Oct 052016
 

Introduction

There has been much discussion about “property rights”, “human rights”, “self-ownership” and the “non-aggression principle” or N.A.P. Most of the ideas on these subjects that seem worth discussing are existential in nature. For instance one often hears questions like,

  • Does “property” actually exist?

  • Do “rights” actually exist?

  • Does anyone really “own” anything?

  • What does it mean to both “be oneself” and “own oneself”?

  • …and what implications do these questions have concerning the validity of the N.A.P.?

While many academic philosophy buffs like to argue who has the best answers to such questions, the significance of their arguments is more a matter of ego aggrandizement than one of applying ethics in a practical way.

This body of subject-matter leaped into the minds of modern libertarians when Murray Rothbard introduced it as a way of understanding the libertarian perspective. Briefly, he opined that self-ownership is self evident… axiomatic. And based on that assumed logical starting point, deduced that therefore anything one’s body produces is also one’s own property. From this he went on to define property rights and expanded the definition to include anything found unclaimed in nature or acquired by voluntary trade. His logical equivalent of the N.A.P. was a further logical outcome of this thought path.

Rothbard’s reasoning is a good example of weak logic leading to correct conclusions. Some of the weaknesses include:

  • Rights” are not actually things…you can’t put them in a wheelbarrow.

  • The clear definition of “property acquisition” doesn’t actually explain the existential relationship between property and its owner.

  • And, most importantly, most people don’t intuit self-ownership, because they were indoctrinated as preschoolers to believe that their parents “owned” them, and later their teachers “owned them”, and in many cases their employers subsequently “own” them.

A consequent weakness in the N.A.P. is the common belief that it constitutes a complete ethic rather than a principle based on an ethic. While the N.A.P. forbids behavior deemed “bad”, it fails to define behavior deemed “good”. Thus use of the N.A.P. as the sole determinant of ethical behavior leaves much to be desired.

An Alternative Algorithm for Ethical Behavior

For a much more comprehensive discussion on this topic, check out this article on Ethics, Law & Government. Here I summarize some of the article’s conclusions without including the derivations covered in the linked article.

An act is said to be ethical (synonymously good, just, right, or righteous) if it increases truth, awareness, love, or creativity for at least one person, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing any of these resources for anyone. An act that does diminish any of these resources for someone is said to be unethical (or synonymously bad, wrong, unjust or evil). An act that has neither effect is said to be “ethically trivial”.

Based on the foregoing definition, is is a simple exercise in logic to derive a set a dozen or so principles that can assist one in making ethical decisions on a day-to-day or moment-to-moment basis. Foremost among these is the fact that ethical “ends” require “ethical means” …which in turn must be ethical ends in themselves.

At this point, I hope you can see that the N.A.P. effectively defines unethical acts while leaving trivial acts and ethical acts undefined. So an act that complies with the N.A.P. could be either ethical or trivial. For anyone wishing to live their life as ethically as possible the N.A.P. fails to deliver the best guidance available. In other words the N.A.P. tells us what not to do but leaves us in the dark concerning what to do.

The ethic that I’ve recommended above not only tells us what specific resources are most worth amplifying, but it also opens the door to a way of organizing human institutions so that they make consistently ethical decisions. For a comprehensive explanation of how this can work, I invite you to read FLOURISH…An Alternative to Government and Other Hierarchies.

May 242016
 

An Octologue is a small group of people (typically 8) who have undertaken to act together on a voluntary basis for the pursuit of an ethical purpose. Such a group makes unanimous decisions and also acts as a mutual feedback hub, whereby the members share their perceptions of one another in a very personal and intimate manner.

A HoloMat (generic term) is a group of Octologues joined by an ethical contract to serve a shared purpose. A HoloMat may consist of any number of Octologues.

The HOLOMAT is an online hub and resource center for many HoloMats to communicate with one another and to coordinate related activities for mutual advantage. When built, the HOLOMAT website/application will facilitate many kinds of interactions between individuals, Octologues, and HoloMats, and will provide for a wide range of memberships tailored to the needs of the individual or group. It will also act as a mechanism whereby individuals and groups will be able to find one another – e.g. Octologues seeking people with particular skills, or people looking for Octologues having specific purposes.

Watch for it here. It’s coming soon.

Mar 102016
 

About the Word “Authority”
My friend, Larken Rose, describes authority as “the most dangerous
superstition” – and has, in fact, written a wonderful little book by that title. I heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to delve deeper into the subject than the limited treatment in this article. Having said that, let’s take an intellectual peek into the meaning of the word.

The word, “authority” would appear at first glance to be a noun – though
technically it isn’t one – because it doesn’t describe or name something that can be put in a wheelbarrow. Traditionally, a noun names a person, place, or thing. In recent years some have chosen to extend the definition to include ideas – but I find this more confusing than helpful.

Instead, on the advice of the eminent linguist John Grinder, I refer to such
words as “nominalizations”. As such, a nominalization is itself an idea, but the concept so labeled usually proves, on examination, to represent an action or a process. The same can be said too of the expressions, “power over”, juris diction, and rank – as they are essentially synonyms for “authority.”
In discussing authority, the subject is further confused by the fact that, in
practice, the word has two distinct meanings.

Two Kinds of Authority
There are two meanings for the word in common usage:
1. It can mean an expert – someone who is unusually well versed in a
subject – as in “Einstein was an authority on physics”; or
2. It can mean someone who exercises power over others – as in,
“Governments have authority over their subjects”.

At the moment we are born, naked, helpless, and totally dependent, our
parents are the expert authorities responsible for our well being. We have no choice but to respect their superior strength, knowledge, and experience. In fact, our very lives depend on it. So when they say, “Don’t play in the street”, we do well to obey, and we can take some comfort in the fact that they have more expertise than we when it comes to survival in the jungle, the woods, or the city. This is a case of authority as defined in (1) above.

Unfortunately, it is all too common that parents treat their children as though their authority is of the second type – requiring obedience without regard for the child’s mental/emotional state. “Be respectful! I’m your father!” expresses a typical attitude of such a parent. This is the attitude that is usually meant by the adjective, “authoritarian”.

It is the responsibility of an ethical parent to teach their offspring what they need to know to become independent adults with good self-esteem and a strong sense of responsibility for themselves. This cannot be achieved by maintaining an authoritarian posture in relation to them. This attitude, instead, teaches fear, obedience and dependency. When the posture is based on corporal punishment, it also teaches violence – and is arguably the primary source of violence in today’s world.

An even more profound consequence of authoritarian parenting is its effect on a child’s awareness of self-ownership.

Self-Ownership Implications
As small children it is apparent to everyone that they are owned by their
parents. In school the mandate to obey is largely transferred to our teachers – making them our stand-in owners. And as employees it is easy to imagine ourselves owned by our employers. We are conditioned to accept these roles – even though they are false.

It is very convenient for those who wish to rule us to have us think that we are “free”, when we fail to recognize our own self-ownership. This distortion of our awareness causes us to regard the ruling class as our owners – and to obey its members as would slaves. The conditioning to bring this about begins when we are infants – being raised by parents who have already been trained to obey “authorities”. In reality, “authority” refers to nothing more than coercion by means of force or the threat of force. And the purpose of perpetuating the concept as something else exists only to make us easier to plunder. When we yield to this mandate, we remain permanently child-like, unwilling to take on the true responsi-bilities of adulthood. In effect, we choose our own slavery.

The Adult Quandary
Our culture makes it very easy for us to accept our serfdom – and difficult to honor truth, love, awareness, and creativity. The latter choices put us
immediately in conflict with those who wish to “rule” us, and they aren’t
hesitant to beat, pepper-spray, taser, torture, cage, and kill those who fail to comply. This makes for some difficult choices for those of us not deceived by our early conditioning.

The Unfortunate Default
While some of us maintain an uneasy balance between compliance and self-determination, most people choose, not only to comply with our self-
appointed rulers’ edicts – but to turn on those of us who don’t, by supporting violence that is directed at those of us who are free enough to recognize the falsehood of all forms of “authority”.

The Controllers and the Controlled
The intense need of psychopaths and sociopaths to control others by
exercising power over them derives primarily from the devastating abuse to which they were subjected very early in childhood. That abuse left them feeling so out of control of their lives, that to survive they had to learn to respond in kind – by becoming even more controlling than their abusers. To date there is no known way to heal the results of such abuse.

So, What Is “Authority” and What Can Be Done to Correct for It? The mythology that underpins our subservience to “authority” is no different
today than it was when monarchs claimed the “divine right of kings”. It is
based on the fictional notion that some people have an unassailable right to control the lives of others. In order to gain our freedom from such slavery we must first recognize it for the big lie that it is. The primary mechanism of “authority” is hierarchy.

We know now how to create non-hierarchic organizations that are both ethical and effective. This new model makes the old one obsolete. If there is a key that will end our servitude, this is it.
– Bob Podolsky – 2016

Jan 272016
 

CHOOSING AN ETHICstar of laskmi

by: Bob Podolsky

Why choose an Ethic?

It’s a truism that most people wants to “better themselves” – that is to better the circumstances of their lives. Philosophies and religions are all derived from this fact. When one adopts a valid ethic, this goal can be realized or “manifested”. The result is a life characterized by peace, prosperity, and freedom… it feels like having a compass in one’s head… important decisions become simple…work feels like play… relationships “bloom”… and the day-to-day challenges and vicissitudes of life seem much less daunting. This is the state-of-mind in which one actually “becomes the change” one wishes to see in the world.

Introduction

As a young man I believed two things about ethics – one true, and the other false:

  1. I believed the choice of an ethic is “arbitrary” – because one can choose any ethic one likes; and

  2. I believed therefore that the entire subject of ethics is trivial – of no real use in making behavioral decisions.

As I learned much later, statement (1) above is true; but statement (2) is false. Lets examine the concept of an ethic a little more closely, and then apply it with some logic to a few actual ethics.

Specifying an Ethic

Every ethic consists of 2 parts that must be defined in order to fully specify a particular ethic:

  1. A Value that the ethic is intended to increase, and

  2. A belief or belief system that tells one how to behave in order to increase the desired value.

For instance, one might choose an ethic that values prosperity and operates on the belief that prosperity can be maximized by getting a job working for 40 years for a big corporation after, many years of education. As absurd as this belief is, in combination with the value, it is, nonetheless, an ethic – by definition – albeit not a very good one. When this is true, the belief fails to support the value, and the ethic is said to be “invalid”.

Ethical Validity

An invalid ethic fails to produce more of the value sought – and in many instances actually has the opposite effect, diminishing the desired value. An example would be the Soviet Ethic that sought to produce “material well-being for all”. The accompanying belief was that this outcome could be achieved through the adoption of a tyrannical communist regime. The result was: almost universal poverty. The ethic was clearly invalid.

The “No Ethic” Ethic

There are those who are so enthralled by the arbitrariness of choosing an ethic, that they see no reason to consciously make such a choice. This of course is just another kind of ethic. In this case both the value and the belief are random. And since there is no discernible value sought, the random belief fails to produce a value – so the ethic can be said to be invalid. On the other hand, since the random belief does produce random values, one could describe the ethic as valid.

As I see it, the real value sought is the illusion of having little or no responsibility for the adopter’s experience of his life. And adopting this ethic certainly supports and increases that illusion, so it might best be called the “lazy man’s ethic” – and it is technically valid, though of no practical use.

The “Golden Rule” and “Universally Preferred Behavior”

I’ve lumped these two ethics together because they both suffer from the same weakness – namely, there is no “universally preferred behavior”. To see this clearly, imagine you have an encounter with a sado-masochist. He is someone who prefers to have others inflict pain on him. Do you really want him to do to you what he wants you to do to him? Unless you are also a sado-masochist, the answer is “probably not”.

While you might suppose that sado-masochism is too uncommon to be of real relevance, the fact is otherwise. In my 40 years experience as a psychotherapist, At least 20% of the population worldwide displays a significant leaning towards such preferences. While the degree to which such a person actually acts on such impulses varies greatly from person to person, the fact of this phenomenon’s existence proves the Golden Rule and the Universally Preferred Behavior to be invalid ethics.

The “Non-Aggression Principle”

Let’s now examine an ethic that is valid, but not optimal. Called the “Non-Aggression Principle”, the NAP states:

any initiation of coercive action (that is, any aggressive act) is ethically wrong.

The NAP ethic embraces freedom from violence as the value; and the belief is that this can be achieved by refraining from initiating violence or the threat of violence – while retaining the freedom to use limited violence in self defense.

If everyone restrained themselves from initiating violence, violence would indeed disappear, and no one would be the victim of violence. However, many of us learn violence from our parents when we are very young – usually before the age of 5 years – and we will still encounter violence until child-rearing becomes generally improved. My experience leads me to say those who were the abused as children, are the most are the biggest abusers as adults.

A more serious weakness of this ethic is that the value chosen is something not wanted – something to be avoided. In other words the value is a negative rather than a positive. It’s based on what we don’t want instead of what we do want. So while the ethic is valid, it doesn’t address what we must do to increase a number of other equally important values. So let’s look at the best ethic I have found to date.

The Ethics of Ethics

As everyone seems to know, ethics are the means by which one decides what is “good” and how to behave…how to live one’s life. What is slightly less obvious is the fact that the choice of an ethic is itself subject to an ethic-based decision. This second-level ethic might be called a “meta-ethic”. In similar fashion, one can construct any number of metan ethics…i.e. meta-meta, meta-meta-meta, and so forth. So the question this fact engenders is, “where does one start, in formulating a worthwhile ethic?”

To answer this question (quick before the theologians jump in) we can simply choose what I call a “universal referent” – which is to say, an objectively observable phenomenon of obvious value everywhere and at all times. For this choice I strongly suggest the phenomenon we call “evolution”… the opposite of which is “entropy”. This choice has several advantages.

  • The phenomenon is objectively (scientifically) observable and is certainly of great intrinsic value.

  • The choice of this referent directly amplifies truth, awareness, love, and creativity… and indirectly creates peace, prosperity, happiness, and freedom.

  • For those who prefer to involve the “god” concept in their ethics, one can simply define “god” as that toward which life evolves. Doing so is completely compatible with the valid portions of the “Christian Ethic”.

So let’s take a closer look at the formulation of such an ethic.

The Evolutionary Ethic

For starters, there are a number of values that are logically equivalent to one another:

  • Truth (scientifically verifiable) + Objective

  • Awareness & Personal evolution

  • Love

  • Creativity

TALC resources are logically equivalent to one another in that increasing any one of them always increases them all – AND – limiting or diminishing any one of them always limits or diminishes them all. Any of these values can be used to create a valid ethic.

Here’s an example based on the value of creativity and on the following belief system:

An act is ethical if it increases creativity for at least one person (including the person acting), without limiting or diminishing creativity for anyone.

In the definition above one can substitute any of the other values in the preceding (TALC) list for the word “creativity” and still have a valid ethic.

I have yet to see or find a valid ethic that is not logically equivalent to this one. Also, it should be noted that, counter-intuitively, no one has yet created a valid ethic based on the values of:

  • Freedom

  • Happiness

  • Pleasure

  • Power

  • Wealth

Many attempts to do so have been made; but to my knowledge none has succeeded.

Conclusion

For a more comprehensive discussion of ethics and their effects on the human condition, you are invited to read Ethics, Law, & Government on the Titanians.org website. The BORG has told you all your life to obey the law and to revere the government. Is it giving you what you want? Perhaps it’s time to re-examine that decision.

Bob Podolsky

cronus@titanians(dot)org

Jan 232016
 

FBI CHILD PORN SCANDAL

by Bob Podolsky

Introduction

A breaking scandal reported by USA TODAY reveals that the FBI ran a “dark web” child pornography website for 2 weeks last year, after taking over the server that hosted it from its original felonious owner. The ostensible purpose of this was to entrap the site’s users in order to charge them with possession of illegal downloaded content.

Child pornography is a highly charged emotional subject; so one can reasonably expect that the public reaction to this revelation will be the object of a great deal of irrational hyperbole promoted by the mainstream media and exploited by everyone with a political axe to grind.

Accordingly, it is important to acquire a dispassionate fact-based understanding of the issue, in the interest of minimizing unethical responses to the revelations of the USA TODAY (USAT) article. Hence this article.

Common Assumptions

Opinions concerning the USAT article and its implications will vary widely because its readers have widely varying assumptions about how the world works. The assumptions listed below illustrate this point, because some of them are true, some are not, and some are sometimes true and sometimes not.

  1. The making of child pornography invariably involves the sexual interaction of a child with an adult.

  2. Sexual interaction of an adult with a child may be physically damaging to the child.

  3. Sexual interaction of an adult with a child is emotionally damaging to the child.

  4. The child may or may not know, at the time, that what the adult is doing with them is emotionally damaging.

  5. The producers and directors of child pornography are “evil-doers”.

  6. The camera operators involved are “evil-doers”.

  7. Those who process the pornographic imagery are “evil-doers”.

  8. The adult porn actors are “evil-doers”.

  9. The parents of the children involved are “evil-doers”.

  10. Those who watch or observe such imagery are “evil-doers”.

  11. Those who distribute the imagery by various means are “evil- doers”.

  12. The children who are victims of child pornographers are further damaged whenever their images are observed.

  13. It is a proper role of government to identify, find, capture, and punish everyone involved in the child pornography industry.

  14. Laws against the production and distribution of child pornography protect the child victims by discouraging the public from buying the pornographic products.

  15. Punishing the customers of child porn reduces the number of customers.

  16. Reducing the number of customers, in turn, reduces the number of children being abused and exploited.

  17. Running a child porn website to ensnare child porn buyers and viewers is a legitimate strategy for protecting child porn victims from those who exploit them.

Child pornography is certainly a symptom of a serious societal problem, because the victims are seriously damaged…AND if one blindly accepts the above assumptions, the damage can be greatly amplified. In order to get to the bottom of the matter, we need to understand the ethical criteria for what constitutes an “evil-doer” and for the allocation of responsibility to those acting.

The Ethics of Responsibility

After thousands of years of philosophical discussion and debate, the most rationally and scientifically defensible definition of an ethical act is:

An act is ethical if it increases creativity, awareness, love, and/or objective truth for at least one person, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing any of these resources for anyone.

Rationally we know that the responsibility for an act, be it unethical or not, is divided among all the people who took part in the causal chain of events leading up to the act. However, the one most responsible is the one who had the chronologically last opportunity to prevent the act from occurring. For this reason, despite “legal” opinions to the contrary, the hired assassin is more culpable than the individual who hired him (or her).

In the chain of events leading up to the production of a child porno photograph or video, it is the adult who engages the child sexually that is ultimately most responsible for the harm done to the child victim. The parents who fail to protect their child from such exploitation are arguably the next most responsible. Others involved in the child porn production are also acting unethically, though their participation in support of the crime is less unethical than the actual perpetrators – the adult actor who has sex with the child and the parent who fails to prevent the abuse. These two participants are those from whom the child actually needs protection.

The Objective View: Identifying the Hype

The above definition of an ethical act has a number of logical consequences that yield a dozen important principles that are very useful in applying the ethics to everyday decision-making. Chief among these is the principle that unethical means can never achieve ethical ends. Recognizing that this is so leads to the conclusion that Assumption #17 Running a child porn website to ensnare child porn buyers and viewers is a legitimate strategy for protecting child porn victims from those who exploit them, is FALSE. Therefore, assuming that selling child pornography is unethical, an ethical agency would never resort to doing so…for any reason.

Assumptions 14 through 16 are also false. We know this because they justify the prohibition of child porn, and we know from long experience that prohibition doesn’t diminish the demand for an illegal product, nor its availability. Alcohol, gambling, prostitution and drugs come to mind as obvious examples of prohibition failure.

Assumption 13, It is a proper role of government to identify, find, capture, and punish everyone involved in the child pornography industry. is also FALSE, because punishment of wrongdoers has proven totally ineffectual in curbing crime – especially when the crime is a form of prohibition violation. As an extreme example, consider the fact that drugs are widely available in prisons…where those convicted of selling drugs outside of prisons are routinely sent.

Consider the fact that every crime, as defined in law dictionaries, has a victim – someone who has been physically harmed or whose property rights have been violated. For this reason, Assumptions 10, 11, and 12 are also FALSE. The only victims of child pornography are the children, who are unaffected by strangers seeing their pictures. As much revulsion as most of us feel imagining an adult masturbating in front of a video screen depicting children being molested, the fact remains that the child sex actor shown on the screen is not aware of the event and is not harmed by it. Nor is it a proper function of government to protect us from such revulsion.

Assumptions 1 through 9 are also true, however the first four are qualitatively different than the next 5. The first four serve to simply define the crime that takes place in the production of child pornography…which is ultimately where the crime occurs. Assumptions 5 through 7 indicate the responsibility of the producers of the pornography; but 8 and 9 correctly identify the real culprits – the adult actors and the permissive or absent parents.

Conclusions

Back in the 60’s, in the Vietnam war era, Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote and performed a beautiful song called the the “Universal Soldier”, in which she aptly pointed out that the crime of war could not exist without the willingness of men (most of them practically children themselves) to travel half-way around the world to shoot strangers who had never wronged them.

Today the trigger-pulling soldiers, the bomb-dropping bombardiers, and the rocket-launching drone pilots bear the ultimate responsibility for the international murders we call war.

In similar fashion, it is the child-molesting porno-film actors and the victims’ parents, who abdicate their parental duties, who bear the lion’s share of responsibility for the harm done to children who are thus sexually exploited. While the porn producers and distributors bear some of the responsibility for the harm done to the child victims, the producers don’t usually molest the children personally, and the product distributor issues are just another form of prohibition. And we all know how well ‘The Drug War’ – “works”.

For the creation of an ethical society, free of such evils, it is necessary for a dramatic change to occur in human culture…a change that paves the way for our institutions to make consistently ethical decisions. Fortunately, the knowledge of how this will be accomplished already exists, and more and more people are catching on. For details read Ethics Law and Government and Ethical Organizational Development.

Oct 182015
 

The Concept
There are many who believe that killing another human being is always unethical – an evil deed, regardless of the circumstances and motivation behind the act. Because of this, many victims of violence and tyranny have died needlessly – thinking they were acting ethically by refraining from defending themselves. It’s time to set the record straight.

Analysis
To acquire a profound understanding of the issues involved in this matter, we must start with the definition of a valid ethic. Here is an example:

“An act is ethical if it increases the creativity of at least one person, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing the creativity of anyone.”

From this definition, we can derive the following principles by pure logic:

• Every ethically non-trivial act falls on an ethical continuum, in accordance with the degree to which the act increases creativity.

• Murder is unethical (as is obvious), because, by definition, it reduces the creativity of the person being murdered.

• It is unethical to permit an unethical act if one can effectively forbid or prevent it.

This raises the question, “Is killing in self defense properly construed as ‘murder’?” To answer this consider the following diagram:

|–—————–0——————-|
-100                                                             +100

The horizontal line above represents a creativity scale. A person who consistently makes the most creative choices might achieve a maximum score of +100 – whereas one who consistently makes destructive choices might score -100. These are also obviously opposite ends of a corresponding scale of ethics.

Now imagine that someone credibly threatens to kill you if you do not comply with something they demand. At this point their creativity, and hence their ethics, is at the -100 point on the creativity scale. If you now take action stopping the threat – and if it your action results in the attacker’s death – then you have effectively raised his creativity from -100 to zero.

Note that, in this instance, the attacker’s creativity was raised rather than lowered – so it follows that the act of killing the attacker was not murder.  And, what is more, had you not stopped the attack on yourself, you would have effectively permitted the attacker to murder you – and that would have constituted an unethical decision on your part, by allowing your own
creativity to be diminished.

Conclusions
• When lethal force is required in order to prevent an act of murder or mayhem, that lethal force is ethical.
• When lethal force is required in order to prevent an act of murder or mayhem, one’s refusal to use lethal force is unethical.

While these conclusions will seem counter-intuitive to many, they are nonetheless correct; and identical results will be obtained by the application of any valid ethic.

Aug 042015
 

The Experience Recovery

I’m lying comfortably on a mattress in a dimly lit room, recalling a small dream fragment. A fledgling therapist is giving me suggestions, asking me to pretend to be various elements of the dream in conversation with other parts. For instance I’m the mattress, and I’m telling the door of the room what I’m thinking and feeling. The therapist is learning “Gestalt.” A more experienced therapist is supervising as five members of my group act as therapists to the other five. We’re all learning Gestalt.

I close my eyes, and suddenly I’m no longer on a mattress. I’m lying on a cold hard metallic surface, and I seem to be paralyzed. My arms are pinned to my sides and I can’t move – not even a wriggle. As if in a lucid dream, my adult mind realizes that I’m strapped to a surgical table by means of a fabric strap that extends across my torso and arms from a strong-point on one edge of the table to a ratcheted crank on the opposite edge of the table. My adult mind is able to observe and understand what is happening – but is unable to control the events that I’m experiencing

Suddenly a figure appears in my line of sight. I recognize a man’s head wearing a white cap and white surgical mask. “Aha!”, I think. “He’s a doctor and I’m in a hospital. Could this man be my father?” The question seems absurd, since my father, Boris Podolsky was a physicist – not a physician. But somehow the rationale behind the question made sense at the time of the experience.

The masked face disappears, and a moment later my body is racked by intense pain. From head to foot I feel like I’m on fire. Only later did I understand that an infant’s body doesn’t localize pain. The ability to localize the experience of pain requires a little more neurological development than most infants have at the age of eight days (my age at circumcision).

And only much later did I learn that, until recently, most surgery on infants was performed without anesthesia, in the mistaken belief that infants don’t feel pain. The reality, of course, is that infants feel everything more intensely than adults.

By now, of course, I’m screaming – not just in my memory, but in my adult experience. My therapist-in-training doesn’t know what to do, so he calls on the supervising therapist for assistance. She knows what to do, and assists me in extricating myself from the remembered ordeal by holding and soothing me as though I were still that tortured infant.

Consequences

It is a reasonable instinctual expectation, on the part of an infant, to be met with gentleness, love, and maternal bonding during the beginning of life outside the womb. The mere absence of such a response has a profoundly detrimental effect on the development of a child’s brain. To be met with torture is much worse – truly devastating. Such an experience leaves a child in a state of perpetual terror – unable to completely trust his very existence – permanently hyper-vigilant – and, in my case, unable to trust men prior to age 32, at which point the experience above restored some of my ability to develop relationships with men.

More On the Subject

No one is more eloquent than Stefan Molyneux on the subject of circumcision. And it’s not my intent to repeat here the things that he has discussed at length in his philosophical podcasts on the subject. I wrote this little article solely to explain that some of us remember the event, and I for one can personally attest to the severity of the experience and the damage that it inflicted on my life. I wouldn’t wish it on a dog – but then dogs aren’t getting circumcised, are they? Only humans do that to one another.

Jul 012015
 

PROFITS vs. ETHICS

Overview

There are many who mistakenly think that the phrase, “business ethics”, is an oxymoron – that there is something inherently unethical about making a profit. In the sections below, I will not only address this fallacy, but will also go on to explain the four paradigms from which business owners can select how they will prioritize their ethics in relation to their profits.

What Is “Ethical”?

The best definition I know for an ethical act is, “any act that increases awareness, creativity, love, objective truth, or personal evolution without limiting or diminishing any of these resources for anyone.” While this definition may seem a little clumsy to some, it is nonetheless valid, in that acting in accordance with it actually increases all of the resources listed. Also, a simple exercise of logic applied to this definition yields an extensive set of ethical principles, allowing for its straightforward application to the day-to-day decisions we all are called upon to make.

For a much more detailed discussion of this subject, read, “Ethics, Law, & Government” on the titanians.org website.

Profit Motivation

It is a fundamental fact of life that living beings choose to engage in actions that improve their condition. Plants do this. Animals do it. And so do humans. In the case of the most generous self-effacing charitable giving, the giver’s condition is improved by feeling good about having given the gift.

In the world of business, improving one’s condition translates into making a profit – be that profit financial, emotional, or otherwise. In the absence of such motivation, there would be no business; almost no one would work, and all of society would suffer. For the purposes of this analysis, let’s think just in terms of financial profit.

The Four Paradigms

  1. The first paradigm applies to all businesses that rank profit as more important than ethics. In this instance, the ethics is irrelevant and need not be considered at all. I call this the “Mafia Paradigm”; and its de facto ethic is the Power Ethic; i.e. “Might Makes Right”. This paradigm is parasitic, and inevitably leads to self-destruction – as the parasite kills its host. A hallmark of this paradigm is the fact that businesses that adopt it almost always form cartels and then call on government to enforce the cartel’s rules.

  2. The other three paradigms under discussion all place the ethics ahead of the profit, requiring the business to avoid acting unethically. The differences between the three being in the role of profit. In the second paradigm, every transaction is constrained to be profitable or otherwise advantageous. This model is, in fact, the one chosen by most successful businesses.

  3. The third paradigm, sometimes chosen by people who disapprove of profit, constrains actions to be ethical; but only requires transactions to break even, rather than turn a profit.

    This model consistently fails – resulting in an organization that is constantly on the brink of insolvency – until it eventually goes bankrupt. This is often the fate of “non-profit” organizations, because their self-image is incompatible with profitability.

  4. The fourth paradigm is often the most successful, though there’s a trick to making it work. This paradigm requires impeccable ethics with no consideration of profitability whatever. While conceptually very counter-intuitive, this actually works – but there’s a catch.

    Successful businesses employing this paradigm never start out using it. Instead they begin by using the 2nd paradigm, and later transition to the 4th after establishing a solid financial base. Not infrequently such organizations eventually become donation-based, permitting each customer to define the value of what they have received.

Conclusion

It should be noted that most businesses do not operate consistently within one of these paradigms, often applying the ethics more or less randomly – even though they would be improved if they picked a paradigm that works and stuck with it. It’s my hypothesis that the inconsistency in applying the ethics is due primarily to ignorance concerning the nature and importance of ethics per se. If you are a business-person, and you apply what you’ve learned from this little article, your probability of success will be much improved.