Western Civilization and Classical Economics: The Immorality of Austerity

Published on Global Research.ca, by Prof. John Kozy, Dec. 12, 2010.

When a civilization abandons its morality, no rationalization can be devised to justify its continued existence. It is likely that many reasons can be given for this abandonment in the Western world, although I am convinced that one predominates—the expansion of law. Law once governed various kinds of behavior. It has now encroached upon various kinds of speech and is even being applied to the realm of belief. When someone is accused of having done something wrong, the reply offered usually is something like, “What was done complied with all legal requirements.” But “right” has never been defined as “conforms to law,” because thoughtful people have long noticed that the law itself can be a great crime, and the worst criminals in a culture can be its lawgivers, as the people of Ireland, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, and Great Britain are now finding out. Americans will soon find it out too … // 

… The United States and much of the so-called Western World are wallowing in widespread budgetary and sovereign debt crises, and the world’s financial elite are forcing many European nations into severe austerity programs much to the chagrin of European peoples. Some of these nations have been referred to by the acronym PIGS, which is apt since pigs are a species of livestock. So what we have, of course, is swineherds sacrificing their livestock for the benefit of the international financial community which cares nothing for people or even the nations they reside in. These financiers validate Jefferson’s view that merchants have no country. They also have no morality, not even a smidgen. Neither do the economists who promote this economy.

Signs that the American swineherds are preparing to abandon their own herd by imposing an austerity program on it are displayed in the report of Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission and the insistence of our Republican Congressmen that spending on “entitlements” either be reduced or paid for while spending on wars, foreign aid, and the military be allowed to continue and even increase without any provisions whatsoever for paying for them. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that warfare and foreign aid are necessary economic principals while the American people have fallen into that group of economically irrelevant people that those like Andrew Mellon would have the government liquidate. So the unemployed should be allowed to starve, and the ill should be allowed to perish—both of which principles are perfectly consistent with the “morality” of classical economics.

Yet the most difficult thing to understand is what the proponents of this economy believe the purpose of it all is. What is the goal of all of this destruction, suffering, and killing? Does it give them some kind of deranged pride? Does a banker really feel good when he is told his bank evicted hundreds of families in the past week? Does a general rejoice when he is told that dozens of the enemy and scores of his own troops have been killed in the battle just fought? Does a legislator drink a toast to progress when it is learned that hundreds of children in her/his district go to bead hungry each night? If so, what kind of human beings are they? If not, just what can they possibly be thinking?

All the moral codes mentioned in this piece are Western in origin; yet none now plays a role in how the people of this civilization behave. When a civilization abandons its morality, no rationalization can be devised to justify its continued existence. It is likely that many reasons can be given for this abandonment, although I am convinced that one predominates—the expansion of law. Law once governed various kinds of behavior. It has now encroached upon various kinds of speech and is even being applied to the realm of belief. If there is a single aspect of human life that is not now circumscribed by law, I do not know of it. So when someone is accused of having done something wrong, the reply offered usually is something like, “What was done complied with all legal requirements.” But “right” has never been defined as “conforms to law,” because thoughtful people have long noticed that the law itself can be a great crime, and that the worst criminals in a culture can be its lawgivers, as the people of Ireland, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, and Great Britain are now finding out. Americans will soon find it out too. (full text).

(John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on John Kozy.com and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage. Global Research Articles by John Kozy).

Link: Mortgage Anyone? on John Kozy.com, Sept. 30, 2009: Have you ever wondered why the standard terms for mortgages are 15 and 30 years rather than 10 and 20 or 25 and 50? … (full text).

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