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Ode to Cpl. Carlton B. Jones

Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates recently added a National Book Award to his MacArthur Foundation “genius” award given to him in gratitude for telling rich white folks what they want to hear: unlike all other former slaves and their descendants in the world and throughout history, being black is a “struggle” that “black bodies” cannot survive without their help and noblesse oblige. In his acceptance speech, he dedicated the award to his deceased friend Prince C. Jones, Jr. with whom he has much in common. They both lived a life of privilege with little struggle in life (except for the beatings that Mr. Coates received from his father that he then dished out to the other kids in the neighborhood and his teachers); received much family, emotional, material, and financial support from their extended family and numerous friends all of whom were college educated; received excellent educational opportunities from their parents and the American education system; and then received a free ride to college. Mr. Coates spent five years of that free ride engaging in sexual conquests and then having a child (but at least stayed and continues to live with the mother) but never graduating. Prince Jones ended seven years of that free ride not by finally graduating but by intentionally ramming his jeep — that his mommy bought for him — into what he knew to be an unmarked police car resulting in his being shot to death by the police officer in the car. Prince Jones left behind a baby mama and a daughter — another fatherless black family. Given that Mr. Jones was twice arrested for beating the mother of his child including once when she was 8 months pregnant, with the addition of the multi-million dollar civil settlement from the offending police department some good may come out of his death after all.

 

What the “journalist” Mr. Coates left out of his story about his friend Mr. Prince Jones, that he left out of his book, and that he left out and always leaves out of all of his discussions about Mr. Jones, as the Washington Post was at least honest enough to admit, is: “Black Victim, Black Cop, Black County.” The officer that shot Mr. Jones, Cpl. Carlton B. Jones, was a “black body”, the term that Mr. Coates uses in his book to refer to himself, to his son, to Mr. Jones, and to others of his “tribe” or “race”, terms that he uses despite claiming that such terms are the product or source of racism (he cannot make up his mind which). Cpl. Jones worked for and was trained by the “black elite” of Prince George’s County. This is one of the many dishonest exclusions if not outright distortions of Mr. Coates’ polemics that caused me to write the book Between the World and Us and that caused me to continue on into this blog.

 

But, to whom should I dedicate this blog? At first, as an act of irony, I was going to dedicate it to Mr. Coates’ grandmother who “cleaned white folks’ houses” in the same way that my poor, immigrant, uneducated white mother did after coming to this country as a refugee from communist Yugoslavia and a life of peasant farming going back generations. After cleaning their houses while also cleaning tables at restaurants for a few years, my mother was able to get a night job as an office cleaning lady that eventually led to the attainment of the holy grail of working class work: a union job (cleaning offices as part of the SEIU). When I was a younger man that could cry, it would bring tears to my eyes when I thought of how little I saw her during my high school years. By the time I got home from school, she had already gone to work. When I got up in the morning, she was sleeping having not gotten home until 2 or 3AM from work. I still remember a few nights when I was awake in my bed and she would quietly open my door and peak in just to see me. To this day, I do not know why I did not say anything or greet her. It just did not seem to be the right thing to do at the time. God, if I had a time machine, I would change those moments. Her cleaning lady job put food on the table, paid the mortgage, and avoided welfare for us during the years that my father was disabled from his construction laborer job and only able to find part-time work when he found any. She was glad to have the job and was good at her job.

 

The same must be true for Mr. Coates’s grandmother. Her hard work resulted in great success: his whole family including his parents and his siblings, except for Mr. Coates, are college educated and well off and thus have succeeded in the American Dream that he ridicules (his siblings work as engineers, lawyers, and business owners as did his father and mother).

 

As is true of all social elite especially writers going all the way back to Aristotle, Mr. Coates looks down on the menial, physical work done by his grandmother as demeaning. It is good enough for the likes of the poor such as my mother but not for his “gem of purest ray serene” to “waste [her] sweetness on the desert air.” Pride in one’s work and respecting the work of others, including the hard physical work in which the vast majority of humanity has toiled and is toiling, is to be restricted to the creative work of such geniuses as Mr. Coates and is not to be granted working stiffs with no hope in the present but only in the future.

 

However, I rejected such irony because such dedication would not be fair to his grandmother. If his story about her is true, which I doubt given Mr. Coates’ tendency to distort reality, no doubt she appreciates and wants her privacy in the same way my mother does. Though being a cleaning lady supporting your family is honorable work that should be a source of strength, social support, and an individual sense of worth as all work should be, it really is miserable work.

 

No, my dedication should be and is to the forgotten soul in need of much empathy in the Prince Jones half-story told by Mr. Coates: Cpl. Carlton B. Jones. Mr. Coates as with the vast majority of pundits these days gets rich sitting in the stands watching the gladiators fight life’s battles and then criticizes their technique, tactics, and strategy — another one of the privileges of life in the United States granted to Mr. Coates. This is a privilege not given to workingmen and women, white or black. This was not a privilege given to Cpl. Jones.

 

As a workingman, Cpl. Jones joined both the Army Reserve and became a police officer because according to his deposition he was “inspired by the vision of racial harmony invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr.” As many a workingman did throughout United States history, he joined the military and gave the rest of society a blank check for his life to use as it saw fit to defend the Constitution of which Mr. Coates is always invoking its protection — though never willing to risk anything to protect it. Regardless of how naive this inspiration was, I admire the willingness to do it as I did and am grateful personally that he as a “black body” did so regardless of the overall or ultimate ethical nature of the military. Having grown up in a segregated working class neighborhood that defended itself against all it perceived to be a danger to the little its residents had, all strangers or outsiders both white and black ones, the military was my first opportunity to work with and become shipmates with a “black body.” He and all other “black bodies” who joined the military throughout the years and became trusted shipmates and comrades did and do much to reduce racism in this country, vastly more than either pretend intellectual elites such as Mr. Coates or pretend warriors such as the Malcolm X’s and Black Panthers of the world too busy concentrating on their struggles for personal power to be mates or comrades to anyone else. Though I am not a fan of police officers, I do understand and admire his inspiration to become a police officer to put the bad guys away and to fight for truth, justice, and the American way of life.

 

Unfortunately, as young idealists such as Cpl. Jones soon learn, it is not always clear who the bad guys are, and truth, justice, and the American way of life are not what Martin Luther King nor any other politician, white or black, makes them appear to be. As Clarence Darrow once said, “there is no justice in life, in or out of court.” As Mr. Coates’ journalism, books, and awards establish, truth is what those in power say is true — most of the time, in the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is not king but a danger to be eliminated. That aspect of the American way of life consisting of the High Noon image of a solitary peace officer standing up against the bad guys is an idealistic one but also a delusional one. As many a military veteran has learned and as Cpl. Jones learned the night that Prince Jones decided to ram him with his jeep, despite intense training, the facing of death and danger with rational reserve and then spitting in their faces sounds nice and looks cool on television, movies, and in the books by writers such as Mr. Coates who have never faced such a situation and most likely never will, but it is a completely different matter to face in reality. Facing what appears to be an attempt to kill by someone willing to kill is scary, especially the first time. If John Wayne or Russell Crowe faced Prince Jones on the night that Cpl. Jones did, perhaps they would have been able to transfer their screen persona into life and everyone would have survived completely unharmed. Based on my life experience, I doubt it. As many a man or woman in similar circumstances throughout history have done, Cpl. Jones got scared, could not think straight, and began to shoot wildly at his attacker. A mistake with which he must live for the rest of his life.

 

The undisputed fact about life is that if one tries to work, to do things in life, to actually fight the battle and problem that is life, one will make mistakes about which the critics such as Mr. Coates sitting in the stands watching can then critique, ridicule, write about, and be rewarded. However, my hat and dedication is to those in the arena fighting the battle that is life. Cpl. Jones seems to have disappeared from the county police department and I have not been able to locate him anywhere. No doubt, if he still is or ever was the idealist that his court deposition makes him appear to be, he is somewhere still suffering from the guilt of his mistake. He is doing so without the empathy of public sympathy but with the public humiliation of having his mistake constantly marketed and publicized by Mr. Coates so that he can sell books. Wherever he is, I wish him good hope. As a military veteran and thus as a warrior, he should not need and I hope he succeeds in dealing with his guilt without the publicity and public sympathy that Mr. Coates needs and craves. At least, as a fellow workingman, I hope that we are comrades in the never ending struggle with the powers-that-be that we are destined to lose — in this life at least.

No Respect but Fear

One big difference between working class and non-working class and between old school blue collar working class and the modern white collar working class is the present respect and expectation of law and police as being a good. This difference is also one reason I know cosmic justice organizations that are blaming racial problems on institutional racism and white privilege are really a technique by upper class privileged and their intelligentsia to strengthen their power and classism.  Only the non-working class looks at the police and the law as a good to be respected and from which good is expected. As far back as I can remember in detail, I never respected the law nor the police just as no working class person should respect it. I feared it as any working class kid should but never respected it as no working class kid did or should — even in the present white collar working class. This is one major difference between the old school blue collar working class and the new white collar working class. If I ever had any hope for justice, it was for justice in the next life not in this one. Usually, I had no hope for justice just for peace. This is not because the working class is a bunch of dump hillbillies who did not know any better as falsely marketed by a new friend of the upper class J.D. Vance in his book Hillbilly Elegies telling the upper class and its intelligentsia what they want to hear (that the working class is dysfunctional). Our conclusions on law and the police were and are very rational and based on the reality of working class life. I write here as a summary of my life experience.  For a working class person’s analysis of Hillbilly Elegies that is not intended to say only what rich people want to hear, there are critiques such as The Self-Serving Hustle of “Hillbilly Elegy”.

The law was not and is never there when workers need it and when it was there it usually did and does make things worse. Some of this was a technology problem. We did not have 911 growing up. To my memory 911 was not added in Chicago until the early 80’s. So even if you had a burglar breaking through your window in the middle of the night with a gun, your first option was not to call the police. Even if you had memorized the number, which I never did nor knew anyone that did, picking up the rotary phone and dialing seven numbers with the clicking of the dial being heard all through house including the burglar was a fairly stupid option. Unless you had a gun yourself and were willing to use it and risk getting shot yourself or killing someone, the options involved running away, staying quiet hoping they take what they wanted and leave, or yelling to wake up the neighbors hoping one of them would call the police — at which point a rational burglar would leave. If someone jumped you in an alley, you could not pull out your cellphone and call the police. You either avoided the alley, fought back, or gave in. Now the law and police are everywhere and the average person commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. Worse, everyone is accustomed to having this Sword of Damocles the police everywhere and anywhere anything social is occurring.

More important, socially, the police were just another working class group fighting for the same resources we were. They had their turf just as the greasers (gangsters) had their turf. Smart thing to do was just to leave both of them alone as much as possible. If a cop with a gun told you to do something, you did it in the same way you followed the orders of a gangster with a gun. We did not expect reasonableness from either. Many police were former greasers; for many greasers as they got older, it was a choice between being a criminal and being a cop. The smart ones mostly became cops and the dumb ones criminals. That is pretty much how they investigated matters. The cops knew who the bad guys were, it was just a matter of waiting until they screwed up and they eventually always did. Being a cop was much safer though it did not always pay better in those days but the smarter ones found a way to make it pay better as I wrote in my previous blog essay on ethics. We did not have anything to steal and since we did not take vacations there was always someone at home and we did not have to worry about burglary. The big problem was violence inside the home and street violence. The police could not help with the family violence and still cannot except by destroying the family. As far as street violence goes, as long as you did not go out looking for trouble at night (as Ta-Nehisi Coates clearly did in his desire to be a big man in the neighborhood by beating up others and his teachers), you were not completely but fairly safe in terms of criminal violence. The smart and disciplined knew where the trouble was and worked around it or with it. The police and the law were the last not first option if one did need help.

Luckily, I grew up before the upper class introduced illegal drugs into working class communities, so I did not have to watch entire families being torn apart and generations of men jailed for something that should be legal and taxed with medical aid going to the addicted and their families.

Also, by the time I got to high school, I knew enough history to know that most of the good things we and the working class had in life consisting of the eventual union job for my Dad with its better pay and benefits and even basic concepts such as a 40-hour week, weekends, and over-time, double-time, and golden-time pay plus health insurance and a union pension were not the result of the law but of hard-fought physical fighting against the law — almost all of it involved illegal fighting, some of it done with the help of organized crime that was organized enough to take on the law. In fact, most of the successful union organizing and strikes were considered organized crime in their fruition and were prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy by the majesty of the law in the early days of union organizing. This is true throughout history. Capitalism maintains that humans are naturally greedy and compete and thus through this competition in a free market that wealth is created. The problem is that in practice what this means is that it is good for the rich to be naturally greedy. Just like the immigrants who are supposed to come to this country for truth, justice, and the American way not just for material wealth, workers are expected to be simple altruists: being a greedy materialist worker is simply being a greedy materialist worker not a good. Capitalism without doubt does create wealth, but the wealth is not and was never voluntarily distributed in any significant amount to the working class: they took it by violence. I wrote about this history in a previous blog essay dealing with the Haymarket Square riots and the resulting worldwide May Day celebration ignored in the United States.

My Dad’s Local in the Labors’ International Union was well known to have mafia connections and I do not doubt it did. As I stated before, I think the mafia is a bunch of scum. Admitting their involvement in union organizing is not meant to be praise. Their involvement in union organizing was not based on any altruism but purely on economic opportunity. It is not a coincident that union membership, strikes, wages, the 40-hour work week, job security, and the imposition of what is essentially a 24/7 on-call workweek for many white collar workers is occurring at the same time as the disappearance of unions and criminal enterprises strong enough to aid unions to take on the law. I am not saying it is directly associated but it is part of the same process. At the height of labor organizing in the late 19th and 20th Century there were thousands of strikes each year. There were 11 in 2014. There was a time when 30% of the labor force was unionized; it is down to 6% now with most of that government employees such as the police. The anti-union marketing and outright brainwashing have gotten so bad that white collar workers think worse of unions than they do of the law that is creating wage slavery to replace its chattel slavery.

Think about what would have to be accomplished if Millennials, Generation X, and others got tired of burning to death living in old warehouses (as is occurring in Oakland CA) making minimum wage because they could not afford decent apartments and decide to start a union. So, how do you organize one? Where do you get the money to do that? Private equity or venture capital? Unless you have a trust fund that you are willing to risk, there are no legal options for getting financing. Then what? No one cares. You move on anyway. Instead of putting on a mask and going to Berkeley to beat up on each other over gender identity, you go on strike and block the entrance gates of your employers’ place of business and prevent the hiring of new employees. How long do you think that will last? A few hours, a few minutes? You are now terminated from employment; cannot pay your rent and have no money. You do not even qualify for unemployment because you were terminated for cause. Your union and the strike are essentially over a few minutes after it started. Labor organizing is a risky business even in the best of times; there were hundreds of annual strikes during the Depression. Not only were the union organizers facing financial ruin but also facing the police and the army if necessary as strike breakers putting union members in jail not the employers. Both for money, personal protection, and for leverage, many times the only option those union organizers had for help with these necessities was organized crime. In theory, any private contractor in the Chicago area could have hired non-union construction laborers any time they wanted instead of hiring them from the Laborers’ Union. Some did. It was usual for that contractor to shortly thereafter suffer an office fire, the construction equipment stolen or destroyed, and the construction sites suffer fires and other vandalism. Predictably, when the contractor hired union labor, the problem stopped never to occur again. Lesson learned.

The working class is not made up of idiots. As with everyone else, 90% of them would probably have done nothing and taken whatever crumbs were given to them by the upper classes. Ten percent would not. When that 10% by luck were able to get the other 90% united with a will to fight, they all fought hard for what they got as they have throughout history.

Without doubt as everyone is quick to point out many of these unions were divided along ethnic, racial, trade, locality, and many other differences that caused them to fight each other as much as they fought their employers. At least they fought. As my life and the lives of many other in the working class establish, a solitary individual cannot fight the law and is simply a criminal. It takes social support: an extended supporting family, a group identity, an ethnicity, or anything to create a social unity and force strong enough to take on the law — legal or not. The first strike in America was by Polish workers: Jamestown Polish Craftsmen’s Strike of 1619. The strength of the first successful black union consisting of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was successful because it could count on 100,000 black members to act in unison in an economic fight against the Powers. Do you think anyone could get 100,000 of anyone these days to act in unison against the law on anything? Or even suggest it without being arrested and jailed? If the new generation of white collar workers now wanted to take up the fight against the Powers, what social support would you have? Family? Maybe, if you have more than a single mother as family, but that is it. Fellow Polish, Italians, whites, blacks, the village, the neighborhood? Who? As far as I can see, the future that the new school working class wants and will get consists of unisex, homogeneous, culturally stagnant, one color, paper-cutouts of each other living solitary lives of temporary jobs without family, community, or other social support except for the handouts they get from Big Brother. Well, good luck with it. At least you will find the peace I always hoped for in this life.

Existential Philosophy of Law

A slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. — Albert Camus, The Rebel

This essay is a continuation of my closing thoughts in Why Tolerate Law available on the attached Blogroll. Blind loyalty to patrician Hegelian reason and state worship in the form of law as meaning in life is different in degree but not in substance to the theocratic state worship of the East and is a surrender to cowardice not an existential leap from it.

This is a contemplation of the meaning of the universal “law” in its modern sense of nonscientific law: in the universe of language discourse that results in decisions of legality and illegality. There seems to be more to the meaning of “law” than simply a set of rules. For one, calling something a rule instead of a law requires knowing the difference between rules and laws. Second, unlike most sets of rules such as games, one can leave the game to make other games. This option does not exist with law; if one leaves the law or legality, one is either in lawlessness or illegal. I will further contemplate whether this universal can be naturalized to scientific law and seek to determine whether such meaning and naturalization are or can be an existential philosophy of law. This contemplation will require contemplating the attributes of existentialism as they exist in plebeian lives that includes nihilism and not solely from the more popular academic patrician existentialism that excludes nihilism. I do not want this contemplation and any existential philosophy of law to be just another academic -ism, it was have pragmatic value for the plebeian portion of the class struggle that is history.

Existentially, life will always be meaningless and whatever social meaning it has will be forced upon the many by a few. For those few with the power to make their meaning in life the meaning of the group’s life, existentialism gives their will to power freedom to act and makes their struggle existential and aesthetically beautiful. However, for the many upon whom the few force their meaning, existentialism not only fails to give their will to power this same freedom but instead binds it and leaves their struggle to be existential and ugly. Patricians have the luxury to pine for meaning through their aesthetics and then violently either through law or directly to force that meaning on the remainder of humanity, but the plebeian existential absurd hero must not only fight and survive the absurdity of the universe but also this patrician will to power that forces the meaning of their lives upon the universe and all outside their class. For all known history and at present, both struggles eventually involve use of violence, but at least for the moment, the violence aspect is hidden in the behavior modifying techniques of Technological Society. As the plebeian existential absurd hero Don “Wardaddy” Collierand through Brad Pitt ad-libbed: “ideals are peaceful, history is violent”. Empirically, given that class struggle is an unavoidable inherent attribute of all social constructs, plebeians must ask whether it is better to suffer an existential struggle with the universe while governed by the few while living in material poverty in pre-Technological Society or while living comfortably in Technological Society with free time for contemplation of philosophy.

If an existential leap to morality is made, eventually that morality will run into the status of law as an unopposed normative power in the West as the present reality that must be confronted and then accepted or opposed as a good or an evil.

I do not intend to promote or criticize any particular social construct of Technological Society, either political (so-called conservative or liberal versions) nor any of the countless academic myopic constructs pretending to be history varying from feminism to classism to libertarian to post-structuralism to race studies and so forth nor its economic constructs such as capitalism, socialism, and so forth. My contemplation is only to describe the social construct called law that is a universal in all social constructs as a final arbiter of their normative statements. From the plebeian perspective, criticism would be stupid. Modern plebes irrespective of their status as wage slaves or not, of all sexes, kinds, and lives in Western Technological Society, live the finest material and least violent lives in known history. Money may not buy happiness but it buys everything else. At the same time, however, it would be stupid to promote Technological Society because it still maintains the same class distinctions and unequal will to power that all social constructs throughout known history have maintained. Patricians will promote it on their own without our help — despite their pretending to despise it. However, patricians despite complaints to the contrary, will promote it as static condition to remain forever as the ultimate social construct meaning for life in the same way they promoted chattel slavery, feudalism, bullionism, mercantilism, and all the other -ism’s that came before capitalism and socialism and any other social constructs they presently promote. If there is a next progression for Technological Society, it must come through plebeian existential struggles with patricians and not from any patrician existential struggle among themselves. Regardless of whining about despair, patricians are just fine as they are, were, and will be.

Cosmic Justice and Classism

The economist Thomas Sowell is a true working class hero. He was born in the Jim Crow South in 1930 with his father dying shortly thereafter leaving his mother, a housemaid, with five children to raise. As a child, his encounters with white people were so limited he did not know blond was a hair color. He and his extended family eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina then to Harlem, New York City. After serving in various manual labor and other odd jobs, he was drafted into the military in 1951 during the Korean War and was assigned to the Marine Corps. After his honorable discharge, he went on to use his G.I. Bill and subsequent educational opportunities to attend Howard University, Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago to get his Ph.D. in economics. He is now at Stanford University.

 

In many of his essays and subsequent books, he argues against the concept of cosmic justice that is required talk throughout the American upper class, its law, and its intelligentsia — its social justice warriors — to hide its will to power. He defines cosmic justice in relation to traditional concepts of justice as follows:

For those with this view, “genuine equality of opportunity” cannot be achieved by the application of the same rules and standards to all, but requires specific interventions to equalize either prospects or results. As Rawls puts it, “undeserved inequalities call for redress.” A fight in which both boxers observe the Marquis of Queensberry rules would be a fair fight, according to traditional standards of fairness, irrespective of whether the contestants were of equal skill, strength, experience or other factors likely to affect the outcome– and irrespective of whether that outcome was a hard-fought draw or a completely one-sided beating. This would not, however, be a fair fight within the framework of those seeking “social justice,” if the competing fighters came into the ring with very different prospects of success — especially if these differences were due to factors beyond their control.  “The Quest for Cosmic Justice” by Thomas Sowell

I have spent most of my life disagreeing with him, but I must now admit at least partial error in my disagreement. Gradually, as I have gotten older and fortunately or unfortunately my idealism has been diluted by pragmatic reality, I have learned to agree with him but only to the extent of rejecting cosmic justice in the rule of law but not as a normative goal through social and cultural goals that existentially may never be achieved. The existentialist absurd individual who has made a leap into morality as an individual dealing with other individuals in daily life must continue to struggle for cosmic justice as an end in itself with its own independent meaning. As I have argued before in this series of essays, social economic classes are a necessary part of human social group struggle against the universe. We need to admit their existence in order to minimize their unfairness and for society to prosper even though existentially I will always protest their existence in reality.

 

One objection to Sovell’s arguments is that even traditional concepts of fairness such as those exhibited by the rules of sports incorporate pragmatic means outside the rules to make them fair. For example, in boxing there are weight classes. It would not be considered a “fair fight” for a 135 lb. lightweight to be matched up against a 235 lb. heavyweight. These types of class distinctions are made in all rules of sports varying from baseball with its various levels of amateur and pro playing to golf with its handicaps and onto Formula and Moto racing with classes based on engine size. Mr. Sowell seems to admit to the validity of this objection in some of his other writings and implies the need for a social equivalent to sports classes. For example, in his criticism of affirmative action, he argues it disadvantages the lower classes because they cannot compete on the same level as upper class college students and thus drop-up at higher rates; he argues they would be better off attending a college with others of their class thus allowing them to graduate and work up to upper class education. “”Affirmative Action Around the World” by Thomas Sowell.

 

Furthermore, as a young man, I objected to his argument because I took on as a moral code the classic so-called Warrior Ethos: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Why should I leave any fellow workers behind in my battle for victory over the powers-that-be, especially if I win the battle or the war? Is that not also the Christian Ethos: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves”? Romans 15.

 

My first step to agreeing at least partially with him was my military service and reading of military history. Turns out warriors leave their comrades behind all the time. The trials for cowardice of the Battle of Arginusae generals for leaving stranded drowning sailors behind and the Marines dragging their frozen dead with them as they retreated from the Battle of Chosin Reservoir were a rarity in military history including Marine Corps history and for all military units in world history, on land and on sea. During hasty retreats, leaving behind the wounded, the dead, and the equipment while running like hell was much more common.

 

Next, I was changed by my years spent in the American system of injustice. In it, though one might occasionally win a battle against the powers-that-be, in the end, one always lose the war. The law is full of talk of diversity, victims, and social justice but the end result is the same as in all systems of injustice throughout history: maintain the power of the status quo. The reality of cosmic justice at work in the law is twofold: 1) changing from time to time whom it advantages and disadvantages so as to keep competing social groups including the male and female sexes in constant conflict; 2) transforming being a victim of injustice, including its own, into a culture of victimization that gives meaning to victims’ lives and to those who want power over them so they do not become motivated to force real change in life. In fact, many cosmic justice warriors and their camp followers are more happy in their culture of victimization and poverty than I have ever been or will be in fighting to avoid it; so much so that they are willing to promote and procreate their myth onto messing up the lives of posterity.

 

One clear example of this process at work is American Indian culture — a fabricated culture that does not really even exist. If there is any meaning to the words “American Indian” other than to give upper class Americans and their intelligentsia something to pity, it would be only to reference a particular trial culture, i.e., Cherokee, Navajo, and so forth. However, these tribal cultures died out long ago with the best and brightest individuals of those cultures long ago having mixed into American culture as all other immigrant groups of the past have done and as occurred throughout history between conquerors and those conquered. What remains of those dead tribal cultures consist of a bunch of modern day Americans pretending to be tribes as a source of meaning in their lives and as a means to get government assistance. American Indians are the most impoverished social group in the country and statistically lead in single parent households, mental illness, child abuse, crime, drug problems, and education dropouts with a resulting lead in juvenile crime. Yet, their so-called leaders with their will-to-power need to protect their fiefdoms of power on government provided reservations continue and foster the farce of American Indian culture. At any level of power, those in power, including the big fish in the small pond of American Indian reservations, will convert any intentions — either good or bad — into a means of power as an end in itself, even intentions of cosmic justice. No good deed will go unpunished by the powers-that-be if they can use it as a means of maintaining their power or of obtaining more power.

 

A future example of this culture of victimization will be the black Americans left behind by their upper class brothers and sisters using new school racism as a means to get and stay upper class. Please see my previous essays on New School Racism. As I predicted in those essays and in greater detail in “Between the World and Us” (that is already coming to life by the demands of black Harvard University students for a separate graduation ceremony for black graduates), the solution for racism by Ta-Nehisi Coates and other black members and friends of the upper class is: establish a separate but equal education system for “black bodies”, letting black men commit self-genocide by continuing to kill each other, letting black women raise families by themselves, and creating black ghettos with the help of a new 21st Century slave master: government. Thus, thanks to cosmic justice warriors, we have come full circle: the solution to racism will be racism.

 

For any working social construct concept of fairness to be useful to humanity’s struggle with the universe to survive, as with fairness in rules of athletics and other sports, it must accept the presence of social economic class struggle as a present and future necessity. This presence is not a basis to create laws giving preference or preventing discrimination among class as occurs with all preferences present in civil rights laws serving only to hide class conflict while aggravating it. The acceptance of the necessity to have class conflict is necessary as a basis to eliminate and negate such law in order to allow classes to work and struggle within themselves for individual success and to compete with each other for overall social success. Civil rights laws result from the arrogance of the Orwellian High who view workers as hopeless idiots doomed to a life of misery, drug addiction, violence, and meaningless deaths without their aid and control. Billions of Orwellian Middle and Low throughout history have loved and been loved and have struggled and triumphed in every day struggles for life, property, and liberty. These struggles have created modern Technological Society. As basic fairness, this Society must allow us the freedom to continue our struggles among ourselves to control the present and future of the Technological Society our struggles have created.

 

A cosmic justice concept demanding illusionary equality for all enforced by the law’s monopoly on violence at the expense of equity for all through social and cultural pragmatism helps only the powers-that-be. The first stumbling block for application into Technological Society of Sovell’s “genuine equality of opportunity” with social economic class acceptance will be the law. How can we bring this pragmatic concept of fairness to life in the present delusional reality of the American system of injustice in which law negates and then demands a monopoly of violence for its power of negation of all social and cultural norms other than its cosmic vision of justice?

To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part IV

So, finally, what should a person do, be an ethical person or be a good person? At this point, the only solace I have is that I am not alone in not having an answer. The working class hero Albert Camus spent a serious part of his unfortunately short life asking various forms of this question in such writings as The Fallen, The Plague, and The Rebel, but even he was never able to answer it. In the end, all he could say was “The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown.” The problem with the question is the subtlety of the problem that like the tip of an iceberg hides the enormity hidden beneath consisting of a defect in the human soul.

 
As I have written before, the power of law and the classism it maintains and enforces seems to be a necessity part of reality because of humanity’s inherent struggle for survival with the natural world trying to kill us. In this battle to exist with the universe, humanity needs to be organized in an efficient hierarchy in the same way any community involved in a battle would need to be organized to win. This need for efficiency is the foundation and source of all of our historical, material, and economic progress. This was Plato’s argument against state rule in the form of a democracy: it is simply too slow and cumbersome to work efficiently when democracies are confronted with tragic problems of survival, and thus democracy will eventually become anarchy and then tyranny. So far, history has not falsified his theoretic predictions for the path of democracies. Fine, so we will always have laws and a legal system to maintain the necessary injustice in life of social and economic classes regardless of whether it be a democracy or a tyranny or anything else. Thus, for workers the question of whether to be law-abiding or a law breaker is analogous to asking whether one should or should not comply with the orders of someone holding a gun to one’s head. It is a question of how suicidal your situation has become or of how lucky one feels. For workers and for everyone except for the minority at the top of any society’s class structure, it is an obvious problem with obvious options: work or go to jail.

 
With ethics, the problem begins with the first thought of it being a problem: questioning ethics implies you are a bad person, even when the ethics is simply a fabricated set of rules by a small group designed substantively only to maintain that small group’s power with little or no connection to any pragmatic reality except for maintenance of that power. Ethics is a religion that denies being a religion which makes it worse than a religion. At least with the major Western religions, a person can be virtuous and moral by good intentions though they do not act upon the knowledge or intent. “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum” (Love the sinner but hate the sin). — St. Augustine, His Letter 211 at 424. This is not enough for ethics. Ethics is personal. It is a scarlet “E” placed upon sinners indicating to all one is unclean.

 
Ethics is a choice of work or no work that in some ways is worse than jail since individuals trying to be and to do good in life need either work ties or social ties to give meaning to their lives. Karl Marx saw work as a source of alienation for workers, however, being unemployed because one is “unethical” with no resources to strive, to contribute to society, or to enjoy one’s leisure time by some form of creativity is a mental prison for good persons as bad as imprisonment and worse than any alienation caused by work. Furthermore, ethics is enforced not by the hacks that visibly and directly make up the legal system and therefore are an enemy one can see and fight but by fellow workers — again just as is a community’s religion. It is a Western form of being made an outcaste only without a formal caste system and thus without the social support of other outcastes. Thomas Sowell’s book “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy” calls this modern ethics based view on what should be pragmatic considerations a “vision of the anointed”; he calls it a cosmic view of virtue as a basis for policy decisions instead of using the reality of dealing and solving problems. He directs his accusations to the American liberal intelligentsia but it could just as easily be applied to the right except for the fact that the polemics of the right are at least honest about their cosmic visions of virtue being religious.

 
A simple answer would be to comply with any given rules of ethics, keep one’s job, and do not make trouble. Following orders and doing what one is told to do without question, there is an answer that has always worked out well for being a good and moral person — not.

 
My only answer is: empathy. Unlike the thousands of new laws enacted and enforced upon us anew each year in addition to the libraries of law already out there by the Inner Party and its Outer Party house servants, ethics is enforced by workers upon workers. In our modern Technological Society rule of law, the average person commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. (See generally, “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent”, Encounter Books (June 7, 2011.)) Any time the law wants to get us, any of us, it can. We are all in the same unethical boat. Remember this next time you want to look with disdain about the “unethical” practices, conduct, views, or acts of fellow workers regardless what may be the employment, social, or political situation. More than ever, if we are to be judged by a secular religion called ethics, the religious advice “he who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone” is more important than ever.

To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part III

Despite their inherent dishonest and fraudulent nature, the popularity and quantity of codes of ethics have grown during the last few decades seemingly exponentially. They are omnipresent everywhere in all aspects of government and private sector organizations of any type. Why? During these same decades, local, state, and federal agencies passed 5,000 to 6,000 new regulations a year with some years going as high as 13,000 to 16,000 new regulations in one year. With these new regulations, there have been added thousands of new government agencies, millions of additional government workers, and billions of dollars more spent on enforcement and prosecution of all these various versions of new laws. These legally enforced normative “ought” statements tell us what we “ought” to be doing in every conceivable area of human private and social conduct varying from age discrimination to zoo-keeping. Every moment of our waking and sleeping lives are directly or indirectly affected if not usually outright governed by numerous laws. The average person commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. So, what could possibly be the need and source of demand to add ethics “ought” codes — and thus ethics code interpretations — to this omnipresent and ever presence mess of “ought” rules by both government and private entities.

 
According to many historians, the ethics code fad in the United States started in the 1970’s with the Watergate scandal during which the Washington Post and then it seems everyone else in the United States and the world decided in the paraphrased words of Captain Renault from Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that [dirty trickery] is going on in here” in the White House. They were shocked because apparently the Washington Post and the other powers-that-be involved had never bothered reading the history of past political dirty tricks, lying, bribery, perjury, fraud, destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice, and much more (such as trying to kill the opposition and actually killing the opposition as in the famous Burr-Hamilton duel) reported and contained in the Washington Post and its archives. Whatever, for reasons beyond the limitations of this essay, President Nixon’s dirty trips were considered unacceptable. To prevent it from ever happening again, the powers decided we must have ethics codes for all government officials and employees especially government lawyers and then this fad escalated into having ethics codes in all private sectors jobs and job training — to have ethics codes everywhere and anywhere.

 
Why would Watergate cause such a fad? President Nixon had to resign (first President in United States history to do so) and only avoided jail because his chosen successor gave him a full presidential pardon; he went from being considered historically one of our most intelligent and competent presidents both for domestic and international affairs to being considered a fool and demon. Everyone else involved suffered one to all of the following: prison, lost their jobs, divorce, lost their families, and loss their life ambitions and hopes. Their lives were completely ruined except for the few who were upper class enough to rebuild their lives once released from jail or who “found Christ” in jail and thus are out now lecturing us on what we ought to be doing. If these results and the risk of suffering such results did not, do not, or could not prevent a repetition of political dirty tricks, how can ethics codes do it? If the thousands of other laws, law enforcement personnel and agencies, and legal and political risks associated with “dirty tricks” do not stop them, how can it possibly be the case that ethics codes would stop them?

 
They will not and do not. There is no evidence nor any basis in all known human history to believe that whatever improvement has occurred in government and private honesty, ethics, or morality is in anyway due to dishonest and amoral (at best) ethics codes. Take away the technological and material progress of the last few decades and any remaining ethics codes (and even most of the laws passed during these times) would be as farcical as talking about the glory and honor of the Roman Senate and Emperor at the times the Praetorian Guard was selling the Empire and the emperor’s crown to the highest bidder.

 
Parenthetically, I doubt if there has been any substantive change in the honest, ethical, or moral nature of humanity and society since the 1960’s with or without ethics codes or anything else. As sociologists such as Jacques Ellul have pointed out in critiques of technological society, technology and material progress reduces the need and options for individual moral choice and thus society appears morally better since everyone must follow orders and not make waves to maintain and continue technological and material progress. Not having the opportunity to sin assures that one will not sin but does not make one any more or any less a sinner. The only substantive change has been in the sophistication and subtlety of political and private sector dishonesty and the degree of adverse or beneficial effects that any individual can make on society. Consider the following two examples.

 
These days, if my illiterate Dad were around and starting out in the same situation as he did in the 1960’s, it is true he would not need to bribe a government official to pass the drivers’ examination. He would be allowed to take it in his native language and pass it legally. However, other than further eroding the nature of the United States as a melting pot, such advantage would make little difference to my Dad and makes little difference to any modern lower class immigrants or working poor since now it is not worth getting a driver’s license because they could not afford to legally drive a car anyway. The costs of new sales taxes (one of the most regressive taxes), new inspection fees, mandatory insurance, more and higher registration fees, higher maintenance costs, and even simple costs such as parking tickets requiring a half-day of minimum wage work to pay off, all make legally owning and driving a car for the working poor practically impossible. (Raising fees sounds nicer to the powers than raising taxes despite the regressive adverse effects of such fees on those least able to afford them.) As a result, if they unavoidably must own and drive, they do so illegally. Such illegal use avoids having to prosecute a government official for bribery but the end result is the same. Criminal and thus unethical  behavior is still needed for survival and especially for improvement out of the poor and working classes into upper classes for all but a rare few.

 
John Dean, the supposed “master manipulator ” of the Watergate scandal and the upper class snitch who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for his cooperation on those who did the dirty work for him while he kept his hands clean, has kept his upper class audacity to tell others what they ought to be doing. In a statement to Solon.com on 3 October 2003, he gave a rare insight into the workings of our 1984 Outer and Inner Parties and of his class:

I thought I had seen political dirty tricks as foul as they could get, but I was wrong. In blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame to take political revenge on her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth, Bush’s people have out-Nixoned Nixon’s people. And my former colleagues were not amateurs by any means.

 

Thus, there is the appearance of progress in social ethics but really no substance to the progress. As always, all social and economic classes are relative to the times, but as the Good Book says at page 542, “the law given and the law taken away, as it was in the beginning, and now, and ever shall be.” Personally, I think we would have more success in controlling ethics between government officials and private powers if we went back to  allowing them to duel among themselves as in the days of Burr and Hamilton.

 
So, what could possibly be creating the demand and proliferation of dishonest, unethical, and amoral codes of ethics that serve no useful purpose? I could not answer this contemplation until I went back to my secular bible, George Orwell’s 1984. “Power is not a means it is an end. … The object of power is power.” How stupid of me. As usual in my working class naivete, I assume all work is toward a goal or a purpose. The powers-that-be by definition are those that can enforce what they think “ought” to be on the rest of humanity. Codes of ethics spitting out verbiage for no purpose other than to fraudulently talk about what “ought” to be are perfect wordgames to engage their time when not engaged in the wordgame of being the law.

To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part II

Theoretically, in the abstract, omnipresent business, academic, and government codified rules of ethics present a serious philosophical dilemma for anyone whose morality considers honesty to be a virtue — really for anyone whose morality is other than might-makes-right and especially for any morality accepting as an imperative any concept of Western Classical or Christian virtues. Codes of ethics are dishonest in substantive foundation, dishonest in essential procedure, and dishonest in execution. If a basic imperative of your personal morality of goodness is honesty or at least the desire for honesty, to be a good person one should reject modern codes of ethics. However, such rejection makes a person by definition unethical by modern ethics codes and therefore also immoral or amoral by such codes — as contemplated earlier, modern ethics codes do not recognize their own irrationality nor emotively seek empathy with personal morality that opposes or contradicts it so any opposition or contradiction is by definition unethical. In practice, this dilemma is heightened in concrete practice by the necessarily irrational and arbitrary nature of how codes of ethics operate in practical reality even when faced with the simplest of problems.

 

Personal morality may be personal but once a person lives in society with others, one’s personal morality must include a workable method, intuition, algorithm, or whatever one uses to resolve conflicts with the billions of other personal moralities out there. At one extreme, if one’s method of resolution is having personal duels to the death with any conflicts, the majesty of the law will eventually make your sense of morality unworkable by your imprisonment; for this extreme this contemplation is meaningless. At the other extreme, if one’s method of resolution for any conflict between personal morality and codes of ethics is to follow orders and not make trouble, my contemplation is also fairly worthless since following orders blindly and not making trouble by definition means that codes of conduct and law will be your personal morality. Historically, it is this final method of resolution that has been and will be the dominant one by the majority of persons at any given time.

 
Many supposedly good and moral preachers of ethics criticize humanity’s tendency to follow orders blindly as unethical — while of course demanding such blind compliance with their codes of ethics — quickly pointing to the atrocities of World War II as examples. However, as usual when pundits use historical argument, this argument is not historically valid. As pointed out in earlier essays, humanity’s battle to survive in a universe that is at best indifferent to our existence when it is not actively trying to kill us is essentially a war in which society is analogous to a military in a battle for its life. Unfortunately, many times in this struggle against the universe, society often is more in need of pure disciplined and organized group will-to-power than individual freedom to act as the individual thinks best. If humanity did not have an instinct to follow orders and not make trouble in situations that call for quick, organized, action against the universe, we would not be living in caves but would have died out as life long ago. Without such an intuition to blindly follow orders or authority in some circumstances, as bad as the results are sometimes, modern technological society would not be possible and World War II would have been lost by the Allies. The gross injustice and unfairness of this reality created by destiny, fate, God, nature, or whatever you want to call it is contemplated elsewhere.

 
So, what about when a person’s options are somewhere in between these two extremes? Even for modern individuals who try never to make ethical trouble, there will be times when there will occur a dilemma created by a personal morality conflicting with a code of ethics. In such case, my contemplation here is worthwhile but still seems to be unable to resolve the dilemma. Since this is a contemplation for workers and not academics, I will submit my first memory of being faced with this dilemma in real life as a means to further this contemplation.

 
As a young child emigrate to this country, I went to school very young and thus learned English quickly by being immersed in it — there was no such thing as bilingual education at the time. This was not true of my parents. They spoke their native dialect at home, with their other immigrate friends, and usually at work. Even into their old age, they spoke only broken English and were never literate in English. My Dad worked as a construction laborer. Since we lived in the city and the better construction work was what seem at that time to be in another world of far distant suburbs being built to which there was no public transportation, my Dad needed a car to maximize his earning potential. The problem was that he could not read and write either in his native language or in English. The illiteracy in his native language did not matter since at the time government tests such as the driver’s license written examinations were only given in English, but the latter illiteracy was a big problem needing to be resolved.

 
Since he took me with him to the DMV in case any translation was needed, I saw how through the decades the immigrant community had resolved this problem. He knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy at the DMV who for a payment of $25 – $50, do not remember the exact amount, would make sure my Dad passed the driver’s license written examination. Given that a worker’s annual income in those days was about $5000 a year, this $25-$50 was good money. So the following happened: my Dad walked up to this guy’s booth at the DMV as directed; made the filing fee payment plus the bride; got the blank test back with his name and address written in by me copying from my Dad’s green card (immigration card); we waited for a few minutes while my Dad pretended to fill in the test; took the blank test back to this dude; and magically a few minutes later after this dude hand-graded the exam as was done in those days, the test was filed in the paper drawers with a sufficient number of correct answers to pass. My Dad then got his driving permit; went over to the driving exam section; took the driving road test; passed it; and he had his drivers’ license that same day. Do not remember if someone drove us to the DMV or if he drove to it as an unlicensed driver.

 
So, what occurred was definitely illegal, but was it unethical or immoral? Since it was illegal, it would by definition also be unethical though I am not aware of any code of ethics that would have applied to the situation at that time in the 60’s. Until the 1970’s, most codes of ethics were limited to so-called professional organizations such as medical associations and attorney bar associations. So, was it immoral; was my father a bad person for doing what he did? He needed a license to better support his family. No one was hurt. My father knew how to drive as well as or better than anyone; he drove about 20,000 – 25,000 miles a year to and from construction work and had no at-fault accidents that I remember. He was not a danger to anyone since he knew how to drive both physically and mentally. So, what is the moral problem? Every illegal act is unethical but most certainly not every illegal act is immoral. In fact, many illegal acts from anti-slavery revolts to slave revolts are the epitome of moral acts and courage showing no respect for the “rule of law”. Was he responsible for the corrupt government official? No more than anyone else and none of them did anything about it. They were all too busy trying to prosper by getting what they wanted from the government and others.

 
In theory, what “ought” to have happened is that my father after working construction all day should have spent six months, a year, or more attending English classes to learn to read and write English well enough to take the written driver’s examination. Obviously he was too lazy to do it. So what? “Progress is not made by early risers. It is made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” — Robert A. Heinlein. During construction season, he spent 6 – 7 days a week digging ditches; wanted to continue doing so to support his family; wanted to save time and money by driving to work instead of paying and wasting time trying to get rides; did not want to spend his hard-earned money and 6 months or more of his off-time to learn English when less money and time would get him the license he wanted. No doubt, many will see in this bribery the usual complaint about the working class lacking the discipline and having little concern for future consequences instead preferring to “live for the moment” and engaging in self-defeating anti-social behavior. This type of criticism is easy to make when one has a future that can be reached with little or no discipline in which very little is self-defeating. My dad as a man in his 30’s with a family to support had no future other than work or jail. The fact that he would risk jail in order to be able to work six days a week as a construction laborer shows discipline, planning, and courage that are way beyond the so-called discipline, planning, and courage shown by most I have met in the ruling classes of the United States. In short, my dad was moral and good at that moment in time. Given the circumstances, he did good for himself and his family, though without doubt he was also an unethical criminal at that same moment in time.

 
Given the times, even the government official who took the bride was more good than bad in terms of practical economic reality. It was a form of direct democracy. He was immoral only in the sense of charging money for something that he as a government official should have been doing for free.

 
I am not implying that in practice anything goes in terms of what is ethical, moral, or good. Again, philosophical and theological ethics is behind the scope of this essay. We are dealing with codes of ethics. Unfortunately, in the reality of the social life of codes of ethics, if need be, any rational person can rationalize any act to be either in accordance with or in violation of any rule especially any code of ethics. In philosophy of language, this is called Wittgenstein’s “following a rule” paradox. Again, we go back to Hume’s Law. Since there is no way to rationally go from an “is” statement to an “ought” statement there really is no way to rationally defend any code of ethics. If a code of ethics does not factor this problem into its ethics, something no secular modern code of ethics does, in order to avoid an infinite chain of rationalization, all codes of ethics at enforcement will end by an arbitrary assertion by someone with power saying: “do it this way or else”.

 
These days, no doubt there is a code of ethics somewhere for DMV workers, government workers, for the construction business, and for construction laborers that would make what my Dad and the DMV official did both illegal and formally unethical and thus give a basis for both of them to be terminated from employment regardless of whether or not they were ever arrested and prosecuted for the activity. So, how have codes of ethics changed anything that the natural progression of history and technology have not changed?

 
Eventually, as our economy improved, government employees such as DMV employees have become better paid with better benefits and covered by civil service instead of being patronage employees. Also, the technology for these tests has gotten better: no more hand-graded tests; no more money changing hands without detailed computer records; video, data, or audio recording of all transactions. If an immigrant tried to repeat now what my Dad did, mostly likely it would fail and an arrest would occur for the attempt. Few if any government employees would be dumb enough to risk nowadays their nice government job by accepting a bribe. I do not remember any prosecutions for DMV bribery occurring in my old neighborhood until the 1980’s; so, the old-timers at the DMV who were doing it were probably retired and long gone. So, government is apparently more honest and ethical now thanks to what? Codes of ethics? If you take away the codes of ethics but kept the better government pay, civil service status, and benefits and the technology, would bribery make a comeback? How about the other way around? Keep the codes of ethics but reduce the pay and benefits to relative levels below what workers now would consider just; make them patronage employees again; and eliminate the computer record-keeping and testing technology; what then? Would the codes of ethics on their own prevent a return of bribery?

To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part I

Rules of ethics as with calls for ethics, preaching about a need for ethics, and committees on ethics are omnipresent. Everyone who is anyone from the extreme political right to the extreme political left seems only to agree on one thing: ethics is good. Just for that reason, it is something of which the workers and powerless of the world should be suspect. If those who rule over us agree on one thing that one thing must not be good for the ruled. Theoretically: what is “ethics” that everyone seems to worship and admire it; is it any different from law; is being an ethical person the same as being morally good? Practically: why is it that throughout the history of injustice and evil including racism, ethics as with the law is almost always on the wrong side, and yet in any present ethics as with the law, both always claim to be on the right side of history?

 

In practice, “ethics” for philosophy including its subset theology describes a set of rational principles that are supposed to be universal to all concepts of individual morality: that is to all concepts by which individuals define good or evil. Outside of philosophy and Christian Theology, no one especially no one in politics, academia, business, or in any field outside philosophy or theology defines “ethics” in such a way. This is true for one simple reason often called Hume’s Law or Hume’s Guillotine named after the philosopher David Hume stating: one can play as many wordgames as one wants, but no matter how you change your syntax or semantics, there is no way to deduce nor induce from descriptive statements of “is” to conclusions expressing a new relation of a normative, evaluative, or perspective “ought”. Thus, normative statements of what one ought to do cannot be rationally derived from what is: ethics is not rational. This is the foundation problem of all philosophical and Christian theological contemplation on ethics that are beyond the subject matter of this blog. In dealing with this problem, all philosophers and Christian theologians analytically contemplating it have reached at least one set of rational principles that in the end may be all there is to ethics: 1) we must apply Ockham’s Razor to ethics in that rules of ethics must be as simple and as few as necessary to reflect morality given the multiple of possible individual moralities; 2) execution upon any principles of ethics is by necessity tempered by the emotion of empathy in which the will recognizes the existence of struggles between individual moralities and acts on this struggle with the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and courage.

 

However, popular “ethics” by all powers from the left to the right ignores the substance and essense of Hume’s Law in their omnipresent pontificating on ethics. Instead, for them the word “ethics” describes codes of written conduct formally put forward by any socially acceptable group. In this descriptive use, it is dogma never to be questioned that ethics is unquestionably rational and it is dogma that any violation of their rationality must be punished untempered by any emotion — in fact, emotive considerations in execution of a group’s ethics would be in itself unethical. In popular ethics, Ockham’s Razor is ignored: the more rules of ethics there are, it is dogma that the better the rules of ethics must be. The final attribute of popular ethics is its dogma that it is not dogmatic.

 

For the powerless workers of the world, popular ethics clearly creates a problem in principle and eventually in their execution in practice. Ethics is founded upon dishonest dogmatic belief. This dishonesty compounds itself as it is formalized into rules and then enforced. Popular ethics in practice never admits to its inherent intellectual dishonesty but instead does all it can to hide it, and it is unchecked by reality consisting of procedures that would act as a check on its inherent dishonesty or pragmatic results that can somehow be tested — regardless of whether or not the tests can result in falsification. For example, all formalized codes of conduct by socially acceptable groups are internally formalized by socially acceptable members of the group. What happens is that a dozen or so socially acceptable members of a group chosen by an even smaller number of the powers of a group get together and decide the “ethics” that will then be enforced upon thousands to hundreds of thousands or millions of members of the group with direct effect upon millions if not billions of that group’s customers, clients, patients, or whatever none of whom had any say in the ethics being enforced upon them. This form of governance is so unique to modern technological society that there appears to be no name for it. I would call it a technocracy except that the technicians formalizing the rules are not technical experts on ethics; based on their social status, they are simply chosen by the powers to formalize rules for them. In fact, as contemplated by www.sandpebblespodcast.com, this technique can be used to define the powers-that-be: those few who can enforce irrational conclusions as to what ‘ought-to-be’ upon others — i.e., Orwell’s Inner Party and their servant members of the Outer Party.

 

The supposed practical intend of codifying rules as “ethics” is to protect the weak from the strong. A wordgame in which a small group of socially accepted humans appointed by an even smaller group of powerful humans within a socially acceptable group is expected to create rules to protect the weak from themselves and the powers that appointed them is a game proving the game’s developers to be completely ignorant of human and natural history and of human nature. As with the law, as contemplated in  www.knightsofthermopylaeinnofcourt.com, such a game’s result consisting of the wordgame that is “ethics” is always the exact opposite: protecting the strong from the weak grouping together and overpowering them. As the Romans used to say after putting down the Spartacus slave rebellion, even a pack of dogs can kill a man if there are enough of them.

 

Furthermore, there is never any attempt to see if the supposed intended result of protecting the powerless from the powerful is ever achieved. In fact, such pragmatic analysis of popular ethics is — in accordance with and as practical proof of Hume’s Law — not only avoided but often outright condemned as an evil. For example, if a politician honestly states they will sell a political appointment or a political position to the highest donor, it is unethical and even criminal regardless if they actually do it — the speech is enough for execution of loss of livelihood and imprisonment (i.e., former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich). However, if a politician actually does give a political appointment to the highest donor or legislate the highest donor’s political needs it is ethical and legal as long as the politician keeps their reasoning to themselves and does not admit verbally that both were bought and sold (i.e., every politician in the history of the world). From the pragmatic perspective of the voter, especially in a society that supposedly worships free speech, how is this ethics forcing politicians to hide their dishonesty in anyway a moral good? It is not.

 

This type of analysis can be applied to any popular form of ethics. I am not engaged in this analysis to try to create an idiocracy. Our modern technological world is so very complicated that it is easy to forget the basic premises of human thought that have made us successful so far in beating the natural world’s will to kill us. For example, mathematics is incredibly complicated, yet all of its incredibly convoluted, rationally challenging complexity begins with one simple operation: addition. If you do not understand that 2 + 2 = 4, all of mathematics is worthless farce. Before we can go on to questions of whether ethics or morality is any different from law or whether being an ethical person is the same as being morally good, one must accept that “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows” — Orwell’s 1984.