Shouldn’t we want people to be as moral as possible?

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

The notion of moral zealotry as a vice is somewhat puzzling:

Shouldn’t we want people to be as moral as possible? Republican Presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater is often quoted as saying, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” That’s true of idealized people who have perfect knowledge of justice and how best to pursue it, and whose commitment to goodness is untainted by less saintly motives. The rest of us are at risk of having our minds hijacked by intense, but not necessarily reflective, moral passions.

People so hijacked are moral zealots. A paradigmatic example is early twentieth century anti-alcohol crusader Carrie A. Nation. Believing that God wanted her to personally vanquish alcohol from the land, she attacked Kansas saloons with rocks and, emblematically, hatchets (affectionately named “faith,” “hope” and “charity”) in rampages she called “Hatchetations.” Kansas was an early adopter of prohibition, but the law was being widely ignored. Nation saw herself as a vigilante enforcer of the law. Saloon owners and patrons stood agog as she plied her instruments of God’s will on barrels of liquor and bar fixtures, thundering Biblical exhortations. As her reputation spread, saloons put up signs saying, “All Nations are Welcome Except Carrie.”

Nation was no mere hater of merriment. She had good reason to believe that alcohol was harmful. Her first husband had died of alcoholism at the age of 29, leaving her alone to raise a sickly child. Through her involvement in the temperance movement, she heard the testimonies of women whose husbands became abusive drunks and wastrels. Saloons were also associated with gambling and extramarital sex—at a time when syphilis was incurable and childbirth quite hazardous. Her hatred of saloons is understandable, even somewhat admirable, in light of these facts. Her sanctimonious vandalism was nonetheless wrong. Her moral passions blinded her to the fact that some of her means were inappropriate.

Moral zealotry is a social phenomenon. Nation probably wouldn’t have reached this degree of radicalism without her proximity to like-minded women (one suspects she didn’t have much exposure to responsible men who drank a moderate amount). In the 2008 movie, The Dark Knight, Alfred describes the Joker’s nihilistic motives: “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” Most people are not like this. For that reason, even the most reprehensible ideologies must appeal to the moral passions of potential converts. A few people want to watch the world burn; many more can be persuaded to put it through the refiner’s fire in order to make it better.


  1. Faze says:

    I used to wonder why men were so strongly opposed to women’s suffrage back in the day.

    Then, I came to understand that the women’s suffrage movement was closely aligned with the temperance movement – and the thing men most feared was that the moment women got the vote, politicians would vote in prohibition — which is exactly what happened.

    The men were right.

  2. Kirk says:

    Well, that’s one interpretation on it. The other is that women are, as a group, all too prone to “voting their passions”.

    Casually survey the women in your life; ask why they favor certain policies and politicians. What you’re going to get back is a bundle of inarticulate irrationalities, by-and-large. “I don’t like the way he looks…” “She dresses poorly…” “She comes off like a real bitch…” “He dresses well…”.

    JFK would likely have never made it onto the national stage absent the female voter, and most of them voted for him not because of his policies or performance, but because they “…liked the way he looked…”. That’s why Nixon lost to him, along with fraud. Women will vote for the attractive charlatan, every time, and utterly ignore the vapid fantasies that charlatan voices. They’ll also ignore the performance–Witness Bill Clinton. They wanted to give him blowjobs, ‘cos abortions… Is that a rational act of self-interest, or is it because the majority got wet panties contemplating the majesty that was Billy Jeff?

    No, the reason that the old-timers wanted to deny women the vote was that they knew women, and knew that giving them the franchise was the death-knell of our Republic. Looking over the last century-plus, I think they had it right.

    Most women have no business making political decisions, because they don’t reason them out. They do all their voting based on emotions, not rational facts or performances. Not all women do that, but there’s a sufficiently wide margin that are, and that makes them inimical to a constitutional republic.

    Ever seen a mob? You want to put a stop to a mob action, what you do is look around the back of the crowd, were all the nutters are at, encouraging things and stirring up trouble. Most of them will be women–Shoot them first, and the mob will disperse of its own accord. They’re never in the leading ranks, because their pussy-mad boyfriends and wanna-be boyfriends are up front and showing off for the crazed bitches yelling slogans in the back, getting killed like so many foolish sheep led to slaughter by their female Judas goats pushing them onto the bayonets.

    To be female and human is to be prey to the hormonal madness of the menstrual cycle, which drives about 70% or more of them to utter batshit insanity on a monthly basis. You can track it with a metronome, regular as the calendar.

    Of course, there’s a pretty significant percentage of the male population that’s no better–They’ll do whatever it takes to get feminine attention, and can’t live without it. In the old days, those “men” would do whatever their little darlings demanded, and voted accordingly. The problem really came in when the women got the direct vote, and added their own to that of the men they had wrapped around their pretty little fingers, which basically meant that the insane got free reign to run society. Which is how we got Prohibition, the various and sundry Narcotics acts, and the Obscenity laws. Average male knew damn good and well that precisely none of that shit would ever work, but the women and the feminized control-freak slaves they kept in the Progressive movement thought it would–Because their mentality is basically that of a controlling mother-creature that denies its children free agency or the right to self-determination.

    Most of what has gone wrong with our society in the last 150 years can be traced to this BS, and the feminine mindset behind it. Women and their co-partners in the control-freak mindset cannot tolerate independence or freedom for others. They’re all like the little girls who must “manage” and control all the play on a playground–If they’re not granted control, they’ll throw tantrums and destroy everything around them, rather than cede the most minute amount of control. That’s the root of nearly everything, right there–The feminine urge to control and manipulate. God forbid someone might do something that they don’t have control over, or that someone cuts their way free of the bullshit. Cradle-to-grave, that’s the “feminine mystique” that enslaves society.

    Oh, yeah… And, go ahead: Accuse me of misogyny. But, you know what I say here is true. Women are the death of civilization, when they achieve control over its levers–Because their urges and drives are inimical to it. They demand obeisance from males of their own kind, and when they get it? They become jaded and then want the attention of the rough free males from outside the fetters of society, the ones they demanded be put in place. Note well just how many of these “strong, independent feminists” seek out the rough sex that they get from third-world migrants, easily subordinating themselves to the “strong male” they can’t control, while mocking the compliant familiarity of their own kind.

    It’s not all of them, but it’s enough that you have to make general rules about such things, and lock that behavior down, if you want your society to last and not go under the way so many others have. We’re on about our third reach up out of the drowning depths, and will soon be going under with lungs fully filled. What comes out the other side? Something that Margaret Atwood couldn’t imagine in her worst nightmare, as she and her ilk dismantle Western civilization around our ears.

  3. Kirk says:

    Oh, and the other damn thing… The Carrie Nation’s of this world are far too prone to looking at their failures in mate selection, and then blaming some externality–It’s just not possible, you see, that they chose to open their legs to someone who wasn’t fit to serve as even a bad example to the rest of society. No, it’s not that they screwed up, picking their mate out, it’s that damn Demon Rum.

    Reality is, on the other hand, that the dirtbag they chose to graft into their gene line wasn’t ever going to amount to much, as a human being. If it hadn’t been Demon Rum, it would have been something else. And, more than likely? Carrie picked that guy out because he was weak and easily dominated, in the first place–Or, she wanted a “salvage job”.

    The dysfunctional manner in which many young women chose their mates is a perennial problem in human societies–Even those that utilize arranged marriages. Mom and Dad may pick out the ideal mate for their little darling, but she’s gotta get that “strange”, and blows everything up by going after the “bad boy” of her dreams. Same thing with young men, of course, but the fact is that the woman is pretty much the sole arbiter of whose genes get passed on in traditional societies.

    It’s gonna be one hell of a strange-ass world if we ever get to the point where artificial wombs enable humanity to separate reproduction from the politics of sex, and a bunch of behaviors that have heretofore been acceptable and prevalent are going to die out in very short order. I would also wager that there are a bunch of people whose behaviors are currently very successful at getting reproductive “access” are going to find that the worm has turned, and they aren’t so successful at playing cuckoo to the collective commons of the genome.

    I don’t have much truck with the concept of “eugenics” as it has been done to date, but I’m all for a carefully curated genome, one where socially positive traits don’t die out due to idiocies like WWI. There was a guy I remember who got himself killed trying to pull a bunch of strangers out of a burning house, including kids. The fact that his lineage died with him is an overall tragedy to all decent human beings, and the fact that the ne’erdowell asshole who started the fire in the first place lived to procreate is a compounded tragedy. With a little more technology, and some changes to the social mores, that sort of thing needn’t happen. Eugenics? No; too many short-sighted choices made by the attempts so far. But… Curation? Where someone takes a look at that situation I outline above, and does something to ensure that the positive genes get passed on? Yeah; that I could see working out, over the long haul.

  4. Longarch says:

    “Shouldn’t we want people to be as moral as possible?”

    No, because we lack the moral maturity to understand how to make people truly moral. When people try to impose morality they usually end up imposing tyranny.

    Note that the spiritually advanced people like Buddha were generally in favor of morality, but were also willing to forgive the weakness of their students and take the slow, boring path to a better world. The people who try to maximize morality are like Mao Zedong and Pol Pot – impatient, and eager to build utopia on the corpses of dissenters.

  5. Harry Jones says:

    Morality is what the overly emotional and the stupid have in place of ethics.

    The trouble with ethics is you have to think things through, and that’s no fun. Self righteousness, on the other hand, is loads of fun. It lets you indulge your violent impulses publicly free of guilt or shame.

    It’s also a great rationalization for neurotic fears. This is why we have moral panics. I’ve never even heard of an ethical panic.

    There are two kinds of problems drinkers: those who have problems because they drink, and those who drink because they have problems. My father was a mean drunk. I don’t blame that on the drink, though. He had issues, and he opted for the self medication route.

    Carrie Nation was addicted to moral outrage, and she went on a bender. It’s a paradox… what’s known as a neurotic paradox.

  6. Albion says:

    Kirk: “You want to put a stop to a mob action, what you do is look around the back of the crowd, were all the nutters are at, encouraging things and stirring up trouble. Most of them will be women–Shoot them first, and the mob will disperse of its own accord.”

    I have heard it said that in some special forces they know this full well. In short, in any violent confrontation where the other side is armed, then the force should shoot the women first. This is on the basis that the men will eventually see reason and give up; the women never will.

  7. Sam J. says:

    “…It’s gonna be one hell of a strange-ass world if we ever get to the point where artificial wombs enable humanity to separate reproduction from the politics of sex…”

    It’s amazing how close we are to this today. All it would take is a few millions for testing.

    Men are able to have children without Women. Right now there’s people using artificial wombs to raise sheep babies.

    Recently we found out that eggs can be made from any female, skin, blood, etc,. cell it’s “sperm” that’s needed to start the multiplying process to make a baby.

    I don’t think getting cells will be a problem. Women would surely sell their cells for a $1.000. The artificial wombs couldn’t be too pricey. I suspect the price could be close to natural birth.

    There’s a lot of programs to raise “equity”. What if we spent say, 10% of the Defense departments budget on “equality” by perfecting the technology of artificial wombs and the techniques above. After 20 years or so it would truly bring about equality. Women would be much nicer.

  8. CVLR says:

    Kirk: “Reality is, on the other hand, that the dirtbag they chose to graft into their gene line wasn’t ever going to amount to much, as a human being.”

    I chortled.

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