Morality runs the world. This is not a nebulous, highly conceptual, or even metaphorical proposition, but rather a plain fact, so obvious as to be close to axiomatic. People hold beliefs (and act on them) because they think that it’s in their best interest. No one believe anything that they see as detrimental. Even if they believe something that they see as undesirable, they do so because they think they benefit from such a belief in the long run (such as Christians who have been brainwashed to believe that religion is necessary for morality).
This last point is really the best illustration of how morality runs the world. People know very well that politicians are no better than anyone else, that politicians are liars, that politicians are corrupt, that politics is a pointless struggle that never accomplishes anything, that the state is inefficient, and that the state is a tool of the exploiter class. Most people believe all of these things to some degree, and yet they still firmly believe in the state and in democracy, the exact processes that cause all these problems! Why? Because they firmly believe that the state is necessary for morality. Nothing more, nothing less!
As for the people around me, their attitudes seemed strangest of all. They all disparaged politics. Their common saying, “Oh, that’s politics,” always pointed to something that in any other sphere of action they would call shabby and disreputable. But they never asked themselves why it was that in this one sphere of action alone they took shabby and disreputable conduct as a matter of course. It was all the more strange because these same people still somehow assumed that politics existed for the promotion of the highest social purposes. They assumed that the State’s primary purpose was to promote through appropriate institutions the general welfare of its members.
Albert Jay Nock
In the Western world, the Enlightenment values- of secular science, of taking down political power- have failed to leave their mark on history. Realist values are all but gone in our post-modern ways of thinking, where secular religions and theistic religions work together to fleece the masses.
Reading Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” must have felt like re-treading old paths during the Enlightenment, but nowadays it probably feels just as bizarre as reading a communication from another planet. Its realist sense of morality and emphasis on the happiness of the self must seem horrifying to a modern reader. Even Ayn Rand’s simpler and more basic book “Virtue of Selfishness” makes people shriek in fear. As Mal from Firefly would say, “what we have here is a situation.”
People live under the shadow of morality, but not its substance- and believe that this shadow is the most substantial tree there is. They believe that uttering strings of symbolic statements makes them meaningful moralists. Even so-called “ethicists” participate wholesale in the religio-political smokescreen, and very few of them can actually be trusted to be anything more than the advanced intellectual guard of the exploiter class.
Raised by the dominant religio-political systems, people firmly believe that “duty” and “altruism” are the highest forms of moral behaviour. That self-interest is evil (as if there was anything else), that materialism and greed are evil, and that only actions which do not benefit us are to be praised. That morality must be a struggle between individual desires and collectivist dogma, and that the most moral amongst us choose the dogma over themselves. Indeed, they constantly re-interpret moral action as the result of dogma, instead of individual decision based on individual values.
All of this is easily destroyed. In fact, I have disproved many of these points already in previous entries. I have not, however, directly addressed the idea of “altruism”, another moral chimera. Sometimes the axiom of self-interest is attacked on the basis that people sometimes take decisions that do not conform to their self-interest. This, of course, is absurd: nothing can contradict the law of causality.
Collectivists use the example of “parenting” constantly in order to try to justify their belief in altruism. To be told that they hold no value in their children should be extremely insulting to any self-respecting “parent”. Ascribing altruism is bigotry. But even if “parenting” did not conform to the self-interest of other individuals (which is false), it must at least conform to the self-interest of whoever is committing it. That is all that the axiom of self-interest tells us.
People believe that they are morally righteous because they have been brainwashed from an early age to believe that there is no fixed right and wrong, that everyone’s opinions are equally valid, that everyone’s opinions should be treated with respect, and that belief should not be questioned. Therefore they feel perfectly free to express their opinions without the natural restraint of acknowledging their ignorance.
The natural end result of such a premise is social warfare and submission to authority. Why? If everyone’s beliefs are equally valid, then there is no way to convince each other. If there is no way to convince each other, then social discourse must necessarily be in the form of a struggle. And some necessarily arbitrary authority must be acknowledged as the judge of that struggle. In the case of democracy, this authority is composed of the leaders of the state, which are voted upon. Anyone not already mired in democratic dogma can see that popularity is an arbitrary standard to determine a transcendent authority, and that ultimately, any standard would be arbitrary by definition. Democracy is used widely because it legitimizes the state better than any other method. That’s all.