Monday, February 11, 2008

Of the Goodness of Nature and the Evil of Men

Ever since the father of the Counter-Enlightenment movement, Jean Jacques Rousseau declared for the Noble Savage there has been a marked preference for anything 'natural'. What comes to us 'naturally', and all what is given us by nature is considered good by default.

The Counter-Enlighteners have based entire ideologies upon the notion that nature is good, specifically after Charles Darwin elevated the law of the jungle to the Law of Natural Selection. This provided a justification for the annihilation of those who were considered weaker or degenerate - accused of slowing down the progress of the strong. It may not be entirely a coincidence that Communists who labelled dissidents parasites and degenerates, consider Darwin one of their own.

Anything that nature brings forth can ever be considered 'bad'. Far from being punishable by (prison) sentences, sexual transgressions ideally ought to be seen as a mere violation of man-made social conventions. This explains the nature worshipper's inexplicable tolerance towards sexually deviant behavior. Even rape victims and sexually exploited women and children are treated as second tier victims.

On the other hand, anything man-made - initially limited to culture and civilization - were marked as a departure from the 'natural' state and was thus condemned. Later on also the products of industry, science and technology became suspect, not to speak of man-fabricated matter itself, also known as 'chemicals'. This is strange, because the facts suggest otherwise.

After roaming the earth for some decades I can now declare beyond a doubt, that man - while knowing what's right and wrong and thus being a moral creature - has a talent for the worst. I can therefore officially join the ranks of Calvinists and paleo conservatives who, on theological grounds have always said so.

Man doesn't do the worst because he is bad.
Intentional evil is rare and in a class of its own, but it exists and we have to shield against it.

But he is lazy, preferring the easy way out rather than the best. Man moreover, loves shortcuts: getting something for nothing. So he demands love and respect so he can fool others in believing that he's earned it.

The love for short-cuts leads him to adopt ideologies based on philosophies that take the moral high ground on the cheap when it goes to intent. This serves the purpose of preempting impunity on a get-out-of-jail card should the good intent lead to disaster, as it frequently does. The earth is littered with the macabre products of the misguided do-good-bad-result-never-mind plague. So this is, as far as our nature and what comes to us naturally, is concerned.

What is given to us by nature is wonderful, but it's all raw: raw agricultural and horticultural produce, raw animals products for food and protective clothing, raw ores, raw wood for furniture construction, raw building materials for our homes, raw medicine available only in too small quantities to actually work. You name it, we got it, but we have to process it for it to become useful. Which is a good thing because our economies are based on it.

Nature gives us other things as well: predators, parasites, moulds(check), poisons, bacteria and viruses. Some are merely creapy and an inconvience, others kill at once, others take the road of slow torture.

Humans continually need to fight desease: flying typhus, bubonic plague, romantic tuberculosis, billharzia, veneral deseases (lost count what the current politically correct term is), and while we are at it: AIDS.

What propells man on in the progress so beloved by the followers of Rousseau, are the products of their nemesis: the inventors, scientists and manufacturers who design, discover and make the products that fire our factories and industries, and ultimately our homes and ... 'progress'.

We do not see the factories and industries very often any more because they are tucked away in southeast Asia, helping to maintain and prolong the state of Communism in China and Vietnam.

Man is ready for the next stage in human development and has the knowledge and technology to ban many forms of sickness (notably malaria), hunger and malnutrition. If only the followers of Rousseau would not have labelled these products unethical, because man-made.

Nature is good, so it is okay for entire populations in sub-Sahara Africa to perish while we have the means to prevent it. Nature is good, so herds of cultivated animals are left to starve every winter in man-made nature reserves because our great example, the state of nature, doesn't provide any fodder at this time of the year while warehouses crack under the weight of surplus animal feed.

The notion that nature is good and man is bad has now been taken to the point that even man himself is ready for the axe. This however is misreading the suicidal message: on a very limited scale some may be 'saved' by reverting to the natural state. The Counter-Enlightenment dialectics lead me to believe that this happy few will not consist of any white, Western, Christian, heterosexual males of a mature age.

Evil is rare - short cutting and betting on impunity are common as muck.

- Filed on Articles in "The Dystopia of Paradise", in cat. Postmodernism -


Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Just re-read this and will put it more substantially in a post.

We can seek philosophical, biological and sociological reasons for evil but there might be one other reason, encapsulated in the phto of the Iranian President's gesture.

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