Reciprocal altruism is supposed to be the origin of morality, but it’s sort of the opposite, it’s predicated on the out group, which is still what passes for morality although it’s the “morality” and “logic” of war and genocide (and abuse and antisocialization).
Clearly it is, it would be the start, include your family, then your tribe, then your nation or race . . . it looks like an arithmetic progression, then on to us all, right? That’s what I thought, that’s what I thought “liberals” thought . . . but we’re stuck here, at the race or nation level, aren’t we? And it’s because this morality requires an enemy, an out group, and therefore, maybe ‘reciprocal altruism’ is a name with some possible misleading connotations, and it’s not so much that the first half negates the second. It’s that there are people left out of the deal, that it’s a competitive strategy. Competitive strategies are fine, of course. I don’t have a problem with them until they try to pass themselves off as “morality” because when implemented, these strategies mean war, and frankly, that our bad guys and our good guys are all ultimately pulling for war I find a little depressing.
Of course, reciprocal altruism is the goal of all our group bonding, with shared goals, we gain power and hope to gain security, but it is the goal of anyone’s racism and xenophobia too. The very expression, “humanism” also displays the limitation; this being the goal, it means all of us, but it still means us against every other living thing present and future. This would seem to be a foundational sort of thing. Set up this way by evolution and God, what is reciprocal altruism if there is no competitor to stand against, no out group? How is an all-inclusive sort of morality “morality” if no-one fails the code and is left out of this reciprocal arrangement? It would seem to be these loose connections, this logic that somehow conflates our morality with our group interests, which is the first step in our morality never getting to the next level. What would seem to be the generic moral act, the humanist one – helping the non-Samaritan, for instance – conflicts with the Samaritans’ interests, and our social groupness means not only that our group interests must take priority, but that this priority be “moral.”
Any cultural Christian (and I imagine any cultural Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or anything else) has been given to understand that morality is not our personal interest, rather it’s closer to the opposite, and at that level, group interests are one step better, but group interests are the personal interests in the larger, global moral conversation. They are the problem, not the solution, they are all the deadly sins. If one of our group sins and we are loyal to him, we are all complicit and all sinners indeed.
Just a reminder, folks.
It’s clear from what I see on social media, that many of us have confused our personal and group interests with morality, and I want you all to know: I see you. Stand up for what you can get, sure, but spare me your claims that God or morality are on your side. Save your Holy War talk for those who are dumb enough or just self-interested enough to believe oxymorons like that, who believe in moral mass murder.
And if your church didn’t tell you this, you need a new church.
April 3rd., 2017