Saturday, November 9, 2013
Redefining Good and Evil
"Good" people, as we define them, vote for hard-authoritarians like Bush, Obama, and Hitler and support them even when they almost inevitably begin killing innocents in the millions. "Good" people support government programs proven time and time again to cause harm, usually to those they intend to help. They sign up for military service and obey orders to raze villages and bomb children into bloody ash. They demonize others that publicly question the "goodness" of the things that "good" people do.
Leftist revolutionaries will turn their lands into slaughterhouses in the name of doing "good". In the name of doing "good", liberals will engender the entitlement mentality in the groups they intend to uplift, this cementing their alienation from the majority who work for what they want. Conservatives will wave their flags and cheer the bombing of alien cultures. Environmentalists will support government agencies that turn around and rent the lands they claim to protect, for clear-cutting by corporations at a pittance. Jihadists and crusaders massacre communities of competing religions, believing they are doing "good". The eugenecists of the 20th century wiped out millions of members of minority groups in the name of the "good" of humanity.
Contrast this to the advancements in humanity, mostly technological, which allow humankind to flourish rather than struggle to survive. From the cotton gin to the automobile to the microprocessor: innovations which have allowed our species to rise from the dirt to ascend to the sky... generally come from intelligent self-interest. "Capitalist greed" is responsible for creating the system in which the greatest health problem for the poor in the developed world... is obesity. As for the undeveloped world, it's those doing "good" -- the anti-sweatshop crusaders and the environmental holier-than-thous -- who are preventing development. "Greed" is not only good for humans, but for nature: Zimbabwe saved their elephants not through the standard governmental controls that "good" people support (which usually fail through government corruption), but through privatization.
"Good and evil" as we know them today are largely Neptunian concepts, based on ideals that do not reflect reality. Today we largely use these concepts to justify doing what we want to do without having to think for ourselves. "Good" is a word that very often means the opposite of what it is supposed to intend. "Evil" is a word we slap onto those who get in our way.
On the flip side, cooperation, consensual organization, and non-aggression are purely and heartlessly logical. Civility is utterly rational. Helping another who would be truly grateful is an intelligent investment in a potential future resource -- no gushy and self-congratulatory "compassion" need be involved.
"Smart and stupid", as represented by Pallas, goddess of logic and peace, seem to reflect the real working of human society much better than do "good and evil". If we judge a virtue by its effects, then intelligence that can override emotion may well be the highest virtue. We might paradoxically do ourselves and the world a lot of good by rejecting "good" altogether in favor of cold and thorough rationality.
Write to me at "alan" + "@" + "zot.net".