A Confession: Where I stand on Individual and Group Ethics Toward a Level and Decentralized Playing Field in the Early Twenty-First Century

Richard Maybury: “An economic system is the result of a just legal system.  We should use the two fundamental principles of the British Common Law as the legal model, which is: 1) Do not encroach on other persons or their property (basis of all tort law and some criminal law). 2) Do all you have agreed to do (the basis of contract law).”

Alfred North Whitehead: “The intercourse between individuals and between social groups takes one of these two forms: force or persuasion. Commerce is the great example of intercourse by way of persuasion. War, slavery, and governmental compulsion exemplify the reign of force.”

Here are some of my philosophical musings, knowing that our future will be extremely different and unpredictable. 

First, our human history. Tribal hunter-gatherers, driven by hunger, fear, and sex had different ideas in different brains. Fears included animals, other tribes, and powerful forces of nature like weather and disease. A primitive human state lasted for several thousand years, passing into a much briefer agricultural era, and then an industrial era, which has given way to our global communication and information-technology age. Remember, it took until 5,000 years ago to invent the wheel. Throughout the entire history of the human condition, leaders have emerged. Some have been good, some have been evil, and often driven psychopaths. Examples of the latter would be Hitler, Stalin, Mugabe and Mao. Probably all were deranged by abnormal brain chemistry, as have been many leaders, kings, rulers and politicians throughout the world’s history.  

In this changing and diverse maelstrom of human history, amidst the mystifying forces of the world, superstitious rituals came calling for blind obedience. Overall, mankind’s great tormentor has been disease and religion. All great religions have misled mankind by claiming understanding of and requiring reaction to an invisible, unprovable Master. This has created great conflict, strife, and fatal cruelty. Over time, leaders’ beliefs begat religious and political organizations, ever more personally self-serving and controlling, doing anything necessary to control and intimidate their underlings.  

Nations formed and developed civilized structures, actually boosted by the Enlightenment age, resulting in increased scientific understanding, the principles of British Common Law, and a better perception of possible future outcomes, including nation-states fragmenting into “phyles.”[1]

America’s founding and early development was a fortunate byproduct of an apex of individual freedom and the separation of church and state. People like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry were quite scornful of the way religion had evolved, aware of religion’s dangers, and went to remarkable trouble to separate church from state. The work of America’s brilliant early organizers has since been remarkably dimmed by organized politics, which encourage political reelection through pandering to interest groups.  

Speaking of America. What is to be done? Now, the politicians are self-serving lawyers, pathetically uneducated in science and economic realities. The people who run for political office are usually power-driven personalities, influenced by the various special interests and envy-driven nonsense. Religions demand control and special privileges, such as no taxation. War creates loss of freedom by a fear-driven political response, which perpetuates the control of those politicians who started the war. Since the Enlightenment, the political control of education has deteriorated individual freedom to act. Many citizens are scientifically ignorant, philosophically unaware, and lacking in discipline and appropriate education.  

The idea of the nation deterioration into “phyles” makes sense and we can see this already happening in the Middle East and elsewhere, where divisions were never in a position to survive. 

What will happen will happen. It’s impossible to guess, except that there will probably be a breakdown of the present nation-state arrangements. 

Here are some solutions that could create fairness and a level playing field; a place where anybody with the right effort could rise to the top: 

  • Flat tax for all religious groups, all businesses, and all individuals. 
  • Personal rights as offered by the constitution and its amendments, honoring property rights and contracts.
  • Political leaders should undertake mandatory pre-political office education in ethics, science, and diverse philosophies.  
  • Political power limited to short (a couple of years) terms. 
  • Immigration policies that encourage the educated and productive and brilliant.  
  • Follow the greatest ethical principle of history: the greater golden rule. This says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – even if they are from different cultures with different beliefs.” Activities that occur within the bubble of the greater golden rule would be tolerated and encouraged, and those that occur outside of this bubble would be resisted and discouraged. 
  • Justice for all, including fair and understandable rules not benefitting any particular group. 
  • Simplicity and clarity of governmental regulations; no more smoke and mirrors and a starkly limited number of laws. 

These principles should guide the building of and tending to a level playing field and universal fairness under the golden rule.  

[1]See Neal Stephenson’s book “The Diamond Age.” 

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