The Magazine

Bush vs. Nietzsche

The politics of evil.

Apr 1, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 28 • By JAMES W. CEASER
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What is unprecedented in Bush's language, then, is not that he uses the term evil, nor even that he has made so much of it, but that he has conceived of it, by modern standards, in an unconventional way. He has cast aside any residue of the Progressive idea of evil as a temporary phase to be overcome, and reverted to the older understanding of evil as an omnipresent part of reality. His reintroduction of this concept serves not only as an aid in the war against foreign terrorism, but also as a corrective to the dominant materialist tendencies in our own civilization that deny substance to the soul or a moral nature to man. This correction is the cultural linchpin of George Bush's new homeland security policy and promises to be one of his most enduring contributions.

James W. Ceaser is professor of politics at the University of Virginia and coauthor of "The Perfect Tie: The True Story of the 2000 Presidential Election."