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To shun wickedness, to care for our souls, and to love one another without looking for rewards, if followed by all, would turn injustice, now a constant companion of human life, into a stranger…

Cain and Abel StanciuIn his 2005 masterpiece, Match Point, Woody Allen explores moral failing in a universe governed by chance, or what the protagonist Chris Wilton calls luck. In a voiceover of the opening scene, Chris tells us, “The man who said I would rather be lucky than good saw deeply into life.”

Chris, a tennis pro, comes from a poor family in Ireland. In London, he is hired by an exclusive tennis club and is soon befriended by the Hewetts, an extremely wealthy British family. He marries Chloe, the daughter of the patriarch Alec Hewett, who finds a suitable position for Chris in one of his many firms, so his new son-in-law can quickly acquire the wealth to live the lifestyle of the British upper class. But trouble develops.

Chris falls passionately in love with Nola, an American gold digger and the former fiancée of Chloe’s brother, Tom Hewett. When Nola becomes pregnant, she threatens that unless Chris marries her, she will expose his affair with her. Such an exposure would banish him forever to the lower-middle class.

Chris decides to murder Nola, loosely basing his scheme on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. With a shotgun borrowed from his father-in-law’s estate, he kills Nola’s neighbor, an old woman, and to fake a robbery, he steals her jewelry and ransacks her apartment. He then shoots Nola on the landing outside of the old woman’s apartment to make it appear that the robber accidentally ran into Nola and killed her.

Several nights later, Chris encounters the ghosts of Nola and the neighbor. He tells them, “It would be fitting if I were apprehended and punished. At least there would be some small sign of justice, some small measure of hope for the possibility of meaning” in a seemingly pointless universe. He tells Nola’s neighbor that her death was collateral damage in his grand scheme.

The police suspect Chris committed the murders, but when they learn that a local junkie was shot dead and that he had the old woman’s wedding ring in his pocket, they conclude Chris is innocent. What the police do not know is that Chris took the wedding ring off the old woman’s finger, and later when he threw the ring toward the Thames, his throw fell short; the ring bounced on the railing and, as luck would have it, fell not into the water, but on the sidewalk where the junkie must have found it.

In the last scene, a year or so later, the Hewetts and Chris celebrate the birth of Terrence Elliott Wilton, the child of Chris and Chloe. After a toast by the family patriarch, Alec Hewett, to Terrance’s future greatness, Tom Hewett says, “I don’t care if he is great. I just hope he is lucky.”

Probably the majority of viewers of Match Point find the film’s message unsettling: What determines how a person fares in life is luck, not goodness or justice. Such viewers, no doubt, think the story is not over and that something bad will befall Chris—if necessary in the next world, as Christians have it, or in this world for believers in a natural justice, such as advocated millennia ago by Aristotle.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle examines the psychology of a bad man. He claims morally inferior persons are “at variance with themselves, desiring one thing and wishing for another.”[1] Bad men cannot stand to be alone and “constantly seek the society of others and shun their own company, because when they are by themselves they recall much that was unpleasant in the past and anticipate the same in the future, whereas with other people they can forget” their shame or guilt. Moreover bad men “feel no affection for themselves, because they have no lovable qualities.” Aristotle says a civil war rages in the souls of bad men; “one part of their nature, owing to depravity, is pained by abstinence from certain indulgences, while another part is pleased by it,” tearing their souls asunder. Aristotle advises that since “such a state of mind is utterly miserable, we should do our utmost to shun wickedness and try to be virtuous.” Thus, according to Aristotle, the morally inferior person never fares well in life. His wickedness brings self-hatred, isolation from others, and either shame or misery to his family.

To illustrate Aristotle’s reflections on bad men consider Bernie Madoff. He began his massive Ponzi scheme in the early 1970s, and by his arrest in 2006, he had defrauded thousands of investors of at least 18.1 billion dollars. He corrupted his two sons, Mark and Andrew, both employees of their father’s investment firm. Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to gather assets for Bernard Madoff’s victims, claimed that Mark had deposited $745,000 into his Bernard L. Madoff Investments Securities (BLMIS) account and had withdrawn $18.1 million and that Andrew had deposited less than $1 million into his account and had withdrawn $17 million.[2] Before his sentencing to 150 years in prison, Mr. Madoff apologized to his victims: “I have left a legacy of shame, as some of my victims have pointed out, to my family and my grandchildren. This is something I will live with for the rest of my life.”[3] Later, Mr. Madoff’s brother, Peter, the former Senior Managing Director and Chief Compliance Officer of BLMIS, was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Exactly two years after his father’s arrest, Mark Madoff, 46, hanged himself with a dog leash in his SoHo apartment. Mark’s two-year-old son Nicholas was sleeping in a nearby bedroom and was unharmed. Andrew Madoff died of mantle-cell lymphoma at the age of 48. Before his death, Andrew claimed his father’s crime was responsible for the return of his cancer that had been in remission for nine years: “The scandal and everything that happened killed my brother very quickly. And it’s killing me slowly.”[4]

Most of us are reassured to see that justice is served when a bad person like Bernie Madoff brings about his own destruction as well as that of those closest to him. Much like a Greek tragedy, Madoff’s financial acumen led to a bad end; because of his character flaws—an unrestrained greed and an insatiable desire for expensive jewelry, luxury homes, and yachts—the House of Madoff was bound to fall. Aristotle’s contention that the nature of the human soul assures that bad men will always suffer and that consequently we ordinary, good people can take solace that if a bad person escapes legal justice administered by the courts, he cannot avoid the natural justice meted out by his soul.

Let us assume, as seems reasonable, that Aristotle’s position that a universal feature of the human soul is that a bad person is at variance with himself and the civil war raging within his soul will eventually destroy him. In this case, if the story of Match Point were continued according to the principles that operate in every human soul, then Chris Wilton, the murderer of his pregnant mistress and her neighbor, would bring destruction upon himself and most likely upon his son Terrence Elliott.

But to see if natural justice truly exists universally with ordering moral principles that encompass every society, we must grasp the nature of good and evil. Aristotle correctly points out that in every society the family habituates the child to perform good acts and to shun bad ones. Later in the child’s life, society at large will reinforce the habits of action instilled by his parents. But not all societies agree on what is good and what is bad.

In America, individualism and capitalism shape every child, if not at home, then in school. Competition in public school, on the sports field, and in the workplace divides the nation into winners and losers. Students, in the lower grades and in high school, work for gold stars, A’s on report cards, and the honor roll, and, in college, for the Dean’s List and a Phi Beta Kappa Key. Every child is taught in elementary school that your success is entirely due to you, and no other person has a legitimate claim on its benefits—a fundamental ethic of capitalism, where each person is responsible for his own success or failure. Two other principles are learned in the classroom: I succeed only if someone else fails, and the converse—if someone else succeeds, I must have failed.[5]

In the workplace, “the isolated individual has to fight with other individuals of the same group, has to surpass them and, frequently, thrust them aside,” observes psychoanalyst Karen Horney. “The advantage of the one is frequently the disadvantage of the other.”[6] The situation in which everyone is a real or potential competitor of everyone else creates a diffuse hostile tension among individuals, as is clearly apparent among members of the same occupational group, regardless of the disguised attempts to camouflage envy and hatred by politeness. From her years of psychiatric practice, Ms. Horney concludes that “competitiveness, and the potential hostility that accompanies it, pervades all human relationships.”[7] Psychoanalyst Rollo May agrees: “Individual competitive success is… the dominant goal in our culture.”[8]

Not surprisingly then, the marketplace is defined by winners and losers. In any business transaction, say the buying and selling of a used car, each party jockeys through deception, guile, and wit to obtain the best deal, although illegal acts, such as setting back the odometer, must be avoided. If the buyer or the seller thinks he has taken advantage of the other party and thus gotten the best deal possible, he feels good about himself, not bad.

Consider the same principles on a grand scale. Goldman Sachs, in 2006, underwrote $76.5 billion of mortgage-backed securities, a third of which were subprime.[9] Two traders at Goldman Sachs, Michael Swenson and Josh Birnbaum, hit upon a brilliant idea for making more money. Their plan was to bundle hundreds of prime and subprime mortgages together into instruments called Collaterized Debt Obligations (CDOs). The subprime mortgages were intentionally chosen to be extremely high risk; many with no proof that the borrower had any income or assets. In essence, Goldman Sachs put together CDOs guaranteed to fail.

Here is one typical example. In one $494-million CDO issued by Goldman Sachs, many of ultra-risky mortgages belonged to second-mortgage borrowers; the average equity in the houses was 0.71 percent (yes, that number is correct). Moreover, 58 percent of the loans included little or no documentation—no names of the borrowers, no addresses of the homes, just zip codes.

The next step in the plan was to convince the two major ratings agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, to give those CDOs an AAA-rating. This step was easy, since the fees charged by a rating agency are paid by banks and investment houses. No AAA-rating, no further business for that rating agency from that Wall Street firm.

Now comes the fun part. Goldman Sachs sold these AAA-rated CDOs to unsuspecting insurance companies and pension funds. Investors were first sold the idea that the prime mortgages would compensate for the poor ones and that the CDOs would return a higher profit than a standard collection of prime real estate loans. Next, Goldman Sachs went to American International Group (AIG) to provide insurance—known as credit default swaps—on the CDOs they just sold. Thus, Goldman Sachs put together CDOs designed to fail, sold them to chumps for a substantial profit, and then bet the CDOs they just sold would fail, so Goldman Sachs would make even more money. And fail they did, and so did AIG because of the staggering number of credit default swaps it issued. But Goldman Sachs had nothing to fear, for one of its former CEOs, Hank Paulson, was Secretary of the Treasury. The federal government bailed out AIG; every credit default swap was paid one hundred cents on a dollar. Goldman Sachs received $16 billion from the taxpayers of the United States.

Thus, Goldman Sachs made money twice from the housing bubble. It received multimillion-dollar fees from the guaranteed-to-fail CDOs sold to insurance companies and pension funds, and then gouged the taxpayer for its bets against the CDOs when they failed.

Goldman Sachs profited enormously. In December 2007, the economy unraveled. Such Wall Street firms as Citigroup, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch bled cash because of the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Goldman Sachs, instead, reported its annual profits were up 22 percent to $11.6 billion. The bank’s 30,000 member staff shared a compensation pool of $20.1 billion, amounting to $600,000 per person if it were divided up equally (which, obviously, it wasn’t). Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein took home $70 million compared to $54 million the previous year.

The two Goldman Sachs traders, Michael Swenson and Josh Birnbaum, who engineered the success of their firm in the subprime market, merely took advantage of the weaknesses in the system of financial instruments and rating agencies. As a result, Michael Swenson and Josh Birnbaum became known as superstar traders and Goldman Sachs as the crème de la crème of investment banking.

The billions of dollars gained by Goldman Sachs came from the losses of insurance companies, pension funds, and taxpayers. The trillion dollars of government money used to bail out AIG, banks, and investment houses were not without social cost, especially given the clamor to reduce the federal deficit by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and even school lunch programs. Yet, in a world of winners and losers, Michael Swenson and Josh Birnbaum were brilliant players, and no doubt congratulated themselves on their successes and lost no sleep over the plight of the losers.

If Swenson and Birnbaum were focused on moneymaking to the exclusion of everything else in human life, then, of course, such unbounded greed would end in personal catastrophe, perhaps, the love of money would crowd out the love of their wives and children, most likely resulting in divorce, drug addiction, and “utterly miserable” lives for all. But if Messrs. Swenson and Birnbaum saw making a killing in the financial markets as an intellectual challenge that brought the side benefit of money that could be used to enjoy the good life for themselves and their families, then, even though they injured other investors, they would probably fare well.

If this were the case, then they would have been like Alec Hewett. He tells his son-in-law, Chris, that there is plenty of money to be made in an upcoming deal with the Japanese. Alec, clearly, enjoys making money, but nothing gives him more pleasure than to share his vast wealth with his family. He buys his children memberships in exclusive clubs, sets up his daughter, Chloe, in a gallery of her own, and takes his entire family on vacations to the Greek Isles and Italy. In addition to his generosity, Alex has a deep interest in the arts; he takes his family to the opera and tells Chloe that what impressed him about Chris was his understanding of Dostoyevsky. His wealth and desire for more money do not prevent him from living a more or less balanced life.

The goal in a competitive society is to win without violating the rules. Suppose you won the spelling bee in grade school. Everyone held you up as a winner, and you felt good about yourself. Was your soul rent in two when you found out the runner-up Margaret Szymanski cried herself to sleep after your victory? Margaret’s loss was her problem, not yours. Winners in a competitive society are taught to look to the good they have gained and ignore the unavoidable, emotional damage caused to the losers. That’s how the game works in America. The Southwest Pueblo Indians, however, look upon such behavior as unspeakably cruel. Anthropologist Dorothy Eggan observed, “Among the Hopi, competition is the worst of bad taste and physical aggression is rigorously suppressed. Outwardly a Hopi learned to smile at his enemies, to use ‘sweet words with a low voice,’ to share his property, and to work selflessly with others for the good of the tribe.”[10]

Here is another example of how a person can commit what some many consider reprehensible acts and yet not be at variance with himself or experience a raging civil war within his soul. Consider Henry Kissinger. During the Vietnam War, as National Security advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State, he played a key role in the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia to disrupt Viet Cong units in South Vietnam from being resupplied by way of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In the carpet bombing of Cambodia, more than 2.7 million tons of bombs were dropped on approximately 113,000 sites. To put the bombing of Cambodia in perspective, just more than 2 million tons of bombs were dropped by the Allies in World War II, which includes the atomic bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: equivalent to 15,000 and 20,000 tons of conventional explosives, respectively. Cambodia was the most heavily bombed country in history. The Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia killed between 50,000 and 150,000 civilians, although some scholars of modern warfare place that estimate considerably higher.[11]

The impact of this bombing, the subject of intense debate at the time, is now clear. Civilian casualties enraged the populace and led to a coup d’état of the Cambodian government in 1970 that in turn led to the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge and ultimately to the Cambodian genocide, in which 1.7 million people died, with about half of those deaths due to executions and the rest from starvation, disease, and overwork.[12]

For his part in negotiating the ceasefires contained in the Paris Peace Accords, Mr. Kissinger received and accepted “with humility” the Nobel Peace Prize. Depending upon one’s political orientation, Mr. Kissinger is either a peacemaker or a war criminal. Mr. Kissinger is, however, unapologetic about his key role in the bombing of Cambodia. “Without our [military] incursion,” he wrote in his memoirs, “the Communists would have taken over Cambodia years earlier.”[13]

It is hard to escape the conclusion that each person evaluates his actions in terms of what he perceives as the good. In the realpolitik diplomacy that Mr. Kissinger still advocates, the highest good is to maintain the military power and the economic influence of the Nation-State that a diplomat happens to serve. The 50,000 to 150,000 Cambodians killed by American bombs were collateral damage and probably caused no civil war within the souls of Nixon or Mr. Kissinger. What had to be done to maintain American Empire was done. A Buddhist monk, in contrast, committed to the salvation of all creatures, in loving union with them and bearing the burden of their sufferings, would be beside himself, if he knowingly contributed to the killing of a Viet Cong, a Cambodian civilian, or an American soldier.

In the twentieth century, killing in the name of a “higher good” absolved a person of guilt, which is clearly seen in the doctrine of Marxist ethics. From the Marxist perspective, morality is a disguise for class interests. Friedrich Engels argued in his book Anti-Dühring, “All moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has … justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class.”[14]

For genuine Marxist thinkers, the only fixed points are the laws of history; thus, true morality is any human action that furthers the end of history and the arrival of pure communism. For tough-minded revolutionaries, “thou shall not kill” is a bourgeois sentiment. In August 1918, Lenin wrote to the Bolsheviks of Penza to crush the kulak uprising there with political murder: “Hang (and I mean hang so that the people can see) not less than 100 known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers.”[15]

Years after Lenin’s death, Lazar Kaganovich, at one time a full member of the Politburo as well as the Presidium, defended his genocidal acts to his American nephew:

You must think of humanity as one great body, but one that requires constant surgery. Need I remind you that surgery cannot be performed without cutting membranes, without destroying tissues, without the spilling of blood? Thus, we must destroy whatever is superfluous. These are unpleasant acts, granted, but we do not find any of this immoral. You see, all acts that further history and socialism are moral acts.[16]

One of Kaganovich’s moral acts that destroyed the “superfluous” was his active support of the collectivization of Ukrainian peasants onto state farms, a policy that resulted in the catastrophic 1932–33 famine. Millions of peasants had no bread; they ate field mice, insects, corn husks, and dead children. A villager told a visiting American couple, “We are all dying. They want us to die. There has never been a better harvest, but if we are caught cutting a few ears of corn, we would be shot or put in prison and starved to death.”[17] More than 3,000,000 peasants died in that organized famine, known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor, death by hunger.

In December 1931, Lady Astor, the first woman member of the British House of Commons, visited Moscow, where she had the rare honor of being received by Stalin. During their conversation, she asked a question no one else would have dared: “How long will you keep killing people?”

Stalin’s interpreter froze. But the Man of Steel insisted on hearing the question and, without a pause, as though he had been expecting a question like that, he replied, “the process will continue as long as necessary to establish communist society.”[18]

Stalin, Kaganovich, and other members of the Politburo had no civil war raging in their souls, for they were furthering history. Fifteen million or so deaths were necessary in the grand scheme to bring about Paradise on Earth.[19]

We have seen that Woody Allen and Aristotle are at odds on what happens to bad men. Surprisingly, in this unfair matchup, both the movie-maker and the philosopher can claim partial victory. When Chris Wilton, the protagonist of Match Point, murders his pregnant mistress and her neighbor, he goes against a moral precept of Irish society—thou shall not kill the innocent. The precept was instilled in Chris’ soul from childhood; as a result, at some point the murders he committed will tear his soul apart. He erroneously thought, “You can learn to push the guilt under the rug and go on,” but his guilt will haunt him in the future. Just like Bernie Madoff, he will bring destruction upon himself and his family. Even though Chris will not have justice meted out to him by the British courts, the nature of the soul guarantees he will be brought to justice. Woody Allen lost round one.

In our examination of the universality of Aristotle’s contention that bad men always suffer, we quickly saw that what is called bad and good depends upon the culture of which a person happens to be part. In America, children psychologically injure their classmates in spelling bees and math knock-downs that train them for the adult world of winners and losers in the workplace and the marketplace. Such behavior among the Hopis would be morally unconscionable. Similarly, in the realpolitik of the Nation-State, leaders issue orders to kill millions of people, sometimes even their own citizens, without experiencing a rent soul, for they act for a “higher good.” Aristotle lost the second round. The operations of the human soul, indeed, are universal; however, natural justice is limited to how particular cultures define good and bad. Since those definitions are various, even contradictory, natural justice does not exist universally.

We have reached the dismal conclusion implied by Woody Allen that most of the perpetrators and the accomplices of the mass political murders of the twentieth century went unpunished, either by international courts or natural justice. However, that may not be the complete story about justice.

Most, if not all, the major religions acknowledge that bad men can prosper in this world and not experience a raging civil war within their souls; consequently, these religions claim that universal justice is on a cosmic, not a natural, scale. In Buddhism, for instance, every person is subject to the universal Law of Karma: good deeds produce good effects and bad deeds produced bad effects. Karma is a cosmic law of cause and effect, not divine judgment, for in Buddhism no God sits in judgment, rewarding good acts and punishing bad acts. The karma of a person’s past lives determines his state of existence in this present life. A rich but often ill man was in his past lives very generous in helping others, but loved hunting and killing and thus caused sentient beings to feel worried, insecure, and frightened. In this present life, a person should seek to improve the next life by doing good karma and should strive toward the ultimate goal, to escape from Samsara, the Wheel of Birth, Death, and Rebirth.[20]

However, the Law of Karma is absurd in Modernity. Who can believe that the victims of Hiroshima, the Gulag, and the Holocaust perished because of moral wrongs in past lives? The Law of Karma blames the victims, not oppressive rulers and unjust political and economic institutions that cause suffering.

According to Christianity, every person we meet in ordinary, daily affairs—the mailman, the bank teller, the butcher at Whole Foods, the obnoxious teenager down the street with his blaring boom box—are part human and part divine, a storytelling self, often confused, dislikable, and in pain, but always transient, and a mysterious self, deathless, an image of God, worthy of unconditional love. On the Day of Judgement, God will separate the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad. The good fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and the imprisoned, and in doing so, they did the same to Jesus Christ, for the least are his brethren, too. Their reward is “eternal life” in the “kingdom prepared for [them] from the founding of the world.”[21] The goats, in contrast, did not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, or visit the sick and the imprisoned. Their reward is “eternal punishment.”[22]

The demand for cosmic justice seems universal. Socrates denied he possessed wisdom and recognized the limitations of the human mind to know the origin and destiny of the soul, but when pressed by his young friends to give an answer to “What happens after death?,” he quoted myths and made up stories to encourage his followers to live virtuous lives and always to seek the truth. He told them since “the soul is immortal, it demands our care not only for that part of time which we call life, but for all time…. If death were a release from everything, it would be a boon for the wicked, because by dying they would be released not only from the body but also from their own wickedness together with the soul, but as it is, since the soul is clearly immortal, it can have no escape or security from evil except by becoming as good and wise as it possibly can.”[23]

Furthermore, Socrates told his young friends how in the next world souls are judged. Souls who have committed gross acts of sacrilege, or lawless murders, or other great crimes are judged incurable. These souls are hurled into Tartarus, and emerge no more, so they will never re-enter the cycle of reincarnation, and thus are struck out of existence.

Souls judged to have lived a life of surpassing holiness ascend to a region far above the earth and live in fellowship with gods. They contemplate the perfect forms, until their time comes to return to earthly existence in a new incarnation and to bring with them the hidden memory of essential truths.

Holy souls completely purified by philosophy reach habitations even more beautiful, the abode of the Good Itself, the realm of the pure, the everlasting, the immortal, and the changeless. These souls are released from their wanderings and dwell forever in unchanging communion with the unchanging.

Socrates cautioned his young friends that “no reasonable man ought to insist that the facts are exactly as I described them,” but insisted the evidence clearly points to the immortality of the soul and its divine judgment.[24]

No mortal really knows if the stories told by Socrates and Jesus are true, for no one has experienced the afterlife; nevertheless, to shun wickedness, to care for our souls, and to love one another without looking for rewards, if followed by all, would turn injustice, now a constant companion of human life, into a stranger.

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Notes:

[1] All quotations in this paragraph are from Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1934), Bk IX, Ch. 4, 1166b5-29.

[2] Michael Rothfeld, “Mark Madoff Dogged by Picard Suit,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 10, 2010).

[3] Bernard L. Madoff, Sentencing Transcript (June 29, 2009), US Department of Justice, p. 37.

[4] Andrew Madoff, quoted in “Andrew Madoff, Who Told of His Father’s Swindle, Dies at 48,” The New York Times (Sept. 3, 2014).

[5] The ethos of capitalism pervades Modernity and thus can be easily mistaken for a universal aspect of human living; see, for instance, Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet, 1964) and Milton Friedman, “Is Capitalism Humane?”, a talk filmed at Cornell University in 1978.

[6] Karen Horney, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time (New York: Norton, 1937), p. 284.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety, rev. ed. (New York: Norton, 1977), p. 173.

[9] The narrative and numbers in our text are taken from Allan Sloan, “Goldman Sachs’ House of Junk,” Fortune (April, 2016); Kate Kelly, “How Goldman Won Big on Mortgage Meltdown,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 14, 2007); and Andrew Clark, “Success shines unwelcome spotlight on to Goldman Sachs,” The Guardian (Dec. 21, 2007).

[10] Dorothy Eggan, “The General Problem of Hopi Adjustment,” The American Anthropologist 45 (July-September 1943): 372. Italics in original. Available.

[11] The numbers given by the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University appear to be highly reliable.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Henry Kissinger, White House Years (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1979), p. 517.

[14] Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring (1877).

[15] Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin: Life and Legacy, trans. Harold Shukman (London: HarperCollins, 1994), pp. 69-70. Italics in the original.

[16] Stuart Kahan, (NY: William Morrow, 1987) The Wolf of the Kremlin: The First Biography of L.M. Kaganovich, the Soviet Union’s Architect of Fear, p. 309. Italics added.

[17] Quoted by Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), p. 42.

[18] See Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 104. Check quote.

[19] “Exact numbers may never be known with complete certainty, but the total of deaths caused by the whole range of the Soviet’s regimes can hardly be lower than fifteen million.” Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. xvi.

[20] See Buddhism: In Translations, trans. Henry Clarke Warren (New York: Atheneum, 1987), pp. 228-231.

[21] Matthew 25: 46, 34. RSV

[22] Matthew 25:46. RSV

[23] Plato, Phaedo in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), 107c.

[24] Phaedo, 114d.

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1 reply to this post
  1. I enjoyed reading this article and found it to be a reoccurring theme in various media throughout history and culture. However, I must interject that you have missed the mark with your understanding of the Christian theology in this passage. When reading Matthew 25: 46 (or any part of scripture for that matter), one must interpret it in context of scripture as a whole to understand its meaning. This is paramount, especially in this particular context, because the difference in interpretation is what separates Christianity from all other religions and a worldly understanding of justice.
    Under your present interpretation Christianity belongs to this world and the values of work and reward, crime and punishment. But when understanding Scripture as a whole one realizes that Christianity is countercurrent to the standards of the world we currently exist in. It proclaims that all of humanity has sinned and fallen immeasurably short of the glories of Heaven. Yet, the message present throughout the Old and New Testament is that through the perfect sacrifice and resurrection of Christ believers are made righteous in the eyes of God. So, in the context of true Christianity it is God’s work alone that has saved the believer; consequently the believer’s works are made righteous.
    When compared to the world and the belief in cosmic justice, human works will never save and the believer’s sin will be forgiven. Christianity is the ultimate dichotomy to the ways of worldly/ cosmic justice.

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