Ethical Integrity Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:06:56
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Category: Integrity

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This paper will deal with the concept of ethical integrity relative to the economic crisis of 2009. In order for this concept to make any sense, it must be a social ethic, guides to life and behavior for living in society. But the current state of western economics mas made it clear that revolutionary ideas need to be introduced into our conceptions about ethics, largely utilitarian and relativist.

In this paper, the damage done to western economicsand the public perception of economicswill be seen through the eyes of four very different, but complimentary authors: John Locke, Pierre Proudhon, Murray Bookchin and GWF Hegel. All three will be used to deal with the elements of ethic integrity in a time of radical dissatisfaction with the status quo: a status quo where the state and the corporate governance of the western world is coming into question like never before.

Proudhon was a revolutionary that functioned in the tradition of Locke. He takes the contract of free peoples that was so dear to Locke in forming the state and takes it one step further: that the state, as outlined by Locke, is not necessary at all, if the main basis of it is the contract in defense of natural rights. The state, in this view, seems to be an unnecessary middleman that always grows far beyond the bounds the libertarians like Locke seek to imprison it (George, 1922, 534).

For Proudhon, then, all politics is coercive and power hungry, and hence, Lockes libertarian theory just provides the groundwork for later tyranny and statism. Proudhon is the creator of a system fo exchange called, for lack of a better phase, mutualist anarchism. What Proudhon saw in his day (the late 18th century) was the wild industrialization of life, the making of quick fortunes and the basic instability of life that was the lot of the average worker and small business man. Such a view would fit to our own day as well.

But what Proudhon envisaged is the dismantling of the central state and the large corporate behemoth into t mutualist federation of communities (George, 1922, 535). For him, the man was not a citizen, for that was a mystification with no meaning. He was primary a producer: an industrial worker, farmer, fisherman or banker. It was here that his economic worth was found. All others, the state and the corporate boss, were mere parasites that produced nothing. But if the ethical option of revolution is a proper one, then what would replace the huge modern state?

This is the essence of mutualism: the morally integral person manifests his integrity by making and keeping contracts with other people and communities (George, 1922, 538). Anarchy for Proudhon is the moral force that binds individuals and communities to contracts, contracts which represent mutual agreement. If this is the case, then the state makes little sense: the force that binds is the community whose moral force as well as ones reputation serve to cement ties one person (producer) to another.

In other words, each community of producers, functioning in the larger community of diverse members, have their worth in their skills in a trade or producers association: this means that the function of this skill in the society requires a moral approach to contracts: by refusing to hold up ones side of the bargain will expose the person in question as morally fraudulent and hence, outside of the system of mutual exchange, and hence, needless to say, broke.

Mutualism means moral integrity because one ability to exchange goods and services by way of contract is the basis of an orderly society, not the direction of the state or the creation of needs by corporate bosses. The nature of revolution, then is the gradual taking of political power away from the sate and the corporate boards by these societies of mutual aid: producers organizations of farmers, mechanics, etc.

Hence, what Locke began as the contract among free property holders to create a state is taken to its next level: workers and producers protecting their autonomy by joining in associations to function on the basis of mutual aid, guaranteed by contract and personal reputation. In other words, Proudhon takes Locke to the next level: from the mutual aid of property holders to the mutual aid of all producers (Proudhon, 1977, 12ff).

In both cases, the idea of contract and mutual aid is central, but, since Proudhon is writing in an already industrialized time (Locke, right at the beginning), much has changed since Locke wrote, and the world of industry and finance has destroyed individual autonomy, not enhanced it. As in our own times, both the state and the corporate actors have grown into a symbiotic monster that sucks the average worker dry in taxes and debt.

The reality is that no rational person can look at the economic system in the western world in 2009 and claim that it has protected autonomy, community and property: it has done exactly the opposite. Hence, this papers focus: the creation, basis and reaction of the morally integral person to this crisis.

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