In doing a solid amount of recent research, I’ve been able to diagnose the nature of many of my problems with America. I’ve concluded that my issues with the American way of life are a product of conflicting fundamental values and beliefs, many of them stemming from the differences between master and slave morality.
For those that aren’t familiar with the master-slave morality dichotomy, as I understand it, at the center of master morality is the self. Master morality therefore concerns itself with individual prosperity and values things like drive, power, strength, cunning and other traits associated with or useful in gaining individual prosperity. Another way it is understood is that master morality is a strong “will to power or conquer.” So amassing great fortune relative to your community would be a central goal for those who subscribe to master morality.
At the center of slave morality, as I understand it, is the community. Slave morality therefore concerns itself with community prosperity and values things like generosity, humility, altruism and other traits associated with or useful in helping the community prosper as a whole. Another way it is understood is that slave morality is a weak “will to power or conquer.” So helping create a better life for as many members of your community as possible would be a central goal for those who subscribe to master morality.
I personally value things in both moral systems, however I tend to be more guided by slave morality than master morality. My belief is that the community is more important than the individual and that, for better or worse, no person’s life will ever be as valuable as the things they have contributed to the community they inhabited. And though the well-being of others is something I value very much, I maintain that it is only a value of mine, and no one is naturally bound to an obligation to help others.
America was founded on master morality and built as a place for individual prosperity. The prosperity of the community was not the focus of the founding fathers, and any persuasions or obligations to contribute positively to the well-being of other members of the community were deliberately left out of the constitution. The constitution is, and was meant only to be, a set of rules that allow a group of people striving for individual prosperity to live civilly among one another.
If one thinks about the American dream, it is an individual dream; It is to achieve what one wants personally: to do well for oneself. So in America, the rich guy on Park Avenue is king, whereas if you value the prosperity of the community over that of the individual, the person who helps the most people or provides the most opportunity is king.
American culture—the “every man for himself” state that it is—being such that the strong will to power and conquer and all that is associated with it is “good,” breeds selfishness, insensitivity and maliciousness. These are just products of the idea that the self is more important than the community. What we’re seeing now is that it eventually leads to a society that is very top or bottom heavy, depending on how you look at it. There are a small amount of people at the top who have control of most of the resources, and most of the people are on the bottom and make due with a small amount of the resources. This is a slave moralist’s worst nightmare.
A slave moralist’s greatest possible dream would then be something like, if not exactly, a communist society, where everything is everyone’s. Paramount in the communist society is the community as a whole. Life in communist society is such that everyone is naturally obligated to all other members of the state, the resources are distributed evenly, and those resources belong to the state as an entity, instead of the person. However, we’ve seen that this creates a community with diminished drive to do anything at all, as they are virtually stripped of the ability to individually achieve.
Where I fall, and where I think many American’s—consciously or unconsciously—fall is in a place somewhere in the middle; a place that can hardly be legislated, because in our ideal state people have the will to personally achieve in addition to the will to contribute to the whole, and they are altruistic, in that they are willing to sacrifice if ever their personal success is damaging to the well-being of the others in their community. This has less to do with legislation than it has to do with motivation and morality.
Many of us are just realizing that our values and morals clash with the ones that the country we happen to live in was founded upon, and the differences between the ideal Americas of liberals and conservatives are the differences between slave morality and master morality.