[HighArka, you said,]How large can a "lesser" evil grow before it becomes too much evil for you?Okay, so, is Barack Obama evil, and deserving of your condemnation in no uncertain terms, considering all of the innocent lives he has knowingly and deliberately and consistently ended? Or, is it not evil to do evil if you can demonstrate that someone else, in your stead, might have done more evil, thereby turning your own evil acts into non-evil?
Ethically? Morally? I condemn evil as evil in no uncertain terms. Always.
Godwin test: In the 20th century, Hitler kills 6 million people. In the 26th century, a team of time-traveling archaeologists from Oxford travels through the multiverse and discovers that, in a Germany where Hitler choked on a bite of steak in 1932 and did not become elected, certain banking interests financed a different national socialist leader who negotiated peace with Britain, and did not invade Russia, after conquering France. By settling borders where they were, the Third Reich was able to maintain itself. This replacement Nazi leader then joined with Marshal Pétain in a more extensive purge of Germany and France, ultimately killing 27 million people, rather than the mere 6 million that Hitler had managed in other multiverses. Therefore, Hitler is not evil. Supporting Hitler, albeit with reservations, is a just act.
Just read through my archive to discern whether this green anti-racist anti-militarist socialist feminist atheist queer teacher and writer and activist passes muster by the reckoning of your moral compass, my friend.This stands for itself, and also raises the important question, "With how many labels does one need to identify oneself before one's actions become less reprehensible by comparison?" And also, "Are any of these labels relevant when discussing support for political leaders who regularly kill sleeping toddlers?"
Another interesting question here--and perhaps more pertinent to the issue of Hillary--is to what extent someone can be "anti-racist" while supporting someone who supports modern slave patrols and crusades in the Holy Land, or how someone can be "anti-militarist" while supporting someone who finances campaigns with giant checks from Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and then proceeds to spend hundreds of billions of dollars projecting military power across the globe...or, dare say, (theoretically) socialist, while supporting someone who is a most disgustingly crass capitalist.
The contradiction is apparent enough by itself. If you've already figured that stuff out, though, look a little deeper into what this reveals about the mindset of the people who support these "lesser" evils: they rationalize Hillary as an acceptable choice because, they would argue, her aggressive militarism is "less" than what it otherwise would be. This imaginary dichotomy (not merely "false") reveals that they become evil not because they want to be evil for evil's sake, but because they feel rationally forced into evil due to the underlying versal narratives they've accepted. E.g., Hobbesian supply-side luxinomics. Carrico doesn't mean to be evil, but he's been so well-programmed by strict five-sense materialism that he genuinely believes that he's being good for supporting the brutal rape of only 950 children, instead of 1,000. See that association: see the incredible power that non-integrated lightform development has had on these people.
But how evil can the lesser evil get before it no longer recommends itself over the greater politically? ANY difference that makes a difference is enough of a difference to adjudicate a political decision to vote one way or another.This quote represents why Carrico makes such a useful case. It's perfectly honest: ANY difference. So, if Cheney bombs 100,000 people, has 100,000 women raped, and personally oversees the gassing of every registered genderqueer person in the entire world, then kicks a dog on his way home from work, but Obama merely bombs 100,000 people, has 100,000 women raped, and personally oversees the gassing of every registered genderqueer person in the entire world, then pats a dog on his way home from work, the correct, pragmatic, responsible thing to do is to vote for Obama.
You seem to think voting for a candidate is an endorsement of their every policy! What nonsense! Politicians scarcely know what their policies will even play out as in the scrum of events themselves for heaven's sake. Their entire records and stated positions are the guides we turn to, among others in making such decisions.Their records include mass murder, but we've already learned that one can cast one's vote to make a mass murderer the commander in chief of the world's most powerful military without necessarily "endorsing" that candidate's historical proclivities toward mass murder, nor that candidate's public threats of future mass murder--simply because they might pat a dog on the way home from work. The old saw appropriate here is that, for someone who believes that politicians' "stated positions" mean anything, the case is already lost. Of course, the same thing could be said about someone who would try to rationalize away mass murder. This guy is just trying to do his job; bless him, gotta keep the proles believing the harvest is bigger, no matter what. Best part of it is, you do your job for long enough and you start to believe in your own propaganda.
But anyway, returning to the world where he's a true believer, the issue of "[T]heir entire records" goes back to the old issue of, "If Taft had been reelected, would we have avoided the Fed and its Great War?" more popularly known now as, "Did your trip through the black hole prove that President Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq, too?"
The claim of lesser evil is one of privilege, arrogance, and supernatural faith. Here's how:
Privilege. For a third-world victim, who doesn't have the privilege of ritualistically choosing between two mass murderers, the first-world voter's resigned choice for one murderer v. another comes from a position of astounding privilege. From the perspective of the Other, "Americans keep voting for presidents who murder us." It is only inside the insulated American perspective that it seems good to choose a "lesser murderer." For everyone else in the world, Americans are simply choosing an endless succession of murderers. Others lack the privilege of imagining the distinction.
Arrogance. American voters presume that they have the right to select lesser murderers who, on their behalf, will slaughter Others. It is the American choice to murder fewer Others--not the Others' choice to be murdered in smaller numbers. When Americans are challenged on whether or not it is appropriate for them to decide to murder [X - 100] people in order to avoid murdering [X] people, they become angry, offended that their divine right to decide how many Others to kill has been questioned. After all, everyone knows that it is the prerogative of Americans to decide the right number of Others to kill. Others who object to this process are simply heathen savages who don't understand how the world really works, as opposed to pragmatic Americans, who know exactly how many murders are morally justified.
A conference of white Pentecostals meets across the street from a conference of white nationalist Baptists. The Pentecostals conclude that America needs to be purified of the sodomites that are making it sick--purified by executing anyone who has experienced same-sex attraction. The Baptists, on the other hand, conclude that Jesus would be merciful enough to kill all fags, while merely lobotomizing female sodomites (for use as surrogate mothers and household servants, thereby furthering the purposes of the expansion of the chosen white race). Dale Carrico chooses to support the Baptist plan. He insults the millions of protesting gay men being rounded up to be shot by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, telling them that they are childish and idealistic, and that he does not endorse their killing, but supported the Baptist proposal only because it allowed so many lesbians to avoid the firing squads. He goes to bed at night quite content with himself for having saved so many lives through the Westboro Baptist Church, which will surely improve over the generations.
Supernatural Faith. The most arrogant, privileged component of lesser evils is the supernatural assumption that the voter knows how a different president "would have" acted. For example, Obama threatens nuclear war with BRICS over Ukraine, sponsors ISIS to overthrow Syria's president, tortures and occupies the Middle East, etc. And that's all okay with Dr. Carrico, because in his imaginary fantasyland, John McCain might have done all those things "and more."
Would John McCain have actually done all of those things? Would Romney have successfully started a war with Syria, rather than merely attempted to and been shut down by more pragmatic generals? No one knows except for the resigned Democratic voter, who can see into alternate timelines.
So, Dale Carrico meets two men at a bar. They each ask him to borrow fifty bucks so they can buy knives and duct tape. The first guy plans to kidnap three preschool children and rape them to death; the second guy plans to kidnap four preschool children and rape them to death. Dale reasons, "Well, I don't endorse either of their plans, but if I support the first guy, only three kids will be raped to death, rather than four." So he lends his support to the first guy. Maybe next election, someone will come around who has a realistic chance of only raping two kiddies to death! Keep that torch of hope burning, Dale!
The lesser of two evils is still evil, but the difference between them can still make a difference. Ethics Is Not Politics.Ooh, am I sensing an upcoming book title? This is why some people in the humanities still get tenure--the world needs them around to help angsty white (middle class) gay kids get comfortable with the idea of fleets of robot death machines that blow up poor handicapped genderqueer environmentalist people of color.
'm all for uncompromising ethical and factual and aesthetic stands, but to demand them of political compromises in a diverse shared world is no sign of high principles but of a straightforward misrecognition of the nature of politics -- especially what passes for representative politics in capitalist countries!How does this thing--this concept of "what passes for representative politics in capitalist countries"--come to exist? Could it be by people participating in it? Do activists ever urge divestment and non-participation as a means to an end?
Parading all the war crimes and rapes you want is entirely beside the point. Can you possibly be self-congratulatory enough to imagine you know more or care more about such atrocities than I do? You don't know me very well, to say the least.Again with the irrelevant personal. I'm worse than you, since I understand better and still pay my taxes. But my arguments remain true.
We're both despicable, in our own ways. I pay my taxes out of cowardice--I'm not willing to do the right thing and stand up to the mafia, so I pay up at gunpoint. You're more despicable, because you go out of your way to lend support to the killers even when you're not being forced to. I'm a non-rebelling slave of the military empire, whereas you're a proactive supporter of it. If everyone were like you, the world would be Pelican Bay; if everyone were like me, the military empires would die. The bare minimum is not enough to keep the cartel going--the cartel needs enthusiastic rationalizers to build the cyclical consensuses that justify an endless back and forth between more and less evil.
Partisan politics, especially the partisan politics focused on voting and contributions of time and money and that sort of thing are not the place for making ethical stands.That's rather in contrast to the entire idea of "democracy," of course. Democracy assumes that, by every individual voting in their own self-interest, the best result for the majority will out. That theory of democracy would even hold in modern day America, because if everyone voted in line with their polled policy interests, Jill Stein would be president, and a Green/Libertarian alliance would control Congress. It is through lesser-evil ruses that people are tricked to play a style of abstract politics that keeps either a Demoblican or a Republicrat in power.
Vile serpents like Carrico, active in the subsidized western propaganda centers since the late 1800s, have been instrumental in creating this Kafkaesque nightmare of "what nobody actually wants." By telling people not to vote for what they believe in, but to vote for what is disingenuously defined as "realistic," we have gained perpetual financial tyranny and imperial war. A hundred years later, the imaginary dichotomy still has people dancing back and forth between acceptable substitutes.
The vote's only power is its power to express someone's beliefs. If a voter can be tricked to vote for something s/he doesn't want, then s/he has lost her/his vote. This is how John Grisham's character in Runaway Jury manipulated the jury, incidentally. The jury was supposed to first decide the question of the tobacco company's liability, and then and only then decide what damages to find. To trick the stupid people on the jury into losing their voting power, Nicholas Easter proposed a different system of voting: he reframed the discussion so as to presume the question of liability, and told the jurors to pragmatically vote for what they thought the damages would be. That, he claimed, would be "fair" and "democratic." And so, on a jury where a majority might have found the tobacco company not liable, Easter got them to bypass that question and put in numbers instead. The people who would've voted for no liability for the company voted for $0 liability--but by so doing, they'd tacitly accepted the idea of liability. They'd lost before they'd started, by allowing Easter to frame the terms of the debate. That's what Rove, and Chomsky, have talked about so often.
In the end of Runaway Jury, the trick works: a bunch of conservative jurors, who don't want to blame the tobacco company, vote for zero damages, but balanced against the big votes of Easter's faction (with Easter's $1 billion vote), the "fair" round number comes out to around three hundred million. And so, Easter's trick caused a jury that would have voted for zero liability--and never have gotten to the question of damages--to instead find the tobacco company liable for hundreds of millions. And in the story, the tobacco company is evil, and deserves it, and all that, but what matters here is Easter's technique.
Stupid people--like Dale Carrico's audience--and merely evil people--like Carrico himself--fall into a similar model. As long as they can provide some yahoo who claims to want to kill ten million people, it always seems logical to choose a Killary, who might only kill six million people. The option of killing zero people is taken off the table before discussion even begins.
Perhaps running for office, or organizing campaigns to inspire legislative outcomes come closer. Certainly broader educational and agitational spaces of action are fine places for such unqualified judgments. At any rate, it isn't unless politics in the other domains I mentioned has done the real work of preparing the way for viable partisan politics on such questions. That simply isn't what voting is for, or usually even should be for.Wow. The "demands of voting in the compromised service of principle..." And used in the same paragraph as "privilege."
Perhaps you lack the stomach for the debased choices that happen at the level of voting for the best actually-existing candidate actually on offer, or the heartbreaking reconciliations at the heart of legislative reform. But don't expect me to admire you for it, or to pretend that you are a more ferocious activist for justice and sanity in history than I am because I can walk and chew gum at the same time. If you can't vote for the lesser of two evils to restrain the greater of them -- all the while condemning and the evil for the evil it is and organizing to defeat it or expressing yourself creatively to change general perceptions to better accord with your sense of that evil -- then I just think you are being lazy, irresponsible, and narcissistic.
Voting is insufficient to achieve justice, but it remains necessary all the same. I can't say I admire those who confine their politics to voting and yet declare themselves principled, but I have less patience still for those who refrain from the costly demands of voting in the compromised service of principle and who would pretend this is the sign of their principle. At best, it indicates profound ignorance, at worst it is privileged self-indulgence.
So, let's see...little Afghan girl hasn't eaten in three days. She shuffles to the well to get some water for her sick grandmother. Two mad-eyed NATO soldiers hopped up on awareness pills catch her, stick their penises up her rectum, and have her by the old well. An hour later, she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and limps back home. As she sets the water next to her grandmother's bedside table, the house explodes.
On the other side of the world, the hero Dale Carrico stands up. He is willing to accept the strenuous demands of stopping at the local Y and punching a touchscreen that will authorize someone to rape and murder another hundred thousand kids next year. Poor Mr. Carrico! Sing a song of sorrow for the lazy bums who won't go grant their approval. How can they bear to live with themselves for not taking up that heavy burden of driving to the Y and punching the screen with the big bloody D?