The Banality of Evil

The recent controversial post written by Matt Cockerill reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil.”

From Wikipedia:

The banality of evil (as coined by Arendt) describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

Who is responsible for the death of innocents caught in the frenzy of battle? Is it the legislative and executive leaders, marching their country to war? Is it the commanding officers, giving the orders? Or what about individual soldiers, carrying out orders like they were told? We could even ask if the question that perhaps the arms manufacturers also have a responsibility for innocent deaths. Are they not all complicit in the death?

To be honest, I’m not sure. But there is a great lesson to be learned:  atrocities are not usually committed by blood-crazed sociopaths. But rather individuals that give their quiet, obedient consent to the real sociopaths.

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