Some Hard Truths For LibertariansSubmitted by Molusk on Wed, 01/01/2014 - 18:02
In some recent threads I have seen people flailing about to define some rational basis for their views about what is moral. They hold to a general moral worldview about how people ought to behave, in line with traditional precepts, and in particular to justify their libertarian creed. But when pressed, they have very poor and incoherent reasons why this ought to be. They are attempting to affirm an objective morality in a way consistent with a purely naturalistic world, where we are just animals.
I would submit it is not possible to do so coherently, and you have to take your pick. Keep the naturalism and abandon the objective morality; keep the objective moral demands, and abandon the naturalism; or, hold to both but be incoherent.
The third option is probably the most feasible and what most will choose. Well, have at it! On a naturalistic view, there's nothing wrong with irrationalism, self deception, and incoherence, so long as it gets the job done. Hopefully it will be more politically effective than a hard nosed realism like the cultural and economic elites hold. Somehow, I doubt it.
Usually after being pressed a few times, the confused person ends up making a lame appeal to the animal world for an 'evolved sense of right and wrong' where human beings simply know what's right naturally. While all of recorded history, experience, and modern biology refute all this, it is the best they have.
You really have to self deceive hard to think the animal world is an example of libertarianism at work.
Primates groups have a variety of instinctive behaviors. None are individualistic or morally fair or respect the rights of individuals. Among primates, the group is run by the violence of the strongest members and challengers are fought down, killed or exiled. Reproductive access is regulated by power. Rape and violence prevail. There is no law, or rights, no appeal to objective rules.
Human ideas about individual worth, when and where such ideas arose in a culture (rarely enough), were always rooted in the belief in a soul or some sort of equality before a judging God. Whether that view is false or not, it is the only objective basis for belief in the individual objective worth or 'rights' of a person.
They may linger on after such belief has dissipated, but that is just sentimental twaddle. Anyone who takes the implications of naturalism to heart will realize values are totally subjective, standards are individually defined, and social outcomes will just be the consequence of which groups have the power or the loudest megaphone to brainwash others.
Whoever understands social manipulation best and has the strongest motivation to control, the most skill, intelligence, organization, and ruthlessness, wins. And that's who is running the show now, and they're getting better and better at it. You better hope there's some higher tribunal than 'nature,' or else you are gonna lose.
And really you ought to lose, if nature is the highest tribunal. Why would you think you have any rights against the stronger and better able to compete than you? Human society is just a staging ground for the struggle for reproductive success with other means than raw violence. It's a more sophisticated and picturesque continuation of 'nature' - reproductive competition - sublimated into culture and morality and law and business and all these other avenues of competition for resources. But violence always lurks just in the background to enforce the will of those with the power if the other methods fail.
This is the world on naturalism. It has its beauty if you can stand it.
On a naturalistic view, the person is just an animal. A short lived, predictable, mediocre copy of the other 7 or 8 or 9 billion, among whom very few stand out, and all ruled at bottom by base instincts and selfish motives, all competing for the same limited resources.
We might have cultural paradigms imposed on us by tradition, where we work together to advance our interests. But none of those rules are objectively binding, and they can be thrown overboard if they cease to serve some individual or group. In fact, anyone can intelligently choose to chuck such ideas overboard once he realizes they aren't objectively true. Why not do so?
In a world where nothing is true, we are back to pre-civilization: Our interests and our immediate family are first, and beyond that we can trust nothing. No person, no institution. And that is exactly where we're heading.
On naturalism, if some people advocate views about their individual rights, they are just making a plea for their private interests under the guise of moral demand that others to 'play fair.' Brow beating superior individuals into a guilt mode so they won't pursue their own interests aggressively.
On naturalism, morality and culture are just ways to get others to put their own interests aside for 'the group' or for weaker parties. Equality before the law is just as unnatural as equality of outcomes, and both are absurd as moral dictates. They might be useful temporarily for individuals, classes or factions to advance their material interests, but int he long run they are means, not ends.
Nothing is right or wrong on this view of reality, as survival is its own justification, and whatever culture system or rules or morality advance the material interests of the ruling group, that is right. That's how we got here, and that's where we are going.
If you insist and cling to some universal morality, absent God and the soul, you are just fooling yourself because you can't swallow the harsh pill.
Me personally, I'm cool with either one. I can live with either one, whichever turns out to be true. At least for now, in my life I am just obsessed with accuracy and rigor wherever it leads.
I have the luxury of taking the possibility of theism seriously, with all its implications, because for the past decade I have rationally accepted the harder conclusions that atheism demands. I am free to weigh all the arguments, without worrying that I'm gonna be out of step with the smart set, or that I would have to abandon all objective values. I can accept either.
I can accept all the implications of naturalism if it is true. You amateur atheists can't do either. You want your cake and to eat it too. You want to be bright little atheists and at the same time pretend you have some intellectual ground to stand on with "rights" and your other mundane, run of the mill beliefs that are just the residue and lingering fog of a theistic worldview where god and the immortal soul existed. You are nourished intellectually on the shadow of a dead God.
Its really the most pathetic anti-intellectual combination imaginable.
Pick your evil. God, or nature, with all the implications they carry with them. You don't get to be cafeteria atheists who pick and choose which beliefs you like from each, without regard for their logical implications. You don't get to get rid of the 'man in the sky' and the soul and still make moral demands of other animals you are in evolutionary competition with.
If you want to keep humanity and morality, as being unconditionally bound to moral absolutes, you are stuck with God. If not, you need to accept that your moral demands of others are empty bluffs to get others to act the way you want them to.
To be honest, you would need to couch your political beliefs not in moralistic terms but in terms of self interest, group interest. And to be at all effective, you would need to strategize accordingly. Figure out how to manipulate the politically inert herd of shallow, thoughtless voters to think and vote in line with your interests.
You have to become your enemies, in effect, and become the elite that teaches the average person what to think. Say goodbye to truth, say goodbye to 'telling it like it is.' If your libertarian principles have any hope in such a world, it will be in training the befuddled masses in some new dumbed-down, secular religion to respect property and rights and not think too deep into it.
If they actually think about it, they will realize its a cruel world, there is no god, they can't trust anyone to advance their interests but themselves, and they should throw in with whatever political party or group that will get them the most material benefit and economic security in their life time and get their children and immediate family the best economic prospects.
That's what they have learned, that's what they are doing, and it's what they ought to do on a naturalistic view.
If you want them to behave anything like civilized humans, you better at least trick them into believing there is something more than nature. Even if naturalism was true, you have every reason, as libertarians, to pray to non-God that the average person doesn't realize it.