Friday, July 07, 2017

Global Poverty: Against Economic Empires

The global poor, and anybody who cares about the global poor, has many and strong reasons to condemn those global wealthy whose goal is to build massive economic fiefdoms.

To direct this criticism to the "top 1%" or "billionaires" would make it a bigoted assertion. Criticism of a named group is only legitimate if one is criticizing a defined characteristic of the named group. (See: Criticizing an Idea.) Many people in the named groups "top 1%" and "billionaires" are decent people. They are taking active steps to direct their large stockpiles of accumulated wealth to help the global poor.

However, there are some - morally contemptible people - in this class who are more interested in preserving and expanding their economic empires. They seek to accumulate as much wealth as possible. They regard the life, health, liberty, and well-being of other human beings as having little or no significance when held up against the opportunity to accumulate personal wealth.

People generally have many and strong reasons to morally condemn these economic emperors.

According to desirism, a vice is a character trait that people generally have many and strong reasons to condemn. This refers to actual reasons - not mere beliefs, fictions, or figments of the imagination. The aversion to pain is a real reason. Hunger and thirst provide real reasons for intentional action - reasons to praise and condemn, and to reward and punish. The value of shelter and security and the well-being of those one cares about are also real-world reasons. To please an imaginary god, or to serve an imaginary intrinsic value, are not real-world reasons for intentional action (including reward/praise or punishment/condemnation).

The vice of hoarding huge quantities of wealth and using it to establish an economic empire is a vice that there are many and strong real-world reasons to condemn and to punish. It is a vice that people generally have many and strong real-world reasons to call immoral - and a trait of character that justifies calling those who possess it evil, contemptible, moral monsters.

There is, seriously, more and stronger real-world reasons to adopt an attitude of condemnation towards these people than we have for an attitude of condemnation towards drunk drivers, rapists, and thieves. These economic emperors do far more real-world harm - are responsible for far more real-world suffering.

They tend to avoid the condemnation they deserve by using their wealth to promote attitudes other than those that real-world reasons would say are warranted. They like to cause us to believe that they have a right to their wealth (to cause suffering among others) and fill our environment with a condemnation of those who would criticize them for the harms that they cause. Thus, they fill people's heads with imaginary reasons not to condemn them that obscure and replace real-world reasons for condemnation. However, the fact that they are effective at promoting these fictions does not prevent them from being fictions.

No comments: