Machiavelli wrote THE PRINCE, a book regarded by many people as a map to show how to put that notion to work for their own benefit. It leads many to the question: “Why do good if you gain nothing from it, and can gain more from doing bad while maintaining the appearance of goodness?” Look to the Republican Party in America for all kinds of examples of this idea at work in multiple successful applications. Democrats apparently care too much about their reputations to adopt it for themselves, but, read the sign again, and think: about as many people hate Democrats as hate Republicans. Democrats act flabbergasted. They can’t figure out why, when Republicans are so obviously evil, voters are not flocking to the left side of the aisle.
Without a tested universal standard, good and evil are relative. They look at Republicans with Democrat eyes. They see ‘good works’ with Democrat eyes. They evaluate ‘good works’ with Democrat brains invoking Democrat standards. Republicans see them the same way but with Republican eyes and brains. That shows us that, with no input from science, and no tested universal standard to go with, ‘good works’ will remain a subjective topic for so long as those conditions persist.
We are a worldful of people, all individuals unplugged from each other and, so, forced by that circumstance to assess right and wrong—good works and bad works—by how everything affects ourselves in accordance with our world views. Most of us deviate from that because we have been influenced by beliefs (not all of them recognized as religious, but with the same effect) that pile values onto us from sources exterior to our own beings. Individual members of any political party will argue the small points with each other, but adopt enough of the core values to claim one party as their own.
Machiavelli might be good, informative reading for those seeking elevated status however many people they might hurt, or seen as gross dirge and mischief by those offended to think people would behave like that.