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Author Topic: Most evil people in history.  (Read 5424 times)
Cedric6014
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Most evil people in history.
« on: January 19, 2011, 11:36:50 pm »

I love Wikipedia. I’ve been reading up the history of the Americas about the time of European discovery and early colonisation. Upon reading about the many atrocities the Native Americans endured I thought it might be interesting to make a list of the “most evil people in the world”.

Such a list is full of pitfalls, I mean, what is the definition of evil? Is it how many people you are responsible for killing even if you are not personally involved yourself? If so then Mao Tse Tung would be top, even though he probably truly believed that his actions were for the good of China. Or is it attention to detail - taking pleasure in the torture of others such as Vlad the Impaler or Elizabeth Bathory, two sadistic Transylvanians.

And also, does insanity qualify as some sort of excuse? If so maybe you could excuse a number of Roman Emperors and hereditary monarchs.

Anyway here is my list of the top ten meanies from history (in order):

1. Hernan Cortez
2. Attila The Hun
3. Christopher Columbus
4. Tomas de Torquemada
5. Josef Stalin
6. Pol Pot
7. Vlad the Impaler
8. Nero
9. Oliver Cromwell
10. Adolf Hitler

The honourable mentions are too many to name but include: Julius Caesar, Idi Amin, Oliver Cromwell, Darth Vader, Pappa Doc Duvaille and any number of Popes.

But consider this: to what degree can evil be attributed more to a societal, political or cultural institution rather than individuals? Think of the Khmer Rouge, Spanish Inquisition, Iroquois (Five Nations), Third Reiche, witch burning in England, Structural adjustment economic policies, Hutus in Rwanda etc
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Dabir
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 12:03:30 am »

Well sure, you've got the ruler guys. Allow me to introduce you to Carl Panzram, the worst criminal in history. That's worst as in most depraved, monstrous and evil, rather than least successful. Least successful, he certainly was not. Or how about a dose from the good doctor, Harold Shipman, with uncountable murders to his name? If anything, Hitler might even be pushed off your list by a career criminal or two - he could never have done anything by himself, compared to these heartless chappies who went out and, intentionally and personally, killed their fellow man.
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 12:42:17 am »

or the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke_and_Hare burke and hare murderers
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Cedric6014
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 02:15:01 am »

This Carl guy does seem like a disagreeable fellow. He clearly falls into the category of those that are pathologically insane.

There are certainly many different ways of looking at it.

I guess I’ve favoured rulers because they’ve been in a position of power and have abused that power. The power they’ve had has also allowed them to inflict murder and torture on a larger scale. “Evil” being not just a tendency towards unnecessary cruelty, but also a desire to accrue power for purely selfish ends.

And I’ve also steered away people that could conceivably use insanity as an excuse. Hence no Caligula. Al those in my list have been methodical in their evil.

I’ve also put a lot of weight on those who have dehumanised who sections of society (races, ethnicities, religions etc). But no doubt that if Carl had his way he would have wiped out everyone!
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Death 999
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 03:51:47 pm »

Darth Vader? wtf?
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2011, 11:40:24 pm »

Darth Vader? wtf?

Yeah, shouldn't it be George Lucas, for completely ruining the Star Wars prequels? Tongue
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 11:29:31 am »

But consider this: to what degree can evil be attributed more to a societal, political or cultural institution rather than individuals?
Hey, don't forget about natural phenomena . . . like the Dark Side of the Force! Wink

Such a list is full of pitfalls, I mean, what is the definition of evil? Is it how many people you are responsible for killing even if you are not personally involved yourself?
If it's net lives lost, Stalin might not feature because the outcome of WW2 might have been very different without him. But I think he does belong on the list.

Also, did you consider Genghis Khan? I think empire building is justifiable if done with the greater good in mind, but he divided everything up between his sons. Wikipedia's Mongol Empire article lists some benefits though.
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2011, 08:07:45 pm »

As it seems that we are including fictional characters, I nominate the God of Christianity.
  • he would sentence anyone to eternal suffering for having the wrong belief (or in some denominations, for dying before you got to be baptised)
  • he sees all the suffering in the world (being all-knowing), and does nothing, even though he could solve it all without negative consequences (being all-powerful)

That has got to be more evil than any human has ever managed, by anyone's definition of evil.
(Though some humans may be evil enough to match his "minor" evils like ordering his chosen people to kill and rape the people who happened to be living in his "chosen land" in the book of Joshua.)
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2011, 09:05:55 pm »

Killed everyone on earth but, oh, 12 people? Yah.

Anywho, this is in some cases terribly subjective.

Compare:
"If Philip [II of Spain] possessed a single virtue it has eluded the conscientious research of the writer of these pages.  If there are vices--as possibly there are--from which he was exempt, it is because it is not permitted to human nature to attain perfection even in evil."
--John Lothrop Motley, _History of the United Netherlands_, 1868

to the Wikipedia entry on King Philip II of Spain. One can see where their difference of opinion arises, of course.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 09:08:32 pm by Death 999 » Logged
Cedric6014
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2011, 09:47:55 pm »

Also, did you consider Genghis Khan? I think empire building is justifiable if done with the greater good in mind, but he divided everything up between his sons. Wikipedia's Mongol Empire article lists some benefits though.

Yeah I did, but I decided that Ghengis Khan's motivation was born of protection of his homeland. Actually he was a little bit like the Ur-Quan/Kohr-Ah. They way to guarantee safety is to subjigate everyone else.

Actually this is just supposed to be actualy people, not fictional. I was just testing your attention to detail! Well done, you all passed.
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2011, 02:10:31 pm »

What the heck makes Stalin worse than Hitler???
I don't say Stalin was an angel, but Hitler did far worse things.
I particularly dislike those racism and ethnic cleanse things.
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Cedric6014
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2011, 08:50:32 pm »

What the heck makes Stalin worse than Hitler???
I don't say Stalin was an angel, but Hitler did far worse things.
I particularly dislike those racism ethnic cleanse things.

Hitler was vegetarian, which earns him a few points

But actually, you probably just need to Wikipedia Stalin. He killed up to 20 million if his own people during the second world war.

Hitler had some strange ideas about protecting the German race and was clearly a sandwich short of a picnic. Stalin was a calculating tyrant who took extreme measures to maintain power, including periodic purges of his own Communist party and generally executing anyone he thought would be a threat. Millions were tortured to death in gulags, executed, and died from ethnic cleaning policies.

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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 03:56:46 pm »

All of those descriptions of Stalin also apply to Hitler, which basically leaves us with the insanity defense. I don't think that helps against labeling 'evil'.

What convinces me that Hitler was worse is that a lot of (not all, but a lot) Stalin's evils were under the stress of a very real threat of invasion from the west. If Hitler hadn't gone in and begun ramping up, I'm reasonably confident that the CCCP would have been a lot more relaxed in its industrialization, which would have partially alleviated the conditions which led to the mass murders.

Stalin was willing to go there. Hitler went there just because he felt like it.
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2011, 08:41:50 pm »

All of those descriptions of Stalin also apply to Hitler, which basically leaves us with the insanity defense. I don't think that helps against labeling 'evil'.

What convinces me that Hitler was worse is that a lot of (not all, but a lot) Stalin's evils were under the stress of a very real threat of invasion from the west. If Hitler hadn't gone in and begun ramping up, I'm reasonably confident that the CCCP would have been a lot more relaxed in its industrialization, which would have partially alleviated the conditions which led to the mass murders.

Stalin was willing to go there. Hitler went there just because he felt like it.

Germany wasn't exactly a joyful land to live in either back then Wink. That's why hitler was so successful.
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Cedric6014
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Re: Most evil people in history.
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 09:33:37 pm »

Germany in the 30s was under its own stresses. It had been humiliated by the terms of  the Treaty of Versailles and was suffering economically. Hitler figured he could blame it on the Jews.

In western courts of law insanity is a defence against conviction of crime and is a mitigating factor in sentencing. I agree with that, and that would be the basis behind me placing Stalin above Hitler in the evil list.
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