Tuesday, April 2, 2019
A Short Note On The Political Fate Of Jody Wilson-Raybould And The Nature Of Political Morality: High Unflinching Principle Against The Reality Of Politics
Isn’t Socrates drinking the hemlock an expression of the ultimate incompatibility between high principle and and real life politics, between the purity of philosophy and the unavoidable impurity of real life, inevitably conflicted, complex, messy, problematic and compromised, on the ground?
As Richard Posner said speaking of Machiavelli:
...People… have difficulty grasping the distinctive and essential components of political morality, comprising the qualities necessary in a statesman or other leader. Those qualities are strategic and interpersonal (manipulative, coercive, psychological) in character. They are quintessentially social. They constitute the morality, misunderstood as cynicism, expounded by Machiavelli, the morality that Weber contrasted with an ‘ethic of ultimate ends’, his term for the uncompromising absolutist ethics that one finds, for example, on the Sermon on the Mount. The ethics of political responsibility implies a willingness to compromise, to dirty one’s hands, to flatter and lie, to make package deals, to forgo the prideful self satisfaction that comes from self-conscious purity and devotion to principle. It requires a sense of reality, of proportion, rather than self-righteousness or academic smarts. The politician must have an ‘ability to let realities work upon him with inner consciousness and calmness.’...
I think these notions of pure Sermon on the Mount morality and contrasting political morality so understood go to the heart of what finally befell Jody Wilson Reybould and Jane Philpott.