Is there a useful way to use the idea of evil when writing about politics and the ethics of living as a citizen?
Specifically, is the term ‘evil’ more accurate and more descriptive that merely ‘bad’ or ‘unethical’ when describing certain actions, ways of being, or ways of organizing a state?
I ask this because I have been thinking quite a bit about prison reform, long-term solitary confinement, the war on drugs, and prison overcrowding in California, where I live. I can think of few terms more descriptive than “evil” for the practice of locking men away for decades without sight of the sun or the touch of a loved one. But I am worried about gaining emotional force at the cost of emotional distance and the ability to distinguish clearly.
I want to be able to use the word ‘evil’ to describe a political state which permits its agents, tacitly or explicitly, to be deliberately cruel; I think the war on drugs and long-term solitary confinement are cruel.
Also, ask me what I think of the mental hospital to homelessness to prison triangle.