Fotografia de Bruce Davidson
Phaedrus remembered parties in the Fifties and Sixties full of liberal intellectuals like himself who actually admired the criminal types that sometimes showed up. "Here we are," they seemed to believe, "drug-pushers, flower children, anarchists, civil rights workers, college professors - we're all just comrades-in-arms against the cruel and corrupt social system that is really the enemy of us all."
No one liked cops at those parties. Anything that restricted the police was good. Why? Well, because police are never intellectual about anything. They're just stooges for the social system. They revere the social system and hate intellectuals. It was a sort of caste thing. The police were low-caste. Intellectuals were above all that crime-and-violence sort of thing that the police were constantly engaged in. Police were usually not very well-educated either. The best thing you could do was take away their guns. That way they'd be like the police in England, where things were better. It was the police repression that created the crime.
What passed for morality within this crowd was a kind of vague, amorphous soup of sentiments known as "human rights". You were also supposed to be "reasonable". What these terms really meant was never spelt out in any way that Phaedrus had ever heard. You were just supposed to cheer for them.
He knew now that the reason nobody ever spelt them out was nobody ever could. In a subject-object understanding of the world these terms have no meaning. There is no such thing as "human rights". There is no such thing as moral reasonableness. There are subjects and objects and nothing else.
This soup of sentiments about logically non-existent entities can be straightened out by the Metaphysics of Quality. It says that what is meant by "human rights" is usually the moral code of intellect-vs.-society, the moral right of intellect to be free of social control. Freedom of speech; freedom of assembly, of travel; trial by jury; habeas corpus; government by consent – these "human rights" are all intellect-vs.-society issues. According to the Metaphysics of Quality these "human rights" have not just a sentimental basis, but a rational, metaphysical basis. They are essential to the evolution of a higher level of life from a lower level of life. They are for real.
But what the Metaphysics of Quality also makes clear is that this intellect-vs.-society code of morals is not at all the same as the society-vs.-biology codes of morals that go back to a prehistoric time. They are completely separate levels of morals. They should never be confused.
The central term of confusion between these two levels of codes is "society". Is society good or is society evil? The question is confused because the term "society" is common to both these levels, but in one level society is the higher evolutionary pattern and in the other it is the lower. Unless you separate these two levels of moral codes you get a paralyzing confusion as to whether society is moral or immoral. That paralyzing confusion is what dominates all thoughts about morality and society today.
The idea that "man is born free but is everywhere in chains" was never true. There are no chains more vicious than the chains of biological necessity into which every child is born. Society exists primarily to free people from these biological chains. It has done that job so stunningly well intellectuals forget the fact and turn upon society with a shameful ingratitude for what society has done.
in Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (p.331)