Sean Prophet on: man is innately evil…

UPDATE: Also see a debunking of Sean’s arguments at Division by Zero.

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I have already mentioned that the belief “man is innately evil” is a fundamental part of understanding people’s opinions about politics and society. Perhaps there are people who believe that what I describe is not really taken seriously by the indoctrinated. In fact, this is a belief which is taken very seriously by a lot of people. Certainly there can be no doubt that Christians take it very seriously. But statists take it equally seriously. One only has to look at all the “law and order” rhetoric to realize that.

That being said, I wanted to show you an example of a particularly indoctrinated individual. Sean Prophet, a former collaborator of mine, has recently argued with me on Facebook on the subject of human rights (he believes in “might makes right” and that people must be controlled). Here are some choice quotes from this discussion, written by Sean:

No, we can decide what is right democratically. We just have to be willing to back it up with force.

Before civilization, might used to make right. Since the Magna Carta, we began to agree on a broader definition of what was right, and used armies to enforce it. As time went on, the agreement of what was right evolved, and so the concept of “rights” evolved. All the while, it is backed up by threat of force. Slaves were … Read Morefreed because of superior force in the American North. It’s bald-faced obvious. Otherwise, the strongest and best-armed people in your neighborhood would come, rape you, and steal your stuff.

Again, Francois, not *reality*, like gravity or physics, but politically enforceable freedoms.

(which leads us to the strange conclusion that freedom, that which he strives for, is actually not real)

You pick your poison. Be a thug or hire thugs to do it for you. We call that government. It’s the lesser evil.

And now to the “man is innately evil” rants:

People spend about 98% of their time and energy trying to manipulate, negotiate, and get what they want from each other or society. Some fulfill their agreements and obligations while others scam the system in whatever way they can. You can either play the game or get played, whether by government or by others. Your place in the social hierarchy is determined by luck, skill and cunning. Or you can just deny such competition exists, and still end up on the losing end.

Brad, you guys have fun with your idealism. It would be “Lord of the Flies” in no time. I’d just love to watch a bunch of card carrying anarchists duke it out on a desert island. Last man standing wins. Hey, that’s a great idea for a reality show!

(apparently Sean thinks Anarchism is exactly like the Highlander movies- THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!)

People don’t cooperate. People won’t agree to relinquish their self-interest. They won’t stop trying to undermine each other.

People smile at each other while they are secretly working to underbid their associates, eat their friend’s lunch or bang their other friend’s wife.

(if you’re one of Sean’s friends, beware! HE MIGHT BE BANGING YOUR WIFE!!! seriously, how hilarious/sick is this?)

Still, Communism and Anarchy rely on almost identical erroneous assumptions about human nature. Even when people have the best of intentions, they still don’t end up cooperating. They do it until it is no longer in their interest. Then comes the knife in the back.

I’ve had the same arguments with believers. People love to insist on a basic goodness in human nature. Because the alternative scares the hell out of them. But what if it were true? I thought you always put truth over comfort?

I don’t think it’s dark. I think human nature can be harnessed with the proper structure, which accepts it for what it is and creates a system of checks and balances.

I’m amoral, I think you are amoral. I just don’t think you’ve been pushed to the limit yet. Put you in a cage match, and see what happens.

The state uses corrective force when people lose sight of their own longer term interests.

Thus ends the sad saga of Sean Prophet, liberal, Greenie, serial lunch thief.

10 thoughts on “Sean Prophet on: man is innately evil…

  1. Jonathan August 16, 2009 at 00:06

    A couple sort of apropos thoughts: Any anthropology that sets human nature in absolute terms of “innately good” or “innately evil” is bound to be flawed; I don’t think that human experience in any of the various forms of society that have existed and presently exist allow for such a reduction. Even the idea of a stable moral or otherwise category for humanity’s condition is problematic, and I don’t mean from an existentialist choose-your-own-ontology point of view.

    Rather, with particularly the Greek Fathers of Eastern Christianity, human nature is at root, in its origin, good, but in its present manifestation dis-ordered and fragmented, and struggles with a desire to dominate and destroy and control creation and even God, if possible. It is not- and the Eastern Church differs, in many of her theologians and generally in her popular understanding, with the West on this, where Calvin’s utter depravity is the apex of seeing man as totally evil. The East has always been, I’d rather not say optimistic, but nuanced (leading to accusations of “Semi-Pelagianism” from the West). Of course, Orthodox Christian anthropology is more complicated than how I’ve described it, but that’s rather the point- if human nature is absolutized, it’s absolutized in the possibility and eschatological reality of humanity in Christ, which is endlessly hopeful.

    I’m not entirely sure what bearing this has on political thought and action; I suspect that any anthropology can be pressed into the service of a destructive ideology, particularly if said ideology seeks to absolutize human nature within the ideology- ie only the ideology can fully realize humanity. You can believe in the absolute goodness of human nature but still do quite terrible things in the name of liberating or realizing that innate goodness- which, whether you think it the State or Religion or Capital or whatever holding it back, obviously needs some sort of liberation or manifestation. And everyone- the Orthodox Churches, Western Churches, Communists, Anarchists, Capitalists, etc., have been guilty of this.

    That said, I do think you’re right that a more positive or at least more hopeful anthropology is, one, more accurate, and two, a viable path for social and political life. I think that for many people, assuming the necessity of control of other humans (preferably their scarier and unlikable neighbors, and not themselves, incidentally) leads them to see only the situations in which the brokenness and negative possibility of humanity is manifest. If you strive to view the world through a more hopeful lens, you see the manifestations of spontaneous order, of neighborly aid and love, of the beauty and goodness of your neighbor, and not the necessity of controlling or coercing him.

  2. alleee August 16, 2009 at 08:59

    If humanity is that bad and “needs harnessing,” how can we trust humanity to form a good government in the first place? How can that government be the lesser of two evils: independent thuggery or organized thuggery? Can you pluck total self-interested, “me-me-me” individuals out of a non-cooperating society and give them the power to force society to cooperate?

    And how can a scheming, all-for-me people democratically pick a “good” government?

    Seems like prison is too good for us. Reminds me of Christianity. But if one were raised in a totally controlled, charismatic-leader-run cult, I suppose it’s only natural to have such beliefs embedded in one’s brain.

  3. BlackSun August 16, 2009 at 19:23

    Francois, you’ve once again cherry picked the discussion to distort my position. Let’s start with the headline. “Man is innately evil.” I never said that–those are your words. I also never said “might makes right,” a typical straw man. It’s patently false and ridiculous where civilization is concerned. In pre-civilized times, it was true. Somehow, we got from there to a global village where we care about justice. Hmmm, wonder how that happened?

    The whole discussion was about the derivation of human rights, actually, which have increased over time. What I said was that the only “rights” which exist are those we create through structures. Before the Magna Carta, they weren’t even recognized. Before modern government, we had the divine right of kings, and subjects had no rights at all. I wasn’t arguing that human rights weren’t important, but rather they were carved out by humans and they are maintained by humans. Your straw man caricature of my position is one-dimensional, childish, and as blatantly dishonest as it gets.

    That’s what you do to *your* friends and “former collaborators.” The knife in the back I was talking about–there it is. (If you block my comment, it will only prove my point.) As for the adultery bit–fucking shame on you!!! Nearly a quarter of married couples experience infidelity, and I’m the bad guy for pointing it out! What bollocks. Marriage in the first place is a structure that helps most people stay faithful, but not all. Would people be more faithful without it?

    http://www.infidelity-etc.com/index.php/4

    Here’s what I really said: Altruism and competition coexist in an evolutionary sense. But good structure and incentives are what helps altruism win out. Pick up Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate.”

    I haven’t said anything to you that hasn’t been said more cogently in the power literature of Robert Greene, which I highly recommend if you really care to understand what drives people. As for sexual deception, the social intelligence that requires keeping track of up to 150 separate relationships (size of the average tribe) is what caused human brain growth to surpass all other animals. You can find out the science on that if you care to get through Matt Ridley’s “The Red Queen.” “Human”, by Michael Gazzaniga is another good resource.

    Your equation of my philosophy about human nature with how I might treat my friends is entirely predictable: the most ruthless and manipulative people always deny their power games exist. It’s part of the program, (“we don’t talk about Fight Club”) and Greene covers all of it. I am not the least bit concerned with your attempt at public shaming. Bring it. All you do is advertise the narrow intellectual echo chamber in which you operate. My reputation stands on its own.

    When you resort to such ad hominem attacks it means you’ve run clean out of rational arguments. On google, there’s a list of bloggers you’ve attacked in the same manner, further proving my point. Given your history of turning on people rather than engaging their arguments, I’m actually proud to join that group.

    Think about your mockery of “greenies.” What are they trying to do? Be sure the planet’s resources are maintained in such a way that ensures future generations have the same or better options we do. To cooperate to protect a commons. To preserve natural capital. To stop us from essentially stealing from our kids and grandkids. That’s not happening right now. Such “tragedies of the commons” are some of the strongest evidence backing up human ruthlessness. How does opposing “greenies” exactly support your idea of goodness? Think about why that makes you a rank hypocrite.

    We are good and we are also bad. We cooperate and we manipulate. That’s a paradox you would do well to wrap your head around. Government and other informal social structures are how we mediate those conflicting impulses.

    I think my view is more hopeful than yours. But that’s subjective, I’ll give you that. The anthropogical evidence I’m talking about is not. The only thing I’m “indoctrinated” by is science.

    So which would you like again? Truth or comfort?

    Sean Prophet

  4. Francois Tremblay August 17, 2009 at 03:14

    Sean, I seriously believe you are a lunatic who has no more grip on “truth” than I do at enjoying myself at a party. But I’m gonna let the readers be the judges of that.

    • a.s. October 20, 2010 at 11:38

      You two are just long winded. Give credit where credit is due. Wiser ancestors than yourself gave you all the rambling you have coming out of your writings. Come on….you two are just show offs! Typical male behavior…something us females know about…..what we’re always doing, laughing & talking in the background about the male behavior. Humans are just silly puppets of Nature. Till we damand freedom from that Nature….Anarchy has always been the way change is forced. U.S. of A’s foundation is ANARCHY….DUH…! Nerds!
      Damn Pilgrims NEVER had to come here. The Freedom they were searching for was the freedom of their minds from the religion that binded them, that’s what religion means – to bind. If it wasn’t for the strange phenomena of religion always cluttering minds, they would have stayed in their country happily, maybe with or without other problems or issues. Life’s full of tricks. That life is Nature. That Nature is the physics of one’s feeling, desirings, thoughts, heart, most of all concious awarness. We come into the world not concious, but working from levels of consciousness’s – un, sub, super & bodily…so much time writting what is already here from long ago when so much time can be used to really solve the issues…but the truth is most want to be home safe & comfortable at home or work avoiding the real challeng of answering to other’s angers around the world towards the U.S.Government & their own Governments who only are in power because they have The Guns & amunition. This IS what has really ruled the world SHARP TEETH, KNIVES, SWORDS, BOMBS, GUNS – Fear…..very Controling stuff!

  5. […] been called out today by former friend and colleague Francois Tremblay over a Facebook discussion (PDF) started […]

  6. […] will let you read the Facebook background on it here, and the subsequent  blog posts by both here, and here.  What I’d really like to respond to, however, are some things said by Sean in his […]

  7. […] reader recently lit up with a new post on the Black Sun Journal attacking (or defending against?) Francois Tremblay’s calling him out over a Facebook discussion. Now this should have normally been another instance of internet drama […]

  8. Amen Sigala May 16, 2010 at 09:47

    THERE ISNO GOOD GOVERNMENT! ALL GOVERNMENT IS DICTATORSHIP…! EVERYONE ON THIS PLANET INCLUDING THE ANIAL LIFE IS OUT OF THEIR MINDS. WAKE UP! THIS IS HELL NOT EARTH….! CRAZZZY PLACE…..GET FOR REAL! RE READ RE THINK RE LOOK..
    YOUR SEEING EVERYTHING WITH BLINDERS ! HUMANITY HAS POPULATED THIS PLANET LIKE RATS & ROACHES DO….WE’RE DISCUSTING & EVERYBODY HAS TO STOP HUMPING EACH OTHER IF THERE IS TOO EVER BE ANY PEACE ON THIS PLANET….DAMN ! STOP FUCKING……HEY I SEE THIS & STILL SMILE & LAUGH BECAUSE I LOVE & CARE ENOUGH TO LET GO OF THIS REDICOULOUS REALITY. BRINGING A CHILD/LIFE INTO THIS WORLD IS STUPID, UNINTELIGENT, JUST PLAIN DAMN DUMB…NOT SMART AT ALL….WE’RE ALL DIEING ONE DAY LETS LEAVE IT THAT WAY & STOP THE SUFFERING …STOP SELF SERVING ONE’S DEPRESSION BRING ING CUTE PEOPLE CALLED BABIES IN ORDER TO FILL ONE’S CONFUSSED EMPTY LIFE…..SNAP OUT CHILDREN DON’T WANT TO BE HERE…& I’M NOT PRO-CHOICE BUT YET ABORTION IS DONE BY NATURE/GOD EVERYDAY! IT’S CALLED MISCARRIAGE & STILL BIRTH…EWWW GOD’S NOT LOVE !
    HE’S AN ARROGANT TYRANICAL ASSHOLE…..

  9. Amen Sigala May 16, 2010 at 09:49

    OOPPPSS SORRY A LITTLE BIT OF TYPOS…

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