No, I don’t think they are. I may be an anarchist but I am also a hippie and I think most people are genuinely good. They may operate from a different perspective and philosophy, and the results of their actions may cause harm, but that doesn’t make them evil to me.
For someone to be evil I believe they must intend harm, have the capability to harm, and enjoy harming other people. There might be better definitions out there but that is what I’m working with. It is possible there are evil politicians out there, but I don’t think the group is much more evil than any other group in our population. I think they are wrong in their outlook on humanity, the role of government (force) in our lives, and I think they cause more harm than good. But I don’t think they are evil and I don’t think they are out to murder our individual rights, I suspect the real charge should be manslaughter of our individual rights. That makes them wrong, not evil.
Most politicians seem to operate from a Hobbes (or maybe Rousseau) state-of-nature point of view on life. If a government isn’t around people will kill each other, a big brother is thus needed to keep the peace. If a government fails to keep the peace they are no longer legitimate and this encourages politicians to err on the side of security over liberty. No matter how tyrannical a government gets it is rarely called illegitimate until the point of revolution. Add to this bureaucratic institutions that need to exaggerate and keep scare mongering up in order to survive and you have a recipe for politicians who think there is a boogie man behind every rock.
Politicians aren’t evil, they are flawed human beings in the DC bubble surrounded by people, institutions, and philosophies that push them towards centralizing more power with the best intentions. There is no conspiracy theory between Republicans, Democrats, and any other group to centralized power, the institutions are just set up that very similar results will happen regardless who is in charge. In order for a president to be an exception to this they would need to be so completely sure of their own views that doubt cannot creep in regardless of how much one-sided data is sent their way, and even if that person is elected he would need a congress that is at the very least passive.
Government is an evil idea, but politicians are not evil people. They are people who are operating in an evil system that they may not realize is evil with the intention to protect those they love and make the country stronger. On the whole they will fail. for government cannot solve problems and cannot secure liberty. The state will always grow in the long run because that is what it is meant to do. Instead of railing against politicians or believing that things will be better if we have “the right people” in charge, I think our energy is better spent building communities, spreading ideas, and just enjoying the amazing opportunities of this life.
The more that I experience sustainability and our environmental problems (of excess, waste, of our government oftentimes perpetuating a system of unethical corporate-state dominance, etc and down the list), the more I start to realize that centralization of power itself is problematic. And it’s not just because everyone with a great deal of power will use it to do harm. No, of course not. It’s that one entity, or tight group of entities, could control so much of the very basic decision-making of 300 million people. It is terrible for security and well-being, given the coming struggles for resources as climate change impacts become more severe and the population grows. National regulations (food, medical, air, water, drilling, you name it) are often in favor of corporate interests with large and highly centralized power, not the interests of the individual American small business or individual. Income inequality is growing, mostly off the backs of taxpayers, because banks used government funds to keep their institution from failing. Those who live in the “developing” world are dozens of times worse off
So the socialists talk about government as a solution to power abuses by these stateless, corporate interests, but often fail to realize the inherent evil in consolidation of power. Sure, there’s always the “Race to the Bottom” argument–that if States, for instance, have much greater control over their own laws, those with large levels of inequality might oppress, and induce suffering on, those most vulnerable. I tend to consider the Race to the Bottom argument a bit of a straw man–it’s far more complicated than that. Some socialists have re-imagined the state and pondered if it is even necessary at all. Some philosophers have gone to far as to declare the very essence of the state contrary to the goals and underlying tenets of socialism (in its intended outcomes). They go on to suggest that the state should be transformed to something *other than* the state, transformed into an instrument of decentralizing power, still called “the state” but barely resembling it at all.
The argument is emerging that what’s really best is smaller scale governance with flexibility that is participatory. There can always be rights that are staunchly defended, injustices that are guarded against and that the states are all bound by (the bill of rights could use some updates! especially with regard to the internet as a public space, for instance, and others). We know the state does exist and that in its current form is corrupted and far too powerful, but I do believe that there is an anti-government fervor amongst the masses. I feel it, so do my fellow liberals, socialists, whatever you might call them. The narrative in the media has pitted many of the less intellectual liberals and libertarians against each other. But I am sensing a convergence, a space in which the libertarians and liberals of our generation will unite for the sake of re-structuring the state and its sources of power.
Who knows how old we’ll be when we finally have that influence, but I think it will happen. We will one day be in power and our value systems will shape the country and the world.