A timely, eye-opening examination of political evil, a concept widely misunderstood and desperately in need of clarification in our ever more chaotic world.In an age of genocide, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and torture, evil threatens us in ways radically different from tsunamis and financial panics. Nature unleashes its wrath and people rush to help the victims. Evil shoA timely, eye-opening examination of political evil, a concept widely misunderstood and desperately in need of clarification in our ever more chaotic world.In an age of genocide, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and torture, evil threatens us in ways radically different from tsunamis and financial panics. Nature unleashes its wrath and people rush to help the victims. Evil shows its face and we are paralyzed over how to respond.It was not always this way. During the twentieth century, thinkers as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Reinhold Niebuhr, Arthur Koestler, and George Orwell made evil central to everything they wrote. Acclaimed political scientist Alan Wolfe argues that in an age of partisan blame-assigning, therapeutic excuse-making, and theological question-dodging, we need to get serious about the problem of evil once again. While there will always be something incomprehensible about evil, we are very much capable of understanding and combating the use of evil means to obtain political ends. Diplomats and politicians with their own agendas ignore this side of evil to grim and often tragic effect. These movers and shakers apply the concept of general evil, seemingly inconquerable, inviting only violence and despair to situations that are local in nature. Looking at examples of political evil around the globe—in the Middle East, Darfur, the Balkans, and at home in the West—Wolfe shows us how seemingly small distinctions can make an immense difference in international response. And he makes clear that much-needed change can be initiated with a shift in how we talk and think about political evil.International shame in the years following the Rwandan genocide—after the world failed to recognize it as such—led to a large-scale campaign against genocide in Darfur. Except, Wolfe argues, in Darfur it wasn’t genocide: it was civil war. We see—surprisingly, and powerfully—that labeling the conflict incorrectly had disastrous effects, even extending the violence as soldiers waited for seemingly inevitable Western intervention. When, on the other hand, Western leaders compared Serbian president and infamous ethnic cleanser Slobodan Milosevic to Hitler, they failed to recognize that exterminating people and seeking to take over their land are both evil but they are evil in different ways; misguided Western intervention in the Balkans eventually brought ethnic cleansing to an end, but only by allowing it to run its course.At once impassioned and pragmatic, Political Evil sheds essential light on the creation of policy and on a concrete path to a more practicable and just future....
|Title||:||Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It|
|Number of Pages||:||352 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It Reviews
I agreed with most of the book and mostly liked his approaches, but over and over I saw things in the book that seemed poorly argued and just plain wrong. I didn't agree with some of his definitions and assumptions. Clearly Wolfe is better educated than I am, and I'm sure smarter too-- but I think he's made some big mistakes here. Very thought-provoking book, though, and really that's why I read.
This book has been on my to-read list ever since I read the following Slate article in 2011.http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/bo...When one of the major US Political party candidates started stating that the US needed to start registering everyone in the US attending mosques it seemed like it was time to finally read it.One of the first takeaways from the book is to stop comparing people to Hitler and Stalin (okay, fair enough), as they are always wrong. The second key point is to stop thinking and speaking in a good / evil, "you are with us or you are against us" mentality. The third key point is to be sure to name the correct evil - don't confuse genocide with ethnic cleansing as they should be handled differently. And my last takeaway, realize that perpetrators of the four evils Wolfe defines: genocide, ethnic cleansing, massacre, and terrorism, are likely acting at least somewhat rationally in trying to accomplish their goals and use all methods, but primarily political methods, to try to stop that particular evil.For a more thorough review and discussion of the book read the article above. I'll end this review by noting that the book is quite interesting and probably as enjoyable as a book that spends a quarter of its time dealing with genocide can be.
The strongest section was the first part, in which Wolfe attempted to categorize ways political evil was described during the 20th century, how these approaches fell short, and the consequences to not fully understanding political evil. Unfortunately Wolfe fails, or perhaps didn't even want to attempt, to build a better model for both considering political evil and repudiating it. He describes three main types of political evil (terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing), and more than adequately shows how inadequate our actions have been to respond to these forms of evil, but he has largely left the work of a more comprehensive model to others. Or perhaps that was his ultimate goal, to show the uselessness of building a universal model, when political evil is often unique and localized.
This book improved as it went on. The chapters in which Alan Wolfe critiques the work of thinkers including Hannah Arendt, Stanley Milgram, and Philip Zimbardo seemed to me to show a surprising sense of naivete in reference to the ways in which social roles can distort human behavior towards other people. I also found Wolfe's discussion of Manichaeism and Augustine's thought to operate as both a strained and as a confusing metaphor for the concepts which Wolfe seeks to elucidate. That said, Wolfe's book becomes much more powerful and insightful towards the end, particularly in reference to its discussions of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
(Yet another book to add to the list of studies on the nature of evil. Based on the approving New York Times review, When Moralism Isn’t Moral, this one deals with a pragmatic — i.e., “realist” — response to evil in the international political arena, which should nicely complement the books already on my list which mostly deal with individuals.)
I learned a lot from this book about both religious and political philosophy, as well as recent history and current events. It explains why it's important to understand the precise nature of particular evil actors and events, from Hitler's Holocaust to Rwanda's genocide to Iran's nuclear ambitions. Until we understand why all evils are not created equal, we can't learn the most effective ways to combat each of them. Likening every bad actor to Hitler obscures the underlying causes of current political evils and leads to knee-jerk reactions that are doomed to fail.
A non-partisan approach to how we should deal with the world's evil while keeping our own moral ground.