Socials: Mill’s Ideology
Mill’s Ideology in a nutshell could be defined by the statement: “For the Greater Good.” Why try to make peace with your warring neighbors when you can massacre most of them quickly and efficiently?
Afternoon TALONS will understand this meme without the need for explanation, but essentially, during a class discussion on ethics with regards to ‘insert sarcasm here’ the greatest humanitarian ever, Christopher Columbus; Emma, thinking no one would hear, quietly spoke: “It’s easier to just kill everyone.”
Now, because I don’t want Emma to be investigated because of the lack of vocal inflection in the written language, I’ll make sure I clearly state that she was not serious.
In our TALONS Social Studies *cough* Philosophy *cough* class I recently came across one of the more intriguing ethical dilemmas that history can throw at you: Is the mindset of accepting atrocities as the price for greater human progress still with us today?
To answer this question, I must first separate it into chewable bites.
1) What, in clearly defined terms, is this “Mindset?”, and
2) How do we (dis)prove that we have evolved from our oftentimes, seemingly barbaric roots?
The latter is rather difficult to address, however the former can be shown very cleanly by the piece of media above: “It’s easier to just kill everyone.” This statement demonstrates the disconnect between what I, and many others regard as moral (e.g. not aimlessly murdering), and the concept of efficiency = good.
Keeping that in mind, I can now examine whether that ideology of seeing atrocities as acceptable when needed, has changed since Columbus.
I understand I will not be fully accurate, especially seeing as I live as a privileged, white male who arguably has never experienced true hardship; but I shall remain a student of perseverance.
The reason it is difficult to find out whether or not we accept atrocities as: uncool, but okay if it brings us new stuff- is mainly that history is generally dehumanized. Howard Zinn futilely attempted to ignore the effect that examining the past has on the story itself, but to no avail. Bias leaks through, and the humanity of it always, always bleeds away. Despite remaining consciously aware that it is happening, you can read about the most awful events to ever occur in human history and feel less emotion than you would if you stubbed your toe.
“Those tears, that anger, cast into the past depletes our moral energy for the present.” -Howard Zinn
The past simply does not bring up the emotion that the present does, and so it is frustrating to answer Question #2 because you cannot examine history and identify the feelings that it conjures up. So you have to look at the present. Anyone can do this, in fact, I recommend that you attempt this for yourself in a second: really think about the world, think hard about something that is happening right now, or something that you could postulate happening in the future.
For example, think about the revolutions in the Middle East: does the deposition of corrupt governments justify the thousands, or tens of thousands of people that have died and are dying?
Or what if North Korea did actually initiate war instead of only threatening it? Personally I can’t see an outcome where North Korea emerges victorious, but again: does the reintegration of a culture back into the international world actually outweigh the lives lost, the families ruined, the homes destroyed?
When I think about these questions, I get angry because my answer seems to vary depending on how empathic I feel that day, which isn’t exactly ideal for when you want to write down something concrete.
But ultimately, the answer is something personal. So if you want to find out, close your eyes, do you best to imagine those scenarios, and feel.
And then take those feelings and dissect them with cold, hard logic.