I Wish Every Ideology Had Its Own Sports Team
When theologians (Christian hermits) attempt to "inspire" us to "make it to 'heaven' by living righteously", they propose that we envision a place resembling the stereotypical medieval painting: depicting a flowery meadow, in which everyone is dressed in white robes – uniformly…holding hands, staring upwards at the brilliantly-illuminated blue sky, chanting glorious hymns; while winged, harp-playing babies (musical prodigies, apparently), float above the masses, providing our "entertainment" – for eternity! There is nary so much as a hint of any other divinely-acceptable earthly/human desire whatsoever to be vouchsafed – lest the "prideful/lustful/wicked" be cast into the "pit of fire" lying deep underneath the otherwise idyllic grassy knoll….
I would much rather trade that so-called "heaven", above, for an "adventurous" planet consisting of an army of lobotomized Cybermen [from the TV-show "Doctor Who"] forever marching towards me – in terrifying unison, with a silvery Bill Gates as their apposite leader! For there, I could at least enjoy a great cardiovascular workout (screaming/jumping/running/climbing/diving/swimming) as I thwart their pursuit of me [in their intent to "assimilate" me into their "collective" of tormented cyborgs]. It would surely beat the insufferable alternative of perpetual harp-music and chanting – even if it means having to endlessly hear the dreadful Cybermen's incessantly repetitive, trademarked, robotic utterance:
Somewhat better would be a brief life on a planet of Dalek slavemasters [similarly-constructed cyborgs, also from "Doctor Who"], who use their annihilating laser-blasters to expediently (therefore, relatively humanely) dispose of any dissidents; remarkably, though, not before issuing a proper warning – in accordance with universal etiquette – to allow for a modicum of "choice" in the matter:
You…will…obey – OR – you…will…be…'EX-…TER-…MIN-…A-…TEEEEED'!
Ethicists, like their platitudinarian brethren – the theologians, are just as prone to such lunacy in their respective depictions of an "ideal" being – with any or all of its connotations: existence/person/deity; which is the result of too much "philosophizing" about life, instead of interacting with a multitude of unique individuals and living it. Many of their edicts, though plausible "on paper", ultimately sound (upon diligent examination) as if they were formulated by a mediocrity-at-its-finest corporate committee: devoid of any significant level of individuality; nor a realistic acknowledgement of an innate basic personality and/or a hierarchy of needs [Jung/Maslow]; nor even an appealing definition, if nothing else, of what the "common good" or "heaven on earth" would be like if we were to (grudgingly) implement their conclusions. Generally, the dystopia that they unknowingly prescribe would cause the behavior of their adherents to practically conform to the description of a mental disorder [per the DSM-5, the "bible" of psychiatry]:
"…disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning." [p.20]
For instance, when Ethics professors initially ask their students what the best rule or basis for social morality should be, they inevitably get that cliched chorus of a response – almost in unison, too – of: "The greatest good for the greatest number"; upon which, their smirking professor, utilizing the Socratic method, begins to enlighten his flock of sheeple…eventually ending the lecture with Ben Franklin's famous witty quote (re his definition of such "democracy" in general): "Two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner." What looked great "on paper" has thus been reduced to a frightening justification – "morally" and politically – to treat individuals as a commodity! As even my own professor has warned: "Peeps, you better hope and pray, to whatever god you believe in, that the hospital the ambulance takes you to isn't run by Utilitarians – or they will harvest your needed organs per their 'benevolent' philosophy of triage!" [Cue the Cybermen….]
So what would qualify as a utopia, you wish to know? A holistic system of social justice & morality founded on the universal values of every rational moral agent; in which the "greatest good" – as determined by 2,300 years of philosophic and scientific inquiry – is: the flourishing (well-being) of all conscious creatures. On the personal level, this means self-actualization as one's ultimate goal. These grand ends remind me of an apropos quote from Michelangelo: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." Inspirational words, indeed – as we "chisel away" at our genetic destiny – on both the personal and the societal level!
To achieve, or at least realistically strive for, this utopia, the following natural rights are of literally vital importance; therefore, they must be absolutely protected – and severely punished, if violated – by a centralized government:
right to Life: independent persons as "ends" in themselves – not as means;
right to Liberty: preventing the initiation of force or fraud, by any entity;
right to Property & Privacy: free of interference, to pursue one's happiness;
In this context, of establishing a moral code for everyone to internalize, it is "categorically imperative" [ironically borrowing those words from Kant] that we implement a morality which is duly (and dually) intrinsically motivated & self-regulated; otherwise, one's thoughts, feelings, and actions will not be integrated – neither will society find it easy to enforce. When integrated/self-actualized, one is perpetually "in the zone" – enjoying life effortlessly. Only upon achieving that state of mind can we give of ourselves to others optimally – instead of as "the blind leading the blind". The theory that I shall propose for this purpose, is one that does not preclude altruism; on the contrary, it is structured to preclude inefficiency by design – while encouraging specifically-targeted altruism. Furthermore, it is conceptually analogous to a universal ("virtualized") operating-system for computers: within which you could, for example, use your PC's inbuilt Windows 7 to run XP, or Linux, or even a Mac OS! Later, I shall expound upon this interesting analogy.
In order to allow, encourage, and ensure, that everyone will "reap what they've sown" – and to make such a mentality the "default setting" of our very culture – we must embrace Rational (enlightened) Ethical Egoism. O Lord…[rolling my eyes/sighing], I could hear the clamor in the audience already…. "But isn't that the evil Ayn Rand's brand of evil?!" … "How is 'selfishness' a 'virtue' or an 'ideal'? ... "You and your beloved Ayn Rand should go jump in the lake – of fire – because you're both retardiculous!"
There is definitely no other "brand" of ethics that elicits such intense hostility – or admiration, to its proponents – than Rand's Rational Enlightened Ethical Egoism [that's a lot of alliteration]! The reason for the negativity is mostly due to her silly (mis)use of provocative words like "selfishness"; which, of course, has the opposite meaning to her intended objective meaning: rational & best/long-term self-interest. Likewise, her re-defining of the layman's term "altruism" to effectively mean "irrational sacrifice", in which one trades "a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue" [Emergencies; p.86], has unfortunately harmed her noble cause (ironically, her own self-interest) in the eyes of her critics.
Regardless, she has had a profound influence on Libertarians and others who value freedom very highly, which they perceive as an unlimited opportunity to proactively seek and hopefully find their place in the world – together with the understanding that its "price" is a corresponding level of responsibility (to self-moderate one's ambitions). Her advice has even indirectly manifested itself in some quite unexpected situations: upon an in-flight emergency (on an airplane), parents are paradoxically instructed to secure their own oxygen-mask first – before they do so much as even think about helping their terrified children [for practical first-aid reasons]. Hypocritically, anti-Objectivists [Rand's detractors] would say this is an insignificant "exception" of the benefits of her "me-first/selfish" philosophy; yet they, as Rand would retort, base their own philosophy (of indiscriminate "altruism") entirely on rarely-encountered emergencies – "trapped in a 'malevolent universe' where disasters are the constant and primary concern of their lives…which bear no relation to the actual problems of [their] own [lives] and thus leave [them] to live without any moral principles what[so]ever" [Emergencies; p.85].
Since the logical (socio-political) conclusion of Rational Ethical Egoism is a Libertarian society, then everyone – even a psychopath – could find his lawful place in it. As my Ethics textbook states, even he who is otherwise anti-social will soon realize that "It's in my [rational] self-interest to do good rather than bad because I stand to benefit if I do and also because I could be ostracized or punished if I don't" [Ethics; p.23]. Amazingly, this privilege would also extend to political extremist groups; for example, communists would be permitted – even encouraged – to form communes (by stipulation between their adult members) to live as they please under their own privately-enacted rules (notwithstanding how unappealing they may seem to the rest of us). Note, however, that the converse is not true of other ideologies: no other society would ever allow Libertarians to live as they so desire; whereas, the very essence of Libertarianism is universality: incorporating any & all of the other ideologies within its own borders! That is what I was previously alluding to concerning my analogy to "virtual operating systems"….
If even psychopaths and communists could make their respective dreams come true – legally and without conflict – why would anyone ever question the inclusivity (the inherent absence of conflict) of and among our more conventional citizens? When everyone possesses equal rights, rational beings resolve any so-called "conflict" either in: 1) a free & open marketplace; 2) a legally-sanctioned "fight-club", if necessary and applicable; or 3) the (nominal) court-system – on that rare occasion that it's needed.
So…my argumentative peeps…the "moral" (pun intended) of the story is: since some of you enjoy harp-music, while others rock & roll…let's be open-minded to our genetic and cultural differences by adhering to my aforementioned exquisite ethical theory – so as to make everyone happy. If we can't all come to that universal conclusion (or "uniformly", shall we say), then I hereby suggest a uniquely fun and physical ideological battle instead: out on the field, with each ideology going about training & supporting (per their respective methods and ideals) its own sports team – to fight it out with the others!
If that, too, is not to your liking, then…there shall commence mass...
Works Cited / Consulted:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5 ed.). Arlington, Virginia, USA: American Psychiatric Association.
Badhwar, N. K., & Long, R. T. (2013, Winter). Ayn Rand. (E. N. Zalta, Ed.) Retrieved October 7, 2014, from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: plato.stanford.edu/entries/ayn…
Johnson, R. (2014, Summer). Kant's Moral Philosophy. (E. N. Zalta, Ed.) Retrieved October 7, 2014, from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: plato.stanford.edu/entries/kan…
Rand, A. (1963). The Ethics of Emergencies.
Thiroux, J. P., & Krasemann, K. W. (2012). Ethics: Theory and Practice (11 ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education.
YouTube: T.E.D. (2010, March 22). Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj9oB4…