Furthest Right

How Moralism Obstructs Realism

Life has its ups and downs. We either accept them, adapt to them, and maximize our situation, or we “moralize” or pass judgment over whether they are good or evil. This moralizing serves as a replacement for directly engaging with the issue at hand, which is why people like it.

For the same reason that workers like to take long breaks and committees want to go on fact-finding missions, people seek to avoid the issues. It is not so much that they are lazy as that they are afraid. They fear being wrong, because then whatever their mental dysfunction is will be seen by others, and most people have some dysfunction.

Moralism misses the point: we are Realists. We care about consequences in reality, not what people think about them or their panicked activities. If we make a dam and it floods the valley, the fact that the dam made people have warm fuzzy feelings is entirely irrelevant.

We are not here to talk about good and evil. We might talk about “good” in the context of some action turning out well or not. For example, Half Earth would be good. But evil? No one intends evil; they simply act selfishly and in the process deny reality.

Our morality should consist entirely of function. Capitalism works, therefore it is good. It needs balancing by culture and hierarchy, but it functions better than the other options, in the same way that plows work at least until we find a better option. Are they perfect? No. Utopia is “nowhere” for a reason.

In 1516, English humanist Sir Thomas More published a book titled Utopia. It compared social and economic conditions in Europe with those of an ideal society on an imaginary island located off the coast of the Americas. More wanted to imply that the perfect conditions on his fictional island could never really exist, so he called it Utopia, a name he created by combining the Greek words ou (meaning “no, not”) and topos (meaning “place,” a root used in our word topography).

Looking deeper into its origins, it seems the term has always meant disbelief:

The current (since c. 1960) explanation of Greek ou “not” is an odd one, as it derives the word from the PIE root *aiw- “vital force, life; long life, eternity.” Linguists presume a pre-Greek phrase *(ne) hoiu (kwid) “(not on your) life,” with ne “not” + *kwid, an “emphasizing particle” [Watkins]. The same pattern is found elsewhere.

When someone talks about Utopia, think “not on your life.” Most likely, Moore borrowed the form of the word from other Indo-European constructions involving negation, substituting the “ou” form of “hoiu” for the more general “ne”:

nepenthe, from Greek nē‑, not.

In any case, Utopias do not exist because they are moralistic creations. Imagine a place where everything is perfect and then imagine yourself dying of boredom there. Nothing would grow, change, or move. While too much change is bad, taking out the trash or replacing a worn-out light fixture is rarely bad.

Current conservatives achieve nothing because they insist on moralizing instead of thinking realistically. This leads us to chase symbolic issues like abortion, Christian Nationalism, and impeachment when we should be looking at the bottom line, which is restoring a functional society.

The only real morality is function. This is an ends-over-means measurement, which is how all sane people think. If you want to save your family, you will do anything by any means necessary to achieve that. In the same way, we must think about saving our civilization in this do-or-die mode.

If we look at how conservatives have failed over the past one hundred and sixty years, almost all of it has consisted of thinking strategically about how to convince voters to support us. This game we cannot win. The only way we win is by offering solid function instead of the airy moralism of the Left.

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