Evil in Politics: The Fruits of Frivolity

There can be no dominant and definite image of world evil, but the latest political events are becoming more and more sinister.

As it seems, it is not only me who has a strange feeling of anxiety, approaching danger, a sense of tragic outcome in the current world situation. The most striking thing is that there are no so many rational grounds for such eschatological experiences. More precisely, only a couple of them: the incredible power and wealth of modern mankind, and the eternal limitations of the mental abilities of people, especially politicians.

In fact, people have never lived so well before and have not had such opportunities for development and self-improvement, for solving the most difficult and chronic problems. At the same time, there have never been such opportunities for self-destruction of the people, either with incredible modern weapons or by seemingly peaceful technologies, which for many reasons lead to perhaps irreversible and deadly environmental changes. Or, what is especially important, with the help of modern communications, when it is increasingly difficult to separate truth from lies. The state of intellectual uncertainty, inability to understand reality, has always been considered especially dangerous. Not without reason the devil was believed to be the father of lies (there were grounds for this – as always, everything began in Paradise). In general, humanity resembles a beefy, hefty creature with a club in its paws, a skimpy brain in a compact skull and a serious hormonal imbalance. It is clear that this state of affairs is fraught with problems and contradictions.

And they catch the eye. Communities diametrically opposed to each other coexist in our small and increasingly interdependent world. More importantly, they know one another and interact with one another. Some create incredible technological projects, others try to give some decent form to genuine barbarism, some bring humanism to the point of defenselessness, others practice violence and humiliation even against their fellow tribesmen. However, a lot has been already said about these features of the modern world.

I would like to touch upon a slightly different side of the current situation – the problem of responsibility and the necessary clarity of consciousness. That is, the mental problem of the ruling elites.

It seems that the abovementioned power and prosperity of mankind played a bad joke with many politicians who, with some diligence, govern peoples and states. Whatever one says about the power and influence of large corporations, huge private capitals, so far the main players in the world arena are states and, accordingly, their leaders, their elites. It is on their decisions that the future of the world depends to the greatest degree. Of course, the question remains to what extent these elites are independent, and who determines their decisions. It is possible that even in the medium term, elites depend heavily on the general public and socio-economic processes, but, nevertheless, at the time of decision-making, the upper circle of politicians is quite independent and has enormous resources. And in the vast majority of cases the people will obey them – there is no doubt. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general, tactically, the world is ruled by the world elite.

Now there are problems with this day-to-day political governance. It seems that a significant part of decision-making is characterized by extreme frivolity and superficiality. The power, the abundance of people, technologies, and capitals enable governments to send entire armies far from the homeland, to introduce economic restrictions that affect not only the representatives of the elites, but hundreds of millions of ordinary people, to interfere in scientific progress, and so on and so forth.

This is a squared problem, because the current interdependent world really needs global governance, in the framework of a reasonable globalization. Without any global regulation, the Earth may die or suffer very much in a very near future. The notorious global warming is dangerous not only because of the possible rise in sea level, but also because it may lead to monstrous social consequences: from innumerable waves of migrants to a perceptible degradation of the world economy. Similarly, the abovementioned new communications, which drew us into a stormy ocean of information, are also able to destroy societies even worse than the global warming.

Nevertheless, instead of global regulation, global governance, based on rationality, we see deepening conflicts, situations when one ill-conceived action does not fade, but generates a wave of conflicts and retaliatory actions. As a result, no one is getting better, which is not surprising. However, the suicidal nature of arrogance has characterized people for a long time. But today it became too dangerous. Sanctions generate sanctions, blatant accusations cause even more startling answers.

For all the importance of the challenge, associated with the political egoism and frivolity of many representatives of the world elites, today there is even greater misfortune. Many people associate it with the bad influence of postmodernism and its inherent relativism. But the case seems to be deeper. This problem is in the old question of good and evil. For many years, it was assumed that the aim of politics and governance is the achievement of good. Of course, the understanding of good could differ radically in different countries at different times. It is clear that good was opposed by evil, defeating which you could get to good. Such was the political discourse. Today we see an amazing phenomenon – the erosion of good and evil. What is the evil today that we must fight for the good to prevail? And what does this good mean?

This is a difficult question, I must say. Surely, we are not talking about the fact that there is competition between different models of good and, accordingly, evil. It is almost a global consensus that good means local prosperity of one community or another (there are, of course, delicacies with the understanding of prosperity), but there is very little understanding of evil. Well, there is ISIS (banned in Russia by court order), but it did not manage to play the role of the world evil. For some, evil, often metaphorically, is equal to diseases and finiteness of the human life. But on this, humans performed an evasive maneuver. Death, of course, is not defeated, but the attitude to it is strange and very postmodern: it is seen as a casual accident. Of course, there are no serious doubts that humans are mortal. But for some reason we would like to avoid death, especially since the Makropulos secret is nearby, as many believe. However, this is a separate issue, since it is death that irreversibly undermines the postmodern understanding of civilization.

Back to evil. The problem is that modern political discourse, especially the Western one (under the influence of the West, it is also eastern), does not see evil as such. Of course, there are bad deeds, there are crimes, but they are deviations, they are all correctable. But evil as such does not exist. It looks like we live in the world of James Bond. There is, of course, Dr. Evil, who looks like a caricature, a living denial of the existence of evil as such. At one time Michel Foucault developed the idea of psychiatric authority. So it turns out that there is no essential evil, but there is something that is treated and corrected with the help of strong, wise, powerful and armed to the teeth psychiatrists, many of whom work as politicians, occupying very important positions. But what if evil still exists? What if, in addition to misunderstandings, mistakes and miscalculations, there is a clearly expressed evil will? Evil? I’m not sure that if such evil exists, the current world political establishment will be able to resist it. In any case, the dynamics of the migration problem does not lead to thinking in the opposite way. Frivolity and lack of depth in comprehension of such a complex phenomenon are simply evident.

In conclusion. Of course, everything cannot be so bad. Anxiety is characteristic for a human being. At the end of the 18th century Kant pondered the need for mankind to withdraw from the state of infancy, understanding by this first of all the acquisition of the mind by man, the ability to think, to be independent. Reading his works is a pleasure now. They are quite modern, because – if you look at reality critically – the humanity, at least its majority, still has not got the certificate of maturity. Kant thought about how this exit should happen, because someone must help a person to learn without suppressing them, without making them a learned slave. So, in general, in 1784 Kant came to the conclusion that a big role in this matter should be played by ... Friedrich of Prussia. And it is not a reason to laugh at the great philosopher’s naivety. It’s just that Kant rightly concluded that the role of political leaders is very important. And in our century this conclusion did not lose is value at all.