viernes, 1 de noviembre de 2013

On Ethics Applied to Politics and Popular Elections

Continuing on the upcoming elections in my city, a new topic for discussion has emerged, which as usual has polarised opinions and speakers alike: ethics.

The recent debate about ethics in politics has blown open an even more important debate sparked by one the standpoints(that ethics is for philosophers): Is the exercise of ethics really necessary for the development of politics?

The question alone might singlehandedly earn me the animosity of many, but let us examine the question before burning me alive.

Ethics has been defined as the rules a person must follow in all his daily actions in order not to interfere with anyone else´s life and normal development. In the political arena, ethics has been taken a step further, to the point of being loyal to your competitors when running for public office or while exercising public office. But the same people who would blow the whistle readily on anybody will have no problem speaking up and raising rumors against their oppositors. And how is that ethical? They shield themselves behind corruption claims, due process violations and things of the sort. They claim that they only do it to protect society from their grasp and selfishness.

While that may be true through and through, upon closer scrutiny of these denouncers one finds that all of them have several characteristics in common, namely a left-wing political procedence, a history of switching parties (with quite differing stands), a political career full of local offices held and a rebellious past.

Let us analyze each of these characteristics and their ethical impact upon these people´s actions: 
  1. Left-wing political procedence: The left-wing in Latin America has traditionally been a comfort zone for politicians and revolutionaries to lean on when all other options have been exhausted. It seeks equality in the distribution of resources and riches, which under the capitalist and neoliberal approach to economics and politics now permeating every level of public administration is impossible.
  2. History of switching parties: Before definitely making the jump into the left-wing, those who would change the world with a peaceful demonstration draw straws several times and try their fortune in several popular parties, then create their own which normally falls through after failing to consolidate. This, in turn, means that the electors cease to rely on these people who do not demonstrate a commitment to an institution. And all of us, as good, regular humans who we are, need certainty to act.
  3. Political career full of local offices: Even before beginning the convoluted process of changing political parties, all of these people have accomplished much through their tenure in local offices, getting to know the citizens and their problems first hand, and working hand in hand with them. Also, developing a sense of resentment with the state and its institutions.
  4. A rebellious past: The origin of all the above described behavior is actually a time of rebellious ideals instilled most likely in college, which happens everywhere and in every single school in the planet. But they allow such ideals (or ideas?) to root and spread.

So, knowing all this, the whistleblowers have generally lived a history of discontent and frustration which they intend to bring to the public political scene, and despise all those who represent the opposite to their understanding of politics and the world itself for all that matters. And this would be perfect, if applied properly! Political debate has always been built upon the foundation of opposition, from the time of the Zealots and that of the Spartans. The problem is that the whistleblowers, the denouncers have forgotten, in all their intense academic preparation and studying, to strive for comprehension of the way things actually work, not how they ideally should work. They dwell forever in a utopian world where love prevails and respect of property and life reigns absolute.

Now this was true in the books and the essays; never in the annals of history.

Politics seeks the greater good, yes. But above that, it seeks to get things done.

To conclude and back to ethics: If you cannot play the game, do not enroll in the team.

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