Tag Archive | subjective morality

We Value Things That Inherently Have No Value

Okay, so first of all–nothing inherently has value. I know I’ve talked about this many times before. We all have our own little system of values, and even though we agree on them in many cases, they’re still our values, and we assign them subjectively based on our own criteria and because of our own reasons. Of course, we lose sight of this, because they are our values–we hold them dearly, because we value our values. Because we value our values, we establish all kinds of ways of certifying our value systems as the One true Value System, and we have varying degrees of difficulty dealing with it when we come across other people who share our values.

For the purpose of this conversation, we have to go further into what “value” means, because most people think about it in economic terms. The value of a McDouble, or the value of a home. These are certainly types of value, and this type of value is one that we easily measure in dollars or some other currency. That’s right–currencies are merely units of measurement that are used to measure value. Many things go into this “economic valuation,” but it can all be summarized as a matter of need and want. Needs have practically infinite value, while wants have an enormous variability in their value, but are also boolean–one either wants things or not. What I mean by this is that–if a person’s needs are not met, then no want has any value. We’re not talking “I need a few hours of sleep” here. We’re talking “I need food to not die.” We lack the capacity to even want things when our needs are not being met. The man who is on the edge of starving to death has absolutely no desire in his heart that is not a need. The largest television, home, and Lamborghini in the world would not pique his interest if they cannot be used to acquire food. When needs are met, the boolean value of want is “true,” and we begin to place economic values–as measured in dollars, which is a representation of how much we want it.

That’s not going to be enough to say what I’m trying to say, is it?

It’s going to have to be, though, because I don’t have any desire to expand it further.

Moral values are another obvious example, though we tend to not think of them as subjective. This is that same knee-jerk response, though. Like if you devote a few years of your life to purchasing a Porsche, and someone comes along and says, “What a waste of time. That little car is so not worth all that.” The response is a knee-jerk one filled with anger as we recoil that someone would dare say that our values are incorrect. But, of course, they believe their value system is the One True Value System, too. We have the same reaction, of course, when people disagree with us on matters of morality. We can handle some minor disagreement, most of the time–homosexuality, marijuana, alcohol, and things like that. When you start saying that the moral maxim that “murder is wrong” is also subjective, though, that is when you get into the area where you’re really starting to piss people off.

One of the more insidious ways that we assign values to things is to call something “important” or “unimportant,” and this is the topic I want to really get into, because someone posted this earlier on Facebook:

There’s a lot more here than transphobia; there’s quite a lot here, and it’s why it captured my attention instead of just causing me to roll my eyes.

The first is an interesting question. One would assume that the 16-year-old who identifies as a 21-year-old has a fake ID to substantiate her identification as a 21-year-old. “Should” is a rather interesting word here, as it implies that there is a moral right and a moral wrong here–what we “should” do is the right thing; what we “shouldn’t” do is the wrong thing. A better question would be should a random bystander be able to tell another human being what they can and can’t do? Should a random bystander be able to ask someone who old they are and make the determination on that someone’s behalf on whether it is “right” or “wrong” for them to drink?

How amazing that we forget that. Should a 16-year-old be allowed to drink alcohol? I really don’t understand the question. “Who is asking?” would be my initial response. The girl’s parents? I’m not sure I agree that the girl’s parents should be able to make that determination for her, and I’m not sure they have any “right” to be able to tell another person what that person can and can’t do. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience parents are some of the worst people out there at making decisions for themselves, much less for their kids. A random bystander who seeks to use the state to force everyone under the age of 21 to not be allowed to drink? The answer there is “Certainly not.” I have no more right to dictate that 16 year olds can drink than such a person has to dictate that they can’t. If this is the speaker’s kid that we’re talking about, I will acquiesce that they can make the determination about whether their 16-year-old son or daughter “should” be allowed to drink. I won’t be happy about it, because that’s tyranny over that 16-year-old, but I’ll give them that ground for the sake of the argument.

Once the kid turns 18, though, assuming the kid moves out, who then is allowed to say what the 18 year old can and can’t do? So let’s up the age a bit. Should an 18-year-old who identifies as a 21-year-old be allowed to consume alcohol? Well, there are laws on the books that tell us that someone must not sell alcohol to someone under the age of 21, but this tells us nothing of should not. If law and morality were perfectly synchronized, there would be no law. That someone “must not” do something according to the law does not suggest that they “should not” do it, because “must not” is a matter of legality and “should not” is a matter of morality.

Whenever this topic comes up, I’m reminded of people who said that the guy who shot up the theater in Colorado couldn’t have really been a psychopath, because he clearly knew the difference between right and wrong. How did they come to this assessment? I’m not kidding: they stated this because he didn’t run stop signs on the way to the theater. This is how confused a lot of people are, and it’s something that is worth mentioning. Many people do believe that “must not” and “should not” are the same thing; many people believe that legality and morality are in perfect harmony and that if something is illegal then doing it is morally wrong.

So that the state forbids this 18-year-old from buying alcohol tells us nothing about whether or not the 18-year-old should be allowed to buy alcohol, much less anything about whether the 18-year-old should be allowed to consume alcohol she might not have purchased. Perhaps a 21-year-old boyfriend purchased it. Should she be allowed to sit in the comfort of her home and drink a few wine coolers? More importantly, should Random Bystander be allowed to dictate whether or not she is allowed to?

Yet even this isn’t the full extent of the confusion shown in this little diatribe.

Because what is age but a measurement of how much time one has spent on Earth? What value does it really have?

None.

Yet enormous importance is being placed in it; a person’s age is being given ridiculously high value and is being used to determine what that person “should” be allowed to do. I will admit that there is usually high correlation between age and maturity, but the real point of concern here is maturity, and not age. The question “Should a person of x age be allowed to consume alcohol?” is shooting at the wrong target–and is an attempt to dictate what other people can and can’t do on top of that. The only question that should matter is “Should a person of reasonable maturity be allowed to consume alcohol?”

And this is rife with problems, isn’t it? First, there is the obvious issue–we have no right to tell anyone else what they are and are not allowed to do, nor do we have the right to set the criteria which determines what they are and are not allowed to do, and nor do we have the right to delineate a bunch of secondary characteristics that indicate that “this person is mature” but “this person isn’t mature.” This is precisely my point: our fixation on age, and placing this importance in it, has grossly oversimplified the issue, to the point that the question itself is stupid–yet people are asking it in sincerity because they’re so confused.

I get it. We humans like our laws and moral maxims neat and tidy. It doesn’t matter that this means that a guy one day “should not” be allowed to consume alcohol because he is only 20 years and 364 days old. It doesn’t matter that the difference between a 20 year old and a 21 year old isn’t a year but is a single day, a single hour, a single minute. A person does not magically gain maturity, wisdom, and insight when they reach the threshold of 21 years old.

This mindset probably hearkens back to the days when we actually had rites of passage, but even then we usually weren’t so insane as to pick arbitrary and meaningless numbers. In most cases, a girl became a woman not on her 12th birthday but on her first period. In most cases, a boy became a man not on his 13th birthday but on the event of his first successful hunt. When we had these clear milestones that were supposed to help a person develop maturity and wisdom, they sort of made sense, even if the methods were often misguided and archaic, such as separating the “unclean girl” from all the villagers or making the man wear a sleeve filled with bullet ants. Or get plates attached to their lips, you know. That sort of thing.

If there was some sort of lead-up to this, some actual rites of passage that a person embarked upon and completed around their 18th birthday–not including the faux rite of passage that is high school graduation or the driver’s license, because there’s no suffering, no hardship, and no difficulty in any of those. I don’t mean to be harsh, but ease and comfort are not the ways through which we learn wisdom. Hardship, suffering, pain, and difficulty are the teachers of wisdom and maturity.

Rites of passage have become meaningless formalities. A man takes his son to a field where they carefully have planted corn through the last several months, and then they hide and wait in a tree for one of the deer that has been conditioned to find food there wanders up, at which point they shoot the poor animal and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. “Hunting!” they call it, but let’s be honest about it. It’s land fishing. It’s the equivalent of calling yourself a hunter because you laid out a cracker for three days in the same spot, and then placed the cracker on a mousetrap and killed a mouse. Yay! You did it! You big man, you!

The Sweet 16s, the Mexican thing that I don’t know how to spell–these are just formalities. They are Rights of passage, not rites of passage. They are unfailable. They are not tests; they are not trials. And so they are pointless, except as arbitrary milestones to make people feel good about themselves. And we all know this to be the case in modern western society. When was the last time you saw a 14 year old Jewish dude who had recently finished his Bar Mizvah actually treated like the “man” that it supposedly made him into? Never. Because it’s just a formality. It’s just empty words.

I’m not saying that we need to return to en sincera rites of passage. On some level, I think that we probably do need to, because… as I said, suffering is the teacher of wisdom and maturity. We don’t have a generation of immature crybabies playing with Play-Doh in the floor of college classrooms “traumatized” by the election results because they are filled with wisdom and maturity, after all. But, then again, that I value wisdom and maturity are subjective values, and there I go treating the valuation of wisdom and maturity as part of the One True Value System.

Anyway, the underlying assumption to the first question is that the 21-year-old “should” be allowed to consume alcohol, but that a 16-year-old “should not” be. The question would better be asked “Whether it’s a good idea for a 16-year-old to consume alcohol.” So let’s drop the “should” thing from it, because of the previous 2200 freaking words I wrote about it, and let’s ask whether it would be a good idea.

The only conceivably correct answer would be, “It depends.”

Is it a good idea for even a 21 year old to consume alcohol? Who the hell can say? That depends on a ton of factors. Is the 21 year old from a family with a history of alcoholism and drug abuse? Is she drinking to escape her problems? Is she going to have to drive later?

Or are we asking this question more generally? “More often than not, in any and all possible circumstances such a person might be in, is it a good idea for a 21 year old to drink alcohol?”

That’s a remarkably different question from what was initially asked–“Should a 16-year-old be allowed to consume alcohol if she identifies as a 21-year-old?” Let’s remember that we didn’t reach this more complex, more nuanced question accidentally; we reached it by picking apart assumptions and fallacies that weren’t true and weren’t applicable. That someone could ask this horribly simplified version with any amount of sincerity should scare us all–so much importance being placed on the absolutely meaningless age of a person. You might as well say that only people who have a cup size of B or more or who have a penis size of 5 inches or more should be allowed to drink alcohol–a person’s cup size and penis size have just about as much to do with maturity and wisdom as age does.

After all, correlation does not equal causation. The reason people generally mature as they age is that they suffer, experience pain, and experience hardship. That’s precisely what destroys “childhood innocence,” after all–and we all know this. And obviously, the loss of childhood innocence is the gain of maturity; it’s two ways of saying the same thing. “Gaining maturity” = “loss of childhood innocence” = “result of pain, suffering, and hardship”. That’s how we end up with freaking 22 year olds in college blowing bubbles and playing with Play-Doh. Immature–childishness–lack of pain and suffering, lack of trial by fire.

This is going to have to be Part 1 of a two part series.

Reconciling the NAP & “Reality”

There are three main threads through everything that I write:

  • A rejection of absolutist black & white thinking.
  • Strict adherence to the Non Aggression Principle, to the extent that punishment becomes off-limits in favor of forgiveness and prevention of future crimes.
  • What I now call Nietzscheanism*–that is: morality is a human construct that primarily exists to keep the strong from abusing the weak; it is a luxury of the middle class, one not allowed to the lower class and one that the upper class isn’t held to.

It’s immediately clear, from the second two bullets–the first is only mentioned because it simply is a common thread, but it’s not the point of today’s discussion–that there is a conflict.

Can there be a greater example of middle class morality than the NAP? In fact, I would say that the NAP is the shining bastion of middle class morality–fully swearing off and condemning all force, violence, and coercion and asking that everyone else do it. Obviously, this can only happen in a world where everyone compromises the middle class. This is the crux of anarcho-capitalism, and the reason I insist that Nietzsche would be an AnCap if he lived today, knowing what we know.

nietzscheGoodness, there’s just so much ground to cover to bring my ideology full circle. It’s always difficult to explain to people exactly what I advocate, because it is very much circular, and that makes it hard to pinpoint a beginning. Here, we’ve started from Nietzscheanism and objectivism, and that works, but only if there isn’t a deity. After all, if there is a deity giving some sort of meaning to our existence, then life does matter. So before I could really get anyone on board with Nietzscheanism, I have to get people on board with atheism–Nietzscheanism, after all, is nothing but Applied Atheism. But before I can get anyone on board with atheism, there is a whole lot of groundwork to lay, and it’s groundwork that I’m not going to attempt to lay, because atheism and theism are irrelevant to the larger point. I can be right or wrong about individual pieces regardless of the existence of a deity.

However, I would say that before I could attempt to convince someone that there isn’t a deity, I would have to convince them the value of reason over emotion since, by any measurement, faith is an emotion-based position. We will keep going back and back and back until we arrive right back at subjective value determinations, which lands us right back in the territory of Nietzsche and the Austrian economists. I actually made a few years ago a document–a flow chart, for the most part–where one ideology led to the next, and it was clear by the end of it, after I was able to connect Nietzscheanism back to subjective value determinations–because the essence of Nietzscheanism is that morals are subjective–that I had just created a giant web. I know I still have it somewhere, but I can’t be bothered to find it, and it’s not that important anyway.

Morality, Very Briefly

There is no such thing as “morally good” or “morally bad.” These are values that we prescribe to various acts based on the consequences of those acts, the motive behind those acts, and the circumstances around which that act was committed. This is virtually a tautology at this point, but I will take the time to explain it anyway.

Let’s say that I push you down, causing you to break your arm. I have assaulted you. Everyone would agree that I was morally wrong to do so.

However, let’s say that I push you out of the way of an oncoming train that, for whatever reason, you aren’t aware is coming, and I cause you to break your arm. Suddenly most people would call me a hero and say that I’d saved your life.

In both scenarios, I did exactly the same thing: I pushed you, you fell, and you broke your arm. However, in the first scenario I was just being an aggressive bitch. In the second, I was saving you from being hit by a train. Yet the act itself and the consequence of that act are the same in both scenarios: the act was that I pushed you; the consequence was that you broke your arm.

What changed? In reality, what changed were the imagined consequences of me not pushing you. See, morality, as Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality, arises as a result of imagination, that wonderful characteristic that homo sapien has but so few animals share. It is our ability to imagine that gives rise to morality. Without even realizing it, so gifted are we at doing this, we imagine hypothetical alternative scenarios where I did not push you, and we compare the likeliest result of those scenarios with the reality that transpired. Marvelous creatures, we humans! And, in this way, imagination is literally the cause of morality, as it is precisely what allows us to envision these alternative realities.

In the first example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted, and your arm is not broken. You go on about your day without a broken arm. By most criteria, that is certainly a better outcome for you, and since I am the reason you do not get to enjoy that superior outcome, it is determined in a fraction of a second that what I did was morally wrong. We do this innately; I’d almost say that we conceive these hypotheticals instantaneously, and the speed and proficiency are the reasons why we forget that morality is the result of imagination.

In the second example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted right up until a train plows into you and utterly destroys you. By most criteria, that is certainly an inferior outcome for you, and since I am the reason that you were spared that inferior outcome, it is determined, perhaps instantaneously, that what I did was morally good.

These value statements themselves, though, are built on a few assumptions:

  • Empathy: This person is generally like me, and I should do unto this person what I would like this person to do for me. In most cases, what I want is much the same as what this person wants.
  • My own preferences: I prefer to not be in pain. I prefer pleasure. I prefer happiness. I prefer to not be sad. I prefer to remain alive.

By combining our own personal preferences with an extension of them onto other people–the very essence of what “empathy” is–we arrive at a criteria by which we assess whether something was good or bad. It’s by no means a perfect system–how could it be, when we are imperfect creatures?

Whenever I think of empathy and the application of my preferences onto others, I recall the time in college that I was behind the desk unplugging my laptop because class was over. While back there, without even asking, I took it upon myself to unplug my neighbor’s laptop, because he was in the process of packing his backpack. It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that he’d like me to go ahead and unplug his while I was back there. Because I have all the social graces of Dexter, it didn’t occur to me at all to ask if he’d like me to do it; I simply did it. And I immediately learned that his laptop’s battery didn’t work, and that I did a cold shutdown on his laptop. Not a big deal, but something that has always stuck with me about assuming that our preferences automatically apply to others. They don’t. However, generally, they do. I mean, what are the odds that his laptop battery wouldn’t work at all? Under 95% of circumstances, the person would have said, “Oh, cool, thank you!” instead of “Oh, hold… What the hell? Did you unplug me?”

Nietzschean Morality

Nietzsche described good as “the will to power” and happiness as “having power.” From a strictly Darwinian perspective, he’s not wrong. He’s clearly not wrong; he can’t be wrong. However uncomfortable it makes us, he’s right. If our criteria is “survival of the species,” then the only thing that makes sense is to let the powerful do what they can. Do the powerful want to wipe out the weak? Turn them into sex slaves? Install governments throughout the world and use those governments to control the weak? Then they must be allowed to, under this perspective, because we do live in a universe that is trying to kill us, where only the strong survive. It’s a straight line from there to Eugenics, to forced breeding programs to breed the “most capable human.” It’s a sickening path.

Now, to be clear, Nietzsche most certainly did not go that far, and he did not advocate any of that. He was merely arguing that morality is a tool used by the weak to neuter the strong, creating three classes of people in the process: the middle class who were strong and obeyed the morality, the lower class who were weak and therefore didn’t have the luxury, and the upper class who were strong and rejected the morality.

The NAP

With all the above being true, we can see that the moral statement “force, violence, and coercion are unacceptable” is the epitome of Middle Class Morality. For one, this maxim is as close as we can get to a universally applicable morality. Is it true that absolutely no one wants force, violence, and coercion done to them? Certainly not. It’s no longer acceptable to say for some reason, but there are people out there who would genuinely like to be raped, for example. I’ve met a few, and their problem is always the same: they want to be raped without consenting to it, but giving someone permission to rape them is consenting to it, and the odds that a random stranger is going to rape them are not good. Beyond that, if they ran around clearly looking to be raped–wearing excessively revealing clothes and being unnecessarily sensual–it is passively consenting to it. I raise all this to make the point that they don’t want to consent to have it forced on them; they want it genuinely forced on them.

Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie once paid a hitman to kill her. She genuinely wanted someone to do violence to her, assuming it is true–and I don’t care whether or not it is, because there have been enough suicides by cop that it’s provable that some people genuinely want violence done to them. My own mother apparently sought out violent and coercive men. So obviously these things are not going to be universally applicable, because nothing is universally applicable to a species filled with individuals as varied and wild as we are.

Rights

In essence, all rights can be distilled to the following: we have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us unless we consent to it priorily. This statement is all-inclusive. Just as you have that right, as does everyone have that right. This means, then, that you do not have the right to use force, violence, and coercion against someone without their consent. The right to free speech, free religion, free trade, free employment, and free everything else–they all stem from this basic right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us. They are applications of this maxim to specific issues.

Are these inherent rights? Perhaps and perhaps not. It could be argued you have the right to attempt to stop someone from using force, violence, and coercion against you; in essence, it could be argued that you have the right to try to be strong, and, by being strong, subjugate the weak. It depends upon our subjective values–our criteria for determining morality. If we go with the Darwinian approach, then we arrive at this latter system of rights, where one has the right to do anything they can–this is an underground system of rights, the one that lives in the underbelly’s shadows in society, when certain behaviors are outlawed and black markets thrive.

Because that is, after all, the essence of the black market: a place where the forced middle class morality doesn’t apply because it happens in the shadows. The black market is generally created when the state outlaws something it has no business outlawing**, creating a new dichotomy of the strong and the weak, instead of the trifecta of those who can’t, those who do, and those who don’t. Since middle class morality ceases to apply to anyone, you’re left with only the strong and the weak–the victims and the aggressors.

It follows, then, that if outlawing things leads to the creation of a black market–which we know it does, from indisputable proof and countless examples from the drug war to abortions to ration stamps–that is differentiated from society by the fact that middle class morality doesn’t apply at all and we’re left only with the strong and the weak, then if we outlawed nothing, we would utterly eliminate this black market characterized specifically by the rule of the strong and Darwinian morality.

Application of the NAP Against Nietzscheanism

There are two things that must be done for the NAP to be realized, for middle class morality to be universally applicable–as much as it can be, at least. First, the lower class has to abolished and lifted up into the middle class. So let’s state this loudly and clearly:

No nation other than the United States has come close to eliminating its lower class.

This isn’t a bad thing. We look around the United States and, yes, we have a lower class still, but they aren’t really “lower class,” not in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t poor like the man in Ethiopia who throws out middle class morality to steal food for his family. By an overwhelming degree, the American poor abide middle class morality, though they have no qualms about stealing from the state. Seeing as the state is stealing from everyone, I don’t think it’s fair to condemn them for that one. Besides which, without the state and taxation, they wouldn’t be able to game the system to get “back” finger-quotes-wink-wink ten thousand dollars anyway.

Our “lower class” has electricity, clean water, running water, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, vehicles, iPhones, laptops, steroes, flatscreen TVs, cable/satellite, Internet connections… Our lower class is so high on the totem pole that they’d be considered upper middle class in most parts of the world. This is actually part of the problem, since our lower class, our “poor” have totally lost all perspective on how luxurious their lives are.

To clarify the phrasing, the goal is not to kill off the lower class, not by any means. That’s horrible. No, the goal is to lift up the lower class and bring them into the middle class. Yes, this creates a new middle class, because humans naturally form hierarchies, but none of that matters. The point is that the applicability of middle class morality must be extended to the lower class and, if it is, then it is also true that they are not generally facing the threat of starvation, which is the escape clause that gives them an out from middle class morality in the first place.

Secondly, the upper class must be made to abide middle class morality. Currently, they don’t. I couldn’t even begin to guess how much shit the upper class gets away with in the United States. I’m positive that a solid portion of them engage in child sex tourism and pedophile rings. I’m not referring to the Podesta leaks, but a lifetime of hearing whispers and accusations directed at the upper class. It all may be false, but, in most cases, where there is that much smoke there is usually a fire.

But beyond that, does the upper class get away with theft? Holy crap, absolutely. Not only do they take part in the state and steal from us directly while calling it taxation, but they also use the mechanism of the state to create things like intellectual property and eminent domain, utterly gutting our property rights in the process.

Does the upper class get away with murder? Again, holy crap, yes. The death toll of the 20th century was 160,000,000 from war alone as upper classes in various parts of the world put the lower class to use killing lower class members who were fighting for other upper class groups. They call it “war,” but it is murder.

It’s indisputable that the upper class doesn’t just reject middle class morality; they do so brazenly and openly, in full view of everyone else, and they get away with it by using carefully constructed euphemisms, deceit, and manipulation. There are countless people who will insist that taxes aren’t theft. Except… they are, by any definition of theft. And sending a group of armed people to go kill another group of armed people is unequivocally murder. We cannot allow euphemisms and a refusal to face the truth obscure these basic facts.

Combining

So yes, it is true that we are animals who need to be strong in order to survive, and that our species as a whole must embrace strength and shun weakness. This does not mean a lack of compassion, though, as I’ve explained elsewhere. See, we have mistaken “compassion” as being hardly anything more than getting down in the floor with someone and crying with them. That is fake sympathy; it is empty sympathy.

If you are a herd of gazelle [humans] and are trying to get away from lions [the universe that kills the weak], and you have a loved one who is injured [weak, for whatever reason], then you are doing no one but the lions a favor by laying down with your weak gazelle friend and crying with them. This is empty sympathy. This is virtue signaling. This is nihilistic.

True sympathy leads one to help the other gazelle get up, heal their injuries, become strong themselves, and flee the lion.

We absolutely must have compassion and must be guided to help the weak–it is why we have our middle class morality. It is as close as we can get to “objective morality,” after all. However, if our gazelle friend refuses to get up, if they instead embrace their injury and their victimization, refuse to try to heal, and refuse to try to escape the lion, then we must cut our losses and flee before the lion gets us, too. There is a line between sympathy and nihilism.

Based on observable cause and effect–since it is impossible to speculate too much into our hypothetical alternate realities, and since we lack omniscience and can never know exactly how anything would really have played out if we had acted differently–we know that leaving the gazelle to be eaten by the lion would be bad, and our application of empathy derived from our own personal preferences compels us to help the gazelle. We know with reasonable certainty that the lion would eat the gazelle, and that, if we did not help, we would bear a portion of the blame in that.

We should all be strong; we should all be middle class, with no one enshrined above [through the state] or below [through poverty] anyone else. Now, what is the mechanism that allows that to happen? What mechanism eliminates the state that allows the upper class to escape culpability for their moral violations? Anarchism. What mechanism has provably lifted up virtually the entire population into middle class territory, where the fear of starvation is exceedingly remote? Capitalism.

So how do we create this world of people abiding the NAP, of all people being strong and none being weak?

Anarcho-capitalism.

Boo-ya, bitches.

 

* Thanks to the overwhelming number of angst-ridden ultra-emo millennials who think nihilism means “life sucks and death is cool,” I’ve been left with no choice but to change the label, but that’s fine; Nietzsche wouldn’t have approved of “nihilism” as the label anyway. Of course, these people have never read a word of Nietzsche and don’t fully understand the philosophy, because:

nothing-mattersand they get lost on that second part: nothing matters. They don’t fully apply it, though, or they would realize that it doesn’t matter that nothing matters. That is completely and utterly meaningless.

** Anything they outlaw is something they have no business outlawing.

The “Voting is Immoral” Argument

A lot of voluntaryists and anarchists have enjoyed putting out the argument that voting is immoral and that one can’t call oneself an anarchist if one sucks on the pacifier of statism participates in the voting process. In fact, I’ve seen some surprisingly hostile statements from voluntaryists and anarchists about those of us who do not automatically agree. While hostility and aggression are certainly not the same thing, they are certainly cousins, and I think we should be skeptical of any anarchist or voluntaryist who so happily becomes hostile toward people who don’t agree with him/her.

If you vote, or support ANY politician, state, scribbles on paper or any other RELIGION, please get the FUCK OFF of my friends list. NOW.

That INCLUDES anyone with a fucking Gary Johnson endorsing avatar. GO FUCK YOURSELF, damn hypocrite aggressors.

You are NOT libertarians, not in the SLIGHTEST.

(EDIT:)
This also includes ANY welfare-whore, including ANYONE who works for stolen loot in the “public” sector.

Now, no one is saying this person doesn’t have the right to remove people from their friends list, or any of that other nonsense that people like to jump to. “But he has the right to remove anyone he wants!” Yeah, that’s irrelevant. I’m also not saying that this person has done anything wrong, much less done anyone an injury. I am only saying, “Look at the hostility in that.”

It contains a shitload of hostility: all caps eleven times. I understand that all caps often serves the role of bold on Facebook–though I tend to prefer two asterisks–but there is a bit too much of that here. “FUCK OFF… NOW” is also among the things said in all caps. “GO FUCK YOURSELF,” too. And then, in typical script, “…damn hypocrite aggressors.”

It’s fair to say that this person is angry. Why, though? Why is this person so angry? More specifically, what is this person so angry about?

Voting. He says it at the very beginning.

Now, to get to the real heart of the matter, it amazes me that a group of people who so readily accept the tenants of subjective morality and who typically reject the notion of objective morality would be so confused that they would point at any act and call it definitively immoral. If you support any politician, this guy considers you a “damn hypocrite aggressor.” If you engage in this act, you are immoral–that is the essence of the statement.

Except… that’s nonsense. We know that no act is moral or immoral by itself, and that it is always the circumstances surrounding an act and the motive behind it that determine whether an act was moral or immoral. To showcase this, I’ll share with you part of my book The Anvil, a brief flashback of a conversation between two druids:

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Being a Primal, she put all races and species on the same level and didn’t classify them as they did in Crinesti society. The Primals held everything in existence as equal with everything else in existence, and the only action that was truly a crime in the eyes of Primals was destroying something’s existence for no reason. Primal Law was entirely circumstantial, and each trial was done on a case-by-case basis; the druids held that the circumstances surrounding an action, and the motivations which led to the action, were infinitely more important than the action itself.

When she’d first joined the Coven of Wolves, Aradiant had disputed that notion and had openly questioned the druidic system of justice. But a druidess named Drusilia had clarified the position in a way that left it largely indisputable.

“Imagine that you are standing in a field,” Drusilia had said, “and that I am standing beside you. Suddenly, I push you over. You fall onto the wet ground and slip further, crash into a stone, and break your arm. Would you say that I had done you wrongly, that I had committed a crime? Would you say that I had assaulted you?”

“Yes,” Aradiant had answered.

“Now imagine that we are in that field again. A stampede of cows and bulls is barreling toward us and you, for whatever reason, are not aware of it. Or perhaps you are aware of it and you cannot move, paralyzed with fear. So I push you, you fall and break your arm, but you are out of the way of the stampede. Would you say that I had done you wrongly? Would you say that I had assaulted you?”

“No,” Aradiant had replied, “I would say that you had saved me.”

Drusilia had nodded. “Why? The action was exactly the same in both examples. In both cases, I pushed you, you fell, and you broke your arm. I acted in exactly the same way both times, and you faced the same consequences both times. Why is it assault in one instance but not assault in the other?”

“Because in the first you were doing it just to do it, and in the second you did it to help me.”

“Exactly,” Drusilia had nodded sagely. “In the first, my intention was just to commit the action itself: to push you. In the second, my intention was to help you. In the first, my motive was to bring you harm. In the second, my motive was to push you out of the way of harm. The exact same action took place in both examples, but in one I was wrong and in the other I was not. The only thing that changed between the examples were the circumstances—my reasoning, my intention, and my motive. That is why druidic law focuses on intention and motive and generally ignores the action itself.”

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It’s worth mentioning that this copy/paste came from the first draft, as this entire passage was removed from the final draft, so…

Anyway, stuff like that is the reason I called the first draft of the novel a “Handbook on Nihilism.” It was a veiled attempt to pull an Ayn Rand–to spread the message of nihilism (one could say objectivism, since nihilism is nothing more than a definition on the scope of emotions) in fiction form. I’m still okay with that, but it wouldn’t have made a good debut novel–and didn’t–so I scrapped the whole thing and rewrote it. Anyway.

No act is, in and of itself, moral or immoral. These are valuations made after the fact, based on the result of the act. We can’t say whether something was morally good or morally bad until we are looking at it in the rearview mirror and until all of its consequences–short-term and long-term–have come to fruition. Because we cannot even identify all of the consequences, it becomes impossible for us to say whether anything is good or bad. The classic example is Hitler and going back in time to kill him.

Almost all of us would agree that it is morally good to go back in time and kill Hitler before he could start the Holocaust–at the very least, we would agree that it isn’t morally wrong. Yet imagine that we returned to 2016 after killing Hitler and found that someone else, someone even more brilliant, had taken hold of Germany after Hitler’s death, and the result is that, by 2016, Nazism had conquered the globe and the Jews were utterly exterminated. Suddenly we would all agree that it was morally wrong to go back and kill Hitler, and that the only morally good thing to do would be to go back and make sure that Hitler lived.

It’s not just a thought experiment; it shows us the folly of our moral values. The best we can do is identify the consequences of an act and determine whether we think those consequences are good or bad. However, by what metric do we determine whether those consequences are good or bad? Perhaps we can fast forward to the year 2600 and find that humanity survives to populate the Milky Way Galaxy, only after we have killed Hitler and allowed the extermination of the Jews. Perhaps we find that, if we kill Hitler and allow the Holocaust, the Jews still exist in 2016, but because of complex causalities that no one can adequately explain, by the year 2600 the entire human species has gone extinct.

This all may sound a bit too theoretical. Good. That’s the point.

This is precisely what we do when we say that something is “morally good” or “morally bad.” We’re just so damned good and quick at imagining these hypotheticals that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. If someone says “I pushed a man out of the way of a moving car,” we immediately conjure up an alternate state of reality, where someone was hit by a car, and compare it to our own, where that consequence was prevented. Again, we don’t often realize when we’re doing this, because… we really are that good at it. This imagination is precisely why homo sapiens have a concept of morality, but other animals do not.

We see an action and its consequence, and we wonder what might have been. A cat is unlikely to even be able to connect the action and its consequence, much less to ponder the infinity of possible variations. I’ve watched my cats sit on the countertop and smack shit into the floor for no other reason than because it was sitting there, and then look at me in surprise when it fell into the floor. Their eyes almost scream, “Hey, I didn’t know that was going to happen.”

All of this is to say that, for the most part, voluntaryists and anarchists agree that no act is inherently moral or immoral, and that the consequences and circumstances of the act are what determines the valuation we ascribe to it–until we discuss voting, at which point, many people suggest that suddenly this one act is inherently immoral.

No, that’s nonsense.

It is not voting that is immoral. It is voting for someone who wants to do immoral things that is immoral. It is a false equivalence to say that “voting” is equivalent to “voting for someone who wants to do immoral things.” I’ll agree that there’s not much point in voting for someone who doesn’t wish to do immoral things, but that’s irrelevant. I’ll probably one day write about the reason that I do vote, and the reason that I’m going to vote for Darryl Perry and John McAfee, but it’s mostly a way of rebuking that oft-heard remark, “You can’t complain if you didn’t vote.”

We live in a society where you are granted one dollar to spend wherever you want. Most people choose to spend that dollar supporting someone who wants to do immoral things. Some of us–a very tiny percentage of us–choose to spend that dollar supporting someone who rebukes using that money to do immoral things. Criticize the people who support the notion of people doing immoral things, for sure. Have at it. But that’s not even remotely equivalent to spending that dollar at all.

votingAnd before the voluntaryists and anarchists get started–yes, they are precisely the same thing. Capitalism is simply voting with one’s wallet, thereby allowing an individual who has more wealth to cast more votes. We’ve discussed this before. The fact that society provides you with only one dollar to spend doesn’t change the nature of what we’re looking at–we’re looking at people who choose an action and who choose to spend their money voting for someone. That is what you are calling immoral, simply because the biggest percentage of people choose to spend that money voting for someone who will do immoral things. This is an obvious fallacy–a false equivalency–and no more should be said on the matter.

The act is not synonymous with the consequences simply because 99% of people commit the act with the intention of causing immoral consequences.

It’s like you’re arguing “Shooting a gun is wrong because 99.99% of people only shoot their guns to kill other people.” Assuming for a moment that these statistics are true, would it make “shooting a gun” morally wrong? Even if 99.99% of people only shot their guns with the intention of killing people, would the simple act of shooting a gun suddenly become morally wrong?

Of course not.

It would obviously be a false equivalency to say that “shooting a gun” is morally wrong because 99.99% of people only shoot their guns with the intention of hurting people. Even if we pump that number up to 99.9999999%–No, even if we pumped that number up to one hundred percent, shooting a gun would still not become, in and of itself, immoral.

The Foundations of Empathy

It’s very strange when people—usually religious people—talk about an Absolute Morality. The very idea is preposterous. There are many beliefs about Morality (all of them wrong, because they miss point), and not all of them deal with religion. Virtually all modern religions, however, operate under the belief that we human beings receive our “Moral Sense” from some god or another. If this was the case, then what our Moral Sense told us would never change.

But it has changed. After all, 300 years ago, burning witches at the stake was perfectly acceptable. Having 25 year old men marrying 13 year old girls was perfectly acceptable until about 130 years ago. Slavery was perfectly acceptable until about 200 years ago. 2,000 years ago, “Eye for an eye” was a perfectly acceptable moral standard in most parts of the world. My point isn’t that any of these ideas are inherently right or wrong; just that they have changed. And we all know it. Even though several years ago I challenged my Uncle, since he claimed to believe that his unchanging god had been just in ordering the Israelites to rape and murder non-believers, to go get a knife and come back and kill me, because I wouldn’t resist, he opted not to do so. Clearly, he understood—on some deep subconscious level—that what was acceptable then wasn’t the same as what is acceptable now. He would never admit it, of course, but there’s no sense in denying reality.

What Society deems as acceptable has changed over the course of human history; it has changed significantly. There’s no telling what we find acceptable today but future generations will look back and be disgusted by. There’s no telling what we allow today but which will be disgusting 200 years from now. It’s impossible to predict in what ways the zeitgeist will move when it comes to detail, but one thing is clear: society tends, for whatever reason, to become more tolerant of differences over time.

There are, really, two kinds of Morality. There is Social Morality and there is Individual Morality. Unless we lie to ourselves, the truth of the matter is that we will get away with anything which we can get away with. This is true of every human being—though many will deny it. There is a hidden force, however, which affects “what we can get away with” apart from any conditions inflicted by Society. After all, it’s nearly impossible to get away with murder—but even if you could get away with murder, and you knew for a fact that you would get away with it, would you murder someone? Almost certainly not. Society’s Laws will have no impact on your decision to forgo murder. Instead, “something else” will cause you to decide not to kill anyone.

That “something else” is the same force which causes our Laws to change as we become more tolerant: Empathy. Before slavery was contested, white people didn’t have any problem with slavery because they did not apply Empathy to their relationships with blacks; instead, they did not accept the fact that black people were more similar than different and that only the color of skin distinguished them. It was not evil that caused massive amounts of people to allow slavery; it was intolerance. This intolerance left them utterly unable to extend their Empathy to apply to their slaves. As they became more tolerant of the differences, their Empathy began to apply, and the idea of slavery became repulsive; finally, Society reflected this influx of Empathy and outlawed the institution.

While we can postulate any number of reasons for Individuals within a Society to become more tolerant of the differences which distinguish them, the ultimate cause is Familiarity. As Familiarity with different races, different people, different cultures, and different beliefs increases, it becomes clearer and clearer that they are, ultimately, People, just like everyone else. Society is becoming more tolerant of gays and lesbians because we are more familiar with them. Gays and lesbians began expressing their lifestyles in the open, thereby forcing Society to familiarize with them, and Society has responded to this Familiarity with Tolerance. The same is currently happening with Atheists in the United States; as atheists express their lifestyle in the open, thereby forcing Society to familiarize with them, Society is responding to the familiarity with Tolerance. While not very long ago, open Atheists were more likely to be attacked and killed than gays and lesbians, the situation has already changed so drastically in the United States that I hardly ever get any death threats any longer. That’s always the point of these Expressionist Movements: to express the lifestyle in question, to force Society to become familiar with that lifestyle, and this yields the result of Society becoming more tolerant of that lifestyle.

Morality, then, is nothing more than a reflection of what actions Society at large is willing to accept and tolerate. It doesn’t exist as a thing independent of Society; it is intimately tied to Society. The concept may be independent, but “what actions are moral and what actions are immoral” are entirely dependent on Society’s familiarity with—and therefore tolerance of—a variety of lifestyles.

And ultimately what guides the Morality is Empathy. Left unrestricted by the bigotry imposed by unfamiliarity, Empathy creates a Society of total tolerance. If a Society could instantly and completely accept any lifestyle, then Empathy would reign supreme. It’s important, then, to understand—since Empathy is the ultimate driving force behind “what is acceptable and what is not”—what exactly Empathy is.

Empathy is… narcissism.

Every single sentient being views the world through the being’s eyes. This is more than a literal truth; by the virtue of existence, any living being has a perspective limited to experiencing reality as that being. Everything we see, everything we taste, everything we touch, and everything we experience is a relation to us. We judge everything by how it affects us and by what impact it leaves on us. We judge food by how it tastes, looks, and smells to us; we judge music by how it sounds to us; we judge friends by how they impact and modify other experiences, but also in how they impact us directly; we judge everything in terms of relation to ourselves.

These are obvious truths. This the nature of Subjective Experience, and that is actually a redundant term, since Experience is, by definition, Subjective. Everything within our lives and our lives as a whole are subjective experiences; they never can be objective because we are subjects. We are not hive minds; we are not omnipresent patterns of energy permeating through the entire universe feeling all at once from limitless perspectives. We are beings, and this means our experience will be subjective.

When you see a homeless man lying sick and hungry on the sidewalk, cold and shivering, thoroughly beaten around by life, you are affected. You are filled with pity, with remorse, with sympathy for this man, and these are all negative emotions. So when you later try to help the homeless man, you aren’t really doing it for his sake; you’re doing it to negate those negative emotions which he brought out in you and replace them with positive emotions. The reason you forgo murder is the same. You do not forgo murder because you think it’s wrong. You forgo murder because you anticipate that doing so would crush you with negative emotions like guilt, remorse, anxiety, and sorrow; you avoid these emotions by not committing the action.

The reason we do “good deeds” is exactly the same, as well. We do good deeds because we have negative emotions and we want to supplant them with positive emotions; or we do good deeds because we have neutral emotions, no emotions at all, in other words, and we want to supplant those neutral emotions—or the lack of emotions—with positive ones. Even doing a very minor good deed will fill a person with positive emotions. Even something so simple and mundane as paying for the McDonald’s order of the car in the drive-thru behind you will fill you with positive emotions, and you do the good deed in order to be filled with those positive emotions.

As a subjective being, there are only two ways in which Empathy could possibly function as a human condition in the first place. Either Empathy functions by the imagination, by the ability of a person to put oneself in the shoes of another, or Empathy functions by the subconscious desire to experience positive emotions and avoid negative emotions. There really aren’t any other options.

In actuality, if you examine these two things closely, you find that these two “functions” of Empathy… are actually the same thing. By using our imagination to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we also bring along the negative emotions which would come to us if we were in that person’s place. We use our imagination to empathize with our friend when she’s going through a break-up, and doing this fills us with those same negative emotions which we want to avoid. Once we’ve done this, we’ve connected ourselves to the situation so completely that we must help our friend get rid of those negative emotions; we must try to help our friend and supplant the negativity with positivity, for our own sake. And we become confused when we do this, because we don’t stop to think that it’s really our negative emotions which we’re trying to get rid of, not our friend’s.

And even if we do recognize that we’re removing the negative emotions from ourselves as well as our friend, rare is the person who can accept that our motivation is to remove them from ourselves and that if we remove them from our friend, it’s hardly more than a happy accident. So great is our Ego, our sense that we “must be good, noble creatures” that we are fully capable of ignoring this reality and instead operate under the delusion that our friend is the target of our efforts, not ourselves; we do not want to admit that we’re so selfish that we would be working to remove our own negative response to imagining ourselves in her situation when the convenient scapegoat is right there and we can easily say that we’re trying to remove her negative feelings and removing our own is just the happy accident.

One or the other must be true. We’re either trying to remove our friend’s negative emotions and accidentally remove our own in the process, or we’re trying to remove our own negative emotions and accidentally remove our friend’s in the process. We can very quickly determine which of these is true. As soon as your friend leaves your company—to return home or to work or whatever—and your friend’s situation falls from your mind, what happens? You forget about your friend’s problem, unless some event happens which recalls it to your attention. But you’ll forget about your friend’s problem as you go on about your own life, and the negative emotions you felt while empathizing with your friend will fade; they are no longer affecting you, and you no longer have any desire to do anything about your friend’s problem. Until your friend’s problem is brought back to your attention and those negative emotions return, you don’t have any desire to do anything about your friend’s problem. If you were truly acting for the sake of your friend, you would work toward removing her negative emotions, even when you were not feeling them for yourself while imagining yourself in her position or otherwise empathizing with her.

It’s clear then, that the real cause of Empathy is narcissism: we feel Empathy because we are instilled with negative emotions by certain circumstances and our desire to rid ourselves of those negative emotions leads us to invest time and energy into alleviating the circumstances which produced those negative emotions. Everything we do is selfishly motivated, is the done with the intention of bettering the way we feel. Morality is nothing but an extension of our ability to feel negative emotions based upon the conditions of others, and our ability to feel negative emotions based upon the conditions of others is nothing but a reflection of our tolerance of those others, while our tolerance of others is nothing more than a representation of our familiarity with that person “type”.