Why Does God Hate the Poor? Prologue / Part I

Why does God hate the poor? This is a question that is very difficult to analyze rationally because of the nature of reason. Other than for logical techniques such as mathematics and pure logic, reason seems only to be capable of expressing pragmatic truth about the subject matter of its reasoning. That is, it only serves as a tool for solving a given problem and that solution can only be proven false by the problem — when the solution fails. Reason can never provide solutions that are true in all possible worlds nor can it state a truth that is true in all possible worlds. I say “seems” because when reason expresses doubt about its ability for certainty, it disproves its own skepticism either by formally stating that it is true there is no truth or by stating it is absolutely true that all truth is contingent or relative. Using “seems” to try to get around or to describe this problem or limitation of human reason causes its own problems.

 
What does “seems” mean? Does rational thought necessarily lead to a phenomenological view of reality that is worthless for anything but allowing academics to generate endless verbiage saying nothing about “nothing” — since according to them there’s nothing except what they are saying about the nothing that is out there for which we need them to “deconstruct” it for us. If I do not know what is out there, how can it “seem” like something or anything? What does “seem” mean? What does any word mean? These are problems in the philosophy of language that are beyond the limitations of these essays.  We just need to be aware of these problems when we try to contemplate questions such as this dealing with the nature of God.

 

I am trying to deal here with a real problem that has troubled many philosophers and myself my whole life: why does God hate the poor? Trying to resolve this problem in any way through religious faith, especially by Christian faith, always fails me; so this problem continues to bother me. Responding to this problem by telling me that life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery or reality to be experienced only makes it worse by proving the severity of the problem. Why are there some people in life who have enough time on their hands and the opportunity not only to sit around and abstractly come up with bullshit such as this, but they also have the motive, opportunity, and ability then to go around and if not lecture at least to profess to others that life should be a mystery or what life should be while the majority of the world, including me, is simply trying to survive and are responding on a daily basis to problems and situations trying to destroy that survival. Sure, telling the poor that they should be poor in spirit as well as poor materially would solve their spiritual suffering, if not their physical suffering, but why should anyone be poor in spirit and poor in material wealth and poor in their options in life when it is just as possible to be wealthy and powerful and to be poor in spirit?

 
The so-called Church Father St. Augustine is a perfect example to what I am referring. He spends most of his life wealthy, carousing, fornicating, fathering and abandoning children, drinking, and generally having an overall great time, until he gets bored with such worldly pleasures and decides that he wants to possess outer- worldly pleasures. So, he decides to be saved by belief in Jesus Christ. And now with the certainty of eternal life in Heaven, he goes around lecturing to others to be poor and not to live life carousing, fornicating, fathering and abandoning children, drinking, and generally having an overall great time. Even with this conversion, he does not become poor in spirit or materially in any way. Instead of being a Power-that-be among the upper class of his native city of Hippo in North Africa, he becomes a Power-that-be among the new Power in antiquity, the Christian Church. It was perfect timing. If he had stayed a rich pagan, his class might have expected him to risk his life and to defend the city against the barbarian Vandals coming to destroy them. “Barbarian” is a word to describe ambitious poor people that are trying to become rich. Instead, by converting and becoming a church father, he avoided this personal and economic risk because the Vandals respected the Church, Church property, and its ministers. The rich always get away with such hypocrisy. President George W. Bush is a great modern example. Here is a dude that spends most of his life as a lazy, ignorant, cokehead; who wastes what little education his family paid for him to receive and wastes all the business opportunities he had; until one day he decides he wants to be president of the United States. At that point, he sees the light of Christianity and goes on to use preaching and his family connections to become President and start two wars in which others do his killing for him.

 

(Coates is another example of which I have written about extensively in prior essays.)

 
I’m fully aware that by making such complaints I come off as greedy, whiny, and spiteful, as the poor usually do when complaining about their lot in life — unless they reach the point of complete depression, desperation, or starving in the street, at which point they become a temporary object of pity and charity for the rich. If the poor materially try to fight their way out of hopelessness and material poverty, they are considered greedy and spiteful barbarians again. Unlike the rich and powerful whose greed, ambition, and aggressive competitiveness are the forces that move the economic world throughout history to be sustainable and evolve, regardless of whether you call it barter, mercantilism, imperialism, capitalism, or whatever the present day economic “-ism” may be. My intent here is not to complain about this as a problem. Such would be a waste and equivalent to complaining about it becoming dark at night. It is an undisputed and unchanging fact of life that cannot be altered by human action that humanity is and always will be divided into the powerful who can create meaning in life and the remainder of the powerless whose meaning in life is to serve the meaning created by the powerful with their only other choice being a lifetime of struggle, fight, and battle against that meaning — a meaningless struggle that they will always be destined to lose. The details of this division in human nature were best described by George Orwell in his book 1984 which I will contemplate.

 
For any amateur Christian theologians out there who may read this, I want to point out that this issue is also a Christian theological issue. The New Testament quotes Jesus several times as saying, “The poor, you will always have with you.” — Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, and John 12:8. So this is not only a philosophical issue, but also a significant theological issue.

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 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.

“White No More” / Part II

The below diagram is taken from one of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s contemplations on the nature of language and is called a duck-rabbit (it is covered in more detail at www.sandpebblespodcast.com):

duck_rabbit

If you have any life experience with ducks and the word ‘duck’, when I tell you the word “duck” while you view the above diagram, you should see a duck. If you have any life experience with rabbits and the word ‘rabbit’, when I tell you the word “rabbit” while you look at the diagram, you should see a rabbit. What someone who has had no experience with ducks or rabbits would see in the above diagram is up for grabs. This diagram and similar diagrams and contemplations cannot be ignored as dealing with “optical illusions” otherwise all of reality should be ignored as optical illusions since you have no way of telling when you are in the position of someone whose limited sense experience sees neither a duck nor a rabbit or only one but not the other. How do you know there is not another animal in the above diagram that you do not see because you have no word for it?

 
The point of this diagram and the associated philosophy is to establish that once the human mind is sophisticated enough to create and think with rational symbols such as words, the thinking is a two-way street between sense experience and words. Reasoning consists of a “fabric of language” as the philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine beautifully described it. At the exterior is the sense experience that acts as the starting threads of our language but almost instantaneously the threads are intertwined with words describing that sense experience; some or all other experiences and words; and the relationships between some or all other experiences and words so that almost instantaneously it becomes difficult and perhaps impossible to separate the words from the sense experience. As empiricists in a scientific age, we must assume that all of us have the same sense experience for the above diagram and its reality does not change as different individuals view it, but such is not true of the words used to describe it. Eventually, words become their own reality and create sense experience that seems to be there and to be as true as the initial sense experience that started the threading. The essential job of modern Western philosophy is to point out when we are confusing or making the reality of words into something more real than the reality of reality. As Quine beautifully and concisely stated in his essay The Two Dogmas of Empiricism:

The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a man-made fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges.

 

It is because of the above problem that science uses the scientific method to become pragmatic and differentiate itself from non-science or pseudo-science. If you want to get into these issues in more detail, I suggest any book by the philosopher Norwood Russell Hanson or starting with the philosophy of language and science podcasts at www.sandpebblespodcast.com.

 
Even through just a casual inspection of the language of racism, we can see the above two-way street at work. Somewhere in human history, there may be a thread of the fabric of racist language in which white skinned people for the first time met black skinned people and for the first time used the word ‘race’ as a differentiation between white-skinned and black-skinned bodies. Whenever that first thread stitching occurred, it is now lost among millions of other threads in modern language and perhaps was removed and replaced with another thread and is gone. This is evident even in the simplest uses of the words ‘race’ and ‘racism’.

 
For example, the Plaintiff Plessy in the post Civil War 19th Century Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson that established the separate but equal doctrine of Jim Crow laws was an octoroon, he was only 1/8 black by birth and could have easily passed and did pass as white — he could have and did ride in the front of the train in the segregated Old South any time he wanted. That is why he was chosen as the Plaintiff for that case. The Plaintiff Counsel were trying to show how irrational the concept of race was and that therefore how irrational and thus unconstitutional legally enforced segregation must be. For reasons discussed in my book The Law Illusion, the brilliant Injustices of the Supremes disagreed. Even before the 19th Century, the word ‘race’ for racists had uses way beyond just for reference to someone having ‘black’ skin. If Plessy was ‘black’ because one of his eight parents/grandparents was black, what about if he was 1/16 black? How far back does or should a racist go to define race? It is evident that for racists, words such as ‘race’, ‘racist’, and ‘black’ mean much more than skin color. They are used to create a word reality of social and cultural relations much of which has little if any relation to the actual reality of human social and cultural relations.

 
How this word reality becomes more powerful than reality and in fact contorts reality to fit the words is evident in the obsession by Nazi jurisprudence and legal culture to differentiate their Aryan Herrenvolk or master race of the Volksgemeinschaft or “people’s community” from their slave Non-Aryan races such as Jews, Romani, Slavs, Poles, Serbs, Blacks, and so forth. So, for example, some in the Nazi legal culture argued one was Jewish if one was only 1/16 Jewish blood. Eventually, the criterion for being Jewish was set at having at least three Jewish grandparents; two or one rendered a person a Mischling leaving open the possibility of your extermination to the discretion, mercy, and wisdom of the judiciary — you can read in history the results of this reliance. These arbitrary standards became law in the same way anything becomes law: through the arbitrary and random ethics or will for power decisions of a bunch of bureaucrats.

 
How about our modern supposedly non-racist politically correct opponents of racism, those that condemned Dolezal for using ‘white’ to mean only a “biological identity thrust upon her” that she can change as she wants thus resulting in the loss of her livelihood? How do they use words such as ‘race’, ‘racism’, and ‘black’? Are they a two-way street for them? It appears they are schizophrenic on this issue as I will contemplate next.