J P Sears political ponerology evil bookshelf

Book Political Ponerology is circled on J. P. Sears' bookshelf
J.P. Sears has made a new addition to his bookshelf. Be like J.P. Sears. I'm no psychic, but perchance it inspired this recent video of his, which I recommend watching — and not only for the flowing ginger locks.

J.P.'s prologue reminded me of this, which I had just read in Henning Melber's book, Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations and the Decolonisation of Africa:1
... in mid-June 1961, his friend Bo Beskow asked him — as he usually did when they met — if he still had faith in the individual. While previously the answer had always been positive, he now responded: "No, I never thought it possible, but lately I have come to understand that there are really evil persons — evil right through — only evil." (p. 46)
By this time, in the midst of the Congo crisis, Hammarskjöld had been UN Secretary General for almost eight years. He would be assassinated in a "plane crash" just three months later.

Hammarskjöld was an interesting man. On the surface: a boring bureaucrat. This is how he got to be head of the UN in the first place — the major powers thought he would continue to be a boring bureaucrat and do as they expected. Turned out his name should've been a hint: hammer-shield. The man was an absolute powerhouse of energy, integrity, and fearlessness. Unknown at the time, he was also a mystic (he cites Eckhardt several times).

After his death, his spiritual journal was discovered and published (in an English translation by W.H. Auden). You can read an annotated version of it by Bernhard Erling for free here. Dabrowski speculated that Hammarskjöld was one of those rare men who had achieved that inner realization of the ideal he associated with Level V of his system (secondary integration).

I think in Hammarskjöld we can find the resolution of the conflict of interpretations of evil which I mentioned here in response to Solzhenitsyn's famous quote (you know the one: "the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being"). This entry is dated February 24, 1957, just over four years prior to his newfound understanding of evil:
One arrives at the point of acknowledging — and feeling — original sin, evil's dark counterpoint which is in our nature, yes, of our nature, yet not our nature. This, that something affirms the destruction of what we ourselves seek to serve, the misfortune even of those of whom we are fond. Life in God is not a flight away from this, but the way to full insight about it: it is not our depravity which forces us into a fictitious religious solution, but the experience of a religious reality which brings the night side out into the light. It is when we remain before the all-seeing eye of righteous love that we are able to see, dare to acknowledge and consciously suffer because of this, that something in us welcomes the catastrophe, wishes the failure, is stimulated by the defeat — when it has to do with the sphere outside our narrowest self-interest. Thus the living God relationship is a precondition for the self-knowledge which enables us to follow a straight path and, in that sense, triumph and be forgiven — from outside ourselves and by ourselves.
Erling summarizes:
The closer one comes to God the more aware of this aspect of human nature one becomes. It is, therefore, not this dark fact about human nature that leads to the positing of "a fictitious religious solution." Instead it is the fact that one has experienced the reality of God that enables one to acknowledge this human depravity, to bring "the night side" out into the light, and also to overcome it. (pp. 189-190)
Like Solzhenitsyn, Hammarskjöld could see the heart of darkness within each man, including himself. But near the end of his life he had to acknowledge that some men were completely evil. It's interesting to read his entries from around this period. By this time he had shifted mostly to poetry — short meditations that contrast with his previous entries of ruthless self-investigation. For example, from July 19, 1961:
Have mercy
Upon us.
Have mercy
Upon our striving,
That we
Before you,
In love and faith,
Righteousness and humility,
May follow you,
In self-discipline and faithfulness and courage,
And meet you,
In stillness.

Give us
A pure heart
That we may see you,
A humble heart
That we may hear you,
A loving heart
That we may serve you
A believing heart
That we may live you.

Whom I do not know
But to whom I belong.
Whom I do not understand
But who has dedicated me
To my destiny.
You —
He may not have achieved his external political goals. But he lived a life of virtue and forged a soul of adamantine beauty.

If you have some time this weekend, read some Hammarskjöld. And if you have a time machine, send him a copy of Ponerology. At the very least he and J.P. Sears would have one more thing in common, if not the flowing ginger locks.
1 I interviewed Melber back in 2016. You can listen here. For more on Hammarskjöld I recommend the biography written by Roger Lipsey. You can also check out this entertaining documentary on his assassination.

For more of Harrison's thought, see his substack here, or check back to Sott.net regularly.