“And what about Hitler’s boys?” Mr. Propter asked. “What about Mussolini’s boys? What about Stalin’s boys? Do you suppose they’re not just as brave, just as kind to one another, just as loyal to their cause and just as firmly convinced that it’s the cause of justice, truth, freedom, right and honour?” He looked as Pete inquiringly; but Pete said nothing. “The fact that people have a lot of virtues,” Mr. Propter went on, “doesn’t prove anything about the goodness of their actions. You can have all the virtues—that’s to say, all except the two that really matter, understanding and compassion—you can have all the others, I say, and be a thoroughly bad man. Indeed, you can’t be really bad unless you do have most of the virtues. Look at Milton’s Satan for example. Brave, strong, generous, loyal, prudent, temperate, self-sacrificing. And let’s give the dictators the credit that’s do to them; some of them are nearly as virtuous as Satan. Not quite, I admit, but nearly. That’s why they can achieve so much evil.
After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Aldous Huxley 1939