It slumbers in all of us, hopefully jailed under layers of civilisation.
The beast waits down there in the dark regions of human nature, beneath good and evil.
Sometimes you feel a hint of its breath in a contagious bad disposition, those days when people cannot see each other.
Good people loathe the beast and would not let it loose; bad ones long secretly to do to others what they hate to be done unto them but, in normal times, hide this drive for fear of punishment.
The surge of subhuman barbarism through the veneer of civilisation is beyond any real need or urgent cause; it is harm for harm's sake. This is not the mere hostile disposition or the drive we all have, to lash out, to defend or to take revenge in response to something or someone abusing us; it is the unprovoked intention to do what one knows to be evil.
To persecute, to generate fear, the pleasure to hit, to hurt, to torture, the need and enjoyment to bend, to make people do things, to turn them into things, to rape, to kill or at least to bully, to terrorise, to humiliate, to force, to cripple, to dispossess, to plunder, have no religion, race or ideology; this torment of humanity is a fact, biology, omnipresent, normal; normal for the beast, beastly for Man. I believe that no one can be held guilty for being born an animal, with a beast inside, but we are responsible for what we do with it.
Any serious crisis, a crash, penury or danger is an occasion for civilisation to lapse, a pretext for the wicked to hit and for good people to become a horde. Mostly, it is a shameful irrational incident, or an individual crime; but sometimes, when some doctrine gives a reason and a flag of purpose to ruthless leaders, evil turns banal  and becomes everyday life.
Alas, the beast does not need catastrophe to awaken; human mind and pen and action can be more devastating than the pestilence, the flood, the fire and the quake.
I asked myself what is bringing out the beast in people - evil ideas or wicked leaders? On reflection, probably both; definitely, wrong ideas mislead and bad people use them.
But I also find that bad people do not need bad ideas; they have ways to corrupt and alter any idea, particularly the great ones, to serve their inclinations.
From time to time, reckless thinkers, geniuses without wisdom feed the beast; following them, enthusiastic doctrine makers would distort Truth, Justice, Equality, Freedom, Economy, Democracy, Spirit, God, Nature, Beauty, anything meant to elevate humanity to a better life, into ready-to-use justifications for oppression.
With bad faith or short-sighted intelligence you can work the opposite from anything. Strangely, the most sacred ideas of humanity seem easiest to deprave into radical exaggeration or perverse consequences, maybe because they are so pure, so naive, so abstract, so otherworldly... so inhuman.
The visionaries who create our ideals do not seem to know how to make them foolproof; the future giants will have to learn the practical art of protecting their vision from the shapeless pygmies walking in the mist  and the scoundrels ready to corrupt them. Maybe the great ideas need to be created with strict usage instructions, an expiry date and a self renewal mechanism that would keep them wise.
What intrigues me is how to know when an idea is still a good one and when it tips into a pretext for evil to take over.
I do not know; at this time I think that the perversion comes in the application. False prophets make angels fall; they manage to twist the ideals meant to serve man into perverse simplifications and universal remedies finally serving something else, divine or political; those abstracted ideas are taken over by unscrupulous leaders who put them in quick and dirty practice. They interpret and apply anything with such methods and means that will, without fail, rouse envy, hate, unfreedom, violence and misery in some new version. They pave the road to heaven in such ways that it ends up in hell. As the leaders are charismatic the masses are charmed and the contagious movement lures them into dark times.
But before doing all the harm, the beast comes insidiously, disguised. There is always a new generation of suckers to fall for it. It starts beautiful, young, full of passion. The seducers seem beyond suspicion, some of them may be even unaware of what they do; the solutions are twisted but they address real problems of humanity. This makes them important. The thinkers and dreamers who conceive them have clean hands and seemingly pure intentions. This makes them credible. The new leaders know how to play on deep desires and fears. This makes them convincing. The monster comes from honourable parents and often starts as a lively, charming baby full of noble promise, born against obvious injustice and ills; who could speak against it?
It is human to be conquered by a new self-fulfilling idea whose time seems to have come . We need hope. The best of us honest people respect the noble vision, the ambitious grab the new tool to conquer power, pure-hearted idealists rush to embrace the dream with love and expectation, the discontent rally the new flag, selfless heroes stake and sacrifice their life to let it win. Good people who do not seem to learn from history come to trust and join the movement to build the finally fair, good, beautiful, happy world, the panacea prophets always claim to build; you may be one of the fans. My parents believed in such a beautiful one-stop dream in their youth.
Then, comes the beast. Adult, showing its real face, always the same. Time to pay for blindness.
You can see that the beast is at work again in the dark sway which on pretext of whatever at hand will make your life hell; it will start with growing abuse, nagging, irritating bureaucracy and control, or, why not, disorder and insecurity, getting people in the street more and more irritated. It will flood you with interdictions, taxes, hypocrisy, public lies – a climate of discord and a desire for something drastic to end all this.
Soon the beast will get organised: it will censor what you do, then the words you say, what you have, what you think and finally what you are.
It all started with distant shouts, then other people were hurt, not you; now it ends up with hands on your body.
The victorious beast will brand persons with degrading labels, reject and exclude them, turn them into numbers of less human others and time given it will enslave or kill, thousands or millions, for a word, a belief, for a colour or for their birth, for what they do or do not do, for what they are or they are not.
With enough time to grow and to settle, the beast will give you a new world order, a kingdom of Khattam-Shud, a necessary way of life, yet another grey empire of wretched cogs where everything that is not forbidden is mandatory.
Whenever it sets firm foot in a land, the beast sweeps a generation or two into the garbage-can of History; the good and the bad, end up all the same, in ruin. All this, for nothing...
Luckily, the beast dies out by itself, historically speaking; it collapses when it consumed just too many lives and most of the material and moral resources of the nations infected, like fires left without wood to burn.
Another age of the Beast and its almost inevitable war will be a sinister time to survive... if you do. In the best case this means for you decades of life if not your generation and even your children wasted, lies, betrayal, cowardice, guilt and wickedness, amidst fear, misery and indignity - you will be ashamed for having been there and suspect for having survived... if you fell by luck on the favourable side of the gun.
There were several ages of the beast in our short past and there will be new ones, this is a promise! From time to time the beast finds opportunity to surface and rule. The progress of humanity gives birth to such times, once in a while and again. If you think the time of beast is over, think again! Open your eyes!
It is of course easy to name the beast of the past, the examples are notorious and generally agreed; yes, the past wars were aimless bloodshed; to sacrifice people is abomination, barbarian invasions are savage, slavery is wrong, inquisition is evil, crusades are fanaticism, witch-hunts are a shame for civilisation, burning people is atrocity, fascism is murderous, communism criminal. Exterminating nations is a crime against humanity. Tamerlane, Stalin, Hitler, Pol-pot, a chaplet of similar monstrous nobodies that history may want to forget, are easy to judge in retrospect; but once, normal people were seduced by their vision and did not see the writing on the wall. The victims did not move out of the way of the crushing. We keep wondering why so many people were so thoughtless. They were all convinced that it, the rule of the beast, cannot happen here...
The real challenge is to discern and name the beast not of the past but of the future.
There isn't much you can do when you meet evil already spread; at best you disguise yourself and try to live on, like a bug playing dead. Or maybe you chose to be a martyr.
If you discern the beast early enough, you may still act, with prudence, against its growth. Opposing evil is an art of war. You have a chance to use against it all the means of hostile criticism. Maybe you can cause the beast to expose its fangs prematurely, soon enough for a majority to be repulsed; maybe you can vote against it; or you can support - with moderate illusions - the forces working against it; at least you will not feed the beast, nor serve it or sacrifice your youth for its lie. If nothing works and you see the signs of the beast coming to power, you could move far away and let the wheels of history turn without you.
How then to cast the horoscope of the beast when still a baby and to make the good people see the monster that will be, in a young, healthy "new idea"?
Let me try to offer a provisional checklist of signs that reveal future evil. I will not give examples; I observed that a collection of examples is a stopper for the critical thinking – passion flares up, positions are taken and thinking stops drowned in dispute. I only invite you to consider the signs, to improve them, to complete them and later to keep them in mind when you look at this or that solution offered or movement opening its arms to you.
The signs of the beast:
• The one way ahead. The first sign of the beast is when, again, someone sees the light and finds the one true cause of all evil and also the one solution to save humanity from it. The beast is reality made simple; the last peril is the ultimate danger, doom is imminent, not joining the one final solution brings the end of the world.
When you hear this - yet another end of the world prophecy by a new saviour with a mission to save the world, armed with a silver bullet - have no doubt, darkness is following the march.
• Aversion towards humanity is the second ingredient sign of what will be done to people - the belief that humankind is bad for some reason and society decadent or declining: man deserves despise, is born in sin, stupid, weak and selfish, destructive, a nuisance, cause of all ills, guilty of something, whatever that something may occasionally be;
Accordingly, the individual and the crowd cannot be trusted to be free, it must be disciplined, surveiled, controlled and punished; man must be forced to behave.
• Ideas will create reality; the higher cause, is more important than individual life and freedom, the whole superior to its parts; future has precedence on present and the common good is “in the name of the people” above mere happiness of one or other. Ideas do not serve people, people serve ideas.
People not being important, ends excuse means. In this light, collateral damage is normal, sacrifice and martyrs are justified to prove the worth of the cause; people are expendable means not ends. For the later good you must live worse now. What counts is history, not biography. The world is seen from the abstract point of view of the Cause not from the point of view of persons. Local compassion, happiness now, is luxury. As the individual can only have power in the collective, individualism is bad; all people must be laminated equal.
• It's us and them; belonging is defined by rejection. The beast needs somebody to reject, an enemy, an outsider, a sinister conspiracy theory to unite the rejecting flock.
Scapegoats are required, or enemies, at least some excluded people. Whoever is not with us is against us! A witch-hunt will do. Different is guilty, ignorant, inferior. Observe yourself whenever you allow such enthusiastic competitive segregation; it starts with a small step but goes very far.
• Allergy to any other point of view. The followers of vision do not examine, or learn, they believe and propagate.
The beast, even young, cannot suffer contradiction. It has no doubt. Truth is one, it's our truth of course, with one voice and no dissidence suffered. No need to explain and convince by arguments, it is sufficient to affirm the force of the “obvious” the force of “reality”. You can recognise the formula: "Do you believe in...?" Believe, not think. Anything diverging from the right message is bad, mistaken, false, stupid and mad. Dialogue with the people under the spell of the beast is a dialogue of the deaf. The believers react to opposing views with irritation, anger, violence. They have no tolerance for dissenters, who are punished for causing the irritation. If you try to advance that diversity is good, that we discuss to learn and we do not need to always agree you will look as a Martian.
• Appeal to the low emotions. The rousers of the beast wave grand ideals but it happens that they express the lowest fears and desires of a crowd and appeal to them.
Whatever their name and preferred subject, the three parties, the party of envy, the party of hate and the party of greed (impartial in the middle), all excite some form of the old war of all against all  from before the axial times when the sages came with the simple wise idea that you shall not do to another what you hate to be done unto you. They play on fear, envy, greed, distrust and hate. They kindle intolerance, indifference, rejection and fanaticism. All this, to build a happy future, of course.
• The no-plan plan. What is promised is a way, not a construction. The plan is to undo the present. And to seize power.
In the balance between what is wrong today and what must be done, the criticism of the present is rich and justified but the concrete projects for the future are misty, missing or half-baked, there is no time for that, change is too urgent; any description of what total victory of the new vision means concretely is absent; that makes critique of the new idea quite difficult. If you ponder, the destination is otherworldly nowhere land.
I hope this imperfect, certainly incomplete list is useful. You may want to try it out and decide for yourself, your own signs to detect the rousers of the beast. Look at the crusaders of the day and compare with the signs. When you find signs I missed let me know, if I am still around. There is no need to believe me; the real weapon against the rousers of the beast is developing your own critical spirit.
Size-up the ravishing baby. When you want to judge an idea or a movement do not be deluded by how fresh, how justified or noble or inspired it looks now when it is just born and cherished by loving parents. Do not be deluded by your indignation against present badness and injustice. Test the infant by imagining carefully its mature total victory; amplify the idea as far as you can, imagine how it will look and what its consequences will be.
Behold the rousers of the Beast!
 The term banal is by Hannah Arendt, in a book to read: Arendt, Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem, A report on the banality of evil, Viking Press, New York, 1964)
 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet: Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man,/ But a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening....
Victor Hugo (1802-1885) : “On résiste a l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas a l’invasion des idées.” Victor Hugo, Histoire d’un Crime, Œuvres Complètes, Hetzel & cie, Paris, p.240 The famous oft-cited English paraphrase versions “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” (Also cited as “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”) commonly attributed to Hugo were never spoken or written by him. The literal English is: “One can resist the invasion of armies; one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.” cf Quote/counterquote site (with my thanks) http://www.quotecounterquote.com/search?q=Hugo
 Hobbes Thomas -Leviathan or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill, Andrew Crooke, London, 1651 chapter XXIII