Because We Can

I read with rather intense interest this City Journal piece by Theodore Dalrymple, The Frivolity of Evil. Also very interesting was Wretchard’s thorough take on it, as well as Billy Beck’s. I think that a lot of what I’d have to say about it would overlap what’s already been written. On the other hand…

Among other things, Beck says:

…it makes no sense to pose good and evil as mutually exclusive in human nature without knowing human nature to include the element of free will. "The barriers to evil" are erected and mounted one mind at a time, willfully realizing itself in the purpose of choosing life over death.

It just seems noteworthy to me that after millennia of religion-induced guilt, followed by centuries of modern state-induced guilt, that it has come to this. And yet, in spite of all the evil, there’s no greater evidence of the heights of goodness and accomplishment to which men can ascend than in things we can see being done by great individuals today.

History, apparently, has never been short of either great men or evil men–or the deeds of both. On balance, it’s fair to observe that the good has outstripped the evil time and again. But to whom do we owe the general triumph of good: to religious indoctrination, force of the state, or to individuals who’ve simply chosen to do good instead of evil? Huh?

Yet we continue to prattle on about how "we’re all just one part of ‘God’s creation’ or ‘Society’" (take your pick). It matters not a wit to me that seemingly smart people continue to fashion meaningless distinctions between the church and the state. Neither has forsaken the individual and his potential greatness. They’ve just never championed him as an individual. He’s never been anything more than a handmaiden to God and his brethren–or just a handmaiden to his fellow man.

Individualism may not rid the world of evil, but it will give you the moral sanction to ignore it to the extent it doesn’t affect you. It permits you to deal with only the truly moral–forming a "society" unto yourself. And the only morality that’s really worth a shit–that can begin to be trusted–is the sort of morality that’s freely chosen by a man, because he’s rational–because he can.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Underdog on April 14, 2005 at 08:39

    I'm not a scholar nor am I a religious nut. I believe in goodness and positiveness. I don't care what a person believes in, free will is an ingredient that makes a person choose between good and evil. It's hard to be a good person. It's very easy to be bad. To be a good person you have to view a projection of consequences for every action you take. Sometimes that spurs a person to make a neutral decision that will cause no one any harm, but is boring and not noteworthy. A person who chooses not to care about the consequences of their actions, or worse yet, chooses to be crafty and manipulate an outcome to score down bad consequences – is more entertaining. There will always be a battle between good and evil. If we want to be free, we mustn't contain individuals' will with fear of punishment – they have to learn from their mistakes. We can say, "This is how it works" and pray they understand, but ultimately – failure provides a lesson. For people who constantly keep making the same mistakes in their life over and over again, I say, you're just stupid. I believe in Karma, and that keeps me line. I've seen it, I've experienced it, and I've witnessed it. But some don't believe in that kind of thing, or God. But look at what happens when you hold people in place too long under, say, the 10 Commandments – everyone gets sick of it and they sin their butts off – and then we have Sin City where everyone runs a muck and it's common place. Then we get sick of that and everyone has to debate religion and how we can bring it back to hold everyone in place again. Moderation, and patience, and acceptance, and being a good role model will save this world in the end as far as I'm concerned. By the way, great post – thanks!

  2. Old Whig on April 14, 2005 at 22:16

    Richard and Underdog, have you seen this article by Sharon Harris of The Advocates for Self-Government?

    It's the Libertarian vision in a nutshell.

  3. CT on April 15, 2005 at 14:00

    good times

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