I don’t think that most people are evil—I agree with Plato, they’re ignorant; if they knew what they really did, they would desist (perhaps even decease). Evil is real—though it is easy to toss around and somehow has little substance, as with “love” it’s a concept that is fragile and best alluded to. To call someone “evil” always seems impotent and it is hard to do unless you have achieved a clarity-crystal conscience yourself. To be evil is to act against what is right in a conscious way: you have to know what you do is incorrect and do it anyway—whether for profit or for malicious enjoyment. Even most murderers, the gravest crime, are not evil—the average murderer is tedious, not a Highsmith-grade psycho mastermind. They kill because they lack impulse control; to murder is the short-termist solution to a problem.
Even sophisticated people are rarely evil—I had a look at a chapter by Engels the other day, and he didn’t strike me as “evil”; nor did he strike me, contra Nietzsche, as being envious or resentful (although, as with Marx, he was quite sarcastic). What struck me most was that he worshipped Marx: for Engels, Marx is the master who has explained all in life—his theory, thanks to Engels’s efforts, would even be reconciled with the latest developments in physics. So what was the problem with Engels? He was a staunch atheist materialist—yet he still needed to worship, so he worshipped the clever Jew Marx.
As with many words that have been hijacked in modernity—for example, “bigot”—the idea that most people are ignorant not evil has also been appropriated, so that wrongdoers just need to be “educated” from their ignorance. Ironically, this process will be conducted by people who don’t really think right and wrong exist. Yet just as there are genuine religious bigots, so too there are people who are ignorant not evil. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”