Something that comes up often in discussions is the question of whether human beings are naturally evil creatures that need to be held in check with laws, either from the State and/or from a god, or whether they are intrinsically good. Those who believe that humans are intrinsically bad, claim that without any laws that tell people how to live and behave, and that threaten them with punishment if they don’t follow those laws, humans would be out of control and we’d be living in chaos. They point at their own negative experiences with people, and at examples of people in societies around the world who are jealous, deceptive, manipulative, violent and corrupt. And it’s true that when we look at the majority of people in societies around the world today, it really seems like humans have a lot of bad qualities and can’t be trusted. But is this naturally the case? And do we really need the State or a god to tell us how to behave correctly and to tell us how to live our lives?
First let’s define human nature and morality so that we know what we’re talking about:
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally, independently of the influence of culture.
Morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behavior”) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are “good” (or right) and those that are “bad” (or wrong).
When it comes to human nature, we have to ask ourselves how humans would naturally behave if they weren’t influenced by their environment, before we can determine if human nature is intrinsically good or bad. In other words, we have to look at the forces that exist within the human being himself that drive and shape his behavior. And what drives the human being at the most fundamental level are, of course, his primary biological instincts — the fundamental programming of life that’s behind the basic needs and desires of every human being, and that primarily define his behavior. I’ve discussed these basic needs and desires in details in my post on Our Basic Needs as Human Beings. All these basic needs ultimately exist in support of the one primordial desire: we want to live. Logically it would make absolutely no sense for nature to fundamentally include any desires in an organism that would contradict their primordial desire to live; if it did, entire species would simply self-destruct.
This means that natural human behavior resulting from the primary biological instincts will always be consistent with the primordial desire to live. That’s why the basic needs include communication and social interactions (such as cooperation) that benefit life and help to ensure that it will go on. And if we study nature, we can see that even at the most fundamental level of biology, organisms have a desire to help and support each other in difficult times. For example, at the cellular level we have social amoeba (Dictyostelid) that help each other in times of food shortage. The same can be said of animals such as wolves, coyotes, elephants, dolphins, rats and chimpanzees that show empathy and reciprocity. Humans are no different in this regard under natural and supportive environmental conditions; we want to live as individuals, but we also want to help others to satisfy their basic needs and to survive. It makes us stronger as a species and ensures our long term survival. 1
However, things start to go wrong when outside forces in the environment interfere with our desire to live. Faced with a direct or indirect threat on their life and the fulfillment of their basic needs, any organism will start to behave in extreme ways out of self-defense and self-preservation. The same goes for humans. Placed in a hostile environment humans will start to exhibit strange and, depending on the severity of the threat, even extreme behavior. And currently the societies we have around the world are all hostile towards humans; they’re fundamentally flawed and evil, purposefully designed to weaken every individual so that he can be easily controlled, manipulated and enslaved. They force individuals to conform to a flawed system, and in the process cause them to develop predatory behavior, as social engineer Jacque Fresco mentions in the video below.
Under these hostile circumstances it shouldn’t really be a surprise to us when we see people starting to exhibit unnatural and undesirable behavior.
For example, sexual suppression and repression in societies around the world — especially via religion — are the cause of many behavioral problems in human beings. In fact Dr. Sigmund Freud had warned many years ago that sexual repression was the root cause of many problems in Western societies. Starting from very early childhood, sexual suppression prevents humans from satisfying their natural sexual needs which causes psychological problems that lead to jealous, mean, irrational, unpredictable and even violent behavior. 2 I’ve discussed this extensively in my series on Understanding Women. An article on Psychology Today states the following:
Nothing inspires murderous mayhem in human beings more reliably than sexual repression. Denied food, water, or freedom of movement, people will get desperate and some may lash out at what they perceive as the source of their problems, albeit in a weakened state. But if expression of sexuality is thwarted, the human psyche tends to grow twisted into grotesque, enraged perversions of desire. Unfortunately, the distorted rage resulting from sexual repression rarely takes the form of rebellion against the people and institutions behind the repression. (If it did, perhaps we’d be reading of abused priests rather than priests as abusers.) Instead, the rage is generally directed at helpless victims who are sacrificed to the sick gods of guilt, shame, and ignorant pride.
All our basic needs are determined by nature itself and revolve around the continuation of life. And nothing is more important to the continuation of life than reproduction. Consequently, nothing is more threatening to the continuation of life than suppressing or repressing the sexual drives. Any individual faced with such a threat from his environment will exhibit extreme behavior and often violent reactions out of self-preservation and self-defense. As explained in another post, sexual suppression and repression in society exist in order to weaken, manipulate and enslave the individual.
Another example of hostility towards the individual in societies around the world is the fact that governments lay a claim on the income of every individual via income taxation, which interferes with their right to life. In essence the government steals part of the income of every individual without them being able to do anything about it; income that the individual needs to take care of his basic needs and keep himself alive. And the individual has to cooperate, otherwise the government by intimidation and/or through the use of force, eventually still confiscates part of his income. This is a direct attack on the right to life of every individual. And this again leads to undesirable behavior, like Frank Chodorov explains in his book “The Income Tax: Root of all Evil”:
The income tax, by attacking the dignity of the individual at the very base, has led to the practice of perjury, fraud, deception, and bribery. Avoidance or evasion of the levies has become the great American game, and talents of the highest order are employed in the effort to save something from the clutches of the State. People who in their private lives are above reproach will resort to the meanest devices to effect some saving and will even brag of their ingenuity. The necessity of trying to get along under the income tax has made us a corrupt people.
For a much more elaborate discussion on the many negative effects of income taxation on individuals and on society in general, read my post “Income Taxation is Slavery”. Like I mentioned there, nobody is born a criminal; it’s our society and the systems that we use within our society that creates criminals. And like author Albert J. Nock mentioned in his book “Our Enemy, the State,” the State is an anti-social institution comparable to a professional-criminal organization that’s hostile towards the individual. 3 With such an institution in society, it shouldn’t surprise us when people start to develop extreme and anti-social behavior. In fact, it’s completely expected and logical.
These are just a few examples of the way in which the environment can negatively influence the behavior of human beings, who in another more supportive environment would be naturally good and altruistic people. The natural state for any organism — including human beings — is to be cooperative and live in harmony with its kind and in its environment. Everything goes wrong when they are introduced into a system that manipulates and seeks to exploit them, that forces them to live against their true nature, and that makes it difficult for them to satisfy their basic needs and consequently threatens their survival. In such a case they start to develop undesirable and unnatural behavior, and that’s exactly what we see everywhere around the world.
All discussions on the question of whether man is good or evil, a social or antisocial being, are philosophic game-playing. Whether man is a social being or a mass of protoplasm reacting in a peculiar and irrational way depends on whether his basic biological needs are in harmony or at variance with the institutions he has created for himself. Wilhelm Reich
Now that we know that human beings are intrinsically good under natural conditions we can look at morality. Based on the above, we can conclude that the distinction between good and bad intentions, decisions and actions really comes down to whether an individual’s primordial desire to live is being respected or not. A natural moral code should be based on that distinction.
Here’s what Frank Chodorov had to say about this in his book “The Income Tax: Root of all Evil”:
The human being is the unit of all social institutions; without a man there cannot be a crowd. Hence, we are compelled to look to the individual to find an axiom on which to build a nonsocialistic moral code. What does he tell us about himself?
In the first place, he tells us that above all things he wants to live. He tells us this even when he first comes into this world and lets out a yell. Because of that primordial desire, he maintains, he has a right to live.
Certainly, nobody else can establish a valid claim to his life, and for that reason he traces his own title to an authority that transcends all men, to God. That title makes sense.
When the individual says he has a valid title to life, he means that all that is he, is his own; his body, his mind, his faculties. Maybe there is something else to life, such as a soul, but without going into that realm, he is willing to settle on what he knows about himself—his consciousness. All that is “I” is “mine.” That implies, of course, that all that is “you” is “yours”—for, every “you” is an “I.” Rights work both ways.
But, while just wanting to live gives the individual a title to life, it is an empty title unless he can acquire the things that make life livable, beginning with food, raiment, and shelter. These things do not come to you because you want them; they come as the result of putting labor to raw materials. You have to give something of yourself—your brawn or your brain—to make the necessary things available. Even wild berries have to be picked before they can be eaten. But the energy you put out to make the necessary things is part of you; it is you. Therefore, when you cause these things to exist, your title to yourself, your labor, is extended to the things. You have a right to them simply because you have a right to life.
That is the moral basis of the right of property. “I own it because I made it” is a title that proves itself. […] your ownership entitles you to use your judgment as to what you will do with the product of your labor—consume it, give it away, sell it, save it. Freedom of disposition is the substance of property rights. Interference with this freedom of disposition is, in the final analysis, interference with your right to life.
What this means is that we don’t need many and complex laws to tell people how they should behave. A natural sense of morality is connected to human nature and comes from within; it automatically follows from the fundamental programming of life that drives us. We don’t need the State, culture or religion to tell us about morality. Every human being is able to automatically develop a good sense of morality based on his own natural instincts, provided, of course, that they’re allowed to develop themselves naturally and are not tampered with in any way by outside forces.
In the final analysis, a good and natural sense of morality is based on the following statement: Respect each other’s right to life.
It’s really that simple. Good intentions, decisions, and actions (virtue) are those that respect everyone’s right to life. Bad or evil intentions, decisions, and actions (vice) are those that interfere in any possible way with the right to life of an individual or a group of individuals.
For example, when you respect an individual’s right to life, this automatically includes acknowledging and respecting his basic needs as a human being, and it also automatically includes respecting his property rights, as Chodorov explained. People would stop hoarding resources (like money, land and food) because they would realize that in doing so they deny others the satisfaction of their basic needs, and thus interfere with their right to life. A competitive society would also not make sense, because everyone’s basic needs would be acknowledged — even those of a competitor; so instead of competition, there would be cooperation. Furthermore, when you respect an individual’s right to life, this also includes being honest to him, because feeding deceptive information to him will most certainly have a negative impact on his life, will introduce difficulties in his life and may even put his life in danger. Respecting an individual’s right to life also means respecting his freedom in the broadest sense of the word, including his free will and freedom of expression; as Chodorov explains, nobody can lay a claim on the individual or his life; he owns himself, and interference with an individual’s freedom of disposition is interference with his right to life.
As you can see, the above examples come naturally and every human being is able to automatically come to such a natural sense of morality under normal conditions. This is why Noam Chomsky was able to visit people in Amazon tribes and “take for granted that they have the same conception of vice and virtue as I do.” 4 We don’t need the State or a god to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. In fact, when we allow the State or religion to decide for us what’s right and what’s wrong, and to tell us how to live our lives, then that’s exactly when problems start to arise.
I’ve already mentioned some examples above of how the State interferes with the right to life of individuals, causing them to develop unnatural and undesirable behavior. When it comes to religion, I’ve explained in previous posts what the purpose of religion is: to brainwash whole masses of people with a false reality in order to easily control, manipulate and enslave them. History is full of evidence of the kind of chaos, destruction and human suffering that has been caused by religion and religious conflicts and this is still going on today. Even when it comes to the gods that are being worshipped, there can be no doubt anymore about the fact that they were malicious and evil. I’ve recently published a post on Yahweh, the Judean/Christian god from the old testament in the Bible, and I encourage you to read it and find out exactly who this god really was and what he stood for. It will quickly become very clear to you that we can’t possibly take an example from such a god and base our sense of morality on him or his supposed word. If we were to develop our sense of morality based on such gods, we’d simply be as barbaric as they were. And I’ve argued that people who appear to be intrinsically bad are often that way precisely because they worship such gods. 5
The law of love is in accord with the nature of man. But men can only recognize this truth to its full extent when they have completely freed themselves from all religious and scientific superstitions and from all the consequent misrepresentations and sophistical distortions by which its recognition has been hindered for centuries. Leo Tolstoy
So to summarize what I’ve discussed here, humans are intrinsically good under natural conditions. A human nature that is truly developed in a natural way, without any kind of manipulation from outside forces, such as the State, culture or religion, is universal and will always be supportive towards, and in service of, the individual’s desire to live. A natural sense of morality that automatically follows from such a human nature, comes from within each individual and is based on respecting each other’s right to life. All of us can come to this realization because it’s built into us, if only we can manage to filter the noise (brainwash) from our environment, and listen to the signal that comes from deep inside our consciousness so that we can get back in tune with our true nature.