Reflections of an “Evil” Man

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It’s kind of interesting to be called evil for the beliefs you express. It’s happened to me twice in the last couple of months in an online forum. I suppose you could call the two people who called me that idealists, though I think ideologues might be a better description.
One believes that government is inherently evil. There’s some reason to believe that, as government generally has the power to indulge in what I think would be fair to call criminal activities. But when you look further into the question you find that government can also not be powerful enough.
Russia, Italy, Germany, and China are all well-known examples of countries in which the government wasn’t strong enough to prevent totalitarian fanatics from taking over. Anarchism is a nice idea, but I can’t think of any historical place or time where it worked very well. People who studied “primitive” societies sometimes got a rosy view of them, but second and third looks have shown that they tend to be pretty violent too.
So, to the person who doesn’t believe in government (a popular propandistic narrative at the moment), I ask, what is your alternative? When the Federal government destroyed the Branch Dravidians in Waco, Texas, people were justifiably outraged. My brother commented that what would be worse would be private armies doing the same thing. At least theoretically, government has responsibility to the citizens of the country. Why would a private entity have responsibility? A libertarian might be in favor of private citizens having the power to set up their own armies and persecute their neighbors with them. I think we set up governments to prevent just such behavior.
The other person disputing me wasn’t so much against government in any form, but against what he calls the present paradigm: a two-party system in which both parties are corrupt. I don’t entirely disagree with him either, but see one party as being much more corrupt than the other. He thinks I should vote for a different party so at least one other party can replace those we have now. I see things a little differently.
I see one of our important parties as being headed down a totalitarian road. Perhaps the other is too, but not as obviously. What I choose to do at this time is vote for the party of less corruption, in hopes that they will block the other from obtaining further power. Maybe I am mistaken to take this approach, but I worry that if the more corrupt party gets the presidency in addition to controlling both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, we may never have meaningful elections again. The person disputing me said this meant I was voting for evil. I asked him to tell me what party was NOT evil, and to guarantee that they would never TURN evil. I told him I didn’t think he could, and he didn’t even try.
He did give me a historical list of evil actions that I mostly disagreed with. One was saying that Abraham Lincoln and the North were the aggressors in the Civil War. Actually, it was the South who took the initiative in seceding and then bombarding Fort Sumter when Lincoln tried to resupply it. He said that the Civil War was the defeat of
State’s rights. I replied that at the beginning of the war Southerners in general said the war was about slavery. It wasn’t until afterwards that they started talking State’s rights. He did agree with me that slavery was not a good thing, though he thought it was getting ready to die out. I disagreed with him on that point.
Perhaps he was right in saying I shouldn’t support any party that is corrupt. I think that only a party that is large and powerful enough can prevent totalitarianism, and that is by no means certain. And, given the nature of human beings, no one can guarantee that any new party, no matter how well-intentioned, will manage to avoid corruption.
The current political structure requires a lot of money to get elected. The obvious place to go for money is to people who have a lot of it. Those people will give money to politicians they approve of, but their approval comes with strings attached. The wealthy tend to be conservative. One set of donors reportedly plans to spend almost a billion dollars on the 2016 election. How many candidates will be able to resist the temptation of all that money?
There’s at least one who so far seems to be, but will there be any others? I hope so, but I’m afraid that it would be unrealistic to count on it.
The United States of America was set up to be a republic, which means a government in which representatives do the governing that people in general are too busy or too incompetent to do. The people they initially represented were landowners, so that the way in which representatives were chosen wasn’t especially democratic. As the 19th century progressed, more people were allowed the franchise, but there were always people who didn’t want everyone to be represented. Those people are now overtly represented by the Republican party, which demonizes anyone who disagrees with them, especially if those disagreeing are poor and/or dark-skinned.
So we’re left with a question: will the present trend continue, and everything be controlled by a wealthy elite, or will other groups be allowed the input to decide issues that directly affect them? Those groups will have to wake up and be willing to put a lot of work into changing the present situation, and that will be very difficult. Wealthy people, by the very reason of their wealth, can hire others to do any work they want done. Impoverished people cannot.
But if Americans in general are unwilling to rebel against the way in which they are currently governed, and may be governed in the future, I can predict a number of things happening that I consider less than desirable.
The environment will continue to degrade, exposing us to ecological collapse sooner or later. People will be punished more and more for views that the government disagrees with. Wealthy people will more and more take the law into their own hands and persecute anyone they happen to dislike. Poor people will get poorer, and frequently die from being unable to find work that pays them enough to live on. The dream of democracy and the ability of ordinary people to work hard and make a comfortable life for themselves and their families will die.
I recently reread a memoir of an interesting man about his experiences more than 40 years ago. He had a vision that, since this country has not been conquered by any outside forces, we were doomed to destroy ourselves. I hope his vision was mistaken. I fear it was not.

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