The disorder and disharmony that human beings create among themselves and in their environment all comes down to our pervasive belief that might-makes-right.
Every Idea and Action Arises from First Premises
No belief is an island. Our beliefs about politics, economics and society (as well as everything else) all lead back to what we believe the nature of existence is. Most of the time we form our opinions and positions from that first belief. For instance a Christian might believe that the nature of human existence is to fulfill God’s purpose, and as such, destroying a human being meant to fulfill God’s purpose is an act that is antithetical to our existence. Here we see consistency with the first premise, but if that premise is flawed, so are conclusions based upon it.
How can we logically determine the validity of the premise that the nature of human existence is to fulfill God’s purpose? Our first issue is that we cannot verify this God entity through direct experience, which makes it impossible to determine whether it has a will, or what it is. Unfortunately modern religions just refer back to scripture, which is circular reasoning. How do we know God and His will? – The Scripture says so. How do we know that scripture is the testimony of God? – The scripture says so. You cannot verify evidence with the evidence itself. This would be like convicting someone in a shooting where the only evidence is that they later had possession of the gun. We need to know that the shooter had means, motive and opportunity. We need to verify all of those with further evidence. No evidence can be self-evident. It must be consistent with a larger picture of the accepted interpretation of facts.
And yet even then there is an issue. A larger picture of the accepted interpretation of facts may be consistent and mutually verifying, but still be wrong because we omitted or misinterpreted some fact(s). In essence, we create the truth we live by, rather than discover it. So to get to the most consistent picture, that is the one with least disharmony and discord, we need to begin our first premises right where they are formed, our own minds. However, lets put aside that tricky philosophical pursuit for now and move on to the thesis of this article.
How It All Begins With Might-Makes-Right
When we discuss might-makes-right it may first appear that we are talking about an ideology that is limited to oppressors and brutes. However even in some of our loftiest modern notions we find that might-makes-right is the underlying premise.
Democracy is a numbers game. It is the will of the majority inflicted upon the minority. In this case the majority constitutes a might, which make the products of their consensus right. Centralized democracies are even worse, since the might of the majority might be in conflict with entire communities. When the will of a majority force is able to upend the values, customs and autonomy of a population group they do not otherwise participate in, it is clear that democracy acts as an oppressive force. Representative democracies and democracies mitigated by electoral colleges or other mediators are even worse, because they do not even reflect the will of the majority in any particular issue, and negate the value of individual participation. And yet we praise democracy as the height of fairness, while at its heart it is just might-makes-right with a crooked halo.
The Laws of Nature
To determine that universal forces dictate the nature of existence is to begin with the assumption that force is an infallible truth. But what is the basis of that assumption? We can certainly say that there are consistent consequences of interacting with these forces. However the consistency of those consequences says nothing about the nature of existence. Just as the consistency of day and night says nothing absolute about the nature of existence all throughout the universe, but only about our experiences of it from our relative perspective within it. In most of the universe there is no day or night, and if there is, it probably differs from our Earthbound experience of it. My point here is that we can only know what our experiences of the universe are, and not anything absolute about the universe itself, nor the nature of existence within it. Certainty is a form of arrogance only the ignorant can believe in.
I make this point because almost all modern ideologies arise from doctrines of natural law. All authority is derived from an agreed upon model of existence. It comes from the belief that our experience of existence gives rise to knowledge of its laws, which can tell us about its intent, which can then be used to determine how to think and behave accordingly. Authority arises as a way of policing our thoughts and actions to keep them obedient to whatever interpretation of reality that authority has dictated.
Once again we are back to circular logic. This is how reality is, so this is how you must behave. – How do we know this is how reality itself is or what it intends? – Because we said so.
Later I will suggest a new starting point for our first premises that are not dictated by external circumstances, but from human will.
Where We Are Led Astray
To see the negative outcomes from our allegiance to might-makes-right all we have to do is look anywhere there is discord and disharmony. From bullying to genocide, and from institutional inequality to outright oppression, you will find that the infallibility of superior force is the driving belief. Here are a few examples that are ultra-relevant to our zeitgeist.
Capitalism merely replaces physical dominance with economic dominance. Might arises from inequity and monopoly. However an advantage in resources also coincides in a physical advantage, since those with resources can procure physical force. Which is why capitalism has become the economic doctrine of the world’s most powerful political entities. This is no mistake. Capitalism is most profitable under a corporate model, and corporations are a state-sanctioned entity. The two entities form a symbiotic relationship.
Under the current laws of nation states, a private company is one in which all of the risk is on the owners, so if the company is liable for any damages or bankruptcy, so are the owners’ personal finances. A corporation is an entity in which no individuals are liable for damages or financial ruin. The liable entity is a construct created by corporate law.
And when you realize that writing laws to protect corporate entities and their profiteers is the chief purpose of the state, you will see why expecting the state to protect us from these entities is a farce. This is what government exists for. The profits of the few.
And why are the few entitled to those destructive profits? Because might-makes-right.
The criticisms of toxic masculinity are not a rejection of masculinity, no more than criticisms of toxic water in Flint, Michigan are a rejection of water. Toxic masculinity is not about masculinity at all, but rather about certain toxic ideas that have become falsely equated with masculinity. To recognize toxicity within the masculine ideal is to recognize that aside from that toxicity, masculinity is valuable and worthy of preservation. The most dangerous threat to masculinity is that toxicity itself, and not the criticisms of the toxic bits that need flushed out. Many toxic males decry the feminization of men, and while that claim is highly debatable, who could blame men for rejecting masculinity if they are also forced to accept the toxicity? I am all for water, but if I am forced to consume toxins with it, I will probably look for hydration alternatives.
What we might call honorable about masculinity is strength and courage. However if we equate strength and courage with might-makes-right we end up with toxic masculinity. Strength is not brute force. It is the ability to bend without breaking. Where toxic masculinity responds to a potential or perceived threat with aggressive force, true masculine strength is willing to bend in the hopes that resolution and peace can be achieved without force. And masculine courage is the ability to face threats and accept risks without sacrificing your values and principles. It is to accept the possibility of being the subject of negative outcomes, rather than the cause of them.
Toxic masculinity is anti-masculinity. It is a clutching to the infantile instinct of fight or flight. It is selfish and uniformed by reason and compassion. And it is often used to make claims of male superiority on the basis of physical ability to inflict force, which is actually a weakness. Self control is strength and violence is a failure of it. Discipline against fear is courage and, again, violence is a failure of it. All of these masculine falsehoods arise from a belief that might makes right.
How Do We Determine the Nature of Reality
There is nothing that can be said of reality in any objective sense. We must start from within.
I am aware; therefore I am awareness.
The contents of my awareness are experiences.
I cannot verify these experiences outside of my own awareness. The testimony of others may appear to confirm that my experiences correlate to objects outside of my awareness, however I can only receive testimony, and not a firsthand experience of their experiences. Therefore I can only verify that correlation arises in testimony, and not in the experiences themselves. I am awareness experiencing itself experiencing reality, and that is all I can ever really verify with certainty.
In essence, we cannot rationally ever claim any truth to be external to us. It is a distinct possibility there is a domain of objective absolutes outside our individual experiences, but it remains beyond the possibility of verification. It is therefore the most logical to work from the assumption that truth is an interactive work in progress, and not some absolute. Given that, we are free to act from our will, and not as reality ‘dictates’. It could be that those perceived dictates were constructed from our will, and that our will can break or change them. Limitations should be seen as challenges, not absolutes.
We Are Free If We Choose To Be
The basis of might-makes-right is fear; specifically the fear of death. Yet nothing forces us to act from fear. How we act is a choice. And since choosing to act from fear, from might-makes-right, leads to death more than any other choice, it is a way of choosing that which destroys life rather than preserves it.
We also have the choice to act from hope. We can prioritize our goals above our fears, and seek to overcome limitations rather than use them to justify our brutality as natural. We can accept the inevitability of death and face risk with courage in order to live freely. To exist without freedom, to merely survive through obedience, is not living. To honor a blanket of false security above the possibility of risk, and all security is false in a sense, is to exist only as slaves to our own continuation, regardless of how meaningless and unfulfilling it becomes. By this we do not preserve life, but reject living it.
Let us then work from the premise that living is precious, and seek to enact ideologies and actions which encourage us to thrive, and not just survive. And when the time comes to face our death we can do so courageously and celebrate the life that was lived rather than the mere years we survived.
Might-makes-right is slavery to the darkness. Forget the darkness. Light-makes-right.