Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

On the Nature of Absolute Morality





The concepts of morality and imperialism have found themselves in a peculiar paradox on Planet Bob. Already shouts go up from the gallery, 'Morality and imperialism are mutually exclusive! The only relationship is opposition!' This is the common view from the side of moralism, but it is a superficial one: morality and imperialism, far from being mutually exclusive, are in fact two sides of the same coin. This is implicit in the attacks that some alliances now make upon the global opposition to espionage on Planet Bob -- the claim being that it is a moral view created by the New Pacific Order in its own interests, thus making the dual implications that morality is based on individual interest, and that morality goes hand in hand with imperialism. As it happens this example is incorrect, but the conclusion is isn't, and thus frames our investigation nicely.

Defining the Concept

The first question we must pose ourselves: what exactly is imperialism? At its most basic it is the dictation of another entity's actions without their consent. How and why this is done varies, but certain constants must always exist, and at the forefront of this is a code of right and wrong. Any apparatus of control necessitates certain rules along which it, and by extension everyone under it, must operate. Of course, such exists inside every alliance and every institution -- in joining any group we agree to abide by its rules, whether written in law or lying unwritten in the culture and ideology of the group. What differentiates imperialism from this is that unwilling groups are effectively forced into abiding by the rules (written or unwritten) through threats, coercion and war. It is, simply put, a demand that everyone should do as a central group demands, rather than a social contract to keep within certain limits for the mutually accepted common interest.

And so we enter onto the subject of morality. One can see that every individual, every alliance, and every bloc operates with a morality of some sort or another -- a morality simply being an accepted code of right and wrong. However, what we have seen recently is the coming to the fore of an 'international' conception of morality; that is to say, a code of right and wrong that applies to everyone whether they accept it or not, with the implication that if one does not accept it they are unworthy and should be subject to sanctions. This is a belief in an 'absolute morality' (a morality that is true everywhere always), with the caveat that the centre's morality rather than anyone else's is the correct one.

From these two facts the concepts almost seem to be one in the same. If one holds to an 'absolute morality' and demands that it is followed, then we are only one short step from outright imperialism. As the moralist develops and begins to try and push their morality, they begin to pressure, then coerce, and finally force by military means, its acceptance by the wider population. It is here that the concepts of absolute morality and imperialism cease to be different, being as it is a demand for all others in the global community to abide by rules dictated by the centre. Morality becomes de facto law, the moralist becomes judge, jury and executioner of the entire world.

Critiquing Absolute Morality

Understanding this, the cry goes out from the moralists, 'But there is an absolute morality!' It is difficult to see the rationale behind this claim. If one is to argue that an absolute morality exists, then they must be able to explain where it comes from. Nature? Nature holds no opinion separate from man. God? The closest thing we come to a god, Admin, has stated otherwise quite explicitly. Man? If this were the case, then there would be no need to enforce it, being inherent to every man as it would naturally be. Indeed, even the briefest of observations would demonstrate to the most stalwart moralist that absolute morality is a fiction. Every individual, every alliance, every bloc: all undeniably have their own unique moralities. Sometimes they overlap, but none are the same; and even where there is a lot of overlap on a certain issue, it is never universally held.

We can therefore see morality as entirely relative, changing from person to person, from group to group, and that the vision of an absolute morality is nothing more than the forced extension of one's own morality onto others. So where does morality come from? From the moralist's brief observation they should have discovered the simple answer: morality develops inside any group in order to aid in its smooth operation, and from there it is internalised by the individuals involved. That is to say, an alliance develops a moral system by codifying its interests into something that cannot be tampered with by any institution, individual or force. From this we can begin to understand the overlaps and differences: interests that are shared by different alliances, or interests that conflict.

We could go on to expand this point at great length, but there is only one important lesson for our purposes here: the pursuit of an absolute morality is not only the forced extension of an individual morality onto others, but in fact the forced extension of the individual's political interests onto others. It is thus that moral outrage always stems from those with vested interests in the downfall of the supposed perpetrator, whether from a desire for revenge over past acts or greed for their place in the international order (whether in the name of power politics or simply reshaping the world in their image). At this point absolute morality can be seen as not only overlapping with imperialism, but leading inevitably to it. Since different moralities have developed to best pursue the interests of different alliances, by negating these one is actually fettering, if not launching a direct attack upon, the political interests of other alliances. Some moralities, of course, outlive their usefulness and become fetters on the host group itself, but the origin nevertheless remains the same.

The moralist is therefore pushing for all others to live in a manner that is suited best to his own prosperity at the expense of that of all others. Moralism becomes, by its very definition, imperialism par excellence.

Looking Towards Liberation

The alternative view takes a far more libertarian stance in the international sphere. In understanding the flaws of absolute morality we can avoid the same dangerous pitfalls, instead recognising that what is best for us is not necessarily seen as best for everyone else, leading to a 'live and let live' policy that pursues one's own interests while allowing others to pursue theirs however they desire. Of course, we have already seen that morality exists in the international sphere in blocs and treaties, but these are opt-in contracts where the individuals involved have the choice to sign or not -- they are not being forced to abide by a code of right and wrong, they are finding their interests best served through partnership and compromise (usually coinciding with a moral overlap). Any actions taken by the respective alliances in this are a free transaction in pursuit of their interests as options (whatever they may be) are weighed and judged. In this way a free market of moralities and interests develops, each advancing its own interests while accepting that others will to do the same.

But, and there is always a but, while we can accept the benefits of this state of affairs existing throughout the international sphere, it must always end as soon as another's face begins -- that is to say, your right to advance your interests can never involve attacks against me. Thus while one must take a live and let live approach, they also must reserve the right to respond when their security is threatened by another -- it is not a one way street. But this caveat of self-defence exists only for the alliance's directly involved, and those uninvolved by the incident or treaty should understand that it is not their issue -- not their place to take a 'moral' (read: imperialist) stance in the international sphere.

In this way we gain a world where different viewpoints, moralities and politics can develop to their fullest and each go their own separate ways, each conflicting, but each respecting. There will always be debates and arguments over political and philosophical matters, but these remain as debates and arguments, and not as coercion led by an imperialistic conception of morality.



Recommended Comments

You seem to be promoting the notion of a benevolent dictator. The idea is that a dominant force holds sway over a segment of the population, but that is actually beneficial to the population. A stern king, but a good king is better than no king.

Link to comment

I don't really disagree with the essence of this, but considering what you say and what you actually do are worlds apart, does it have any meaning beyond telling everyone else what they should do? There certainly are no successful entities in this world driven by absolute moralism, or those that lack it at all. All you're attempting to do is rationalise your actions as methodical and in the world's best interest by resorting to disputing arguments very few actually make while ignoring the very obvious growing backlash against a system of power that has used moralism as the foundation for their power for quite some time to justify their excesses, e.g. the wars against Norden Verein, BDC, Hyperion. Perhaps if you actually stepped out into the world and saw it for what it really is, i.e. *actual* material observation, rather than writing something to make you feel good about yourself, then maybe you'd actually start making sense again.

Link to comment

I know this is an old article, but it caught my attention, and I thought: "What the hell, I'll respond anyway."

Some points to consider:

- People who believe in absolute morality do not necessarily believe that this should be inflicted on other people. Therefore, it is not imperialistic by nature, but it varies from individual to individual.

- As far as absolute morality is concerned in a CN context, if I were arguing from the perspective of one who believes in absolute morality, I'd argue that morality is a reflection of the character of God IRL, and that this carries over into IC Planet Bob, because the IC/OOC line is not rigid, but is a little flexible.

However, it was excellently written (like a lot of your material I've been reading) and well-argued.

Link to comment
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...