The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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The establishment bungle

Sunday, 23 June 2024, 15:00 Last update: about 26 days ago

In more ways than one, the establishment has failed us. At least the part of the establishment that is associated with the executive government led by Robert Abela and his group of not so merry ministers. I am not at all happy how Parliament is functioning either. The fact that Labour has lost a vast majority of votes and has now come 8,000 votes away from the opposition PN, makes the next election quite unpredictable and wide open. Why has this happened?

I believe that a number of factors have led to this result. Labour moved from a relatively collective political theory on the Left, to one embracing egoism and hedonism on the Far Right. Typical of all Left parties, they hardly move to the Centre but swing to the hard Right. The hard Right also often swings to the hard Left missing the Centre completely, because both these political philosophies fail to take Aristotle’s lesson of virtue theory and the mean and therefore tend to find satisfaction in exaggeration rather than the virtue of moderation.

Labour, starting under Joseph Muscat, has heavily flirted with egoism at its worse (the important thing in politics is the pocket) and at best the general happiness principle (GHP) as understood in its Act version (the greatest happiness of the greatest number as per individual Acts) rather than the greatest happiness of the greater number based on particular rules that lead to the satisfaction of the majority, which would have been less damaging but in the end both coextensive and insufficient and having the same boundaries.

Whatever political egoist or hedonist ethical theory it encompassed, the fact remains that Labour accepted to put in place a system which was completely consequentialist with all the ramifications and fall-out that that brings with it.

A consequentialist system is one where the ends justify the means whether it is egotistic or utilitarian. A sort of proportion between the evil committed by the means to the end and the good outcome of the end itself. Like dropping the H-bomb on civilian populations in Japan or bombing Dresden in the second world war. Or a proportion between the lesser of two evils or the best of two goods. The fact remains that consequentialist systems have a number of outcomes which can be pretty negative in themselves and one reaps what one sows, the politics of egoism or hedonistic utility.

The first problem with consequentialism is that it completely fails to consider the moral object in any ethical or political action. The moral object means something good or bad in itself. To kill, to steal, to commit adultery, to be corrupt, to launder money, to be unjust, are things evil in themselves irrespective of the circumstances and/or associated intentions themselves. The intentions or circumstances of an act do not wipe away the moral object which always remains.

The morally good objects such as the principles of justice, natural rights and laws, personal rights, cannot be done away with, just because of consequentialist intentions particularly if the moral object itself is a fundamental absolute right, like any threat to human dignity including the killing of innocent human beings (Robert Abela please note), in which case it may never be compensated, because it is an intrinsically moral evil.

St Paul clearly states in his letter to the Romans (3:8, one cannot do something bad to achieve something good) that consequentialist ethics and politics are not acceptable for Christians or others who look to duty to God as a moral object. However besides Divine Law theory, there are several other objective ethical theories that refute consequentialism. These include Natural Law theory, Natural Rights theory, Kant’s theory of the sake of Duty and the Good Will, Virtue theory in its Aristotelian or modern forms such as expounded by G.E.M. Anscombe and Alisdaire MacIntyre, and also personalist communitarian ethics such as that expounded by Emmanuel Mounier and Gabriel Marcel.

Another difficulty, in consequentialism, is that the total outcomes of consequences are difficult to calculate like the ripples of a stone thrown in water. Sometimes the intentions may be different to the actual consequences produced especially since other persons are involved in an action and the chain of responsibility cannot be easily determined. Consequentialism does not allow highly ethical and heroic actions that are not unethical not to do, like saving someone from drowning with the possibility of drowning yourself, to be performed.

Hedonistic ethics (value is in pleasure) itself has its own difficulties. Including distribution and quantification, but above all, its subjective connotation of happiness and the fact that happiness is not the only value. Moral objectivity and human personal rights, altruistic solidarity, the environment and also duty to God for example are all ignored in favour of happiness.

The procedures surrounding the arraignment of Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and others involved in alleged money laundering and other alleged wrong doings (Netflix has a good film going called ‘The Laundromat’, starring Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas, which one should see in this regard) helped fuel fears that in our Republic, justice is not being served nor are all people to be treated as equal in rights! Only those the establishment wishes to be equal, all others being children of a lesser god.

There are ethical political theories which can be followed which give attention to freedom and choice but also to fundamental human values and solidarity. This is the political theory of the Common Good. It is perhaps best of all to follow this theory that respects everyone’s personal rights on equal footings.

That respects justice and lets the courts do their proper work without obstruction, being equal before the law. That pays attention to the environment, that pays attention to communitarian principles and the quality of life. That is altruistic, considering social solidarity and justice and personalistic human needs, a politics that serves rather than being served.

A politics that removes politicians from pedestals and puts peoples’ good first. A politics that focuses on personal empowerment in education, infrastructure and health needs (rather than health squandering, it was particularly irritating to find out that 400,000,000 of money allocated for health has gone down the drain, that included millions earmarked for cancer therapy). An economy that is clean and geared for the good needs of all with the end being human flourishing not enslavement. This is where we must go as quickly as possible and away from the banana republic where we are now. The next election is three years away, or less! Much still needs to be done and the involvement of all people is necessary for this!

 

 

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