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Should we call Bush "evil"?

vastleft's picture

In response to Glenn Greenwald's post about whether Manichean turnabout is fair play, when it comes from Bush detractors...

Calling Bush and his party "evil" is accurate but not sufficient.

I certainly agree that to say "he's evil, and that's that" is moronic and unproductive.

Also, I don't hold with those who think the evil and malfeasance are all about personal profit.

It appears to me that the Bushies' motivating force is that oft-cited Leo Strauss mentality -- the idea that there is a class of people who know what's best, the good people, and shifting power to those people (who, as it happens, are already quite powerful) is the best way to fight all the bad in the world. Little -- if any -- of his record contradicts that perception of his worldview.

The danger of the "that's that" mentality is that it does little to help us understand, communicate, and (if the fates and voters allow) undo the damage these bastards are wreaking upon our country.

The danger of not stressing the fundamental evil (or choose whatever comparable, non-moralistic language you prefer to describe non-stop lying, wanton killing, and active disregard for the less-fortunate) is that many folks are disillusioned with politics in general and respond to the Democrats' more-than-occasional acts of mediocrity with apathy or protest votes.

I think it's vitally important that the message be well understood that today's GOP has lost its DC privileges for the foreseeable future -- that is, if our American democracy is still capable of doing its job.

The choice isn't between two evils, or two mediocracies. One party has gone terribly, terribly wrong, and that needs to be much better and much more widely understood, through a combination of well-researched, nuanced analysis and plain talk about how historically terrible, untrustworthy, and dangerous this gang is.

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Submitted by lambert on

Using the word "evil" in a discussion is rather like using the word "fascism," isn't it? Sort of brings matters to an end....

OTOH, I do believe that evil is real--that humans can recognize it, and practice it. (That is, humans are innately both good and evil--presumably because both good and evil acts are selected for by nature). I don't believe in spirits or the spirit or anything supernatural, but I do believe that every human being has a soul, and that it's possible to damage the soul, perhaps irretrievably, through evil acts.) It's quite clear, for example, that evil was done at Auschwitz, in Rwanda, in the Crusades, and that humans did it. (And I would add, that a just God, let alone a loving one, would never have permitted it.)

Evil is hard to write about, and if you work too hard to understand it, you risk getting sucked in. As I've written elsewhere, M. Schott Peck has a wonderful book called People of the Lie (POTL) about evil, and a cardinal sign of evil is lying and concealment and camoflage.

Coined by Christian psychiatrist and theologian M. Scott Peck in his book The People of the Lie, which is, among other things, an examination of the nature of human evil. Peck quotes Martin Buber:
Since the primary motive of evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church.

Additional excerpts can be found here. "Utterly dedicated to preserving their self-image of perfection, they are unceasingly engaged in the effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity. They are acutely sensitive to social norms and what others might think of them. They seem to live lives that are above reproach. The words "image", "appearance" and "outwardly" are crucial to understanding the morality of 'the evil'. While they lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their goodness is all on a level of pretense. It is in effect a lie. Actually the lie is designed not so much to deceive others as to deceive themselves. We lie only when we are attempting to cover up something we know to be illicit. At one and the same time 'the evil' are aware of their evil and desperately trying to avoid the awareness." Peck's material, I feel, has great potential for analyzing and deconstructing the nature and behavior of the wing of the Republican party that has captured our government. With the caveats, that Peck raises, that evil is very dangerous to analyze--since we are, after all, all vulnerable to it.See also: SIC, VRWC

Remind you of anything? Like the White House under the criminal Bush regime?

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Whether or not "evil" is ultimately the best word, I do think it's very important to bust out of the world of equivalation.

It's one of the great sins of the age that the profound difference between a party gone horribly awry and its only viable competition -- a party that is merely somewhat disappointing -- is elusive to so many people.

This ain't no horse race, and Ralph Nader is woefully wrong when he says he can't see a difference between the two parties. Sure, we may think the Dems deserve to lose their "-ic" now and again, but the Darth Vader party is something else altogether.

We need strong language and imagery to go with all the facts and nuance that are on our side to crystallize the profound differences between today's corrupt, valueless, authoritarian (i.e., "evil") GOP and today's imperfect Democrats.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

OK, Bush is evil. So what? In a country of 300 million, there are bound to be evil people.

More to the point, what kind of country elevates such a man to power? The Democrats might be somewhat different, we don't know yet, but they are plainly content to continue enabling him.