Sunday, February 9, 2014


[A sociology student posted me these questions as a reaction to attempts by quasi-religious agencies like JAWI, the Federal Territory Religious Department, to enforce public morality by brute force.]

1. What are your views on the current morality of our Malaysian citizens and why do you think this is the case?

Morality comes from the word "more" meaning "social custom." As such, each society will have its own culturally specific, and ethno-specific, preferences and traditions. None of these traditional social customs is immutable, that is, social mores change with changing economic, educational, and technological conditions. Therefore, "morality" is NOT, in my view, a relevant issue.

HOWEVER, what we're really talking about here is the question of ETHICS. Ethicality - the innate sense of what might be called "decent" human behavior, particularly in terms of interpersonal interactions, is a universal concern and has validity beyond the confines of cultural imprinting, and beyond economic, political, social, ideological, and biological considerations.

Very few human beings on this planet are imbued with an ethical core; simply because the majority of humans are akin to farm animals, kept in a state of abject ignorance and powerlessness to alter their own destiny in order that their energy, their vitality, and their experiential data may be "harvested." Among the few who have somehow broken through their cultural and social programming and attained an ETHICAL sense (which is often accompanied by the evolvement of an AESTHETIC sensibility), there is a strong possibility of these rare individuals gaining sufficient self-awareness to ultimately achieve self-mastery.

Self-mastery implies that the individual no longer refers to any EXTERNAL AUTHORITY for instructions as to how to behave towards others. The "moral authority" is fully internalized in that the individual is no longer an ethical infant, but has indeed attained the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual maturity to govern himself or herself from the highest and most universal perspective available at any given moment.

From this standpoint, few Malaysians - indeed, few human beings, regardless of nationality - have any notion of "morality" that has not been inculcated or indoctrinated into their behavioral programs by an outside source - whether parental, societal, governmental, or ideological. These externally imposed concepts of morality are generally control mechanisms designed to make people easier to manage as statistics rather than as individuals. They often have absolutely no basis in organic reality and function purely as BELIEF SYSTEMS. As such, they are quite unnecessary and irrelevant to existence itself, but serve the hidden agenda of the Elite or ruling class.

When people refrain from certain behaviors out of fear of punishment, that is a sure indication that they have yet to acquire an ethical sense. Their fear of "breaking the law" and incurring "the wrath of God" or being penalized by the Law is what governs their actions. The more perceptive individuals who quickly learn that their parents and governments and spiritual leaders are inclined towards hypocrisy as a way of life ("Do what I say, don't do what I do!") will be prompted to break the taboos and behave in antisocial or criminal ways - but they will do so furtively because "getting caught" would mean severe punishment. Any attempt to "correct" their negative behavior can only result in more laws and more vigorous law enforcement, which ultimately strengthens the totalitarian state we might describe as "Big Brotherism" rather than enhance people's ethical sense.

In effect, the question you pose has to be rephrased differently if you desire an authentic answer instead of a superficial, programmed response. I suggest you work with this question: WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "MORALITY" AND "ETHICS" - AND ARE MALAYSIANS, SPEAKING GENERALLY, AWARE OF IT?

2. In your own point of view, do you think that there are any groups of people who need increased moral policing and why?

The phrase "moral policing" is offensive to me, but let's not quibble about semantic niceties here. In general, the stratum of society most often in need of ethical resensitization is the so-called "ruling class" (which includes hereditary rulers, politicians, bureaucrats, and the uniformed personnel employed and trained to protect their private interests). This widespread condition of hypocrisy has its origins in the distortion of truth stemming from a long history of political power coups whereby authentic authority has been systematically usurped by "pretenders to the throne" - in other words, those least qualified to rule (because they have yet to master themselves) are usually the ones most determined to seize power and pose as "moral authorities."

3. What are your views on the recent incidents involving increased moral policing by some religious authorities? (e.g. arrest of a transgendered person in a friend's house, JAWI raid on a KL nightclub, Malacca Belia 4-B campaign to spy on young people...)

No mature community would tolerate such a gross abuse of vested authority and power. Agencies such as JAWI are infested with hypocrites and serve only as a haven for acutely aberrated individuals. They definitely serve no constructive purpose and we would do well to abolish them completely.

4. What do you think is a better solution to address such situations and why?

There is really no problem and therefore no "solution" is called for. People everywhere will do what pleases them in the way of recreation - and, so long as their activities do not impinge on other people's civil liberties or become destructive, it's nobody's business what anybody does to amuse himself or herself.

5. Do you think the state or private bodies should be responsible to develop better ways to deal with those situations?

Ultimately, the state itself is an abstraction which exists only as a cover for criminal usurpation of the individual's divine right of self-governance. With clarity of mind, these "social issues" publicized in the press are red herrings, non-issues, and merely serve to distract the public from REAL problems, e.g., environmental degradation and the ruthless abuse and exploitation of "lower" lifeforms - whether these be categorized as the "less privileged" or "those not of voting age" or (in a patriarchal society, the female gender), or non-human species as a whole.

6. Do you think there are weakness in our current moral laws and why?

There is only ONE authentic, universal moral law and it simply states: DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD BE DONE BY. All other "moral" rules are arbitrary and utterly useless; and, as such, irrelevant to life and deserve to be abolished or repealed.

7. Do you think our moral laws need corrective measure or changes to be implemented to meet the current society's needs?

Refer to above response.

8. Do you think the State should be given some power to enforce these moral laws and why?

The so-called State has already abrogated unto itself way too many powers. What matters are human beings, indeed, all living beings - not artificial rules and regulations invented to conceal criminal abuse of power usurped from the inherent divinity (the God self) within each entity. Each of us as incarnate Souls ultimately has no evolutionary alternative but to accept TOTAL RESPONSE-ABILITY for how we experience "reality."

9. Many NGOs have campaigned for certain moral laws to be repealed and demand that the State should have no role in policing morality. Do you think this is fair proposition to all parties concerned?

The NGOs are on the right track but have yet to find the right tack. Rather than engage (and waste) their energy on "doing battle" against the "power structure" they will serve themselves and others far more effectively by paying closer attention to their own evolution as sentient beings, with the focus on attaining levels of consciousness some may describe as Buddhahood or Christhood.

10. To your own reasoning, why did you sign the Joint Statement and what do you hope it can achieve?

I am essentially aligned with the NGOs' broad objective of functioning as a system of "checks and balances" to established political authority even if I do not always agree with their terms of reference and modus operandi. An internet petition requires only a few seconds to sign and is the least one can do to contribute to positive social change - at least, in the short term :-)

11. What do you believe constitutes a moral society?

One in which each individual has attained "enlightenment" or Buddhahood and then evolved to the next level of spiritual maturity which some choose to call "Christ consciousness." As such, the "moral society" is constantly evolving and when the point is reached where enough individuals have reclaimed their sovereign power and freed themselves from external controls, the concept of external government will cease to exist - and ETHICS will be a "hardwired" integral component of our Operating Systems.

12. What do you think Malaysians and even yourself can do to bring improvement to the situation?

Ask the questions you have asked in this electronic interview and allow for the widest possible spectrum of responses. In short, we simply have to take time out to ponder the basic existential conundrums - preferably free of the corruption and distortion of institutionalized belief systems, i.e. religious doctrines.

13. Any last words or thoughts?

Enjoy the infinite possibilities of being in freedom and joy!

Thank you very very much :)

You're entirely welcome!


[First published in this blog on 2 December 2006. Reposted 19 March 2009]


kianjin said...

This is a great post Antares, and I agree with everything you said but something bothered me - I couldn't put my finger on it for a while - but after re-reading it, it turned out to be Point #6 - where you articulate the Golden Rule, the truly "authentic, universal moral law" as you put it so well.


I have pondered about this and it wasn't until I read Dawkins years ago that I realised that recasting it in its negative form was preferable (to me anyways):

"Do not do to others what you would not have done unto you."

The reason is subtle, but an essential difference - this reformulation is passive. Now, you don't want to actively 'DO' something to someone, even if it is, say, offering hugs and love etc. because, well, what if the other person is not receptive to such overtures at such a time? This active form of the Golden Rule, if taken a little far, justifies most forms of activism, and very soon, it intrudes on the rights and privacy of others. So, I think the passive, negated form is better (IMHO - others may disagree, but it is perfectly OK!)

For example, Fundamentalist proselytisers would use this Rule to come to my door (and they have done so) to try and ply me with tracts and urge me to convert. No doubt they would want to have me return the "Love of God" - but did they ever consider that I love something other, greater perhaps, than God, that I was doing OK without God's Love, thank you very much?

Anyways, this is a great post and it articulates your personal philosophy very well. I am still striving to attain Buddhahood, probably not in this lifetime. I still don't know what Christhood is all about yet. Maybe it's like the Bodhisattva returning from the mountain after finding the Ox and liberation?

Apologies for this long comment, but I want to be kay-poh (busybody) and add 9(!) more ethically approved Rules that follow from the first Golden Rule... these are the New 10 Commandments that I also teach my children:

1. Do not do to others what you would not have done unto you.
2. In all things, strive to cause no harm.
3. Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
4. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
6. Always seek to be learning something new.
7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
10. Question everything.

Antares said...

Kianjin - Absolutely brilliant extended comment, thanks! I can see your point. The "new 10 commandments" you suggest are excellent, for sure :-)

Whatif said...

Hi Antares,

This is real heavy stuff man. After a few reads, I still could not fathom the depth of the topic.

I have most times thought that morality is about sex outside marriage and perhaps also about corruption.

I guess the golden rule should apply to most circumstances in our lives and education plays a very important role in our decision making.

We are the captain of our own destiny and we should be responsible for our own actions. We have enough of laws and rules to live by; we do not need others to control our private lives.

My personal experience outside marriage. Even 40 years ago, when people were still very conservative, 2 people in love would naturally follow the trend of "one thing leads to another" and before we knew it, my girlfriend (now wife) and I were real close.

What if, we had lived in ancient China and we were caught; we could be drowned in pig cages. What if, we had lived in Iran or Saudi Arabia and we were caught; we could be stoned to death.

My point is, it should not happen that way as in many sad cases. Otherwise, I and my wife (previously girlfriend), would not have 3 wonderful kids with one studying for her PhD in the USA.

Think about it.


Gadfly said...

In a great many ways, we are being conditioned by many external forces - family, school, society, mass media etc. However, this does not always work. Otherwise, the results of the recent general election would not happen. All the fear created by repression and all the development goodies do not work all the time. If BN wants to win election and remain relevant , they have to go back to the basics - how does a human being learn? The old school of behaviourism has long been discredited and discarded. Human beings do not learn solely by rewards and punishment. Amongst others, they also learn by observation, say from other models as what Bandura proposed. Moreover, despite of all the external conditionings, an individual can also construct their own learning in the Piagetian sense. The old idea of Pavlovian or Skinnerian conditioning is too narrow.

Does this mean that people are to be left on their to search for whatever ethical or moral laws/principles on their own? As the Marxist psychologist Vygotsky said, if you leave them on their own, they are not going to learn anything. So, you still need to give them some cultural tools. But, is this conditioning then? Well, I think this depends on the social cultural contexts on how children are to be educated.

Do we need 'moral police'? Vices cannot be eliminated, but can be controlled. Certain vices should be legalised so that it can be controlled, instead of driving them underground or making people even more curious to try. However, a proper control and monitoring mechanism should be established so that the 'moral police' are policed and they target at the crime bosses. To a certain extent, lap or pole dances do demean the women and entrench gender inequality.And quite often, they are being exploited. The issues of self-regulation are not straight forward. Some form of external control is still needed.

I disagree that the evolution of a human being is from'Buddhahood' to 'Christ consciousness'. You can't compare apple with oranges. 'Enlightenment' is revolutionary and not evolutionary. The Buddhist concept of Voidness or emptiness can envelope any concepts of beings including God, or gods, but not the other way round. Hence, the hierachy of consciousness does not make sense. The alignment of God or gods tends to come from the desire for hegemony, consciously or unconsciously. It is difficult to avoid such temptation. Even John Pope could not escape from that when he exclaimed,'Who is Buddha? He is just a human being.'

I fully agree that we need to 'take time out to ponder the basic existential conundrums'. Our anguish or anxiety is existential.

Anonymous said...

Is this guy writing about MY politicians or just being general ;-)

A Lesson to be Learnt
by John Andrews / March 21st, 2009

Politicians are well known liars; so well known that it hardly needs pointing out. Whether they are lying about spying on political rivals (Nixon), closing down coal mines (Thatcher), women they’ve had sex with (Clinton), or mythical weapons of mass destruction (Blair/Bush), lying and politicians go together like pigs and brown smelly stuff.

However, the very sizeable arsenal of tools of deceit available to their fingertips is not confined to the more obvious porkies such as these few crass examples. Indeed, for everyday purposes there are far more subtle devices available. Take the ‘honest mistake’.

Hardly a day goes go by without a very brief appearance of some important person in a suit on TV informing the nation about some inquiry or investigation into yet another government failure, where ‘lessons have been learnt’. It will always be some earnest-looking individual who appears to be truly shocked at the catalogue of ‘mistakes’ his/her investigation has revealed. The phrase ‘lessons to be learnt’ is now almost as familiar to our daily news as ‘and now for the weather’.

The most obvious and familiar calamity where the words ‘lessons’ and ‘learnt’ are as common as ‘failed bank’ and ‘government bailout’ is of course the destruction of the western economy. Almost every politician in the world, together with the media lapdogs who obediently peddle their lies, is standing solidly behind the cover story that the disaster was entirely unpredictable; that it was the result of numerous ‘mistakes’; and that inevitable ‘lessons have been learnt’ to prevent it ever happening again. Well that’s o.k. then.

Why ordinary people should waste a single second of their time listening to exactly the same people who ‘led’ us into the cesspit earnestly advising us on how to get out of it instead of grovelling for their lives as they should be doing, is a legitimate question that many are asking.

The institutionalised ‘honest mistake’ is nothing new. It has comprised a significant part of US foreign policy for at least half a century, and has been successfully employed internally by that nation almost since its creation. The American sponsored holocaust of South East Asia in the 1960s and 70s is officially recorded for the history books as a ‘well-meaning blunder’ – something that was admittedly disastrous but was an ‘honest mistake’, made by good people with the world’s best interests at heart. It is the sort of deceit that is almost plausible – were it not for the fact that an exactly similar ‘well-meaning blunder’ had occurred not ten years earlier – in Korea. You could be forgiven for thinking that even the slowest mind must have started to smell a rat when the failure of mythical weapons of mass destruction to materialise was basically excused by faulty ‘intelligence’. However, as that great teacher John Pilger has pointed out on more than one occasion, quoting the dissident writer Milan Kundera: ‘The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.’ (Freedom Next Time, p. 37.) In other words, whilst history continues to selectively ignore the memories of those who can well remember the ‘mistakes’, the ‘mistakes’ may be safely repeated over and over again.

This systemic ability to continue making ‘honest mistakes’ has been noticed by many others of course, and even excused by some such as historian Gabriel Kolko: ‘The world’s leaders and their governments have time after time revealed an ignorance that has cost humanity a price in suffering beyond any measure.’ (Century of War, p. 454) The assumption that the world’s condition of Permanent War is a product of the permanent ‘ignorance’ of our leaders explains how ‘honest mistakes’ may be endlessly made – it’s through honest ignorance.

Ignorance is something with which we can all identify – it is, after all, the condition in which we ordinary mortals are all carefully kept; so at first glance it seems reasonable that our ‘leaders’ might also suffer from the same complaint. Except for one small problem: all our ‘leaders’ have at their fingertips a wide range of very expensive experts who are supposed to guide them from one faultless decision to another. Either these experts routinely fail in their duty, or their guidance is routinely ignored. So ‘ignorance’ cannot be a valid excuse; it is either incompetence, or something far more sinister.

The examples from history of this ‘ignorance’ in practice are truly legion, as Mr Kolko pointed out; but let us focus on perhaps the most recent well known occurrence: the destruction of the world’s economy.

Hardly a day goes by without some ‘expert’ or ‘leader’ commenting on the ruin of the world’s economy in terms of the ‘mistakes’ made and the ‘lessons that have been learnt’ to ensure it never happens again. Included in the long catalogue of ‘mistakes’ is the one that no one saw it coming; the collapse of world banking took everyone by surprise. This is simply a flat out lie; and the evidence is widely available.

The first inklings of a serious problem started to become widely known about twelve years ago; for it was about twelve years ago that tens of thousands of UK home owners with mortgages began receiving letters from banks and building societies telling them that the endowment policies they held in the hope they would pay off their mortgages, in fact wouldn’t. It was about the same time the first major banking scandal of modern times had rocked the world with the revelation that a ‘rogue trader’ – Nick Leeson – had caused the collapse of Barings Bank through his dodgy deals. Dodgy deals that soon transpired to be quite routine and common practice; Mr Leeson’s misfortune being only that he was found out. A few years later, an exactly similar story from Germany demonstrated that absolutely no ‘lessons had been learnt’ from the Leeson saga. In other words, the banking world knew exactly what was going on and, as our ‘leaders’ presumably have access to the same news as the rest of us, we can assume that they did too. They all simply chose to look the other way. ‘Ignorance’ had nothing to do with it. It was simply a question of make as much cash as quickly as possible while the sun still shone and hope the rain stayed away until it was someone else’s problem.

Whether we look at the world’s carefully maintained condition of Permanent War, the destruction of its economy, or the ruin of its delicate ecology we find a common thread: ‘leaders’ making decisions that are later seen to be ‘mistaken’ or ‘ignorant’ by new ‘leaders’ who have ‘learnt lessons’ and ‘moved on’. In fact the most important lesson of all is studiously avoided – not because no one knows about it – but because our ‘leaders’ depend upon it for their existence; and that lesson is this: the whole decision making process of the world’s most powerful figures is institutionally corrupt and designed with the sole purpose of their own enrichment and empowerment. The welfare of today’s ordinary people is entirely irrelevant to them, and the welfare of tomorrow’s ordinary people is even less significant.

This, the single most important ‘lesson to be learnt’ should be learnt not by our ‘leaders’, who know it already, but by the ordinary men and women who alone comprise the only body capable of doing anything about it. For it is only when ordinary people take control of their own lives by making their own political decisions that global institutionalised corruption might be permanently consigned to the blood-soaked pages of history where it belongs.

masterymistery said...

great post, and comments too!