Monday , June 17 2024

The Mock Morality

Our media, especially advertising media, is full of what is right and what is good.  Being right and good are the moral high ground from which product sales are made.

But what is right and good? Why not just steal a loaf of bread if you are hungry?  This question has floored the greatest moral philosophers of the past two centuries so why is the modern media so full of the “moral highground”? 

If you steal that loaf and get away with it was it immoral?  Certainly it was illegal but we all know that the law can be an ass.

If you hurt someone’s feelings is it immoral?  The person could be extraordinarily sensitive so you might unwittingly hurt their feelings, would that be immoral? And so what anyway?  If you want then why not hurt someone’s feelings? The consequence for you might be that the person avoids you but you might be pleased with that consequence. Empathy might be social but why is empathy moral? Can you answer that question except in terms that are socially acceptable to your Facebook group?

Every area of modern “morality” is largely an invention of the media to create polarisation or cult followings or an invention of lawmakers to impose social order.

Take “hate speech” for example.  Some people hold that it is wrong to speak “hatefully” but is it wrong to revile the murderer of your child? Just speaking hatefully is not wrong in itself.  So why is calling someone a name sometimes “wrong”, even to the point of inviting a fine or imprisonment?  Certainly if the bulk of people revile you because of your speech it might be a mistake to mis-speak but that does not make it “wrong”.  It might be wrong to call people names but most people will avoid it because it leads to punishment, not because there is a moral imperative not to do so.  As far as anyone knows there is no cast iron moral basis for banning modes of speech.

The most popular recent approach to morality is cultural relativism.  This holds that one culture cannot lecture another on morality.  However, this is always applied in such a way that the members of an isolated tribe or a defined group of foreign customs will be given a free pass on departing from our moral norms but subcultures in our own cities will be reviled for their behaviour and attitudes.

Modern morality seems to be simply a way for groups to bully others.  If a group gets consensus media approval of their moral high ground then they are virtuous and groups that they condemn are pariahs.  There is no reason to it, it is just bullying. One thing we do know for certain is that adopting the “moral high ground” is wrong, not morally wrong, just obviously wrong because those who believe they occupy the moral high ground will certainly fail to explain what morality actually is and why anyone should be moral. Stripped of its morality it is just bullying which we can accept or reject on practical grounds if not moral.

This new mock morality is disturbing because it applies moral terms to people that it condemns and so converts them into evil beings that the mock moral group must avoid and expel.  The new morality is buttering people up for something really nasty because once you make people into evil sub-humans anything is possible.

This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog:

About John Sydenham

Dr John Sydenham has worked in International Pharmaceuticals and for one of the "big four" International Consultancies. He ran a successful company for 15 years and after selling the company devotes his time to travel, science, black labradors and freedom.

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