Monday, March 10, 2008

Two Sides of Different Coins

Hopefully you caught the seemingly contradictory nature of my Mazda and Dubai posts. Why is Mazda's dismissal of good taste in pursuit of a new form of beauty a good thing, while the spectacular growth of Dubai seems cynical at best? Both pursue the path to their respective ends without the burden of shame, and both are motivated by economic survival. The difference lies in the means to their ends.

It is certainly possible for one to operate without shame while maintaining the highest ethics and morals. One of the greatest misconceptions is that shame and morality and inseparable, if not synonymous. If you believe Christian teachings, humanity was given a clean slate when Jesus died, yet shame and guilt are still overwhelming influences in western culture - especially within the catholic church. That does not make it right.

Mazda's shame-free search for beauty is innocent by nature, and most importantly, doesn't cause harm to anyone else. In that, it is ethical and similar to Objectivism. Even at Ayn Rand's preachiest, she is always clear that with individual freedom is the need for respect and ethical behavior for a society to function. One is never obligated to serve the needs of another, but one's own desires should never compromise another's liberty.

Dubai is more like an amoral corporation which feels no responsibility beyond profit and ego. It rightfully operates without the burden of shame, but also appears to lack any real ethics or morality. Sure, the UAE has lots of strict rules - but I don't see real ethics coming into play. It's the ultimate in top-down capitalism. As was pointed out earlier in the comments, migrant workers are treated "below human standards" according to Human Rights Watch.

You can't blame the developers in Dubai. They learned everything they know from American corporations and politics since the Reagan era. The notion of good corporate citizenship was all but erased in the 1980s. Most large American corporations, and even many privately held companies, feel no responsibility beyond their own best interests. That is completely lazy, unacceptable, and potentially evil. If speaking about a person, psychologists define this as "psychopathic behavior." The same has been said of the Bush administration, which is the first time the Reagan era corporate model has been fully applied to the executive branch of the US government. The administration runs exactly like a modern corporation. These are the kind of people who do terrible things all week long, then feel okay about it because they go to church on Sunday. This is a massive distortion of morality. In this type of mindset, when one makes a mistake they immediately think internally: "I'm going to be in trouble - how do I get out of it?" instead of externally: "I've hurt someone - how can I help them?"

The rule of law is ever shifting and practically farcical, and can never substitute real ethics. We need not feel shame, but we must be ethical in everything we do. This applies universally to individuals, businesses and nations.

[somewhat related: Guilty Pleasures]

1 comment:

Michael Doyle said...
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