Chapter 3: The Moral Ambiguity of Modern Politics
The current resurgence of claims for moral politics and social responsibilities of organizations shows traits of a backlash against the loss of morality in the historic process of modernization. One of the defining components of modernity is the privatization of morals, relegating morality to a status of private concern and replacing public morality with the ingenious idea of democratic legislative procedures. The dire aridity of secularization and rationalization, including the general disenchantment of the traditional world, has left many people without the consolation of eternal truths and unquestioned common convictions. The same people then perceive, or rather abhor, a world without public morals as a world of unbridled egotism and boundless corruption engendering a decay of community and solidarity. Globalization and its institutional suprastructure (for example WTO, World Bank or G-20 meetings) have given the quest for moral politics a resounding amplification, resulting in an almost religious fervor against the perceived evils of ‘neoliberalism’, capitalism, neo-colonialism, ‘Western’ life styles and all that, assumed to lead to an abysmal deterioration of living conditions, labor conditions, social security or environmental standards. There are many causes for the emergence of this complex constellation of contested issues. One rather important cause seems to be a basic conflict about the role of moral reasoning in the public sphere. Many proponents of the debate demand nothing less but global morals and a global ethic to combat the perceived evils they ascribe to amoral liberalism and capitalism, whereas the opposite view holds that modern secular societies depend...
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