Promoting and Producing Evil
Edited by Nancy Billias
The essays in this volume provide rich fodder for reflection on topics that are of urgent interest to all thinking people. Each one suggests new ways to contemplate our own role(s) in the production and promotion of evil. The authors encourage the reader to be challenged, outraged, and disturbed by what you read here. The eighth gathering of Global Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness, which took place in Salzburg in March 2007, provided a look at evil past, present, and future, from a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives. Papers were presented on the Holocaust, genocide, violence, sadism, pædophilia, physical, verbal, and visual weapons of mass destruction, and on the effects of a variety of media on our apperception of and responses to evil. One of the overarching themes that emerged was the ethical role of the observer or witness to evil, the sense that all of our writings are, in an echo of Thomas Merton’s salient phrase, the conjectures of guilty bystanders. The notion of complicity was examined from a number of angles, and imbued the gathering with a sense of urgency: that our common goal was to engender change by raising awareness of the countless and ubiquitous ways in which evil can be actively or passively carried on and promoted. The papers selected for this volume provide a representative sample of the lively, provocative, and often disturbing discussions that took place over the course of that conference. This volume also contains a few papers from a sister conference, Cultures of Violence, which was held in Oxford in 2004. These papers have been included here because of their striking relevance to the themes that emerged in the Evil conference of 2007.