Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Survival of the...moralest?

Let me start a little bit off topic:  I like communism.  Note that I said 'communism' with a lower case 'c', not Communism with a capital 'C', that is, the fundamental idea of a socialist state where people share equally in the resources, advancements, and profits, not the Marxism based attempts at implementation that have been used by various Communist Parties around the world that is commonly mistakenly thought as as canonical 'communism', especially by people in the United States (Cold War influences, probably?).

The main argument against communism is that human nature is inherently lazy, greedy, and selfish, and, like the horse(I believe it was?) in Animal Farm, most people would try to mooch off the work of others rather than putting the effort into contributing into the state as a whole if they don't see themselves as directly receiving a benefit from that effort.

I'm going to exercise some restrains and put aside the fact that things like Wikipedia and the plethora of open source projects online seem to suggest that there are other important factors at play for another discussion.  And I'll also put aside the difference between Marxism, which stressed the "working class", i.e. labor, and has ever decreasing relevance to our modern world which is becoming more and more technology, i.e. idea, information, driven, and the fundamental idea of communism, which can be applied to our current society, and actually can be argued to have increasing relevance as information sharing increases for a later discussion.  For now, let me just address the "it won't work b/c it's against human nature" argument.

I would argue that many things exist in societies, and even flourish, that seem to be against human nature.  Altruism, trust, generosity, things that are considered morally 'good' are more predominate in societies than they seem like they should be.

If everyone only acted in their own immediate self-interest, as the human nature argument implies, there would be chaos.  Chaos is not conducive to advancements in technology, scientific, and medical, etc.  It would be hard to contemplate concepts in science and math if you were afraid of being killed in your sleep or to experiment and design technologies if you were in constant fear of having your property stolen.  But "you should not steal your neighbor's livestock b/c it is detrimental to the advancement of our society as a whole" is not an easy argument for the masses to digest.

Enter 'morality', most effectively purveyed initially by some form of organized religion.  It is further propagated by laws that reflect these beliefs, societal pressures, and the conditioning of children by parents at a young age.  "You should not steal your neighbor's livestock b/c it is 'evil' and evil people go to Hell (or get karmic retribution, etc)" is a very effective argument on masses that believe in such religious constructs, and "you should not steal your neighbor's livestock b/c you will punished, both physically and socially" is effective even on those who do not have such beliefs.

Cultures which have moral codes that overcome human nature to create an orderly and 'safe' will advance the furthest, hence being able to keep their people healthier, as well as creating better weapons, and subjugating other cultures to them economically, and will further propagate their values (although over time, these may shift somewhat) and 'morality'.

So I assert that a similar dynamic, a moral code which 'rewards' putting in effort, hard work, diligence, 'being the best you can be' would be equally as effective in overcoming the human nature argument against communism.  As for the rest of the arguments, those will have to wait for future posts...