On Cain And Abel

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The oldest legends tend to mark major civilisational transitions. Gilgamesh famously wrestled and beat Enkidu. The story marked the transition to urbanisation in what is now Iraq. The city won. The legend of Cain and Abel marks the neolithic revolution, the farmer Cain killed the nomad Abel.

There are obviously other layers: sibling rivalry, expulsion from the wilderness, responsibility, discipline to rule over your desire to sin.

Cain is asked by G-d before the murder to work harder, to do more, or, so warns the Lord, he may fall to sin. He sins and is cursed, and yet the cursed still receives the love and protection of the Lord.

The fact that there is a sin, that we know slaughtering our neighbour is wrong, is nodded to by the famous story of Adam and Eve. The snake tells Eve that they become like G-d in understanding decency. Man was created with free will, but not with morals. With the original sin, the disobedience, Adam and Eve understood that they were naked. Men have morals and the legend narrates an origin of the natural laws which we seem to understand independently of our cultural background.

 

The equality of man and G-d as advertised by the snake only relates to having some moral compass and, of course, the snake is deceptive. Men and G-d are not equal in decency. Morals are a price we pay for our free will, our responsibility, our wrong choices, the forbidden fruits.

 

The brother relationship puts an extra layer on it. We know that we are asked to favour family over others. This is a natural law and also enshrined in the bible. A man who sows conflicts between brothers is a sinner. At the same time, we have created societal morals that condemn nepotism and privilege, seek fairness, and the rule of law.

 

This rivalry between natural law, curse of the forbidden fruit and source of good, and the learnt morals is reflected in many legends, concepts and our history. Jesus himself struggled with it. He had conflicts with his own family, and surprising for many modern ears he favoured a learnt moral over the natural one. Leaving the family, our innate moral commands to love above everyone else, and choosing one's own brothers for their loyalty became a repeated demand in the bible. Jesus resented his own family (e.g. Mark 3:33) at some point declaring that his brothers in faith are his real brothers.
 
For brothers in the conventional sense, Jesus advises to always keep a door open when you resent them and to forgive everything they have done (e.g. their betrayal) when they repent.

This is not the full story. And many find the following hard to accept.
 
For Jesus overcoming the restraints of our brotherly love was the ultimate proof of faith, a way to test our metal (e.g. Luke 14, Luke 18, Matthew 19). In the final battle, for which Christians should be prepared at all times, family members are even expected to kill one another (Mark 13, Luke 12, Matthew 10) . The not canonised, but very authentic, gospel of Thomas also speaks of Jesus willingness to see family members kill each other: "fire, sword, war" (it's verse 16). In the Luke quote Jesus confesses that he can hardly wait to see it happen. So there is more substance to verify this ambition than many of the more often publicly mentioned quotes that sound nice and sweet.
 
Jesus also asks to 'hate' one's family a couple of times, but this is inconsistent with Jewish tradition and the rest of the text. It is likely to be an error of the scribes. Hate for your brother is worth eternal hell.
 
The gist of his message (take it or refuse it) is:
- love your brother and always support him
- always forgive your brother
- don't follow feelings of hate towards him
- be prepared to fight against him
 
So the masterclass is to not hate, actually to love, your brother in times of peace and maybe to follow Jesus internally in his wish to meet him in battle, as a proof of your metal. Accepting the demise of your brother's soul, in war as in peace, is even more challenging for a man of G-d than to see his physical demise. Nice to see him repent, but ultimately a stray brother is a privilege to test one's metal. Jesus seemed to like the internal struggle hard: fire, sword, war.  “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Jesus, Luke) It should also be noted that 'love your enemy' is expressively put out as a challenge, a test of your faith, and does not mean that your enemy would stop being your enemy.

 

The ambiguity between family morals and duties to the community and to G-d runs through the entire bible. Didn't Abraham try to sacrifice his son? Didn't G-d himself?

 

King David fought war both against his father in law Saul and his son Absalom. He acted shamefully when his soldiers succeeded. The soldier who assisted the already successfully injured Saul in his suicide was instantly murdered by David. A similar drama occurred when army chief Joab spiked Absalom to death, as he was helplessly dangling from a branch of a tree. David cried for days until Joab boldly walked up to him and said that he better cries for his own fallen soldiers. David understood and learnt the moral, a societal moral taking precedent over our ingrained moral, passed down to us since the forbidden fruit.
 
The Lord forced the ultimate challenge upon the wise King Salomon. He closed the heart of his elder brother Adonijah, who then staged an unsuccessful coup d'etat. Ultimately Adonijah fled to the tabernacle and started praying. When Salomon's soldiers saw that Adonijah's soul turned to G-d again, they asked Salomon to spare him. And he did. Now, knowing that his beloved brother was a follower of G-d, Salomon was approached a little later by his mother Bathsheba. Adonijah knew how much Salomon loved Bathsheba and asked her to arrange a marriage for him with a very influential woman.  Salomon realized that Adonijah is doing this to consolidate power and influence to challenge his leadership again. So G-d found a way to make Salomon kill his brother, knowing well that Adonijah's soul was with the Lord.

 

The Jewish law commands that a father with a gluttonous and drunken son, shall bring him to the elders and get him killed. The law does not ask the community to kill a drunken and over-eating son. The father is asked to take action. The Jewish law was assembled during the Babylonian captivity and never executed. The time was about mining the own identity, finding and writing down the Jewish history and the presumed morals of the past. This specific rule asks the community to uphold a moral, even if it affects your own family in a negative way. Thus it established the idea of a rule of law that knows no nepotism.

 

Non-Judeo-Christian cultures have similar tales and policies to straddle between our innate and learnt morals. The founding myth of Rome is that Romulus slaughtered his brother Remus because he jumped over the city wall, breaking the law. The Roman equality before law moral instituted by the Romulus and Remus founding legend was so strong that Titus Manlius Torquatus ordered the execution of his own son. The son disobeyed the military orders because he was too zealous as a warrior. He was executed on order of his father because he won battles that he was not asked to fight.

 

The Ottomans had a very rough way to put the moral of the state over the benefit of the family. They sacrificed empathy for the kin completely. Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror ruled that all his successors should be selected as follows: Upon the death of the Sultan his sons are requested to put to death all competing brothers before the survivor may climb the throne. This tradition was practiced for centuries. As the sons are in the bloodline of Prophet Mohammed it was considered their privilege and moral duty to call war on each other. Note that this is no legend, but history!

 

I think we all agree that this goes too far. But the rivalry between head morals/social morals and heart morals/innate morals remain. Today, the issue is not only what takes precedent over the other in what situation, but also the instability of head morals as they are cultural. Political disputes are fought about incompatible virtue systems. Either the own allies must be protected against 'hate speech' or you support freedom of speech. Two conflicting head morals, social morals. They don't derive from the original sin, but for each side they are indispensable.

Comments

Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 5:46pm
Cain and Abel ?
 
AHHH ! Finally I know where the big store C & A got its name from !
 
Sorry for the joke, but I saw Jesus today around 5pm at the bus station and we were talking about coincidences.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 5:53pm
BTW: Interesting post anyway.
 
They sacrificed empathy for the kin completely
 
We still do. Mental evolution is slow, IF ever. 
Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 5:54pm
BTW2:
 
Maybe today it's not the kin, but the skin.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 12, 2018 - 7:26pm
According to Kant men lost innocence when they began to write their own laws. One may know of the tree of good and evil and not eat from it - ie take advantage of others using laws.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 3:51am
Doug: Kant probably saw what I describe in the end. The morals we give ourself have a wanton element and can be in conflict with others.
 
If I remember it correctly, he individualized morals with his categorical imperative. There are some issues with that. Most people cannot tell if there morals are innate or culturally set and they don't have perfect information. For example, people think that protecting the environment is innate and part of the general human condition, so they buy electro cars that use rare soil and waste a lot of energy because people tell them that it's good for the environment when it's not. They also expect everybody else to buy such a car. This also plays out very poorly with regards to perceived 'insults'.
 
In practice, people who rationalize their morals with the categorical imperative just follow the cultural norms de jour. They are as unaware as other people when morals change because a public figure was punished again for something so as to set a moral in the wider population.
opher goodwin Added Jan 13, 2018 - 6:59am
Aaah those old tales and myths are interesting aren't they?
We're now heading into another age with as big a change as the industrial revolution - the age of AI and Automation. The workforce is being chucked out of the workplace with nowhere to go.
I wonder what myths will be generated by that?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 7:21am
I wonder what myths will be generated by that?
Whatever survives the test of time.
Dino Manalis Added Jan 13, 2018 - 11:30am
An old story with important lessons we should learn from.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:24pm
Bejamine re "Two conflicting head morals, social morals. They don't derive from the original sin, but for each side they are indispensable."
 
This confuses me. Kant explains that original sin comes from the fact that we must obey both Gods laws (head morals) and mans laws (social morals) and this conflict leads to us at some point, as part of survival, we must put mans law ahead of God's law. Imagine you are starving and need to steal to eat...
  Good to hear a Jew talking about the NT.
  So what does original sin mean to you?
re "If I remember it correctly, he individualized morals with his categorical imperative."
  His categorical imperative is the imperative of any set of rational beings. Its not individual or social, but from practical reason, to create the laws necessary to have a society. Kant, first and foremost, to me was a scholar of Jurisprudence more that anything else. Others like his epistemology, and so do I.
 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:48pm
Doug: This confuses me. Kant explains that original sin comes from the fact that we must obey both Gods laws (head morals) and mans laws (social morals) and this conflict leads to us at some point, as part of survival, we must put mans law ahead of God's law. 
I used the word head morals for the social morals because they are more or less consciously set. Mao Zedong said, 'punish one, teach hundred'. That's how a society derives the set of morals that are not innate.
 
The Cain and Abel story is set so early that a society and its norm is not really present. Cain knows that killing Abel is wrong (even trying to hide it from G-d who asks him) because of the original sin of their parents. The people who made the legend, passed the story from bun fire to bun fire, thought that being naked is such a deeply felt shame that it must be innate. Therefore the first thing Adam and Eve notice after eating the fruit is that they were naked. So the original sin made us aware of G-d's morals that must have been there before a larger society was.
 
Not just Jesus, as described above, but also Paul of Tarsus made the case that overcoming our nature is a moral duty. So there is more sin than the things which we strongly feel guilty about without society telling us.
 
I think the categorical imperative is overrated. It does not really make clear why we should want a maxime to be upheld by society at large. The basis is already another moral system. Shall I bite off the ear of somebody else? What if everybody did it? What if somebody does it to me? Well, the answer really belongs whether you have a weird fetish to get your ears bitten off and to bite people's ears off or if you have no such a fetish.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:59pm
Above, at the end of your comment you outlined the basic problem with common law or the "unwritten law". It cannot be expressed perfectly. The way Kant says it forbids charity the way I read it now. The way Christ said it makes you unsafe from those with fetishes. But I'm just re reading Kant on this lately. A second or third read always clears things up when I think Kant was maybe wrong.
 
re "I think the categorical imperative is overrated. It does not really make clear why we should want a maxime to be upheld by society at large."
  Platos Republic, book 4 explains the need for the Gods in the creation of law. Without them the laws, even when written by good men, become a tangled mess. As a Christian I interpret this as reason, the basis for law, requires a universal precept. This is Kant's thinking and the thinking of general Western law. Lawyers just say "common law" as meaning the law common to all men. In Rome, everything was under the sky God Jupiter and Jupiter saw all men as equal.
  I would like to know about saturn.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 1:09pm
Doug, I might be wrong, but I think you believe Jesus expressed the 'golden rule' (Don't do to others what you don't want be done to you!). I might be wrong, but I think he didn't.
 
I think one can make the case that good societal morals are designed to protect innate morals in less obvious cases. For instance, freedom of speech makes people accountable and spreads valuable information so that men don't kill others accidentally (e.g. thinking being attacked when they are not). Liberals will also claim that saying nigger results in black people being killed. The logic is spurious, but they also try to base their moral on a natural moral idea.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 3:00pm
"The single commandment of the NT is to love thy God with all thy heart and to treat others the way you would want to be treated. These two commandments are one in the same." (paraphrased).
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 3:03pm
Doug: What do you paraphrase? Nobody in the bible used the word New Testament. Is it Oprah?
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 4:17pm
The start quote should have started at "love".
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 4:33pm
"treat others the way you would want to be treated" isn't a Jesus quote as far as I know.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 4:59pm
That is the NT in a nutshell. Everything is about that and using reason rather than dogma. The first 4 books are about the cornerstone and that is it - the golden rule.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:00pm
The idea came from the Greeks but became the central doctrine to Roman law, German law, English law and the Western religion. The Romans closed in on the common law through the "sky God" Jupiter who saw everyone the same.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:10pm
Actually Western Jurisprudence is a science and constructed around the basic idea of the "common law", a law common to all men. Its a science. People in the West have no idea of law or how to use it in the courts. I'm learning this first by reading theoretical Jurisprudence. Kant was of course the greatest, and I have already read him, but all of it is about this and creating legal and lawful mechanisms to preserve it. Just as math sits on 1+1=2 and the shortest dist. between two points is a straight line, Western Jurisprudence sits on the Golden Rule or the "common law".
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:12pm
Doug: I think, we just have to agree to disagree here. The gospels were not about the "golden rule", which is so old that it wasn't even worth mentioning at the time. It's something to tell little kids. The "New Testament" is actually a bit more sophisticated, I think.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:15pm
Our legal system sits much less on the Golden Rule. And legal professionals think a bit too much of themselves. Law is no proper science.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:28pm
The NT isn't sophisticated at all. Kant does a great job of explaining it in his book "Religion Within The Boundaries Of Mere Reason". That is the very best source to learn Christian doctrine. The NT just says the same thing over and over again. It is truly beautiful in its simplicity.
  You have been grossly mislead about the NT.
  People on here sometimes think I am anti semitic, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Most Jews I meet have the qualities that respectable people have IMO. Others brag about how they will rule and enslave us and say they have already won.  If Jews and Christians don't start seriously conversating its going to go badly for everyone, including Jews. Imagine Oprah getting on the set and talking about Judaism as many uncensored scholars see it, or starts reading parts of the Talmud on TV - the stupid leftists will tear your people apart limb from limb and I don't want them to have that power and in truth Jews would not deserve it but Lefties are sick and cruel as we both know.
  This is the establishment power that is held over Judaism. You are as much a victim of this rotten ruling class as the rest of us.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:31pm
The biggest enemy of the PTB is truth and it always has been. We beat them by fearlessly persuing it, to our mutual benefit. No one is responsible for the sins of their forefathers. Jews and Christians cannot talk with one another - this is deliberate and both sides are victims.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:31pm
Okay, when the Golden Rule is repeated again and again and again in the New Testament then give me one quote, ONE!
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:36pm
Hitler brought Jews and Christians together and was a major force in creating Israel - look at what the establishment did with him. That is the incredible power of propaganda.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:39pm
Sorry, Doug, but I will start deleting your comments when you stray from the article topic. We have enough Christian, Jews, Hitler articles on WB. You can talk about what you want, but try to stay on topic of the respective articles.
 
Can you solve the NT on the Golden Rule now or not?
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:44pm
Our legal system sits firmly on the golden rule, but also the Penumbra doctrine - a expression I heard on youtube but is present in Roman law, which is what the West is. Roman law is scientific. The word "science" was first applied to the study of law. For a science to exist as a science it has to be based on precepts- which is why biology is a soft science - it doesn't have the hard precepts of physics and math. Jurisprudence is a hard science but a difficult one to apply. The Gentiles have the courts - something attorneys don't know because they just push people through an administrative machine. People don't know how to get out of it, they don't know anything about law, neither do attorney's . Attorney means "wealth transfer agent" not "lawyer" and many people think that the word attorney is synonymous with the word lawyer. As a result they unbuckle and bend over, as instructed, at which point anything is possible.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 5:59pm
Doug: A penumbra is a stroke! It's medicine. The rest of your comment has even less to do with the article and is also factually false. I won't expand on it until you put your ideas under relating articles. There is a search function that makes you find such articles.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 7:25pm
Penumbra is a term I heard someone use on youtube. I looked up the definition and it had to do with shadows - it fits. The law is not made obvious and this is how control is done. The law cannot be destroyed but it can be hidden. I can't pull an article off the web for that any more than I could for the doctrines of muscular, cerebral or digestive types of persons. Its just not there. The web gets us to forget what we knew by pouring all kinds of useless new knowledge into our heads.
  I read about law from law scholars who wrote 100 years ago. I wouldn't read anything on any subject that was published after that except a very few - a few economists, Chomsky, Raulston Saul, and popular books on philosophy.
  I'm going to do a post about law in the next few days, I'm going to quote Savigny on Right Of Self and where the coded law begins. Savigny is quoted in all the law texts I have read in the past few months I think - or most of them. I've been reading them at a rate of about one every two weeks.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 13, 2018 - 9:44pm
Doug: A penumbra is an "almost shadow" (paene umbra). It makes no sense to say that our Western law is based on an 'almost shadow'.
 
The law cannot be destroyed but it can be hidden.
Do you know how absurd this statement is? You also don't read new material because you mistrust everbody but people like ... Noam Chomsky (of all people). Chomsky is a high intellect, but also a pathological lier.
 
I notice something very peculiar. None of the people that one would categorise as 'Nazi' are 'Nazis' - at least on WB. Fair enough, I didn't pay attention to Roper so far. But Purcell and you are just completely confused. I would also say that both of you are actually very frail and fearful people. It's the opposite of what one would think of a neo-Nazi. Don't get me wrong! There are these thugs who think some of the things that you think, but I get the funny feeling that the problem with the (often drug and alcohol addled) thugs is that they are thugs not that they are confused.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 14, 2018 - 5:54am
re "Do you know how absurd this statement is? You also don't read new material because you mistrust everbody but people like ... Noam Chomsky (of all people). Chomsky is a high intellect, but also a pathological lier."
 
The law is hidden, it is hidden by the fact that most people call their birth certificate a birth certificate and not a bond. So who holds the bond? We only get the copies of it.
  I do not trust Chomsky, but he writes a great book on propaganda. Every modern writer lies, they all have an agenda or must not or must say things for political reasons. The truth died long ago.
  re " I would also say that both of you are actually very frail and fearful people." No one else would describe me that way, but I am fearful of what may be coming.
  NAZI is a national socialist who wants to preserve national identity and be independent of the Jewish central banks so in a sense I am a NAZI but I don't want to do the mass executions and I don't believe Hitler did that. When people call me a NAZI they mean that they think I want to put Jews into ovens. That to me is offensive, to say the least.
  I also do not have this strong work ethic that says the more you work the better you know and that people deserve respect when they do 60 hour work weeks. To me that is insane. Work should be 30 hours a week and that is what I do. I just do manual labour and construction.  I get my excercise from work. I quit my super high paying software job a long time ago and I was making truckloads of money.
re "There are these thugs who think some of the things that you think, but I get the funny feeling that the problem with the (often drug and alcohol addled) thugs is that they are thugs not that they are confused. " They are angry and not smart enough to feel confused.
 
Dave Volek Added Jan 14, 2018 - 10:04am
Benjamin
 
I had trouble following the original article but from your comments I deduced it is about how laws and morals are created. Are they an innate human quality? Or are they something created by God?
 
I would say that it probably a bit of both. And authoritative figures can build laws and morals for their own advantage.
 
"Thou shalt not steal" is a pretty good commandment if a prosperous society is to be structured. If stealing was considered a virtue, then the world would be a pretty backwards place: not much sense in owning anything, let alone trying to build some comfort and wealth on those possessions.
 
If someone is convinced that stealing is bad because it creates a less effective society, then the motive is good. If someone is convinced that stealing is bad because one will not get into heaven, then the motive is less altruistic but accomplishes the same effect.
 
Neil Lock Added Jan 14, 2018 - 11:00am
I'm for innate morals against social morals. And for ius against lex. From my point of view, right and wrong for humans are built into what we are; a species capable of civilization. And morality is independent of religion.
 
I'm beginning to think that the supposed connection between the two is merely due to the fact that they became formalized at the same time. After all, the Decalogue was written on two tablets, no?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 14, 2018 - 11:19am
Dave: Yes, they are a bit of both. Disgruntling your wife so that she (temporily) moves out is felt with instant pain. We have a natural inhibition to kill other men. But as the article describes, we also have secondary morals, cultural morals. They can be in conflict with the first. So you rather protect your children against the mother if neccessary even if you love the woman more. You may kill in self defence, to rescue a hostage, or to engage in military actions. Sometimes cultural morals must be taken more seriously than innate ones.
 
Your last paragraph is also interesting, the internal versus external motivation. Ayn Rand would argue that they are equal. Others observe that we honour people more who act morally because of an internal resolve. Rand argues that this is a mistake because it leads to people sacrificing their lives for the military. I would say that it's good because it leads to people sacrificing their lives for the military.
 
Neil: You don't think that all morals like accept election results, live and let live, not cheating on our wives and so on, are already ingrained and wouldn't need cultural enforcement, do you? I think there are three factors that set morals: public punishment, praise, and tradition (praise of the forebearers). It is really sugar and whip, and largely build upon vanity.

 
 
 
Dave Volek Added Jan 14, 2018 - 6:25pm
Benjamin
I think the think that each of us has two natures: an animal nature and a spiritual nature. If we are to prosper as individuals, we must have the spiritual side overtake the animal side.
 
One of my favorite movies is Godfather 2. Michael Coreolone has everything: money, power, respect (fear). Everything should go his way. But in the end, he has nothing.
 
 
Neil Lock Added Jan 15, 2018 - 3:52am
Benjamin: I think there's a core of ethical principles that is naturally ingrained. Live and let live, and not cheating on someone you have voluntarily made a contract with, are part of that. Granted, there are some that fail to follow those principles; and to deal with those cases, some form of minimal government is necessary.
 
As to accepting election results, that's a political matter and (like all the rest of today's politics) has little or nothing to do with ethics.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 15, 2018 - 11:21am
Dave: I agree that we often have to follow the social morals over our natural ones. Can you think of a rule of thumb when that is appropriate and when it isn't? After all, social morals can change and get into conflict with other social morals. 
 
Would it be okay to destroy a store because you feel insulted by an ad of the company (current case with H&M in South Africa)? Your moral idea of what constitutes an insult may differ from the company employees' idea. Your moral idea of what constitutes a measured protest may differ from theirs, too. How can different moral systems coexist? How do we even make people aware that they cannot just submit everybody else to their own moral system? Most don't even realize that morals differ.
 
Neil: I believe that 'live and let live' are not even part of what we are born with. Most people don't have this moral. It is a learnt moral and as is often correctly said 'freedom is the most difficult thing to learn'.
 
I believe politics is all about morals. The thing is, as is the case with ideologies, people are blind to their own. There are 'conservative values', but there are also 'liberal values'.
 
I think it is too easy to dismiss the ever expanding racism definition as a pure strategy to hurt conservatives. I know that liberals don't do this on purpose. They set new morals constantly through punishing innocent people and don't realize it.
 
A current example is the word 'shithole'. A fortnight ago, no comedian would have shied away from the word. Now that Donald Trump has used it, it has become really, really dirty. So comedians, fine with the word 'shit', won't use it anytime soon because it is now a too heavy moral transgression. They would immediately be shamed, boycotted, and punished if they used it in the near future to discribe any place outside the US.
 
I bet if you search long and hard, you will find Trevor Noah using it for Africa. The whole reason why Noah is famous is because his early standup was hard-hitting on Africa (not just South Africa). He wouldn't do his old stuff again because morals have shifted.
Dave Volek Added Jan 15, 2018 - 8:16pm
Benjamin
 
 
I agree that we often have to follow the social morals over our natural ones. Can you think of a rule of thumb when that is appropriate and when it isn't? After all, social morals can change and get into conflict with other social morals. 
 
This sort of reminds of the meaning of "Jihad". Some Moslems interpret this term as their license to slay infidels; other Moslems say it is to conquer our inner demons to become a more productive and compassionate member of society and be the example for others to follow. We just don't have a good consensus of social morals on so many things, including interpretation of religious texts. 
 
We should not assume that just because something is a social moral, it does not mean it should be accepted. For example, slavery was a social moral in America at the time of America's independence. And as decades passed, it became less acceptable. And it became less acceptable in part because of the west's (in particular, America's) maturing democracy. Abolitionists in 1787 did not get their way, but they had their say and their words percolated and had effect as time went on. The minority was eventually proven right.
 
And we should be cautious that by being on the side of the social majority, we too might be on the wrong side of history as we poke fun at the whackos with strange ideas! 
 
I'm not knowledgeable enough about H&M stores in South Africa. But I would say that vandalizing the stores would not accomplish much. Rather opponents should just stop shopping there. When a business loses 10% of its business overnight, profits go way down very fast!
 
In the end, we still need to find some degree of consensual morals and turn them into laws. And western democracy is reasonably good at this task: certainly better than other current systems of governance.
 
But, as you know, western democracy is not working so well in this task and is losing credibility. We may be on path of oligarchy of some kind. But I hope the world comes to the TDG sooner than later.
 
 
 
Doug Plumb Added Jan 16, 2018 - 5:55am
Kant states that there is a natural ethic. He says that if you were on your way from point A to point B and you saw someone drowning, you would stop and put a branch out to help them even though no advantage would be given to you for doing so. There are youtube vids of animals doing this for one another in the wild.
  Kant says that Christianity is the best map of natural human consciousness.
Dave Volek Added Jan 16, 2018 - 11:13am
Doug
I think most humans struggle with their animal/spiritual sides. The great religions are good for encouraging people to stay more on the spiritual side, thinking of others rather than mostly of themselves.
When these people can experience rewards of the spiritual side, they are more apt to buy into the spiritual side. And they become better examples for others to emulate to some degree.
 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 16, 2018 - 11:56am
Doug: So is a good social moral one that can map well on top of natural morals? I mentioned above that one could argue that social morals may protect natural morals in less obvious cases.
 
Another natural moral is a woman's presence for her child. She usually feels guilt when she has to leave the child alone. It doesn't seem socially induced. So would a good social moral be one that ensures that a woman does not have to leave her children alone too much?
Neil Lock Added Jan 17, 2018 - 5:07am
Benjamin: I believe politics is all about morals. That's how it should be, for sure. Politics (the way in which we humans organize ourselves for maximum benefit to all) should be based on ethics (the knowledge of right and wrong).
 
But unfortunately, that isn't how it is. Today's politics is about imposing on others, by browbeating or by force, a particular vision of how the world and societies should be. Environmentalists and social justice warriors, notably, are out to do exactly this. The politicians like it, too. As a result, ethics disappears, and right/wrong is replaced by something like "legality/illegality."
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 17, 2018 - 12:44pm
Neil: I find it peculiar that I think more in the abstract than you as a libertarian.
 
Morals are not per se good or bad. They are rules that can, but need not be reflected in our laws. If avoiding sex before marriage is good or bad is a different question from if it was the morals of the 1950s in the Western world.
 
Before something becomes law, becomes legal or illegal, it must be a moral principle first to the lawmakers in power. Morals drive the lawmaking. If you like them, think they are 'good', or not.

 
 
 
Doug Plumb Added Jan 17, 2018 - 9:26pm
re "Another natural moral is a woman's presence for her child. She usually feels guilt when she has to leave the child alone. It doesn't seem socially induced. So would a good social moral be one that ensures that a woman does not have to leave her children alone too much? "
 
If I was married or had a child, I would want that child glued to mom until he or she felt confident to have distance. No doubt this would happen in nature. No one would leave their baby for a second in actual nature IMO.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 17, 2018 - 9:30pm
@Dave re "I think most humans struggle with their animal/spiritual sides. The great religions are good for encouraging people to stay more on the spiritual side, thinking of others rather than mostly of themselves.
When these people can experience rewards of the spiritual side, they are more apt to buy into the spiritual side. And they become better examples for others to emulate to some degree."
 
I think Christ and Kant would applaud that. I would, but I only know enough to repeat what I know from them. I put my own opinions aside always in dealing with such complex and important matters.
   
Doug Plumb Added Jan 17, 2018 - 9:30pm
re "I think most humans struggle with their animal/spiritual sides." This is what "born into sin" means.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 17, 2018 - 9:33pm
Benjamine:  re "So is a good social moral one that can map well on top of natural morals? I mentioned above that one could argue that social morals may protect natural morals in less obvious cases."

 We all have to give up something to live in a society. This is something no one can argue with. We give up some kinds of freedom for security. Society gives us comfort, safety and ease of economic load. We serve this need and worship mammon - the God of this world for this.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 17, 2018 - 9:36pm
Has anyone watched Jordan Peterson's series on the Bible? If so, what did you think of his ideas around this story? I like his interpretation and he looks at Cain and Abel as the left and the right wing.
  Have you seen his stuff on religion Benjamin? How do you like him?
(sorry for mis-spelling your name, I always think of that name as having an e on the end.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 18, 2018 - 12:39am
Doug: I often agree with Peterson and I like the guy, but I haven't watched his bible series. Peterson and I have a similar approach to the bible, but I disagree with him on his C&A interpretation as you describe it.
 
One could make the point that Cain is on the left because of the jealousy, but I think that is too cheap. Peterson fails to recognise IMO that the political definitions shift from election to election. The Trump election was very clearly about city versus countryside. It was the countryside that finally rose up against being neglected. One may interpret that as jealousy, too.
 
The left did not display jealousy really. Clinton is a disappointment for many older leftists because she only reluctantly offered some money reshuffle.
 
Peterson does not catch the dynamic of political terms. He still speaks of a 'spectrum', of 'extremism' and of different levels of conscience and creativity on the axis. It is a bit off the mark IMHO.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 18, 2018 - 6:36am
I think Peterson is addressing it in his context, he is fighting the corruption in the universities. He does say that it is a very deep book which he often consults and regularly reads but doesn't completely understand - like anyone. I'm not close to being able to comprehend that book.
  As far as the political right and left, I think these have been distorted and that there is a true and fundamental right and left expressed by Cain and Abel. I don't think left leaders really and truly want what is best. I think Cain and Abel show the "not so well meaning left".
  I think that Plato's Republic in book 4 expresses the difference where they talk about laws without God, how legislators and lawyers trip all over the place, always trying to do what is best and end up destroying everything. I think this is a more apt description of the "well meaning left".
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 18, 2018 - 12:51pm
As I said, I think he has mapped the Cain and Abel story wrongly. The modern left is a certain urban culture, highly influenced by feminine traits. Many morals are accidentally set, but I completely acknowledge nefarious players. I think it is no accident that the pc culture emerged first when Bill Clinton ran and had a comeback when Hillary Clinton ran. They tell you who to punish for arbitrary words and symbols as they go along. I'm sure that they know what they are doing.