Thursday, April 10, 2008

Moral Populist Movements Can Only Harass, Not Help

Antiwar movements cannot stop wars ( the duration and illegitimacy of the Iraqi war shows the antiwar movement as no meaningful effect in the specific domain they are trying to effect. )

Human rights campaigns cannot save people. (Africans killing Africans, and the populist reaction in the West is fight the Chinese by fighting torch bearers. Synopsis: the genocide perpetrators are African, but white moralists find it hard to call an African evil.)

The decline of the classical Nation is much discussed by postmodernists, but there is little discussion on the bankruptcy of power in large moral populist enterprises. I think the two declines are part of the same dynamic. An alternative would be the world is too complex for something as simple as a moral precept to disperse without a lot of channel noise undoing the message and the intent.

1 comment:

The Serpent Lord said...

The lack of ethical reflection in the moralistic anti-war and human rights movements is noteworthy. Moral movements come and go. Unless the results are incorporated into an enduring structure, these movements are just background noise.

Certain moral systems have proven to have both staying power and influence. One of these is the pro-social, medieval, Robin Hood, Machiavellian, taking-by-force, and-on-the-seventh-day-he-rested, altruistic, guardian, government ethic. We should note that the oft-disparaged hierarchies of this system are actually useful tree structures providing O(log n) response times to threats.

Growing behind the walls of this well-defended moral system is another moral system that goes back at least as far as Hammurabi, but really came into it's own during the last few centuries. This moral system based on trading has been called modern, scientific, humanist, protestant and capitalist or at least commercial ethics.

A case can be made for a new moral system growing out of the first two, based on seven day weekends, peer-to-peer networking, and commons-based production, but this might just be an extreme example of the trading ethic.

What moral system do the antiwar or human rights movements belong to? Where do they fit in? Should we examine whether the moral system itself is in crisis, or perhaps not even present in a certain locale before trying to resolve single ethical issues in isolation?

Marx predicted that nations with well-developed industry and democracy (and by extension commercial ethics) would adopt socialism peacefully, but in the United States we seem to have gotten half-socialism (public schools and social security, but inequities in income and health care which are hard to justify) and half-revolution (coal miners mowed down with machine guns) suggesting that our commercial ethics are only partially developed, and that the wealthiest nation - "the worlds only superpower" - is running on a wild west moral system in the worst sense.