Evil, Apparently, is Everywhere


Evil, apparently, is everywhere.

During a recent lunchtime discussion with an acquaintance, she raised a curious observation she'd heard or read somewhere: One common trait shared by those cultures most successful at carrying out capitalism is a belief in evil.

I wasn't sure then, nor am I now, whether I vouch for the validity of this observation (though I automatically began flipping through my mental annals to Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, which I read back in college sociology class). Admittedly I feel unqualified (and not particularly interested) to argue conclusively in debates that invoke terms as broad and unwieldy as 'evil' and 'capitalism'. But, if only because their breadth and unwieldiness give these terms an unmitigated power to swallow smaller and subtler concepts under their umbrella, there is a commonality between them. Capitalism—often referred to by its more polite pseudonym 'democracy'—is a catch-all for freedom to pursue profit, accepted as the implicit 'good' against which all political-economic alternatives (e.g., socialism, authoritarian fascism, feudalism) are identified beneath the 'evil' label.

Sensitive readers, do not tune me out and do not celebrate my perceived radicalism, for I am not criticizing capitalism here. (Believe me, I'm more eager to freely pursue profit than to live under the thumb of a lord of the manor.) Rather, I'm trying to describe the qualities of capitalism—or democracy—as a belief, a unifying system of thought that, by its nature, ejects whatever doesn't fit into the barren boondocks of its opposite. If you are not a capitalist (good), then you must be a communist (evil). If you do not support democracy (good), you must be an advocate of dictatorship (evil). These political examples mirror others with a more explicitly theological bent to their dogma. If you do not adhere to the moral dictates of fundamentalist Christianity (good), you are a sinner (evil). But, on the other hand, if you don't follow the laws of the Koran according to fundamentalist Islam (good), you are an infidel (evil). Who's good and who's evil, of course, depends on whom you ask.

Such beliefs fall under the rulership of Sagittarius, the truth-seeker of the zodiac who explores comprehensive systems of thought to follow in order to live a righteous life. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about this way of thinking. On the zodiac wheel, it exists in opposition to the Gemini approach to knowledge, a flirtatious dabbling in multiple ideas and opinions with a genuine appreciation of difference. At their extremes, Sagittarius is fervently totalitarian, while Gemini is noncommittally relativist.

The Sagittarian fervor of belief has grown deeper and more forceful during the long-term transit of Pluto, the lord of the underworld, through this sign (1995-2008). It's no wonder we are (as everyone on the airwaves seems to be saying) living through extremely polarized times, for unilateral Sagittarius possesses quite the potential forpolarizing groups with its 'you're either with us or against us' mentality. (Gemini, meanwhile, would more easily twiddle across both sides of the fence to maintain social connections with everyone.)

With Pluto in Sagittarius, the battle for philosophical and spiritual dominance has become fiercer and uglier, the subterranean cruelty and violence latent in our beliefs rising to the surface. After all, the only difference between 'terrorists' and 'people who politely disagree with us' is the murderous, fear-inspiring tactics used by the former. We, the warriors against terrorism, respond in turn with increased social controls (see also: US Patriot Act) and heavier displays of fire-power (see also: bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq). The bright-side promise of Pluto in Sag is the knowledge that from destruction comes transformation, from death rebirth, exemplified by the hope of democracy in Iraq or of greater intellectual debate and engaged criticism in the US.

Last Friday, Jupiter in Virgo squared Pluto, signifying an expansive flare-up in both the power of such belief systems and the potential for careful consideration of facts to critically unseat such power. In last week's writings, I mentioned how this aspect raises a crisis-point in our reflections on the worthiness of those in power. In contrast to Sagittarius's love of big ideas and philosophical unity, Virgo likes close attention to detail and practical logic that leads fastidiously from one step to the next without overarching themes other than reason itself. It's obvious, then, why these two signs cross each other in the hard 90-degree angle of a square.

As Jupiter has traveled through Virgo since last August, we have found hope and optimism through methodical fact-finding. Duty to due diligence, regardless of the values we may personally hold, has proven the best opportunity for good fortune—and the most inscrutable challenger to glory-filled ideology. Witness the past year's explosion of documentary film (Control Room, Super Size Me, The Corporation, Outfoxed, and the hardly-dogma-free granddaddy Fahrenheit 9/11) as a medium for questioning dominant ideologies with close-focus details, and you can see Jupiter in Virgo at work. All the while, our categories for logical interpretation of data are forced to grow—from black and white to black and white and orange and green—to include the new items we've learned. Our ability to process varied knowledge expands.

Consider this poignantly coinciding news story: Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher jailed twice for having repeated sexual encounters with her sixth-grade student Vili Fualaau, has finally been released after seven years, only to have her former 'victim' petition the court for permission to see her. The law which sent Letourneau to the slammer upholds our society's strong moral sanction against legal adults having sex with minors—it is a value most of us hold true, despite the fact that Fualaau was biologically mature enough to father two children with her at the time.

Yet, Letourneau served her sentence, and, though some fragment of belief may tug enough for us to question the 'rightness' of these two star-crossed lovers reuniting, now that Fualaau is 21, there is no legal reason they should be barred from contact. Theirs is a story I believe cuts to the heart of the Virgo-Sagittarius square: The factual details of age and time served have now changed, leading to a change in their legal situation, though the ethical ghost of past child 'abuse' (or is it abuse, if they have always been 'in love'?) still lingers. Where's the good and evil now?

With Mars moving into Virgo on Tuesday to join Mercury in this sign of rational analysis, we can expect more of our overt forward-moving energy to contain strong elements of this close attention to detail. The Virgo influence returns us to dutiful focus on work, following up the celebratory jubilance of Leo. However, we mustn't overlook Mercury having just turned retrograde for the remainder of month, during which time it will retreat back into Leo and scramble any practical assurances.

As we proceed, remember that too much detail also has its pitfalls. Keeping our nose too close to the numbers tend to obscure the motivations behind why we're bothering to work in the first place. And if one number is wrongly transcribed or one computer burps up a glitch, and these are likely happenings during a Merc-retro period, then we could lose our entire way.

For the next few weeks, we may continue to demystify evil or to chip away at the other big guys with bits of logic—the concentration of Virgo planets seems to call for it—but leave room for error and plan on corrections until Mercury goes direct Sep 2.