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World Politics Lecture 25 Political Evil

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Courtney Thomas

on 12 August 2015

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Transcript of World Politics Lecture 25 Political Evil

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
World Politics Lecture 25
What is Evil?
Often used in a religious context
Often associated with psychopathology
Used sloppy and ubiquitously
Beyond Legality
Many terms we might associate with “evil” have legal definitions under international law
Genocide (the Rome Statue)
Terrorism
Torture
Ethnic cleansing
But notions of political evil go beyond legality

The Role of Citizenship
In an international system dominated by sovereign states, citizenship is every individual person’s most precious possession
It is your legal status in the world

The Duty of a State
States have a legal obligation to protect their citizens against enemies foreign and domestic
To betray the sanctity of citizenship is to violate the fundamental duty of the state to its people

Difference and Commonality
Nationality is determined by citizenship
A nation is a community of citizens of a sovereign state
Nations are almost always heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, race, religion, language, history, culture, etc.
It can be difficult to create a national collective identity in the face of difference
BUT a state’s duty is to treat all citizens equally

Political Evil
Political evil exists whenever
governments and/or their representative officials, surrogates, agents, or accomplices
render specific groups of citizens
“stateless” on the basis of difference
thereby transforming them into the victims of corporeal violence and violation

The Key
There is nothing worse than evil. Thus its use must be reserved for the most heinous of all possible events/circumstances/crimes/dynamics.

What constitutes the worst thing ever in the realm of the political?
A Pathology of Purity
Political evil is often justified in the name of national “purification” grounded in exclusivism and supremacism
Victims are cast in the role of the “other” and domestic politics becomes reduced to a struggle between “us” and “them”
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