Ethics of Family Screws Democracy

Louisa Leontiades Beastly & Beautiful, My Feminism, Psychology

In my heart, my children come first. Before anyone else. Before anyone else’s children. I have found since I became a mother that I wholly and completely understand the ‘ethics of family‘ where I desire to protect them at any cost. At any cost. Naturally that clashes with anyone else’s ethics of family. But that is not how our society is supposed to work. Our society supposedly works democratically–on the basis of utilitarian ethics.

The philosophy of utilitarian ethics is the moral principle which demands the greatest balance of benefit over harm for everyone affected. The greatest good for the most people. Decisions are made by the majority for the good of the majority. It is supposedly objective and rational. We are not allowed to protect our families in the way many would want to–an eye for an eye–instead we must trust in the system to mete out so-called rational and objective justice. We are not supposed to promote our friends over those more qualified for positions, but instead eradicate our conflicts of interest via recruitment professionals. But our system does not work very well, as countless failures can testify, because whilst the system attempts to be rational, it is built and run by emotional and subjective beings. A system truly based on utilitarian ethics requires us to be something other than human. It requires our rational brain to override our reptilian and limbic brains. But our reptilian and limbic brains have been around longer and in many cases are stronger than our conscious thought, even if we believe in our own emotional ‘maturity’.

Because we all, without exception, have a reptilian mind before we develop the pre-frontal cortex of reason. We attach to those of our ilk, beyond rationality. And few of us have enough self-awareness to overcome it. The law and our systems were designed to counteract this; ‘the law is reason free from passion’. The very concept of the American electoral system is based on a fundamental belief that some people are able to be more objective than others and will vote for the benefit of all. And yet because of the strength of their own self-interest, the strength of their own reptilian instincts, many will naturally fail to do so.

As Trump continues in his farcical role of president elect, it is clear that our system is not utilitarian. We have been pretending that our governments act in the best interests for the most people. Whilst they have really been acting in the best interests for those with the most power, and those they trust to preserve or amplify their own. Ethics of family can also be extended to cronyism and thus we act just as our human nature dictates. We trust and protect our nearest and dearest. White men (male identifying people) are in power. Which means that white men all other things being equal, are more likely to empower other white men. Not to mention their own families.

How have we pretended otherwise?

Well, that’s the easy part. For utilitarian ethics do not care how benefits for the majority are obtained. Lying, torture, cheating, violence. Anyone can be thrown under the bus if the end result benefits outweigh the harms. And here’s where ethics of family, and ethics of utilitarianism easily conflate. Humanity will justify any means to get their desired end… if it’s ‘for the good’. Still, in utilitarian thinking that’s okay–as our modern day hero Jack Bauer proves over and over again. So violence, torture even war isn’t a problem if only you can convince the electorate that it’s in their best interest…

This common core has allowed ethics of family and cronyism to subversively thrive in the guise of utilitarianism and has resulted in massive inequity and oppression by the–slim–majority over minorities because the majority are the ones who have and hold power and they were not willing to sacrifice any of it for the greater good of all. Not only that but the winners of the system have been those who have used the ethics of family–aka. nepotism–but been able to justify it rationally by pointing at external structures and laws, whilst the rest of us who want to believe in the fairness of the system use confirmation bias to convince ourselves that what we’re seeing can’t possibly be true. It is.

Family trumps. But progressive liberal elites–the majority of whom adhere to the ideals of rational utilitarian ethics–have been shocked that ‘ethics of family’ have won. We’ve bought into the aspirational brainwashing to believe in the higher ideal of the democratic system not wanting to admit that it contradicts our basic psychology. Some haven’t been brainwashed of course. Some have always known the truth and they’ve tried to tell us, over and over. Those who have been screwed by our system. Black folk. Oppressed folk. They always knew.