The theory of the two demons (Spanish: Teoría de los dos demonios) is a rhetorical device used in Argentine political discourse to disqualify arguments that appear to morally equate violent political subversion with illegal repressive activities carried out by the state.
Since the end of National Reorganization Process and the Dirty War, when guerrilla groups (mainly left-wing Peronist Montoneros and the Trotskyist Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo or ERP) were persecuted by the armed forces (together with law enforcement agencies and paramilitary groups), this term has been in wide use by people mainly in human rights movements, the political left, and former guerrilla members and supporters. These people argue that a national state, even one controlled by a de facto government, cannot be compared to a guerrilla or other subversive group, the difference being precisely that the institutions of a national state are supposed to act within the confines of law, even when using violence to fight outlaws.
The term "theory of the two demons" is used pejoratively in left-wing discourse, and is attached to public personalities who plead to support "national reconciliation", sometimes appealing to the Christian idea of "forgive and forget", while (allegedly) having ulterior intentions. Since the image of the military has been tarnished by human rights abuses, economic chaos and the Falklands War defeat, accusers claim that advocates of right-wing repression must resort to reconciliation rhetoric, because a plain admission of support would disqualify them in the eyes of most Argentines.
Since very few people actually endorse this "theory", it can be said that, its usage in the political debate notwithstanding, it is actually a type of straw man argument.
Famous quotes containing the words theory of, demons and/or theory:
“In the theory of gender I began from zero. There is no masculine power or privilege I did not covet. But slowly, step by step, decade by decade, I was forced to acknowledge that even a woman of abnormal will cannot escape her hormonal identity.”
—Camille Paglia (b. 1947)
“Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.”
—Kent Nerburn (20th century)
“The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow and the men who lend.”
—Charles Lamb (17751834)