Monday, July 11, 2011

Should nations behave in a "moral fashion", or are they, By their nature, amoral

I wanted to share some thoughts and get your response on the subject of "Is the state a moral entity, or by its nature, amoral", that was brought up at the last Platypus meeting.

 I will use Tom Hanks in "The Castaway" as my model.

 Societies, by their very nature must be moral. Tom is alone on the island and entitled (by God?) to utilize everything there for his purposes. All the food, shelter, water and firewood, for example, is his.  It is a condition of Natural Law that it be so.

The minute "Joe", a newcomer, floats to the island, all bets are off.  Tom is no longer entitled to everything as he now belongs to a "society".  He has the immoral option of rejecting the society by killing Joe, but should he choose not to do that then he has willingly created a "state". A paradigm of societal standards, rules that govern how he and Joe behave.

This new state, "The Republic of Tom and Joe" has an implied equality standard within it. It is immoral for Tom to take 80% of the water for his own use, but if he is the stronger of the two, he may take it and create a "Republic  of Tom and Joe" law that says he is entitled to 80% of the water. But it will be an immoral law because it abrogates equality. Not "equal opportunity", mind you, for that is a fallacy. Joe can never have equal opportunity.  He came later, doesn't yet know where the spring is, etc. One of the great fallacies of America is that we have "equal opportunity", sheer nonsense.

Fast forward to the nation -states of today where inequality is rampant and even prized by those who are successful.  I am smarter, bigger stronger than you so I am entitled to more. All the way to the Libertarian nonsense of "I own the work of myself". So if I get rich enough to  buy the seafront of California, you can't swim at the Beach.

Nation -states, due to their complexity, pass all kinds of laws to avoid chaos.  And despite the Republican position of "If its legal it is moral", we know this to be untrue.

At the root core of every Democratic or near democratic nation-state, from the Republic of Tom and Joe to the USA, is the attempt to maximize benefit the citizenry. While dictatorships may have the goal of benefitting the person in power, that is not the case with democracies. If you wish now to make the case that the USA is a dictatorship of the elite and powerful, I could not disagree.

But politics aside for the moment, if a nation-state seeks "immoral" largess as the Republicans seem to be doing now, more for the rich and less for the poor,  or as might have been during the time of Louis XIV, for example ("let them eat cake"), where those in power take an uneven share of the state's production, what happens? Revolution.......ALWAYS....revolution.  Sometimes by force of arms and sometimes, as in China today, economic revolution which forces the state into a more democratic posture,  A more "Moral" posture. 

In short, nation-states MUST function in a moral manner or they won't last long. Is their morality perfect?  Certainly not!  But they must address their actions in a moral manner or risk chaos.

Now as to the position that nations are amoral when it comes to other nations, I would strongly disagree. The logical extension of this argument is strong nations should dominate weak nations since there is no moral imperative preventing them from doing that.  Why don't we invade Mexico and add ten states to the American union? It is better for everyone. The cost of doing it-minor, just threaten them with nuclear annihilation: Illegal immigration-solved:  the fate of the inhabitants-improved:  the standard of living- raised:  the opportunities- endless: the judicial system-improved: The drug cartels-prosecuted, etc. Why not? t is better for them and better for us.  We get cheap labor and they get the benefits of the USA.

The only answer is it is immoral for us to do that. Would we be afraid of Europe declaring war on us? Probably not, no sane nation would pursue that course first.  There would be protest, negotiation, but in the end the world would probably comply probably because the population of Mexico would welcome the improvements. But it is immoral to do so.

No nation can long pursue immoral ideals. Witness Nazi Germany, Communist Russia or China, 17th century France and many more....collapsed by their immorality. By their unfair treatment of the citizenry and other nations.

Now I grant you that the United States is moving ever closer to an immoral state, a state in which the rich get richer and the poor poorer and ignored. But we will not be able to sustain that forever.  The poor will rise up. Similarly, if we act imperially as we are doing in Iraq, maybe Afghanistan, and Libya, other nations and peoples will begin to decry us and no longer see us as moral. There was mention of how the Egyptians and Jordanians popular belief was  the "second Bush" election may have been stolen in Florida, and thus our government was just as corrupt as theirs and therefore they lost all respect for us.  We did not act in a sufficiently moral manner.

I want to further this conversation and await your response.

Let us deal with "corporate morality" later.