The Echoes of the Mind (164-3) Political Morality

Political Morality

Politics have no relation to morals. ~ Italian historian and politician Niccolò Machiavelli

What constitutes a moral goodness varies by political viewpoint. Liberal-minded people rightly esteem fairness and compassion as the core of morality.

Conservatives have moral concerns that liberals simply do not recognize as moral concerns. ~ Jonathan Haidt & Jesse Graham

In contrast, conservatives more highly value tribal virtues: respect, loyalty, and purity (as they perceive it). Conservative reverence is to the preservation of the status quo, based upon deep-seated psychological fear and insecurity.

The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality, and is motivated by the need to manage uncertainty and threat. ~ American psychologist John Jost et al

Conservative societies built upon strict morality are rigid and extreme, and invariably corrupt. The Islamic world is exemplary. While tolerating inequalities, particularly subjugation of women, Muslim societies are too inflexible for freewheeling modern capitalism, which ultimately relies upon fluid corruption to propel it.

No latter-day Islamic nation has been a powerhouse of innovation or enterprise. The only wealthy Islamic countries are those sitting atop fossil fuels which the rest of the world so wastefully consumes. But even the well-oiled have yet to put their wealth to productive use that would benefit their peoples beyond pacification in the form of welfare.

This is in stark contrast to the 8th-century Muslim world, before its ossification via conservatism, when Islam was a locus of learning – scientific and medical – and a mecca for culture and trade.

The moral pose of right-wingers sends their hypocrite quotient skyrocketing. Religious conservatives are especially prone to sin: the repressive morality ostensibly embraced by many Christians often flames illicit desires rather than quenching them as intended. Christian preachers and prominent conservatives caught out for moral turpitude can frequently be found in the news.

◊ ◊ ◊

Right-wing men are often sexist as well as licentious. A good example is Fox News, the conservative media outlet that has been a cesspool of misogynist culture. Its cad corpulent chairman, Roger Ailes, resigned in 2016 when faced with a choir of women complaining about his sexual harassment and career retribution for not granting him lecherous gratification. His replacement came from loyalists to the old guard.

At Fox, you have a company that not only sexually harasses, but is willing to empower its executives and use company resources to carry out ongoing harassment in the form of retaliation. ~ Andrea Tantaros, former Fox News host

The scandal at Fox News was no news to the network, which barely made any mention to its viewers that anything untoward occurred. This sort of omission is not at all unusual. News organizations typically give scant coverage of their own peccadillos.

Fox is owned by right-wing Australian-born American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, with extensive media holdings in Australia, the UK, and US. To gather gossip, Murdoch-owned media in the 2000s illegally hacked the phones of royalty, celebrities, and people with a high public profile.

Rupert’s son James, after caught dissembling to a British parliamentary committee, admitted he knew of the illicit eavesdropping and did nothing to stop it. Fruit does not fall far from the tree.

◊ ◊ ◊

Of course, more pragmatic cultures are also corrupt and tolerate inequalities, especially the economic variety; thus the relentless materialism that prevails in secular capitalist nations, including China, where economic disparities have become as bad as the United States.

Since its wholehearted embrace of capitalism in the early 1980s, China became (again) a stellar cesspool of corruption. The rise in malfeasance has been helped by a culture long inured to social dominance hierarchies which engendered an intense sense of amoral self-interest, to the point of pilfering without remorse.

Kin relations aside, the Chinese are untrusting and untrustworthy. This owes to a consistency of corruption through their long history; a cultural attribute not easily shaken.

◊ ◊ ◊

There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel. ~ Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin

With its own history of exploitative authoritarianism, Russia is another incurably corrupt society. So inured to cronyism, its embrace of capitalism has been fumbling at best. Unlike the Chinese, whose mercantile instincts have been honed for millennia, Russian society has long been a hotbed of feudalism, often run by thuggish rulers who cast themselves as strongmen. Vladimir Putin was the early 21st century embodiment of this milieu. Understandably, Russian cynicism is legendary.