WE ARE A SOCIAL species, and no man or woman lives utterly alone and disconnected from his or her fellows. But what do we do when the society we live in does wrong? When it goes so far wrong we find it absolutely morally repugnant? That’s the dilemma posed by a young academic scientist who recently wrote that he loves teaching, but that every university he might work for accepts funding from the federal government, which he believes is immoral. He says:
“My dilemma is this. I would prefer to avoid Federal funding. There’s definitely private funding out there, but I’m starting to think there’s a huge distortion of the science/academic market because of all the Federal funding; universities take a cut of funding sources and (as far as I can tell) most of the available funding is Federal. If an academic scientist wants his department to be happy with him in the form of them getting more money, he needs Federal funding. Otherwise, he would look nonproductive compared to the scientists who don’t get mildly nauseous when thinking about collectivism.
“But I have to be an academic because I must teach. Aaargh! I seem to be totally screwed. I should have either not become a real liberal or not a scientist, or I should have that elective surgery to have that teacher gland removed.
“I need your help in the form of ideas. Please! What can be done?… Despair and fatalism are also quite welcome — at least then I know better what I’m up against. Signed, Dave.”
Dear Dave — We all have to live in a world in which the social systems in which we are inevitably enmeshed are not of our choosing.
We must travel on roads produced by a political system that murdered hundreds of thousands in insane wars, roads made by often-crooked contractors.
We must attend government schools operated by the same political system, schools which often inculcate deplorable myths. (Or we could use the only major alternative, church schools, which, while superior in some ways, inculcate their own myths).
We practically have to drive automobiles, produced by subsidized corporations (think socialized road costs), of which there are so many that they definitely damage the environment.
I could go on.
Not only do I share your belief in liberty, but I also believe that a very large portion of “public policy” and law are not only completely immoral, but actually illegal. In addition, my family and I have been directly and grievously harmed by the actions of the federal government.
I don’t want to do anything — anything — that results in any aid or support, not even a dime, to the criminals in Washington. What to do?
I see two possible alternatives. 1) Work within the system, but do something with a large fraction of your time and money — more than the system gets — to radically change things. Or 2) leave the country and try to find a social system that is less objectionable than “ours.” (There is little or noÂ hope of finding a truly libertarian system, since the evolutionary grade of humankind is, sadly, too low for that, and getting lower. But one might find a place where, even if nominally a despotism or “democracy,” they leave you alone for the most part.)
Good luck with your moral dilemma.