The cardinal sin of the modern world is indifference. Not indifference toward everything, but indifference toward everything that matters most to the human condition.
A society that worships liberty with such pseudo-religious zeal could not be any other way. Liberty, strictly speaking, is a purely negative value. It does not deal in positive determinations of what is worthwhile and honorable, but rather in the absence of restraint, and this is diametrically opposed to concepts like goodness, beauty, and truth, all of which act as narrowing principles which place strict limits on how we act.
The consequences of such a reversal of the traditional outlook are far-reaching. With liberty as the supreme value, it was necessary to exile religion from public life, followed in short order by the exile of morality altogether. Conversations about sin and righteousness, vice and virtue, are anachronistic for us. Tolerance, the only liberal virtue, is what defines good citizenship.
What does such a society have to say about the menace of evil? Nothing, it seems, except in an inverted sense. Citizenship consists in not noticing what your neighbors are up to. In such a sociopathic dystopia, the real enemy of society is the one who publicly professes any objective notion of what constitutes goodness, and insists upon it, and accompanies that profession with a serious intention to realize that good in the external world, and to protect himself from influences to the contrary.
Since we find ourselves unavoidably enmeshed in such a bizarre social context, we thought it good to outline a theory, not of evil in itself, but of resistance to evil. We hope to alleviate the timidity that is nurtured in all modern men who have been trained to think that the ‘private evils’ they witness are none of their concern, that the things they hold most dear should never be spoken out loud, and that, in the face of licentiousness, greed, intemperance, and malice, they are called upon to do nothing but mind their own business.
This theory of resistance is intended to reverse a lifelong education in spinelessness.
We will discuss the nature of evil as a social force, insofar as it is corrosive to the character of the individual and to the community as a whole. We will discern with as much clarity as possible the means by which, and the extremes to which, this evil can be resisted without offending the dignity and self-direction of our neighbors.