Against Moral Austerity

The focus here on the dignity of the human person can be the moral basis of an egalitarian, pluralistic politics. It is why the religious left should really be left. And it holds out the deepest reason that should be so: the hope for an anti-meritocratic politics. …

This basic moral posture means viewing people in terms other than efficiency and utility. It demands humility in the face of social problems: refusing to pathologize the poor; understanding how circumstances or bad luck press upon us; and grasping that we are fallible and flawed beings, not utility-maximizing agents. No human being should be a mere abstraction, a person whose life and livelihood is made expendable by the supposed demands of creative destruction. It also means seeing through the illusions of those who believe the present order of things, the “winners” and “losers” of the status quo, have truly earned all that they have. It becomes a plea to de-link our politics and economics from notions of deserving and undeserving, from the self-serving justifications of meritocracy. We have to strip away the illusion that things are the way they are simply because of differences in virtue.

Matthew Sitman

Against Moral Austerity

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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