Ethics and the Basic Philosophical Principles of Peace and Freedom
Extracted from Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance by John G. Vibes
What is morality? This question has been debated by philosophers since the beginning of time. Today, it is one of the most confusing and volatile topics in western culture. Throughout human history, our course of action has been directed by our sense of morality and our code of ethics. In other words our concept of “right and wrong” or “good and evil” has had a direct impact on our behavior.
Ethically speaking, our species has come a very long way since the dark ages, but the progression is far from over, and has unfortunately slowed to a screeching halt in the 20th century. Sure, the slave trade has slowed down, authoritarian psychopaths now have velvet gloves over their iron fists and people are at least starting to pretend that civil liberties have a place in our society, but we still have a very long way to go.
Humanity is at a very interesting crossroads, we now know right from wrong, but we continue to allow immorality to take place for the sake of convenience. This is much in the same way that the cigarette smoker knows that they really should quit, but just can’t bring themselves to actually do it. What we are lacking here is an objective and universal code of ethics that holds every human being to the same moral standard and is consistent in all circumstances. Throughout time, there has existed a double standard, in which the masses have been subject to a completely different set of rights and expectations than their rulers experienced.
A double standard is basically the idea that different people are subject to different rules and expectations based on arbitrary characteristics, such as their class position, race, sex or social status. This idea becomes even more complicated when you throw “proxies” into the mix. A “proxy” is basically a group or organization that accepts blame and responsibility for the actions of individual people. To put this term into perspective, many people see the word “proxy” as another way of saying “barrier” or “shield”.
Governments and corporations are the most obvious and oppressive examples of this phenomenon in our society. When people do something on behalf of the government or a corporation they are almost never held accountable for their actions, this is one of the primary purposes of governments and corporations to begin with. These proxies legitimize the unethical actions of individual people and protect them from any legal consequences.
The double standards created by governments and corporations are at the very root of human suffering and environmental destruction. We have come to the understanding as a species that murder, theft, kidnaping, and other forms of violence are completely unacceptable human behaviors. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. This is where the double standards come in, because the aforementioned violent acts are excused if they are carried out by agents of the state, or the corporate establishment. This is why none of the people who were responsible for the financial collapse or the murder of civilians in Iraq have been brought to justice. Murder is seen as justified if it takes place on a battlefield; theft is seen as charity if it takes place at the hands of an IRS agent; and kidnapping is seen as justice if the police are locking up a nonviolent offender.
This is the insane world that we have found ourselves in: a world of subjective law and subjective morality where the most heinous atrocities are given a pass if they are ordered or allowed by someone in “authority”. Gang members and serial killers account for a very tiny percentage of the violence that takes place on the entire planet, as these people are forced to do their deeds in secret and they are subject to the consequences of law.
On the other hand, state-sponsored thieves and murderers like the IRS, the army, or the police are cloaked by the false legitimacy that is created by the proxy of government. Corporations work very much the same way thanks to a little-known legal loophole called “corporate personhood”. This is why no one is held accountable when the CEOs at Exxon make decisions that bury tropical islands in crude oil, or when the CEOs at Goldman Sachs make decisions that cause millions to be homeless.
On the other hand, your average citizens are under constant scrutiny and are always 10 steps behind the tiny few who are given a license to murder, cheat, and steal. This is why there is so much inequality and violence in the world, because some people are allowed to cheat, steal, and commit violence without consequence. It really is that simple.
This subjective legal structure is quite effective in keeping people in their place, but it only goes so far because it doesn’t control people’s behavior when they are in private.
This is where morality comes in. Moral arguments have long been used by religious or political organizations to manipulate people and dictate their personal decisions, even when “the law” isn’t looking. These various establishments constantly twist the definitions of “right and wrong” depending on the circumstance to suit their own needs and steer human behavior in a direction of their choosing. Strict judgments about victimless actions and obedience to authority have been imposed on us and our ancestors and sold to us as moral virtue. At the same time, those in power and authority have been given a pass to violate these established moral values as a matter of contrived necessity.
Generally, when a violent crime is committed, the suspect is at least sought after to face punishment for their crime. However, if that criminal is sanctioned by the state, their aggression is overlooked and considered to be perfectly moral. This is nothing new, control systems throughout history have used inconsistent moral standards to warp the minds of their subjects. One of the primary objectives of any government is to justify or legitimize their own aggressions and to ultimately develop a monopoly on the use of force so no one is able to challenge their power. This is why the idea of a clear and consistent moral standard is so repulsive to those in power, because they know it will ultimately negate their double standard, hold them accountable for their unjust actions, and revoke their license to threaten and kill.
In short, authority figures establish ethical guidelines based on their own self-interest and then tell the public “do as I say, not as I do…because I said so”. This is a completely unjust and illogical way of evaluating ethics, because it’s NOT intended to evaluate ethics, it is simply a con intended to make obedience a virtue in the eyes of the oppressed. Obedience is never a virtue. When ideas about morality are forcefully imposed and are not practiced by those who enforce them, it is not just those particular ideas that are rejected by the population, but the whole concept of morality altogether is rejected with it. This is a natural reaction to counter the cognitive dissonance that has been created by years of contradictory ethical standards and inconsistent moral codes. After so many generations of suffering under the false moral codes of different ruling classes, many people nowadays just shut off and roll their eyes at the mere mention of morality.
This multi-generational corruption of morality has left the majority of people generally confused and frustrated with ethical concepts, thus giving way to the philosophies of pragmatism and solipsism. Both of these philosophies basically equate to moral relativism, the idea that there is no such thing as objective morality. This has been the doctrine of solipsism for ages, while pragmatism is just a newer reformatted version of this same philosophy. These ideas did not naturally develop in the human consciousness, but were implanted into mainstream culture through the media and education system. When adopted in the early 20th century, pragmatism implicitly justified state violence and actively demoralized future generations by ruling that ethics were subjective, and a matter of opinion.
Moral relativism is essentially the idea that morality does not exist and cannot be defined, but rather is only a matter of agreed upon social convention. This is the core principle which was embodied in the philosophical Trojan horse of pragmatism. Pragmatism is one of the most popular and misunderstood concepts in western thought. It sounds nice, if you look up the definition of “pragmatism” you will see the word “practical” used multiple times without establishing exactly what that means. Let’s take a look, here is the definition of “pragmatism” from the Merriam Webster online dictionary.
“ An American movement in philosophy marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief” 
This definition is rather confusing, but when you sift through the newspeak you will find a philosophy that doesn’t really stand for anything, but just “goes with the flow” and disregards the search for truth and morality. The pragmatist blindly seeks out the path of least resistance without attempting to properly understand how that path came to be. This mentality is obviously reckless, irrational, and nihilistic, yet is unbelievably popular because it allows people to take a passive role in reality without feeling any guilt or shame.
If a person believes that there are no moral absolutes they are then able to justify their own unethical actions, as well as turn their back on the unethical actions of others, if that’s what feels good for them at the time. This is obviously a very appealing philosophy for people who have been trained from birth to accept authority and feel incapable of achieving any good in this world even if they tried. It is also somewhat understandable that people would adopt this mindset, considering they been through a lifetime of watching various religious sects battle over subjective moral standards. Likewise, they have seen corrupt political organizations use moral arguments to oppress nonviolent people and justify their own violence at the same time.
Most peaceful and rational people get very turned off by these kinds of situations, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, this is the very reason that pragmatism and ideas of moral relativism are so attractive to the current generation, because people are understandably sick and tired of having their personal lives governed by irrational and subjective moral edicts. This is most likely the same reason why many of the philosophers and academics who got any attention during the 20th century embraced these ideas, but there were still a few rebels who saw these ideas for what they really were.
One such rebel was author and philosopher Ayn Rand. In her book For the New Intellectual she gives a brilliant description of the pragmatist philosophy and its implications on ethics in society. She said:
They [The Pragmatists] declared that philosophy must be practical and that practicality consists of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards—that there is no such thing as objective reality or permanent truth—that truth is that which works, and its validity can be judged only by its consequences—that no facts can be known with certainty in advance ……whatever one wishes to be true, is true, whatever one wishes to exist, does exist, provided it works or makes one feel better.…. and anyone who holds any firm convictions of his own is an arbitrary, mystic dogmatist, since reality is indeterminate and people determine its actual nature.
While I don’t personally agree with every single aspect of Ayn Rand’s work (specifically her blind loyalty towards big business and promotion of egoism), she did have a lot of great ideas that have made it a lot easier for future generations to understand philosophy. More recently, in 2011 a world renowned scholar and educator named John Taylor Gatto shared similar thoughts in an interview with Richard Grove of Tragedy and Hope media.
Gatto said “If you now connect pragmatism with the concept of justified sinning, you have an absolute blank check in any situation, to invent truth, invent justice, sacrifice biologically inconsequential people and invent any excuse for doing anything that you want. It seems to me that’s been the driving force in American affairs for a long long time, but interestingly enough it’s been the driving force of an intellectual elite, I believe, through history.”  So in other words, people in power use these philosophies to control the minds of the entire human population, in order to justify their crimes and rationalize the twisted civilization that they have created.
The philosophy of moral relativism has been embedded in our culture for several generations, so by now it has become an unquestioned and unconscious convention. Today children grow up learning this philosophy without even realizing it, much in the same way that they learn other cultural traits like accents, slang terms or even personality traits. These are all things that we pick up unconsciously from the culture we grow up in, as we are constantly exposed to these ideas through the media, education, family and our peers.
Many children who adopt this philosophy still manage to become intelligent adults who openly reject culturally imposed dogma, without realizing that their whole worldview is corrupted by the subliminal dogma of pragmatism. Our lives are filled with encounters where people use pragmatic arguments to explain their actions or defend the status quo, so naturally this mindset becomes quite popular without ever being explicitly described or understood. Unfortunately, moral relativism, solipsism and pragmatism are the dominant ethical philosophies of the modern age, which has rendered our generation, and several before it demoralized, hedonistic and apathetic.
If a consistent moral standard is necessary to create a truly free and civilized society then those standards must apply to everyone equally. Interestingly enough, such a standard has already been proposed and is practiced by freedom seekers worldwide.
That standard is known as the Non-Aggression Principle or NAP for short. The common law institute describes the non-aggression principle as “do not initiate force or fraud”, or “if it harms none, do what you will”, or “treat others as you’d like to be treated”, or “live and let live”. In more detail, “Do not initiate force or fraud against anyone else’s person or property.” In other words, “except for self-defense, don’t harm others, don’t harm or steal their property, don’t break your word, and don’t try to coerce anyone by threatening to do any of these things, and don’t delegate or encourage anyone to do any of these things.”
This principle, in large part, makes up the philosophy known as natural law. When one speaks of natural law, they are referring to the universal moral code of non-aggression. However, natural law is a deeper philosophy that covers a lot more territory, while the non-aggression principle is a very specific concept within the realm of natural law.
Don’t hurt anyone, be honest and don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you. In reality, this is all common sense to most average people, and the good majority of the world’s population would prefer to live their lives according to these principles. Some people will even argue that our society is already functioning according to these principles, and for the most part they would be right. However, those who claim positions of authority over others are the most likely to violate these principles, because they are given a pass to do so.
By this non-aggression standard we can say “if you initiate the use of force and harm another person, or you violate their property you are acting immorally”. This rule applies to every human being regardless of what title they happen to have or costume they happen to be wearing. This is a moral standard that aims to protect the individual rights and personal property of every human being, regardless of class or social position. This would be recognized as fair, only customs that are seen as fair will actually be respected by society, which is why subjective and inconsistent standards are never fully respected and encourage chaos.
Subjective ethical standards are seen as optional by most people, so they fail to create any kind of social order, which is apparently what they are intended to do. The reason that most people see these standards as optional is because they are rarely obeyed by those in power. If the most powerful people in the world are behaving like savages, then that sends a message to the rest humanity that behaving like a savage will bring you power, wealth and happiness. This seems like a natural psychological reaction to me, as disturbing as it is, it does make a lot of sense.
No one wants to be a victim of violence, theft or fraud, it is these fears that are responsible for the development of law and morality in philosophy to begin with. Unfortunately, neither law nor morality is currently achieving this goal because their honest intention is not to protect people but to fleece and control them.
QUOTE SOURCES AND SUGGESTED READING
 Manly P. Hall – personal collection of audio lectures
 Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
 For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand
 Peace Revolution by John Taylor Gatto
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance at bookpatch.com.
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