In the search for the energy required to survive, two strategies compete for dominance. One strategy employs cooperation by divisions of labor based on merit (who can do the job best) where all share in the labor and the distribution of the results. Historically, this has been the most efficient means of production and of achieving a democratic social order. Social justice is difficult to achieve (or even agree upon) and easily corrupted.
The other strategy employs the appropriation of other people's labor by force (slavery), deception, or class systems that define who has the right to steal other people's labor (sanctioned extortion). The contest between cooperation (and sharing) and extortion has driven the struggle for social justice for centuries. Does natural selection determine which strategy dominates or are there other factors?
I ask that question because the argument between social justice advocates and free market advocates effectively renders people helpless to act on anything. Many consider the free market an independent force that government or anything else cannot and should not restrain. The fallacy of a free market as an independent force (like gravity) that governs economic realities has long been exploded.* In fact, markets do not define forces. They are defined by forces instituted by governments and those with the resources that private property and contracts create.
Clearly, markets do not define intrinsic values, the very thing needed to keep markets free of abusive practices that power can easily exploit. As the founding fathers expressed it, without a moral code of ethics, democracy would fail again.
The argument that government must be kept at a minimum offers no solutions because the market does not define any intrinsic values--only money. Profit provides the measure of all values. Making money is sanctioned regardless of how it is done. As a result, the folklore, the stories we tell ourselves to justify a culture of greed, acquire the authority of a religion that discloses God's plan.
One must prove themselves worthy of God in a merciless competition for money. God loves the winners and spurns the losers. Like natural selection, such contests may improve the specie's short-term adaptations. The losers provide the sacrifice necessary to maintain inequality. Comparisons with natural selection miss the point. Natural selection has no favorite value. It has rules, like diversity, that determine survival in any given environment. Short-term algorithms that use up long-term resources result in extinction.
Life is the only value that may serve as a means of identifying intrinsic values. The culture now in command blasphemes. It sacrifices life for power. Despair follows because the Faith requires a belief that we can survive as individuals without making others pay the price of our survival. Most religions treat despair as the cardinal sin. Without the Faith, there is no hope of social justice.
Natural selection provides an explanation for these unfortunate propensities. Define God as whatever we believe we must adapt to in order to survive and the result explains despair by way of the religion of money. Until recently, people were forced to adapt to the real world of finding food and fuel. Now that virtual reality and other technologies has us adapting to the business of finding money for everything we need (a games economy), money is the thing we must adapt to. Nothing serves that purpose better than the free market theory. We are what we adapt to. We know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
I will not repeat the well-established facts demonstrating just how prevalent sanctioned extortion has become in America.* I marvel at the fact that stand-up comedians do not joke about turning the government over to the mafia as a way of improving efficiency and a better distribution of wealth. Legal extortion far outstrips illegal extortion; hence the general ill-feeling in America. Something is wrong and we feel it. Big money gets supported and the poor pay.
What happened to the hue and cry we observed in the civil rights movement? The explanation lies in the culture described at the beginning of this essay. Culture has the power to shape thought, even to the point where people will abandon logic and self-interest-- like ending social security and universal health care. If God tells us that something is bad for us it overrules the mere laws and understandings of humans--a perfect environment for despots to invade.
People seldom recognize the motivation behind such inconsistencies. For many, they merely provide apologies for greed. Conservative think-tanks spend millions on propaganda to convince people that the poor deserve their fate and that government-aid weakens the race. The result has been a serious erosion of the empathy supporting the Faith, social justice and participation in public affairs. Most people do not even vote.
Herein lays the explanation for the power a small group of conservatives have gained in the last 60 years. They have taken over school boards, local governments, publishing and civic organizations to make grass root appeals more effective. Teachers are not allowed to teach anything not agreed upon by everyone. Logic and science are pre-empted. Children are bored to death and everyone is afraid because these conservatives take no prisoners.
Every election cycle the Republican Party provides, for your amusement, candidates less convincing than the last group that they know anything at all. But they know their catechism well. The God of money prevails and not a word is spoken of social justice or the survival of the species under the ravages of technology.
The basis for judging social justice flows from our experiences with other people and the consequences of our and their actions. Given that we do not inherit the same genes or families, statistics do not produce a clear means of comparing the well-being of individuals. Many people do not need a second car.
We all develop a sense of fair play that governs our view of what is right and who behaves accordingly. To gain our acceptance, laws and other protocols must not violate the standards we set for justice that our experience has determined is fair. Many relationships today break that rule. In particular, I refer the reader to the religion of money described here. It makes the new relative slavery ethic that I discuss here acceptable in spite of its failure to treat everyone as an equal under God.