Brundle sez: “I can see the argument for, you’know, you have to cling to truth, you just have to do what’s right, and basically count on God taking care of these people. That people who are that ruthless, who are immoral, it comes back on them, y’know what I mean? And in some sense, you see what happened to Germany, one interpretation of where Germany’s at today, like all this stuff, is that they succumbed to the rage and they are being punished for it…”
I’ve been thinking of this subject, in line with my attempt to think about secular morality. Reading through Hitler’s story it’s clear that he would have been better off as a devout Christian, and that his new secular morality led him far astray.
Things must be viewed transactionally, and through a lens that recognizes the importance of power. An almost polytheistic view is a good approximation of how morality needs to be approached, practically speaking. A man walks through a world that contains many powerful individuals, groups, and ideas, and must choose which of them to seek favor from, and how eagerly – and which to spurn, and how badly.
Hitler chose to spurn powerful ideologies, and even more importantly a powerful, large, organized group of people. He chose to do this in the most brutal, explicit, and direct way possible. The backlash was the power of the groups he offended, multiplied by the degree to which he offended him, and it predictably obliterated him.
He also inspired adulation from powerful groups, and rose up and became the master of a new and briefly powerful ideology. His problems arose from natural overconfidence borne of success. I believe that it is useful to obsessively quantify the ‘power-level’ of ideologies, religions, groups, countries, individuals, etc, in order to avoid making totally insane decisions. There is always going to be plenty of wiggle room in how you interpet ‘power-level,’ and you shouldn’t assume that the quantifiable factors are going to absolutely define how things go! But, if all the quantifiable factors point overwhelmingly in the wrong direction, it will at least serve as a useful warning…
Brief attempt to systematize power-level estimations:
First step for estimating power-level: What financial and human resources are available to the entity being evaluated? How many adherents, employees, viewers, etc? How much cashflow? When cash isn’t being used for some reason, simply estimate the value of the goods and services acquired by non-monetary means and substitute.
Second step: What is the prestige of the entity being evaluated? Is it broadly liked, respected? Or generally despised? How many powerful enemies does it have? How many powerful allies?
Third step: X-Factors. Is the entity in possession of some unusual capability? In the case of the Romans during various times, you would estimate them to be very powerful, but their military results were even better than you’d expect given their size and resources. Sometimes a country, company, or individual is just anomalously good at some important thing, with relevance that is hard to estimate but must be flagged. Prussians and the aforementioned Romans were anomalously good at warfare, for example. Saudis are unusually relevant because of their oil reserves, even beyond the money they get for selling that oil. Russia, at the moment, is unusually relevant because of its nukes.
Consider as many relevant entities as possible, what pleases them, and what pisses them off. Act with this in mind.