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AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND LEGAL PHILOSOPHY ETHICS
THE EVIL OF POLITICS AND THE ETHICS OF EVIL
HANS J. MORGENTHAU
a political animal by nature; he is a scientist by chance or choice; he is a moralist because he is a man. Hence, the scientism of Machiavelliand Hobbes is, in the history of mankind, merely an accident without consequences,a lightning illuminating in a sudden flash the dark landscape of man's hidden motives but kindling no Promethean fire for a grateful posterity. The historyof political thought is the history of the moral evaluation of political power. Even when mankind seems to be preoccupiedwith the science of man's political nature and considers ethics either as an empirical science or not at all, the moral issues raise their voices and demand an answer. The answers, like the questions, are mumbled, ambiguous, and distorted when the scientific prejudicesdo not allow the moral problems to be seen in their true light and the answersto be given in their true relation to the questions. Thus it remains for every age, and particularly a scientificone, to rediscoverand reformulate the perennial problems of political ethics and to answerthem in the light of the experienceof the age. Such a rediscoveryand reformulation is called for in our time. For a scientific age has attempted to reducemoral probM
lems to scientific terms and has thus obscuredand distorted the true meaningof the problems, if not obliterated them altogether. I According to the prevailing school of thought, the aim of moral action is the attainment of the greatest amount of human satisfaction. Moral action itself is the result of a consciousweighing of anticipated advantages and disadvantages connected with certain actions. Moral conflict, then, is at best a rational doubt as to which of two alternative actions is most appropriateto the desired result. Ethics, anticipating through rational calculation the relation of certain means to certain ends, becomes undistinguishablefrom science,and moral and successful action are one and the same thing. God, then, is always with the strongerbattalions, with the party who wins the elections, and with the biggest bank accounts. Lack of success, on the other hand, testifies to ethical inferiority, which carries with it defeat in war, politics, and business as just rewards.Action, falling short of the ethical ideal thus conceived in terms of perfect social...