Fairness Is a Luxury When Survival Is at Stake
by David Sims
MANY PEOPLE REGARD “fairness” (especially equality in treatment or in the apportionment of wealth) as the highest moral virtue, as morality’s sine qua non. They are wrong. In any proper moral system, the highest value is the survival of the practitioner group.
The survival of the group that practices the moral code occupies, in any proper moral system, the first rank of value all by itself. In the second rank of value is truth, which is similarly alone in its rank.
Fairness is a third-rank value, along with justice and freedom. Values in the third rank and below are properly regarded as moral luxuries, rather than as moral imperatives. They are values you observe when and as you can do so without jeopardizing the higher values of survival and truth.
What determines which value goes into which rank in a proper moral system? Necessity does. Some values are prerequisites to the existence of others, or to the maintenance of others. When one value is necessary for another value to exist, then the one is a value of higher rank than the other.
Why is survival properly first in value? As I have said before, and it bears much repeating: Because nothing matters to the dead. Because neither truth, nor justice, nor comfort have any value to dead things. Because only to something alive may anything else be good.
Why is the value placed upon practitioner group, a collective, rather than the individual? Because moral systems are constructs, existing only in the minds and through the behavior of their practitioners. What does not exist is worthless, and what can’t exist for long — especially if it causes its own destruction — probably isn’t worth much.
Individuals are ephemeral. They can by no means endure for long. Value vested in individuals exists only for as long as the individual does. When the individual dies, the value invested in him is gone. However, value vested in what creates the individuals can endure as long as its creative process can continue.
If ever you must choose between discarding a perfectly edible apple or, on the other hand, chopping down the tree on which the apple grew, then you will suffer the lesser loss by discarding the apple and preserving the tree.
If ever you must choose between chopping down an apple tree or, on the other hand, causing the extinction of all apple trees, then you will suffer the lesser loss by chopping down a single apple tree.
It is a principle to keep in mind. Someone who destroys an apple tree while preserving, for as long as he can, the last of its apples because they are “so very unique and special” is either mentally retarded or mentally ill.
Furthermore, any group that puts anything other than their collective survival in first place of value will, sooner or later, find themselves in circumstances in which their survival is in conflict with whatever that other thing is. At that moment, they will either abandon their improper moral system in favor of a proper one — or they will become extinct, and their improper moral code will die with them.
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