Measured Against Reality

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Banality of Evil

Read this. It's about the motivation for keeping the spying program alive and detainees in prison despite their almost certain uselessness and innocence (respectively). I'll wait.

All done? Noam's comment:

I mean, it's just fricking grotesque. You're tempted to call it Bond villain-esque, except in this case Cheney's evil seems more banal than Bond-ian.

reminded me of Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect. One of the key takeaways from that book was the notion of "the banality of evil", that normal people placed in terrible conditions can do terrible, evil things despite being utterly mundane, completely boring, and banal. We think that it takes some great evil power to do great evil, but in reality it just takes a bunch of normal guys in an absurd situation.

Although in this case it was self-made. I'm currently reading The Dark Side by Jane Mayer, (buy it, buy it now), and I just finished the part about how the paranoia and fear infected the administration after 9/11, and how a few guys hijacked the national security agenda and made it into a tool for torture, just because they were convinced it was Necessary. It's all so bureaucratic, so inane, so banal, that it's infuriating. It's like watching Generation Kill (which, by the way, you should also be doing), at times it makes you gasp with horror, and it makes your blood boil. But knowing the whole infuriating story is absolutely essential, lest we repeat


  • The Bush Administrations actions relating to Iraq: read "The Constitution in Crisis" by Rep. Conyers which discusses how several in Bush's Administration during Clinton's Presidency wrote a letter demanding the US invade Iraq and that the US should be in 2 wars to show our strength...among other items that lead up to the invasion. The only problem with the report is it doesn't look in the mirror and why the Democrats didn't speak out (minority of Congress or not) and it doesn't address how the (bad evil liberal)media blew it on their investigative journalism. Another book which is brief but more holistic in its criticism:
    The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies, and the Mess in Iraq by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:32 PM, August 17, 2008  

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