The Outsourcing of Immorality
Many very positive books and papers have been written about the positive trajectory of the world’s societies on issues such as violence (Pinker, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”) and general morality (Shermer, “The Moral Arc”). Many of us in Canada and other parts of the so-called “developed nations” have congratulated ourselves on our progress on ethical and moral issues and the gap we have opened over many other nations in the world. The question I have is: have we just achieved our progress by simply Outsourcing our Immorality?
1. By Corporate system: child labour, de facto slavery, sweatshops, dangerous work environments, bribery, corporate bullying and exploitation of aboriginal peoples have all been either eradicated or made the exception in developed nations but remain the rule everywhere else while we continue to be the consumers of the products. What are our responsibilities?
2. By Governments: illegal wars, “legal” wars, black ops, drone strikes, mass surveillance, torture have all been practised by our governments on our behalf and as long as they are directed outward or beyond our borders or against our enemies, morality or ethics are moot? Why don’t we feel complicit?
3. Personally: the lawyer who does the dirty work in your divorce, the accountant’s sharp practise to work the tax system, the underground economies (cash and black markets), the industrial food complex we pay to provide for our consumption and keep our hands clean – all areas where we are encouraged to hand over our ethical agency to those who know how not to get caught when working to our advantage. Why do we feel so righteous in these behaviours?
4. The Ethical Footprint – accepting responsibility for our existence, our choices and their implications could be a way to be more humble, less self-righteous and more supportive of the people within and outside our borders to whom we have outsourced our immorality.