I am no fan of pragmatism. Pragmatism is the historical cop-out. I am not a fan of apathy or complacency either, but these are the direct off-spring of pragmatic thinking. The combination of these elements turn even the most principled men (and women) into wet noodles and ultimately into willing slaves.
An interesting concept popped into my head this week. It’s one that I’ve actually spoken on in the past such as with my previous entry on Galt’s Oath. For lack of a better term for it, I am going to call it ‘anti-pragmatism’, but it is in fact a form of pragmatism and one made possible through either apathy or complacency.
My thoughts on this concept came up, among other discussions, in regards to a discussion on the ‘Sanction of the Victim‘ from Atlas Shrugged. The Wiki entry does a good job of explaining this concept from the book saying:
The concept “Sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin‘ of creating values”. This concept may be original in the thinking of Rand and is foundational to her moral theory: she holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it.
This ‘Sanction of the victim’ extends from the kind of pragmatism I speak of, a pragmatism spawned from either a complacency or a judgment call on behalf of the individual. Those that choose to call it a judgment call will defend it staunchly as the ‘moral’ and ‘rational’ choice. This is the principle I have been mulling over in my head this week – is it really? In reality, this is the concept I’ve been mulling over my whole life – probably that most volitional people struggle with – but I have arrived at a different conclusion.
My life is non-negotiable!
Property that has been ethically obtained is a product of the application of one’s life. When someone comes to appropriate your property without proper cause or your specified consent, they are appropriating a portion of your life.
If someone came and demanded your foot, or your eye, or your kidneys would you be so willing to concede out of expedience? Yes, I understand, one cannot survive without a lung and losing a hand is more significant than losing 25% of your latest check, but that’s the point – that’s why it’s easier to take your paycheck – because you will accept it! Because you will tolerate it!
There is an evil embedded in those that will take advantage of the willingness of people to accept levels of tyranny knowing that those exploited will tolerate it rather than fight it. There is an evil inherent in those that are fully aware of this fact and continually push the border of it gradually, but stay just short of exceeding the tolerance of such tyranny. But that evil is enabled by the evil that is the tolerance itself.
Pragmatism is summed up by ‘the ends justifies the means’, but the type of reverse-pragmatism I speak of is summed up by asking ‘What difference will it make to compromise your own ethics and morals [for the sake of expedience] if the end result comes out the same?‘ In other words, it results in convoluted logic such as “I pay my taxes because the government forces me to. I do it because they hold a gun to my head.” I say if that is your argument, then make them show up with the gun – then and only then pay with reluctance. It is because people continue to comply that nothing ever changes.
How many of you have actually had a tax man show up at your door with a gun? What you are saying is that it ‘could’ result in that, and I don’t want to put up with that. (what would the neighbors think? what would my boss think?) I can’t afford to and still maintain the ‘other’ things I want. (after all, you might have to give up the SUV or the big screen TV!!!) I’ll trade my morals for security and comfort. You are saying in big bold letters to all the lawmakers “my life is negotiable so long as the balance is tolerable.”
The end result is the same. Government grows, freedoms wane and tyranny wins because people are willing to tolerate a given quantity of it.
I say again, My life is non-negotiable! When you tolerate a given amount of evil for expedience, you only teach those pursuing the evil that there is an amount of it you will tolerate. At that point, all they need to do is change that level in gradual steps, bit-by-bit, until it is too late for you to realize you are a slave.