Thinking about politics and morality on wednesday afternoon

I’m not a socialist – but I agree with their point that markets will tend to seek efficiencies without respect for human dignity and well-being. I’m not a libertarian – but I agree with their point that the state will tend to aggregate power to itself, necessarily trampling on the freedoms of the individual. It seems to me like the key issue here is that of beaurocratic diffusion of responsibility – whether that diffusion happens in a multinational corporation or at the level of (inter)national government. The problem is only going to get more pressing as the connections between economies, polities and societies becomes more and more multiple, distal and diverse. The globalisation of markets requires the globalisation of responsibility, but at the same time makes personal responsibility near impossible. Time for radical new political solutions? No – time for radical old political solutions. The issues have got more tangled, but they were pretty tangled at the birth of modernity anyway. There’s enough old fashioned corruption, fascism, exploitation and war around that we can still get milage out of boring things like democracy, seperation of powers, the rule of law, human rights, welfare and free trade – despite all their problems and internal contradictions.

Oh, dammit. I wanted to say something about the diffusion of responsibility (remember Milgram! remember Asch! remember Arendt!) and i’ve ended up thinking about the Enlightenment foundations of political philosophy. Hmm. So. Anyone got any ideas of how to deal with the moral impact of the diffusion of responsibility in complex socities?

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