The Moral and the Ethical

CornelFrom Cornel West, in an interview last month with Salon.

Part of [the global struggle for human rights] is realizing that we are in a moment now where people’s conception of community has been degenerated into a conception of constituency. It’s that people’s conception of a cause has been degenerated into a conception of a brand. People’s conception of the public has been degenerated into PR strategies. This creates a spiritually and morally impoverished culture. And so in order to have some notion of human rights that is actually full of content and substance, one has to have some primacy of the moral and the ethical. The calculations cannot be just the Machiavellian. So much of the culture just comes down to strategies and questions such as, “How am I going to make more money? How am I going to get something out of somebody?”

In response one should say, “No.” Life is not about that. Life is about the primacy of the moral and ethical. The legacy of a people, especially black people with Martin Luther King and others, has always been rooted in a tradition that embraces everybody and we’re losing that. We’re in a decadent moment in the culture where everything ethical becomes strategic. Integrity is reduced to money and so forth.

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