The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for average people to imagine they can control and use it


We often repeat the misattributed quote that "for evil to triumph, it is only necessary that good men do nothing." We also often cite father Niemoeller's poem about how "First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a socialist... Then they came for the Jews ... Then they came for me."

These lines remind us to resist the forces of evil, and to do it early. And we definitely should.

But the real thing that enables the triumph of evil is not simply the lack of opposition by good people. The fascists did not rise in Germany and Italy because the left didn't protest enough. The problem was that the average people -- not particularly good and not specifically evil -- enabled the dark forces because they felt they could be useful tools that they could control.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for average people to imagine they can control and use it.

In Germany, Hitler's NSDAP in 1930 got only 18.3% of the vote and 107 seats. Through machinations they worked their way up and in November 1932 they had 33% of the seats, becoming the largest party but far from a majority. The conservatives had already partnered with him. Then Hitler convinced President von Hindenburg and former Chancellor Papen to agree to make him Chancellor. Both men, and the conservatives in general, thought they could tame and use Hitler. They were wrong. Hitler used the power he got, along with violence, illegal tricks and of course, the Reichstag fire, to quickly turn himself into dictator.

In Italy, a similar story arose. In this case it was the monarchy and the wealthy conservatives who held power and thought they could tame and use Mussolini. His Fascist party was actually a minor party in the ruling coalition but he become prime minister after their march on Rome, thanks to the favour of King Victor Emmanuel III.

They had opposition. Hitler had strong and violet opposition in many cases. He used the communists, in particular as a scapegoat, as did Mussolini. For the wealthy and nobles of post-WWI Europe, the memory of the Russian revolution, which saw the confiscation of all the wealth, was a recent memory. It was easy to scare those powerful forces with such fear. While the German communist KPD limited their violent skirmishes with Hitler's NSDAP, it was enough to use them as a bogeyman.

Trump is not Hitler or Mussolini. There are those who try to say that, but you don't have to think it's even remotely true to see a similar pattern here.

The Republican establishment hated Trump. Many of them put themselves in the "never Trump" camp and then forgot the "never" part. It is particularly worthwhile to watch This interview with Lindsay Graham, particularly the part starting at around 1:18, where he reveals his true opinions of Ted Cruz (whom he has just endorsed) and in particular Donald Trump. Here, for once, Graham is being honest, and it's chilling. You can find similar statements from Cruz and even, in a milder form, from McConnell.

Now, they know he has control of their party, and that he is their only alternative to Democrat-controlled White House (and probably congress.) Their end is to keep their party in power, and he is the tool they think they can control. So much that almost none of them broke ranks on impeachment. Impeachment could have been an out for them. It could have been a way to be rid of the embarrassment they know Trump is, replacing him with Pence. The party would not lose the White House, but they feel that Trump has better chances than Pence (and polls do suggest that.)

As such, I have always felt the path away from Trump required not more opposition from the left, but rather convincing the right that he is not a useful tool for them. That was the key hope, in my book, for impeachment -- that the Republicans would realize that he will be a burden again soon, and again after that, and to take an opportunity to cut their losses.

It failed. Worse, their unity may be even stronger. They may now feel that betraying him is betraying their party, even more than they felt so before.

It could be that the right strategy for the left is to find an out for the conservatives. A face-saving out that doesn't destroy their party or switch political power completely to the other side. I've considered radical options like a Romney/Warren ticket which the Democrats would never do.

Trump was wise in his choice of Pence. On the one hand, he's not a dynamic figure the GOP can easily rally to the banner of. But his super-conservative reconstructionist views are almost as scary to Democrats as Trump's whatever-benefits-Trump ideology. A loud segment of the Democratic party imagines the only answer is a complete far-left progressive victory which scares the crap out of the right. As the nation gets more divided, nobody sees that the underlying principle of 2 party politics -- that the party with 51% gets to make all the rules and crush the 49% -- is an undemocratic mistake. Few truly mean it when they say they want to be the President or government for all Americans. Instead, they feel they must vanquish the other half of their country, a process that doesn't end well, and didn't end well when there was no alternative in the 1860s.

Let's not be on the path to that. Let's find that middle ground and convince the right they don't need Trump. That's how to stop the triumph of evil. A triumph that will do far more than diminish the United States. It is on the path to undoing the strength and success of the west itself.


So Brad Templeton is a deranged lefty. I knew the mask would fall off at some point.

Trump has created the best economy in decades, and look how many people reveal their true colors. They can't stand that the 'deplorables' are being allowed to earn a living with dignity.

Brad is a classical liberal. That is, he believes in freedom not just for the good things it produces, but as a value in and of itself.

This whole article is an over the top example of Godwin’s Law in action. You seem to recognize that, pointing out that Trump is no Hitler or Mussolini. Then you say that there’s a similar pattern. I think one of the lessons from Godwin’s Law is that you can always see such a pattern if you frame things the right way.

Trump is not particularly evil. He’s being used as a tool by some evil people, but then, so are the Democrats (many of whom, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are more evil than Trump).

And that’s the problem, I think. Trump is awful, but the alternative might be even worse.

I don’t think I could vote for Trump, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to vote for his opponent either.

Note that the fatass doesn't even defend himself in relation to your valid points.

Whether it is due to not being articulate enough, or innate laziness, the result is the same.

Don't overstress Godwin's Law. Mike made that observation to say that people were overdoing comparing things to the Nazis, not to say that there are never parallels to the Nazis worth observing! In fact, I am pretty sure Mike would say would should definitely be on the lookout for those all the time, but also understand which are serious and which are not.

There are many types of evil in the world. Sure, the Nazis are an archetype of one type. Trump's is more banal. Trump simply wants his own aggrandizement. I don't think he actually hates Muslims or Latinos or immigrants or many of the others he has harmed. I think he just has no moral sense telling him it's wrong to harm these giant groups for his personal political gain. But it's still an evil thing.

Well, as I am sure many point out, not voting for either of them (if you are a swing state voter) is still support for him (though half as strongly as voting for him.)

What has Trump done to "Muslims or Latinos or immigrants" that is so much worse than any other Republican President? Most of what he has done isn't even worse than Obama. I think you're overdoing it by comparing Trump to Hitler. Lindsay Graham is way more evil than Trump. As is Bernie Sanders, though I expect those who don't see the evilness of socialism won't understand that one. Bernie may or may not hate all the people his presidency would harm (pretty much everyone).

Many people say that "not supporting either of them" is still support for one of them. The fact that one side said not voting for Clinton is a vote for Trump and the other side said not voting for Trump is a vote for Clinton I think is enough to realize how dumb that is.

It does make for an interesting Trolly Problem. I've generally leaned toward non-intervention there. I guess the same is true with voting. But I'd like to see who we have as a candidate, first. And then I'd like to see their argument of why I should vote for them. Hopefully you or someone else will answer the question of what specifically Trump has done that is so much worse than any other Republican President. That said, the more likely reason I'd have to vote for Trump's opponent is that Trump is unstable and therefore dangerous, not that he is particularly evil. I did some Googling for what Trump has actually done (not just said) that is so horrible, and most of the answers were on points with which I agreed with Trump (like cutting taxes and trying to repeal Obamacare).

He's unstable. He's unintelligent. He's untruthful. On the other hand, he's not a socialist. I guess I'd vote for any of the top four in Iowa against Trump if the election were held today. Not enthusiastically, though. And they still have months to go to turn me off from being able to hold my nose and vote for them. Hopefully Congress will keep them from enacting what they want to enact. As I said four years ago, the worst thing about a Trump presidency is probably going to be the swing to the left that inevitably follows it. That or nuclear annihilation.

Clearly people are writing books about what's wrong with Trump so I'm not going to summarize it here. I do agree that Democrats sometimes confuse Trump's strong policy differences with his flaws that go beyond policy. You might argue if Trump's stated and partly achieved "muslim ban" is just a difference of policy or an assault on core constitutional values, but I put it in the latter camp.

At the bottom, though, Trump is a crook like Nixon. Amoral more than strictly evil, but amorality can be evil in his position, for strokes of the President's pen, done with caprice, can destroy and upend lives, cities and nations. All politicians lie and cheat but he's taken it up by an order of magnitude, and he's made the USA a laughing stock, which will diminish not just the USA but the west. He will hasten the coming Sino century in all probability. The Democrats were stupid in their impeachment but at the core of their charges was a truth he has shown often, an unprecedented regard for the rule of law, even beyond Nixon. And yes, unstable and narcissistic.

As I said, if you are choosing between voting for the Dem and not voting (or voting for other than the Dem and Trump) that is effectively 1/2 a vote for Trump. For those rare people deciding whether to vote for Trump or the Dem, it's a full vote. Presumptively, Dems imagine that anybody not voting for Trump must be wanting to vote for them and so will call not voting a full vote for Trump.

I'm curious about your comment that "He’s being used as a tool by some evil people." Who are these evil people and what evil things are they using Trump to accomplish? Trump seems to think that he always knows best and isn't easily influenced or manipulated by others. And being wealthy, he is less likely to be influenced by those interests with money. I'm probably naive, but it seems like Trump is carrying out policies that he thinks are in the best interest of the U.S. and most Americans, regardless of what other people think. Other than his own ego, I just don't see that he's under anybody else's control. But I'm open to changing my opinion.

Among others. The latter two were effusive in their hate for Trump before he was elected, but they are using him because he signs bills they want signed. Mitch however is the most evil of them, the latter two are the more middle-of-the-road. Of course, they all enable McConnell.

Most people on the right (conservatives/libertarians/classical liberals) tend to view the left as just "PEOPLE with bad ideas." Perhaps well-intentioned but misguided. While the left tends to view the right as "BAD PEOPLE with ideas."

There's so much HATE going on right now, fueled by the old media and social media, that people can't put reality into perspective - a prosperous economy, relative world peace, longer life spans, plenty of freedom and liberty for people to pursue their own life goals without excessive government oppression or taxation.

"Most people on the right (conservatives/libertarians/classical liberals) tend to view the left as just "PEOPLE with bad ideas." Perhaps well-intentioned but misguided. While the left tends to view the right as "BAD PEOPLE with ideas."

There's so much HATE going on right now,"

Your statement above is a good example.

I definitely get that the left believes that anyone on the right are BAD PEOPLE. I get that all the time. Anybody who is a trump supporter is BAD PEOPLE. It's okay to beat up someone wearing a MAGA hat because they're a BAD PERSON.

I believe that people on the left are BAD PEOPLE. How could they not be? They use violence. They ignore facts. They think that socialism creates prosperity, when it is capitalism that creates prosperity. They propose all sorts of bad ideas, and don't particularly care when you point out that those ideas have a bad history.

For example, I was having a discussion with someone on the left about the minimum wage, and in the end, he agreed that the minimum wage causes some unemployment, but that it raises the wages of so many other people that the unemployed can just suffer. It's okay that they suffer. Sorry, but only a BAD PERSON is willing to sacrifice one individual in order to help ten.

Russell, You and I probably share similar opinions about economics, freedom, and politics. We believe that capitalism, the U.S., and liberty are forces for good. We believe in Equality of treatment under the law for all citizens, Equality of liberty, Equality of opportunity to pursue our own goals, but not equality of outcomes which must be enforced by an all powerful government.

But if other people have different ideas or opinions about how to maximize human happiness, we shouldn't demonize those people as "Evil." If we call the left "evil people," and the leftists label the right as "evil people," then there really is no difference in character, as your heading would suggest. There would be a lot less hate, and more civilized politics, if we could all discuss the issues based on merits and facts, rather than demonizing the people with other positions. Let's disagree with a person's opinion without lowering ourselves to hating them or labeling them as evil.

"He's unstable. He's unintelligent. He's untruthful. On the other hand, he's not a socialist."

The idea that being a socialist is worse than the other things is the main problem. Sanders, by the way, is not a socialist by any definition used anywhere else in the world. In most European countries, he'd be considered a social democrat, but not particularly far to the left.

The USA is broken. Get over it.

The US is socialist, but not in the way you expect. Socialist countries that identify themselves as socialist (which is to say, not the Nordic countries) are happy to take ownership of entire industries. Nationalization is their bag. The US is socialist in a different way. Nominally, ownership is still private, but some industries are so highly regulated that control resides in the hands of the government. Ownership usually gives you control, but not in the case of the banking, investment, or healthcare industries. They are all socialist.

Socialism is the leading man-made cause of death in human existence.

Fortunately, Sanders and the other socialists have little chance of Congress going along with their socialist goals, even if they did win the presidency.

I do believe there is a very high chance that in the next term or in 2024 they will enact some form of socialized health care. And speaking as somebody who travels greatly, and has lived for 30 years under such systems and almost 30 years on the U.S. system but more recently had to have too much to do with it, I would not argue against that change, if they can figure out how to do it right.

Or, for that matter, if they can figure out how to transform the US into a working non-socialist system. The problem is, that's very hard. Is there a well working non-socialist health care system in the world? We can identify many of the things wrong with the U.S. system (and it's not my goal in this thread, at least to do that) but nobody has identified a sure way to fix them.

On the other hand, many nations have identified designs of socialized health care which, while far from perfect, work significantly better than the US one.

So faced with a choice of "Here's a system to copy which works, and gives superior health outcomes to the current US system at 1/3rd the cost" and "Here are some theories of design for an untested system which has arguments it can do better" -- which is the wise choice?

The US already has socialized health care, so I'm not really sure what any of that means.

If you think we're moving to single payer by 2028, I don't see that as very likely. The current Congress certainly wouldn't go along with it, and I highly doubt the next Congress is going to be that radically different. It's harder to predict more years out, of course. The pendulum is no doubt going to swing, but I doubt it'll swing all the way by the end of 2020.

I'm not sure that the country would go along with it either. I think much of the country recognizes the evil of utilitarianism when it comes to forcing some people to die for the sake of boosting the statistical averages. It's why only the most radical Democrats are willing to say "yes, we're going to make private health insurance illegal in order to enact Medicare for all."

Telling a millionaire that he can't undergo an expensive life-saving treatment because the country can't afford to give that treatment to everyone, is murder. It's pushing the millionaire fat man off the bridge to stop the train from killing others. Maybe it "gives superior health outcomes to the current US system at 1/3rd the cost" on average, but if it's at the expense of murdering people, no thanks.

Well, the system is highly regulated, but far less socialist than in the rest of the wealthy democracies. I don't know if it will move single payer or not. It is possible a government paid plan for all will arise as an option, though how well it would do is unclear. There are places with two-tier health care, but they are usually places of high income inequality, with a single payer tier for the low income people, and a completely different private system for the middle class and above.

If Trump wins in 2020, 2024 will see a major anti-Trump backlash. There is always a pendulum swing in any event, but it will be much stronger than normal, and you will see a Democrat house/senate/president in 2024. If Trump loses, then the senate has a higher chance of staying Republican in 2022 and 2024, as this will mitigate the backlash.

This time, the Democrats would not be shy about their health care agenda.

It's not just that the system is highly regulated. It's that the regulations make it so that virtually no one pays for the bulk of their own health care. The costs of health care are socialized. This was already true prior to Obamacare, but with Obamacare it's even more explicit. You either get your health insurance through work or you get it from the government (mostly through Obamacare, through Medicaid, through Medicare, through the VA, or through CHIP). Or you don't get it at all and you just get free/cheap health care by either using free/cheap clinics or by never paying your bills. In the case of Obamacare and Medicare, how much you pay is directly based on ability to pay. In the case of employer coverage your coats are socialized by your co-workers. In the other cases, it's paid for by taxes. In any case, what you get is based on what you need. Under EMTALA, even if you don't have health insurance, you still get covered for whatever you need. It's not significantly less socialized than it would be under socialism, except for the ulta-rich who can afford to pay out of pocket for specialized treatment not covered by health insurance companies.

It is, however, more convoluted and expensive.

Anyway, you say you "believe there is a very high chance that in the next term or in 2024 they will enact some form of socialized health care." Then you say you "don't know if it will move single payer or not." So, in what way do you think we will get more socialized health care then we already have, if not single payer?

My biggest fears of Bernie and other socialists is not over what they're going to do to health care. Health care is already socialized, and making the socialism explicit will probably not make things significantly worse, and has a good chance of saving money. Replacing Obamacare with pay-in Medicare, for instance, so your realistic options were employer coverage, pay-in Medicare, and going without health insurance, would probably not significantly change things other than lowering costs. Even some sort of "free Medicare for all who want it" paid for by progressive taxation wouldn't be significantly different than Obamacare with a fully enacted and enforced individual mandate.

Maybe we'll go to true single payer, and that would be a step towards more socialized health care. But I don't see it happening by 2024, and even by 2028 I'm doubtful.

I pay my health insurance premiums directly. I don't know how many do. Yes, most get it through an employer, but that is effectively a tax on employment -- the employer has to pay $100,000 to employ you, but you only get $90,000 of it (before the other taxes.) It can be argued that this is you paying for it, though no major employer can compete unless they offer a plan.

As to what they will do other than single payer, what has been proposed, I believe, is the creation of a government run insurance company -- effectively an ability for people to buy medicare under 65 perhaps. Except presumably subsidized, and presumably with the power to force every major medical provider to accept its rates unless they want to lose all the medicare money -- or perhaps the ability to force it in some other way.

Existing insurance companies would have to change.

Presumably you make more than 400% of the poverty level (which is only $69,000 for a family of two). Therefore you're not eligible for subsidized health insurance through Obamacare. 400% of the poverty level is well above the median income for a family of two, even in California, which has one of the higher median incomes.

The creation of a government run insurance company -- effectively an ability for people to buy medicare under 65 perhaps -- would probably not make the US health care system significantly more socialized.

It's interesting considering what would happen if the government forced every major medical provider to accept the rates of the "public option" insurance company unless they want to lose all the medicare money. It'd probably result in a significant decrease in doctors who accept medicare, especially doctors who provide services that aren't primarily used by elderly clients. It probably wouldn't be a popular plan, and it'd make medicare a lot worse (fewer options and longer waiting times) to the point where it'd likely be very unpopular. Existing insurance companies wouldn't likely have to change much, as they'd compete by offering much better service (from providers that don't accept medicare) at a higher price.

I think we have three basic choices. One would be to continue the status quo: some freedom, some coverage for the poor, and really high costs. One would be to move to a much more socialized system - trading freedom away for lower costs. And one would be to move to a much more free market system - lowering costs, maintaining freedom, but forcing the poor to rely on private charity. "Medicare for all who want it"/"a public option" would be more of the status quo. Single payer would be the much more socialized system. And the free market system would be...political suicide for whoever proposes it, probably.

(I don't use an ad-blocker and I find the Forbes site extremely obnoxious in terms of ads and I don't think your writing there is as good as it was when it was on your own site. I miss your long detailed posts about robocars!)

I really find it hard to believe that Trump is significantly more evil than other politicians at his level. Are you really so untroubled by the Clinton's past that you think Hillary was significantly less evil than Trump? I don't. Trump joked about being able to get away with sexual assault – when he thought he was speaking privately. It's really hard not to believe that Bill Clinton actually raped – as in forcibly held down, for an extended period, while he had sex with them against their will – several women (at least). The evidence is damning. Hillary Clinton certainly seems like a terrible person on the scale of Trump; to me anyways. I can't think of any of them that are good people or that deserve any power over others.

But I totally agree with you that the right strategy is to provide others with an out – a line of retreat. But that's the right strategy for everyone, at all levels, from rival countries to opposed individuals.

I recently watched Joe Rogan's podcast episode with Daryl Davis. I'd read of Davis years ago and was always struck by the wisdom of his strategy. In the podcast episode he discusses a lot of details of which I wasn't previously aware. If you're not familiar with him or his story – he is black and has been for a long time a professional musician. From his Wikipedia article about the beginning of his (notable) story:

"In 1983, he was playing country western music in a "white" bar in Frederick, Maryland when a patron came up to him and said it was the first time he had "heard a black man play as well as Jerry Lee Lewis". Davis explained to the man that "Jerry Lee learned to play from black blues and boogie woogie piano players and he's a friend of mine." The white patron was skeptical and over a drink admitted he was a member of the KKK. The two became friends and eventually, the man gave Davis contact information on KKK leaders."

Since that first encounter, he "claims to have been directly responsible for between 40 and 60, and indirectly over 200 people leaving the Klan.".

Apparently he's also helped several people leave the NSM – a U.S. neo-Nazi group.

In the podcast episode he stated something that I have long believed – most of these 'terrible' people are not in fact terrible. There are some that are 'monsters', for whatever reason, but most people are good people. Davis's actions, and its results, seem to be powerful evidence that this is the case. See also the story of Megan Phelps.

I have an extremely limited media diet. I only follow individuals that I find intelligent, insightful – and sympathetic. I've stopped following lots of intelligent and insightful people that I found to be insufficiently sympathetic. (I realize that this is, ironically, a failure of my own sympathy in a sense.)

But even among this select group of people I follow, it's relatively rare for them to not demonize some people, e.g. openly and sincerely discuss their support of evil. I am deeply saddened that this is the case.

I wish we all could learn from Daryl Davis's beautiful example.

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