Can a good person fight for an evil cause?

I recall having this debate years ago and never coming it a conclusion. Can someone who in most other aspects of their life be considered a ‘good person’ still lay claim to that if they find themselves voluntarily fighting for an evil cause?

For example Nazism?

Does it depend on their motives for fighting for that cause, I imagine many men didn’t have much truck with the goals of Nazism but genuinely believed they were protecting their country from external aggressors. Or does the incontestable evil of a movement such as Nazism overwhelm all other positive aspects of that persons life?

Well, there were members of the German army who were enlisted before there were Nazis, so they didn’t join up to fight for the nazi cause specifically. What would you class those guys as? There was also involuntary conscription going on after the rise of nazi control.

Not unless they do not know about the evilness of the cause. And i’d probably say there should be some responsibility to find out about it, but I don’t know where the line on that should be drawn. If you understand the cause, or do not look thoroughly enough into the cause, then no, I would say you can’t be good.

Causes usually come in a package with a bunch of other causes. An organization might promote ten causes you agree with and one you don’t - do you support the organization or not?

John Rabe, aka the “Good Nazi,” who mainly joined the party mainly for business connections. He helped set up Nanking Safety Zone in China when Japan invaded and started a massacre. Also, he tried to get Hitler to intervene with Japan to prevent further massacres. I guess one can assume he saw something positive in Hitler and the party based on that. After the war, he denounced the party.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

An evil person can fight for a good cause, so I don’t see why a good person can’t fight for an evil cause.

Which Nazism? The early party that was concerned with law, order, and getting the damn trains running on time or the later, crazy Jew exterminating one?

There is no such thing as a moral absolute, nor do we always have a responsibility to lay down our lives uselessly making a statement. A person who sees their side as doing more good then harm IS fighting for good.

Acid, there was never some happy sober Naziism that just happened to get out of hand as the years went on.

That said, what are the responsibilities of a good person living in a noxious society? It’s easy to say that you should oppose it with all your might, but it takes a sizable lack of self-knowledge to think that it’s obvious you would do that. In opposing the Nazi regime, you’d be putting your own well-being at risk. Maybe your own life, or your friends, or your family. But, by taking the middle course and doing nothing, you’re still supporting the regime with your tax dollars and labor and, perhaps more importantly, building up the implicit consent a society has for those noxious elements.

What if you’re drafted? Do you follow orders, or futilely resist? What if you’re involved in local governance–do you join the Party or resign yourself to removal or liquidation?

I think the typical WWII German soldier was not significantly more evil than the typical German of the time, and substantially less worthy of moral blame than the top quarter of people in German society. Most thought they were fighting Bolshevism and socialism. Though undoubtedly some also harbored nationalist and racist thoughts, you could say the same thing about some contemporary American soldiers. So what standard lets us stand in judgment above them?

A century from now, people will undoubtedly view some of the things we do now as absolutely monstrous and barbaric. I hope they have the empathy to understand that things are rarely black and white.

Unlike some other totalitarian regimes, Nazi Germany allowed its citizens to travel abroad freely. Maybe people who weren’t willing to endanger their lives by resisting should have left; at least that way they couldn’t be forced to support the regime.

Good and evil are not mirror images of each other. If you’re fighting to save the Chinese and murder the Jews, you’re still evil even though you’re not fighting to murder everyone and everything.

As the old joke goes, “But you fuck ONE sheep…”

You can be a regular saint in all other ways. But at the point where you agree to end someone’s life in the service of an unjust cause, you’ve fucked the sheep.

Maybe, but plenty of people signed up or were drafted for the German army in WWII, or the Confederate Army in the Civil War, and I’m not convinced all those people were evil, even though the causes those two governments stood for were.

Do mercenaries care about what side they fight for if they make enough money?

No doubt some do and some don’t, but how does that address the question?

If you think a mercenary is a good guy ,will he fight for a dictator like in Libya. If so ,is he a bad guy now. Or is he a good guy fighting for a bad cause but being well paid.

If you believe that one’s most meaningful moral action is on behalf of one’s own society - ie, something tangibly real, not just an abstract ideal - then I think sure, the well adjusted, good neighbor, helpful and productive member of society would fight for whatever the fuck that society told him to do and dismiss “higher” ethical concerns as ultimately selfish.

I’m not entirely comfortable with this, however.

I don’t think most people think paragon of virtue when they think mercenary. It’s not a word with good connotations.

No, because *a person *can fight for the unseen cause. Not their cause, but our cause. At this point, you’re probably wondering what I’m writing about here – I mean, the good cause is on the right side of history and the evil cause is on the wrong side of history. So the unseen cause… :eek:

…the question is: Are you looking at the present from the past or are you looking at the present from the future? Past, present, and future. Past (evil causes) and future (good causes). Optimism, riiiight? :dubious:

If those causes were understood, I would argue so. I think “evil” is the problematic word here; “good” can imply anything from saintly to merely decent, while “evil” tends to mean only the most unpleasant of acts, rather than simple nastiness. If we’re talking about moral rightness vs. moral badness, then I don’t see any reason not to say those drafted or signed up for the WWII-era German Army or the Confederate Army were bad.

That doesn’t mean that their entire character can be understood through that. That, in every way, they are a bad person, doing bad deeds. But it is an absolute within that act. A good doesn’t outweigh a bad; they coexist. Any person, understanding an bad cause, who fights for it, is bad.

Actually, as with most other countries of the time, the general population couldn’t afford international travel … only the upper few percent, and those that stayed did not have the balls to leave until the shit really hit the fan. Look how many jews stayed on the grounds that they were german for a dozen generations and it would never happen to them … Those that had the balls to jump and run did, those that didn’t died.