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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 Do what feels good, and don’t allow your personal growth to be restricted by outdated superstitions.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.Published in