Sunday, May 8, 2016


I read these words on the subject of evil the other day at this place. I think the man who wrote the words had probably seen all there is to see of stupid and evil. He and Admiral Canaris were both executed by evil and stupid on the same day just weeks before VE Day. It was interesting to read that Thorbeck got off with this because the German State later determined that the State has the right to execute traitors. It was, yes, compounding stupid and evil.

At first glance the admission that the administration lied to the public seems a slam-dunk case for malevolence. But there's more to it than that. There is a perception that political imbecility is a lesser offense than malice. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the anti-Nazi activist, while in prison waiting to be executed, reflected that "stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice" because evil left behind in its conscious perpetrators "a sense of unease."

Against true imbecility even reasoning was useless since you couldn't even appeal to your enemy's self interest because they were too dumb to see it. "Against stupidity we are defenseless," he wrote, because imbeciles never feel a qualm. Against the stupid "neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything ... reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict ... simply do not need to be believed ... and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this, the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack."

Sadly, stupid is always there. It lurks in the strangest places and its effects can be measured far more accurately than the motion of planets orbiting distant stars.


virgil xenophon said...

Sorry--I meant to post the above comment HERE!--but I guess they both apply.

HMS Defiant said...

I'm always accused of wrongly commenting so you're welcome here.