Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Morality Without God—Introducing Pactualism: A New Ethical Framework (Part 3/3)

Without God, morality doesn’t exist.

And it doesn’t need to.

Have you ever had someone try to convince you that you ought to do something? Having failed to convince you, do they resort, in exasperation, to the phrase “it is the right thing to do”?

The right-wrong moral construct is a tool whereby people seek to impose their will on others when persuasion fails. If they can’t convince you, they simply appeal to morality. For theists, this moral authority is God. And while atheists are fond of dismissing God, they essentially declare themselves to be God in their assertion of what is “clearly” right and wrong.

The fact is, unless you have God to tell you otherwise, there is no such thing as right and wrong. Theists have successfully nailed atheists to the wall on this point.

Fine.

If we set aside this hopeless question of “what is right and what is wrong?” we can get to the nub of what the atheist ethicist pursues. Human behavior can be either awful or wonderful; we want a set of rules that will inhibit the former while promoting and maximizing the latter.

We can have such a set of rules even without moral authority.

(If this sounds like crazy talk, I highly suggest reading Part 1 and Part 2 before proceeding).

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Being An American

Being an American means recognizing that America is primarily an idea, not a plot of land, and not an order of authority and rule.

Being an American does not imply collective identity.

Being an American is not about national pride.

Being an American does not mean the inheritance of, or the obligation to adhere to, any particular culture.

Being an American does not mean particular privilege.
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Niche Activism

There is a flavor of political activism for every belief, background, or personal preference. We have them for gays, Christians, atheists, gun lovers, Jews, gun haters, women, Muslims, homeschoolers, public school teachers, children, families, poor people, businesspeople, environmentalists, etc.

Almost all of these movements arose out of a condition of encroachment, oppression, or violence. This means that most of these groups began with an excellent cause and were justified in their advocacy. The problem is that most of these niche movements will continue to exist and operate long after they have achieved justice and fairness. The reason is that these advocacy groups were never founded on any kind of a rational principle, rather they were founded on the basis of self-interest—a group of people were not happy with the way things were working out for them. But self-interest is no ethical principle at all. Unrestrained self-interest is the lack of ethical principle. At first this seems obvious, but it gets fuzzy when self-interest and ethical principle happen to overlap.
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Rights, Atheists, and Earth

The United Nations is considering a proposal that would grant the Earth rights similar to those of humans.

What is a right?  Where does it come from?  Perhaps Merriam-Webster can help:

  • right: something to which one has a just claim (So what makes a claim just?)
  • just: acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good (What is moral?)
  • moral: conforming to a standard of right behavior (What is right?  Oh crap.  That’s where we started.  And where do we get this “standard” from?)

Useless.

If you’re a theist, and you believe that God has revealed to us rights and wrongs, it’s simple; God grants and ultimately enforces those rights.

What if you don’t believe in God?
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Should Liberals Back The Libertarian?

Charles Davis suggests that they should.  He says that Ron Paul…

…would – and this is important, I think – stop killing poor foreigners with cluster bombs and Predator drones. Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-chief, Paul would also bring the troops home from not just Afghanistan and Iraq, but Europe, Korea and Okinawa. There’d be no need for a School of the Americas because the U.S. wouldn’t be busy training foreign military personnel the finer points of human rights abuses. Israel would have to carry out its war crimes on its own dime.

Even on on the most pressing domestic issues of the day, Paul strikes me as a hell of a lot more progressive than Obama. Look at the war on drugs: Obama has continued the same failed prohibitionist policies as his predecessors, maintaining a status quo that has placed 2.3 million – or one in 100 – Americans behind bars, the vast majority African-American and Hispanic. Paul, on the other hand, has called for ending the drug war and said he would pardon non-violent offenders, which would be the single greatest reform a president could make in the domestic sphere, equivalent in magnitude to ending Jim Crow.

Davis notes the leftist’s readiness to abandon principle, as long as that principle is defiled by their own man:

Democratic partisans – liberals – are willing to trade the lives of a couple thousand poor Pakistani tribesman in exchange for a few liberal catnip-filled speeches and NPR tote bags for the underprivileged…liberals, especially the pundit class, don’t much care about dead foreigners. They’re a political problem at best – will the Afghan war derail Obama’s re-election campaign? – not a moral one. And liberals are more than willing to accept a few charred women and children in some country they’ll never visit in exchange for increasing social welfare spending by 0.02 percent, or at least not cutting it by as much as a mean ‘ol Rethuglican.

We are so consumed with fighting for our side that we are apathetic when our own party abandons our core principles.  This touches on a post I made a while back on the danger of the us vs. them mentality.

Government Expansion—Inevitability

Government is the abusive spouse toward whom we persist in love. We know that that the relationship is unhealthy and against our own best interest, but we refuse to abandon hope. Even when we have no reason to trust the rhetoric, the promises, and the assurances, we believe. We have a will to believe, and so we do.

The right continues to believe even when their man expands spending faster than the left.

The left continues to believe even when their man, on foreign policy, is virtually indistinguishable from George W. Bush, the man they revile.

Obama embraces the drug war.

Bush embraced the welfare state.

This is not new.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes.

Not only did Lyndon Baines Johnson expand the war in Vietnam, he did it under false pretext.

History teaches us that, regardless of rhetoric, government expands in every way, and never contracts. So if the government is involved in anything that you do not approve of, you can be virtually sure that they will continue to spend more of your dollars on that very thing. It does not matter who you elect. This will not change.

Almost everyone says that politicians are opportunistic and untrustworthy—we have plenty of experience to reinforce this assertion—and yet with our pet politician, we replace that cynicism with faith. But that faith contradicts what experience tells us; it is the nature of government to expand and it will not do otherwise.

We need to reevaluate our confidence in any individual politician, in any political party, and in the political system as we know it.