Igor I. Sikorsky: Rude force has become
the arbiter of conflicts.

Igor Sikorsky (1889-1972), famed designer of the first large four-motor airships, the American Clipper seaplanes of the 1930’s and 40’s, and the first successful helicopter, was also deeply interested in religious and philosophical matters. In this excerpt from his “Notes from a Reading of Sorokin’s Crisis of Our Age” Sikorsky considers the effect on our legal system from erosion of its traditional ethical and moral norms:

"In writing in 1941 Sorokin indicated that there was a crisis of transition between our culture which is dying and the coming of an ideational culture of the future. He prophesized that both Communism and Naziism were merely death agonies of the particular culture shock and cultural change. He also indicated that there have been repeated cycles of such cultural changes from idealistic cultural basis to sensate cultural basis down to the ideational cultural basis. We are now in the death of the sensate culture and in the beginning of a new form, and it is not the Hitlers, Stalins or other dictators who created the present crisis. Rather it is a ready existing enthrust upon the world by the historical process.

He points out that this crisis will also be reflected in the crisis of our law with the disintegration of our ethical and legal systems and the substitute of one initially of force. The essence of the crisis consists of a devaluation of the ethical and moral norms of the legal system. Legal norms are increasingly considered as a device of the group in power for exploiting other less powerful groups and have thus lost their moral prestige which had been given to them through the connection with the religious base for legal sanctions. Since legal sanctions are now not based on a religious support they sooner or later have to be based on rude force as the only controlling power in human relationship. Hence the contemporary “might is right” is an essential feature of the crisis of our legal system. This crisis did not originate either suddenly or recently but rather is a generational change as the present ethical system has decayed the religious base on which the earlier moral and legal system was based. The sensate ethics and law were inherent in the utilitarian and ultimately hedonistic relative law. Any value as soon as it is put on a relativistic and utilitarian foundation is bound to retrogress and become more and more relative, more and more conventional until it finally reaches a stage of bankruptcy. As pleasure, utility, happiness and even the economic system would differ with different persons and different groups one is entitled to pursue them in any way one pleases and there is no moral sanction. The absence of any moral sanctions leads to inevitable clashes of individuals and groups over the power with no common standard to serve as an arbitrator. The ultimate result is the emergence of rude force assisted by fraud as the supreme and sole arbiter of conflicts.

When limitless relativism was introduced into the world of moral values their arbitrariness engendered conflict and struggle. This in turn produced hatred and hatred led to the use of brute force and bloodshed as the ultimate solution.

This is not just something that happened and is not just something that occurred because individuals such as Hitler or Stalin or Marx came along. It is rather the inevitable end result of the sensate ethics which prepared its own surrender to coercion. By liberating itself from a religious basis, from all absolutes and categorical moral imperatives, it became the victim of undisguised physical coercion and fraud."

In our present-day conflicted world it seems that legal decisions of international reach are valid only when advanced by the strongest nations.