The Dilemma of Evil

I can understand and sympathize with either the judgment that Joe Biden is the lesser of the two evils or the judgment that Donald Trump is the lesser of the two evils. In other words, I and such people are in agreement that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are evil. But if someone does not understand or agree that both are evil, then I consider such a person a fool.

It is abundantly clear that both the Democratic and the Republican Parties represent the interests of the rich. And this message was superbly expressed by Chris Hedges (see below):

A People’s Party?

On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, 4-7 pm, eastern time, there was televised on the internet, a convention to create a new political party. The live stream does not seem to be available from the producers. But there is the following version:

To get oriented about what is going on, watch the interview below.

Nick Brana, founder, executive director of Movement for a People’s Party talks with journalist Chris Hedges about the US’ two political party system, the need for third and fourth parties and his experience campaigning for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election.

My initial reaction

It is abundantly clear that both the Democratic and the Republican Parties represent the interests of the rich. And this message was superbly expressed by Chris Hedges (see below):

I found most of the other speakers boring and the whole program too long. Anyway, if the goal is to push for a third party, why out of all the speakers only Chris Hedges urged people to vote for the Green Party, and everyone else spoke as if there is no existing third party?

Bill Maher: Champion of the Lesser of Two Evils

I have watched Bill Maher, the comedian and political commentator, for a very long time. What has been appealing is the fact that he — like George Carlin — has couched his political [and, incidentally, religious] commentary in a comedic way by sarcasm, ridicule, pun, images — by whatever works.

He has also brought together all types of celebrities for interviews and discussion panels. All this is admirable and captured my interest.

What has displeased me is his insistence on rooting for the lesser of the two evils — I mean his preference of Democrats over Republicans (among other preferences). Consequently, he becomes annoyed when the evils of Democrats are pointed out — always saying that the evils of Republicans are much worse.

Few of his guests take the position that both Democrats and Republicans are evil — perhaps even to an indistinguishable difference. Two stand out: George Carlin and Cornel West.

Below is a clip of Bill Maher defending what he thinks is the lesser of two evils.

Below is Jimmy Dore commenting on how Trump is almost even with Biden in the polls. How does one really distinguish the lesser of two evils?

Matthew Cooke on the lies of Donald Trump

I found the video below very insightful in addressing various political concerns accurately, and exposing lies. But I was puzzled by what Cooke was recommending. I agree with him about the desirability of some of the recommendations of “some” of the Democrats. But these recommendations are not shared by the majority of Democratic politicians, because in reality both the Democratic and the Republican Parties serve the interests of the rich, i.e., the 1%. So I am left puzzled by his unstated conclusion: Vote for the lesser of the two evils?

Why I am a political pessimist

The primary reason that I am a pessimist is that from a Martian point of view the trajectory of human history is towards an ecological self-destruction, and there is no remedy in sight.

There are proposed remedies, but the politicians — if they know them, either can’t or don’t want to implement them. As to the masses of people, they are — what can I say? — ignorant and uninterested.

Let me unpack what I just said. The world over — except for Switzerland — executive power is in the hands of single individuals. These individuals are either dictators (or monarchs), or presidents, or prime ministers. In the case of macro liberal democracies — in which thousands or millions vote — both the president and the parliaments are in the hands of the rich. Why? Because it takes advertisement to win elections where thousands and millions are voting. And advertisement takes money which is contributed mostly by the rich. And the rich will support only a candidate that will be beneficial to them. And, as in the United States, we can see that all the Presidents have served the rich. And the trajectory for the future is more of the same: Biden or Trump. Go ahead pick the lesser of your two evils!

With Prime Ministers, the situation is equally dismal. Remember that parliamentarians too have to be elected by thousands or millions of voters; so, they too will predominantly represent the interests of the rich. And the Party with the most members will pick the Prime Minister — obviously he or she will serve the interests of the rich. Take note of Great Britain: Thatcher, Blair, May, Johnson.

What could change these political trajectories? A change, for example, towards Swiss style democracy. But is it in the offing? I am afraid not.

I come now to the masses — the voters. The masses are pessimistic as to any influence they may have on politics; so, many don’t bother voting. Of those who vote, I think that they too are disillusioned, but feel that they must choose the lesser of the evils.

As to my proposal about Switzerland, how many voters even know that there is such a country? And even if they have heard of it, can they locate it on a map? As to knowing what kind of government Switzerland has . . . Ask first if they know what a government is!

What is needed is a change in the system of governments. But such changes in the system of governments occur only rarely, and under starvation or chaotic situations. The so-called recent “revolutions” have not been more than changes in leaderships. And, as far as ordinary people are concerned, changing leaders is a revolution. Consequently, even if conditions become dire, people will clamor for a leader savior. And that is why I am a political pessimist.

Inverted Totalitarianism

Below is an eight-part conversation between Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin (1922-2015) about, what Wolin called, “Inverted Totalitarianism.” Briefly: Classic Totalitarianism = Politics trumps economics; Inverted Totalitarianism = Economics trumps politics. This is a conversation about political philosophy and a history of, primarily, American “democratic” politics and its precarious social institutions.


Wolin’s major books are:
  • Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Part I – 1960; Part II – 2004)
  • Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life, 2001.
  • Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, 2008.