The Real Threat to Humanity is Not the Liars or the Crooks. It’s the Zealots.
On the nature of evil, and what humanity is really up against.
I was THIS CLOSE 🤏to posting something about zealotry yesterday, and Vinay Prasad beat me to it:
One problem though.
I think Vinay fundamentally misunderstands the nature of zealotry, and why it’s so dangerous.
In Vinay’s view, “zealotry” means something like “holding an extreme point of view”. So the cure for that, in his view, is to water down one’s ideas and always strive for a middle ground. This leads him to conclude, bizarrely, that both a) demanding covid shots for everyone and b) eliminating covid shots for everyone, are equally zealous points of view.
Well, sorry Vinay, once you’ve identified a pharma product as a dangerous toxin, you don’t give it to some people just to be “moderate”. That would make you an extreme, unmoderated monster.
(A clarification on “extremism” here:)
So, let’s talk about what zealotry really means, and why I agree that it is the most dangerous threat humanity is up against.
What Zealotry Really Means
Let’s say we discover some behavior that you and I can (hopefully) agree is unspeakably wicked: someone going around beheading kittens, for example.
(Yeah it’s gruesome, but you should have seen some of the ideas I rejected… phew).
Let’s say we discover three possible perpetrators.
Villain #1 says, “Yeah, I didn’t want to do it, but I got paid a fortune for the kitty organs on the black market.” Villain #1 knows what he’s done is wrong, but he justifies it by making a boatload of cash.
We’ll call this person “corrupt”.
Villain #2 (covered in blood and kitten fur and obviously guilty) says, “Kittens, what kittens? I never… that was someone else, I swear…” Villain #2 also knows that what he’s done is wrong but is obviously evading discovery.
We’ll call this person a “liar”.
Now, let’s consider Villain #3.
Villain #3 rips open his jacket and proudly displays his t-shirt which says: “All kittens must DIE!” He proclaims, “I am here on behalf of the AKA (the Anti-Kitten Alliance) and our goal is to eradicate these vile, fluffy creatures from the face of the Earth. Every kitten is an abomination that must cease to live, and our organization seeks to reach that divine goal by 2030. By then, hopefully, humanity will have no kittens and be happy about it, and we will thrive in a kitten-free paradise!”
Villain #3 is what I’m calling a “zealot”. A fanatic. One who is so devoted to their cause that they are incapable of seeing the evil they are bringing about.
I think this is the most dangerous type of villain.
Now, obviously I’m not in the head of Klaus Schwab and his WEF cronies-in-power around the world, or Gates, Soros, Tedros, Fauci, Bourla, Daszak, Baric, etc. I don’t know if they are true believers or not. Do they honestly believe what they say, or are they simply corrupt and pretending to “save the world” whilst cashing in or amassing power, or covering for some other nefarious agenda?
I honestly don’t know.
But what if they did believe it?
It would be no less evil, and, quite a bit more dangerous than if they were simply crooks and liars.
Why? Let’s hit four reasons…
1. Zealots are unaware of their own evil. They mistake it for the good, which makes them commit it righteously and boldly.
Zealots do not think they’ve done anything wrong. On the contrary, they think they are crusaders for good.
They make no attempt to justify their behavior. They do not even see it as evil.
We might be tempted to call such a person a psychopath. (Sociopaths are those who know their behavior is wrong but justify it somehow, psychopaths have no moral center, and thus no sense that they’ve even done anything wrong.) Probably in the Venn diagram of zealot, sociopath, and psychopath there is much overlap.
But I think zealotry goes beyond either. It’s not just a “lack of conscience” we’re talking about here. It’s a belief that one’s behavior represents the Virtuous.
(And that anyone who opposes them represents Evil. See #4 below).
Zealots believe they are making the world better. They tend to make “greater good” arguments. They will not hesitate to commit a “lesser” immorality in the service of their cause, since they believe it is justified by “the greater good”.
By now, we’ve all seen public health officials who admit that they exaggerated deaths and morbidity of covid, for example, so that they could increase lockdown compliance or vaccine uptake, which they regard as the greater good.
Or pharmacists who fail to inform parents of the risks associated with covid jabs, which they justify because they don’t want to scare parents away from getting their child vaccinated, which they regard as the greater good.
Or professionals righteously referring to themselves as “Covid Warriors.”
The zealot’s refrain seems to be at the heart of every public health disaster we’ve seen over the past couple of years: “We’re acting in the public good!”
2. Zealots are responsible for the greatest atrocities in history.
I had the surreal experience of doing a report on Mein Kampf in high school. I’m certain that its author was a psychopath, but I also believe that he believed that his ideas would make the world a better place.
In other words, I’m certain it was the manifesto of a zealot.
Hitler was possessed of some extraordinarily bad ideas which he mistook for the good, and saw them as solutions to the world’s ills.
Any regime which was so bold, and communicated its hatred for its supposed enemies so clearly, and actually carried out the atrocities to the extent that the Nazis did, had to be driven by zealotry.
Is Bill Gates’s How to Avoid a Climate Disaster another zealot’s manifesto? Again, I’m not in his head, so I don’t know. But I do know he’s an advocate for population reduction. So, if he truly believes in that as a good outcome, what would he be willing to do with his billions to make that happen?
When you believe your ideas are good and you are willing to enforce them on others, and you actually obtain near unlimited power to do so, you will commit any atrocity to the non-compliant, no matter how horrific.
Indeed, you will not even see what you are doing as horrific.
That is not garden variety criminality.
This is true, horrific evil.
3. Zealots indoctrinate people by the millions, who believe they are also “doing good”.
The problem with zealotry, unlike mere corruption or criminality or mendacity, is that millions of people will unhesitatingly follow it, believing they too, are “doing the right thing”.
Zealots breed more zealots, who then fervently go around deputizing others to the cause.
Again, there were many in Nazi Germany who knew what the regime was doing was wrong, and they resisted, or escaped, or fearfully went along with it. But there were millions more who thought it was right. They were swept up by what they saw as a great cause which would cure many of Germany’s ills.
Now consider our situation.
Call it mass formation hypnosis or brainwashing or whatever you will: we are surrounded by millions of otherwise good people, who, because they’ve become infected with a zealous belief that their compliance is for the “public good”, will not hesitate to enforce their view of the good on others, and to vilify anyone who doesn’t play along or who questions them.
The non-compliant, you and I, are the villains in such a society.
Which leads to an extremely dangerous situation…
4. Zealots see their opponents as evil and inhuman, which means they will not hesitate to bring suffering and degradation upon them, believing it serves the “greater good”.
The zealots, again, who might have been good people prior to becoming indoctrinated, will now unhesitatingly degrade and dehumanize other humans who do not comply with their new idea of “the good.”
Also, zealots will not hesitate to indoctrinate their children too, even going as far as scripting their doctrine into school lessons and beloved children’s TV shows.
I mention all this because I want us to understand what we, and humanity in general, are truly up against.
It’s not just the crooks and the liars, who will always be lurking in the shadows of any societal crisis.
It’s the ones who aren’t lurking at all, who proudly wrap themselves in the cloak of virtue, who wave a banner for millions to fall in line behind.
It’s the people who will commit monstrous evils against one another: restricting travel, access to jobs, forced quarantine camps, denying access to services, freezing bank accounts, implementing widespread censorship—in the belief that they are bringing about the good.
This is why ideas are important, and why bad ideas, when they’re allowed to infect and take root in a culture, can spawn some of the worst suffering that humans are capable of inflicting on one another. A bad idea, carried to its full implementation, will cause widespread destruction and misery.
This is how reality bites back against ideas which map badly onto it. There are consequences, and they aren’t pretty.
So, what do we do?
Yes, we should call out lies and corruption and fraudulence and criminality when we see it. Of course we should.
But we also have to fight a battle of ideas.
It’s not just the actors and their criminality that are at issue here.
It’s their very concept of “good.”
So, we take them at their word.
We assume they honestly want to impose their vision of the beautiful society on us. We assume that they actually believe, for whatever reason, that humanity will be better off by being chipped and tracked and medicated and controlled and AI-censored and penniless and property-less and thoughtless.
We take them at their word, that this, for them, constitutes Utopia.
And we show the rest of humanity how this will actually be a living Hell.
A technocratic dystopia filled with more human suffering that any dystopian novelist could ever have conceived. That what they are arguing for is for us all to be the inmates in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (many of whom, if you remember the story, were in the asylum voluntarily.) That this will represent a regression to the very worst parts of human history, when disease and war and slavery and human misery were at their peak.
This is what humanity is up against.
And it doesn’t get better until we match the zealots with our own vision: a future of voluntary association and freedom and spiritual connection, where we are too awake to fall for tyrannical nonsense, and where governments and technology and industries exist only to serve humanity, instead of the other way around.
(PS. No kittens were harmed in the production of this post.)
Think for Yourself is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.