Friday, October 2, 2020

The Final Solution: Dog Eat Dog

frontispiece for the Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan

Utilitarianism basically argues that actions are good if they bring about happiness. More cynical is the Hobbesian notion that men are out for themselves and that it's the job of government to prescribe certain appetites. Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism argued that human life, like that of the animal world, is a survival of the fittest, a struggle that leads to the evolution of the species by way of natural selection. There's something cynical, self-justifying and untrue about the Social Darwinist paradigm which essentially argues for unbridled indivdualism. What differentiates man from his ancestors in the animal world is precisely an evolutionary process which brought about language and consciousness both. Empathy and altruism are just two products of a more developed brain, but they considerably modify the palette. Further, human beings are not simply prehensile toolmakers. They've learned to defer the satisfaction of pleasure and ultimately to see the virtues of cooperative activity. Self-interest is the philosophy that motivates Trump’s base. The recent Times investigative report on the president's taxes is not likely to have any effect on this demographic that believes in Looking Out for Number #1 philosophy of life. The more brazen Trump becomes in resisting the notion of democracy and a peaceful transition, the more his followers exult. It’s all like Fight Club or one of those illegal cock fights in which the winner emerges with the opponent lying dead in a pool of blood.

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