The banality of the banality of evil



“The most horrendous crimes have been committed by ordinary people.”
Hannah Arendt

“Politics is not the art of lying, it’s the art of speaking the minimal truth.” Sanejoker


I lie shamelessly when I confabulate. But the reader is aware of this, it is a fraud by convention.

The reader asks to be deceived and the better you deceive them, the more they like it.

In a sense, it is a sadomasochist relationship – the feedback of the art.

Just like the masochist seeks, wants to feel pain, pretty much like the reader asks for deception.

If you do a good job, they will adore you.

The relationship between a politician and a civilian is but a sadistic one.

The politician cheats and tortures the civilian, trying to convince them that it is for their own good and therefore they should enjoy the whole process.

Therefore, the civilian either tolerates the whole situation until they got no more to give, or they fight back (and then, automatically, they become a threat to society and they are convinced – with their hands tied behind their back – to enjoy a sojourn at the lower levels of a police department).

Now forget altogether the second paragraph about politicians’ sadism.

Since I wrote it, two or three days ago, I hit a wall. Something didn’t seem right, so I put it aside for a while.

A blogger, just like every writer or artist, is a homme bricoleur.

It is a man who practices bricolage, does tinkerings, a bungler. They garner bizarre and incongruous material for their creations: wires, bolts and nuts, pieces of wood, images, quotes, movies.

They store all this stuff at the back of their mind for later use when the right time comes.

So, as I was taking an absent-minded walk into the internet forest (where many wolves are hiding and just as many and equally dangerous little red riding hoods, too) I bumped into a Bansky’s painting with the ingenious title: “The banality of the banality of evil”.

Banksy spotted in a thrift store of New York a banal painting which cost roughly fifty dollars (he would have bought it cheaper had he bargained over the price).

The ingenious artist (who is not banal, not by a long chalk) added on the painting a Nazi soldier who sits and relishes the view.

The painting was auctioned off at a price of 615,000 dollars and the proceeds went towards an asylum for homeless individuals and individuals with AIDS.

The title brought Hannah Arendt to my mind.

The “banality of evil” is an illuminating term coined by her (surely it wasn’t a coincidence that Banksy picked that title).

At some point of her life the great (Jewish) philosopher found herself in Israel to cover the trial of a criminal Nazi, Adolf Eichmann’s. There, she saw that the “Monster” was an absolutely normal man, perhaps more normal than the average person.

“Hanna Arendt observed that the true genius among the Nazi seducers was Himler.

Himler -who didn’t descend from bohemianism as Goebbels did, neither was a sexual pervert like Streicher or an adventurer like Goering, or a fanatic like Hitler or a madman like Rosenberg- organized the masses into a system of total domination thanks to his correct assumption that men, in their decisive majority, are not vampires or sadists, but job-holders and family providers.

Monstrosities do not need monsters to be carried out and the trouble with Eichmann lay precisely in the fact that he was not a monster or a sadist.

On the contrary, he was outrageously, terribly, frighteningly ‘normal’ ” 1.

Fifty years later, it is a banality to claim that evil is so banal (as Bansky depicts it so symbolically through his painting).

This is why I am surprised by the fact that many of my fellow citizens, thinking beings apart from that, consider the politicians perverted, psychopaths or monsters.

This is as far from the truth as it gets.

The politicians are outrageously, terribly, frighteningly normal.

They are shockingly average doormats, that’s why they are capable of the most horrendous crimes.

But listen to this (which you might not like): Politicians are but the mirror of our society – and they look like us.

We are just as shockingly average as they are.

Every one of us (or most of us) would act in a similar abominable way, had we had been given a place of authority enjoying the privileges of power.

Of course I exclude you, yes you who reads now this article, you, ideal reader and citizen. You would carry on being an altruist and an ideologist.

It would be the rest of us who would be fabulous pawns, spineless victims in the game that is far but political.

Before you stone me to death, as they did with Arendt when she pointed out Eichmann’s normality, let me tell you this:

Comprehension doesn’t mean forgiveness.

Politicians are individuals not worth mentioning.

The more worthless they are, the better they serve the interests of the two greatest powers.

Because it is crystal clear that it is the economic power and the power of the media that shape the world and not the puppets who are elected to be placed on the pulpit.

Moreover, the most skilled salesman (of books, memorandums, crimes or whatever) is the one who believes in his lies.

If the tiniest of a doubt clot takes shape in their mind, they will be confused.

No one wants this to happen to them.

No matter how strange it sounds to you, politicians are also human beings. A mother gave birth to them (yes, politicians have a mother too), they were children once, perhaps they used to write poems when they were adolescents.

Doped by the heaviest drug, the drug of power, and in order to keep getting their fix, they believe their work to be divine, sometimes metaphorically and sometimes literally.

So they remain sane, while they commit the most horrendous crimes.

They remain sane.

This is extremely important.

If you give a politician the mitigating factor of insanity or stupidity, you instantly mitigate his position, just like you would do with a murderer.

These criminals are totally sane and one day they should be trialed and condemned as such.

But this day will never come if you don’t understand the frighteningly normal individual we hide inside of us.

Over 280 of Ron cobb’s Cartoons


1.From the book “Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age”


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Translated by Alexandros Mantas