Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 15 November 2023


To paraphrase Tolstoy, all good deeds are alike in their goodness; but each evil deed is different and sinister in its evil. The sympathy that good deeds evoke simply cannot match the empathy we feel for the victims of evil. It is the profound, unfathomable harm that evil deeds can inflict that elicits in us the horror of having inflicted upon us. - Which is why we fix our gaze with horripilating trepidation on the minutest details of how acts of terror are perpetrated.

There is, of course, banal evil as well. This is evil that we can occasion or unleash bureaucratically from behind a desk buried in a government or military or business bureau - or else simply by pushing a button that releases a missile or a bomb from a fighter jet or an armoured tank, knowing full well that it will cause untold harm on other human beings. Evil deeds can be so fiendishly diverse even when the suffering they cause ends up being indifferently insufferable.

The peculiarity of the evil meted out by the Hamas beasts on October 7 on harmless and unarmed and unsuspecting victims in Israel is that it was not banal: it lacked that bureaucratic regimented or businesslike distance or indifference that characterises banal evil. This evil was not banal: it was vivid and direct; it was immediate, it was swift and meted out brazenly and mercilessly on human beings standing in front of you, breathing and thriving a moment before you put an end to their lives - and then, not satisfied with that, you inveighed on their lifeless bodies almost to deny them burial or identification - almost as if to prevent all hope of heavenly redemption and succour. 

This was not banal evil: this was truculent atrocious evil - evil wrought upon, in a further horrific twist of cruelty, not only adults but on babies - yes, even unborn babies still in their mothers' wombs. The ferocity of this evil is akin to the maws of an all-devouring monster that open before us as we plunge in their dark abyss. There is an atrocity of evil that extracts it from the mundane banality of evil. Atrocious evil, furthermore, that was not carried out by a motley band of deranged terrorists - but one that was punctiliously and meticulously planned and executed by a party-state, by Hamas, with full consciousness of the horror it would inflict and the satanic blood-thirsty pleasure its henchmen soldier monsters would derive from seeing its blood-curdling effects up close, filmed in sharp detail by their body cameras. 

This was no banal evil. This was evil most foul and unnatural. The miserable hounds who carried it out do not deserve to walk this earth; they do not deserve to share this world with us: they are the enemies of human kind: they deserve to die, they must die, for we cannot bear to share the earth with them.  

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