August 31st, 2008

“Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul.”
-Mark Twain, Mugwump


In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt.

(Bierce, Ambrose. 1911. The Devil’s Dictionary.  New York: Doubleday, Page and Company)

There’s something deeply wrong with the morals taught in the West.

MBAs are taught (against normal human instinct) that they have a moral obligation to maximise profits, even if by immoral means, as long as the method is technically legal.

Lawyers are taught that we live in a zero-sum society and one person’s gain is necessarily another person’s loss. (This is obviously untrue; we are richer than our troglodyte ancestors.) So they cause harm whenever they’re allowed to, because they reason that this must benefit themselves or their clients.

Even journalists are taught that truth is socially constructed and that there are always exactly two sides to any story – no more and no less.

Yes, I’m painting caricatures, but they are based on life.

And of course some professionals have enough human decency and independence of thought to ignore what they’re taught and do the right thing. But human nature is such that they’re a minority – most drink the Kool-Aid.

What is missing is a sense of old-fashioned morality – caring about right and wrong – that became intellectually unfashionable after the publication of Darwin’s  On the Origin of  Species.

Darwin was right about the science, of course. But far too many intellectuals took the wrong lesson.

Those who fought back against this moral abdication were once called “mugwumps”. This blog aims to continue their work.

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