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Are We The Bad Guys?

I don't think we will ever eradicate authoritarianism.

I was prompted to write this article after watching this seemingly innocent and on the face of it, a light-hearted clip from a Canadian TV show.

What I’m about to write about in this article isn’t an original concept, it’s one that is obvious but nevertheless, I find it interesting how despite us all knowing this, we never really consider it when considering alternative views.

Why will evil and injustices continue despite all the lessons of history, the museums, the national remembrance days the awareness programs, marches, and tweets?

In my opinion, it's because the actual lessons from past atrocities and great injustices were never learned, even by some of those who claim to have studied history in detail.

The overwhelming majority of people don’t see themselves as evil…yes even Hitler. Most people believe they are acting for a righteous goal, the good of society, or for the benefit of the weak. It’s that belief that justifies their actions, because if you can reach the promised land, then whatever you do to get there is worth it.

Take the French revolution, the storming of Bastille, this is a national holiday in France. Yet, during the revolution rapes, murders and hangings occurred. But it was fine because the victims were rich. But now they're in the promised land, the injustices that happened during are well forgotten, France is reaping the rewards of a successful revolution.

It’s human nature to want to fight for what we believe is righteous and more significantly, it’s in our nature to want to eradicate or make those in society who act out of line with those virtues suffer. As humans, we only care about winning the morality war and are happy to see those on the other side pay for their sins, or at the very least we don’t care even if they suffer in a way we would objectively deem unfair.

Take for example World War II, very few know of the atrocities suffered by the Germans from the allies occupying Germany. The brutality, sexual assault, and violence many suffered, but these stories don’t have an impact because they were Nazis after all, so they deserved it? The article, The Dying Days Of Nazi Germany and the book A woman In Berlin goes into more detail about this topic.

The mistake humans make when looking at the past and trying to identify how to avoid the same evils is that we are too literal. We learn that taking the rights of black people away or anyone that isn’t white is wrong, we learn that putting Jews into a camp is wrong. We don't learn the principles of why those things are wrong so that when the subjects or actors change in the future and a similar scenario occurs we are ready to stop it before it goes too far.

You might read that last paragraph and scoff, however, there are plenty of examples of people in both influential positions and everyday citizens that clearly show they don’t understand this.

The video below is Chamath Palihapitiya, a Billionaire U.S tech entrepreneur, prominent Democrat donor, and part-owner of an NBA basketball team.

Chamath seems to be admitting that he doesn't care about the concentration camps holding Uyghur Muslims. If they were, however, holding Jews he would likely care and would rightly be using his immense influence to put pressure on anyone he can to see things change. This is because the only lesson he's learned from the past is the literal one, not the principle of why concentration camps as a whole are seriously wrong. A lot of people rightly got angry at him, but wrongly failed to accept that what he is saying is true for a lot of people.

Another example, Don Lemon, one of the most famous news pundits in the world in the video below talks about how 'the Greater Good' and not the individual rights that matter.

What's significant about Lemon's comment is that he disparages people who "do their own research". The ability to do your own research is one of the most important characteristics of a free country, it’s why book burning was a common procedure in authoritarian countries.

As Barry Brownstein writing for The Fee argues, we are not truly free if we are not allowed to consider our options and take responsibility for them. he says,

A free person understands that there is no one “best” pathway. Although experts have knowledge, a free person takes responsibility, makes a choice, and bears the consequences. We never know what the consequences would have been had we made a different choice.This greater good against argument was also used by Dr. Fauci the leading voice on Covid Health Guidance in America if not the world as said on more than one occasion that individual rights don't matter.

The greater good over individual freedom argument is a popular one. It was also used by Dr. Fauci the leading voice on Covid Health Guidance in America if not the world as said on more than one occasion that individual rights don't matter.

Under the fascist Nazi regime. Hitler and the Nazis convinced the German people that they would be better off under their rule. It was for the greater good of the German people to take control of certain lands and people. Hitler even went as far as to say that he was helping the Jews by moving them from Germany into a new country where they had no influence.

The doctrine of the greater good has been used by many other dictators such as Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao. Death, destruction, and suffering on a mass scale were the end result in each case.

The problem with the greater good argument is that it fails to understand the differences in a population of millions or billions globally. And within that, everyone's definition of good varies or is even different. Each person also has an opinion on what should be prioritised for protection and every human wants to have their individual right to live according to their moral principle or idea of good. In fact, some are even willing to fight for that.

The introduction of vaccine mandates is the idea of the greater good being applied in practice - forcing an individual to perform a medical procedure. Some might argue it's not force because they are not held at gunpoint, however that goes to my earlier point of learning the wrong mistakes. Because the method of force used in the past was a weapon, does not mean force can be exerted in a different way. for example, the ability to feed their family or pay for their homes.

For reference, below is Article 6 (Consent) from UNESCO Universal Declaration On Bioethics and Human Rights.

Around the world, there are several more examples of abuse of human rights to force people to take the Covid vaccine against their will or to give up individual rights.

Supporters of Vaccine mandates, Covid lockdowns, and treating anti-Covid vaxxers as secondary citizens are maybe happy with the 'use of power' because it's for a good reason. In their view, people are literally dying, and in order for society to get back to normal the ones being selfish and only thinking about themselves need to be held responsible.

My question for the is how far are you willing to go? what will you do with those that continue to refuse to get the vaccine, lock them away until they do so, or as they do in China hold them down at gunpoint until whilst the needle is forcibly injected into their body?

We now have evidence that the vaccines themselves don't stop you from getting the virus, nor does it stop you from spreading it. so why are there different rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated? Some argue that because they have a higher rate of hospitalisation we should deny them free healthcare, yet this rule isn't applied to other habits like smoking or over-eating. How does it make sense to deny a man in need of a Kidney because the donor wasn't vaccinated? or to be refused an organ transplant because the patient isn't vaccinated?

It's human nature to want to use power to punish the immoral actors for their sins. As humans, we take pleasure in watching it happen, even cheer and celebrate when it happens.

They'll justify their actions by saying they're doing it for the right reasons, for righteousness, to protect the vulnerable, and for the good of society. They'll tell themselves it's okay because they're the good guys, the hero of the story.

And here lies the problem, nobody thinks they're the villain. Everyone thinks they're doing something good that will benefit society. It's not enough to justify your actions by simply saying it's for a good reason because anyone can say that including people with the power to make the rule and judge.

"Fight for good", "fight for what you believe is right" or "we must defeat evil at all cost". These are the type of lessons I think we have wrongly learned from historical atrocities. Anyone can take that lesson, a suicide bomber, terrorist, insurrectionist, and run with it. In my view, the more important lesson is that; everyone is different, and I mean really different...not just in the way we look, music taste, how we dress, etc...but in our principles, morality, experiences, ideologies even in our definitions of good and evil. We have not learned to understand how we deal with those differences when we are confronted with them, instead, we see them as evil and choose to fight them. The problem with this approach is that it usually results in one of two things. either one side has all the power and forces the other side by unethical means to submit, which means history will then have to judge...or the other side fights back, and for someone to win there will need to be a lot of sacrifices, violence, and pain.

In my view, maybe it's easy to see the other side as evil because admitting they have good intentions might make it harder to solve problems. Maybe it means we humanise them and realise they're just like us and if they're just like us and we think they're wrong, maybe we're wrong too and we have to confront that possibility. But if they're just evil selfish and just out to destroy, that's easier, they're not like us, not even human, just things to be defeated for the good of the righteous.

In all likelihood, Covid won't create the dystopian reality some of us fear, we will slowly move back to normal as the reality of living with Covid sets in. However, I have been shocked to see how easily so many have been willing to embrace using the same tactics used by evil regimes in the past for their version of the greater good. This does make me worry as we begin to focus more on climate change and what to do about that.