Rational Laws for Irrational People

Throughout human history there has been great scientific discoveries that turned our notions about the world upside down. Various social systems and institutions have been created to ensure the balance of power and maintain an optimal, better society of rational justice and prosperity. There are many of these great ideas about how to improve human life. But how many of these ideas, discoveries and rational institutions penetrated into society? The plain truth is, that even well-proven scientific theories were initially accepted only by a tiny number of people.

Two thousand years ago, Greek philosophers argued that the Earth was round, using simple evidence – the fact that the mast of an approaching ship shows first on the horizon. It was of course a fiercely contested idea, but after people sailed around the globe and space shuttles gave us pictures from above, nobody in their right mind should doubt that the earth is not flat, but a sphere. However, even this well-accepted scientific fact has its opponents today. There are groups of people, among whom this fact has not yet been accepted.


Complicated theories, verging on insanity are invented by such groups to explain away all of the scientific facts. Often these theories are mingled with insane conspiracies which discard the most obvious evidence. It can be imagined that even if those people are put aboard a space shuttle they will again deny what they are seeing. Their belief system will just hatch even more complicated and sophisticated explanations to back up their convictions. Generally these people are either radical Protestant Christian sects or radical Muslims. Faith is the cause of their impermeability to new ideas.


Some more complicated, abstract theories such as quantum physics and the theory of relativity, demand specific, detailed and expert observance – i.e. – the theory of evolution. As a result, they make little sense to non-experts. Some scientific theories use circumstantial evidence or are derived from complex mathematical formulae. All of these are of course highly contested by religious people, especially when they threaten their systems of faith.


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Although humanity’s progress is defined by scientific development, only a thin layer of society accepts to the fullest, rational scientific ideas. They simply don’t penetrate. Science is just one of the islands of reason on top of the vast ocean of unreason. Facts and data don’t appeal to emotions and faith. The lack of spirituality and meaning in science is one of the reasons for this phenomenon, but a greater reason is the manipulative nature of most mainstream religions and the lack of will from the State to promote heavily scientific principles and ban outright mad beliefs.


The institutions of the State also haven’t quite penetrated our lives. In the Age of Enlightenment, rational philosophers such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Weishaupt and Motesquieu, spoke against the absolute power of monarchs and feudal lords. The Industrial revolution and the rapidly changing world demanded a new social order. Social and political thinkers strove to build a state where everybody had equal rights, equal share in power and could in theory influence all of the state decisions which affected him/her. A system of checks and balances was implemented and the first democracies emerged.


However, the principles of equality and human rights remained to a large extent only on paper. Economic inequality continued to divide people. Corruption undermined the role of the state as an impartial referee in human relations and as the defender of justice and order. Democracies turned into plutocracies. The rich always had more opportunities and levers than the poor. State servants are viewed with distrust and are definitely not paragons of virtue. Rational State did not penetrate into our lives, because they were built on overly idealistic assumptions about human nature. For example, the trade unions, although a rational response to predatory capitalistic exploitation of labor, often changed sides and were used by capitalists to punish or press the competition. Again personal interest is not aligned with the interests of society and the principles upon which the institution was built.




Slavery, although long abolished still emerges every now and then. And here we don’t talk about countries with raging wars. In Russia, many poor people are treated as slaves on remote farms and brick factories. They receive only food and shelter, no money for their labor, and because of the remoteness of their workplaces, they often simply cannot afford to leave. In this way, they become bonded to whomever has swindled them with promises of good working conditions.


Human trafficking is flourishing in the Western world. Many workers from poorer European countries try to find better pay in richer countries, where they are forced to live and work in inhumane conditions. Men and women are supposed to be equal according to the rational laws of our society. Still many women are forced to prostitute themselves and are shuffled around like cattle by various criminal organizations.


But the greatest problem of our age is that the rational principles of democracy and human rights have not only failed to penetrate deeply into our society but rather, they have been subverted, hijacked and bypassed by a murder of banks, financial markets, CEOs and multinational corporations. They hold the true power over society. They are unaccountable to anybody and are not elected by anybody. Of course, the principles of the State are still there and financial institutions have to invent more and more complex ways to bypass them. Obviously the Old World Order cannot rule in plain sight and using brute force like in the past. Religion also failed as a tool for social control due to its increasing irrelevance. The people have the real power is but an illusion.



So the rational principles of governance may have been bypassed by the insatiable greed of the few, but now the State’s job is to maintain the grand illusion. They must create a certain standard of living, keep running complex simulation games to distract our attention and exaggerating the importance of the fringe conflicts they have augmented throughout the world. They must create a Brave New World as a substitute to the modern democratic state. A substitute to guarantee them unchallenged power.


Rational principles don’t apply, even in the practical and down-to-earth field of business. Many trade agreement stipulations can be easily bypassed. For instance, car insurance companies demand that their client claims within a particular time frame after an accident has occurred. Many customers claim parking accidents long after the date of the occurrence of the accident, simply lying that it happened only several days ago. Parking accidents are often not reported to the police as they are seen as too insignificant and thus it is not (cheaply) provable when they occurred. In this instance, rules simply can be bypassed because the bypassing cannot be proven. Those rules are not enforced automatically. They are dependent on the will of rational agents who may lose out financially if  they insist on them being applied strictly.


As a conclusion, it can be stated that the main reasons why rationality cannot triumph are related to human nature. Most people lack the proper training and knowledge to understand complex scientific facts. They simply don’t care about logic and reason if it does not concern their personal well-being directly. Of course, the school curriculum was designed to ensure that all people get a sufficient amount of scientific knowledge about the world, but school, of course is viewed by many as a chore or a tool for achieving future career success. The weak points of science – the changing interpretations of scientific facts and the denial of self-evident phenomena as free will – are targeted relentlessly by priests and politicians who want to establish their truth over and above the scientific truth.


The dialectical contradiction between the individual and society leads to corruption and embezzlement even in the most well-structured democracies.


Greed and the lust for power have devised ingenious ways to bypass the rational principles upon which the modern state was built. The will to power proves to be stronger than rational and even moral forces.


Rational principles will not penetrate an irrational society. Therefore people must become rational if we ever had a chance of improving this world.



Simon Vlahov writing for the Apollo Institute of Reason AIR Review©

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