Were Genocidal Tyrants Especially Evil?

One of the peculiarities of living in a secular era is that our conceptualization of “good” and “bad” is now almost exclusively based in the behaviors and actions of other human beings- rather than stories and myths about gods, spirits or demons. The flip side of this change is that our understanding of “good” and “evil” is now linked to the identities of other human beings- who are as mortal as you or me. Today the image of evil is associated with people like Hitler, Stalin, Mengele, Pol Pot, Slave Traders, white people with southern accents wearing white hoods.. actually pretty much every conservative white person with a southern accent. But some manifestations of secular “evil” are more interesting than others and one category in particular elicits far more interest and curiosity than the rest.

Genocidal tyrants or rulers such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao are the most well-known, interesting and studied forms of secular “evil”. They have reached that hallowed spot because of the sheer scale and number of deaths due to their actions and decisions. They are the secular equivalent of ‘The Devil’ or ‘Satan’. It also helps that we have a lot of archival film footage and photographs which document (often in great detail) their lives, speeches, public appearances and the effect of their decisions and actions. Compare that to the very inadequate and fragmentary description of ‘Satan’ in Judeo-Christian literature. It also does not help that religious literature documents that ‘God’ killed many more people than ‘Satan’.

As many of you know, I do not believe in any explanation of “evil” based on it being somehow beyond the range of normal human behavior. In my opinion, labeling anything as “good” or “evil” says more about your viewpoint than the action, event or behavior. For example: Would the Jewish holocaust have been seen as evil, or even criminal, if the Nazis had won WW2? And was it really more evil than the genocide of a million something Armenians by Turks prior to WW1, or the slightly earlier genocide of tens of millions of black people in Belgian Congo? Or what about the tens of millions of Chinese who died in Japanese-occupied parts of China in the 1930s and 1940s? Then there is the issue about what happened to millions of indigenous people in the Americas after 1492, or the fate of slaves imported from Africa.

It appears that popular definitions of “good” and “evil” are based on subjective criteria such as race, money, skin color of the victims and presence or lack of photographic evidence of the events.

While a certain percentage of the population can handle the idea that “good” and “evil” are subjective, almost nobody wants to talk, let alone think, about the next logical question. If “evil” is subjective, is it also possible to label “good” or “neutral” as “evil”? What if people who are widely seen as “evil” not really that “evil”? This question has a peculiar connection to the issue of whether genocidal tyrants are “evil” because you can classify them into two groups based on their motivations.

The first groups contains those who did it to make themselves richer, more powerful, improving the lives of their kids, relatives, clans etc. The vast majority of tyrants fall into this category and pretty much every Arab Dictator, Mongol Warlord, Spanish Ruler of some new world colony, South and Central American Despot and many of the “beloved” presidents in American history fall into that category- as do people like Winston Churchill. The common thread that runs through all these leaders is they used their position almost exclusively for personal profit.

In contrast to the first group, the second contains far fewer individuals. However these people had a far greater impact on history (both in absolute terms and number of people killed) than almost anyone from the first group. Let us start with Hitler.. Can you really say that his actions or decisions were predominantly driven by the personal profit motive? Did any members of his family make out like bandits under his leadership? Was the guy living in 5 different palaces and constructing 10 more like some Arab Despot? Was all the money and gold seized from the conquered people going towards his clothes, residences or lavish party budget? I am not saying that he did not live well, but it is very clear that he did not spend on himself at anywhere near the level he could have.

Or take Stalin.. Given the absolute degree of his power, isn’t it a little odd that he did not live like the Tsars before him? Pretty much every Russian sovereign before him had lived in an extremely ostentatious fashion and it is unlikely that people would have noticed or spoken up even if he done so. Also note that he grew up in poverty and had every reason to go bling-crazy after he consolidated his power. But he did not.. I am not implying that he did not live well, but they guy was clearly not after money, ‘bling’ or comfort. Even his kids did not get any plum posts nor did they become super rich- and the same goes for his relatives. The guy was far more interested in seeing which factory did not meet its production quota than an endless supply of hot hookers and booze? Why?

My explanation for the somewhat odd behavior of a few but important such as Hitler and Stalin goes something like this- They were in it for the power and fulfillment of their vision. Personal profit was probably an afterthought- at best. The genocides they perpetrated were driven by ideology rather than any personal profit motive. While that does not immediately make their actions acceptable- it puts them in a very different category from those perpetrated by typical Arab, Mongol, White Hispanic, Black or WASP despot.

It also explains why their genocides ended up with such high body counts. People who kill for personal profit typically kill the bare minimum necessary for obtaining whatever they want- respect, money, women etc. But those who do it for implementing their personal ideology or vision will not be content until they have removed every single person who stands in the way of their ideological utopia. You might have noticed that both Hitler and Stalin were into heavily invested in destroying the previous order because they hated it with a passion. They wanted to get rid of anyone who represented the old power structures and institutions. This is very different from your typical despot, populist or not, who merely seeks to install himself and his family/friends at the top of the old structures and institutions.

What I am trying to say is that ideologically driven tyrants are not doing it for financial gain or personal comfort. They are therefore not “evil” in the same way as the far more common type of tyrant. Infact it could be argued that their actions, whether they ultimately failed or not, did result in a better world. Let us face it, the 20th century was so productive largely because of the direct and indirect actions of people like Hitler and Stalin.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. May 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    http://easydamus.com/lawfulevil.html

    hahaha, advipoops diaparcrapstercoli…

    I find it hard to imagine you’ve never played D&D…

  2. May 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    anyhow, are you gonna go into “beyond good and evil” “will to power” man-o-sphere tough guy talk???

    It was speculated that you were FB, does that mean you are Matt Forney?

    • Conquistador
      May 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      AD is an Indian STEM type from the west coast prolly NorCal.

      Forney/Bardamu is a fat bald white bureaucrat from NY state.

      Yep another “brilliant” insight from the alt-right echo chamber.

      • Conquistador
        May 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm

        Matt Forney/Ferdinand Bardamu is a childish faggot.

        He retires only to have never left in the first place wow.

        He only outed himself to capitalize on his old blog fame.

        Problem is nobody cares anymore which serves him right.

      • May 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

        haha…

        anyways, I thought AD was an H1B visa guy who moved to Canada…

        It is funny that Forney hangs with white nationalists….

        Male feminist’s have Hugo Schwyzer and alter-righties have Jack Donovan…

      • P Ray
        May 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm

        Matt Forney/Ferdinand Bardamu can hang around with Mark Richardson/Oz Conservative.
        Maybe they can swap 7th grader educational strategies.

  3. webe
    May 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Hitler and Stalin (even Eichmann) were not doing it for themselves but because they had to, out of historical vocation. They thought it was every bit as hard on them as on others. In their own banal way, they were kind of aspiring to nobility. Very akin to religious zealots.
    Better off with the person who thinks there is ultimately nothing beyond enjoying the pleasures of the day, all the days of one’s short sojourn.

  4. Hamsta
    May 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    No one is getting it.

    Genocides are not a matter of “evil” on the part of leaders. Genocides are a response to a threat to the survival of DNA. This is the prime directive. An interesting description is in Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” and “Guns, Germs and Steel” (might have order wrong).

    For example, in Rwanda – the country is small with a high population density. Technology and modern systems are not yet the norm. So, when Tutsi and Hutu find themselves competing for resources the solution is reduction of the offending DNA group. It’s not the devil, it’s not the personalities, it is not a hidden force of “evil”. What has to be done (in primal terms) is elimination of the competing group and the excuses arise to fulfill the need

    With Hitler, the Germans invented him. After WW1 the Germans were being bled white by the victors. By the 30’s the Germans were aware that their sophisticated and accomplished society was in real threat of extinction. To preserve their DNA, their culture they needed to fight and try to dominate their section of the world. If it wasn’t Hitler, it would have been someone else.

    It’s always about preservation DNA and time and energy.

  5. May 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Conquistador :
    Matt Forney/Ferdinand Bardamu is a childish faggot.
    He retires only to have never left in the first place wow.
    He only outed himself to capitalize on his old blog fame.
    Problem is nobody cares anymore which serves him right.

    C’mon now…

    the man-o-sphere needs a Mr. Manboobz and he could be “that guy.”

    I wonder who would win in an eating contest…

  6. May 12, 2013 at 9:18 am

    AD, this must be your crappiest post yet. Or were you just “…playing the devil’s advocate…”?

  7. Jason
    May 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

    The tyrants of the 1900s are singled out as evil from brutal tyrants of other centuries — Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, etc. — because of two things.

    One, instead of acting on feelings, or impulses, or tradition, many tyrants in the 1900s acted on ideas, what we today call -isms. Secondly, they were willing to enthusiastically impose their ideas on other people by force.

    Progressive educators following WWII made it a point to teach everyone that -isms and imposing ideas on other people by force is the definition of evil, which is why demonizing Hitler and Stalin seems so natural. If it seems by design, it is.

    Places and times other than ours had different conceptions of evil. Dante, for instance, places the treacherous — Antenor of Troy, Judas Iscariot, Cain — in the ninth, lowest circle of hell. In the eighth we find the fraudulent — banksters, hypocrites, perjurers, corrupt politicians, etc, on grounds that lying in all its forms breaks the bonds that make social life possible. One must go up a level to the seventh circle to find crimes of violence punished.

  8. asdf
    May 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    What a bunch of nonsense.

    The Mongol’s killed something like 40 million people. If we adjusted that to mid 20th century population levels it would mean that killed 300 million people! Far more then Hitler and Stalin combined.

    I don’t think people understand how brutal pre-modern people were to one another, mostly for the purposes of securing loot and slaves.

    Sure, they were brutal.. but who was keeping records then? In any case, the mongols used to destroy a major city or two to convince the others to surrender without fighting. They were interested in conquest, not genocide.

  9. asdf
    May 20, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    The evidence for the 40 million number is reasonably strong. Whether its 30 million or 50 million doesn’t change the fact that these people killed a lot more then Hitler or Stalin.

    “It also explains why their genocides ended up with such high body counts. People who kill for personal profit typically kill the bare minimum necessary for obtaining whatever they want- respect, money, women etc. But those who do it for implementing their personal ideology or vision will not be content until they have removed every single person who stands in the way of their ideological utopia. You might have noticed that both Hitler and Stalin were into heavily invested in destroying the previous order because they hated it with a passion. They wanted to get rid of anyone who represented the old power structures and institutions. This is very different from your typical despot, populist or not, who merely seeks to install himself and his family/friends at the top of the old structures and institutions.”

    This data point and others seem to invalidate your idea that ideologies are more deadly then plain old greed. I think you’re just getting shocked by big numbers and the recentness of it all. People who killed other people for land, booty, and slaves were committing genocide and wiping out large proportions of the earths population long before -isms. I can name plenty of historical regimes that were deadlier and far more brutal then the Nazis and Communists. And most of these guys had no real ideology to speak of.

    It’s easy to speak of -isms as the problem when you’re benefiting from their assumptions in your everyday life. If people in society truly pursued their self interest without any regard for morality the result wouldn’t be Galt’s Gulch or some such thing, it would be Lord of the Flies.

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