When evil is matter of nuances

by Vladan Cukvas

France has a dark spot at the place where it used to have the city of light. But why does it look darker than other such spots? Once I saw video material (courtesy of J. Assange and bravery of C. Manning) showing how the crew of a military helicopter executed a bunch of people on the street for no obvious reason to the viewer. Even cheering could be heard in the background. I heard of men who slaughter other men and women at the wedding parties and funerals by dropping huge bombs from a drone. Not so long ago I saw video images of a crashed passenger plane, which was brought down because someone planted a bomb on it. A few days ago I heard about a bunch of people killing another bunch of people on a rock concert, on another street. What is the difference between these cases? Perhaps, we should ask whether there is a difference. The standard answer is: None to the dead and everything to their families and loved ones. But that is not the difference I’m aiming at.

How about the perpetrators? We are told that to them it did matter who they were firing at. Very likely it did in the beginning, in an obvious sense. However, I doubt they have ever given a damn who their victims really were. They never really tried to get to know them. Besides, once a man gets the taste for blood it does not make much difference whether he fanatically rejoices or is psychopathically calm about his killings.

The street was just a street and those men and women were just people who died for no obvious reason. The killers couldn’t care less. It made no difference to them either. What then about us? It looks then that if we perceive a difference then it must have something to do with us after all.

What difference does it make if the street is in Bagdad or in Paris, or whether the passenger plane was Russian or American? What makes us cheer or be indifferent if it is them, but dread and anger when it is us?

There is perhaps something perverted and hypocritical in us which seeks to point to the nuances in the act of cold blooded murder in order to deem it acceptable. Some sort of selective empathy or the lack of the same. It must be moral decadence some would shout readily. I agree, but decadence is not the cause of history, only the sign of its reversible moments, of its relapse and falls.

That something can only be fear. Fear wants us to make the lucidity pact with evil and the nuances are just a convenient way of doing it, because through the nuances any semblance and kinship between two evil acts can be erased. The subtlety of self-deception lies in the nuances, in dressing up evil in noble clothing. It is here, in the avalanche of fears that the intelligence of evil takes over, to (mis)use one of Baudrillard’s terms.

The pronouns us and them seem to hold so powerful a spell over people. We speak of them as the opposite of our goodness, as evil. But strangely enough, we diagnose them only slightly more fearful than we are. Yet, even this slight edge on the side of evil which we ascribe to them makes it quite reasonable to kill them off, to make them fear us. Thus, we, the morally nuanced people, the devilishly intelligent people, we commit only the good murders. We believe in good murders and to us it is a matter of nuances.

Yet, unlike our good consciousness, which is constantly aware of the nuances that make a murderer into a hero (make genocide into a humanitarian intervention), fear has only contempt for the nuances, for anything petty and small, like our morality. Fear despises morality unless it means complete obedience and servitude. It won’t settle for less than total darkness, because only in the darkness of mind is the full obedience possible. Fear has it that it likes to grow exponentially and to feel infinite. Its ways are cunning. Fear is like a body snatcher, invisible, sly and its victims know not how and when it overcame them. The only thing they know is that one day they woke up and the world around them looked terrifying, full of mean people.

In the times of fear people dare not speak above their breath. Worse yet, they feed their fears with fantasies which originate in their attempts to guess (in full blindness of self-isolation) what other people really think and feel. That is how fear operates. It shuts off! It makes men walk in complete darkness in which even the most harmful meadow may look like a dangerous mountain path. In fear no one is to be trusted and everyone becomes a suspect.

And we have just been injected another dose of fear. Just enough to create the demand and spike the profits since fears are indeed very profitable. The price of fear has been inflated, making the price of freedom reach dizzy heights. Still, an additional amount may be needed to dissuade the silly ones who might get the crazy idea to be fearless, to be free.

The times of fear are the times of hatred, because it is so easy to hate that which you fear. Hatred feeds on people’s fears. Hatred also arms us with indifference to other people’s suffering. Worse yet, amidst our distorted view hating the other does indeed look like a noble gesture. Remember, it is only a matter of nuances.

The way the authorities exploit a tragedy reveals their true goals rather than their misperceptions. And the pact with evil has been officially announced by the war mongering officials years ago. This much should be obvious to everyone. The ultimate defeat, however, is when it is done with our consent. That was part of their goal, by the way – to induce the trance of fear, in which hatred and indifference are wrapped in subtly nuanced morality. We pledge to kill, to complete the circle of hatred.

Everyone should know by now that in the times of insecurity merchants of fear get rich and merchants of death become gods. This alone should keep one’s eyes open, since the price to pay is the renouncement of our freedom and the only reward is life in fear. Indeed, it takes courage to stop the war.

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