Moral Futurism and the Enemies of an Open Society

Karl Popper is one of the SuperGeniuses of our time, and his brilliant book — “Open Society and Its Enemies” — is a must read for anyone hoping to understand our necessary and active place in the world.

Popper views “Moral Futurism” as a terrible, wanton, thing — such as, “the meek shall inherit the earth” — because pithy phrases seek to calm and humble the human spirit via “Divine Determination” where passivity and blind belief are salves that lull us into an uncertain and fatalistic conformity of mind and spirit.

Marx’s mantra from 1875 — “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need…” — is another example of Moral Futurism where we are assured that all will be fine in a perfect future in order to dissuade the brain from yelping in the immediate now.

Instead of encouraging personal morality and a responsibleness for the whole of us, Moral Futurism presses us into giving up the notion of ourselves in favor of the ether of a mandate from a “greater knowing majority” that requires nothing of us except the acquiescence of our nearby moral indignation and our stoic individual behaviors in consideration of moral homilies and proverbs that promise an unproven, and indistinguishable, tomorrow.

The Moral Futurists, Popper argues, are innately selfish in their world view and in their behavior towards others where only the now matters because the future has already been divined and rewarded if you just stay the course and believe what is written.

Moral Futurism is also the realm of certain Christian Fundamentalists who believe we are in our Last Days and that the natural resources of the world and the fruits of the plains and the wonder of the seas are here, and exist for, only them.

Their narrow worldview perpetuates the myth, “waste not, want not” and the future be damned. Moral Futurists believe there won’t be anyone left on earth after them, so why leave anything behind? Take it all with you, because that is how you please, and show appreciation for, a providing God.

Popper condemns “holists” and “historicists” like Hegel, Plato and Marx because they seek to control people by their social group identity; and as those groups grow and become more intricate, only they — “The Privileged Intellectuals” — can divine the wants and needs of the expanding social core. The danger in that method, Popper warns, is the wisdom of the crowd is rejected as unworthy and “unsmart” by a minority power structure claiming a populist mandate.

Popper argues groups are, by their nature, wholly unpredictable and hold contempt for the status quo. Social Engineering — the attempt to control groups via Spam or Phishing techniques or fraud or confidence games — are all behavioral control devices that ultimately fail because, Popper believes, they offer nothing of substance beyond the initial tease.

Our job as beings in the now is to forget political mandates and religious dogma — and to instead turn our individual minds outward and question the damage minority power structures have on the core of us.

Groups don’t control groups — outside influences control groups. Critical thinking and freedom of the mind are Popper’s common touchstones — and it is our duty as free-thinking people to question, not the motives of our neighbors of our families, but rather the hidden and invisible machinations of external belief powers that demands adherence to unattainable goals by referring us back to the mantras of a passive Moral Futurism that only medicates the spirit instead of testing and teasing inquiries of the unknowable tomorrow mind.