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A Working Understanding of Evil, Part One

The Christian fascist movement has been very effective. Why? A key reason is that the left has made the perennial mistake of underestimating the sophistication of the long-term program of conservative Protestants/evangelicals. To counter it, we have to have an adequate philosophy of evil.

Basically, the left has no philosophy of evil. Progressives want to place it within the usual psychological frameworks, which have become completely inadequate even to the usual psychological problems, much less the problem of evil!

Because a sufficient minority of people isn’t able to see when amorphous darkness crosses the line into evil, we’re being dragged further and further into the morass of contradiction and chaos. Because there is not an adequate philosophy of evil, people keep giving political explanations that fall far short of dealing with the present situation.

We urgently need a philosophy of evil that is not based on supernatural theology or existing psychological models. Such a philosophy doesn’t exist anywhere I know of, and that has allowed the extreme right to fill the philosophical vacuum, as hideously projective of darkness as they are.

For years I’ve been proposing some deeper insights, in a neo-Jungian way, into the origins and operation of evil, based on the central premise that it’s a man-made reality and movement. But they’ve been falling on deaf ears with people on the left because nearly all progressives discount anything that doesn’t fit within their increasingly inadequate worldview.

That’s why progressives are reduced to saying inane things like, “the only way to blunt this movement is to reintegrate these people into the economy, to give them economic stability through good wages and benefits, to restore their self-esteem.”

Before evil is overestimated, it is underestimated. But once fascism takes hold, there seems to be no stopping it.

The emergence of fascism involves not only the failure of institutions, but also a deep apathy in the people themselves. Militarism and authoritarianism will continue to expand until they are stopped. That can no longer mean a world war, or humanity is finished.

Though it may sound hyperbolic, the evil in human consciousness, through its conduits, is playing for all the marbles—the decimation of the earth and destruction of the human spirit, which go hand in hand.

It’s often said that evil cannot be psychologized. But that’s merely another way of saying that psychological models to this point have not come to grips with it. In point of fact, we need to psychologize the hell out of evil. But we also need to do so in a way that leaves the door open to mystical experiencing, which has no relationship to darkness.

Though progressives don’t usually supernaturalize evil, they do place it beyond our capacity to understand. Thus they say very unintelligent things like: “If we could only fathom the psyche that harbored malignancy, runs our delusion, then we might recognize the next avatar of evil and stop him before he creates chaos and evil.”

Evil, like Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello, refuses to explain itself. But why would we expect it to do so?

A scary movie that conveys the truth about how evil operates, up to a point, is “Fallen,” with Denzel Washington. It retains a Christian theological framework, and therefore accords more power to darkness than it actually has, with everyone equally susceptible to being a conduit for evil. Even so, in a culture in which the majority of people have become “walking dead,” aka “zombies,” the movie is helpful in understanding what the hell is going on.

Another celebrity, Robert Blake, has proudly and vehemently said from his jail cell, “I’ve never been a fool.” There are however, much worse things than being a fool. And besides, there are many ways of being one.

To narcissists and sociopaths, the worst thing is being a fool; to good and sometimes foolish people, the worst thing is being a narcissist and sociopath.

Discerning whom evil is conducting itself through is a difficult thing, because it can flow through any of us. Not on its will, unless one is completely besotted and beholden to it. But we can’t keep it out on our will either. And under the right circumstances and conditions, such as now exist in America, it can rule an entire land.

Evil is not a supernatural phenomenon, but a man-made byproduct of content-consciousness. Therefore our failure to understand evil is our failure to understand ourselves, and our consciousness as a species.

Martin LeFevre

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