For example: never dispute your boss. If there's a problem, don't tell your boss. You don't want, you don't want to blow the whistle, don't jump over your boss' head, etc,
and Aaron Swartz said at one point, this is a great book because it shows us how such ordinarily, what you would consider good people end up doing so much evil, and it's just because we get locked in to these systems and organizations that are on this course doing harm and we're just in there keeping the gears oiled and so forth, and what we need to do is say wait, where is this machine going?
We have to step outside of that and blow the whistle or try and stop the machine from going where it's going.
R.K.: Blowing the whistle. That's something I write a lot about and publish about and interview people about a lot. And we'll get there. But I want to talk about evil first. Now you're a guy who writes about language and derivations of words and the ontology of words. Talk about evil.
P.L.: About evil. Sure. I think we have this notion of evil and the one that we usually employ involves some sort of really sinister bad guy. Someone who is like, looks shifty, someone who might be a bad guy in a movie or something like that, but a lot of times the responsibility for evil is completely defused and a lot of times it's like an organization itself that can be evil so, now I'm just using evil to explain that so, but in doing this I am trying to point out that our understanding and definition of evil is too narrow because we focus on, we want to focus on individuals and we should really be focusing on institutions because institutions can do far more harm than an individual can.
R.K.: Well let's go back though still. What is evil? Whether it's an individual or and institution. What is evil?
P.L.: Well I think the simplest way to define it would be that it is doing harm to other people, that it is hurting them in either kind of a physical way or it might be to harm them in a sense of undermining their human dignity, so if you just go from those two premises, don't physically harm someone or don't undermine their dignity, then you see well it would be wrong for example to torture someone for example or to drone people indiscriminately or maybe to just drone them at all.
And if concerned about human dignity then you have to say well, look, obviously slavery is wrong but what about other things? What about the dignity of somebody that is working in a fast food restaurant today for example? And I think those two core things, you know evil is really best defined in terms of other people and what happens to other people and are they being harmed and are they being treated with dignity.
R.K.: Interesting. A couple of weeks ago I had as a guest Robert Fuller who has written a couple of books about dignity and dignitarianism and the idea of getting rid of hierarchy.
R.K. : You know I call my show the Bottom Up Radio Show because I believe we are transitioning from a Top-Down culture to a more Bottom-Up culture which is a move away from hierarchy.
P.L.: Yeah, well I hope that's true, it's not easily done and there are a lot of institutions that would not like to see that transition take place but it would be nice if it could happen.
R.K.: My theory is that it's underway and that internet has literally changed the way millennial's brains work. They see things differently, they interact differently, they cooperate differently. Although it's very much something that's built in to our genes. I've recently interviewed a couple of primatologists and from what they tell me it's not only in primate genes, it goes back to mammals, the whole idea of cooperation and helping each other.
P.L.: That's right. Well we've learned an awful lot about cooperation, even in game theory, which is a way of mathematically modeling decisions and human behavior for example, we've learned that cooperation is, at it were, a winning game strategy and so there's a kind of way of mathematically modeling evolutionary dynamics so that it looks like cooperation is the most effective strategy.
I think perhaps in the long run cooperative systems that are non-hierarchical may win out but the question is how long is the long run and how far off is that?
R.K.: Yeah that's a big question because the other side of this Bottom Up revolution that is the Top Down powers have consolidated, they're stronger than ever before. You know we've got fourteen hundred billionaires in the world -