The Antichrist Idea

Movies and propagandistic history have taught us that bad guys are an almost unrecognizable species. They appeal to the bad desires in humans, and only bad people support them.

Heroes, we are taught, are eminently understandable and relatable. They want what’s best not for themselves, but for everyone. Good people instantly recognize and support them.

The idea of an Antichrist is important because it strips away this easy narrative and reminds us the true nature of good and evil.

An Antichrist isn’t some kind of obvious monster gaining power by crushing the weak. They gain power by appealing to the common good, compassion, and progress. They appear heroic. They command devotion. They are a role model.

The danger is that just below the surface, the promises conceal vices.

Not necessarily on the part of the Antichrist figure, but those enthralled by him. The virtues they praise in him are cover for destructive impulses they wish to justify in themselves. The common good is a hiding place for envy; compassion for vengeance; progress for conquest.

Real world villains of the really dangerous sort do not appear uniquely evil, antisocial, or psychotic. They appear heroic, but not because of genuine courage or self-sacrifice, but because they enable us to justify evil impulses in our own hearts by presenting them as positive programs.

It is usually feigned concern for Theoretical Man that causes the greatest harm to actual men.