Banality of evil

Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “banality of evil” to refer to the confoundingly commonplace motives of the Nazis who perpetrated some of the worst war crimes in history.

Primo Levi maintained that few monsters exist. “More dangerous are the common man, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions,” the Holocaust survivor said.

Evil is self-absorption; obsession with pleasure; fascination with the surfaces of things.

Evil is narcissistic abuse. It is Planet Ego.

The nature of evil is to create a world full of anger, violence, and destruction.

Superficiality is evil

Triviality is evil. The emptiness and pettiness of American pop culture and politics accelerates the destruction of critical thinking. It is unconscionable mindlessness.

Superficiality acts as a kind of psychic armor. It’s a kind of ketman, a performance for all including, sometimes, the protagonist.

Superficial traits:

  • focus on the apparent rather than the real
  • focus outward
  • lacks emotional depth
  • perceptually shallow
  • concerned with or comprehending only what is on the surface or obvious
  • lack of “inner compass”; not grounded in anything or any framework
  • low self-awareness
  • overly materialistic
  • overly judgmental
  • sense of entitlement

Evil never looked so good

Bad folks don’t generally announce themselves to the world. Ergo, the devil in disguise phenomenon. Many are quite charming and persuasive.

Many people are taken in by the wiles of evil. It can be magnetic, and very entertaining — downright addictive.

The banality of evil can be seductive, in its reduction of cognitive overload: evil is an over-simplification. It is a perilous narrowing down of the range of possible thought. It is the clipping of the mind, as if a fowl’s wings.

Evil is the forcing function of morality into black and white, binary thinking, and limited options. It trades the tyranny choice for the tyranny of, well, tyranny.