Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > Public Morality and the Fundamental Human Desire to Harm Others: 1

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..

Example 1: The Caste (or more accurately Jati) system in India

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?

  1. December 26, 2015 at 1:36 am

    We all have to satisfy our needs but public moral doesn’t allow us to do so – at least not in a reasonable and healthy way. So we have to develop our own personal moral according to which we can fully satisfy our needs and being “good people” at the same time – not in the eyes of others but in our own – and that is what counts in the end.

  2. Webe
    December 26, 2015 at 8:42 am

    I don’t think you have to assert that people specifically desire and enjoy hurting others, even if this is the net effect of certain cultural systems. Symbols of prosperity and superiority tend to be reified and lead a life of their own. The same is true of they way people think of money: initially as a way to keep score, but in the end as though money is the only “thing” of value and finance the most superior way of generating even more “value”. How often do we not hear that “there is not enough money”. Like saying you cannot continue the game because we are out of points to score.

    What people actually want is to raise themselves (even if only symbolically) above the hum drum cycle of life and death, partaking in some way of immortality. In the end the symobls of immortality overwhelm people’s sensistivity to the actual state of affairs and the effects on others, even on themselves.

    I would argue that hurting others is a by product and not the chief aim of ascribing an independant reified value to the world of symbols where the creature who lives in the awareness that he will die tries to raise himself above this inevitable and total annihilation of his value as a person and an individual.

  3. December 26, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    okay, I think I can guess one of the angles you might discuss here…

    worker productivity has increased but wages have stagnated. There is plenty to go around as far as food and goods however, most is going to the top.

    What should have happened in many industries is that hourly wages should have increased to keep up with increased productivity and full time should’ve become 25-30 hrs a week-allowing current workers to maintain their earnings and create space for new workers. The rich would still stay rich and there would be far less working poor–but what we see is something far different…

    Yes, my theory can provide a far better explanation for this “paradox” than other supposedly mainstream explanations- which are either based in circular reasoning or justification through appeals to morality (frequently both).

  4. P Ray
    December 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    It’s always funny how there is a difference between condemnation of behaviour when a poor person doing something wrong vs. a rich person doing something wrong.

    Kind of like how,
    If someone kills their family and are people of colour, “it is an honour killing”,
    but when somebody else does it and they’re white, “it is depression”.

  5. hoipolloi
    December 27, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Your assessment of South Asian Caste system is right on the mark. I have not read a better account of it in the internet. It should be widely read and preserved for posterity. Hindu Indians by and large are comfortable and proud of their societal organization based on varna and caste and sub-caste. No fear of losing the caste system in the near future in spite several attempts to eradicate it. The caste system is strongest now in India than at any time in the last hundred years. It makes me believe your assertion that human beings are perfectly ok to work hard to hurt others, starting with sibling rivalry in childhood. Once you accept that then it is clear that religion (mono, poly, secular, and atheist) is meant to be a means to that end. Of the famous people in the history of humanity two persons, Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth said don’t do it and meant it; the gratuitous violence. The organized religion is doing its best to suppress the message of peace in the guise of worshiping these two individuals. Lot of people mistake the follower’s actions for the teachings of the original teacher.

    • P Ray
      December 27, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      You sure about that Jesus fella?
      Luke 14:25 – 27
      “25Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26″If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27″Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

      Seems to have some control issues.

      • hoipolloi
        December 28, 2015 at 2:37 am

        I am sure of what I said like any one who would find it true on investigation. Purely from an academic point of view. And I am not a Christian as it is understood today.

        The pity for us of South Asian origin, the name Jesus is introduced in a big way by the Portuguese and East India Company conquistadors in India who have the morals of a dacoit or marauder. Thus, we have been identifying Christ and Christianity with the European/British misrule in the region. In the bargain we lost one of the most precious things the west has appropriated itself from the East; the story of Jesus. It is difficult to realize the message of peace in the New Testament after watching the history of the world vis-a-vis the British and American military adventurism for the last 500 years and not to speak of the atrocities committed by the Third Reich on the humanity.

        I have not addressed your question yet. I request you to read what I said and the saying by Jesus you quoted from Luke. The guy is trying to recruit followers with commitment. He never implied the followers have to kill their parents gratuitously. Carrying cross means you should be willing to sacrifice your life for the principle of peace if it comes to it without trying to kill the other guy. Even the most ardent critics of New Testament would not use that quote that as a call for gratuitous violence.

        In this blog post as I understand the Advocatus Diaboli is indicating how people want to hurt other for no reason. In that contest what I said is fully defensible. If you are not convinced yet I will be glad to elaborate. Good day everyone.

      • P Ray
        January 16, 2016 at 6:50 am

        You can hate people without “Declaring violence” on them.
        It’s called,
        “racism, selective empathy, denial of opportunities”.

        There’s no need to be violent when cutting off a salary ensures some people cannot live legally.

        If they then turn to crime, well, they get “law-enforced”.

        So, what Jesus said, wasn’t a call to gratuitous violence …
        but neither is it advocating against violence in a different way

        Somewhat related:
        How come white people aren’t considered terrorists, when the IRA is made up of white people?

      • hoipolloi
        January 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm

        About terrorism. It is like porn. I can’t say what it is but I can tell when I see it. Since 9/11 there is only one kind of terrorism that is going on around the globe. Cheers

      • P Ray
        March 4, 2016 at 6:52 am

        ^ You might have to revise that opinion.
        Irish republicans are plotting to murder ‘police, prison officers and soldiers’ to mark the centenary of Easter Rising, police warn after a prison officer is seriously injured in car bomb

        The prison officer was driving a blue VW van when the device detonated and the bomb may have been set off as he drove over a speed bump in east Belfast.
        P.S. Aren’t the IRA Christians?

    • Webe
      December 28, 2015 at 6:58 am

      Siling rivalry
      Also referred to as mimetic rivalry. The fiercest competition is between those who most bear a resemblance to oneself, because not only do we want the same things (as another 4 year-old boy), but what we want is defined by what the others want (everybody wants the same chick or guy because, well, because they are most desirable because desired by the most people like us).
      Religions and mythology are very aware of this. One of the opening stories about evil in the Bible is about the rivalry between brothers Caïn and Abel. After Caïn kills Abel out of jealousy, he is asked: Where is your brother? His blood cries from the ground…
      Incidentally, there is no easy answer in religion to this problem inherent in human social nature. Both Buddha and Christ taught that one must overcome one’s own desires and the suffering it brings. Easier said than done.

  6. garygrayii
    January 3, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Much of what you talk about relates to honor/shame cultures. This is where the toxicity of societies (Asian, Middle Eastern, Urban/Ghetto, White, etc) begin/come from. There are no guilt cultures, as much as we like to believe in them. Just varieties on the spectrum of shame. Us feeling guilty is just a by-product of the shame cultures we participate in. Please incorporate the issue of Shame/Honor cultures into your future articles. This will provide a greater depth of understanding to toxic cultures such as current modern day America (the liberal SJWers and manosphere/HBD conservatives).

    • Ed
      January 3, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      This is an excellent point.

      The difference between guilt and shame is that people feel guilt if they think they have done something wrong, regardless of whether other people know what they did or think its wrong; but people feel shame if they know that other people think they have done something wrong, regardless of whether they themselves think that it was wrong.

  7. M
    January 13, 2016 at 1:50 am

    I agree with you that there seems to be some sadistic desire in a lot of people to hurt others


    “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?”

    I think, yes they are actually that stupid. (the majority)

    the average IQ human basically operates on a neanderthal like level. they cant think for themselfes and believe anything the media (or their local community) will feed them.

    • P Ray
      January 14, 2016 at 3:01 am

      Or they have to pretend to believe that, since …
      we now have 6 modern religions:
      1. EAT RIGHT – the only problems with your health are because of diet – not genetics, somebody else screwing you over
      2. EnvironMENTALism – thinly disguised racism
      3. FEMINISM – female supremacy
      4. MERITOCRACY – “work hard and you will succeed, life is not based on opportunity, luck or connections”
      5. POSITIVE THINKING – magical thinking will make everything come true
      6. RESPECT AUTHORITY – because bosses know best

      If you visibly go against any of these 6, you can expect your life to have many opportunities or inherent rights … to be either “Taken away” from you, or “your application has been misplaced”.

      It’s no measure of health to be properly adjusted to a profoundly sick society, as Krishnamoorthy says …
      but that explains why people pay good money to have a space to “be themselves” … some men for example, visit sex workers so they have someone to talk about that their relationshit turned into hell on earth … but you’re not allowed to say that.

      • P Ray
        January 16, 2016 at 6:47 am

        I forgot 3 more:
        7. FREE CHOICE = Eat our shit, or you starve. That’s your “FREE CHOICE”
        8. FREE TRADE = Our rules, but we call it free trade.
        9. DEMOCRACY = You get a vote, doesn’t mean it will be counted.

  8. May 9, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    If you read The Bible of Aryan Invasions by prof. Uthaya Naidu, you’d find that the Brahmins collaborated with these invaders, and often let them in in the first place, in order to subjugate the indigenous peoples who had remained independent of their caste system or had broken free of it, allowing themselves to be used as proxies in the administration of conquered territories and often stabbing their partners in the back at the opportune time.

    BTW, the eBook is banned in India for “hate speech” but can be found online.

    • hoipolloi
      May 11, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      @ “the Brahmins collaborated with these invaders, and often let them in in the first place, in order to subjugate the indigenous peoples”

      So true. I do not have to go too far in the past for evidence. Does any one think the foreigner who ruled India like an empress for ten years in this century did it without the full blessings and complicity of the Brahmin class?

      • P Ray
        May 11, 2016 at 7:09 pm

        Probably the same way many large companies in Europe, and some from even the US … collaborated with Hitler’s Germany.
        IBM … Hugo Boss … SNCF-TGV …
        Those who collaborate, endure!

      • hoipolloi
        May 11, 2016 at 8:37 pm

        Economic collaboration with the enemy has limited impact. Political collaboration has a systemic effect; the harm spreads to the entire societal institutions.

  9. P Ray
    May 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    ^ They collaborated to improve the process of speeding captured people through the grave, through efficiently utilising them to advance company goals while putting themselves last (of course, with the help of the guards) … also some of the Jews turned in other Jews so that they got treated better (ref. “The Grey Zone”) and there were of course, romances between the men and women of different status (e.g. jewish woman prisoner with strapping nazi soldier).

    Makes for some fun watching. And people like to pretend collaboration and cross-status relationships don’t happen.

    Political collaboration has a systemic effect; the harm spreads to the entire societal institutions.
    Most politicians are in it for themselves* … that’s how they can justify selling themselves to the public when they’re really after power, position and money – without doing much work.
    *Those that aren’t quickly find out for themselves how it’s a game of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

    Duterte has become the president of the Philippines, may such success and upheaval of the current political elite, also grace Mr. Trump (besides, one wonders what amazing statements can come out of a Prince Philip character)

  10. Johnny
    March 28, 2018 at 4:43 am

    I think it is more accurate to say people desire appeasement. If you appease them, then they won’t “have” to hurt you.

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