The Rational Argumentator
A Journal for Western Man
                            An Essay on the Necessities of Progress, Technological and Moral
Part II
                                                                                         G. Stolyarov II

When if ever, then, is it proper to leave things the way they are? Not now, certainly. But how long must we wait? The author knows not. In his most ardent hopes and dependences on the acceleration of the pace of progress, he wishes for such a time to happen soon when we are all free of misery, suffering, injury, and death, when Homo sapiens sapiens holds the entire universe firmly under its benevolent, reforming rule. What is today unknown will in the future be learned and applied. We shall find out in greater detail about the world surrounding us and about our own life processes, which are the most mysterious of all. What shall lead us there? Reason and courage. We must not be afraid to risk the "stability" of the present establishment for a better one in the future. We are not yet a utopia, but we must strive to be. For what makes a man? The only rational answer is that a true man performs actions that animals are incapable of. Since we are such a superior species, we must manifest our superiority through our deeds, our thoughts, the fruits of the mind resulting from in-depth deliberation, relentless inquisition, and a passion for going where none have ventured before. Do we not, by virtue of our superiority and by simple virtue of our self-consciousness and self-esteem, possess the right to live a hundred, two hundred, a million, an infinite number of years? Is our science up to those standards? Not presently. We have not yet reached that stage of development. But if we continue along the mathematical pattern of technological progress, it is certain that someday we will have found the means. Already our most prophetic minds, the science fiction authors, have suggested means, such as microscopic cell maintenance robots, or controlling DNA replication that no information may be disrupted during that process, or the tweaking of certain genes possibly related to longevity. Science, as history has shown, can do just about anything given enough time.  Those minds too engaged in worlds of their age to look ahead had condemned to failure the ideas of mass transportation, air and space flight, electrical generators, computers, and other countless creations that, despite unsupported doubts from the idlers' mouths, were invented anyway and had changed the course of every single person's life for the better.

For the better?" one may ask. "But what of all those countless accidents caused by the automobile and the airplane, countless drawbacks that had taken a horrendous toll? And what of that technology that was manufactured especially for the purpose of killing, inflicting death, which the author of this piece has spoken of so severely?" May the reader not become disoriented once more as a result of this. Such a question, like all, has a rational explanation that would fit into the reasonable framework of thought that has been erected by the author of this piece. For incongruities cannot exist in reality. If a paradox is encountered, it is because a certain present epistemological paradigm does not hold true to the actual state of things. And thus, it is imperative that we dissolve this paradigm and furnish the desired link between the siblings of technology and morality.

of all, let the following question come forth: is the gun at fault for a death? A gun is but a tool, and the crime, the murder, was committed by the man who pulled the trigger. It is he who has misused this tool since his own petty human nature was still in its perverted original state, which advocates life-or-death competition for survival using any means no matter how despicable, underhanded, or inconsiderate. He is in a state where he still perceives that in order to avoid masochism one must subsist as a sadist ravenous for the flesh of his brethren. This criminal who is the subject of our present train of thought had applied a firearm with an intent that would have remained the same had he been holding a tablecloth and suffocating his victim by wrapping it around his throat. Must the tablecloth then be forbidden as a deadly weapon since there is a potential of it being used to do harm? If the reader assumes so, then such can be done with absolutely everything else, including his own body. A strike with a fist can maim and/or kill with far greater efficiency that most of the technological tools we have at our disposal (firearms, blades, and missiles being disregarded in that statement, it is nevertheless true, since a majority of our technology is not based on any of the three). Does that imply that we must abolish human hands and cut them off of every man that he may not commit one potentially harmful act and a thousand useful ones? Following such an absurd train, we can eradicate just about everything, for even a human head has the potential to become a battering ram. The reader, I assume, is not so fallible as to give in to such pseudo-reasoning and must be now laughing out loud at the theory of the antiprogressives, which had had its trial earlier. This question could only help establish the necessary connection within the reader's mind between progress and that without which it cannot be beneficial.

A truth in a case of a certain magnitude, as is obvious, will not all of a sudden become false if applied to a case that has been either increased or reduced in scale. Just like a tablecloth cannot be blamed for its abuse by a malevolent human, neither can a nuclear missile. Only primitive delusions, once again at its primeval state, can be held responsible for such a violation of Homo sapiens' rights. Just as technology is the source of all remedies, immorality is the root of all our species' problems. Murder, rape, torture, starvation, heedlessness during an epidemic can all be blamed on the opponents of progress, those who would attempt to disrupt this pattern of our accumulation of knowledge. It is therefore evident that
those who oppose the general good of mankind do so not because such would destroy their opportunities but rather because it would intervene with illusory, certainly not logical nor virtuous nor truly selfish interests.

Let me place before the reader a rather mild but certainly applicable example. During the Cold War, thousands of petty activist groups had protested the United States' possession of a nuclear arsenal and desired not only the destruction of nuclear weapons, but even of beneficial sources of nuclear energy? Who were they? The hippies, of course, cannot be called upright in their views, and the only possible reasons for their outbursts of prejudice against technology could be the desire for attention or the desire to retain as primitive a state of development as could exist in order for those morally unclean people to live without the precepts of respect and human rights that have, just like technology, developed and progressed over time. Their minds were not particularly bright, nor their organisms industrious. And, of course, they did not understand that nuclear weapons and the threat of mutual annihilation that they posed were key in preventing an all-out World War III between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Thus, the fact that both sides had possessed such vast arsenals merely saved more people than could exist in ten Hiroshimas. There were, once again drawbacks to both nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, yet both Nagasaki and Chernobyl were a result of human fallibility. Truman, at least, would have explained that the bombardment was an effort to save millions of American and Japanese lives that would have been lost in an invasion of the island. As for Chernobyl, the explosion there would have been averted had all mandatory safety procedures been followed. However, the operators of the power station, due to indolence and irresponsibility, two more characteristics of an unrefined human nature, had neglected them. The consequences, of course, were catastrophic. In both cases, humans, of their own free will, are to blame, but we must forever keep in mind Mr. Locke's persevering aphorism. “All men are liable to error”; that is unquestionable. And, of course, some of the results of either intended or accidental mistakes can be catastrophic. And, to proceed further, it is in our interests that the least people suffer from such happenings and that they occur less than they would have had Nature been kept pristine and permitted to reveal the fullest extent of its evils. Thus, the concerned man aims to make all men less liable to error.

That is where the system of virtues comes in. What is virtue, one may ask? Is there such an absolute term? M. de Voltaire furnishes the undoubtedly correct explanation: there can be only one morality, just like there can be only one geometry that is of the real world. What is virtuous? That which is good for all or at least harmful for none. Precepts and laws of etiquette have existed ever since man's first settlements, and we see traces of those first attempts in such writings as the Holy Bible, which lays before us the Ten Commandments. Whether one is Christian or not, it is impossible not to find reason and benevolence in most of them. "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not commit adultery" are taken for inviolable laws of conduct by anyone even remotely upright. Yet there have been less successful attempts to establish precepts that people would follow. For example, in medieval England, a commoner had not the right to raise a hand against a lord, but the lord could kill him out of whim and not be penalized, despite the fact that the commoner might not have even been suspected of a crime. Who had created such an absurdly inequitable law? Why the lords, of course, in the interests of instilling fear and absolute obedience into their underlings. Why must, in another example, denizens of Hopi tribes engage in masqueraded kachina dancing every time the harvest season approaches? Such action is considered ultimate morality within their culture, yet it cannot be defended with abundant reason. Is it virtue, then? No. It is dogma. Where lies the boundary between the two? Following the truth stated by Voltaire, we can summarize the basic essence of virtue: do what you will,
as long as all others can do what they will and harm none of the human species in the process. Any inexplicable custom outside this postulate becomes dogma when it is forced on people. Facing the Black Stone during prayer is not in itself an offense; it is an act, however, devoid of absolute moral value, becoming negative in those occasions when it is forced upon the man who commits it. Virtue and dogma are therefore opposite terms, since the former permits the freedom that is a necessary predecessor to reason, while the latter disrupts both and, in establishing its unjustified regulations, creates suitable grounds for the weeds of fanaticism to thrive. Whilst dogma, absorbed by people of the "monkey see, monkey do" attitude, is, again, a primordial characteristic, virtue, based on logical principle and a truly human compassion for one's species, is the ultimate manifestation of development and culture.

Thus, morality instructs us to behave in such a way that would harm none of the human species. Why, then, are setbacks inevitable to every new technological development? Because
even the few principles that we have have not yet been absorbed fully by the slow and clumsy masses, who are today still stimulated to action by the same pseudo-esires that their ancestors have been. Why is that? Because dogma, superstition, and prejudice still hold firm places in those unfortunates' minds. Yet just as technology has begun reaching more and more human beings, such has been observed in the case of virtue as well. As one's quality of life increases, one observes an ever decreasing need to assail, defame, or destroy one's neighbor for one's own material or emotional security.  One no longer must choose between descending to the cowardly condition of a sadist or the self-degradation of a masochist, but rather can become an entity absolutely separate from the aforementioned two, a producer who serves his own gain through entirely benevolent actions. Thus, the level of one's well-being is oppositely proportional to the hostility and other natural weaknesses that one displays.

Therefore we have realized that not only is technological advancement necessary for man's comfort and longevity, but it is also vital in ensuring his security and causing new developments to have ever less unpleasant side effects than the old. With prosperity on the rise and antagonisms declining, with such movements accelerating every year, utopia will someday be reached, and perhaps sooner than we think, since there is as of now no way for us to predict future accelerations. Let the reader not be mistaken: science is not a way, it is the only way for us all to someday become persons of infinite compassion, unlimited productivity, sharpened minds, eternal life, and fulfilled wishes. If the reader still believes that things should decay by staying the way they are, than at least, he certainly realizes how pitiful such a condition is.