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Does the end justify the means?

The end justifies the means: an excellent excuse to justify the use of amoral and violent methods in favor of a good and noble goal. Or not? Are we really sure that an honest conclusion legitimizes every road taken to reach it, including those that presuppose a great deal of evil?

After arriving at a conclusion following an argument, communication is a very important moment, and therefore the implementation of the discovery. In fact, if it were not communicated to the world, that improvement so essential for the overall progress of humanity could not take place, and it would remain the prerogative of those few people who came to us, dying with them. However, this moment can be long and difficult because, however correct and perfect the conclusion, convincing everyone else of this requires a lot of time and patience, so that anyone can confront each other, raise their objections and clarify their doubts to get complete knowledge of it. It is not uncommon, therefore, for someone to look for an easier and faster way to communicate what they have discovered.

One of the methods, which especially political and powerful have resorted to throughout history, is, for example, propaganda: it consists in fact of a set of actions aimed at advertising and promoting the intentions of those who implement them, providing intuitive images which, at first glance, persuade those who observe them to behave in a certain way. If, for example, for a state the right thing seemed to go to war, but needed soldiers to increase the ranks of the army in the shortest possible time, the city was covered with posters that, thanks to their strong impact, induced the men to enlist. Nonetheless, these alternative methods are not always adequate, on the contrary: practically always we fall back on violence, that is, on imposing on the recipients an idea, without them really understanding why it is right.

At this point the question arises: is it appropriate, to speed up the implementation of the idea, to fall back on violent methods? That is, to use an expression attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli: does the end justify the means? At first glance, this question could be answered in the affirmative: who cares about the way you convey an idea if it is right and can improve people’s lives? However, if you think about it, when someone is forced to understand something they have not understood, they will struggle to see that something as good and right: they will be obliged to perform actions for a cause they do not understand and, precisely for this reason, as soon as they are circumstances will be appropriate, he will find a way to avoid doing it and he will also condition other people who are in his situation, thus giving rise to a rebellion.

Precisely for this reason history is a continuous succession of revolutions that lead to the destruction of entire states and the death of millions of men. In fact, by definition, a revolution is a set of actions that lead to a radical change: we therefore start from a situation of public discontent, in which we talk about how it could improve society so that everyone can live more conveniently. This situation soon results in a rebellion, in a series of battles in which we try to impose on others the much desired situation. However, not everyone sees a positive conclusion following a war; the condition in which many live in the end has been imposed on them, therefore they dream of a better situation, sometimes more similar to the initial one, and therefore they will find themselves back to the starting point: the “victims” will look for a way to put into practice the situation they desire and, most of the time, this will presuppose the use of violence.

This is the case with the great revolutions of history, such as the American and the French ones, but it is also the case with the great wars, such as the First and Second World Wars. These violent proceedings, however, are not only typical of the great revolutions or great events that dot the history: they are also widely used in everyday life. This happens so often that the phrase the end justifies the means in these times is considered as a proverb or a saying. In fact, very often people do not care how they achieve their goal, nor that those around them understand the reasons why they do this: for the most part this happens because they evade the comparison, giving for certain that the their goal is right even when it really isn’t.

Here is the answer to the initial question: the end cannot justify the means, because the end is nothing but the means and the means are nothing but the end. Therefore, the best choice when it comes to sharing and putting into practice a change that interests other people is that of confronting them: in fact through this process we can be sure that the final result will be good and that everyone fully understands it.

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