As you’ve often mentioned, a predominant theme of Pokemon is that humans and Pokemon both prosper by working together and treating each other with respect and friendship. It’s not only the ethos of most inhabitants of the world, but built into the metaphysics of the game itself (friendship evolution, etc). Why is it that (most of) the evil teams seem so convinced that it’s better to treat mons like tools or slaves instead, when their ideology is demonstrably wrong? Obviously, it shows that the evil people are, in fact, evil, but Team Rocket, who cares solely about money, should at least be able to crunch the numbers and see which technique is more profitable in the long run. Plus, who’s on the buying end of these smuggling rings? Do you think something else is going on? Either something implied or an unintentional interpretation?
I think what we have to end up saying is that the Pokémon world is actually more ideologically conflicted than is immediately obvious from most of the general atmosphere of the games and anime. The whole love-happiness-and-friendship vibe that we usually get may not have been the standard view of Pokémon training for very long, and it may not be the only path to greatness. Look at Agatha in Red and Blue, with her cynical belief that Pokémon are meant for fighting and that Professor Oak is wasting his time trying to understand them. Look at how persuasive Team Plasma managed to be in Black and White, when they tried to convince people that Pokémon were basically worse off with humans. For that matter, look at the regions from the Ranger games, where they don’t reject friendship with Pokémon at all, but have completely different ideas about how it should work. And look, most importantly, at Colress’ research in Black and White 2 – he doesn’t know whether our way or Ghetsis’ way will ultimately produce stronger Pokémon, and is willing to risk everything to find out. We ultimately win, but that doesn’t mean the answer was ever obvious. And you can always treat your own Pokémon as friends and allies, making them as strong as you can, while treating other Pokémon as slaves and tools, extracting a little value from them with minimum effort. You could even teach your own Pokémon to see it the same way. Hypocritical? Sure. But no one ever said evil has to be consistent.