The equality in evil

We fetishize words in such a way that when someone says something, we are prone to find them outrageously evil should they choose certain words. But the reality is that the actual quality of human drives probably differs much less across history and space than we wish to believe. This sense is inflated by the significance we attach to particular words, and distorted in severe biases in the social distribution of verbal facility. This is evidenced by the fact that the average, “well-bred”, sensitive, educated person, almost certainly plays very often, in their head, with certain extremely uncouth and perhaps even wildly offensive ideas and phrasings before instantly knowing or realizing, precisely on account of their well bred discrimination, that such words would likely incur severe social punishment within their peer group. Those who are decent and polite are usually only well educated, which means they’re merely better trained in the repression and verbal dissimulation of evil compared to the uneducated who are far more likely to spew all kinds of bigotry in public.

This all suggests a really interesting convergence of the two opposite meanings of the word “discrimination”: namely that the dominant classes who benefit from social institutions of racial, gender, and class discrimination in the political sense, are precisely those who have the most trained sense of “discrimination” in the valorized sense of nuance. The same base human drives that more or less unite us all, and the same overarching social institutions organize all of our habits and tendencies, even if they distribute us differentially. The ability to “discriminate” in the good sense, is itself a privilege of discrimination in the bad sense. We must try to understand better that occupying a position in that discriminate classes in no way makes us better or less evil than people who are simply less adept at hiding their tracks. Ours is simply a different kind of evil, an evil that we have stuffed under layers and layers of torturously complicated rationales, but which is most manifest at the material level of that which we actually enjoy at the cost of the suffering of so many others. There is, then, a certain overall equality of evil in a society such as ours where that evil is so thoroughly mediated and distributed by institutions, such that for some it is transparent and unadorned much to the criticism of the public mind, while for others it is simply buried, dissimulated, and finally rewarded.

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Murphy, Justin. 2013. "The equality in evil," (April 24, 2017).