Being professionally evil used to be easier. In Al Capone’s time, you could hide your evil deeds in places without snitches and live public life as a respected American patriot. Found a traitor who would give it away? Just threaten and maybe kill them. And if law enforcement got to too close to your secrets, just pay them whatever it takes and get them to protect you from the next investigation instead.
Fast-forward to 2010: cameras in every palm and on every corner, ubiquitous surveillance, and discoverable e-mails in far too many places to control. Not even bribing and threatening works when anybody can anonymously publish whatever they know about your evil deeds for the entire world to see next morning.
Maybe your factories destroy the rain forest. Maybe you like to assault women, get children hooked on drugs, or take money from Russian mobsters. Or merely bribe politicians and undermine democracy. Whatever your kind of evil, your life would be ruined if the world found out. And thanks to the internet and technology, now it can. Oh no! Is it curtain call for evil deeds, and the end of evildoer as a professional career? What are you to do?
Let’s appreciate our professional evildoer’s terrible strategic conundrum for a second. He’s has been making a killing doing something really evil for years and years, an entire career! He’s been hiding it well and is looking respectable to the public, and so he has many admirers. But here comes the internet, and now it’s just a matter until he’s found out about, photographed in the act, blogged and Instagrammed, doxxed and publicly accused. His evil deeds will come out, and he there is nothing he can do. Threatening or paying off one accuser may work, but ten others will have thousands of retweets the next morning. Sooner or later, his racket will be shutdown and he’ll rot in jail. Of course, he could go legit, but he’s a career evildoer! He won’t start over. Doing evil has been such a profitable racket!
Time to hire Evil Strategy Consulting, who have come up with a truly evil plan on their own. Which, of course, they have been shopping around to every career evildoer they can think of, and many others who weren’t quite so evil, but scared that the public might not agree. Their message: “Your evil deeds will come out on the internet, you can’t prevent that. But if you hire us, you can avoid the damage. Just sign up here.”
Consultants that they are, they have slides, and the key slide in their pitch deck looks like this:
How to be evil and do just fine
in the 21st century
- Preparation (before your evil deeds come out)
- Step 1: Pick an enemy
- Step 2: Accuse your enemy of every evil deed you ever did, and some more (no evidence required)
- When your evil deeds have been exposed:
- Step 3: Say “I never did, but look over there, my enemy, she did all of this!”
- Step 4: Our other professional evildoer customers will publicly declare that you are innocent and she is guilty. We have very respectable customers (such as famous stars and, best of all, evil church ministers) and the public will believe them. When their own evil deeds come out — and they will — you will defend them and accuse their enemies in turn.
- Step 5: Hire Evil Strategy Consulting’s Troll Army™ to amplify the message 1000 times on Twitter.
They explain: “In the worst case, your enemy will be hurt just as much as you were. More likely: first the public will be confused and they will not know who to believe. Then, because there will be so many accusations and counter-accusations, about you and so many other people, amplified and denied and made up by famous people (secret evildoers) and armies of trolls, the public will be overloaded, they will stop caring and zone out. You, and all of your peer evildoers are home free.”
With trepidation, you buy into their pitch and follow the plan.
Fast-forward to 2018. You just received a note in the mail:
Evil Strategy Consulting
we are so glad we could help you avoid negative consequences of being exposed as careeer evildoer over the past few years.
Admittedly, even we were surprised how effective our strategy was of denying obvious truths, blaming your enemy without evidence, with supporting quotes from respectable (ha! ha!) celebrities and our custom-built social media troll army. Not only did it protect you, it helped you succeed in your wildest and most ambitious career plans and busted your enemy from public life. (She is still useful as an enemy; keep blaming her.)
We think you now have the opportunity to build on your success and make evil even more successful. We hope you will consider another proposal, which we have attached.
You open the expensively bound brochure. Here is its first slide, this time with a golden border:
Evil can run the world!
- Step 1: let’s get rid of truth, and create the post-truth society
You don’t bother with the rest and take out your checkbook.
This is my best explanation of what’s going on in the world. Certainly in US politics, but more broadly all over the world. It explains why we suddenly have #FakeNews, a President who very intentionally lies all the time, troll armies that are million-dollar businesses and a seemingly unlimited army of sycophants: they are all the symptoms of a brilliantly executed strategy to protect powerful people from consequences of their unacceptable, bad, even evil, actions.
I’m apprehensive about what’s next. Given how successful this strategy has been, it won’t stop here.