Mundane Evil

Drawing of a demon, he's red, with horns, a curling moustache and a goatee beard, with flames behind him. Caption reads: "True evil is mundane."

Mundane Evil short story by Iris Carden

Ah first years, fresh meat. Good day, this lecture is “Introduction to Mundane Evil”. If you have anything else written on your schedule, you are in the wrong lecture hall. I am Doctor Querulous, although many of my students call me Doctor Q.

This subject will not suit all of you. That is to be expected, and is the reason you do introductory units in all fields before you choose your majors.

Many of you will find yourself attracted to the more dramatic and demonstrative forms of evil, such as possession. If you are one of those students, Associate Professor Dominion will be thrilled to have you study under him.

Those of you who have a certain degree of subtlety, who can work in the shadows, who can whisper a word in this ear and another in that, who can initiate complaints, division, and distrust distrust, without ever being acknowledged, will do well in this class. Any of you who can accept that the evil produced in human hearts and minds can be greater than anything we can produce, will do well in this class.If you can cause a dangerous or destructive idea to catch on, to grow in human minds, and affect people’s behaviour, you will do well in this class.

If you want to see how far mundane evil can go, look at the history of World War Two. I whispered in the right ears, suggested the cause of the depressed economy was a particular race, and not the war reparations from the previous world war; promoted fascism under the name of national pride; and suggested an insane person as a good, strong, national leader. It all took time, and effort, but look at the results I got.

Today, social media has made mundane evil so much easier than ever before. Discord and dissent is everywhere. People who call themselves the “silent” or “quiet” majority form an incredibly vocal minority. These are great people to influence, they will magnify your voice a million times over.

Your first assignment will be to create your own social media accounts. Make them boring, as nondescript as you possibly can. Then follow influencers, particularly those who promote hatred: racists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, extreme fundamentalists of practically any religion, or anti-science, anti-medicine, conspiracy theorists. For this first week, you will simply follow influencers in your chosen field. You will also choose and follow politicians who lean even slightly towards the same ideas as those influencers. Follow them, and like their posts selectively, the more extreme the better. What you are doing is helping them to believe their more extreme ideas are popular.

You may collaborate, although it is not in your nature, and follow one another’s targets to also bolster the belief in their popularity. I say this to every group of first years, knowing you stinking pustules will never help each other, because you are built for competition, not collaboration. Perhaps one year some of you will surprise me, defy your basic nature, and do something remarkable for evil.

That is all you need to do this week. This project will be your entire semester’s work. We will add to it each week.

Over the semester, you will slowly build from liking their most extreme posts, to commenting on them. When we get to that point we will discuss the kinds of comments you should make. The general theme of these comments will be along the lines that some people’s mere existence affects the “rights” or “freedoms” of your target. As I said, we will look in detail at how to do this over the next couple of weeks.

You will build up your persona, making these people think you are completely on their side, to gain their trust.

At that point you will begin contacting them directly, with “information” that you have acquired in the course of your supposed jobs, relationships, hobbies, or whatever. This information will confirm their most extreme beliefs and they will disseminate it on your behalf, while protecting your supposed identity.

If your target is a religious fundamentalist, you will go through their scripture, and haul out whatever fragments you can find to promote hatred, and will probably have to take those fragments completely out of the context they are written in. You will promote those fragments, excluding the ninety-nine percent of the document which promotes love and compassion. You will insist on the holiness of these fragments, to the exclusion of all else, insist that these documents are to be taken literally, and cut them loose from the time and culture they were written in.

If they have an anti-science bent, you will reveal to them that you know scientists are lying about whatever their particular issue is. You are a scientist whistleblowing on the conspiracy, or a lab worker, or someone in the know.

Whatever their particular axe to grind, you are in the know. You are a source of unimpeachable information, and you can confirm their absolute worst fears. That is where these hatreds are based, in fear. You are going to work on those fears and build them up, to stronger and stronger words, eventually into evil, destructive, action.

If anyone argues against what you say, which is unlikely because you will only be dealing with people who already lean in the direction you want to push them, you will have an answer. You will call them “woke” or “stupid” or you will claim they are part of the conspiracy to silence you, demand freedom of speech or claim you are being “cancelled”. You will never argue from reason, because reason will not be on your side.

Where can this lead? Perhaps terrorist attacks, perhaps overthrowing a legitimate government, perhaps furthering discrimination against innocent people, perhaps taking rights away their rights or their lives, perhaps you will even start a war. The possibilities are limitless.

For demons with the right aptitude, mundane evil can bring incredible success.

That’s your first lecture. Yes, I know it’s short. I’m not going to put up with you for the full two hours. You have all you need to get started. Go set up your accounts. Next week, each of you will tell the class who you have targeted and what their evil inclination is. Get out of my lecture hall, I’m sick of all of you.


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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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