The 1% get a lot of flak. They’re told that they ought to pay for all the world’s problems. They need to pay so that lazy poor people can continue to be lazy under the luxurious welfare system. Socialism means that those who earn their money have to pay for those who don’t. The current liberal media demonizes wealth, suggesting that even heaven is out of reach for the 1%, comparing it to being equally likely as passing a camel through the eye of a needle. Oh wait no, that was Jesus.

Before Jesus was Plato, who believed that the corrupting influence of wealth ought to be excluded from leadership. His Guardian class would be isolated from any form of money, to prevent greed tainting their decisions. Aristotle after him declared that inequality of wealth prevented the function of democracy, though not in the traditional left-wing sense. He believed that if a minority hoarded the wealth, then the majority poor would overthrow them. Since revolution is a bad thing, Aristotle suggested wealth redistribution to avoid the potential for a disastrous calamity. Machiavelli too saw that there is an issue with an unrestrained bourgeoisie, and noted that the aristocracy is always inclined to amass more fortune, whereas the common people simply want to live their lives. Given this observation, a government is necessary to mediate between the two classes, lest the one exploit and oppress the other unduly.

Looks like the rich have been considered assholes long before even Marx got around to taking a stab at condemning them. So why are people so mean to the 1%? What have the rich ever done?

Since I don’t really have any sources for Biblical times to see the deeds of the rich with which Jesus disagreed so much, I’ll use modern examples. Like the Bhopal disaster of 1984! A pesticide plant exploded in Bhopal, India, which killed thousands and injured hundreds of thousands. It’s considered the world’s worst industrial disaster, and is still impacting the area today, since, you know, chemicals exploded everywhere. The most likely reason for the explosion is the same one that caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion which inundated the gulf of Mexico with a gigantic oil spill: cutting corners to save money. Now, Union Carbide, the corporation who owned the pesticide plant, says that it was sabotage, but then in the subsequent legal suit, it paid $120 million more than the plaintiff against them said would be fair, despite the alleged mountain of evidence dismissing them of any wrong doing. Rather than face the courts of India, the CEO of Union Carbide, after having been arrested in Bhopal, was immediately bailed out and smuggled out of the country with the help of the Indian government. Despite being charged, he never returned to India.

To return to Machiavelli, average people usually try to buy sturdy, long-lasting equipment because they know it’s cheaper than constantly replacing things in the short term. Of course, blatant poverty precludes that kind of financial managing, but BP and Union Carbide are not exactly begging mendicants. However, any kind of expenditure for the safety of the population or the environment gets in the way of the largest profit possible, so fuck it, right?

Foxconn, an electronics factory in China, had a suicide problem. Workers would routinely hurl themselves from the roof since their jobs were essentially sweatshop labour. After a huge media outcry, since Foxconn produces America’s iPads, Foxconn decided to make new employees sign a waiver saying the company would not be blamed if they decided to kill themselves, and then they put up nets to catch any falling bodies that had decided that risking literal hell is worth fleeing Foxconn’s metaphorically hellish conditions. The aristocrats, always trying to get more, stoop to these levels in order to do it.

Normal people are actually making less and less money. Real wages have stagnated since about the 1970s, even though workers are producing significantly more. It’s pretty stark when you look at it:

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With globalization driving down wages, the decline of unions, increased automation, and other factors putting workers into a tailspin toward oblivion, the rich are celebrating. Flexible labour markets, which basically means part-time shift work with no benefits or job security, are touted as the necessary requirement to economic growth. The argument goes that if a person isn’t tied down, they can follow work wherever it goes, tramping across the country in a boxcar, asking in at every town if work is available; you know, like back during the depression. This is great for businesses because it means that there will always be new workers, and they’ll never have to pay them very much. It’s great for workers too because everyone is always losing their job, so if you’re unemployed, certainly a new opportunity will present itself soon! I mean, if a worker wants to start a family, settle down, and, you know, live, well then I suppose a flexible labour market doesn’t really help them there.

You remember slavery? Terrible thing. Interesting enough though is that plantation owners fed, clothed, and sheltered their slaves since the slaves obviously couldn’t afford to do those things on their own, being that they were, as mentioned, slaves. When slavery ended, business owners realized that they could actually pay their employees less than would be required to keep them alive, and then simply blame them for their poverty if they didn’t make enough money to provide for themselves. This is why the term “living wage” gets thrown around in reference to the “minimum wage”, since ideally businesses should put in at least as much effort into keeping their employees alive as slave owners.

Workers obviously try to fight back every now and then. Unions are a thing. Civil rights groups are a thing. People notice when they’re being fucked over, and propaganda can only go so far. Except the rich fight back, and they’re the ones with all the money. During the early 90s, Caterpillar employees went on a few strikes. After the first strike, Caterpillar Inc. started making a bunch of money, and rather than use that money to improve the conditions of its already frustrated workforce, it built excess capacity factories abroad. The next time the workers went on strike, Caterpillar could continue producing their wares in the areas it had built new facilities, thereby allowing them to ride out the strike while the workers obviously could not. The factories were not built because there was any increased demand, they were built so that the corporation could crush dissent in its workplace. This is why free trade agreements are so popular among the ownership class: it’s a lot easier to move capital around than it is labour, so companies can set up shop wherever is easiest for them to make money, and then if conditions become too difficult, move again to another place starved of employment. Labour wars are wars of attrition, and the system is rigged in the favour of the rich.

Not content with simply allowing the rigged system to continue its merry course, the rich actively try to rig it even further. Lewis Powell, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce (a corporate lobby group in the US), wrote a memorandum in the early 70s that basically stated that the woe-begotten rich, who have never had any influence over how the country is run, ought to do more to influence policy. Powell was mad because consumer advocacy groups were complaining that car manufacturers and cigarette companies were knowingly murdering their consumers, and people were getting pretty upset over it, and were trying to change the way businesses were run. According to Powell, it’s totally fine to knowingly sell people death traps, you can even lie to them about the risk involved. If you try to change things though, and, you know, avoid being literally killed by corporate greed, well then you’re going to get the full force of the rich man’s power coming down on you. Powell’s memorandum focused heavily on influencing educational institutions, not just university students but children too, and sought ways within them to inculcate the beauty and magic of capitalism. Powell was later appointed a Supreme Court judge, and since the memorandum, universities in particular are now run like businesses with an emphasis on profit over education. Students are now loaded with over a trillion dollars of debt, and what better way to make them succumb to capitalism than with the imposing threat of debt looming over their heads?

Now, #NotAllRichPeople is an important distinction to make. I’ve been making generalizations this whole post for the sake of audacity, but the reality is that a lot of rich people are decent human beings. Identity politics should not enter into a legitimate discussion on class, but this is a blog, so I’m allowed a few liberties for the sake of panache. However, the #NotAllRichPeople is a useful comparison, since even the most ardent #NotAllMen advocate wouldn’t suggest that we abolish rape laws. Think of Glass-Steagall being repealed which contributed to the 2008 global financial meltdown. Think of the subsidies that governments bequeath to the already super rich. Think of how cutting social spending to reduce taxes is basically getting poor people to pay so that the rich don’t have to (If a program gives 100$ for a bus pass to the poor, and that program gets cut to lower taxes, that means the poor person now has to pay the $100 that the rich person gets back). Inaction against oppression leads to the same outcome as condoning it, and political participation, especially by the wealthy, goes a long way. Not every company is a Caterpillar, a BP, or a Union Carbide, but the complicity of silence allows these companies to behave as they do.

Post-script: What about doctors, lawyers, and others who aren’t business owners? Though not directly responsible for the same catastrophes as corporations, their role in wealth redistribution is still vital. Now, you might think, a doctor earned their position without exploiting anyone, why should they have to pay more taxes? Well except the term “earn” is debatable. University professors have put in just as much time and money into their education, but live in relative squalor. Artists have usually dedicated their entire lives to their craft, and make even less. Wealth is based not on any individual achievements or efforts, but on social demand. Society says doctors are more important than professors and artists, so they get paid more. The distinction is arbitrary. The perfect example is motherhood. Despite popular belief that motherhood does not have a salary attached to it, it does, but it only presents itself very rarely: divorce courts… maybe not so rarely. While mothers perform many traditionally paid roles (nurse, maid, cook, chaperone, teacher, counselor, social worker, etc.), they don’t get paid for them until they leave their husbands, and then they get approximately half of his earnings. Her economic value as a mother is based entirely on the man she gets lumped together with. Like I said, arbitrary. And before you say that nurturing is natural to women, and that’s why they don’t receive traditional compensation, let me remind you that providing is allegedly naturally male. If natural behaviours don’t merit pay, then things like farming and house building shouldn’t be paid either. Since wealth is arbitrary, redistribution becomes much more palatable, even for doctors and lawyers.

You know how murder is wrong, and how every single religion declares that it is wrong, and how every moral philosophy uses it as their go-to for extreme thought experiments to showcase how their theories would hold up under the most dire circumstances (would it be okay to lie to prevent a murder, for example)? Of course you do. “Murder is wrong” is quite possibly the least controversial statement. Well, it turns out that people have been killing each other en masse for thousands of years in the form of war, and everyone generally seems to be okay with that, despite how uncontroversial being against killing is.

Why do people go to war? Well, people start wars almost exclusively to attain a greater degree of power, but since they can’t use that as an excuse, they need to justify it in other ways. People who start wars don’t typically fight them, so they need to convince those who do that killing and dying to enrich the already powerful is the right thing to do. Enter the Just War theory, to relieve people from the hypocrisy of condemning killing but supporting a war.

Just War theory was developed during the Roman Empire, and then revitalized during the Crusades. Christians were beginning to suspect that massacring Muslims might go against God’s very specific decree to not kill, and so the thinkers of the day had to come up with ways to justify how an ideology based almost entirely on love and forgiveness could slaughter people by the hundreds of thousands.

What makes a war just? Regaining what was stolen or repelling an attack from the enemy are typically perceived as the conditions for a just war, though there are some stipulations on top of these. For example, if someone steals your watch, you are not justified in murdering that person, since to be just there requires a degree of proportionality. It should also be the last resort, since there can often be other means to regain stolen property or repel an attack.

Beyond the intention of the war, there needs to be the right kind of authority at the head of it. A private individual cannot exact vigilante justice, for example, whereas the leader of a nation can. It is assumed that a private individual can go to a higher authority to arbitrate justice, whereas there is no higher authority than a King. War becomes the negotiating tactic of rulers to settle their differences. Peasants are under moral obligation to their lords, and so are obligated in turn to kill for them. They become morally excused due to that hierarchy, and the legitimacy of murder comes from the rank of the King.

Of course, during the Crusades, there was a higher authority than the King, and that authority was God. The Pope, being the representative of God on Earth, dutifully fulfilled that authoritative role and decided to use that authority to, as was already discussed, slaughter a bunch of Jews and Muslims. These apostate religions constituted an attack on the Christian faith by their very existence, and so war against them was inherently justified. Hm, non-Christian religions that by their very existence are a threat to the properly civilized, thus legitimizing violence against those religions as a moral duty, hmmmmmm. I’m struggling to find a modern parallel.

Anyway, Thomas Aquinas decided that there were three foundations of a Just War: proper authority, as already discussed, proper reasoning, as the common good must be at its foundation, and proper intention. Aquinas’s theory of intention created the Doctrine of Double Effect. This doctrine allows that if our intentions are noble, then the consequences of that action cannot be tied to it. For example, if during a war a munitions factory is bombed and civilians die in the blast, the death of those civilians is acceptable since the intention was not for them to die. Eggs and omelettes metaphors apply.

This brings up criticisms of proportionality, for if our intention is noble but the consequences are catastrophic, then is it truly a just act of violence? Can we bomb an entire city to kill one terrorist? This begets a debate between deontological ethics and consequentalism, but we can try to understand Aquinas from his contemporary predicament: actions had inherent moral value during the Middle Ages, so finding a way to justify murder was his goal, consequences of that justification be damned.

Understanding Just War theory is imperative. During the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, instigating a war of aggression was seen to be the greatest offense. To quote the tribunal, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” All the bad things that happen in war are the result of there being a war in the first place, so starting a war for the heck of it is appropriately labeled as being “The Worst.” So if someone says that the war in Iraq was a war of aggression, that means that all the consequences from that war, like say the rise of ISIS, are at the feet of those who started it.

Critics even say that soldiers participating in an unjust war are culpable, denying the previous justification to celebrate soldiers of every stripe, regardless of how many atrocities they commit. An example is given of a burglar entering someone’s home, and the homeowner getting into a fight with them. If the homeowner kills the burglar, it is self-defense, but if the burglar kills the homeowner, it is murder. If the burglar was ordered to enter the home, does that mitigate or multiply the responsibility for the actions they commit while inside of it? If someone asks you to do something and threatens you if you don’t do it, violence committed against a third party while following through with that order is still burdened on you. Being bullied does not justify murdering someone uninvolved in that bullying.

Wars are no longer fought at the behest of God… generally. However, they are still sold to the public under the guise of defending civilization so as to demonize the enemy who is using the same justification for their own aggression. The greatest military in the history of the world with the wealthiest populace is apparently under huge threat from militarily insignificant countries like Vietnam, Panama, El Salvador, and of course Afghanistan and Iraq. This laughable narrative is crucial since a threat must exist for self-defense to be feasible, as we all must avoid being labeled “The Worst.”

Is the West engaging in a Just War in the Middle East? Of course not. It invalidates every principle. There are higher authorities, the United Nations and the International Criminal Courts, which could be used to arbitrate justice between nations which were ignored. The Middle East does not possess property of the West that the West is entitled to use violence to reacquire. I suppose if you believe the Crusading myth about existential threats against civilization itself from small groups of individuals with hand-me-down guns and MacGyvered explosives, then sure, but then you’re also a fucking moron. Looks like we got to my thinly-veiled modern parallel after all!

The more intriguing question would be, are terrorists engaging in a Just War with the West? The higher authorities have been shown to be ineffective in keeping back the aggressors. Land and resources are being stolen out from under them. Violence and threats are being instigated against them pretty much at random, so self-defense could also be argued.

Here is where I believe Just War theory falls apart. In order for terrorism to be justified based on its qualifications which do by all accounts fall under the purview of Just War, the West would need to be a unity that could be attacked, but it’s not. The West is not The West, it is a collection of diverse people, opinions, and actions. #NotAllWesterners. Blowing up an Ariana Grande concert is not an attack on “The West,” it is an attack on children dancing to their favourite singer. Terrorism cannot be justified because it is not an attack on those who are responsible for their tragic situation, because those people commit their deeds with the bravery of being out of range.

Were German soldiers representative of a Nazi unity during World War 2? Possibly. It is often said that soldiers have more in common with each other than they do with those who are giving them the order to kill one another. Arguably the resistance in France could be justified, but what about the firebombing of Dresden? Or the atomic drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? When both sides act viciously and amorally against one another, can we call it a Just War? The complexity of even “The Best” of wars are such that making a justification for the whole is impossible.

Being that no war can truly and completely fall under the definition Just, there cannot truly and completely be a Just War. War becomes just as reprehensible as murder. Murder, as established, is wrong. Maybe let’s not do it so much.

Post-script: A lot of my non-referenced information came from here: https://historyofphilosophy.net/just-war

An Alpha male was completing his set on the bench press when he spied a Beta Cuck using the hip abduction machine. His masculine heart stirred at this tragedy, and he approached the poor wretch who by all accounts did not even lift.

Alpha: Hey buddy, I don’t mean to sound insulting or anything, but real men don’t use that machine. It’s for chicks. If you want to get built, you should focus on your upper body, and maybe some squats if you’re desperate to do legs.

Beta Cuck: Forgive me, I am ignorant. However, you seem to know a lot about masculinity! Perhaps you could share that wisdom and explain to me what it means to be a man!

The Alpha considered for a moment since taking the time to explain manhood to this Beta Cuck might mean losing his pump. The Alpha surveyed the gym to discover that there were few enough people to impress that he could spare a moment from his workout to enlighten this spindly creature.

Alpha: To be a man is easy. Being a man is being a provider. It means going to work, and taking care of your family. It means being strong, and lifting weights. It means enjoying a hot steak and a cold beer. Being a man means liking sports, and driving fast cars.

Beta Cuck: Surely women could do all these things as well!

Alpha: Women who like sports or lift weights are only performing those actions. They are not linked to womanhood, but to manhood. When women behave this way, they are deceiving themselves.

Beta Cuck: So to be a man is to perform acts of manhood. I see now! I think I’ve heard about this. Sex is the biological makeup created at birth, and gender is a social performance.

Alpha: No, that’s wrong. You’ve been deceived by SJW lies.

Beta Cuck: Oh dear me. I am more confused now than ever! You said that being a man is to perform manly actions!

Alpha: I did not say that!

The Alpha shook his head in exasperation. This was going to be more difficult than he thought! This Beta Cuck had endured some liberal indoctrination, but he composed himself and continued.

Alpha: What I *said* was that when women perform manly actions it is a performance, but when men do it, it is natural. Women naturally cook and clean, while men naturally provide. Those who stray from nature are performing, but those who adhere to nature are living authentically.

Beta Cuck: I see that you are being patient with me, and I appreciate that. However, I do believe I am more confused now than even before. You say that it is natural when men work and women cook.

Alpha: Yes, that’s what I said.

Beta Cuck: But within Judaism, for thousands of years there have been sects where men stay home to study the Torah, while women go out to provide for their family. This continues even today! And the most famous cook in the world is Gordon Ramsey, a man! Surely you would agree that it is incredibly unlikely that since the inception of humanity, we are, as a culture, only now and in this specific region aligning with what is naturally male.

Alpha: I suppose that is unlikely.

Beta Cuck: Men in India are accustomed to holding hands while walking down the street with no overtones except friendship. It used to be haute couture that men would wear makeup, wigs, and stockings. Even pink used to be a boy’s colour before the 1920s. If men were biologically inclined one way and women another, it would be impossible for them to behave otherwise since one cannot rebel against one’s true nature!

Alpha: It doesn’t make sense to believe that these behaviours are naturally masculine if they are only locally and temporally specific. Perhaps in the future to be a man will mean something entirely different!

Beta Cuck: But if that’s true, then what does it mean to be a man?? If masculinity is relative, then who is to say that being a man means anything at all!?

The Alpha male was struck by this. Though he had to admit, his initial impression had been faulty, he couldn’t completely disregard masculinity! He would not be able to describe himself as an Alpha Male at all if it didn’t mean anything. His interlocutor could not even be described as a Beta Cuck! His whole worldview was in jeopardy, so he decided to take a different approach.

Alpha: There is such a thing as being a man, but it has nothing to do with actions or performance since their relevance is only culturally specific. Being a man is about *who* you are. Men are stoic, rational, and assertive. Manliness is about character.

Beta Cuck: I’m sorry, I know you know more than me when it comes to being a man, but I do know *some* things. For example, temperament is related to genes, not to chromosomes. The emotional gap between boys and girls deepens as they age, with some studies showing that men are actually *more* emotional than women, which suggests that it is not a biological difference but a social one.

Struggling now, the Alpha Male began sputtering.

Alpha: But testosterone is more abundant in men, and estrogen in women! Surely that must have an impact!

Beta Cuck: It seems like you are asking me! I have already stated that I know nothing about being a man. Surely you do not mean that being a man is something that can be purchased in pill form, however.

Alpha: No! Being a man is more meaningful than that!

Beta Cuck: But you have not given me an answer as to what that meaning is at all! At best you have given examples of masculinity, though they were poor examples, when what I seek is what it means to be a man more generally.

Alpha: Being a man is… is…

The Alpha Male trailed off, and stood inert for a moment or two, before punching the Beta Cuck in the eye. The Alpha returned to a set of dumbbell curls, certain that the exercise would rid his mind of doubt. The repetitive motion soothed him, and he began to think of how much smoother his hands would be if he wore lifting gloves. For some reason the notion seemed less offensive to him now than it had previously.

The Beta Cuck lay on the floor dazed, as the gym staff rushed to his aide.

Beta Cuck: That Greek woman I white knighted on Twitter was right. I may not know what it means to be a man, but at least I *know* that I don’t know what it means to be a man.