For compassion-based politics, or: a proposal for anarcho-Mohism

I.

The Chinese philosopher Mozi postulated that the primary ill of humanity is too much partiality in compassion. (A further argument can be made that (post)modern society suffers from a deficit in compassion all around.)
Human beings have a bias toward the members of their ingroup. This bias can be exploited in horrific ways: when the Germans accepted themselves as the 'ingroup' and the Jews, Roma, LGBTQ+ people, etc. as the 'outgroup' in the 1930s-40s, the Nazis were able to provoke them to unprecedented levels of evil and cruelty. This rested entirely on the ingroup-outgroup classification.
(For a much more in-depth discussion of this same topic, please see Scott Alexander's now-(in)famous post at Slate Star Codex.)
The ingroup-outgroup bias can be benign, in the sense that a tumour can be benign, or it can reach the level of fascist atrocity.
Mozi's philosophy, known as Mohism, says that one would need to overcome this crude bias in order to become a truly ethical person; an ethical person will have compassion for all and act accordingly.

II.

We can see how this applies to modern politics on the macro scale with attitudes on immigration.
Note this tweet about a young woman who is supposed to be protected under the DREAM Act (although ICE under Trump is trying to deport her):
Now the response from a self-proclaimed Christian and conservative:
For Natasja, undocumented migrants—even those who were brought to the United States as young children—are the outgroup.
Even if they had no real choice.
Even if they have lived their entire life as Americans.
Her rationale, when confronted with that fact, is that this Dreamer's parents made a choice.
For a Christian, she is surprisingly ignorant of her own Bible. For it is written:

'The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father with him, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son with him; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.'

Ezekiel 18:20, JPS Tanakh 1917.

I must note that I do not consider illegal immigration 'iniquity'; rather, I consider it iniquity that we have a system which leaves many with no other choice but to risk life and limb to come here and I consider it iniquity the way we treat undocumented migrants:

'And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'

Leviticus 19:33-34, JPS Tanakh 1917.


Were not Natasja's ancestors strangers in the land of America when they came here?
Was my own father not a stranger when he came here, and my great-grandparents before him?
Show me in the Holy Bible, or indeed the Holy Qur'an, or the Bhagavad Gita, or indeed any sage text, where it says that only sojourners or strangers who have had to pass through invasive security theatre are worthy of compassion.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that the word 'iniquity' comes ultimately 'from Latin iniquitas, from iniquus, from in- ‘not’ + aequus ‘equal, just’.' The etymology of 'inequity' is the same.
What, if any, distinction can be made between the two? For this is the truth that has been understood for so long, and which has levelled great empires and laid barren the noblest of republics: Inequity is iniquity, and iniquity can never remain unpunished.

III.

In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus Christ says that '[t]he kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17:21, Lamsa.) And as Charlie Chaplin expanded in The Great Dictator, 'within you' means 'not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men.'
It is in this spirit, and in recognition of the above principle, that Nikolai Berdyaev, the great Russian philosopher and mystic, wrote:

'There is absolute truth in anarchism and it is to be seen in its attitude to the sovereignty of the state and to every form of state absolutism.…The religious truth of anarchism consists in this, that power over man is bound up with sin and evil, that a state of perfection is a state where there is no power of man over man, that is to say, anarchy. The Kingdom of God is freedom and the absence of such power…the Kingdom of God is anarchy.'

—Nikolai Berdyaev, trans. R. M. French, Slavery and Freedom, New York, Charles Scribners, 1944, p. 147.



IV.

Mozi 'advocated a form of state consequentialism, which sought to maximize three basic goods: the wealth, order, and population of the state' (P. J. Ivanhoe and B. W. van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2005, p. 60). By 'order', Mozi does not necessarily mean hierarchy, but rather the prevention of violence and the avoidance of warfare, which he saw as destructive and pointless; and by 'material wealth', he meant wealth for all, and not merely for a few.
But taking into consideration that we are embarking upon a fundamentally libertarian project, we must reject the idea of the state as part of our ethic. It also does not seem obvious to us that population growth is an inherent moral good.
Let us now turn to the words of the philosopher himself:

'It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone.'

—Mozi, Mozi, 5th century a.e.v.; Mozi et al., Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu, trans. Prof. B. Watson, New York, Columbia University Press, 1967, p. 110.


From this summation of Mozi's moral philosophy, we may deduce that the state is not a necessary part of the ethic of universal compassion; rather, it is the effect upon the world that determines what is right or wrong.
Let us finally turn to the moral philosophy of St. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis, of St. Karl Barth, who wrote much of the Barmen Declaration, which laid the cornerstone for the Christian German resistance to the Hitler regime, and of Paul Tillich, who summarised this philosophy, known as situation ethics, in his statement that 'Love is the ultimate law.' (P. Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1951, p. 152.)
The ideas of situation ethics harmonise with those of Mohism, as situation ethics demands only those actions which produce the most love, the most agapé, and nothing more. Any laws, any norms, any dictates or decrees which inhibit love are to be broken.
Here we see a clear return to that truth which Berdyaev stated so clearly: namely, that 'the Kingdom of God is anarchy.' The law of Love, of universal compassion, being the highest—no, the only law, has profoundly radical implications. The state, being an inherently violent institution, is an impediment to compassion, as is capitalism, which utterly negates compassion in its inhuman logic of profit and growth for the sake of growth ('the ideology of the cancer cell', as environmentalist Edward Abbey put it).
'Think globally, act locally', the slogan of social ecology, is a guide for a Mohist anarchy. Whatever action increases the well-being of a given community will, in a holistic manner, increase the well-being of the whole world.

V.

Only through universal compassion can an anarchist order be maintained and even created, and only through anarchy can compassion be realised.
It finds its purest expressions in the reemerging mutual aid movement, in the credit union, and in the cooperative. Though times are dark, and wars and genocides are raging, and it appears that all promises of a better future are lost, the hope of ages, which guided the Israelites to the Promised Land, which guided the Diggers and the Quakers to endure brutal repression in order to spread a Gospel of love and generosity, which led the Parisians, the Ukrainians, and the Spanish to establish free territories in the face of authoritarian assault, which led the Partisans of Warsaw and Vilna to rise up even when they knew they faced certain defeat, which led millions of black Americans to march against brutal segregation, which led the unemployed and the homeless to camp in Zuccotti Park to demand justice for the poor and destitute, which still leads the poor of Chiapas and Rojava to fight against their oppression, still burns in the hearts of human beings, and if I squint hard enough, I can see the Sun on the horizon ready to rise—but only when we reject all fear and hatred and hold on to compassion.

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