Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Banality of Evil

I promised last week to post my photos from the lower Queen Anne campsite clearance last Thursday. This action initated by the Mayor's office and executed by the Parks Department was deeply wrong. Rather than say why yet one more time, I thought I'd simply accompany the photos with this quote from an essay on Hannah Arendt's concept of the banality of evil. This sort of evil, she says, is not rooted in mal-intent. It is rooted instead in an uncritical acceptance of the premises put forth by the State, and a sort of radical thoughtlessness.
"I mean that evil is not radical, going to the roots (radix), that it has no depth, and that for this very reason it is so terribly difficult to think about it, since thinking, by definition, wants to reach the roots. Evil is a surface phenomenon, and instead of being radical, it is merely extreme. We resist evil by not being swept away by the surface of things, by stopping ourselves and beginning to think, that is, by reaching another dimension than the horizon of everyday life. In other words, the more superficial someone is, the more likely will he be to yield to evil. An indication of such superficiality is the use of clichés, and Eichmann, ...was a perfect example."


Madeleine said...

Hi, Tim. This is Madeleine from your UW class. Tonight I saw a SIFF screening of "Great Speeches in a Dying World," the movie featured on this week's (?) cover of Real Change. I was wondering if you had seen it and/or had any comments on the film.

Madeleine said...

Correction: "Great Speeches FROM a Dying World."

Tim Harris said...

I've had the DVD in my bag for about a week but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I'll post something when I do, which hopefully will be soon. Things have been unusually intense for me lately.

Diane Nilan said...

How profoundly sad when you think of people's worlds being heartlessly swept away.

The white sheet-like suits reminded me of other white-sheeted, hooded men also destroying people's lives.

Your strong stand against such evil is why I love RC! Be steadfast in your opposition and be filled with the strength to challenge such ruthless actions.

John Sulmonte said...

Superficial is the Key to our Society Today and your taking up this cause may fall deaf ears as most are:
Take note I said most! Not all!