Amerika

What Is “Evil”?

Every kitchen has a “miscellaneous” drawer where we stuff random items that do not group well with others in our kitchen. Usually it features band-aids, rubber bands, a screwdriver, a ruler, some lighters, odds and ends that fell off our gadgets, keys, and the vitamins we “should” be taking but somehow always forget to.

Growing up as a proto-Nietzschean, my generation suspected the terms “good” and “evil” from the start because they were marketing terms, like “free” or “safe.” Say the good term, and everyone runs to you; call your competition the bad term, and everyone runs from them.

In addition, we distrusted the assessment of these. For most people, “good” means whatever makes profit and social connections, and “bad” is whatever impedes that, which quickly destroys the term, because what is “bad” to bad people is in fact “good.”

Others wanted to take a religious view, believing in a universal truth for all humanity about what bad and good. This seems unrealistic since humans and their needs vary. If you have a superhero who understands what must be done better than others and is ready to do it, you do not stop him with traffic fines in order to make sure the situation is “equal.”

A simpler definition comes from an informational view. Good is information which is both organized and ordered according to the principles of its world; good is adaptation, realism, competence, and clarity of purpose. All of these have the two necessary parts, both organization and that this organization be compatible with the order of the world outside of us.

If we had to make this into a religious view, we could say that we have one world but perceive it differently and have different needs, so our morality is based on understanding reality so that we achieve the best possible results within it. This does not take the form good/bad, but more of a qualitative assessment like a grade on a written paper.

In other words, there is no universal symbolic reality, only a world which is “universal” in the sense that we all live in it. We cannot reduce it further than the mystery it is; all of our “truths” are simply thoughts about it of varying degrees of accuracy.

Turning this back toward our definition of good and evil, we can see that those notions which are closest to how the world actually works are the most good, and those which are farthest away are evil. Good notions are both organized and realistic; bad is neither organized nor realistic.

With that in mind, we can look at “progress” again, which first meant the roll-out of industrial factories and modern society across the globe, and later, the expansion of an ideological system — egalitarianism — which would enable them to expand further.

Every kitchen has a miscellaneous drawer, but when the whole kitchen is organized that way, it ceases to function as a kitchen. Similarly, “progress” means the combination of civilization, technology, and an addiction to unrealistic disorder.

Individualists like that unrealistic disorder because it hides their activities. No one can tell us “no” when everything is so chaotic and dysfunctional that there are no standards, goals, or normal behaviors. That appeals to the zeal for power in each human, the ability to do whatever he wants and no one can tell him “no” or that they know better.

Progress moves across the globe like a great dirt snowball, tearing up whatever organic order — arising from adaptation, naturally — there is and chewing it into little bits, then sticking those bits into a neurotic and dysfunction order that will soon cover the Earth in nail salons, government offices, sex therapists, ugly factories, suburban sprawl, blighted tenements, and parking lots. In the heart of every human lurks the desire to destroy everything that is and replace it with their own intentions, because only then does the human feel defensively safe against the mystery and unknown of nature, mortality, spirituality, and hierarchy.

If you want good, seek order. It tends to be realistic and beautiful as well. This leads you to a transcendental view of the world in which its beauty makes you willing to take the leap of faith to whatever gods/God you may, and also, to overcome the disorder within the self-destructive human heart.

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