Friday, 31 December 2010
Evil Be Thou My Evil
by Theodore Dalrymple (January 2011)
Often I read more than one book at a time. When I tire of one I fly to another. This is because the world has always seemed to me so various and so interesting in all its aspects that I have not been able to confine my mind to a single subject or object for very long; therefore I am not, never have been, and never will be the scholar of anything. My mind is magpie-like, attracted by what shines for a moment; I try to persuade myself that this quality of superficiality has its compensations, in breadth of interest, for example. more>>>
Posted on 12/31/2010 3:16 PM by NER
31 Dec 2010
Roughly speaking, Communist killing has been more or less random. Anyone could suddenly become an unlucky victim and sent off to the Gulag or shot as a "spy". But no one was relentlessly hunted--no one (and that includes kulaks) had to die simply for belonging to a group marked for total physical extermination. Furthermore, Communists have ruled over a considerable portion of the globe for a better part of a century. To ask what the Nazis might have done with a comparable opportunity is not to "excuse" anyone for anything. Many of those who argue that Communism was more evil than Nazism, using the number of respective victims as "proof" (a reasoning that Robert Conquest himself disapproved), all too often turn out to be fascists and Nazi sympathizers.
4 Jan 2011
Groups were not targeted?
I suggest a brief reading of The Gulag Archipelago to disabuse you of that notion. Particularly the belief that the kulaks were not targeted.
And brush up on the Holodomor, at that.
5 Jan 2011
I am usually a fan, but this piece was breezy, self-indulgent and to no purpose.
7 Jan 2011
.... their mothers threatened the culprit (still technically innocent) with physical violence.
Is this fair? Following the same logic , not only 'the culprit' but also 'the mothers' are (technically innocent) of any wrongdoing.
9 Jan 2011
An interesting and possibly related article here.
If you give people scenarios and then increase the number of victims, you will find that people recommend less severe sentences the more victims a criminal has.
And it appears to hold in the real world, too.
9 Jan 2011
The individual torturer of children is regarded with horror and punished with life imprisonment or death. Those who tortured and killed children and adults, if they did it as part of mass-murder, largely got away with it. See the Nazis. There were less than a dozen people sentenced to die at Nuremberg. In all of the countries that had been occupied by the Nazis, very few war criminals, locals or Germans, were sentenced to death for crimes which, had they taken place outside that context, would have assured their execution. And virtually the first act of the new West German government, after the Occupation ended, was to pass a law banning capital punishment. It wasn't done out of abhorrence of the death penalty but, rather, an act passed to protect Nazi murderers, almost all of whom got away scot-free. Many of those sentenced to death by the Allies were, just a few years later, allowed to go free. This should be more widely known, remembered, and deplored. The mass murderers, the hundreds of thousands or even millions of them directly implicated, as those Wehrmacht troops on the Eastern front, got away with it. And all over Occupied Europe, the Nazis and local collaborators kept hundreds of billions of dollars in loot. Many, or their descendants, are still living off what they managed to appopriate or steal from those who were murdered, or fled.
13 Jan 2011
Interesting piece. I think one difference between the two evils is that to kill two girls requires sheer ferocity, savagery (he used no firearms I think). To kill millions is evil with cold blood.
21 Jan 2011
The writer might have examined the case of those who do something they think will be good, but turns out evil; they <i>intended</i> goodness. Are we judged by the effects of our actions, or just our intentions? "I didn't <i>mean</i> to do that ...". Of course, the numbers of intentional homicides by legal abortion are far higher than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. put together - 23m in 2010 alone. To say unborn babies are not people (a common excuse) is very Nazi-like; after all (the Nazis said) "Jews are not <i>people</i>" - likewise the slave traders - Africans are just a lower kind of life, not <i>people</i>.
22 Jan 2011
I admire Dalrymple's honesty and accept the (indisputable) fact that man has often delighted in doing harm to others.
Yet this man was a doctor for around 30 years. It gives me little confidence in the profession;if he could not control his desire to cause suffering, then he ought to have defied his father and picked a profession which does not legally and ethically require one to alleviate it.
For one who regularly pontificates on vice, how many do we have here? Insensitivity, superficiality, maliciousness, dishonesty (in promising "Primum non nocere") and- as usual with this man- hypocrisy.
Any pompous prude who puts away a bottle of 1970 Bordeaux then expatiates on the evils of cocaine, pinkies and MDMA to satisfy bourgeois propriety should be banned forever from medicine. Men like Dr John Marks and Dr Colin Brewer, honest individuals who accepted that people have rights and that paternalism was so 19th century, ought to take their place.