Do evil people know that they are evil?

Do evil people know that they are evil?

I assume criminals know, but what about ideologues? It seems in that case that they know that others might see their deeds as evil, but they themselves don’t.

By 1907, there were regions [in Russia] where Communist terrorists killed an average of 18 people each day. Assassinations became so commonplace that newspapers stopped reporting them. Acts of terror became more common than traffic accidents. By the most conservative estimate, terrorists killed and wounded 16,800 Russians in the years 1905-1910. All in all, in the last 17 years of Russia’s imperial regime, about 17,000 were killed or maimed in 23,000 terrorist attacks.
So this means that before the Communists took power, which was in 1917, there were substantial murders of ordinary people (and supposed ‘enemies of the people’) going on.

Here is one professor’s explanation for the murders:

Prof Geifman

Professor Anna Geifman says: “Terrorism is a variant of a phenomenon which psychiatrist and historian Robert Lifton called “totalism.” Its devotees — anarchists, Marxists, or Islamists — want to impose a new order based on an “all-or-nothing claim to truth.” They operate within distinctive parameters of a “theology of Armageddon — a final battle between good and evil” – in which the stakes are nothing less than universal salvation. As outlined in Eric Hoffer’s classic, The True Believer, such movements have mastered the art of “religiofication,” that is, converting political grievances into messianic aspirations and ‘practical purposes into holy causes.’

Here is another interesting quote, this from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “In a speech published on his website…. [he said that] the ultimate goal of world forces must be the annihilation of Israel and that a “horrible Zionist current” had been managing world affairs for “about 400 years.” Ahmadinejad added that “liberating Palestine” would solve all the world’s problems.
“Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime,” he added.

So here is a man who would like to start a genocidal war, and he is doing it for freedom, justice, and to liberate the world from the Zionist manager of its affairs.

All wonderful motives. Of course there are no Zionist managers of the world, and if he wants to start with “freedom” and “Justice”, he should free the prisoners in his horrible jails. But does he really believe what he says?

Pietro Ichino

In Italy, a professor of labor law, Pietro Ichino, is in fear of his life. He started out as a man of the Left–a Communist parliamentarian, in fact–who became convinced that the state enforced equivalent of lifetime job security actually worked against the interests of ordinary young workers, who were increasingly frozen out from being offered jobs in the first place. The Italian government has reason to believe that people want to murder him for his views, (he had recommended that the Italian government relax its extraordinarily stringent regulation of employers’ hiring and firing decisions). So Pietro lives under armed escort. Leftist gunmen have murdered two other reformist labor law professors, and Ichino’s name appears on a hit list of the “red brigades.”.

I guess firing an employee is such a wicked act that murder of anyone who advocates it is justified.

In the Geifman interview, she also says that:
“Lenin and his associates perpetrated what they called the “Red Terror” — an instrument of repression in the hands of the revolutionary regime. Building on the notion of indiscriminate or “motiveless terror” of the early 1900s, the Bolsheviks launched their campaign of state-sponsored coercion against groups and individuals designated as “class enemies” of the proletarian dictatorship. Lenin repeatedly claimed that they “forced” terrorism upon the Bolsheviks, who had to kill “in self-defense.” In reality, he had planned mass repressions a decade before he had a chance to introduce them as a state policy. As early as 1908 he had envisaged “real, nation-wide terror, which reinvigorates the country.”

Note that Lenin pleads “self-defense” because he realizes that not everybody sees his evil deeds as justified. To himself, he sees them as “reinvigoration.”

Hitler once said he was doing “God’s work.”

So ideologues often think they are wonderful people, no matter what evil they commit.

In another post, I mention that there are at least 50,000 slaves in the United States of America, some of them sex slaves, some of them working in fields, some of them working as maids for visiting diplomats etc. Do the people who hold them in bondage think of themselves as evil?
Do torturers for a dictatorship see themselves as evil?
Do any people want to be evil? Do they see it as a way of gaining status and respect?
Some people take a dislike to someone, and order him knifed, for no good reason. Others devise sadistic weapons to use on rival gangs (see my post on gangs). The dislike can be totally unprovoked. How do these people look at their actions?
What about a serial killer who kidnaps women and keeps them in his dungeon (there is an example in this blog), waiting for death. Does he dislike his captives? Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a talk show host, mentions on her blog a serial killer who sent a picture of a headless female victim to his girlfriend. And yes, the worst perpetrators in our prison system attract some women, with a psychology that I certainly can’t explain, attracted especially because of the crimes that landed these men there.

I have to confess, despite chronicling a lot of bad behavior in this blog. I still have no clue what goes on in the minds of evil men and women. It must be very different than what goes on in yours or mine.

Sources:
Iranian quote: Article by Joanna Paraszczuk (Jerusalem Post)
DAVID GOLDMAN:Lessons from the Red Terror About Islamist Organizations: an Interview with Prof. Anna Geifman
Wall Street Journal (Notable and Quotable) 3/2/2012 (note, the WSJ doesn’t say this, but a wikipedia website says that the threat to Ichino has subsided)

My blog post on democracy excited some controversy. Its relevant to that controversy that Professor Geifman says: “Elections are hardly a guarantee against state terrorism. It does not matter that the Muslim Brotherhood was voted into government in Egypt via a democratic process. The chance that these jihadists will become more moderate is about the same as it was for the Nazis to seek peace after being elected to power.”

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