(Excerpts from the book "Cult of Freedom", vol II, chapter 4)
Morality and ethics - Personal and public spheres - The diametrical properties of the spheres - Personal relationships - Conflicts of morality and ethics - Public relationships - Destruction of spheres - Moral confusion - Subjective and objective - Personal subjectivity - Discrimination - Classes - Corruption capital - Networks of connections - Ethnocentrism - Nationalism - Collectives of the future
Let's start with something simple - what is the difference between morality and ethics? Both are called to lead man to the good, to direct him by their firm hand so that his inner instincts or external circumstances do not bring him into the moral maze. The difference is what is considered good. We've already figured out ethics. Ethics replaces the not good values #1 and #2 with the good value #3, an incomprehensible and unattainable abstraction, always hidden behind the horizon of the future. Since it is incomprehensible, to go to it directly is problematic, and ethics as a result requires constant monitoring in order not to stumble and miss the mark. It says "how" but does not say "why". That is, it directs, but it's unclear where.
Morality is much simpler. Morality is concerned with value #2 and how to eventually replace value #1 with it. #2 is very clear - it's real people. But the problem here is different. It is not clear how to get to the moral good, because on the way to it one could be easily deceived - another’s soul is darkness. So morality points to the goal, but leaves finding the way for personal discretion. It says "why" but does not say "how". Because mind is powerless here, morality relies more on the senses - it requires immediate sacrifice, without hesitation, thinking and building theoretical abstractions. And only when value #2 leaves a little bit of free time does morality reluctantly recall value #1. Then it gently recommends attending to one's own well-being - health, work, spiritual development. But here, too, it does so for a reason, with an eye toward others - man should not become a burden to others because of his carelessness and impracticality.
Can we find other parallels between morality and ethics? Of course. In principle, morality and ethics are the same, just the people they are concerned about are in different places. Behind value #3 man still lurks, it is still someone’s good. When the object of moral effort is close to the subject, actions for his sake have a specific, subjective meaning. When the other man moves away somewhere over the horizon, turning into an abstraction, into a real object, then the actions become likewise abstract - common, universal and objective. Ethics is impersonal morality. Why cannot morality be objective, too? Because a living, proximate man causes different feelings, which cannot be objective. Feelings are always subjective and to separate them from morality is impossible. Feeling rather than reason causes it to live. Abstract man does not evoke such feelings, and the attitude toward him can be not emotional but sensible and neutral. The image of man hiding behind value #3 is the generalized other, man in general. In those rare occasions when it does not affect others, human behavior does not relate to morality or ethics.
Morality and ethics can also be separated on another number of grounds. First, on the grounds of activity. Morality is positive (do), ethics is negative (do not). Morality urges ("Do something good!"), while ethics halts ("Do not cause harm!"). Second, ethics ensures freedom. By its "do not", it requires man to find his own way not to do violence and to this end to concretize CG, figure out how to implement it and certify the result by the contract. Morality, accordingly, deprives man of freedom by its positive demand. Third, morality is spontaneous and effective in rapidly controlling behavior, but unpredictable and unstructured. Its impulses are clear but short-lived. Ethics requires reflection, analysis of effects and the like, but forms a durable models and principles. Morality tells us what is "good", ethics - what is "right". Morality is virtue, ethics - righteousness. Fourth, as ethics is based on objective principles, it requires negotiations with others in order to avoid subjectivity. The contract is the basis of ethical norms. Morality does not have norms, to agree on morality is inappropriate. Fifth, ethics looks for a balance, morality loves extremes. #3 does not require sacrifices, as they are required by #2. It does not demand to save these by killing those. It does not require self-denial for the sake of duty. It does not need mass heroism. But all of that is important for morality. And sixth, ethics is a strict but fair father, morality - a strict but caring mother. Or, more precisely, stepmother.
Despite this touching analogy, however, we must clearly understand that in contrast to the current family practice, morality cannot fully suppress ethics. Judge for yourself. Personal preferences are very diverse. There are people who love to obey or dominate, coerce or be forced, depend or provide. All of this is great for personal relationships, which are only possible with the maximum rejection of one’s freedom. Personal relationships require the biggest sacrifice and bring the greatest joy. They arise spontaneously, without negotiation and signatures. Kindness, compassion, credulity, gratitude... This is not so much morality as temper, biology. But when personal relationships break down, when former loved ones become strangers, freedom once again rears its cold head. Under personal morality lies that same whole objective ethics of strangers. And we see, even personal relationships, as a manifestation of free choice, rest on the contract. That is why ethics is an absolute priority - the voluntary renunciation of personal freedom is first and foremost. Everyone is unfree in personal relationships, but free to be unfree as he sees fit.
Since a lot of differences are appearing, and not very serious ones, a question arises - is it possible to somehow highlight the main thing that distinguishes morality and ethics? In my opinion, yes. This is their way of exchanging values. Human relations, activities in general, are an exchange of something valuable. Both morality and ethics govern the exchange. Sacrificial morality, as the name implies, requires unequal exchange, it stimulates thereby the exchange, making it incessant, from one side after the other. Under its influence, a man sacrifices value #1 for value #2. And then he takes the return sacrifice of #2 and adds it to #1. Ethics, on the other hand, requires complete instant equivalence - it immediately finishes the exchange, returning the state to the point of balance. After the exchange, people do not owe anything to each other, everybody is left with a sense of accomplishment and the joy of communication.
2 Personal and public spheres
The eternal problem of relationships, obvious in the light of the above, is the complete incompatibility of ethics and morality and the absolute importance of both. They are almost equivalent and each has its area of applicability. To solve the problem of compatibility is to separate these areas, mapping them to the respective spheres of society. Obviously, whichever moral motive prevails in the relations between people will be the result in the sphere, hence the proper terms for the two spheres would be "personal" and "public", although nowadays very different meanings are embedded in these words. But since it is morality and ethics that are the basis for forming society and its spheres, our approach is going to be, as usual, the only correct one.
Morality forms the personal sphere of close relationships and subjective values. Ethics forms the public sphere of relations between strangers and the objective common good. As you can see, both areas are easily confused, especially if one does not understand the difference between morality and ethics. That is how it has happened historically. Both earlier and in some places even now, the closer to the "private" (i.e. personal) sphere one gets, the less morality there is, but the more freedom and opportunity to pursue one's own selfish individual goals. And the closer to the public sphere he is, the more important morality and following sacrificial public duty become. In the private sphere, man is by himself, he is protected by his property and can do whatever he wants, but in the public one, he is a part of society and people do to him what they want. The public is collective power over the private, the power of social necessity over free choice, but the private is personal freedom within the scope designated by society.
Frankly, there is a certain, albeit incorrect, logic in this approach. Maybe it was once right, but those days are long gone. If one believes that morality governs all relationships, everything seems logical. The more publicity, the more kinds of relationships, and the greater the moral demands, and the closer one is to power with its duty, rights and ideologies. But the error of that logic lies in a false principle of the separation of the spheres, in that it ignores the nature of the relationship and reduces the problem to the degrees of freedom tied to the right of ownership. As a result, the true personal relationship does not stand out against the backdrop of relations with strangers and collectives. This whole ridiculous private sphere, i.e. private initiative and pragmatic interests, is that very same society, that same public. It is not surprising, therefore, that everything in this private sphere is similarly over-regulated by norms from top to bottom. There is the same violence there, no less than in the public sphere - have you ever seen a free economic choice or free family law? The very concept of ownership, of "mine", is a consequence of the contract, the "common". It turns out that it is not easy to separate the private man with his free choice from coercion on the part of the public. Man is always in the thick of society. And on the other hand, is there little "freedom" and private initiative in the area of state and public interests? On the contrary, there is a lot of freedom and initiative there in a democracy - activists, NGOs, lobbyists and anyone interested in shaping the political and economic agenda. There is much more of this freedom there than in business, where all has long since been captured by big capital. As a result, the two spheres are so imbued with the public interest that separation of them became impossible and irrelevant long ago.
More suitable would be our view, which begins from the nature of relationships, even if somewhat straightforwardly. The personal sphere is the part of society closest to man, and the public one is the one most distant from him, regardless of how and what he's doing there. And then his choice of behavior is ethical in direct proportion to this human distance, and not to the degree of egoism or collective pressure. And it is moral, respectively, in inverse proportion.
Admittedly, this view does not account for power, which on the one hand is far away, but on the other, can penetrate up to the stomach. But that's why power with its tentacles is a special thing. It is so high that covers all spheres at once. And it distorts and denies all morality and all ethics, because precisely freedom nourishes them both, not coercion by transcendental force. And symmetrically, they both reject power. There is no doubt what the verdict of history will be. But if for a moment we let our imagination run wild and imagine that there may be modest state power, then all its modesty would be in the fact that it limits itself to the public sphere and does not climb into our bed. Yes, a funny fantasy, I know. I brought it only as an example of the public sphere, which purely speculatively demonstrates the ability to include not only the economy but also politics.
4 Personal relationships
- The moral field
Sacrificial manifestations naturally form man’s "moral field", which as though propagates through the space of relations and defines the limits of his personal sphere. The boundaries of the field are the human distance beyond which the other finally becomes a complete stranger. Inside the field live not only known people, but also unknown who got there temporarily or accidentally, for example a pretty passerby one wants to smile at and shake hands with, or a lonely girl on a sidewalk to whom one wants to give a ride, or a beautiful face in a newspaper in whom one wants to believe, or a well-known name in the obituary that causes real pity. Any man, diverging from the abstraction, can cause both sensual emotions and moral feelings that entail serious sacrifices. This is skillfully used by marketers, those specialists in psychological violence, when they personalize advertisements and give them the greatest emotional quality possible, or by professional fundraisers, who prominently display photographs of sick and hungry children. It is known that even a beggar, if he asks not for "change" but, for example, for 27 cents, will collect three times more in a day than otherwise. To force one to notice a stranger, to think about him and so to introduce him from the public sphere into the personal is also violence. Usually, however, the accidental emotions are not only subjective, but also fleeting, they do not leave a deep trace and are not accompanied by the establishment of the normal personal relations, without a doubt necessary to help the hungry once and for all.
The moral field, despite its direct relationship to morals, has its basis in biology - sexual and social instincts, and group, reciprocal and kin altruism. Accordingly, it is primarily dependent on the character of a man, his inheritance. Life circumstances and upbringing also add personality to the configuration and intensity of the field. But no matter what, personal moral potential, like many other fields, decreases with the square of the distance. Even love gets cold from time. Not to mention that people are not staying in this field, but constantly moving - some approach nearer, others move away. Personal relationships are as fluid and changeable as the moral obligations arising from them.
- Selectivity and inconsistency
Fig.1.7 can serve as a good, though not quite mathematically accurate, illustration of the dependency of potential on distance. The strongest (or purest) sacrificial morality occurs between spouses, and parents and children. The strength of the field is much less in the circle of relatives and friends, and even less among neighbors and acquaintances, employees and associates. Next is the narrow and broad community, people of the same social, national and similar common identity. The further away from man we move, the more claimants there are and the less love. The close circle cannot be extensive - even the most altruistic man is not capable of loving too many.
The field differs for people not only in profile but from the front, so to speak, for which the subjectivity of morality is again to blame. Subjectivity should not be interpreted so that sacrifice is optional and depending on the whim of the subject. Sacrifice is required, the only question is its scale and for whom it is intended. The first aspect is manifested in the exchange being not necessarily equal in the short term - some donate more, some less. The second - in the active selection of recipients and not only in passive submission to circumstances. Different people propagate their fields differently. A narrower circle implies stronger selection and more specific ties. The less people have in common, on the other hand, the more opportunities they have for an objective attitude toward each other.
Since the "voltage" of the moral field is uneven, there is a natural contradiction between the sacrifices required for people located at different distances. If the same action affects these people, their interests come into conflict. Sacrifice for the sake of the closer one could harm the farther one or for example, sacrifice for the sake of the farther one may reduce the benefit of the closer one. Maintaining a balance in one place, man destroys it in another. There are no formulas to help balance multiple harms / benefits with the square of the distance. As electrical potential causes force and motion, so the moral field - moral torment.
The situation is compounded when it affects the interests of many people or a collective. How can one find the right course of action? As a result, while fulfilling the personal duty to the close ones, people can and are even inclined to sacrifice not only their own interests but also the interests of those farther from them. Let’s not dare call it morality, because true morality requires sacrifice from oneself. However, this is not always possible - life is quite capable of putting man before a stark choice that is as hard as the people affected are close.
- Extension of the field
Sacrificial morality can be extended to animals, plants and even scenery. If we extend it as widely as possible, we will get general love, which at first glance is quite suitable as a single universal morality. In fact, why do not love everything around us and bring the intensity of love and torment to the maximum? This idea, in spite of all its charm and appeal, as well as stupidity and destructiveness, has a solid foundation. It consists in the full correspondence of selfless love to the biological nature of forced altruism, which was absolutely necessary for survival in the age of genocide. Extending it to the whole of humanity, we get a universal algorithm for survival in any situation where this existential question arises. And since such a question periodically arises before mankind - in the form of a deadly virus, or an alien invasion, or the awaking of a monster - personal morality, stretched to infinity in breadth and depth, happens to be the only way out. Of course, to stretch it for long is impossible. But for long is not necessary. The catastrophies are usually quickly finished with the heroic victory of mind and life goes on in its usual, measured way, in which public love is somehow unwanted. For if everyone loved everyone, a place for ordinary human love would no longer exist.
Alas, the idea of universal love does not work even in emergency, where the sacrifice is impacted by both personal impression and particular circumstances. Of course, the more urgent the situation, the greater the sacrifice and the wider the circle of recipients - such situations enable underlying moral mechanisms, enliven the historical memory and unite people. But there cannot be infinity even here. Sacrificial morality sooner or later becomes a moral burden if not limited to a relatively narrow circle and short time, which has very well been felt by the surviving members of the communist experiment. Stretched a little more than necessary, it causes subconscious resistance, the division of recipients into more and less worthy, and even enmity and hostility to the latter.
- Perversion of field
The apparent subjectivity of sacrifice goes against everything we expect from "genuine" morality - imperative, impartiality, universality, etc. The "defectiveness" of real morality can be illustrated by the same Fig.1.7. The moral profile of the ideal man is expressed by a straight horizontal line lying somewhere prohibitively high, which is obviously impossible. A person does not have an endless supply of sacrifices. He even has only one life. The more the left, altruistic side rises, the more the egoistic one should fall. Sacrifices to strangers cannot take place "just because", no matter how hard moralists and ideologists try to convince us. Sacrifice has a specific meaning - joint victory in struggle. When this problem is solved, the altruism of the free man is limited to his natural needs, and his field looks something like Fig.1.13. Then his sacrifices are caused by love and sympathy. They are reasonable and humane, because close people voluntarily maintain their subjective balance and do not compete with the rest of the world, it is even ridiculous to oppose them. But if they are caused by the "moral imperative" in a peaceful, quiet time, they are unjustified, they provoke competition with others and war. Moral obligation is the forced expansion of the moral field to those not fitting into it naturally, to strangers or near-strangers. This duty can only be in the name of victory, and victory needs an enemy. An unjustified sacrifice requires justification. If there is an "us", there should be a "them".
Thus, if we go deep enough into the emotional roots of morality, there can be found even hatred - toward outsiders, toward those who prevent one’s own from enjoying life. Yes, an excessively moral man is condemned not only to love but to hate. However, it is important to keep in mind that simple strangers and outsiders are not evil itself, they are those who do not deserve a sacrifice. Morality does not approve of the purposeful infliction of harm against the innocent. But it fully approves hatred for those who have already proved their malice, those because of whom the field is distorted, because of whom new sacrifices are needed. Is this not proved by the unfounded anger of believers whose religion requires "universal love", directed at those who do not share this requirement?
Stretching the field is not the only way to distort it and transform it into its opposite. The same effect is caused by the need for the one-time but major sacrifice required by heroic morale. The difference between peaceful sacrificial morality and heroic morale consists in the scale of the sacrifice. A great sacrifice is often intended not for some one person, but for at least a group, collective or, better, all of humanity. Value #2 begins to blur and gravitate to #3. But in any case, heroic morale is kind of sacrifice, for even in sacrificing himself for the sake of humanity, man probably identifies it with specific people who will win, be saved and thankful. Strangers - i.e. true humanity - do not need a sacrifice. To belong to them is not a single sacrifice, but daily creative work, a common cause. Another difference is that a great sacrifice, as well as stretching the field, incidentally, consists not so much in overcoming the violence of one’s selfish nature, as violence over it. A great sacrifice requires justification even more urgently. And this, of course, is the victory over evil, which justifies the ultimate sacrifice by the even greater good. And the evil, naturally, is concentrated in enemies, in those who are to blame for the sacrifice.
5 Conflicts of morality and ethics
The very coexistence of morality and ethics in one man leads to their conflict, which is only exacerbated by the aforementioned inconsistency of morality. Differing in the understanding of the good, both sisters remain true to themselves in their understanding of evil, too. For ethics, evil is recognized and conscious violence, for morality - it is everything that causes harm to one’s close ones. This is the source of the conflict already familiar to us, "violent struggle - peaceful enlightenment". Ethics seeks and demands not to cross the line where morality has to stay in its hatred of the enemy, to leave a defeated and punished enemy alone and to recognize him as a man like oneself, as long as he does not violate the contract. Morality craves full and unconditional victory. Violence is not a problem for it, as long as there is a good for which it is needed.
Violence toward the enemy is in the end a consequence of a distortion of the moral field, which necessitates additional sacrifices. Therefore, in conflicting with morality, ethics actually helps it - it removes the violence distorting the field. The ethical ideal is the natural form of the moral field, reflecting man’s freedom. This field should not cause excessive sacrifices and, accordingly, violence to their instigators.
However, morality is capable of violence not only because of the distortion of the field. Sometimes for the happiness of loved ones, the evil in them has to be destroyed, be it addiction, character flaws or wrong desires. Ethics, of course, opposes this. True, it does not have much strength here. In personal relationships, ethics is present, but in the background. It is recalled in moments of cooled relations or in conflict situations, when it comes to the aid in the form of a solid foundation, on which people can always rely. Then it turns out that even in the family not only love reigns, but also family fairness, demanding an equal division of that love, and not only care, but also everyone’s right to their own harmful desires, free of nurturing care. Not to mention the right to be free from violence.
The described idyll can create a false impression that in the end morality and ethics will be able to get along. The listed conflicts are, indeed, the most simple and, in principle, solvable, because it is possible to do without violence. But unfortunately they are not the only ones. First, we should not forget about the fundamental contradiction between morality and ethics. The very basis of morality - the sacrifice - is unacceptable to ethics, which requires equal account of one’s own and others' interests. And from here it is not far to the second point.
- When morality wins
A source of more relevant moral and ethical conflict is the difficulty of an equal accounting of interests, which is already evident in morality, even before ethics. In our time, when strangers disappear from moral sight, conflict of interest, with a few exceptions for public positions, is almost non-existent. Preference for one’s own to the detriment of strangers looks like something natural. But if it is natural to prefer one’s own in help, favor and benefit, then causing damage to others for these purposes is overstepping the ethical line. Of course, in emergency situations, requiring people to treat friends and strangers equally no matter what is immoral. However, in normal, everyday life this is quite possible. Still, morality, as well as value #2, has a clear priority over ethics and value #3. The mindset "all life is a fight" is not alien not only to ordinary citizens and the representatives of power, but also to other public and business figures, to which we shall have occasion to return. True, a faint hope has already appeared here - clan, class and other group moralities are universally recognized and in some places condemned. So, all these remnants of tribal altruism will surely disappear from our lives.
Conformity plays into the hands of tribal morality, in the case where the interests of the collective come in conflict with ethics. The collective in this case plays the role of the extended family and moral pressure coincides with the natural desire not to stand out, to find one’s place there and not lose it. Another similar surrogate family is the winners, who are "not judged". The roots of this indulgence grow out of the same psychology of admiration for the strong and the worship of the well-known, which identifies them with loved ones worthy of kin altruism.
The conflict and subsequent victory of morality can be particularly acute when it comes to the struggle for freedom and justice, which endangers one’s loved and dependent. For example, it is necessary to speak out in defense of the innocent, to sign a petition, etc., but as a result not only the signer would suffer, but also his entire family. The concept of "collective responsibility" is based on such a conflict. The reverse situation is if the signer does important work for freedom but a signature to protect the innocent puts this work in jeopardy. Here the salvation of a particular person is more important than deeds for the sake of abstractions.
- When ethics wins
If moralists lean on morality in an attempt to solve the problems of society, ideologues are trying to solve them in spite of morality. They prefer "science-based" ethics, which takes its place. Maybe that's why the success of propagandists yields to the success of moralists. The bright and perhaps the only known example of their success has so impressed irresponsible citizens that the name of Greatest Pioneer-hero forever associates not with faithfulness to ideals, but with the betrayal of loved ones. But is a society where people are so ethical that they always stand on the side of the common good possible? Will not the necessity, or better the need, to testify in court against relatives remain just a utopian dream?
However, some signs of an incipient equivalence can already be found in our time. In the end, the true common good is intuitively felt by each of us, without any ideology. It is felt especially well in the case of physical violence, already recognized and rejected by the public mind. For example, if a bank robbery can evoke in someone spasms of righteous satisfaction, especially if it has been done with the aim of helping the unfortunate, then killing an innocent bank guard in the process of robbery surely pleases nobody. And then, what can be said about the extreme cases where a criminal so disgraces his family, that they will simply cease to regard him as family? It can be assumed that the degree of unethicality (i.e. in this case the horror of physical violence) has to be taken into account when we want to find out what has priority, morality or ethics. And if this line is found, what prevents us from dreaming of the future, when it will move in the direction of morality to the very end, when to cover up even the most minor offenses, even of one’s closest friends and family, would be ethically unacceptable?
So, the inevitable, though extremely distant victory of ethics over morality is most likely a matter of time. Objective ethics is the basis of free behavior, and although in the personal sphere morality is layered on top of ethics, it cannot completely crush it with its weight - even duty to friends and family does not escape assessment and selection. The inconsistency of morality helps that. So, ethics, which requires the fair and objective assessment of all actions without exception, cannot be avoided.
9 Moral confusion (MC)
- The roots of confusion
At the same time that the rich and libertarians, absorbed in the struggle against the poor and ethics, are fully resolved with their conscience, the majority of humanity is still in the mist of moral confusion. However, there are suspicions that that confusion has actually long been a moral cover for selfishness.
Once again, what is MC? It is the reproof of egoism (which is, of course, good) and the demand to replace it with altruism (which is, of course, bad). In other words, it is the demand to stretch the moral field beyond the personal sphere and at the same time to destroy the public one. Let me remind you where it came from. Morality tends to embrace the un-embraceable and therefore declares Her Excellency the sole judge of good. The verdict is unequivocal - only a sacrifice and only to everyone without exception. But especially to those who have little by those who have much. However, the surplus of luxury causes resentment regardless of morality, so that is probably a by-motive. The main one is that good cannot be half-hearted or partial. It does not have degrees and gradations. Otherwise, the lesser good automatically turns into evil from the point of view of the greater good. This absolutism does not fit into the brains of moralists trying to embrace morality by reason. Morality, as opposed to ethics, can only be felt. The absoluteness of demands of sacrificial morality (morality as idea) would never get along with the previously discussed subjectivity of moral manifestations (morality as motive). This contradiction is, in fact, the essence of the confusion. The idea of morality, branching from collective roots, is powered not so much by feelings as by mind, and that's why the end of the process is so contrary to its beginning. If personal emotions themselves are subjective, their perception claims universality and absoluteness, just like subjective feelings of physical reality generate an understanding of the world that seems to us quite objective. And if the verity of reality requires an outsider's perspective (as, by the way, does ethics), then morality prefers to stew in its own solipsism. The idea of morality is a phenomenon of reason, an unsuccessful attempt to understand the feelings and find the grain from which the whole tree grows. Man cannot do without explanations, and the absolute is the only possible explanation of the need to sacrifice.
- Flowers of confusion
The beacon of moral confusion pointed the way to the good from the origins of human times, though managing to shine exactly backwards - to a collective "golden age". The wisest of the wise, starting from the ancient Greeks, were looking for ways to cure wealth by virtue and drive the passion for profit out of human society. The majority of religions, philosophies and ideologies fell into this captivity, calling us to extend a personal sacrifice to all the living, and some - also to those only getting ready to live. The ideas of thinkers found a ready response in practice - in the fight against usury, in price control, in regulations of trade. However, life always prevailed and unrighteous wealth was not eager to come back - in the hands of the deceived and oppressed. Approximately how it behaves now. They had to use revolutionary measures. But behind the obvious class hatred and heroic struggle for justice, one should not ignore MC which, morally sanctifying blood lust, invariably turned winners against themselves. Having seized upon the property of others, they discovered that at close range wealth looked not as bad as from afar. The shroud of confusion subsided, and the attractiveness of morality plummeted.
These results prove the obvious - sacrificial morality is entirely unsuitable as a social lighthouse. Sacrifice is meaningless if the collective fights no one - then it leads to other people's success and counter to one’s own. But this is exactly what happens when all of humanity is transformed into one big collective and its survival is not in question. And this is the state to which society is going. Morality in the public sphere is harmful not only because it pulls back to the caves or hinders the work of the market, and not even because the successful but conscientious lose incentives and are ashamed of their success. It denies itself. Attempts to stretch the moral potential beyond its natural limit lead directly to the opposite effect, causing frustration, distrust and hostility. To love strangers is immoral and unnatural. This love can only be forced, hence the result.
But that is not all. On the other side are the losers, accepting their failure as a normal phenomenon. Recipients of impersonal aid cannot appreciate it, because its value and sense of reciprocity manifests only in personal relationships. They do not feel responsibility, they take the aid for granted. But aid is always to be treated as a sacrifice, demanding a repayment. It should stimulate. Only help from specific people is capable of doing that. Such assistance mobilizes, it motivates the desire to succeed and repay the debt. No one wants to feel obligated, it's humiliating. To smear morality on everybody invalidates sacrifice and dilutes its meaning. Help - if the cause is not a disaster - can be neither forced nor mass. Both the religion of universal sacrifice and the ideology of universal social assistance are equally harmful, and they have both proved their complete practical uselessness.
- Egoism’s covers
How does MC help egoism? In two ways. First, promoting high morality gives a direct benefit to the recipients of the sacrifice. Someone else's morality is always beneficial to those having problems with their own. Second, succumbing to the moral urge, it is easy to placate one's conscience and do wrong anew.
The first case we have briefly touched on in the section on the false common good, the primary falsity of which lies precisely in the good of some at the expense of others. What is the relationship between MC and FCG? FCG is a universal concept that covers all types of erroneous ethical ideas, fueled by both sacrificial and self-interested motives. MC is the basis of a narrower class of such ideas, it is limited by sacrifice in the name of strangers, the justification for which serves a correspondingly specific FCG, a moral absolute, beautifully and convincingly presented (left side of Fig.3.6). Successfully inventing such a moral value is a very practical way to push morality into the public sphere.
The victory of egoism over ethics in the implementation of FCG is practically guaranteed. Even if the original FCG was fed by sincere, albeit mistaken altruism, in the course of its life cycle it attracts all kinds of crooks who use it for their own purposes. Lack of FP as a criterion of the truthfulness of the good creates every opportunity for this. As a result, after a while every moral idea becomes a scam.
- Discrimination and freedom
Discrimination is the preference of some people to others. In contrast to "pure" sympathy / antipathy and other uncontrollable emotions, discrimination is a gift to man from society - it is based on a bias, on suggested psychological associations and stereotypes, on the taste nurtured by environment. Although to separate and sometimes to distinguish them is difficult or even impossible, we assume the distinction for simplicity. We assume that discrimination is not personal subjectivity, but a manifestation of collective subjectivity.
In the personal sphere, discrimination is not only natural, but also morally justified. Acquaintances and friends are those who have acquired the right not to be strangers. How and why does not concern us. Discrimination is the essence of personal relationships, the separation from all others of those chosen by a subject based on his taste. Because of this complete moral justification, the word "discrimination" which has a clear negative connotation is not very suitable to the personal sphere. Discrimination in the bad sense refers to the public sphere, it is sort of an attempt to extend the personal sphere beyond what is morally justified.
Ethics is not compatible with any discrimination other than "objective" - each valued on merit, which in a free society is equivalent to evaluating by the market and which, of course, is not discrimination. And also with moral discrimination. Moral discrimination is the separation of (and, one can hope, the preference for) free, ethical people, rejecting violence, from all others, whom we have somewhere called "hominids" and who do not belong to a free society. However, moral discrimination, too, cannot be considered discrimination, because it is quite objective and not based on someone's subjective preferences. One can only discriminate against people.
Or rather cannot. But what about freedom, you may ask? Without any doubt, even free men may have personal preferences. Everyone prefers to deal with those like themselves, sharing one’s views, tastes and cultural traditions. But all of these preferences, however sad this fact is, remain within the personal sphere. You, my friends, still probably disagree and want to ask - why? Why is discrimination incompatible with objective ethics? After all, a free person is free to choose with whom to deal? Does he not otherwise turn into a deterministic automaton? Alas, I have nothing to add to what was said earlier. Objectivity and impartiality cannot be combined with personal preferences, even if there is no obvious harm in doing so. Preference is an imbalance of neutrality, an advance to some at the expense of others. But is there any harm? Harm is always there when there is a deviation from objective ethics. If, in respect of goods and services, a man is free, in respect of people, man is an automaton. Let an ethical one. Because it's better to be an ethical automaton than a deterministic one. It is precisely personal preferences that limit choice, while absolute impartiality expands it as much as possible.
Economists, as usual, could easily justify the preference for similar people and the neglect of dissimilar ones, for example, it increases trust and reduces transaction costs. Thankfully we are not economists, because we understand that cutting costs by discrimination will eventually lead to a situation where economists will not be needed.
- The usefulness of each
Let's see how discrimination works. Suppose I am fat and so I'm comfortable with fat people. If on that basis I go to a store where fat people work or hire fat people, I'll be committing malign discrimination. On the other hand, if I go to the ballet, my preference for overweight dancers seems to be much more objective. Why? Because they provide me a "visual" service. It's my right as a customer. The free market allows people to consider and evaluate any of their qualities and abilities, in this case, the appearance of employees. Discrimination happens if the director ignores the tastes of customers and hires slender dancers whom he likes personally. What's the harm? The audience suffers and worthy dancers cannot find jobs.
But what if the quality of a potential partner in the contract really affects the benefits brought by him? For example, to employ a disabled person or a pregnant woman may be objectively less profitable if it requires additional costs. Sadly, to collaborate with unprofitable partners is altruism, regardless of the cause. Of course, nothing prevents people from making a personal sacrifice, if they want to, for example, by paying extra out of their profits or wages for a new inconvenience. Objective ethics does not apply to this, unless such an attitude turns into discrimination against those objectively more profitable. Ethics ensures that if there is no discrimination, everyone will find his use.
But what if a man, because of his personal qualities, will never find his use, what if he will be unprofitable for everybody? Theoretically, it is of course possible, but for that he must cease to be human. Each can bring a benefit, because from birth each has many abilities required by others. And most importantly, a man has dignity, which makes him a full-fledged party to the contract, seeking the common good, everybody’s. Participation in the contract means the use of one’s abilities and objective evaluation of the usefulness of others. In short, in an ethical society there is no permanent unemployed, if only the unemployed himself does not shy away from the contract and useful activity.
The harm of discrimination increases when it is transformed into a mass phenomenon, which tends to occur in the public sphere, where masses of people operate. When a man is dealing with a lot of people, he starts to classify them and assign identities, to attribute them to various classes, groups, types, etc. The next logical step is the preference of some identities to others. The grouping of people is again an atavism of our collectivist past, because free people are poorly grouped. I certainly do not mean formal competing teams, where winners and losers are possible and where the preference of winners is objective. I'm talking about the informal, mental grouping of people that happens in the head by itself, spontaneously and independently of our will. The problem with this is that classification is an inevitable and necessary property of thinking. We can say that it is one of its foundations. The very understanding of the outside world begins with the assignment of objects to the correct class, which, of course, seriously complicates the task of building a free society. Therefore, it is important to learn to attribute all strangers to the same class, the class of human beings.
Features provoking the classification and differentiation of people can be not only their appearance or physical characteristics, but also their cultural background, language, views, occupation, income, education and employment history, as well as the qualities of their character and personality. The difficulty is that all of these symptoms can be quite relevant and weighty if they affect objective usefulness, as in the case of ballet. Even more difficult is the task of ethical thinking - to be able to see the feature in the man, not in the group.
As with everything associated with thinking, grouping rarely stops at one level. There are groups within groups down to the individual, who is now considered and evaluated from the point of view of belonging to a hierarchy or network of groups. The man acquires an informal group status, affecting one’s attitude toward him and distorting the positions in the interaction.
- The stereotype
To form a stereotype is to assign a certain quality to a group of people. This is also a property of thinking, because without the assignation of a quality and the follow-up evaluation of the group there is no need to classify. Stereotypes help us live. For example, a buyer can prefer to buy where it is more expensive but nicer - clean, bright and with friendly salespeople. This is a taste, but a stereotype too. A clean shop means better products. The ease and rapidity of such findings lowers costs and reduces the risk of poisoning. This is a facilitative algorithm of the brain, finding a wide application in the market. In particular, insurance companies, as well as HR professionals, especially readily assess statistical group characteristics. But mind suggests that one always has to take into account individual qualities. And, mind you, not the subjectively individual, but the objectively individual. The more complete the account is, the better the result will be. Although one can understand the problems of HR managers and insurers who have to deal with insufficient information, objective ethics does not recognize stereotypes and calls them what they really are, blindness and myopia. The stereotype, like any law, does not apply to people. This is a palliative of real foresight - ethical, which includes the full disclosure of all relevant information.
A stereotype, which quietly shows itself in the plain, inadequate assessment of a man, can lead to quite tragic results on the scale of society. Of course, it is already bad when the unworthy gain an advantage and the worthy are prejudiced, but much worse is the fact that in contrast to personal taste, group discrimination not only reinforces stereotypes, but can also make them into a reality out of pure fantasy. For example, first an employer chooses an employee on the basis of stereotypes inculcated by bad people. Then a relevant applicant seeks employment taking into account his knowledge about such a stereotype. Next, companies are formed where one kind of person works, and other companies where other kinds work, or they do not work at all, if none are to be found. Thus, stereotypes divide the public sphere into increasingly narrow collectives that are gradually fenced off from each other, and all that is fraught with mutual misunderstanding, lack of a common ground for the contract and, in the end, violence.
Discrimination is caused not only by the lack of objective information about the capabilities of a potential partner and behest to a stereotype as a consequence, but by group egocentrism - a preference for one’s own collective identity. This time, the problem is that it is natural for man to consider as positive (and to exaggerate the positivity if it really is) the quality characteristic of his own group. Assessing a partner, man subconsciously, or maybe consciously, compares him with himself, and any discrepancies become potential drawbacks. Of the partner, of course. Discrimination comes into play when the subject notices that the partner belongs to a group, and if the group happens to be foreign, the brain itself is incapable of objectivity. It is overwhelmed with emotions of group solidarity and other remnants of the times of collective heroism. The farther and more abstract the partner, the less human he is. And the larger the collective with which the subject identifies, the farther to the periphery of attention the outsider moves and the more objective the subject’s distorted judgment seems to be. If in respect of oneself, doubts are still possible, in respect of, say, one’s nation, that is hardly so. The collective suppresses autonomy and the subjectivity of the collective shell prevails over the objectivity of ethics.
The egocentric distortion of the values of various human traits and qualities, the division of people into groups and their opposition to each other, threatens the sacred - #3. If we go this route, eventually CG disappears with all the consequences, including the loss of meaning in life and the substitution of ethics by group morality. This conclusion becomes clearer if we remember that CG stands for "common good". And what could we have in common with people belonging to other groups, especially since they're obviously defective? But if one always chooses to communicate with "ours", the rest increasingly drop out of sight, the circle is narrowed, and free choice sooner or later turns deterministic, especially when the defective come and enforce it.
As we can see, biology once again hampers ethics. Biological atavisms and unethical identities are a heritage of tribal psychology. But do not panic. Man is able to get rid of any subjectivity, as well as of any animal heritage, when it is known and under the control of mind. Moreover, the practice of social construction shows us truly amazing examples of people crossing the line of objectivity and starting to exaggerate the worth of other people's groups, as well as diminishing, despising and even hating their own, which is, perhaps, too much.
- Group morality
The preference for a particular group of people is already bad in itself, but it is even worse when specific moral norms are introduced in relation to the members of one’s own group. The collective has enormous power over the individual, we became human beings thanks to the collective. It is not surprising, therefore, that an individual may exhibit a variety of moral deviations arising from membership. Their types are not too diverse and are reducible to, first, the substitution of ultimate goals and the values resulting from them, second, working together to achieve them, and third, loyalty, i.e. willingness to sacrifice for the sake of that. The only difference is the degree of deviance, but in any case after the group bites off a piece of ethics and autonomy, there is naturally not enough of them left for those who don’t belong, who automatically become outsiders undeserving of human treatment. Collective dignity imperceptibly replaces personal.
It is obvious that the step from the simple preference of one’s group to the emergence of common goals is the line where group morality is born. Where does the goal come from? In the end, it comes from the problem of finding meaning in a life burdened by widespread violence. It can be reduced to the fact of existence of the group, which morally takes on the role of the rest of humanity - it gives identity, a sense of belonging, a mirage of CG and meaning. That is, group morality is practically useful morality that has degenerated into the benefit of a group of companions. The value of one’s group is a surrogate for value #3, a kind of FCG, but so false that its explicit ideological expression is too obviously wrong. Because of this, the real goal is sometimes concealed by another, declared one. For example, champions of an idea want to change society, all of their main efforts are directed to this end, but in parallel, they adhere to strict norms of group morality, aimed at the preservation of the group and loyalty to its members. The declared goals, ideology and other FCGs, though not required by group morality, are useful at the stage of forming the group to attract supporters. Next, when the group formed, it is possible to do without them, because the survival of group is in our collectivist genes - group morality appears by itself, one has only to feel like a member of the group for a while. In this sense - as an intuitive way to survive - even preference for one’s own identity can be considered the embryo of group morality. The difference is that preference is a spontaneous though perhaps regular act, while group morality consists in more stable norms and in malicious, purposeful discrimination.
Although groups formed long ago themselves become history, groups, as opposed to historical collectives, are formed voluntarily. Even if members of the group are relatives or class allies, the choice is still voluntary, because nowadays it is possible to survive without them. Consequently, the group's survival motive has a noticeable egoistic tint. An egoist survives in the group, becoming an altruist for the sake of his egoism. In most cases, group morality does fine without explicit norms, but the longer the history of the group, the more it accumulates traditions and the more formal its norms become. For example, these may be rituals or a complete set of instructions for how to live, indistinguishable from religion.
Despite the voluntary nature of entry, the group restricts freedom, but the degree of compulsion, of course, varies. The most cohesive groups are usually not too big and demand absolute loyalty and uncompromising, almost heroic, morality. These include ethnic mafia groups, terrorists, fighters for revolutionary ideals or the followers of cults and sects. At the other end are the extremely vague networks, easily adaptable for membership and restricting the "sacrifices" of its members by purely selfish calculation. Not enough paper to consider all such variations, what’s more, not all of them are equally important in terms of the threat to objective ethics. The heroic morale is an anachronism in a free society. More dangerous are nepotism and favoritism, where the group consists of relatives to the seventh generation. This is like the natural expression of personal relationships where they do not belong, help from false commitments, compassion or love. Most dangerous is mutually profitable corporate morality, and especially that practiced by influential people having access to resources, being aware of a common interest and therefore easily forming personal relationships.
As history teaches us, discrimination against non-members easily brings the matter to direct physical violence against them and of course, the most obvious example of this is the pernicious role of the ruling elite, which is truly inexhaustible in its moral damage. Despite the formality of law, constitutions and other provisions restricting power, it is always embodied and implemented by specific people having not only unlimited interest in violence, but also a limited number of personal connections that, given power's ability to penetrate wherever it pleases, ruins everything. Worse than that. One cannot expect the detachment required by ethics from people holding public offices, just because the people getting these positions are selected on the opposite characteristics - the ability to establish personal relationships, be liked, penetrate into souls and manipulate people. The closer they are to the voters and the more skilled they are in those abilities, the better their chances of attaining the cherished end. Thus, election for any public office is directly incompatible with objectivity. Elections are a direct denial of the public sphere, despite the appearance of the procedure. In the end, the formality of the law itself does not guarantee its ethics, not to speak of objectivity.
The invasion of power's personal preferences into the public sphere leads to various types of tragedies - oligarchy, kleptocracy, plutocracy and plain fascism. The successful achievement of the power group's goals so moves its members away from reality that they begin to see themselves as a special biological breed - blue blood, extraordinary talents, exquisite tastes. Even the market has not changed that - now these gods have exceptional business acumen. In fact the whole matter is group morality perpetuating social stratification. Personal connections in a world of systemic violence always penetrate the market, which in itself is not a model of fairness, forming a bond between business and politics - the political elite help “their” business elites and the business elites support "their" politicians. In the end they both become one rather dense circle of people, not disdaining mating their genes.
The might of personal connections is so great that trade in them is without exaggeration the most profitable business. Any power elite is tightly covered with a thick layer of "consultants" and "advisors" using their private channels for the transmission of petitions from the downstream population upward, and exclusive information and personal experiences of communicating with the inhabitants of heaven - downward. The art of establishing personal connections, building the capacity of influence, is a key ability in the complex of skills of any politician or tycoon. And of any citizen who wants to not just sell himself at a minimal rate, but move up the social ladder, built by the violence of power.
- Elites, big and small
The elite reproduces itself independently of historical patterns and processes and depending only on the lack of ethics. The very concept of the elite has appeared as a consequence of the clear understanding by people belonging to the cream of society of their interests, let them be called spiritual or cultural. In the end, the values and views of these people are very close, and the awareness of their isolation from others starts from childhood. The elite is very small and therefore easily integrated, as opposed to the fragmented and disorganized masses hopelessly dreaming of objectivity and fairness, especially when you consider the current state of society, where the elite is cosmopolitan and exploited masses even speak different languages.
Collusion between competitors has been well studied and rightly condemned. Much weaker condemned is collusion between non-competitors. At first glance, what is there to conspire about? But ethics gives a simple answer - precisely about ethics. Generally, people with any serious potential for influence - economic, informational, political and even moral - are inclined to cohesion and the very first goal of this cohesion consists in recognizing and securing the unity of shared interests, opposed to all outsiders, i.e. mutual moral corruption. Even if the justification of what is permissible in using the potential was not on the agenda, the very fact of discussion about anything at all is already a blow to ethics, it is the creation and strengthening of personal relationships aimed at consolidating the select club. When the "powers that be" are meeting in their gatherings, clubs, committees and other think-tanks, where they discuss and debate behind closed doors, to what does this attest? It attests to their ethics, which rightfully angers those not allowed there.
Similar trends emerge on the middle floors, as evidenced by the abundance of business clubs and entrepreneurial groups. Participation there is a must, because at a minimum it reduces exposure to the dishonesty typical of the current social war. But the result of it is the strengthening not of business ethics, but of personal relations. These trends are natural in the society of systemic violence. However, in a powerless society there are also no guarantees except ethics that the successful, well-known, respected, charismatic and other kinds of extraordinary leaders of business, culture, civil society and other spheres of activity will not begin to make friends and help each other remain successful and famous forever. In the most free economy, personal relations, motivated by similarity of interests, easily penetrate all the wrong places and lead to collusion, the cheating of partners and shareholders, discrimination against workers, and other such troubles.
As a curious example of such an alliance, let's take the interlocking directorate - members of corporate boards meant to serve the shareholders but serving themselves through each other. These influential, well-connected executives occupy the boards of all but the smallest corporations, banks, investment funds and asset management companies, creating a situation in which success in business depends on access to the right circles. The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to govern it, and the less it is controlled by shareholders, and the more it is run by the top, and the more information remains hidden and shared between the right people. Integration between board members, major shareholders and investors, between non-competitors generally, not to mention the power structures and adjoining lobbyists, activists, security and military officials, media people, philanthropists, figures from the arts and sciences - this is in fact a conspiracy on the scale of the whole economy and the whole society. And if there is someone to destroy an industry monopoly at least in theory, this kind of pan-social conspiracy is destroyed only by the arrival of aliens or by an asteroid.
- Classes and privileges
But friends - should we, outsiders, resent? Agree that people with extraordinary possibilities need to protect their position, which places on them not only a psychological but also an immoral burden. This is the main goal of the alliance. The successful solution of this problem leads to the division of society into classes, so this particular type of group morality might well be called class morality. Obviously, such a morality is peculiar only to those groups who have something to protect. Accordingly, the class is not a set of those who happened to be in a certain place of the social ladder, and not this very place waiting for someone to occupy it, but a certain group of people that have created this place and perpetuated it. And what place it turned out to be is a matter of chance or history. In other words, the class is a consequence of human relations, and not some objective (economic, political, psychological or biological) structure of society, which is itself a consequence of classes. The only thing that helps personal connections create classes is violence, victory in struggle, bringing resources for further violence. In this respect, we can consider the present, accidently created class structure to be in some way historically determined. But here too, we must pay a tribute to personal connections as a necessary condition of joint struggle.
Even a class, seemingly organized on an objective basis, such as professional, exists because of collective altruism, although in this case "egoism" would be a more correct term. People with the same diplomas and titles do not form a class unless they come together and begin to defend their common interests. The indicator of a class is a collective with an underlying group morality. Hence, it is clear that terms such as "working class", "lower classes", etc. are an oxymoron, putting all classes on the same level. The workers and other "lowers" are just the ones who have not got into a desired class, staying in the general pool, not understanding their place, or their interests, or their goal in the social struggle. There is nothing classy about being on the bottom of the social ladder.
A class always starts as the result of personal connections and can then move toward formality - the registration of an organization, the creation of legal barriers for non-members, the collection of fees, the publication of newsletters, etc. The existence of several competing organizations, which, however, easily work together when it comes to common tasks, is possible, too. This mechanism can be seen everywhere. A "pure" market that forms the rich “by itself” does that only because it is allowed to do so. The top layer of the independently existing political system, having formal procedures for staffing and for organizing work, is, in fact, filled up and running in the first place thanks to personal contacts. Professional and industry associations are protected by strict requirements for all wishing to join, and all other have to pay professionals extra for own incompetence. A creative union, receiving grants for the support of high national culture, consists of respected people taking in their ranks only those no less respected.
Not only outstanding people who have captured prestigious places need to protect their position. The social struggle demands that any victory receives protection. Any group of people with privileges is aware of the need to consolidate, whether formal or not. And if the protected privilege is worth it, the class may take the form of an estate as it was for many centuries. Then, only relatives could get inside. And, mind you friends, no formal equality is in a position to destroy the classes, precisely because personal relations cannot be formalized. One can, of course, ban the organization and membership fees, but formality only helps organize a large class consisting of not very influential members, which struggles with a small one composed of influential ones. Prohibiting a union is easy, but how does one prohibit a private club?