Is America evil?

A reader asks—evidently hoping to provoke discussion—whether America is the most evil society ever.

The obvious answer is “no.” Abortion isn’t as bad as abortion plus infant exposure. The Colosseum was worse than MTV. And the consumer society has its problems but so did slavery. Still, the question is provocative. America and other present-day Western societies participate in evil in a way other societies have not, because they turn their worst features into grand principles and declare them morally fundamental.

The ancients exposed babies and let them die of exposure or be eaten by animals. However, their political, moral, and intellectual authorities didn’t get together and declare such practices fundamental to human dignity, so that restricting them in any way would be an attack on the very basis of a tolerable social order.

To put the point another way, men at all times have been willful and self-seeking. Modern Western society, however, is the first society that has deified the human will just as it is, simply as such, and declared that will to be the basis of all politics and morality. To the extent it takes that declaration seriously, and works it into the fabric of its life and institutions, it becomes radically evil in a way not previously possible.

And that, I think, is the point of the question. There are many good things about American habits and practices, but we are increasingly accepting principles that aren’t good. In the long run principles win out over habits and practices. So the question is less what we are now than which way we are pointed. If man is deified there’s really no limit on what he may choose to do. And the deification of man is the principle of the modern West.

18 thoughts on “Is America evil?”

  1. “Still, the question is provocative.

    “Still, the question is provocative. America and other present-day Western societies participate in evil in a way other societies have not, because they turn their worst features into grand principles and declare them morally fundamental. “

    Why isn’t this indicative, then, of a greater evil than past societes, if it is so unique. It is just a different tyoe of evil, or one of deeper intensity? Or is the question not framed properly?

  2. The stated public principles of

    The stated public principles of a society are not the whole truth about the society. The principles of American society as now stated by its authoritative institutions, interpreted logically and consistently (e.g., in the manner of academic liberals, law professors and the like) are very bad principles. It is hard to think of a premodern or non-Western society that proclaims principles that are nearly so bad. Nonetheless, the American people in various ways falls short of the principles their leaders publicly accept. They misinterpret them, fail to draw obvious conclusions, refuse to take them altogether seriously, and so on. As a result life can go on. The situation is obviously a dangerous one, though, because in the long run people tend to be logical.

  3. I believe your response to

    I believe your response to the reader is both blind and flawed, primarily you compare your practices to the roman culture and secondly you fail to see the problems that make three quarters of the world hate america so much that they would happily die for the cause of it collapsing. You should take into acount the evils that suck dry the lives of millions of people just to fuel the evils that america does for one more day. just think, free trade. you ever heard of this? it allows american companies to use all raw materials and non-union workers to the extent that they get paid $2 a week to break their backs mining coal in mexico, or producing banannas in kenya, all without one cent of tax. They invade when they want (afghanistan, as revenge for 9-11, although al-quaeda is situated in every middle east country, wait, theyre everywhere!) I think that the prisoners in guantanamo bay deserve death, its a fate that is better than one more day in guantanamo bay, as they have no human rioghts there and have been in total sensory deprivation for so long their eyes have stopped functioning and they went beyond control of their own madness long ago as they had little stimulus apart from the occasional rifle butt in the collar bone.
    how do you have the nerve to say that america isnt evil? i agree that amoral practices are widely common, but that doesnt make them ok. america should know better, having a well educated average population compared to these people you compare them to. shame on you!
    you sound like you response is all spin, jkust like the corporate rapists of modern america.

  4. Have to agree. It’s amusing

    Have to agree. It’s amusing to see how many people in the West are so opposed to slavery and so forth, yet are totally unperturbed when they purchase products manufactured by slaves. In reference to your comment on the incompatibility of the two examples (Rome and the USA): even Roman slaves could become free men; no such chance for the slaves of America. Nonetheless, the Western world will turn a bilnd eye to the rape of other countries in much the same way that many people would do it for a rape if they saw it. They don’t want their nice little fictional world disturbed in any way. It’s a nice little cocoon they’ve got around them and by god they’ll do anything to avoid its’ penetration.

  5. I have come to realize

    I have come to realize that there are so many Americans today who believe America is truly an evil country. Something I’ve failed to see is those very Americans taking any sort of action to eliminate America’s “evils”. I would assume it is easier to thrive on the sustinence America has given you, all the while complaining about her wrongdoings. Human nature has brought us to our current predicaments, power has taken us over the edge. Maybe the world can be changed through revolt or protest, but how will you ensure that good intentions become good practices? Maybe if people focused on making their personal worlds just a little bit better, we would all see an

  6. There are many who are

    There are many who are trying to expose the lies and inform others about the crimes this country commits. We are outnumbered by people who just do not give a dam! I am moving out of this country because I believe where it’s headed is not where I want to go.

  7. This country is in EVIL

    This country is in EVIL BONDAGE. I only lately have studied and realized the Truth about America and its dark hidden Policys. I don’t agree with suicide bombings or terrorists. I do understand why they Hate America. America has WAR CRIMES in every battle on this Earth. My native born country makes me ashamed at its hidden agenda. Now I don’t believe all people in Government to be evil, for their are Good Men and Women serving this country. All of which are ignorant of the truth or are Shut Up by the Evil Side of the Government.

  8. Hmmm. This is a very

    Hmmm. This is a very interesting thread….
    I think that the main problem all of you are encountering is an inability to see past your own sweeping lables of good and evil.

    Of course America is Evil, all society is evil.
    As long as anyone is expected to pay taxes and work their lives away to prop up a government whhich only exists to milk the populace dry then there is no hope.
    But thats not too say that the evil serves no purpose.
    It just so happens that the evil of society (In that it is constricting baggage designed to prevent people from doing what they actually want or worse, convincing them that whatthey actually want to do is work, pay taxes and buy possesions which serve no purpose other thasn providing another means of taxation) is also its strong point, allowing the cowering masses of worthless sheep to live their lives without ever once having to think, or try to better themselves.

    Having proved that society is evil (Or rather sating it strongly) it surly follows that America being the largest, and most prosperous of all nations is also the most evil!

    Simple eh?

  9. Ok, I’ll bite. Which country

    Ok, I’ll bite. Which country IS an example of a ‘Good’ country? What country would you move to, as at least one of you said you planned on doing, that embodies your vision of ‘Goodness’? What country has the right ideas/policies and has made the right choices/taken the positive and ‘right’ path both now AND in the past? Who could we use as a model? My questions could go on and in much greater detail, but I think I’d rather start very simply and broadly and then go from there. Thank you in advance for replying to my post.

  10. Regardless of what answer one

    Regardless of what answer one gives to Michael Johnson’s question (“Which country would you move to that you think would be better to live in or more moral than the U.S.?”), being able to “vote with one’s feet” is important, I think. Didn’t Anglo-Saxon North America function partly as a safety-valve for Europe’s discontented during much of its history? Maybe its existence prevented upheavals there by letting some of the Old World’s built-up steam escape. As regards the U.S. itself, I agree with Joe Sobran that we wouldn’t be getting treated nearly so badly by the feds today had Abraham Lincoln not established the principle of “no secession.” Had states the right to secede, Roe v. Wade and lots of other outrages would never have been rammed down our throats, as Sobran points out from time to time.

    If things get to the point where there is a revision of the Constitution or a Second Republic is founded it should be made clear (among many other improvements and clarifications of course) that states have the unconditional right to secede and the feds cannot “nationalize” any state’s national guard or other military forces (as President Eisenhower did at the time of the school integration crisis in Little Rock in the fifties, setting yet one more very bad precedent).

  11. Although Unadorned only partially addresses

    Although Unadorned only partially addresses my overall original question, I would like to speak to the primary subject of his post. Would not secession, espcecially in the most glaring attempt undertaken by the southern SLAVEHOLDING states in the 1860’s, have wrought a MUCH more ‘evil’ nation and overall situation in the south of North America then any ‘evil’ that is either imagined or real today in a ‘whole’ United States?

    Again, I am tempted as usual to delve still deeper into this topic, but I’ll stop here for now keeping my above question simple and to the specific point. I’ll leave it to someone else to attempt to steer us off onto yet another possible interesting tangent. Thank you yet again for replying to my post.



  13. How can you say that

    How can you say that America is not Evil? God has been taken out of our schools, courthouses, and our country. It used to be about GOD and Country. So if we remove GOD from America then we have just opened the door for Satan.
    I don’t understand why these people can’t see what is going on right in front of their faces. Either they are evil as well or choose to sit back and let it happen. They will be the one’s saying” How did this happen to America?”
    The signs are all around us and yet some still do not get the urgency.
    They would like for you to believe that Satanism is dead in America, but it is alive and well and allowed to continue it’s practices.

  14. Why does the Pope carry

    Why does the Pope carry a crooked crusifix? This has been a sign satanism for years. The upside down cross is also a sign of satan, but he was sitting in front of in Israel. In 1972, Pope John Paul IV said that the smoke of satan had entered the church. Their teaching conflict with the Bible. Go to
    Wake-up you are being deceived into thinking that you are worshipping GOD and really it’s Satan.

    • The site you are refering to
      The site you are refering to is not

      Note the dashes.

  15. America is evil because we

    America is evil because we people like to better ourselves at the expense of others. Not only do we inadvertintly enslave others, we enslave our future (No, we are still doing good right now). A perfect example is real estate; people buy houses just to resale them which is the inherent greed in all of us, but refuse to see that the younger generations will rise up in holy terror against those that (stole) their chances of owning a home. By holy terror, I refer to all the things that “normal” people hate: Drugs, Crime, justifying terrorism, and all the other things associated with not being able to afford a decent house.
    People wonder why all the bad things have to happen. Because we seem to be powerless to get rid of the war pig presidents that evoked the terrorism in the first place. If some country bombed Pearl Harbor, we would attack with nukes!
    Luckily, they don’t have them yet! Because we started the first Iraq war, the terrorist attacked new york, so shame on all of us who cannot seem to oust the war piggies from office!

  16. Evil Indeed
    God Please make me a cat or an American in next life.Either i’ll live nine lives in one body or take nine lives for one body.

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