The Evil Other

This particular piece does not relate to traditional issues directly, but it does relate to Evola’s view that in undertaking all actions, one must be dispassionate, but committed, to the final end.

I have noticed in a few conversations I have had recently that there is a strong tendency by people to vilify their opponents, no matter how trivial the issue. I refer to this as the “evil other,” someone unlike us who is ipso facto maliciously motivated and seeking to undermine all that is “good” and “rational.” This is also related to the “ignorant other,” someone who disagrees with us and  thus must know less than we do. Such views do not consider that perhaps “the other” understands matters differently, and therefore opens up an opportunity for us, if not necessarily to change our minds, at least to better understand our own positions. Instead, this view presumes the other person must have no good reason to argue their point aside from the fact that they are hateful, spiteful, and bigoted.

For example, I recently heard one “progressive” radio host argue that Republicans wish to ban abortion and cut back on social programs merely because they “hate women and children.” On the flip side, I have heard “conservative” radio hosts blast anyone attempting to cut one penny of military spending as “hating the troops,” the military, and probably America. They also probably hate Mom and apple pie, and how dare anyone insult their mother!

All of these views and the vilification of one’s opponent are tied to emotional responses. Instead of dispassionate, detached discussion based on reason and reasonable discourse, people instead defend a weak or non-existent argument with the response that their opponent is wicked and therefore not worthy of response. This approach is tempting, as it is an easy way to get out of an argument, but it does nothing for our inner growth, which is often painful and conflicting, and does nothing whatsoever to increase knowledge of the Truth.

Returning to Evola, Evola wrote more than once that a spirit of detachment, detachment from any particular belief, idea, thought, or view, with a dispassionate seeking of the Truth by following after it earnestly, is the only way to find true wisdom and understanding. In addition, Evola praised the detached conflict, wherein two opponents valiantly fight without malice for the other, but rather with a spirit of resolve and desire for the victory, not as an end in itself, but rather as a sign of “divine election,” an indication that you are on the side of God. In the Greater Holy War, even victory is irrelevant, for fighting in a just cause is reward enough. This can only be true if one is detached, free from passion and malice, and strives forth with the quest as your only joy.

This is the problem with the “evil other” mentality. By vilifying one’s opponent, one loses objectivity, and by losing one’s objectivity, one loses sight of Truth. A love of Truth rises above personal preference or prejudice, and by creating an “evil other,” one essentially restrains knowledge of Truth. Error will be error regardless of the virtues or vices of the person expounding the view, and likewise Truth will be Truth even if the person stating the fact is a pitiful wretch who deserves no sympathy. The detached, objective man can see this distinction, the passionate man cannot.

In one of my favourite films, the Godfather, Part III, Michael tells Vincent “Never hate your enemies, it clouds your judgement.”