they turn a blind eye on the mundane reality of the evil right in front of them.


That's a misunderstanding of Qanon. Qanon doesn't just say world leaders are "secretly evil," it posits an Evil Jewish Conspiracy.


How original of them lol


I know, right? Beacons of forward thinking, them reactionaries.


“Down there," he said, "are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any inequity. All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness. Not the really high, creative loathsomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass-produced darkness of the soul. Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality. They accept evil not because they say yes, but because they don't say no.” \-Lord Vetinari, "Guards! Guards!"


Another one from *Small Gods:* >It has to be said...there was little to laugh at in the cellar of the Quisition. Not if you had a normal sense of humor. There were no jolly little signs saying: You Don't Have To Be Pitilessly Sadistic To Work Here But It Helps!!! > >But there were things to suggest to a thinking man that the Creator of mankind had a very oblique sense of fun indeed, and to breed in his heart a rage to storm the gates of heaven. > >The mugs, for example. The inquisitors stopped work twice a day for coffee. Their mugs, which each man had brought from home, were grouped around the kettle of the hearth of the central furnace which incidentally heated the irons and knives. > >They had legends on them like A Present From the Holy Grotto of Ossory, or To The World's Greatest Daddy. Most of them were chipped, and no two of them were the same. > >And there were the postcards on the wall. It was traditional that, when an inquisitor went on holiday, he'd send back a crudely-colored woodcut of the local view with some suitably jolly and risque message on the back. And there was the pinned-up tearful letter from Inquisitor First Class Ishmale "Pop" Quoom, thinking all the lads for collecting no fewer than seventy-eight *obols* for his retirement present and the lovely bunch of flowers for Mrs. Quoom, indicating that he'd always remember his days in No. 3 pit, and was looking forward to coming in and helping out any time they were shorthanded. > >And it all meant this: that there are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal, kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do. I swear, there's at least one Discworld quote for every subject.


How is something evil if there's no intention behind it? It's not evil, it's ignorance.


I would have liked to see more thought given to the aesthetic arguments. Art has a lot to say about how humans have conceived of "evil" through the years. If you review the idea of how Satan or the Devil has been used in art, transformed through the ages, it might make more sense of why evil is "sexy". The Devil in art is a continuation of Poseidon. In Hellenic religion, Poseidon is often the god of the ocean, however in Hellenic art he is mostly depicted as the ruler of the "abyss", the bringer of earthquakes from the abyss that bring great change in the form of chaos, and he is depicted often as residing with the wild beasts (he was the progenitor of several, including the horse). He is not the god of the ocean, he is the Id. More importantly, he survived into medieval times as the Devil. He lives far below, in the abyss, is a lord of chaos who can affect the material world, he has a trident. The Devil is also the Id. This is not confined to the western world. Siva has many of the same parallels as Poseidon (and by extension the Devil), he brings change and destruction, he is fond of the wild places and a lord of the beasts, he has a trident... This isn't to say that Siva is "evil", far from it! Saivites adore and respect Siva as a principle to be accepted, and they live a very ethical life. It is the same concept as the Devil or Satan is in the west, here is an example of what we think of as something to be avoided may be something that needs to be confronted... Evil is depicted as sexy because it is a part of us, it is the uncontrolled urge to chaos (assuming "evil" is a thing, I am not convinced it is), we know this impulse and how it rests in us, we also know that it must be suppressed. How can this not be seen as a sexy and desirable thing?


Philosopher Susan Neiman argues that the real sources of evil are quiet actions done without evil intention and uses the example of the behaviour of the German civilian during WWII. Neiman laments that society, particularly the arts, sensationalises evil in such a way that makes it difficult to discuss and unpack the actual and pressing evils facing us today, such as climate change. Fellow philosopher Stephen de Wijze disagrees; he believes that evil persons fascinate us because they invert or destroy our moral landscape. He identifies that until recently, concepts of evil have largely existed within the religious worldview, but that philosophers are increasingly thinking about secular definitions of evil. de Wijze talks about evil acts as pollutions of our moral framework, and that evil persons fascinate us because they are seen to herald the 'great evils' spoken about by moral philosophers (homelessness, murder). De Wijze gives the example of torture as an example of an evil act, but one that is often condoned for being done 'for the greater good' ie in violent regimes. The panel move on to discuss what evil is, whether evil characters encourage immoral behaviour, and whether we should accept evil. Terry Eagleton references the death drive as one reason why humans cannot exist without evil, just as the definition of utopia (no place) intimates that humans are incapable of creating and maintaining an ideal society.




I agree. When I hear "evil", I generally think that some active intent is required, which is how I would differentiate "evil" from "bad". A kid playing with matches and accidentally burning his house down isn't something I would consider evil, while an arson intentionally burning down that same house would be evil. I think intent is absolutely required.




But what about when you know the facts, so you're not dumb, or careless. But you have a lot to personally benefit, and are generally apathetic to the externalities.




If the cheeto had human lives you could relate to, you probably wouldn't eat it. If it's millions of bacteria, you can't really relate. And I'm more speaking to corporations, which do have people who assess the impacts of their decisions, and have full knowledge of the externalities, but are hoping their decisions are worth it.




Ehh I think once you're getting into the 'if not me than someone else' arguments it's crossed the line.




Was the Holocaust merely "bad" or was it "evil"/"morally wrong"?


I think the Holocaust was evil because the intent of the Nazis *was* the extermination of certain groups of people. I think killing people indiscriminately on the basis of immutable group membership is bad (as a utilitarian, I have utilitarian arguments for that). The Nazis had an explicit goal of killing certain people; 11 million people didn't die as an unintended consequence of Nazi policies, it itself *was* intentionally part of their goals. Because their end goals / intents were extremely bad, I would consider that evil.


I tink Arendt was trying to make a point, that we have traditionally focused on bloody-minded malice yet the true antagonist of morality is much more often how it is perpetuated by indifferent routine, but the author kind of ran away with that one wordplay to try and turn it into a whole framework. And yeah, calling on popular culture redefine the word evil is quite the leap. Especially when there are quite established terms such as "tragedy of the commons" to drive home the point about how daily self interest can create serious challenges to long term welfare.


Yeah, this is literally just someone trying to use a bunch of fancy words to push the modern sensationalist rhetoric of "if you're not actively advocating for the solution, you're complicit in the injustice." Basically labeling everyone "evil" for not spending every waking moment of their lives fighting against whatever social justice or environmental topic *she* deems to be important to guilt them into joining the "right side." Which as we learned in Philosophy 101 all those years ago, if your argument is not supported by *sound logic*, it's not much of an argument. And that hot take has been debunked as nonsense time and time again.


> Basically labeling everyone "evil" for not spending every waking moment of their lives fighting against whatever social justice or environmental topic she deems to be important to guilt them into joining the "right side." This isn’t a great reading of what’s being said here. I haven’t read ‘The Banality of Evil’ (and obviously you haven’t either) but Neiman’s taking her cue from Hannah Arendt. Arendt’s point was that if you look at the Holocaust, which is probably the event most people today would point to if asked for a historical example of evil, very few of the people who facilitated it had any real interest in the mass murder of Jewish people. In other words, enormous amounts of unnecessary suffering can be delivered on the world for complex reasons that often don’t even involve a desire to do harm to another person. It may be true that there’s some redefinition going on here, but either way she’s not making the point you seem to think she’s making. EDIT: Arendt’s actually saying something almost opposite to your reading. Evil comes into the world via people who aren’t at all evil themselves. Almost like an emergent phenomenon.


Is she planning to shut of her air conditioner or central heating, and planning to stop using motorized vehicles, stop using electricity and stop using products that are manufactured and transported using non-renewable energy?


unintentional evil? wtf is malice-free evil? slight inconvenience evil?


Malice speaks nothing of the impact, only the intent. The classic example of ‘the banality of evil’ that Hannah Arendt spoke of is a good one to look at. To what extent can useful-idiot type of evil be considered to be malicious, if at all? That’s in many ways far more terrifying, that someone can commit or help facilitate atrocities and not even register that what they are doing is wrong.


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund burke


When corporations pollute, for example, it’s not because fish have personally wronged them so they’re intentionally trying to destroy waterways. No one is rubbing their hands together and laughing manically. A lot of negative outcomes are caused more by apathy than malice.


post industrial revolution most evil people are just 'nice' upper middle class people moving huge numbers around on a spreadsheet at work. It's just boring statistics that represent customers dying or employees dying or the environment dying


It’s a problem with the systematised world we’ve constructed. People don’t take personal responsibility for actions they undertake as part of a system. And when you are a part of a system it’s a lot easier for it to corrupt you than for you to fix it.


It's Monday, first day of the work week. Do you know what effects on society and the environment the money in your 401k is having right now?


Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t exclude myself from people not taking personal responsibility for actions they undertake as part of a system. And with this example I don’t think it’s a fair expectation for the individual to do due diligence when that information is deliberately obfuscated and we have limited control or capacity to make more ethical choices. The problem is amoral systems are running the world and no one is really in control. Banal evil abounds.


And also what happens if because of your position in the system you have no other, more ethical choices available, or the only way to get to them them would be to change your position therein which, were it possible, would kind of contradict the idea the system is evil in the first place? For example, should a poor person share as much blame as an upperclass one for using cheap clothes, even though the alternatives for the poor are either to not get new clothes, thus possibly causing other harm as the clothes deteriorate, to go to debt, to steal clothes and thus commit "traditional" evil, or else, to stop being poor which, were it possible, would show the system was more just than it's accused of being? Do responsibility levels change with one's position? If not, is that a fair way of assigning blame and if it is, why?


This is what happens when you don't define terms. For me, 'Evil' requires intent because we have lots of other words to describe unintentional negative outcomes. We hurt out of instinct, ignorance, consequences out of our control or awareness, etc.. When we seek to injure in a way that is contradictory to your own claimed morals it is cowardly evil. When our morals are evil it is pure evil. We still then have the task of defining what this latter might be, though I think everyone has an idea or assumption about it generally.


I had to read some of Arendt’s work for a class and her ideas are centered around the idea evil can be perpetuated by people who are not consciously evil. I remember her main example is the man who drove the trains of Jewish people towards concentration camps. He argues that he was just obeying orders and didn’t realize the malicious nature of his deed. And maybe in his mind he was just obeying orders, but he was still partaking in evil.


A more contemporary example would be someone like an insurance adjuster or something. They have the power to ruin a person's life, but its not really them doing it, its the position they are put in. People are really on the hardcore semantics horse in this thread. What Arendt is saying makes perfect sense if you understand her framing.


"Just doing my job"




Corporations in the pursuit of profit destroyed our planet. They're not actively "evil" they just want money and are willing to do anything (including destroy the planet they live on, sell out any and everyone, etc) to get it. Evil is a side effect in their pursuit of profit


And they slowly turn young workers into pseudo-sociopaths with cult bullshit about professionalism


Well. from my point view, the Jedi are evil. Is it not a subjective thing? like thinking what is good or evil? Who is allowed to define what is evil? in 200 years, people might call us evil savages for something considered normal and fine today.


I'm not sure how it can be 'evil' without intent, it's the same as saying tripping over is evil as a consequence of human error. There isn't nothing intentional about climate change, other than the fact it's human error. 'Evil' Is quite subjective towards clear self serving 'intentions'. Climate change is more tragic than it is 'Evil'. If we ought to define evil, in their absolute formats, we can describe our world and beings in it as things that 'began', 'constructed', and 'developed', meaning our way of life is **proliferation**. The opposite of that is 'choas', 'destruction', and 'existinction'. Evil in itself can't be remiss of an intention, otherwise it's not evil but it's only prescribed bad things that happen, as the term is subjective to us. With intention, being absolutely evil would be to intentionally seek the choas, destruction and existinction of the world and beings in it either including yourself or for your own gratification. That also means the least evil or the opposite of evil is self sacrifice for the promotion, development and proliferation of the world and the beings in it.


Recommend reading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.


How can something be evil, of its without intent. Isnt the intention inherent to evil things and without the intent they are just "bad"?.


I believe the reference is to "having evil outcomes," not "performing evil acts." Edit: and by "evil outcomes," I mean the kind of thing where you look at it and think "that had to have been done by somebody evil." Usually in regards to industrial-sized evil, like cutting down the Amazon, despite many of the individual perpetrators being farmers just looking to clear some land and make a living. No individual really gets the blame, but the collective result is hated.


Outcomes can't be evil, only bad. Only people can be evil, not events. Evil presupposes conscience, and outcomes/events/happenings don't have conscience. They just are.


Was the Holocaust evil?


An event isn’t evil. The people who perpetrated it are. The ideas behind it are evil. The event itself just is.


> The people who perpetrated it are. And this really gets to my point; at what point are people responsible for the Holocaust? Because, if events aren’t evil, how can we consider the contractors who built the facility, the clerk filling out the paperwork, or the maintainers of the railways? Can their actions be separate from the harm they helped contribute to?


If they were unaware, yes, of course. If I’m hired to construct a building, and then find out later it was used as a, say, torture chamber, that does not make me evil. If I’m aware of the intent, then I am. Intent is everything, you can’t be evil without intent. You can be stupid, reckless, irresponsible, but not evil.


Therefor ignorance of an event determines if one is evil or not?


Let me answer it this way. Two situations in which a guy wants to buy your car. A) he just tells you he likes the car and wants to buy it. You sell it to him. Then you see him on the news a few days later after he ran over a bunch of people in said car. B) he tells you he needs a car so he can go run over a bunch of people in a terrorist attack. You sell it to him. I would posit that in one of those situations you are evil, and the other you are not. And the only difference is knowledge.


But there also lies this issue as well, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” You may intend to sell the car because you believe in giving the best to your customers, not realizing you’ve given a madman a weapon. In both instances the seller would still be responsible of the evil act, whether or not he intended it to be used as a destructive device. Because what prevents the individual in the second iteration from saying “I thought he was only joking”?


Climate change is not evil.


Nothing is evil. Actions can be right or wrong, intentions and outcomes good or bad. It's all relative. Absolutes like evil and holiness are imaginary, and only meaningful in figurative language.


Why not?


"like climate change". For fucks sake...


Who is this 'society' *choosing* how to show us evil?


There was a video about that from stories of old https://youtu.be/tooiNm9WmkM


Hmm, wasn't it rather the other way around that society chose to make anything related to sex look "evil"?


climate change is not evil. evil is something bad done intentionally. climate change happens because primate brains are too small to understand such complex actions. therefor it cannot be intentionally and evil.


That was quite subtle of you to tack your personal judgment to the back of long tirade. Hoped nobody would notice?


Nah, it's just that them demonising deviant sexuality backfired because it made whatever was demonised also sexy


Wouldn’t real evil have to be intentional. Climate change happened unintentionally but the real evil was intentionally hiding the information after they discovered it was their fault.


I would argue that a truly “evil” action *does* require intention and that knowledge of direct effects of ones own actions and still continuing those actions constitutes intention.


Like dogmatism.


The idea of human caused climate change has convinced people carbon dioxide is bad, nothing good will come of the prescriptions offered.


\>Real evil is often done quietly and without intention, like climate change. Climate change isn't "evil" though. The companies and CEOS aren't using fossil fuels with the goal of destroying the planet, they're just short sighted greedy fools. Your point is good, but maybe try using something that's actually evil- like child trafficking or the insane amount of corruption in modern governments. I mean- really, why does anyone think climate change is such a serious issue anyways? In the centuries it will take to become deadly we'll develop technology to fix the issue. We went from gliders to the moon in just 70 years. Admittedly a lot of tech was created because of the World Wars and the Cold War, but as soon as climate change starts affecting financial, personal, or government interests- it will be dealt with.


I don’t think evil without intention is possible. Evil involves deliberate, callous harm towards others, like genocide and torture. The evil person probably won’t see themselves as evil, but whatever they are doing, they are doing it on purpose.


Like climate change? OMG... one more time... fine ill do it. Climate change has nothing to do with CO2, it has to do with heat produced by internal combustion engines. Imagine calling your trip to the grocery store "evil". Then imagine the fact that something has to die in order for you to live. Ok sorry went a bit overboard there, but one is getting food to survive, and... so is... One sec let me get my notes in order (Deep breath\*) So yeah, next time you pick up a 2 liter of soda, imagine having to walk home with it... it is called carrying water. Or, climate change, or electric cars... Your choice... Also 10 years ago there were no electric cars, and there still basically arn't TLDR; just downvote it raises your IQ like money


You had me until climate change.


The "Banality of evil" - as I understand it- refers to the seemingly banal reasons the Nazis killed. A more relatable example is that the brother of a friend of mine met with his friends as usual during corona and then just visited his parents for christmas. If you see him, he doesn't seem think too much. Banally speaking, he potentially kills his parents without thinking about it. Despite all warnings in the media with respect to christmas. It might look banal, but I don't believe it. I am more a follower of Alice Miller and I think this "banality" is full blown cruelty and recklessness. The monster is just hidden behind what might seem stupid or banal. But it's there, it's real. Just think of Texas. The people probably vote Ted Cruz and Abbott another time - not despite there cruelty but because of it.


Wait so earth + plastic < cutting up bodies and storing them in the freezer?


It's a bit of a mischaracterization, as Evil requires malice - which is the intentional infliction of harm, free from mental health issue, ideology or duress. At best you could say someone was malignant if there is no intention behind the harm committed.


That’s just nitpicking about the word evil. If you’re a bit more advanced with philosophy you’ll throw that entire word out of the window. There isn’t such a thing as evil, that’s kind of like a religious term. There’s just people doing detrimental things and selfish things. It’s not “evil”. There’s just things that are good for a certain observer and bad for the same observer. But what is good and bad changes entirely when the observer changes. Murder is good for a murderer because it is what they want. Good and bad just boils down to desires. The word evil is just too wishy washy to use at all except if you’re some religious nut


I'd argue all evil is technically real evil. Climate change is actually a pretty bad example of "real evil" if you think about it a little. We all contribute to it to some extent, we drive cars and use electricity. Are we evil? I'd say that's not really the best word to use...


Evil has to have intent. Unintentionally evil is an oxymoron


I agree but I guess you could interpret the OP as saying that "complacency is evil."


Posting this comment requires minerals to be mined and for all I know a kid could have carried some of the ore used to create the servers or my own comp. A kid in suffering. The kid might have been maimed in a work accident, I did not intend it, but the evil exists. I know that mines in strange nations can have problems, I wasn't fully ignorant when the comment was posted. I did it anyway. Still I supported the suffering. Intent isn't always connected to the outcome and the outcome can be fuckin' evil.


LOL that’s your hot take on evil? Climate change?








I could get behind the idea that willful ignorance and incompetence is an evil, but I do not know how to judge it in comparison to traditional evils (murder, theft, etc).




So true. I always find it convenient that so called evil doers get a pass on being personally responsible for their actions. If evil exists, then the devil made them do it. Anytime someone: makes a mistake, is psychotic or simply enjoys cruelty, by labeling their stupidity, sickness and cruelty as evil, we make them look sinister instead of worthy of compassion.


> Good and evil are religious constructs used to control and divide populations. They have no value and do not belong in the secular world. And yet in a secular world, someone still would object to a fast-food restaurant using aborted fetuses as an entree. Why is that?




It can be codified into law, but why would you? Is eating human flesh good or evil? If it's not evil, why are you banning it?


"The best trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the whole world he didn't exist."


> Societies choose to make evil look sexy in order to distract us from real evil – called ‘banal’ by Hannah Arendt. Real evil is often done quietly and without intention, like climate change. The climate has always been changing, with or without humans.