Archives for category: Ethics

Our civilization lost an imaginary benevolent omnipotent god and imagined an omnipotent benevolent state. Thus we unshackled it from the chains of liberal limits. 

But this experiment in moral and political innovation did teach us a lesson. We found that benevolence is not a defining feature of the state, regardless of intent, and cannot likely be made so.

But we also learned that squaring our fantasies with reality can provide endless intellectual gymnastics that make angel-dancing on pinheads look like the hokey-pokey, against which our ideological cavorting appears as nothing other than a vampiric tarantella, or, worse yet, a totentanz

Religions serve a function, by exaptation.

But experiments more than suggest any metaphysical fixation can provide that same function. What is needed is a somewhat ritualistic or attention-centering contemplation of an ego-transcendent object — it could be a rite or myth or metaphysical schema or puzzle, even, that allows us to transcend the narrow confines of our normal egoistic imagination. Such exercises can provide the signaling necessary to encourage cooperation. Both in ego and in alter, self and in other.

Trick is, this device, which could be a philosophy, or an ideology, or even an art form, needs to forswear the impossible imagining of an omnipotent benevolent state, for — as Nietzsche said — the state is the coldest of all cold monsters.

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Aldous Huxley (July 26, 1894 – November 22, 1963)

In any cause, the best or the most atrocious, zeal is always intoxicating. A world without zeal would be a world deprived of many simple but savage pleasures: but at least half its present excuses for interfering and bullying would have been taken away from it.

Aldous Huxley, Introduction to The Easton Press edition of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1934), signed July 24, 1933.

These lines follow a much-quoted but mis-cited passage first published here 11 days ago. This quotation, above, completes the paragraph that I have published in these pages (on memevigilante.com) as a corrective to the usually mis-cited “quote.”

The title, above, references an excellent piece of music by contemporary composer John Adams.

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Among the monuments dishonored by “Black Lives Matter” mobs are those of Miguel de Cervantes, himself a slave for several years as well as a Spanish literary master, often said to be the inventor of the novel; John Greenleaf Whittier, America’s abolitionist poet; and Ulysses S. Grant, the general who ended the Civil War and thus materially ushered in the abolition of slavery.

That mobs are mad is a truism; that its participants are willfully stupid, obvious. But support for same among bystanders is worse than mad and stupid.

I’ll let you guess the word I think most apt here.

When, at the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Soviet Socialist hegemony, the statuary of Stalin and Lenin were pulled down, I was jubilant, too. A tyranny and its iconography were being smashed. Great!

But a tyranny had fallen. The Soviet Union had not been a real republic. It was, indeed, an “evil empire.” In America, there are surely elements of evil in our empire, but it is not on the same order. And the empire has not fallen. The icons going down are being taken down by unruly mobs who bypass the rule of law to express their own feckless hegemony on our state and our culture. The empire is letting this happen. Why? Because it shows, I suspect, how secure it is to have all the ancient iconography pulled down yet it remain, barely shaken.

The current iconoclasm is probably best seen as an attack upon the idea of the republic, a rejection of its goodness and virtue and justice. While I am sympathetic with that general critique, the specific critique is insane, since you cannot claim that the bourgeois freedom of American society is evil “because of slavery” when slavery is obviously (and was recognized as) at odds with freedom.

Black Lives Matter is not subversive of The State. It is subversive of Liberty. The leftist idea is to use the mere existence of past slavery as a rationale to set up a completely different kind of socio-political order. Since most of these ninnies are promoting some form of socialism, those of us who identify socialism with slavery must express some alarm.

To get caught up in the peculiar arguments about “systemic racism” is irrelevant. For insurrection is no way to fight that.

For example, while I am more than willing to defend black lives from the depredations of the state, once the movement goes socialist, or engages in some vast doublethink Orwellianism of destroying ancient monuments, all I itch to do, then, is simply destroy the mobs. Bring in the guns and start shooting. Let the blood run at the wreckage of the statuary.

Is that the best way to handle the mobs? Probably not. Especially since what we are really dealing with is a ginned-up race war by the corporate media and the Democratic Party. Violence should probably be avoided.

The real problem is not the intransigent minority of African-American “protesters.” The real problem is the sick, cowardly, intellectually flabby support of same — and the rioters who follow so closely at their heels — by white “liberals.” Who are not of course liberal.

It is they who deserve the fate the mobs have directed merely towards the statuary.

I hope they do not get what they deserve, if for no other reason than I know these asshats, and I would likely be caught as collateral damage. But they might. For who knows where this will end?

If we are lucky, it will peter out as it becomes apparent that it was all fake and nonsense from the beginning.

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It is not “privilege” to possess “justice.” If some people are treated justly and others aren’t, calling the former “privileged” corrupts the meaning of the terms.

And when the language becomes corrupt, the corrupt triumph while the innocent are abused — or are themselves corrupted.

Master Kung was right. Words matter. Whether through slovenliness or guile, when the meanings change of key words, we are endangered.

Semantic drift is like inflation: meaning shifts are like newly created money, the new meanings benefit early adopters at the expense of those late to the change.

If some are not treated justly, the proper response is not to attack the just as “privileged.” The proper response is to extend the reach of justice.

Word of caution, though: justice in society depends upon reciprocity.

Now, those who are indeed privileged at the expense of innocent victims, the abused, they should be subject to criticism, and their privileges taken away. Just do not pretend that privileges are justice. That is an excuse for injustice.

twv

I don’t want to die but I ain’t keen on living either. What do you think of a statement like this one?

…as answered on Quora….

I don’t want to die but I ain’t keen on living either.

What do I think of that?

It would be helpful to know how old you are. If young, I would counsel caution. It is probably a passing phase. And if you make irrevocable decisions in your current condition, you may prevent the flowering of future values and life options. Pushing through a time like this, taking hints from traditional virtues as promulgated by most common sense folks from our species’ long past seems wisest.

I thus suggest a Stoic ethic.

But much may be said for a pared-down hedonism, as well: finding little to live for in this world is no great tragedy, the trick being to take control of your options and make the most of the little you find enjoyable. And meaningful. This is the Epicurean way: minimax. Avoid the worst pains and accept as more than adequate that which is enough. Savor what you have. Be at peace with it. And certainly do not fret about what you cannot change. Including your past. Including your itches and hankerings or lack thereof.

The great danger of your predicament is to fall downwards to the next level: nihilism. Seeing no value in anything, one chooses to act in ways that in turn yield little of value, and in your wake you can scuttle goodness in the future, for you or others. Nihilism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What begins, perhaps, in mistake, if acted upon can make all too real the initial error.

One should avoid making errors that compound upon themselves.

The condition you identify, of ennui and perhaps consequent anomie, is not too far from melancholy or sadness. And, in such a condition, what to do? I have taken the Epicurean plan, as described by T. H. White in The Once and Future King:

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

The world is a curious place, and curiosity is the apt response. It provides for many of us who are not far from your condition a source of harmless and even utile pleasure. Self-education. The first step to take control of one’s life is to take control of one’s education. And once one does this one steps above mere Existence and into the status of self-actualization, up to the level of Historical Man (or Woman). And then many more options open up.

And here is a truth that the philosopher Herbert Spencer expounded upon: a course of action set upon to the point of habit conjures up its own pleasures.

Acting as if life mattered makes life matter.

I think this is true despite seeming like a kind of magic — and no matter what your age.

Epicurus said that as well, in his epistle to Menoeceus:

Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come. So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it.

And if you wonder why bother with wisdom, consider: its opposite is folly, and folly provides its own punishment. If you embrace folly, ruin is most likely. And with it, misery.

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Left: Harry Brown; Right: Epicurus.

Just as egoists’ most effective mechanism of moral blackmail is to trumpet altruism, actual conspirators’ most efficacious gambit is to ridicule the idea of “conspiracy theories” and “conspiracy theorists.”

It should not take a genius level IQ to see either point, but it appears to me that most people are naive about ambitious people’s motives and machinations when it comes to either subject. 

It should be taken as a given that scoundrels would wrap themselves in the sanctity of altruism and transparency while behaving as egoists and as conspirators. But since we witness hours upon hours of political drivel wherein at least one party (the party in power, usually) assumes that all players are above board, it is obvious that the dishonest stratagems of egoists and conspirators have indeed successfully colonized the minds of the bulk of the populace, or at least the “engaged” populace.

Part of this may be the result of debate etiquette, in which disputants assume that their opponents have good motives and are above board until otherwise proven.

Though one hates to get rid of this element of manners, we should remember, even as we use it, that this is a conceit, a strategy not for the discovery of the truth about one’s opponents (or oneself) but a means to make argumentative discourse common and peaceful and even sometimes profitable. 

And it should sometimes be dropped.

Once one recognizes that altruism is often pushed by egoists and the ridiculing of conspiracy theorists has actually been (historically as well as at present) a means of social control perpetrated by conspirators, then the next level of analysis can be engaged: exploring the extent to which common forms of altruism corrupt otherwise good people into grifting egoists and transforms the normal play of politics into a chaos of conspiracies and counter-conspiracies.

And then, at long last, one can understand why partisan politics is such a pestilent swamp.

twv

N.B. Just as it has become a sort of norm to describe groups of animals with special names fit for each species (a pride of lions; a gaggle of geese; a parliament of owls) groups of specific humans also could have special names — indeed, they do, but I’ve never heard of special names for groups of egoists or altruists. “Conspiracy” might work for both, as per the title, above.

What is liberty?

as answered on Quora….

Liberty is the freedom that can be had by all, provided each reciprocally abandons predation and parasitism (initiated force) and does not arrogate self over others, or allow others to tyrannize self.

Liberty — depending, as it does, upon the civilized stance, which is the cautious attitude of curiosity and the reserved expectation of peacefulness on the part of individuals, and which moderates the polarizing natural instincts of fight or flight — is the ideal compromise between dominance and submission, between tyranny and servility.

Or, to switch to the group level:

Liberty is a regulatory solution to the problems caused by in-group/out-group (inclusionary/exclusionary) antagonisms. It does this by regulating the ill treatment of the outsider, requiring a public test for applying coercion, based on the notions of rights/obligations and the suppression of crime and trespass. It applies the same sort of basic rule to all people, as individuals — regardless of group affiliation or institutional alliance.

Further formulations from alternative contexts:

Liberty is the replacement of militant coöperation with voluntary coöperation, understanding that peaceful non-coöperation is not a threat.

Liberty is the honing of threat systems down to a bare minimum by

  1. focusing on the prohibition of the initiation of force as well as by
  2. regarding as bedrock to social order self-defense, and by
  3. regulating retaliation by a rule of law —

all of which allows the flourishing of “enticement systems” (and the spontaneous systemization of flourishing).

Liberty, wrote Voltaire, is “independence backed by force.” While freedom is the absence of initiated opposing force, liberty is that absence grounded throughout society upon the justice of limiting “opposing force” to the defensive.

Liberty is reciprocity universalized, the Silver Rule scaled to all levels of organized society.

Liberty is a limit to government — with government understood in the broadest of social terms.

Liberty is a widespread and baseline personal freedom understood in the context of a distributed division of responsibility.


Dennis Pratt broke down the key concepts, above, into a nifty bullet-point list:

  • universal (for all)
  • civility
  • voluntary cooperation
  • reduced threats
  • defensive force
  • reciprocity
  • limited government
  • distributed responsibility

Where do human rights come from?

…as answered on Quora….

Rights are human instruments, in law and ethics.

Where do they come from?

Well, they come from human beings’ need to control themselves and others, and from our expressions, judgments, claims, counter-claims, etc. But that isn’t the whole of the story, for just “being an instrument” of purpose and need does not mean that the instrument in question cannot be abandoned, or that all rights are created equal.

There is something about the inherent concept of a right that disallows many common conceptions. Philosophers and jurists and politicians have been working on the ideas for centuries or longer, but I am going to skip most of that. Suffice it to say that the rightness of a right, so to speak, is not its instrumentality alone.

But let us not forget what a right is, sans its utility, goodness, or justification — let us remember what even an unacceptable right would be.

right is a claim to obligatory treatment. For every right there is at least one obligation — so understanding a right requires understanding obligation, or duty.

Rights are a way of articulating duties.

In law, the obligation marshaled by a right amounts to a legally enforceable — by coercion, compulsion — performance. Or, outside of law, but in ethics, legitimately required and sanctionable. If I have a right to liberty, you have a duty not to initiate force upon me. If you have a right to health care, then I must supply you medical aid. When someone fails or refuses to perform the specified duty, at law a case will be somehow made, in criminal or civil court, or merchant law, or the like, to compel the performance of the duty, with penalties.

Now, I wrote above that it is coercion or compulsion that is threatened in the articulation of the right. Well, the threat can be something less than force, but in political philosophy we are usually talking about force, so let’s restrict ourselves to that.

Oh, and I just wrote that word “threat.” A right is a specific kind of articulation of a threat. Human social systems are dominated by two types of interaction, threats and enticements. Rights are civilized threats. Since we do not like to be threatened, there is a reason that rights that are promoted universally, that all may have, are commonly favored, and, indeed, narrow the field and winnow out many forms of posited duties. Rights that only some may have at the obligation of all are suspect.

So, we can expand our definition somewhat: a right is the positive, beneficiary focus of the articulation of a threat that has as its targeted focus an obligation.

Now we have to make some distinctions. For there are dimensions to rights and obligations: who has the right? who is obligated? what is obligated? To be brief and hastily move through an ideascape that Jeremy Bentham should have covered but did not quite, we have specific rights when the number of rights-bearers are few and the numbers of the duty-bound are few, or singular (I have a right to $100 from a client; the phone company has a right to $200 from me) and we have rights that all have and to which all are obliged. We have several names for these kinds of rights:

  • natural rights
  • universal rights
  • basic rights
  • human rights

There is something to be said for and against each of these. If one were of a certain type of mind (as I am, on Tuesdays) we could treat each as a distinct term of art. But suffice it, here, to say that these very elementary and foundational rights are what we are most interested in political philosophy, and which deserve all of our attention.

I believe that because of the very construction of this tool, “a right,” most propounded universal rights fail to pass muster.

A human right should make sense in most human societies, and should be performable without causing social chaos and conflict rather than social stability. I have argued, and will argue again, that many of the “rights” some people most desire are mere imposition farded up with the lipstick of effrontery. A right to “healthcare” for example. Folks who talk about these types of rights demand too much of others, literally. For every obligation there is coercion, and it is not reasonable to promote universal servitude. The more rights you propound, the more coercion you thrust into our social reality.

Which is why the right to liberty strikes me as the best contender for a universal, basic, fundamental right: all of us having it at baseline personhood means that all of us have a very simple obligation set, a sort of “do no harm” duty: to not initiate force. This is an easy burden, as obligations go. It requires mainly defensive force for their maintenance in society. Not offensive. It is not imperialistic. It rests upon a tolerant, undemanding, liberal stance.

So you can see where the “imperativeness” comes from, what makes this right a right indeed: universalizability, and a reasonable enticement to all not to promote violence. To reduce the degree of threats in society.

A right to liberty works better than all other contenders because the threat element in the substance of the right is reduced to a minimum for the benefit of all.

Yes. There you have it. Rights are threats, sure, but they must also offer an enticement to reasonable, peaceful people.


I avoid a number of issues of extreme interest to me, but they are not really germane to the question at hand — though they are not utterly tangential, either. These include, especially, what is so “natural” about a “natural right”? and how do we “have” rights?

One of the odd things about our time is how virtuous some folks feel doing things they themselves would regard as evil were it done to them.

At base, in this madness, is in-group/out-group antagonism, which one can read about in an early analysis in The Inductions of Ethics by Herbert Spencer (Principles of Ethics, Part Two). But if you are looking for examples, you can almost pick one at random. Here is an answer on Quora that Quora itself directed me to this morning:

Read Siddharth Paratkar‘s answer to What disgusts you? on Quorahttps://www.quora.com/widgets/content

I suppose I may have heard the sad story of Ms. Ames before, but I had forgotten, so this Quora answer was new to me. But it is an all-too-familiar tale. And it is bitterly “ironic,” in that she was hounded out of what was, to her, civil society . . . by people who thought of themselves as defending sexual choice — those of gay and bi- men — for her own sexual choices.

Principles got lost in the tribalism. That often happens.

But tribalism is primary among humans, and inter-tribal antagonisms are built into our way of thinking. This has always been confusing to earnest people who seek consistency, as Spencer notes:

As the ethics of enmity and the ethics of amity, thus arising in each society in response to external and internal conditions respectively, have to be simultaneously entertained, there is formed an assemblage of utterly inconsistent sentiments and ideas. Its components can by no possibility be harmonized, and yet they have to be all accepted and acted upon. Every day exemplifies the resulting contradictions, and also exemplifies men’s contentment under them.
When, after prayers asking for divine guidance, nearly all the bishops approve an unwarranted invasion, like that of Afghanistan, the incident passes without any expression of surprise; while, conversely, when the Bishop of Durham takes the chair at a peace meeting, his act is commented upon as remarkable. When, at a Diocesan Conference, a peer (Lord Cranbook), opposing international arbitration, says he is “not quite sure that a state of peace might not be a more dangerous thing for a nation than war,” the assembled priests of the religion of love make no protest; nor does any general reprobation, clerical or lay, arise when a ruler in the Church, Dr. Moorhouse, advocating a physical and moral discipline fitting the English for war, expresses the wish “to make them so that they would, in fact, like the fox when fastened by the dogs, die biting,” and says that “these were moral qualities to be encouraged and increased among our people, and he believed that nothing could suffice for this but the grace of God operating in their hearts.” How completely in harmony with the popular feeling in a land covered with Christian churches and chapels, is this exhortation of the Bishop of Manchester, we see in such facts as that people eagerly read accounts of football matches in which there is an average of a death per week; that they rush in crowds to buy newspapers which give detailed reports of a brutal prizefight, but which pass over in a few lines the proceedings of a peace congress; and that they are lavish patrons of illustrated papers, half the woodcuts in which have for their subjects the destruction of life or the agencies for its destruction.

Herbert Spencer, Inductions of Ethics, first chapter: “Confusion of Ethical Thought.”

People who think of themselves as just and kind often find themselves behaving unjustly and cruelly. But they do not notice it, are often oblivious to their contradictory thoughts and behavior. This ability to flip a switch and cease acting within the amity paradigm to going all in for enmity? Breathtaking, in its way. But a commonplace.

Against this understanding, though, are the pieties of our moral traditions; for many folks, even admitting that there are two orientations (at least) in ethics offends against heir self-image and their understanding of what they call “their values”:

A silent protest has been made by many readers, and probably by most, while reading that section of the foregoing chapter which describes the ethics of enmity. Governed by feelings and ideas which date from their earliest lessons, and have been constantly impressed on them at home and in church, they have formed an almost indissoluble association between a doctrine of right and wrong in general, and those particular commands and interdicts included in the decalogue, which, contemplating the actions of men to one another in the same society, takes no note of their combined actions against men of alien societies. The conception of ethics has, in this way, come to be limited to that which I have distinguished as the ethics of amity; and to speak of the ethics of enmity seems absurd.
Yet, beyond question, men associate ideas of right and wrong with the carrying on of intertribal and international conflicts; and this or that conduct in battle is applauded or condemned no less strongly than this or that conduct in ordinary social life. Are we then to say that there is one kind of right and wrong recognized by ethics and another kind of right and wrong not recognized by ethics? If so, under what title is this second kind of right and wrong to be dealt with? Evidently men’s ideas about conduct are in so unorganized a state, that while one large class of actions has an overtly recognized sanction, another large class of actions has a sanction, equally strong or stronger, which is not overtly recognized.

Herbert Spencer, Inductions of Ethics, second chapter: “What Ideas and Sentiments Are Ethical?”

Spencer was writing at a time when Christianity was still earnestly and reflexively held to by the majority. And with that majority understanding he had to contend. Nowadays, we live in a post-Christian context where the dominant religion is statism whose priests are journalists and whose divines are academics. So there are some new wrinkles to the cognitive dissonances in ethical thought and practice.

I would be remiss in this discussion of the ethics of enmity vs. the ethics of amity to cite Spencer for the basic concepts but not, at the same time, cite his discussion of sexual conduct in the same volume. His chapter on this in The Inductions of Ethics is called “Chastity.” How quaint:

Conduciveness to welfare, individual or social or both, being the ultimate criterion of evolutionary ethics, the demand for chastity has to be sought in its effects under given conditions.
Among men, as among inferior creatures, the needs of the species determine the rightness or wrongness of these or those sexual relations; for sexual relations unfavorable to the rearing of offspring, in respect either of number or quality must tend towards degradation and extinction. 

Nowadays, responsibility for the maintenance of he young has been increasingly shifted from individual onus and domestic arrangements to a state system that Spencer only had nightmares about. Perhaps not coincidentally there has arisen an anti-progenitive ideology on personal and social levels. So sexuality is now largely conceived almost wholly as a consumption, not a production, activity, leading to bizarre and quite decadent sense of virtue. In the story cited at top, a woman who engaged in sexual activity as an entertainment activity was morally disallowed from having say in her partners, on grounds of safety. Not even that tiniest bit of chastity — the merest quantum of the virtue — was allowed her by the mob.

We are close to Sodom’s rape mobs, here.

But Spencer is remarkably open-minded for a chaste Victorian bachelor. “Bad as were the gods of the Greeks, the gods of the ancient Indians were worse,” he writes, astounded over what he found in ancient Sanskrit literature. “In the Puranas as well as in the Mahabharata there are stories about the ‘adulterous amours’ of Indra, Varuna, and other gods; at the same time that the ‘celestial nymphs are expressly declared to be courtesans,’ and are ‘sent by the gods from time to time to seduce austere sages.’ A society having a theology of such a kind, cannot well have been other than licentious.”

But in our society, the somewhat hysterical drive to defend women as an oppressed class has been abandoned for the defense of non-heterosexual people — and, most bizarrely, those who pretend to be, or seek “to become,” members of their opposite sex. So women are now, increasingly, expected to accept as women who dress up as (or merely declare themselves to be) women, to compete against them in women’s sports, suffer them in women’s restrooms, and the like. The issue is forced inclusion. We are not allowed to exclude others from our company, at least when it comes to sex, for reasons that doing so is said to be oppressive.

This ethic of forced inclusion is one way of transcending the amity/enmity split. The other, the outsider, the excluded, must be let in.

And since monogamy is no longer required for the nurturing of the young — state programs of redistribution have seen to that — polyandry is the norm, utter licentiousness is the norm, and the control is that one may “not discriminate” against people identified as of oppressed groups.

This arose out of the racial divide in the United States over the Jim Crow era’s handling of the descendants of slaves. Many of the laws in the South segregated public accommodations, government and private. This was a bad thing, so the discriminatory laws were not merely repealed, but anti-discrimination laws were put in place, not for private people (you could eject anyone from your home) but for “public accommodations,” businesses that regularly dealt with the public. Forced inclusion. That became the rule. Anyone, regardless of race, was to be included as customers and employees.

In the case of Ms. Ames, her business activity of engaging in sexual intercourse disallowed her from discrimination on the grounds of sexual partners’ previous sexual behavior, even prudentially, for her own safety. By not fucking bi-sexual men, she was the oppressor.

The new gospel of inclusion thus reached its absurdity point: forcing women to accept into their bodies cocks they don’t want.

The Twitter mob was, by my lights, quite vile, even evil. But behind it all loomed the eminence gris of the welfare state, which has robbed couples of their senses of responsibility. It had made them mad.

Spencer’s linking of militancy with promiscuity is not wholly convincing to me — or even to himself, as he admits. But the general tenor of his discussion seems about right: “It remains only to emphasize the truth, discernible amid all complexities and varieties, that without a prevailing chastity we do not find a good social state.” Here is his summary:

There are three ways in which chastity furthers a superior social state. The first is that indicated at the outset–conduciveness to the nurture of offspring. Nearly everywhere, but especially where the stress of competition makes the rearing of children difficult, lack of help from the father must leave the mother overtaxed, and entail inadequate nutrition of progeny. Unchastity, therefore, tends towards production of inferior individuals, and if it prevails widely must cause decay of the society.
The second cause is that, conflicting as it does with the establishment of normal monogamic relations, unchastity is adverse to those higher sentiments which prompt such relations. In societies characterized by inferior forms of marriage, or by irregular connections, there cannot develop to any great extent that powerful combination of feelings–affection, admiration, sympathy–which in so marvelous a manner has grown out of the sexual instinct. And in the absence of this complex passion, which manifestly presupposes a relation between one man and one woman, the supreme interest in life disappears, and leaves behind relatively subordinate interests. Evidently a prevalent unchastity severs the higher from the lower components of the sexual relation: the root may produce a few leaves, but no true flower.
Sundry of the keenest aesthetic pleasures must at the same time be undermined. It needs but to call to mind what a predominant part in fiction, the drama, poetry, and music, is played by the romantic element in love, to see that anything which militates against it tends to diminish, if not to destroy the chief gratifications which should fill the leisure part of life.

Romance, now, plays second fiddle — or distant rebec — to inclusionary mobs seeking to promote the last underdog group they can find. Next stops: pedophiles and necrophiliacs.

twv

A few days ago I heard but had not bothered to confirm that only Chinese people were being killed by the coronavirus. Being a science fiction reader living in our stefnal age, my first thought was pretty obvious — and straight out of Heinlein: biowarfare.

And it is not as if biowarfare had not been rumored, for weeks now.

Yesterday, Scott Adams (on his Periscope vlog) drew out this line of conjecture explicitly, speculating on who might wish to kill millions, perhaps billions, of Chinese people, using bioweaponry, and why:

Scott Adams’s talk is important for several reasons. . . .

First, he figures the probability on the bioweapon angle as very low. One reason that he gives for a low probability rests on the commonplace that is coincidence. He says it is likely “just a coincidence” that an outbreak would occur near a viral research/bioweapons research laboratory. I suspect it is not. Near a bio-research laboratory is where you would expect accidental leaks to happen. Where viruses are bred, studied and stored is where they might break out into the general population. Since in research even non-weaponized viruses are studied, any could break out of the confines.

We do not need to go to conspiracy, though conspiracy is also a possibility — we’ve all read Greg Bear’s Blood Music, right?

So I would not relegate a non-conspiratorial outbreak of a contagion near a research facility as being just an example of a conspiracy. I would not even say it is more likely to be mere coincidence.

But also, were I a murderous conspirator unleashing a weaponized virus, I would also likely wish to let it out near someone else’s biolab, merely to confuse the targeted population.

Second, Adams goes through a Likely Suspect list, and he does a pretty good job. Yet he gets one thing very wrong, I think. He dismisses the idea that the U.S. could be a likely bioweaponry/genocide suspect. I do not dismiss the idea. “Our” Deep State is extremely rogue, and would do anything to maintain its advantage. China is horning in on a very important space-oriented arms race, and the Deep State might stop at nothing to nip that in the bud. Killing thousands or millions? Well, sure: look up Operation Northwoods. Deeply embedded statists could probably cook up a plausible, half-earnest rationale to justify almost any enormity.

They have in the past.

Third, “goodness” — Scott runs through possible justifications of biowarfare to test the possibility of warfare, using the “Never Again” mantra as the hook upon which he hangs his hat. He says that many, many people — including himself — would, if given the opportunity, use genocide to retaliate for someone else’s program of genocide . . . as well as to prevent further genocide. Yikes. Does he not see the trap here?

This reasoning rests upon the idea of democracy — a very low-level democracy, admittedly, since China isn’t one. As both Étienne de La Boétie and David Hume observed, the number of people who actually govern are smaller than the ranks of the governed, so even tyrannical government rests upon a kind of consent of the governed — an accommodation to governance, let’s say. And since the masses let their governments do outrageous things, they are, themselves, morally responsible. And if the crimes committed by the governors are worthy of the death penalty, then the people themselves are worthy of same.

People should carefully contemplate this line of thought. Adams’s speculations in the moral realm do more than suggest a justification of all kinds of horror on the dubious basis of preventing other outrageous moral horrors. Further, Adams’s line of reasoning is the common line of reasoning on such matters, and it completely demolishes our umbrage taken at terrorists and mass murderers. It is a prescription for never-ending war, dominance, and mass slaughter.

Everyone should pull the strings on his speculation, here.

To unravel the argument.

Fourth, take a breath. What he is talking about is something he breezes right through: mass murder as an apt revenge for other mass murder. But it is indeed more than that. His logic could also “morally justify” preëmptive mass murder.

Now, I’m not saying that he is not ably reflecting common-sense statism. Indeed, that is the reason his speculations are important. They are how humans often think and judge. But I am saying he perhaps (and without intending it) provides an apocalypse of statism itself — a revelation of its core character, its quiddity.

A robust common sense would have to reject statism to remain sane.

Thankfully, the odds for the Coronavirus As Bioweapon are likely as Scott Adams puts them: very unlikely. But we should consider the outside chance. And, alas, he appears to be correct: no fact we now possess falsifies a bioweapon possibility.

twv