Public Morality and the Fundamental Human Desire to Harm Others: 1
In a series of previous posts, I had made the claim that human beings are predominantly motivated by a seemingly unquenchable desire to hurt, abuse, enslave or kill others- even if they do not stand to gain from such actions. I also showed how my model of human motivations is a far more rational (if distinctly unpleasant) explanation for supposedly inexplicable human behaviors such as the desire to accumulate extremely large amounts of money, risk your life for fighting wars that enrich a few or exhibit strong belief in any religious ideology. I will now extend that particular line of thinking to show you how public morality is based in the fundamental human desire to harm others. To be clear, I am defining public morality as a set of beliefs or worldview forced by some people on others to achieve some supposedly positive goals, ranging from creating “stable” social systems or “improving” some aspect of the general state of humanity to “saving” the world. The short version of my theory is as follows:
All types and forms of public morality (religious or secular) are grounded in the human desire to hurt, abuse, enslave or kill other people.
Here are two examples of what I am talking about..
Inspite of what of its defenders still say, practice of the caste (jati) in India was and still is the largest and best example of an entire region of the world systemically screwing itself for no rational gain. While we can debate about the role of Muslim and British rule in shaping certain aspects of system, especially as it appears today, it is clear that practice of caste (jati) had severely damaged civil society in India many centuries prior to the rise of non-indigenous rulers. Infact, I would argue that Muslim and British conquest of India was almost entirely possible because the system had inhibited development of functional societies which could support united action against external invaders.
There is a lot of historical evidence which suggests that Indians tried hard not to learn from either their military success or setbacks, let alone history. Nor did they want to be involved in doing anything that was considered “foreign”- and that included making quality guns, wearing tailored clothes, building better ships or using the printing press. It is no secret the considerations of caste (jati) and “ritual purity” were largely behind these and many other disastrous decisions made by the overwhelming majority of indians for many centuries. So, how do you rationally explain the enthusiastic willingness of hundreds of millions over a period of more than a thousand years to deliberately ignore the proverbial writing on the wall? Also, why would any non-retarded person buy into and enthusiastically defend a mindset and worldview that was plainly inadequate?
While traditionalist types have long argued that the caste system provided public morality goods such as “stability” and “order”, there is a lot of evidence which shows that system was almost never able to provide either as illustrated by the innumerable accounts of wanton murder and plunder by muslim and british rulers. So what did it really provide to its ardent believers and supporters? Well.. based on it worked in real life, it is clear that the system was consistently able to consistently provide just one product to its believers, namely a pre-made worldview which allowed them to justify horrendous levels of neglect, abuse and mistreatment of other people. Moreover, unlike classical racism (which makes it kinda hard to blatantly fuck over against someone in your own large group) the presence of a large number of castes, sub-castes and jatis make it possible for almost everyone to participate in the game of fucking over somebody else.
In other words, the caste (jati) system was incapable of providing its believers anything beyond a justification for the neglect, abuse and mistreatment of other people. We therefore have to seriously consider the possibility that extensive and long-lived social systems which impose significant negative costs on its believers can be kept alive and fueled almost entirely by the apparently widespread (but hidden) human desire to hurt, abuse, enslave and kill other people. As you will see, this phenomena is hardly restricted to one particular traditional belief system or region of the world.
Example 2 : Monotheism, especially its Judeo-Christian-Islamic version
As I previously mentioned- the human desire to hurt, abuse, enslave or kill others is hardly restricted to those who claim to believe in multiple “gods”. Infact, the history of monotheistic faiths provides some of the most compelling examples of religion being a force for evil. Just think of all the innumerable acts of personal violence, wars and genocides performed under the guise of supporting the “one true faith” and “one true god” who just so happens to be one the perpetrators of the said actions worship. But all this talk about the history of religion-inspired violence raises an important, but often ignored, class of questions.
Why did so many people who had no real hope of material gain from participating in such acts nevertheless enthusiastically participate in them? Why were so many desperately poor and deprived people so willing to fight against people they barely knew? Why were so many people willing to suffer serious injury or death for highly dubious causes? What did so many gain from participating as the enthusiastic cannon fodder?
The conventional explanation for the willing and enthusiastic participation of most people in such acts is that they were gullible idiots who were brainwashed by the “high IQ” elites into doing all those things. But was that ever the case? Were most people stupid enough to believe that a god unable to help them feed their chronically ill and hungry children was real? Were they stupid enough to believe that those who ruled them were actually good human beings? Were they incapable of observing that conflicts and wars always hurt people like them far more than the few who profited from them? I mean.. what did they really gain from all this bullshit?
My alternative explanation is that religion simply provided a cover for all those people to indulge their appetite for hurting, abusing, enslaving and killing other people. They kept on participating in such behavior and actions even when it caused them considerable personal losses. In other words, even a significant risk of personal hardship, losses or even death (in addition to the lack of personal material gain) is not enough to stop most people from indulging their appetite of hurting and killing other people.
Upcoming posts in this series will look at a number of everyday and supposedly “normal” examples of public morality- from why certain things are NSFW, what actually is behind the public support for the USA-led war on Drugs, why religious conservatives oppose abortion, why many men oppose prostitution to why those most negatively affected by capitalism and the nation-state are often their most enthusiastic supporters. I will also talk about how supposedly do-gooder movements such MADD, PETA etc and the whole panoply of movements to “stop” global climate change are actually driven by the need to screw over other people rather than help them.
What do you think? Comments?