Jun 01.

Stefan Molyneux

1 comment

Statism and Moral Responsibility

One of the most horrendous aspects of the government is the degree to which it dilutes, undercuts and destroys moral responsibility within society. Old women who would never rob their grandchildren at gunpoint feel perfectly entitled to cash their Social Security check. Gentle mothers who would pale at the thought of spanking their children will march self righteously for “free” daycare. Corporations who would never imagine assaulting their customers assiduously lobby for legal benefits – or to escape regulations.

Sadly, the worst effects of the state are not always domestic. Overseas Imperialism creates generations of guilt-ridden sociopaths who, having murdered whatever foreigners their commanders pointed at, bring that moral horror home and spread it through their friends, family and children. Having been lured to the military with promises of honor and noble self-defense, they find themselves in positions that are hard to morally distinguish from your average hitman, who asks no questions when pulling the trigger.

The gaping wound at the heart of our culture – why have we murdered? – creates a violent antipathy to basic truths that only leads to further lies. In a recent episode of “60 Minutes,” a father was asked why he and his son enlisted to go to Iraq. “Because of 9/11,” he replied. The reporter – obviously uncomfortable – could only ask: “So you make that connection?” The obvious response – “Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11” – is hard, because when people have killed and died for a cause, questioning the moral validity of that cause becomes more and more difficult. The alternative to the fantasy of “patriotic defender” – the reality of “gullible murderer” – becomes increasingly volatile as more and more blood soaks through the verbal defenses of society. When people kill for a lie, they also murder the truth.

The connections required to link the tangible benefits of receiving state monies to the abstract violence that makes it possible are lengthy and complex. Expecting the average man to understand the violence at the root of the pleasant kindergarten he drops his child off at is like expecting the average Christian to understand the translation difficulties between Aramaic, Greek and the King James Bible. In moral philosophy, just as in nutrition and medicine, we need experts to make the causal connections for us. Asking society to learn the truth about statism from its disastrous effects is like asking people to learn about the dangers of smoking by getting lung cancer. Experts need to isolate the variables and make the causal connections clear.

In the absence of expertise, human nature works against the truth. Achieving and maintaining good health requires knowledge – only eating whatever tastes good and exercising when you feel like it inevitably results in disaster. We respond positively to sugars and fats, which were rare in the infancy of our species, and prefer inactivity to activity, as an evolutionary means of preserving energy. Short-term gratifications – when pursued exclusively – lead to disaster. We cannot be expected to know this in advance, which is the only time it will do us any good. Thus we need experts to show us negative consequences before we experience them.

It is exactly the same with the state. The pursuit of short-term gratification inevitably leads to disaster. As experts in philosophy, politics and economics, we must fight against the tendency of people to pursue short-term interests by pointing out the long-term consequences of their actions. In many ways, ethical instruction is as simple as: “eat candy, get cavities.”

This means that we must show people that we as philosophers practice what we preach – that we are willing to abjure short-term comfort for the sake of long-term gains. As moralists, we must display the very behavior we wish to inculcate. This means repeatedly pointing out uncomfortable truths to people, despite the inevitable and negative consequences. Some such difficult truths are:

  • Going to Iraq to shoot Iraqis is murder, since it is not violence for the sake of immediate self-defense.
  • US foreign aggression is responsible for the hatred that foreigners bear towards the US.
  • Muslims do not “hate America for its freedom.” Americans were far freer in the 19th century, and suffered no Muslim attacks. Switzerland is also free – and far closer – yet suffers no Muslim attacks, because the Swiss keep their guns inside their own borders.
  • The US government is by far the world’s largest arms seller. The idea that your government exists to protect you from foreign enemies, while assiduously arming foreigners, is too ridiculous to be believable.
  • Like the institution of slavery, the state is an agency of violence, evil to the core. It cannot be reformed, but must be abolished.
  • Almost everything you were told about society in public schools is propaganda, directly detrimental to your own self-interest.
  • Policemen are not primarily there to protect you, but to threaten you if you do not pay your taxes.
  • Our existing system is utterly unsustainable, and will collapse within 10 to 15 years at the outside.

These are all bitter pills for most people to swallow, of course – but there is an even worse one, which overarches all of these issues, which is:

  • There is nothing accidental about the fact that you were – and are – told all these lies.

It is very hard for the average citizen to realize that, in his relationship with his government, he is little more than a cash cow for taxation, a breeding animal for future taxpayers, and cannon fodder for war. People point to minor successes in the fight against the government, such as specific relaxations of regulations, slight tax cuts and so on – but that is all pure nonsense! A farmer who finds that his cows are dying because they don’t have enough room to move will certainly increase the size of their cage – but that is so he can continue to exploit them, not because he dreams of setting them free! The low birthrate of many Western countries—the inevitable result of the fact that mammals do not breed well in captivity – is currently prompting the return of some money to taxpayers in the form of breeding incentives, but that is scarcely a victory against the government!

Naturally, it is very hard to get the average citizen to understand the danger he faces at the hands of his government. Doctors face the same issue when trying to get their patients to drop unhealthy habits. Too many people only listen to their doctors after they have had a heart attack – and only because their doctor predicted that heart attack. This is an essential aspect of what we are up to as libertarians. We must openly and repeatedly tell people that the system will self-destruct, that it is evil and rotten to the core, that the army and police are not noble, that currency is an illusion, debt is real and the countdown is almost at zero. There is no possibility that we can prevent the coming crash – it’s far too late for that – but because we can accurately predict it, we are more likely to have credibility after the fact.

This is the paradox of the current system. The government – and the citizens they rule – are nothing but individuals, but individual ethics don’t really matter when the cultural belief systems as a whole are corrupt and false. Morality is a form of science, and requires knowledge, logic and empirical testing to validate. Currently, people have no idea what is good for them, any more than a caveman knew about the heliocentric solar system. In the absence of rational philosophy, the hedonism of the moment is the only possible “guide.” If you know nothing of cavities, weight gain and diabetes, what is to stop you from eating candy? If you know nothing of the elemental evils of the state, what is to stop you from grabbing whatever you can whenever you can? And really, who can blame you for trying? If you don’t pick up that hundred dollar bill lying on the sidewalk, it’s not going to stay there forever.

This is where I find sympathy for my fellow citizens. I happen to love philosophy – particularly ethics – but that is my particular fetish. I cannot expect everyone else to be as fascinated by the subject—and that is entirely as it should be! I study philosophy, you study medicine. You cannot philosophize, I cannot prescribe – neither of us can be condemned for our respective lack of knowledge, since every choice involves an infinity of opportunity costs.

But I do expect you, as my surgeon, to tell me the truth, no matter how unpleasant it might be for me.

And we, as philosophers, must tell the truth to our world, no matter how unpleasant it is for others. A doctor who lies, who covers the truth to provide false comfort—for his own comfort really—is worse than no doctor at all.

If you pick up a scalpel, you must be prepared to cut.

Stefan Molynuex, is the host of Freedomain Radio (www.freedomainradio.com), the most popular philosophy site on the Internet, and a “Top 10” Finalist in the 2007-2010 Podcast Awards.
  • Think beyond 🙂 Peace.

    INTRODUCTION – Your Dreams Fulfilled

    The following ideas and concepts have the potential to radically change your world for the better. Every aspect of your life could be enhanced and every dream you have could become a reality.

    Every hope you’ve ever conceived,
    Every need you’ve ever known,
    Can easily be achieved

    Welcome to the growing group of people on this planet who want more from life…

    STAGE 1 – Understanding the physical world

    The world exists outside of our heads. It’s there to be analysed and understood. It’s not a hard task. The organic material between your ears, your brain, is more than capable of understanding the current world situation.

    You are connected.
    You are not alone.
    You are part of this world.
    You have the solution within you.
    The world needs you to do your part.
    You need you to do your part.

    You are connected to every one else on this planet. You may not feel it, but it’s a fact. A fact that can not be refuted, proved wrong, or even sensibly denied. Anyone that does deny it can be ridiculed, and you’ll see why…

    Did you have a cup of tea this morning? Have you ever had a cup of tea? Do you drink coffee? If you’ve had any of these experiences, or you’re familiar with the concepts then the ideas below are going to make so much sense to you, and have such an impact on you and your life, that you’ll be asking why you’d never thought of it sooner and then you’ll be demanding that everyone begins to think it too.

    Imagine the cup of tea that you had this morning and the process of creating that cup of tea. You took a cup, you boiled some water and you took a tea bag and placed it in that cup or in a tea pot. Now, stop for a second to imagine what that tea bag is, what it means and what it represents.

    For that tea bag to exist at all, humans, no matter how far away or close to you, need to that have ploughed a field, planted tea bushes, tended tea bushes, nurtured them through their growth cycle, harvested the leaves, dried the leaves, packaged the leaves, transported the leaves and finally stacked the leaves in a shop where you could purchase them. You know all of these things to be solid, undeniable and verifiable facts.

    You are connected to all of those humans in that chain of production as without them, you could have no tea bag. For you to have something as simple as a tea bag to put in a cup, to begin to make tea, there may have been thousands of humans involved. That Tea Bag is a result of their labours and their endeavours, no matter how unseen by you. The Tea Bag should have HumanityTM embossed on it. Those humans have lives, they exist. They have had a direct impact on your life as you are able to enjoy a cup of tea. You are connected to them. They are connected to you.

    For, if it was not for you, using their tea bag, the fruits of their labours, their lives would be dramatically different.

    And remember, that’s just the tea bag. Think about the kettle that you boiled the water in. Where did the water come from? And did you use gas or electricity to heat the water? Where did that energy supply come from? How many miles of pipes and pumps and wires had to be used? How many connected humans were involved?

    And this is all so that you can have a cup of tea! You can now see that you are part of the collective of humanity on this planet, you are not alone; welcome to the realisation.

    STAGE 2 – How we currently operate

    The collection of humanity on this planet, though highly efficient at getting you the basics like tea and coffee, is currently organised in a very self defeating way.

    You and I work for different companies. The companies that we work for may very well be in competition. Companies are only there to make a profit for the company. That is their role. That is their reason for existing. Someone had an idea to make money, and they started a business. All very well as far as it goes. However, now, at this period in our history, the idea of individual companies, working alone to produce the “next big thing”, is something that is holding you and I back from realising our full potential. That is, full potential of the productive capabilities of humans, of humanity, on this planet are being squandered by competition and the profit motive.

    Again, this is very easy to demonstrate and again, it’s undeniable.

    For example, take two competing drugs companies; you work for one and I work for the other one. Both companies are in business to make a profit and as such they are pouring millions of dollars into research and development to find the next big cure for blindness, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, paralysis, HIV, or pick an ailment or condition that’s close to your heart.

    We know that the humans that make up the work force of these companies are members of the collective of humanity that brought us the humble tea bag. So we know that each member of that collective would benefit from a break through in any new treatment; you and I included. ¬¬

    So let us assume that the solution that both of these companies are working on will take 10 years to develop. Now what if, after 5 years, the company that you’re working for has half of the solution and the company that I’m working for has the other half of the solution? As a collective, as humanity, we have the whole solution. You know half of it, and I know half of it. So, in theory, we could actually bring it to the other members of the human collective directly. That is after 5 years, not 10. We could half the time that it currently takes to share the break through, as we have all the pieces.

    That is, we, as a collection, have done all the work we need to do as both halves of the solution are now known. However, given the fact that we are working for companies that are in competition, for greater and greater profits, the solution will not flow to the members of the global society as no one company owns the whole solution. In theory it will take each company another 5 years to fully understand the solution thus any benefits for humanity are delayed by that time. Even then the companies will only release a product if they can realise a profit from it.

    We have just worked out how, with this one example, capitalism is not best suited to the needs of you and I and humanity. In case you think this is just a one off, let us examine the case of mobile phones and competition within that sector..

    Mobile phones, at least in the UK, are used for 3 main tasks; sending text messages, making phone calls and sending multi media messages such as pictures and sound files.

    You are more than aware of these functions and I dare say you’ve used at least one of them and if not, you know people that have. Now, in the UK there is competition, again, from Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone etc, etc. Each of these providers may erect separate radio masts to build their coverage foot print. So potentially we could have 4 or more different masts covering the same geographical area because each of the operators wants coverage in that particular area, of course. That’s competition.

    No matter which provider you choose to be your mobile phone carrier the service you get at the end will be very much the same from one to the other. You’ll be able to make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages etc. The major criteria that you’ll have used in your decision will be how many minutes and text messages you get for your monthly outlay.

    So instead of distributing mobile phone capabilities to each geographical area once, we, as an unconscious act of the collective and as a direct result of competition and the profit motive of Orange, O2, T-Mobile etc, have actually rolled out enough radio masts, computers, switches and cables to cover each geographical area 4 or more times. However, if we had, as a collective, been working towards providing for the collective, instead of working within competing companies, we could have covered the UK 4 times over in the time that it took us to do it once. We all could have had the benefits of mobile communications sooner than we actually did.

    At this stage in our human development we are holding back the potential of humanity on this planet by organising in competing companies. We are holding ourselves back from achieving. We are wasting time. We are squandering our resources. We are distracting ourselves from our full potential.

    The current system discards and overlooks a huge number of humans on this planet as they have no practical benefit to the current system; capitalism.

    If you condone the current organisational method, in light of this logical evidence, then you are part of the problem. The world needs you to rethink, and understand that a shift in emphasis from working for competing companies and their profit motive to actually working for humanity would bring untold freedoms and benefits to you, your family, your friends, your loved ones, your neighbours.

    You are part of the solution if you take these concepts forward. Tell more people about them. Spread them around. Your future depends on it.

    STAGE 3 – Imagine The Future

    So now we’ve discussed the idea of the collective and of humanity wasting time it’s time to consider what it could mean for us to organise ourselves differently.

    Imagine a place and time when all of our endeavours as humans are used for our benefit. No more working for some company’s profit. No more distractions from the needs of humans. No more impediments to you getting exactly what you want from this life. No more antagonism amongst humans. An understanding that each human, if they play their part in the collective, can reap any and all of the rewards of that collective.

    Imagine the number of people we can also bring into the system to work towards the goals of the collective. All those people that are currently disregarded by the system; the countless millions in “under-developed” [have you ever asked yourself why?] countries.

    With all of these extra resources, we can half the working week or even make it two days long or so. Who knows how we will decide to organise the massive resource on this planet that is the collective community of humanity.

    And no enlightened community of humanity would ever decide to make any decision that did not best fit the needs of the community as that would be akin to suicide. Only the best decisions for the collective would be made. Think what that would mean for governmental organisations? Would we require them? Maybe we’d need some form of “commodity request list” or “goals list” that we could all view and prioritise, with the most obviously important goals being raised to the top of the list with ease. How about eradicating famine, poverty, diseases, war, global pollution etc? What about planting trees to form lungs for the planet? What about designing technology that can clean the atmosphere?

    If we organise ourselves with us as the priority then all the material items that we struggle to collect just now such as houses, cars, gadgets, and even just the basics of food and water will flow to us as a logical consequence. Far from compromising or goals and our desires, by organising for humans, we can achieve them all! And more importantly we can bring the endeavours of every human on the plant to bear for our well being. Each human who is cast aside by the current system of capitalist production and its insatiable drive for greater and greater profits will be brought into the global collection of working productive humanity and they will be able to influence and bolster that global community. Hence, all of our lives become infinitely better and immeasurably easier.

    The solution needs you. It needs everyone you know. So how big is this task? Can we do it? Well, the maths says we can.

    The population of this earth is somewhere in the region of 6,000,000,000 (6 Billion or 6 Thousand million). So that makes any effort you make alone, as an “individual”, equivalent to 1/6 Billionth of the effort needed to realise all of your hopes and dreams.

    However, if in the first instance, you can tell just 10 people, of this way of thinking, and they feel as passionately as you do about it, and they set themselves the same goal of just telling 10 people, then the numbers soon become very large indeed;

    You – 10 – 100 – 1,000 – 10,000 – 100,000 – 1,000,000 – 10,000,000 – 100,000,000, 1,000,000,000, The World!

    Just 10 iterations! That is, just 10 times the process of telling 10 folk and the whole world would know! So the chain that you start, by telling 10 folk about these ideas and about your passion for them, will only have to be repeated 10 times and we can all share in the understandings!

    You have the solution within you. The world needs you to do your part.
    You need you to do your part.

    When you know how it works; it’s easy to change the world!

    Dunk / 7:54 pm /
  • Comments are closed.

Sign up for the Freedomain Newsletter to receive previews of upcoming shows, exclusive presentations, invitations to private call in shows and much more!