Fairness is Irrelevant on the Macroscale: A Truth of Human Nature

By actually mentioning ‘the world isn’t fair’ we by implication suggest that the world ought to be fair or that at least a different, better world would be fair.

Yet there is a deep mistake here.  The mistake of applying notions of fairness to the world.

What is fairness but our judgment on what is equitable in the limited scope of face to face interactions?

Even as the first rudimentary states arose, it cannot have taken the rulers long to figure out that tribal rules of interaction did not apply in statecraft.  It would have been immediately absurd to be ‘fair’ and honor an agreement that would damage the state and result in damage to its citizens and its wealth.

In the eons before states, human sympathies were reserved for fellow tribal members.

Everyone one else was a potentially dangerous outsider not worthy of mercy or any special consideration.

In the present era, this survival impulse is still strong within us.  We generally care about family and friends, the insiders in our lives.

As much as we might try to pretend otherwise the great mass of humanity is meaningless to us.  No matter how many times we might see famine victims in the newspaper, we really truly do not identify them as human beings.  If we acknowledge their suffering, we do so on a purely intellectual level, not in our heart of hearts.

This is a principal well understood by every tyrant.  The death of a single insider is a tragedy.  The death of a faceless crowd means nothing.

I imagine that even the greatest of humanitarians have been little different as human beings, but they saw their natural state as a shortcoming no doubt and strove to act as the truly empathetic being they believed they ought to be.

When one reflects on the tribal nature of humanity, however, the idea of a ‘fair world’ becomes patently absurd.

Applying the mentality of the ancestral tribe to a mass society is an epic exercise in willful self deception and futile, wishful idealism.

Considerations of fairness ought to be kept within the inner circle where they belong.

When fairness is put in its place, the world seems far less chaotic and most human behaviors for time immemorial stand explained.

Our instincts allow us to wipe out populations who oppose us without too much guilt.  In fact, we are predisposed to hate and fear anyone outside our narrow definition of empathy.  No doubt those rendered incapable of action by an excess of empathy for outsiders have long since been wiped out.

With the blindfold of naïve idealism removed, one would expect the oppression of weak factions by strong factions to be among the great rules of this world.  Indeed this rule holds flawlessly true.  It is one of the laws of nature.

The world is full of people who want ‘to make the world a better place.’  Whether by adopting a highway, donating unwanted canned food, or giving to charities these well-doers have yet to bring about any change.  They labor against the essential nature of the universe and will therefore always fail.

Ultimately we cannot truly feel deeply for the billions of people we’ll never be close to.  It is time we recognize what any Subtle person must intuitively know:

That one’s inner circle is the proper place for the empathy, sympathy, and fairness.

It may be in our interest to cooperate at a mass level and keep collective imperatives in mind but this should never be confused with the personal bonds we share with a select tribe, the bonds that truly give us meaning.

Promoting an ethical egalitarianism is not only in vain, we waste the gifts meant for friends and family on strangers and crowds.

The greatest lesson here: if one would have a relatively cohesive massive society, it must be founded on a vast number of tight knit tribal units given sufficient cause and incentive to cooperate on the macroscale.

Psychologists have long noticed a ‘rule of 150’ that defines the upper size limit of a cohesive band of humans.  Armies with their dependence on group cohesion in extreme situations all organize fighters into tribal sized groups.  Corporations that have observed the tribal rule have met with considerable success.  Some time ago, a religious sect called the Hutterites independently figured out the rule of 150 and they’ve observed it ever since.  As soon as one of their colonies becomes too large, a part of the community splits off to form a new colony that will follow the same procedure.

The Hutterites realized the essential truth that humans are tribal animals with a very limited social scope.  Naturally their model of development has proven successful for them for they work in conjunction with the nature of our universe.

Social egalitarians, politically correct worshippers of ‘diversity’, and do-gooders however, will never accomplish much.  All we need to do is look in our hearts.  Though we may publicly applaud those who speak of a social fairness and ‘making the world a better place’, we recognize the cliché and there is an immovable cynic within us that rolls its eyes in exasperation.

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2 responses to “Fairness is Irrelevant on the Macroscale: A Truth of Human Nature

  1. Just wanted to say that your posts are incredibly insightful and that I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. “That one’s inner circle is the proper place for the empathy, sympathy, and fairness.” — The ‘cynic’ in me wants to pat you for this. The ‘human’ in me wants to argue. Yet, you have touched a deep issue through this line.

    “As much as we might try to pretend otherwise the great mass of humanity is meaningless to us. No matter how many times we might see famine victims in the newspaper, we really truly do not identify them as human beings. If we acknowledge their suffering, we do so on a purely intellectual level, not in our heart of hearts.” — Yes. We never do feel otherwise. And over years, the one thing I have learnt is: If I can do no good, I do no evil as well. While this will never change the way we humans are wired or make the world a better place to live, we can make our own selves a better place to live.

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