Neville Chamberlain gave Europe a good lesson on the futility of Utilitarianism. But wait a minute… Isn’t Utilitarianism a good thing? The greatest good for the greatest number sure sounds democratic. Then again, German Democratic Republic and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also sound democratic. Enter the Utilitarian Monster.
The Utilitarian Monster lives in a Gedankenexperiment in which an evil monster in, say, a Zeppelin, arrives at the city gate and demands the sacrifice of one individual or else the entire town will be bombed. The City Fathers vote to sacrifice you, dear reader–BECAUSE THEY LOVE YOU! Yes, true Christian sacrifice is the surrender of that which you value more in exchange for what you value less. If they valued your egotistical selfishness, they would never have surrendered you. It is precisely because altruistic collectivism says you are innocent and good that your life gets crushed. Cowardice is preserved, and everyone is happy–happy, that is, until the Utilitarian Monster returns the following day with the same ultimatum. Yes, this is headed in the same direction as those chapters on sequences and series in math class… Everyone in a utilitarian village can be wiped out, one at a time, by bluffing.
But to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, mathematics was just theory. Peace was the important thing and sacrifice by appeasement was what everyone–the teachers, reverend clergy, government school philosophy and ethics teachers, Adolf Hitler–all said was good, right, socially benevolent. The ethics was settled, and it was time to put it into practice. Unfortunately, the Czechoslovakians were the ones being pushed onto the altar of altruism and sacrifice, and the experiment was real, not Gedanken.
Not everyone agreed with Hitler, of course. The one person who had the guts to speak out against the cowardly monstrosity–against the cringing sanction of the next victim–was a young woman born in 1909 who worked in Hollywood. Her name was Carmen Miranda and she wrote a samba describing Europe’s capitulation to militant German National Socialist religious conservatism. The 1938 samba is titled “Salada Mista.”
If you want to replace bad ethics and politics with something better, you might want to look into the Libertarian party.