The Structure of Evil
by Valerie L Salazar
Friday, February 22, 2002
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Capitalism and the Party of War
People have always been confused about the true nature of evil, and since the alleged death of God, many people even doubt its existence. If evil does exist, a definite definition of it would certainly come in handy. Deanna Jones has recently released her thesis, The Evil Virus Hypothesis, and I am presently working on Volume III of my seminal exposition, The Definitive Definition of Evil.
The first place I turned for an explanation of evil was Ernest Becker's The Structure of Evil. Needless to say, 'evil: defined' did not appear in the index, therefore I had to search the whole volume for evil. And I did so with pleasure: Ernest Becker is one of my favorite teachers, not because I necessarily agree with his political views, but because he had a wonderful way of integrating and summarizing intellectual history. I had difficulty finishing reading his books because he inspired me to lay them down and pick up the works of the authors he had mentioned.
Ernest Becker was a cultural anthropologist and social scientist, the major proponent of 'anthropodicy' - the unified science of man or interdisciplinary approach to human science. He is well known in academic circles for his Pulitzer Prize winning work, The Denial of Death, awarded in 1974, the year of his death at age fifty. The Denial of Death presents the human personality as a defense against the fear of death. We are familiar with the common psychological view that the personality is a defensive mask, shield, armor. When the defense system is too rigidly or inappropriately constructed, the person is said to be neurotic - since most of us are neurotic, the mental health profession will never want for patients if it can keep the costs down or be subsidized by the government. For the deviant social psychologist who is not interested in drugging people into conformity with the official definition of mental health - leading a productive life of mass consumption - so-called healthy or normal behavior may be due to the mass neurosis of a sick society. However that may be, after reading The Denial of Death, I formed my simplistic if not original opinion that, behind our masks, we are all scared to death and are crying in quiet desperation for Mama to hold and feed us.
Professor Becker also wrote The Structure of Evil, the third book of a trilogy. The trilogy is the biography of his quest to recapitulate and refresh, from a unified perspective, the history of the science of man, so that a stage for experimental moral action could be created for the progress of mankind. He purposed an ethical unity that would address the whole of humankind including man's moral nature with all its implications of good and evil. Progress requires a movement towards the good from a lesser good; if you will, from evil. Man is a self-conscious moral being and as such he is a social being. Societies of individuals mutually define the nature of evil. Mortal individuals are born helpless into a society and are imprinted with its habits. Needless to say, every culture has its bad habits. Individuals therefore can progress from lesser goods to greater goods, or from evil to good, by changing their societies for the better and passing the benefits along to their heirs. Every progressive man and woman works to that end in their own way.
Of course people who are preoccupied with their particular division of labor do not have time to make a science out of social improvement, hence they look to experts for scientific guidance, particularly to sociologists. Because of its moral concern with the welfare of Everyman, sociology was once considered to be the social philosophy of political socialism. But it did not take long for objective or impersonal scientific thinkers to devalue the noble human being and to reduce persons to statistical dust that could be taken in hand to objectively manipulate people on behalf of the power elite who hired them. Since Professor Becker was concerned with the whole man including his moral nature, he was dissatisfied with empirical sociology's focus on the collection of data and constant analysis of particular social aspects, the head-in-the-sand approach that never arrives at an adequate synthesis:
"Measured against the needs of the times there is nothing resembling a science of man; there are only mountains of disciplinary journals, and hordes of busy specialists," Professor Becker complained.
Therefore the true science of man must unify the fragmented disciplines by reintroducing the idea of progress, with the realization that the divorce of value and fact is an historical anomaly. And to fully under that the unified science of man is a moral undertaking, we must consider the problem of modern alienation resulting from the decline of medieval cosmology. Medieval man felt he really knew the difference between right and wrong. But by the time of the vengeful atom-bombing of civilians in Japan, man had lost his sense of good and evil; humanity was nauseated by the meaninglessness of the world, of scientific facts without value. At least in Augustine's time the world had a moral value; it was a hellish place then because there was always heaven above to ascend to; but today, with the secularization of religion, there is no heaven awaiting us: the world is absurd as we go through the fragmented motions waiting for Godot. And I must add that our utopias today are equally incoherent and fragmented - there is no vision of the overarching sky as everyone envisions their own private dirt.
Evil is sociological concept as far as a moral sociologist is concerned. What is sociology for if not for the progress of mankind on the whole? If it is simply a science for the benefit of a few, that they might manipulate and exploit the masses, would not that be a great evil? Now Professor Becker was one of many sociologists who believe capitalism as it is practiced is the structure or form of evil. We are not speaking of any form of capitalism but its evil form, the form that is the structure of social evil. The evil form is the competitive capitalism or 'war capitalism' that results from inadequately regulated economic and social institutions. Its activities are condoned by the pernicious mythology of pseudo-Darwinism, and by the theology of the Invisible Hand deity of laissez-faire regressives who, to this very day, pervert the work of Adam Smith, eliminating his moral philosophy from his economic theories. Laissez-faire philosophy justified the spoils system, then asserted an unnatural 'natural right' to previous accumulation (inheritance) as a political law enforced by a police state controlled by the exploiters. This structure of political-economic domination is the structure of evil alienating men from their natural ability to function morally, to act responsibly as independent, critical thinking individuals. The alienated individual does not have a 'unitary perspective' or a 'commanding view' under the modern capitalist state, therefore he is thwarted from achieving maximum individuality within maximum community.
Moreover, war capitalism, the structure of evil, results in the alienation of the individual from his full power as a social being. He is subjected to impersonal forces and becomes a mere unconscious automaton of the corporate machine. The individual has not achieved a unified perspective that would presumably allow him to place the social influence - especially neo-liberal capitalism - under rational control. Professor Becker identifies the impersonal force as demonic:
"...the demonic comes into being for man whenever he is manipulated by large impersonal forces beyond his control; forces that he is actively and uncritically contributing to.... Responsibility is nowhere; grinding power is everywhere.... This is the demonic nature of social evil of our time.... We must take critical control over the automatic function of our economic institutions.... Once again the specter of War Capitalism is descending on the world... For the acting human organism, the Good and the Beautiful must always be a function of the exercise of his distinctive self-powers, name, responsible choice based on the fullest exercise of critical powers," wrote Professor Becker.
I believe man is a moral being with ideas of good and evil despite his scientific pretensions, and I think most scientists would agree with me. In that moral context it is relevant to note that Islamic fundamentalists call Professor Becker's demonic force satanic and have named its leader - the United States of America - the Great Satan; mind you, some Christian fundamentalists secretly find the terminology agreeable. Infidels, by the way, are known as the Party of War. Should not political socialists and religious fundamentalists set aside their internal differences, and unite to save mankind from War Capitalism, the Structure of Evil, and from the Party of War? On the other hand, should not faithful capitalists embark on a pre-emptive, defensive war against the anti-capitalist devils now that the Russian and Chinese red devils are being capitalized? In fact, are we not at this very moment headed for yet another world war? The retired army ants are coming out from under their rocks to recite Machiavelli and Hegel to cable television audiences. Forget Kant and perpetual peace: peace is just a dream and an immoral, boring dream at that; the necessity of unity is beyond considerations of good and evil; yet war is good, good for moral evolution. Some militants are even citing ant behavior to justify human warfare, but they neglect to mention the glaring exceptions to evolutionary theory posed by the Argentinian ant. Using duck behavior to justify homosexual behavior is one thing, but to use animals to justify warfare is absurd. I think Professor Becker would agree with me. Whether or not capitalism is the structure of evil or the cause of war is a question we should all carefully consider. Given our higher technology and lower morality, the horrors of yet another war to end all wars are unimaginable even in comparison to the darkest hours of the last century. Let the wealthy take Solomon's advice, and count not on their riches to win it.
"Since 1795, when Immanuel Kant published in his old age his treatise on Perpetual Peace, many have considered it an established fact that war is the destruction of all good and the origin of all evil. In spite of all that history teaches, no conviction is felt that the struggle between nations is inevitable, and the growth of civilization is credited with a power to which war must yield. But, undisturbed by such human theories and the change of times, war has again and again marched from country to country with the clash of arms, and has proved its destructive as well as creative and purifying power. It has not succeeded in teaching mankind what its real nature is. Long periods of war, far from convincing men of the necessity of war, have, on the contrary, always revived the wish to exclude war, where possible, from the political intercourse of nations.
"This wish and this hope are widely disseminated even today. The maintenance of peace is lauded as the only goal at which statesmanship should aim. This unqualified desire for peace has obtained in our days a quite peculiar power over men's spirits. This aspiration finds its public expression in peace leagues and peace congresses..."
"...This aspiration is directly antagonistic to the great universal laws which rule all life. War is a biological necessity of the first importance, a regulative element in the life of mankind which cannot be dispensed with, since without it an unhealthy development will follow, which excludes every advancement of the race, and therefore all real civilization. 'War is the father of all things.' (Heraclitus) The sages of antiquity long before Darwin recognized this.The struggle for existence is, in the life of Nature, the basis of all healthy development. All existing things show themselves to be the result of contesting forces. So in the life of man the struggle is not merely the destructive, but the life-giving principle." Friedrich von Bernhardi (1849-1930), Germany and the Next War, transl. Allen H. Powles (1914)
"We must be quite clear as to whether the perpetual complaints of the great cost of our military system are justified. It is certain that the blood-tax imposed by the military burden is the greatest which a nation can be called upon to bear. But we must never forget that there are, and ought to be, things which are above all price. Moral possessions have no price, and it is therefore unreasonable to try to reckon the value of the honour and power of the State in terms of money. Money can never represent what we have lost when the flower of our youthful manhood fell on the battlefields of France. It is unworthy to judge the possessions of the soul as if they were material. A great nation is acting in a right and reasonable way if it seeks to give expression to the idea of the State, which stands for power, in the form of a well-ordered military organization. Without it, trade and intercourse would not prosper. If one were to try to imagine the country without the Army which protects our civil peace, it would be impossible to say how great would be the decrease in our national revenues." Heinrich von Treitsche (1834-1896), Treitschke, His Doctrine of German Destiny, transl. Adolf Hausrath (1914) Emphasis added.
"The strength of the army and navy has as its foundation the warring mechanism brought into being by capitalism." Karl Lamprecht - he believed economic force should be set into motion like armies and navies, that economic force creates rights backed by military might.
During the world wars, a number of analysts held that fascism was the perfection of capitalism, while others said it was capitalism gone awry.
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|Reviewed by Ashraf Goreja
|Quite nice indeed. Well written.
|Reviewed by dana
|I have never understood human's ability to make life and decisions based on what we have been taught or told by others. You have a good grasp of what to me is life. PLEASE CONTINUE SHARING IT!!!!! I will be watching for your thoughts!|
|Reviewed by valerie salazar
|I can't believe t6hat you let just anyone use your name and write anything they want under it. From the begining of my trip through the den and I call it a DEN of INIQUITY this has been one bad exsperience after another but if anyone has a dought if I'm ALIVE and Serving JESUS CHRIST Guess again I will forever or as long as I'm on earth THIS IS VALERIE LEE MASSENGALE SALAZAR a chrstain by choice and Proud of it.|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by valerie salazar
|First of all anyone who knows me knows I serve Jesus with all my heart everyday of my life and this is someones poor attempt to plagerize my writings but my soul is safe in the hands of the Master so have fun. Jesus loves you too. Val|
|Reviewed by Kate Clifford
|Congradulations! I can see why this poem won an award. Never give up. The fight is worth it.|
|Reviewed by beverly chase
|way to go val! this is the mind of a master poem writer with some feelings that run deep.|
|Reviewed by Anwer Sher
|Set your self apart indeed, the fight never bears any fruit....bravo|