Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Banality of Evil

 

James Bond movies are famous for having outrageous villains, and this is a common theme in many modern movies. Their evil is so exaggerated and outrageous that it’s nearly inhuman. This is probably designed to make it easier for the audience to cheer when the villain is blown to bits at the end, but I think there’s another reason. By dehumanizing villains, Hollywood attempts to show that evil is inherently inhuman, and that most humans are inherently good. I think Hollywood does this because leftism makes no sense unless that is true. Who needs God? Or stuffy traditional values? Or judgmental cultural mores? Just be who you are! Relax! Do what feels good, and don’t allow your personal growth to be restricted by outdated superstitions.

I think that this optimistic view of human nature is a significant reason that Hannah Arendt was so harshly criticized for describing Adolf Eichmann with her now-famous phrase, “The banality of evil.” At his trial in 1961, Eichmann seemed an ordinary-appearing, slender, balding man, who seemed every bit the boring bureaucrat. She described him as “terribly and terrifyingly normal.” She wondered whether evil was radical or whether it was simply a result of most ordinary people conforming to popular opinions without carefully considering the consequences of their actions. A modern progressive, who thinks that people can govern other people in centralized control structures, and consistently do so ethically and fairly, would find Arendt’s mundane description of evil to be extremely concerning, I would think.

Because if Arendt is right about that, then the jump from a man dying at the hands of a callous police officer, to passionate speeches, to destructive riots, to intimidation of dissenting voices, to burning books, to anarchy, and finally to tyranny – those all become very small jumps if she is right.

When I look at leftist radical groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter, I don’t see radicals at all. I don’t think that Hannah Arendt would, either. I just see ordinary people conforming to popular opinions without carefully considering the consequences of their actions.

You can call that evil if you like. I just call it human nature.

Hannah Arendt was raised in an intellectual, left-leaning, non-religious Jewish household. She wrote of her upbringing,

“My early intellectual formation occurred in an atmosphere where nobody paid much attention to moral questions; we were brought up under the assumption: moral conduct is a matter of course.”

After fleeing the Nazis and contemplating the events of WWII, she spent much of her life searching for answers to those moral questions in the writings of Aristotle, Kant, St. Augustine, Kierkegaard, and many others. I think she continued her desperate search for an explanation for evil, because she was as horrified by the familiarity of Eichmann as the rest of us were.

The Nazi movement opened Arendt’s eyes to the idea that moral conduct is not a matter of course. I suspect that Antifa and Black Lives Matter may open some other eyes today.

It’s funny how it takes leftist organizations to convince leftists of the dangers of leftism.

Leftists believe that people can govern other people in centralized control structures, and consistently do so ethically and fairly. Leftism is based on the inherent goodness in human nature. Which is why applied leftism ends so predictably in evil. Leftism is simply applied human nature. Lord help us.

Moral conduct is not a matter of course. Quite the contrary. Moral conduct is an extraordinary result of generations of carefully applied wisdom and sacrifice. If we bring our kids up, as Hannah Arendt’s parents did, “…in an atmosphere where nobody paid much attention to moral questions; we were brought up under the assumption: moral conduct is a matter of course,” – if that is how we raise our children, then we will learn, once again, that moral conduct is not a matter of course.

Lord help us.

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  1. Columbo Member

    • #1
    • July 14, 2020, at 8:25 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Stad Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat: Leftism is based on the inherent goodness in human nature.

    So true. Goodness has to be taught. Unfortunately, it can be replaced with leftism, usually courtesy of our universities.

    • #2
    • July 14, 2020, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Columbo Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: Leftism is based on the inherent goodness in human nature.

    So true. Goodness has to be taught. Unfortunately, it can be replaced with leftism, usually courtesy of our universities.

    It certainly cannot be replaced by those who deny the existence of God and do not fear Him.

    • #3
    • July 14, 2020, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The German people were in a very peculiar place in their history. Broken by a war that had inflicted enormous suffering on the populace, but hadn’t yet resulted in the wholesale destruction of their armies, the previous power centers were discredited and displaced. Into the vacuum came the freikrops and the communists, with the communists receiving overt and covert aide from the coalescing Soviet Union. The government — the Weimar Republic — was run by the Social Democrats and desperately sought open ground between those who wanted the Kaiser back and those who wanted to replace God with the proletarian dictatorship. It would seem that there would have been plenty of wiggle room there, but there really wasn’t, not without strong social structures. One evil fighting another. People chose sides. One side won. That doesn’t excuse the Eichmanns of the world. The insight into the self required to avoid his fate is the responsibility of each one of us.

    You won’t find it in merely shouting “Make America Great Again.” You certainly won’t find it shouting “Black Lives Matter.”

    • #4
    • July 14, 2020, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Percival (View Comment):

    The German people were in a very peculiar place in their history. Broken by a war that had inflicted enormous suffering on the populace, but hadn’t yet resulted in the wholesale destruction of their armies, the previous power centers were discredited and displaced. Into the vacuum came the freikrops and the communists, with the communists receiving overt and covert aide from the coalescing Soviet Union. The government — the Weimar Republic — was run by the Social Democrats and desperately sought open ground between those who wanted the Kaiser back and those who wanted to replace God with the proletarian dictatorship. It would seem that there would have been plenty of wiggle room there, but there really wasn’t, not without strong social structures. One evil fighting another. People chose sides. One side won. That doesn’t excuse the Eichmanns of the world. The insight into the self required to avoid his fate is the responsibility of each one of us.

    You won’t find it in merely shouting “Make America Great Again.” You certainly won’t find it shouting “Black Lives Matter.”

    All very true.

    • #5
    • July 14, 2020, at 8:54 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism is, I am told, a good place to start.

    As Rod Dreher has been hammering on for the last few years. Totalitarianism is often conflated with Authoritarianism – that is to say it is often conflated with a heavy-handed militaristic government. This is a natural conflation in that many Authoritarians are also Totalitarians. But they’re not the same thing.

    Totalitarianism is a society where everything (the Totality) is made political – what you wear, with whom you associate, where you worship, what you eat, whom you marry, are all matters of public interest. In Totalitarianism, there is no such thing as objective or dispassionate experience, knowledge, or facts. Neither is there any privacy, for even one’s private thoughts and actions are deemed of vital public interest. In short, in Totalitarianism, everything is Political.

    And this is indeed the situation we have arrived at. Where do we shop? It is a political decision now. What do you we think? Anti-racism demands a constant self-struggle and self-examination to condemn one’s inner racist in all things. What do we eat and what do we drive? If we fail to follow the imperative then we are killing the planet. Everything is now Political. Not even hard sciences are immune any longer, as the Wall Street Journal reveals:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ideological-corruption-of-science-11594572501

    All is For the Struggle.

    Dr. Bastiat: Because if Arendt is right about that, then the jump from a man dying at the hands of a callous police officer, to passionate speeches, to destructive riots, to intimidation of dissenting voices, to burning books, to anarchy, and finally to tyranny – those all become very small jumps if she is right.

    She is right. We have conditioned the last 2-3 generations of Americans to see absolutely everything as political. Conservatives are in no way immune to this, as we quickly denounce this person for shopping here, or that person for voting “incorrectly”. When everything is political, then we are already living in a Totalitarian society. Whether or when we slide into Authoritarianism may not matter much – when your next door neighbor turns from your friend to your enemy because you refuse to put up a “No Hate” yard sign, that is a sign that he sees your thoughts as a betrayal of society, and an imminent threat to his existence. Such a neighbor will eagerly denounce you to whatever authority gives him that power.

    This makes our society very very brittle. Without great change, without some defanging and discrediting of the totalitarian mindset, it will not take much to shatter it all.

    We’ve seen this movie before in our history:

    • #6
    • July 14, 2020, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  7. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    The German people were in a very peculiar place in their history. Broken by a war that had inflicted enormous suffering on the populace, but hadn’t yet resulted in the wholesale destruction of their armies, the previous power centers were discredited and displaced. Into the vacuum came the freikrops and the communists, with the communists receiving overt and covert aide from the coalescing Soviet Union. The government — the Weimar Republic — was run by the Social Democrats and desperately sought open ground between those who wanted the Kaiser back and those who wanted to replace God with the proletarian dictatorship. It would seem that there would have been plenty of wiggle room there, but there really wasn’t, not without strong social structures. One evil fighting another. People chose sides. One side won.

    Unfortunately I think we have arrived at a similar place, albeit by a different path. We didn’t lose a big war, we won it, and with that victory we no longer had anything to rally around. We have turned horribly decadent, much as Weimar did, and even if the causes are very different, we have still polarized around factions and rhetoric that consistently reduce “the enemy” to something less than actual human beings. We’re not allowed to have any middle ground any more. People are now choosing sides, and declaring that their side must win or be destroyed. No good will come of this.

    • #7
    • July 14, 2020, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  8. Arvo Coolidge

    Morality, untethered from the transcendent, is free to drift anywhere an individual wants it to go.

    • #8
    • July 14, 2020, at 9:09 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  9. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Doc, I find it interesting that yours and Rodin’s posts were consecutive this morning. They both speak of our current social and moral situation, from different but complementary perspectives. Thanks!

    • #9
    • July 14, 2020, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Locke On Member

    @skipsul This deserves to be a post….

     

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism is, I am told, a good place to start.

    As Rod Dreher has been hammering on for the last few years. Totalitarianism is often conflated with Authoritarianism – that is to say it is often conflated with a heavy-handed militaristic government. This is a natural conflation in that many Authoritarians are also Totalitarians. But they’re not the same thing.

    Totalitarianism is a society where everything (the Totality) is made political – what you wear, with whom you associate, where you worship, what you eat, whom you marry, are all matters of public interest. In Totalitarianism, there is no such thing as objective or dispassionate experience, knowledge, or facts. Neither is there any privacy, for even one’s private thoughts and actions are deemed of vital public interest. In short, in Totalitarianism, everything is Political.

    And this is indeed the situation we have arrived at. Where do we shop? It is a political decision now. What do you we think? Anti-racism demands a constant self-struggle and self-examination to condemn one’s inner racist in all things. What do we eat and what do we drive? If we fail to follow the imperative then we are killing the planet. Everything is now Political. Not even hard sciences are immune any longer, as the Wall Street Journal reveals:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ideological-corruption-of-science-11594572501

    All is For the Struggle.

    Dr. Bastiat: Because if Arendt is right about that, then the jump from a man dying at the hands of a callous police officer, to passionate speeches, to destructive riots, to intimidation of dissenting voices, to burning books, to anarchy, and finally to tyranny – those all become very small jumps if she is right.

    She is right. We have conditioned the last 2-3 generations of Americans to see absolutely everything as political. Conservatives are in no way immune to this, as we quickly denounce this person for shopping here, or that person for voting “incorrectly”. When everything is political, then we are already living in a Totalitarian society. Whether or when we slide into Authoritarianism may not matter much – when your next door neighbor turns from your friend to your enemy because you refuse to put up a “No Hate” yard sign, that is a sign that he sees your thoughts as a betrayal of society, and an imminent threat to his existence. Such a neighbor will eagerly denounce you to whatever authority gives him that power.

    This makes our society very very brittle. Without great change, without some defanging and discrediting of the totalitarian mindset, it will not take much to shatter it all.

    We’ve seen this movie before in our history:

     

    • #10
    • July 14, 2020, at 9:18 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. Ontheleftcoast Member

     

    • #11
    • July 14, 2020, at 10:20 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  12. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Yaakov Lozowick wrote an excellent essay for Mosaic magazine (it’s part of a series of essays on Eichmann, his capture, and how to think about it all) on reconsidering, at least partially, his former dismissal of Arendt’s “banality of evil.” Lozowick now teaches at Bar Ilan University, was the director of the archives at Yad Vashem, and the chief archivist at the Israel State Archives. He writes that Arendt

     minimized [Eichmann’s] anti-Semitism and his fealty to Nazi ideology, its leaders and, its methods, and downplayed the tremendous emotional energy and bureaucratic creativity he drew from his place in the Nazi hierarchy. On all of these crucial points she was wrong, and the afterlife of her errors disfigures portrayals of Eichmann to this day. He was not a German Everyman. He was, instead, a fervent ideologue and anti-Semite.

    But he was something else, too; and Kramer’s essay makes me wonder if it’s time to readjust my own reading of Arendt. She did, in fact, understand an aspect of Eichmann that is not comprehended by his portrayal either as evil incarnate or as an automaton without agency. To understand Eichmann, you have to see how innovative and utterly committed he was as a bureaucrat.

    Eichmann was a common type in the Germany of Arendt’s generation: a low-level Beamter who was a tenured official. This type was not stupid, but not particularly well educated or imaginative, either. This type of person grounded his identity in his place in the system, and drew his pride from his participation in its operations. Eichmann does not stand in for all of us, in a “man’s inhumanity to man” sort of way, but rather, for a particular kind of early-20th-century German-speaking bureaucrat that is also familiar from the fiction of Franz Kafka.

    Arendt had surely met many such men (they were almost all men) in the Germany of her youth, and had probably disdained them as intellectual inferiors (as they probably were). She did not approve of the way that Eichmann and his ilk used the revolutionary context of Nazism to climb far higher into the heights of society than they could ever have expected, or indeed should have achieved. As she saw it, this unexpected path to professional advancement and higher social standing was the very advantage that inured such men to the muted voice of their conscience.

    • #12
    • July 14, 2020, at 10:31 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Arvo Coolidge

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Have you got anything else that confirms that “Google racism monitoring” exists?

    I tried to find how to change the settings, and didn’t find anything.

    • #13
    • July 14, 2020, at 10:35 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Have you got anything else that confirms that “Google racism monitoring” exists?

    Ask Google for similar definitions today and see what you get.

    Today

    . . .Companies like Google, which have spent nearly half a billion dollars on lobbying over the past decade, already have a seat at the table with lawmakers, and they can have a greater impact on policy than almost anyone—including the nonprofit organizations they’ve funded. “You can talk to any social activist NGO and they’ll tell you that the primary adversary they face is corporations,” says McDonnell. “So what people want to see them doing is using that platform to make, and lobby for, some of the big structural changes that we need to happen.”

    Tech companies have occasionally shown that they can. In 2017, after President Trump issued an executive order restricting travel to the US from predominantly Muslim countries, Alphabet—Google’s parent company—significantly ramped up its lobbying efforts to oppose the policy. Facebook also spent money lobbying, after Zuckerberg publicly opposed the executive order. Tech leaders abandoned the president’s economic advisory council in droves. But the tech industry’s lobbyists have been notably absent from other political conversations. . . 

    Google is feeling the pressure:

    [CEO Sunder] Pichai, 47, said the company would be giving USD 12 million in funding to organisations working to address racial inequities and USD 25 million in Ad Grants to help organisations fighting racial injustice provide critical information.

    Meanwhile

    Google, as a whole, ‘is bent on never letting somebody like Donald Trump come to power again.’ 

    . . .

    But according to what was said to be a leaked internal Google communication published by Project Veritas on Tuesday, flagging ‘far-right content’ was at least considered among a private Google group called ‘transparency-and-ethics.’

    A message excerpted from a larger thread and appearing to be from an employee named Liam Hopkins read: ‘Today it is often 1 or 2 steps to nazis, if we understand that PragerU [Prager University], Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro et al are nazis using the dog whistles you mention in step 1. I can receive these recommendations regardless of the content of what I’m looking at, and I have recorded thousands of internet users sharing the same experience.

    ‘I don’t think correctly identifying far-right content is beyond our capabilities. But if it is, why not go with Meredith’s suggestion of disabling the suggestion feature? This could be a significant leap in terms of user trust.’

    It was not clear from the limited portion of the discussion shown whether this was a proposal to disable the suggestion feature for all content, or specifically content that would be designated ‘far-right content.’ It also wasn’t clear what Google platform the message was referring to.

     

    • #14
    • July 14, 2020, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Ralphie Member

    I am always amused by the man in the street type interviews where he asks people to “guess who said that”, and people are shocked when they find out who said it. Dorothy Thompson did not think Hitler was a threat because what he said he wanted to do was pretty much nuts. Then she changed her mind and got booted from Germany (I think). Her “who goes Nazi” column was brilliant, and she explains it crosses country/races/ethnicity lines. 

    I think Obama’s demeanor and style fooled a lot of people into thinking he was a good person and under his leadership bad things would not happen. I heard from others that poor Obama was trying hard to get everyone health care, yada yada yada, and he just fooled people. If you only read his words and did not listen to him speak, you should not have been impressed. Thomas Sowell said he never listens to two presidents: Obama, and Trump, and I agree with him. For Trump, if you read his speeches, they are better than they sound when he performs them.

    • #15
    • July 14, 2020, at 11:01 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Arvo Coolidge

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Ask Google for similar definitions today and see what you get.

    So that “racism monitor” is something that might happen on some future phone or computer of mine?

    • #16
    • July 14, 2020, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Ask Google for similar definitions today and see what you get.

    So that “racism monitor” is something that might happen on some future phone or computer of mine?

    Google’s already shown it has no problem working to help the CCP with its needs. Couple that with what’s been leaked, with Google’s ideology, with what it says publicly, and ask yourself whether it has or is developing the capability to do it. Then ask yourself: If the capability is there, what will restrain Google?

    Oh, but Google is a private company, not an arm of the government. Just like Blue Cross is a private company and its Medicare business is not really a government program. Even though there is a limited panel of permitted offerings, defined fee schedules and a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t really look like a free market.

    • #17
    • July 14, 2020, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Arvo Coolidge

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Ask Google for similar definitions today and see what you get.

    So that “racism monitor” is something that might happen on some future phone or computer of mine?

    Google’s already shown it has no problem working to help the CCP with its needs. Couple that with what’s been leaked, with Google’s ideology, with what it says publicly, and ask yourself whether it has or is developing the capability to do it. Then ask yourself: If the capability is there, what will restrain Google?

    Oh, but Google is a private company, not an arm of the government. Just like Blue Cross is a private company and its Medicare business is not really a government program. Even though there is a limited panel of permitted offerings, defined fee schedules and a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t really look like a free market.

    Gotcha

    • #18
    • July 14, 2020, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. I Walton Member

    Great article, good comments. Is this rooted view of human reality from a tiny minority? is it growing or shrinking? Anybody know?

    • #19
    • July 14, 2020, at 4:14 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Great article, good comments. Is this rooted view of human reality from a tiny minority? is it growing or shrinking? Anybody know?

    The whole point of our media & educational system is to shrink it.

    It would appear to be working. 

    • #20
    • July 14, 2020, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Old Bathos Moderator

    I don’t think the left presumes goodness. Going back to Rousseau, there is the notion that society, religion etc have violated a state of nature, of innocence. So the social order must be undone.

    But it is not people that can be good. It is their state of being, their social order that can be good. People are just the substrate. Adjusting, reprogramming, pruning the human race to achieve that perfect order is what the left wants. Notions of human nature, human rights, spirituality, conscience or other references to individual persons are inherently counterrevolutionary. 

    The unyielding focus on the person is why America continually expanded and extended rights and suffrage (however grudgingly or slowly) as a matter or logical necessity and moral consistency. When some ideological ideal replaces that focus, the logical consequence is gas chambers and gulags. Moral consistency becomes irrelevant.

     

    • #21
    • July 14, 2020, at 4:45 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  22. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I don’t think the left presumes goodness.

    Ok. But I think they must take a more positive view of human nature than I do, for a few reasons. 

    First, anyone who thinks that systems that are designed by, organized by, and managed by people could possibly rule other people with fairness, ethics, and selflessness, must think that people are more dependably good than I do.

    Secondly, the feel good generation, that believes that people can break free from traditional morality, and no longer requires the guidance of the God, must think the people are wonderful. Otherwise, how could you think such a thing?

    Sorry. Diner’s on the table. Gotta go. 

    But I will just summarize to say that there are reasons that I think that the left has a more positive view of human nature than conservatives like me do. I think I understand your point, but I’m not sure that I agree.

    • #22
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Columbo,

    You nailed it.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #23
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Columbo Member

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Great article, good comments. Is this rooted view of human reality from a tiny minority? is it growing or shrinking? Anybody know?

    There is no answer. Yes, there is a divine spark. But then the human reality can take over at any time and turn that angel into a killer.

    • #24
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:30 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Richard Fulmer Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I don’t think the left presumes goodness.

    Ok. But I think they must take a more positive view of human nature than I do, for a few reasons.

    First, anyone who thinks that systems that are designed by, organized by, and managed by people could possibly rule other people with fairness, ethics, and selflessness, must think that people are more dependably good than I do.

    Secondly, the feel good generation, that believes that people can break free from traditional morality, and no longer requires the guidance of the God, must think the people are wonderful. Otherwise, how could you think such a thing?

    Sorry. Diner’s on the table. Gotta go.

    But I will just summarize to say that there are reasons that I think that the left has a more positive view of human nature than conservatives like me do. I think I understand your point, but I’m not sure that I agree.

    Probably a better way to put it is that they believe people are perfectible. As @oldbathos says, with a bit of reeducation and “pruning,” they can create the “new Soviet man.”

    • #25
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:33 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  26. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    I can’t imagine why they don’t realize that their vision always involves force , to bring about the ‘equality’ they envision it is necessary to mow the lawn to keep all the blades the same height and in their arrogance they believe they are wise enough to make the thousands of decisions the comprise someone’s life. If you ask a leftist to explain his plan in only a few steps you get to ‘making’ some group do something. Back in 1993 Hillary and her nut jobs were working on a plan to have full employment by assigning people to jobs depending on various criteria with the worker having no say in the decision.

    • #26
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:35 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Columbo Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I don’t think the left presumes goodness.

    Ok. But I think they must take a more positive view of human nature than I do, for a few reasons.

    First, anyone who thinks that systems that are designed by, organized by, and managed by people could possibly rule other people with fairness, ethics, and selflessness, must think that people are more dependably good than I do.

    Secondly, the feel good generation, that believes that people can break free from traditional morality, and no longer requires the guidance of the God, must think the people are wonderful. Otherwise, how could you think such a thing?

    Sorry. Diner’s on the table. Gotta go.

    But I will just summarize to say that there are reasons that I think that the left has a more positive view of human nature than conservatives like me do. I think I understand your point, but I’m not sure that I agree.

    Probably a better way to put it is that they believe people are perfectible. As @oldbathos says, with a bit of reeducation and “pruning,” they can create the “new Soviet man.”

    I think it is that they reject God and then pretend themselves to be God with all of His goodness and benevolence. It is the original sin of Adam.

    • #27
    • July 14, 2020, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I don’t think the left presumes goodness.

    Ok. But I think they must take a more positive view of human nature than I do, for a few reasons.

    First, anyone who thinks that systems that are designed by, organized by, and managed by people could possibly rule other people with fairness, ethics, and selflessness, must think that people are more dependably good than I do.

    Secondly, the feel good generation, that believes that people can break free from traditional morality, and no longer requires the guidance of the God, must think the people are wonderful. Otherwise, how could you think such a thing?

    Sorry. Diner’s on the table. Gotta go.

    But I will just summarize to say that there are reasons that I think that the left has a more positive view of human nature than conservatives like me do. I think I understand your point, but I’m not sure that I agree.

    Probably a better way to put it is that they believe people are perfectible. As @oldbathos says, with a bit of reeducation and “pruning,” they can create the “new Soviet man.”

    But perfectible in a materialistic sort of way. There is no morality when the transcendent is discarded or denied, there is no good or evil. There is only useful or not useful. Permissible and impermissible. Preferred or not preferred. If the core axiom is monstrous then the resulting reasoning will also be monstrous, but no less reasonable. As Whitaker Chambers eloquently wrote in his critique of Atlas Shrugged: “Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them.” 

    This evil can be both radical and banal. Both energetic and bureaucratically systemic. 

    • #28
    • July 14, 2020, at 6:18 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  29. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    I can’t imagine why they don’t realize that their vision always involves force , to bring about the ‘equality’ they envision it is necessary to mow the lawn to keep all the blades the same height and in their arrogance they believe they are wise enough to make the thousands of decisions the comprise someone’s life.

    Some just don’t think it through, don’t follow the reasoning. Others are comfortable with some eggs being broken (the bad eggs we don’t need anyway) as long as the omelette gets made. It literally can’t happen any other way so they have to find some way to rationalize it. In truth, it’s probably not even that hard to come up with the rationalization especially if you’re not tied to a transcendent. “Punch a nazi” isn’t fundamentally different than “purge the Jews”.

    • #29
    • July 14, 2020, at 6:24 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  30. Mark Camp Member

    I thought this was profound. Though I won’t remember the words or who wrote them, I think and hope that the ideas expressed become part of my thinking from now on.

    • #30
    • July 14, 2020, at 6:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.