I did my undergraduate work at the University of San Francisco.
The location of my alma matter is important to understanding the structural forces that guided the academics that were taught there.
San Francisco in the late 80’s and early 90’s… before the internet had even made its way into academia… and certainly before it became a commercial platform was at best a bifurcated society.
There were those that had tremendous amounts of money, and those that were spectacularly poor… the middle class lived provincial lives outside the city limits and were collectively looked down upon by the “city” dwellers.
This was a city of wealthy benefactors and starving artists and academics…. and as such all of life’s problems could be diagnosed through the lens of exploitive capitalism.
“Evil” was a bourgeois concept.
The struggle for self identity was a struggle against racism, which in and of itself was a struggle against exploitive capitalism.
They were all intertwined… those “isims”.
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They were also fundamentally grounded in the belief that a small group of selfish businessmen established a status quo for the purposes of exploiting others for personal gain.
“Evil” may have been a bourgeois concept as it applied to other “victims” of exploitation… but it was a perfectly acceptable adjective when used to describe wealthy industrialists, capitalists, or political leaders that did not share the Bay Area Collective’s political view point.
When President Obama was speaking to a group of San Francisco supporters and referred to middle class Pennsylvania voters who had the temerity not to support him as “misguided voters who cling to their religion and their guns” and don’t see that his policies would elevate their own self interests he was not speaking to San Franciscans… he was speaking as a San Franciscan.
While I was at the University studying politics I was provided a roadmap to understanding why conflicts existed between nations: Nations sought each others scarce resources.
There was also an explanation that was readily available for the actions of criminals…even international terrorists… a lack of economic opportunity.
The driving force that inspired the PLO to detonate a bomb at a jewish elementary school was the lack of a Palestinian homeland. Not that there was anything particularly important in real estate per se… its just that with a homeland came economic opportunity… since the “evil” Israelis were against granting Palestinian statehood it stood to reason that lack of economic opportunity would lead to “crime”.
This thinking also extended to domestic affairs.
Prisons were not filled with evil people that sought to victimize others… they were filled with misguided individuals that were simply attempting to survive in an economic environment that sought to exclude them from self empowerment. These prisoners were not bad people… just individuals that had never learned how, or refused to participate in an economic system that sought their exploitation until they were no longer useful to the powered elite.
If only the rest of the world saw what the intelligence of San Francisco saw the world would have no wars… no terrorism… no crime… because the evils of capitalism would be vacated for a non exploitive economic arrangment that would bring peace to all.
Then something interesting happened.
Well educated, well financed, middle and upper middle class… and in some cases flat out rich… individuals began a series of attacks on western civilization.
The September 11 attacks did not take place at the hands of poor starving beggars from the Arab street… the terrorists were well educated and financed by one of the richest men in the middle east.
The monsters of Isis… barbarians that behead others in the name of religious ideal are not flying the banner of economic egalitarianism… they are religious fanatics that have institutionalized a death cult.
Evil is not a product of economic manipulation… though the truly evil could certainly use the destabilization of economic systems to their own end.
Evil is the continuation through force of an argument that the the presenter could not win through persuasive dialogue.
When a sub-human Isis thug raises a sword to behead a little christian girl for the audacity of being a Christian he is and must be declared as evil.
He is not economically exploited… he is not a victim… he is also no longer worthy of being dignified with the moniker of human. Like the serial killer, the rapist, or the pedophile… they have abandoned humanity and as such humanity has every right… perhaps even a moral obligation… to abandon them.
The intelligencia of San Francisco would sill like to believe that economic exploitation is the root of all evils. In a sense I can understand them, and to a degree I feel sorry for them. They have built a paradigm on a precept that has crumbled literally before their eyes.
There are those that say that the study of evil is unnecessary…. evil must be defeated, and defeated quickly lest the innocent be harmed. This is also misguided… we must study evil… we must be able to identify it, contain it, and ultimately defeat it.
We must also be prepared to dispense with theories about it when they are refuted by evidence.