In Larissa MacFarquar’s Strangers Drowning round-up of her New Yorker articles of extreme do-gooders, the surface is skimmed, lightly and rapidly, around the pools of these dedicated adherents of the “effective” or “efficient” or some other e-brand of altruism. Social nihilism could be a good deterrent to her well-described kind of Montessori exceptionalism.
Philosophy has been killed by the twin scourges of religion, based on nothing but interminable falsehoods, and higher education, which promotes disengaged mono-vocal obsessions with classical culture. Nothing in our culture is strong enough to rescue the beneficial practice of philosophical introspection, with so many errors and error-strewn paths to clear, but a clearer way to common understanding could be a fine wordpressian venture.
No human can effect the good that his or her yearning cognitive ambitions can construct.
We are indirect killers, unconscious predators, as single protoplasmic entities, versus the horrors, pains endemic sufferings , and irretrievable horrible deaths of this world that are at a infinitely vaster scale than our actions can even approach. We can donate this, save that, renounce or recycle or consolidate, but our actions are guaranteed to produce only microscopic, or local, or personal benefit. The social systems that are consolidated across diverse human societies are far greater, exponentially more pernicious than any other-directed sacrifice from martyrs can be.
To continue with any form of social life, however, humans will try to erect defensible expressions of progressive connections with other suffering humans. Religion transmutes this humane instinct into anti-hedonic, authoritarian, pointless support for the crushing policies of the existing social order. So do our finer, more expensive higher education credential mills, which are generating bands of do-gooders to WOOF or Teach For Corporate America against the hedge-fund criminality of their conscience-less classmates, but the system absorbs these minor butterflies and expends and expresses more and more bombing, poverty, deprivation, and fossil fueling.
No one should delude themselves that they can excuse bad, bad behavior by getting some system-supporting,cancerous criminal corporate job and then donating some of those ill-gotten proceeds to help malarial victims. The supersystem expands and deepens with every generational reinforcement, doing more direct and indirect damage with each passing global moment than can every be assuaged through the self-ennobling transmittance of some NGO favors to our world’s most desperate poor.
Why can’t we admit the futility of best intentions, and then go ahead with a reduced, more realistic version of doing basic, smaller-scale, restricted social betterment, all without the stupefying lies of the ancient chicken-entrail readers?