Phillip Blond: Without a concept of virtue our politics and our banks are doomed

Share
Related Topics

In all the clamour and rage of the expenses crisis, the fundamental issue remains wholly unaddressed: that of the value system that allowed such abuses in the first place.

Firstly, it was the market that showed the bankruptcy of its governing narrative, where the short-term interest of the few were allowed to undermine the long-term needs of the many. This cancer has also passed to the state, where individual MPs were shown to be incapable of distinguishing between their own interests and that of the public.

However, neither bankers nor politicians have broken any ethical codes because by consent on both right and left, no such ethic exists. Left-wing culture adores social and cultural relativism as it allows a personal libertarianism that since the late 1960s has captured the affluent and decadent middle class while fragmenting and destroying working class culture. The trouble is the progressive subjectivisation of objective value prevents one from condemning anything, least of all the self-interest of bankers or MPs.

Correspondingly, right-wing culture has either surrendered all of its values to some Darwinian variant of the market, where it thinks that whatever wins is right, a situation that licenses both Hitler and the freedom of high finance. Or if it asserts ethical value, as many rightly do, it somehow thinks that morals are either innately there or not: there are, according to this view, simply bad and good people. This conservatism ignores the social affect of civilisation and tends to concentrate morality and piety in a self-aggrandising elite.

Clearly a new moral code is required We need the concept of virtue. This ancient Greek and Christian notion transcends the current malaise and calls us to debate and discern the common civic good that alone is the basis for society. While contemporary morals abandon any notion of education and validate us and our "opinions" whatever they may be, virtue approaches humans on the basis of what they ought to be. Since virtue theory accepts the mediation of truth by time and context, it avoids the slide into exculpatory left-wing relativism. And it endorses culture and transformation. It takes moral conservatism out of the hands of an established elite and transfers it to us all.

The author was speaking at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival last week

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most