Does Good Always Triumph Over Evil?

To most of us on the right, I suspect the answer would be no. Unlike those on the left who promote Utopian schemes and grand visions for society, believing in the perfectibility of man, those of us on the right side of things take a more realistic view of the (dare I say fallen?) state of man. This is why we believe government should be constrained, this is why we believe institutions are important to constrain individuals, and this is why we believe it will never be possible to build a ‘heaven on earth’.

And yet, somehow, I’m getting the feeling that this is a point that is starting to get drowned out. At times I worry that we are beginning to co-opt the mindset of the left, thinking that we can reshape people, that good always will triumph. That we should be optimistic about our future, as our world will surely only get better.

Perhaps it is time for conservatives to once again reestablish their Burkean pessimism. Rather than preaching rosy things about the future, we ought remind ourselves of the fact that things will never be perfect on this earth, and, why we by no means should give up on improving the world (that would be silly!), we ought recognize that at times, evil will triumph over good, life sucks, and we should just get used to the fact.

(Note: I’m referring to good triumphing over evil in the worldly sense, not in the grand scheme of the universe/theologically etc)

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10 Responses to “Does Good Always Triumph Over Evil?”

  1. Carl Oberg Says:

    Tim,

    I like what you are saying. But I think there is a difference between saying “the right knows what is best” (this is bad and we shouldn’t say this no matter how much we want to) and “history has shown that when you leave individual and markets to do their work, civilization develops, economies grow, and people are better off …. most of the time and in the long-run.”

    I’m very optimistic that a classical liberal/libertarian world would be a good thing overall. That’s good optimism and well founded in history. But I am not optimistic that this will always happen. And that’s where your pessimism is rightly heeded.

    Carl

  2. Tim Andrews Says:

    Carl – I agree generally. I would, however, add the stipulation that a classical liberal world, whilst a good thing overall, wouldn’t be a complete utopia. People will still suffer, bad things will occur.
    Overall it would be a good thing – and certainly better than what we have now by a mile – but I think we should avoid the trap of saying it would be perfect.

  3. Manny C Says:

    Something I’ve been thinking about. Rousseau was about forcing man to give up his liberty for the sake of the “common good” (whatever that is, and however you might define it). And if not forced to the “common good” then sardonically “forced to be free”. So following in their master’s footsteps, progressives tend to drive toward utopian ideal (free healthcare for everyone! free education for everyone!) without pausing to consider fallness. This is why I find progressive Christians so unusual.

    On the flip side, conservatives respond to evil in this world with a shrug (at least theoretically). The world is fallen you say (correct). Government can’t (shouldn’t?) do anything. That strikes me as silly as well. Take the example of the mentally ill. These are people that by definition are unable to look after themselves. Their families tend to marginalise or abandon them. And some end up on the street on drugs. Government should be quite rightly used to demonstrate compassion on these people. I don’t like the compassionate conservative moniker, because it is used as a catch all for big gov conservatism. But libertarian minded conservatives should recognise that government can (and probably, morally obligated to) do something to help remedy a *few* of societies ills. Better do a few things well, than do many things poorly.

  4. Ben (Australia) Says:

    Warning: I’m thinking out aloud.

    I agree that we shouldn’t try to make heaven on earth through a state – but on the other hand, if one is not striving for perfection then what is one striving for?

    Obviously, we’re individuals at the end of the day and there are many cases of evil triumphing over good and good triumphing over evil. Maybe we need to recognise both.

  5. James Says:

    I suspect that you are correct – to most on the right, the answer is no. But to most on the left, I suspect the answer is more grey, being the postmodernists we are. good and evil? such absolutes, I don’t think that anyone is truly evil, or truly good for that matter.

    I get the impression that you’re using ‘good’ in terms of ‘conservatives’ and ‘evil’ in terms of ‘socialist/leftie/greenie/hippie/pinko/bastard’ which is probably a better distinction to make.

    I don’t know what it’s like for you guys, but lordy mama! On the left that’s all it is – idealism, blind faith, absurd optimism… i wish they’d be pessimistic for once. Maybe I’m on the wrong side in politics. Sigh.

  6. Jake the Muss Says:

    Stating that nobody is truly good or truly evil isn’t really post modernism. Post modernism would be saying that the very concept of good and evil is a falsehood.

    For example, I am not a post moderist, far from it. I would say that nobody is truly evil.

    …Well except for the people responsible for the Fitzroy Football Club having to withdraw from the AFL that is.

  7. trinna Says:

    “On the left that’s all it is – idealism, blind faith, absurd optimism… i wish they’d be pessimistic for once.”

    Wha?! On the left we know all too well that generally people can be c**ts. Why do you think we prefer an equal distribution of wealth and services provided by an elected gov? Becuase we know in a free for all market system where people’s ‘morals’ were left to dictate who gets what, we’d go back to the good old days of slavery, people starving to death on the streets, child workers etc.. etc.. etc….

  8. Andrew Twiss Says:

    And shoddy roof insulations Trinna. You forgot about the shoddy roof insulations! ;>)

  9. trinna Says:

    Indeed. The mistake there was that there was not enough proper regulation on these free market buisnesses (read oppurtunistic dodgy operators.)

  10. Andrew Twiss Says:

    Back in the 50s to 70s (whether Menzies, Whitlam, or Fraser) the whole thing almost certainlywould have been done by a government department employing workers directly. They also would have employed enough government inspectors to oversee the whole process so that the insulation was safely done to a required standard without lives being lost or a whole load of people not knowing whether they had dodgy, unsafe insulation. Ah, those were the days ….

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