I suggest two minimal criteria must be applied to any given proposal:
1. Is it moral?
2. Does it work?
I have written a lot about morality, by which I mean fairness and consideration for the dignity and value of all human life. Without an insistence on morality, or fairness, the proposal under consideration will cause even more violence, suffering and strife. No justice, no peace.
Are you a fan of what works? What is the point of attempting something that does not work? How can you tell if it works? One way is to determine if it has worked anywhere, ever- because at the end of the day, there is nothing new under the sun. The thing has been tried before in some form, how well did it work?
Take “free markets” for example. Free markets are touted as the solution to all our ills. If only the government would set the corporations free, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. Beware of any idea touted as the solution to all our ills, especially when guided by a spooky Invisible Hand, which bears more resemblance to a fundamentalist religious movement than good public policy.
The much-misquoted Adam Smith said something about the morality of unrestrained capitalism: “All for our selves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Such selfishness, Smith says, is vile. The free market free-for-all is not moral, but does it even work? Is it working anywhere outside the flea market? No. All economic systems are a mixture of subsidies, tariffs, and laws, now restraining, now promoting certain industries. The backers of free markets want to keep the subsidies and tax breaks and be freed from any laws restraining their headlong pursuit of profit.
But then we must ask our selves: Work to accomplish what exactly? What is the goal? If we don’t look at the bullseye, we are unlikely to hit the target. Beware of phony, vague goals, like “freedom” “Free markets” contains one of our favorite words (free) right in the name. Free markets supposedly “work” to increase the prosperity of all, with the profits trickling down like the gentle rain of heaven on those beneath.
This has been totally discredited by the past thirty years or so of deregulation. Those at the tip top have turned the heavens to brass and instead of a gentle rain; a searing drought has afflicted those beneath. Do free markets “work?” Yes, to make the rich richer-apparently the real goal all along.
Free market fundamentalism is only one example. How about anarchism? Is it moral? Does it work? How about the Scandinavian welfare state? Is it moral? Does it work? Or American-style Libertarianism? Is it moral? Does it work?
Does it work? And work to accomplish what exactly? What is it that we want? We will never achieve what we want until we figure out what that is.
What do you want?
“I don’t want people to think just like me, I just want them to think.”-Je’