[I'll definitely need to expand on these thoughts, but here's a quick and rough post on the villains of FiM.]
As I 've mentioned before, DGD regards the villains of MLP:FiM as pushovers compared to G1 antagonists. However, I've been wondering if the villains of FiM can be considered formidable threats from a different point of view, I mean, as threatening the heroes in a different manner than simply being satanically wicked both in look and act like Tirek. Since the main theme of FiM is friendship perhaps what Lauren Faust intended to do is have the villains try a new approach: fomenting internal conflict between the Mane 6 and indeed all of Equestria, instead of simply going around destroying everything and enslaving everypony.
|Trixie: master of BS|
Who is the greatest villain we've encountered so far in two seasons of MLP: FiM? Princess Luna? Well, she did threaten to stop the sun from rising on two occasions, but she only does so out of a misguided desire for love; she didn't exactly set out to destroy Equestria. Besides, as DGD pointed out to me, the most dastardly thing she does in the first two episodes is cut off one half of a dandy dragon's mustache. Gilda? She's a jerk. Trixie? Well, besides her "Great and Powerful" traveling show BS, she didn't exactly pose too much of a threat to peace. Oh, yeah, she can sometimes inspire overzealous fans, such as Snips and Snails, from inadvertently bringing on a Ursa Minor attack. Queen Chrysalis? Well, she did come close to taking over Equestria and emptying it out of all love. But let's face it; Chrysalis only made it that far due to Princess Luna choosing a bad time to oversleep.
|Discord: Enemy of friendship and sower of conflict|
Discord, on the other hoof, seems to be the biggest threat to the harmony of Equestria in "The Return of Harmony" episodes, for he seeks nothing more than to bring chaos, discord between the ponies. Instead of directly fighting the Mane 6, he turns the ponies against each other. The Elements of Harmony begin to break up before our very eyes, while Discord simply kicks back on a lawn chair watching the fireworks fly. Even Twilight, the element of friendship, briefly considers never seeing her friends again. Discord wants, in other words, the complete opposite of friendship, enmity, to prevail throughout the ponyland.
As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre tells us, for Aristotle (and his teacher Plato), the greatest evil than can befall any society, whether Athens or Equestria, is conflict:
Aristotle's belief in the unity of the virtues is one of the few parts of his moral philosophy which he inherits directly from Plato. As with Plato, the belief is one aspect of an hostility to and denial of conflict either within the life of the individual good man or in that of the good city. Both Plato and Aristotle treat conflict as an evil and Aristotle treats it as an eliminable evil. The virtues are all in harmony with each other and the harmony of individuals is reproduced in the harmony of the state. Civil war is the worst of evils. -- Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3rd ed., 157
I should add that Aristotle considers friendship to be one of most, if the not the most, important virtues for the harmony of society, for a society united in the pursuit of the common good. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Equestria, once free of Discord, fits the good society as envisioned by the Philosopher, assuming he could get past the whole talking horse thing. Or as the Ponysopher Twilight Sparkle tells us, "I'll tell you what we've learned Discord. We've learned that friendship isn't always easy. But there's no doubt it's worth fighting for."
|The harmonius society as it might appear to Plato and Aristotle|
|The harmonious society ponified|