By Ronald C. Tobin
It is said by many that ours is a time of an immense moral crisis. The supporters of that most vile system of morality, the Morality of Altruism, point to the growth of hedonism (a phenomenon temporarily halted by herpes), the weakening of the family structure, declining Church attendance, and the collapse of what they considered to be altruism. The solution proposed by some Christians is a return to the morality of the Victorian era, regardless of the fact that the said era was one of the most hypocritical (in the sense of altruistic morality) that recent history has seen. The members of the Christian sects, and members of most other religions, have failed to realize that they live only to the extent that they disregard their irrational moral codes, that is to say to the extent that they are hypocritical. In order to analyze the current moral crisis, several issues must be considered. First of all, what is the basis for the prevalent altruistic morality? Did this moral system cause the alleged deterioration of modern society? Is the morality of altruism really in decline? Finally, what are the consequences when an adherent to a rationally selfish moral code decides to act hypocritically? With that, let us begin our examination of moral hypocrisy and the current moral crisis.
What is the foundation on which the prevalent altruistic moral system is based? It is based on the assumption that man is inherently evil, and as such must be kept in line with threats and other negatives. Christians will immediately object to this, stating that their system is indeed based on rewards, said reward being eternal bliss in heaven. Their assertion is false, however, for many obvious reasons. First and foremost, all altruistic moral systems are death oriented, offering no possibility of reward during life on earth, which is the only life that any person is honestly concerned with. It is a decided negative for a moral system to offer its major benefits only after you are dead. Small comfort to have bliss once you are a "ghost," in the sense that a "soul" without a body is a ghost. Secondly, it takes a lot of nerve on the part of a Christian to insist that their morality even offers rewards, when their precious Bible clearly states that no person can hope to earn their way to this heaven, and in fact the only way to enter is through the grace of their god! Third, it is fallacious to think that these altruistic moral systems merely encourage people to help each other. With the Christian system it is fallacious for two reasons: they are encouraged to help others to their detriment. They are expected to sacrifice for others, all the better if these sacrifices are made for people that can not return the favor, and better still if made for one's enemies. The second reason is that the Christians base this activity on the insidious concept of brother-love.
What exactly is brother-love and what makes it immoral? The concept consists of the belief that one should love everyone simply because they are people. Further, this love is supposed to be selfless and unconditional, that is to say one is to love people simply because they are people and not because one considers a person to be worthy of such attention. In fact, the supporters of brother-love insist that one must love those that one despises, his enemies, or else the love is not virtuous. After all, they submit, what sort of sacrifice is involved in loving someone that you have reasons to value? Thus, brother-love is a corruption of the truly rational emotion that love really is. True love is the most profoundly selfish emotion one can experience. It is a celebration of values one admires in another person. For society or some supposedly omnipotent supernatural being to command that people love everyone regardless of one's feelings towards specific individuals is immoral for the following reasons: (a) It makes love into a non-emotion, that is to say it makes as much sense to command people to love everyone as it would to command them to hate everyone, it strips the word and the feeling of any valid meaning. It is logically ridiculous to presume that people can hold the same feelings towards every individual regardless of the opinions one has regarding certain individuals. (b) This command also makes love into an anti-value, because the command orders one to love without cause, and to do anything without cause is destructive to the individual. (c) This command supports the logical fallacies of group-think, and we all know what that leads to. So much for brother-love.
It can be logically stated that the elements for an altruistic moral system include the concepts of sacrifice and brother-love. Another important facet is that they state it is impossible for man to attain moral perfection. They claim since man has a natural tendency to be evil and therefore primarily selfish as well, they are not going to be able to live up to the "moral perfection" of altruism. Worse still, it is implicit in these moral systems that people are not expected to adhere rigorously to them. When people fail to live up to these codes they feel guilty, and guilt is the basis of control in these systems. A person who has pride and is secure in himself cannot be ruled, while a person who lives in guilt and shame can be controlled by any sort of mystic that chooses to feed upon that guilt and shame. What this all boils down to is that altruistic moral systems want to control the individual by making him or her feel utterly worthless through that most effective of all methods to destroy pride in self: guilt.
These facets of altruistic moral systems are evil for these reasons. First of all, to state that moral perfection is unattainable to mankind because of our supposed tendency towards evil and also to selfishness is to guarantee that those who adhere to such moral systems are always going to consider themselves unworthy and guilty of some nameless crime. Most forms of Christianity take these notions a step further with the concept of original sin. This concept makes every human being guilty of some supposed transgression committed by some mythical people in the distant past (where is the justice?). Further, to claim that man has these tendencies towards evil and selfishness make a mockery of the concept of free will. To say that a man is free to choose his path, then to say that he will tend to choose to do evil, is to make a contradiction in terms. Any sort of tendency is a deterministic element, which is incompatible with free will. As for people usually being selfish, the present decadent state of the world clearly shows that most people are not acting in their rational self-interests. When people do become rationally selfish, they will abandon any sort of altruistic moral code.
The dilemmas faced by adherents to an altruistic moral system is a grim one indeed. To the extent that one attempts to practice it one practices self-negation. Constant negation of self will inevitably lead to the mental death of the individual. In short, any moral system based on altruism is implicitly (at least) based on death. Moral systems that command one to sacrifice values, to love everyone without cause, to place others before himself, to feel guilty because moral perfection is unattainable, and to accept things on faith instead of on human reason, are inherently immoral because they urge people to act contrary to their rational self-interests. That is the nature of the dilemma.
Never mind that the Christian sects will insist that they do indeed support the rights of the individual, in fact some will insist that it is in one?s rational self-interests to submit to the Will of God. This is fallacious for fairly obvious reasons. Most important of these are the following: Christianity promotes denigration of the individual, because they state one of their goals is to have everybody become one in the "body of Christ." This is about as individualistic as the Zen concept of becoming one with the universe. Secondly, few Christians are absurd enough to say that they know what God?s Will is supposed to be. Since they cannot precisely define just what this will is supposed to be, it is absurd for them to claim that it is in one?s rational self-interests to adhere to it. Third, Christian morality is based on the Ten Commandments, which they insist one must adhere to simply because their god supposedly commanded it. Thus this morality is based on the whim of this farcical supernatural being. Finally, the most potent argument against the stand of the Christian sects is that their god does not exist. So much for the Christian protests.
Since to zealously adhere to an altruistic moral code would mean a slow death, how then do these people carry on with their lives to any extent? Very simply, they go on by breaking the code. A person under such a code lives according to the extent that he violates it. Of course, most of these people feel guilty about breaking the code, some even think that they are the only ones not living up to it. This is moral hypocrisy, and the more hypocritical the person is, the more "pious" a facade they will tend to put up.
The most morally hypocritical era of recent history (maybe of all time) was the infamous Victorian Era, an era that many Christian moralists applaud because they claim "people then had a keen sense of moral duty." All adherents to altruistic moral codes are to some degree hypocritical, but so long as they adhere to those codes it is necessary for their survival.
What are the effects of hypocrisy when practiced by adherents to a rational moral system? Well, since any rational moral system is based on objective tenets and is selfish in intent, to break this code is to act in an irrational fashion. To the extent that one acts irrationally, they act contrary to reality, and that is not in their self-interests. Thus, while moral hypocrisy is necessary under altruistic moral systems, it can be fatal to those who adhere to rational moral codes. While one will not always act rationally, it is important to remember the consequences of irrationality, which could indeed be death in the most extreme cases.
Moral hypocrisy is a necessity of life for those foolish enough to adhere to an altruistic moral code, but it is utterly foolish for adherents to rational moral codes. Altruistic moral systems are based explicitly on the notion that man is inherently evil and must be kept in line with threats. The Judeo-Christian system is based on sacrifice, brother-love, selflessness , and guilt. Most importantly it is based on the supposed commands of their nonexistent god. Because the altruistic moral systems are based on negative anti-life, anti-human concepts, they are indeed evil. People who attempt to adhere to altruistic moral systems can only live to the extent that they break it, that is their degree of moral hypocrisy. To the extent that an adherent to a rational moral code breaks his, he acts contrary to reality, an act which could prove fatal. Such is the dilemma of moral hypocrisy: to the foolish semi-altruists, it is their only grip on life, but to rational people it is a step on the path of death. For those people able to think things through, it is suggested that they give up the sham required to adhere to an altruistic moral system and to start adhering to a rational system.
[This essay originally appeared in the August 1983 issue of THE THOUGHT. At that time, this Journal was published by the AFNA Philosophical Society. While I would not write about this topic in this fashion now, overall I would have to say that the message still stands the test of time. The next section is a never before published letter of comment from my late mentor, Lorraina M. Valencia. This letter was sent in early September of 1983.]
Dear Ronald:
Moral Hypocrisy is an excellent presentation defining altruism, its source, cause and effects. Definition of true love as the most profoundly selfish emotion one can experience has probably not been expressed before. Most feel it is selfless and sacrificing. How very wrong they are. You have a good handle on "emotion" even if you must dissect it with "reason."
I think many of us fall into the trap of using "love thy neighbor" when (in my case) we really mean "tolerate." (We must find another word for romantic love. Love is so overused.) I personally feel there are many people one can "love" with pity and compassion but not really like at all. Perhaps my dealings with difficult but pathetic patients and others in my work have helped form that illusion. Not really sure of what love is, or supposedly feels like, I am no expert, admitted.
Lorraina M. Valencia
[In closing, I will say that this woman was my living mentor. I learned so much about life, about how to be a libertarian AND be compassionate. It can work. It does work. Unfortunately, I can no longer go to her for advice. She died in December of 1999, a couple of weeks before her favorite holiday, Christmas. How that must have disappointed her.]