Monday, December 3, 2012

The Imperfectibility of Man

I've already posted this morning on Bob Costas's ignorant (at best) comments on Sunday Night Football last night.  I've also posted about San Bernardino going all "Thunderdome."  AoSHQ Moronette AlexTheChick posted over at Double Plus Undead an open letter to Costas and Whitlock which I highly recommend you read.

But I want to get a little more into this mentality that says "Guns bad."  It's the same nanny-state mentality that says that more Government is always the answer, and any failure of Government is not due to the fact that Government is incapable of doing certain things, but due to the fact that the Government needs absolute unchecked power.  This idea is based on a fallacy to which it seems both Whitlock and Costas fall prey.

There is an idea, ascribed to by teenagers and leftists, known as the perfectibility of man.  According to this idea, if people would just "be nice" to each other, and if the right rules were in place, all the evils in the world would go away.  This is the core premise behind such failed ideologies as Marxism and other collectivist systems.  It ignores the facts of human behavior.  People are not perfect, and no rules or enforcement thereof will make them so.

Case in point: perhaps my favorite quote directed to Messrs. Costas and Whitlock is this, "What caliber did OJ use?"  Human beings are violent, jealous, lazy, evil beings.  People don't like to acknowledge this, but it's true.  All that cursing you use?  It's a form of violence.  It's a very minor way to vent your aggression so that you don't actually become physically violent.  Human nature is evil. 

Now, this is a hard concept for two reasons.  One, if you accept it, you have to accept your own evil.  In the case of Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock, I'm sure they would vociferously deny that charge.  Second is that it means you must accept that evil will occur in the world, often for no good reason. 

It is the concept of the perfectibility of man that caused people to look for someone, other than Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden, to blame for 9/11.  It is the concept of the perfectibility of man that causes bleeding hearts across the globe to try to "understand" murderers and rapists.  It is the concept of the perfectibility of man that says if we'd just take all the weapons away, no one would ever be violent again.

However, man is not perfectible.  Indeed, a central truth you must accept if you wish to actually address the balance of evil in the world is man's imperfectibility.  If man is not perfectible, then Government cannot be the solution, since it is run by imperfect men.  If man is not perfectible, then a better armed society is safer than a less armed society, since such a society would give the (relatively) innocent the means by which to protect themselves.  If man is not perfectible, then we do not have to wonder "why" atrocities occur; we can blame the perpetrator for their actions and treat them accordingly.


  1. Stated Differently,
    Nietzsche got the whole "is" part of humanity right, he just got the "ought" part wrong.
    I've generally assumed that when we revert to a baseline morality, we act more or less in the Nietzschian form (will to power, greed, etc.)
    Aspirational systems (i.e. Aristotle)seek to correct this (at an individual level), but ultimately admit that correction is a challenge, not a given, and that failure will be common along the way.
    The failure of most collectivism (Marx in particularly)was that it seemed to assume that you could merely rule away the flaws in humanity if you did away with suffering.
    Any sufficient rule of law needs to assume that there will be people who operate against it. (And any given moral theory needs to be aware of the same thing.)