Virtue Ethics of the State Cult

Or of the Death Cult.

Since I touched upon it during the livestream today, I thought it might follow up a bit here in regards to the vast difference between individual and collective moral impetuses between the death cultist and the Christian, or between the political left and right, communist and free man—whatever terms and groupings you like to use, since most of these are pointing in similar direction.

To a Christian, or to one of the noble pagans, virtue is an individual endeavor. The locus of discretion lies in the individual, and it is up to the individual to pursue virtue according to his abilities and opportunities.

To the Death Cultist, or a statist, individual virtue is moot. Morality is a set of goals rather than acts; the goals are collective and based on external absolutes. The locus of discretion lies somewhere outside the individual, usually in the state or some other large, powerful organization, with the end states alone being “good” or “bad” (not virtuous or vicious).

To illustrate a point:

A Christian sees a neighbor going hungry. He chooses to use some of his money to buy the man a meal, or cooks one for him.

A Statist knows that there are hungry people in the world. He declares that there should be an end to world hunger and demands that a new state bureaucracy be created to irradicate hunger.

This shows several things.

In the first example, the Christian physically sees a person in need and chooses to do something about it himself. In the second, the Cultist does not physically see a hungry person, but instead sees “the hungry.” He might, at some point, see people in need, but his thoughts are always directed toward the collective and the external. If he saw a single hungry person, he would extrapolate into the larger scale immediately: There must be many hungry people like this person. What can we do about it? The answer, of course, occurs in the collective. A new state program must be created to end the problem of hunger, and it won’t be successful until hunger is indeed ended.

The worldview of the Christian is a result of two fundamental axioms: that a man is saved or condemned as an individual, and that we live in a fallen world that cannot be repaired until Christ returns. In other words, the world can’t be fixed, but individual people can be.

The statist worldview is a combination of two opposing axioms: that man’s state arises from external conditions, and that there is no limit to the state. In other words, if people are suffering it is because the system has not addressed their needs.

The two visions mostly talk past each other, but it’s important to distinguish the two. Most Christians would not say it is necessarily wrong to want to solve a problem totally or with some large organization, but they will usually have the assumption that the world cannot be perfected. Perhaps you can help some people or improve the world, but hurts and wrongs can never be totally eliminated, and you are likely to do some ill along the way. It’s constrained by the assumption that perfection is beyond the possibility of man.

Likewise, a leftist would not say it is wrong to go and help a hungry individual, and indeed they might, but ultimately the problem can’t be addressed by helping one person. Large-scale change is needed.

This, really is where “virtue-signaling” in the twitter-left sphere comes in. Declaring that a problem should be “fixed” is viewed analogous to real virtue because the signaler is so mired in the speech of the state, he becomes a Death Cultist and loses sight of what virtue is. The signaler is quick to identify himself as “part of the solution” by being part of some large movement directed towards an external end. And, since he is “part of the solution” he is being virtuous, since the external end is “good.” Indeed, the signal is doubly virtuous because the signal may convince others to be “part of the solution” as well.

Perhaps by now you have realized the crumbling keystone of the statist view of virtue, which is that “good” and “bad” are defined by ends which, according to the worldview of the Christian, and history if it is to be believed, can never actually be achieved. Hunger cannot be eradicated. Crime cannot be wiped out. And so, being part of a solution which doesn’t solve anything means that the signals are neither virtuous of themselves nor do they actually signal virtue.

So, if you are puzzled by the twitteristas and tumblerinas posting jab selfies, keep in mind that their worldview, their reality, is so separate from your own that they view their act as virtuous and even sacramental, since they are being “part of the solution.” And you, not engaging in the same behavior, are being bad when you believe adopting protections is at the discretion of the individual, because you are not being part of the solution—the solution being the total eradication of a disease (which humans have done twice, but only once in humans). Your participation is mandatory because all virtue exists as absolute externalities requiring systematic solutions and collective effort (directed by the state).

This is also why, incedentally, most of the rhetoric of originating with the GOP is so weak and misguided: they do not understand their enemy. They will make a point of showing that “conservatives” donate more to charity, but to the left, that fact is moot. Charity doesn’t solve problems and “conservatives” would be truly virtuous if they supported change. It doesn’t matter that the Democrat politician is a hypocrit spending wild sums on haircuts and cookware during a depression, because they are proliferating the solution. The idea of individual virtue isn’t relevant. These rhetorical shots do not demoralize the enemy; likewise, they do not energize allies because virtue is individual, thus tribal pride regarding virtue is a non-starter. A Christian engages in charity because it is part of his walk of faith, not because he wants his “team” to win.

I am an independent writer and musician. You can buy my book and music (David V. Stewart’s Zul) on Amazon. Here’s a few books to check out:

One Comment

  1. Well written.
    Right after I first read this, I saw this article from MSNBC about the Jussie Smollet case (the guy who faked a hate crime against himself). It basically argues that it’s bad that Jussie is going to jail. Why? Not because of what he actually did, but because of what it will supposedly do for the narrative that LGBT are victims of hate crimes. I thought this was a shocking illustration of what you wrote about in the article, where the writer has zero concern for individual justice (and basically handwaves away Jussie’s awful crime), and is only concerned about a warped sense of greater good.

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