Good versus Evil
Exceptionalism & Dehumanization
Probably every conflict is fought on at least two grounds: the battlefield and the minds of the people via propaganda. The "good guys" and the "bad guys" can often both be guilty of misleading their people with distortions, exaggerations, subjectivity, inaccuracy and even fabrications, in order to receive support and a sense of legitimacy.
Good versus evil rhetoric is an age-old propaganda technique used by the power elite to create support for an imperialistic agenda. They always present themselves as the "good guys" fighting the "bad guys", in which "good" and "bad" are defined by themselves to their own benefit. C. Wright Mills wrote thatAll good events and pleasing happenings are quickly imputed by the opinion-makers to the leaders of their own nation; all bad events and unpleasant experiences are imputed to the enemy abroad.The power elite make use of polarization to create an atmosphere of ideological extremes in which their ideology is of course the only right one.
In January 2002, shortly after the September 11 Attacks in 2001, US president George W. Bush said the following...
States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.
In 2009 he said the following...
I've often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense—and to advance the cause of peace.
But the Iraq war was a disaster from humanitarian point of view. So was the intervention in Libya. And which nations are the world's leading weapons exporters? In 2001 president Bush saidYou are either with us or you are against us in the fight against terror.But the war on terror brought more terror and violence to the world. Every aggressive war that was fought by these same power elite was fought for economic and financial reasons.
In 2014 US president Barack Obama said:I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.Of course the president of the United States, like many sheeple Americans, propagates the belief in American exceptionalism. Here are some realistic opinions about American exceptionalism...
Robert M. Pirsig said thatany effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster.Rodolfo Acuña said thatonly if we don't consider ourselves better than others will we be exceptional human-beings.James Gustave Speth made a list of all things that show that America is the best country in the world at being last. Etcetera. The leaders of a nation who believe to be special and should play global policeman tend to place themselves above the law. Exceptionalism is a driving force of imperialism. Exceptionalism is an illusion presented by the power elite in order to create the support of the ignorant sheeple for their imperial agenda. The United States is a military and intelligence empire waging aggressive wars around the world related to power, not to obvious nonsense likespreading democracyormaking the world safe for democracyas the elite always try to make the world believe.
Dehumanization is one technique in incitement to genocide. It has also been used to justify war, judicial and extrajudicial killing, slavery, the confiscation of property, denial of suffrage and other rights, and to attack enemies or political opponents.Dehumanization is conceiving of others as subhuman creatures. Dehumanization is used by the power elite to create support for wars or policies against the power elite of other nations that do not act in favor of the imperial agenda of the perpetrators. Dehumanization involves demonizing the enemy. A good recent example is the demonization of Vladimir Putin because he's the leader of Russia which is perceived as a threat to the Anglo-American Empire. With the new Cold War we see the renewed spread of Russophobia via the western media. All this propaganda is meant to foment fear of and hatred against Putin and Russia. Sociologists and historians often view dehumanization as central to war. According to a study of the University of Coloradopeople assigned to positions of power tend to dehumanize those in less powerful positions. In another study researchers concludedIn all studies, members of higher status groups perceived the ingroup as more human than the outgroup, while members of lower status groups did not assign a privileged human status to the ingroup.That's not very surprising with the current state of the world and the outrageous level of inequality. The higher in the hierarchy of power, the more corrupt and the more dehumanizing people become.
Might makes right
This is a vision of the world in which might makes right -- a world in which one nation's borders can be redrawn by another, and civilized people are not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones because of the truth that might be revealed. America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might -- that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that people should be able to choose their own future.
But did the United States never bully smaller nations? Might makes right asserts that a society's view of right and wrong is determined by those in power. The most powerful people place themselves above the law simply because they can. The power elite make use of coercion in order to persue their goals. They do so by means of for example financial, economic or military preponderance. The involvement of the United States in the many aggressive wars and regime changes around the world related to power are facts of history.
In the early 5th century AD St. Augustine wrote the following...
Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, 'What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.'
We live in a materialistic world in which money is power. Whoever gets to rule in this world will not necessarily do so to the best interest of all the people, but in the first place in his own best interest. And whoever gets to rule holds the power to place himself above the law or to change the law in his own favor. International law becomes a joke in a world in a globalized world in which might makes right.
The pervasive rhetoric of good vs. evil, dark vs. light, civilization vs. barbarism that underpins US policy in the war on terror makes possible both interstate wars in/on Afghanistan and Iraq and the global torture system (manifest in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo) of disappearances, extraordinary renditions, indefinite incarceration without trial, psychological intimidation and abuse of prisoners, and the undermining of civil rights in the US. All in the name of 'freedom'. The articulation of 'we' the US as 'innocent and unsuspecting' erases the history of US actions in the Middle East, its complicity in the imperial origins of most Middle Eastern states and in repeated military and covert political operations, and its support of Israel against the Palestinians (Kolko 1988).
Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass wrote thatThe problem today is not just lying but "immoral morality," doing evil in the name of good.Tony Blair once said:I believe that weapons of mass destruction are a real evil, yes. I certainly do believe that.The truth is that the power elite of the Anglo-American Empire have more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world. The Anglo-American power elite are certainly exceptional when it comes to using atomic weapons on innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They carpet-bombed German cities during World War II intended to kill as many innocent German civilians as possible in order to "demoralize" the German population. We live in a materialistic world and its leaders are certainly not the most morally sentient beings on the planet, on the contrary. See also Dark Triad.
David Cromwell - Why Are We the Good Guys? Reclaiming Your Mind from the Delusions of Propaganda
Paul Gottfried - War and Democracy
Philip Zimbardo - The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
David Livingstone Smith - Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others
Leading to War - Rhetoric and Spin: An 'Either/Or' World
David Livingstone Smith - The essence of evil