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The BushCo-de of Ethics


The BushCo-de of Ethics

by Allen Snyder

Honesty, integrity, and morality were the first three casualties of this terminally corrupt Administration’s war on all domestic and international progress.


Remember when they said they’d restore honesty, integrity, and morality to the White House? Re-dignify the Presidency and re-hallow the halls?

Well, they were even lying about that. Honesty, integrity, and morality were the first three casualties of this terminally corrupt Administration’s war on all domestic and international progress.

Despite BushCo’s bluster about ‘compassionate conservatism’, they’re not a fraction of either. Their compassion is mainly for anyone who makes enough to fire off big annual checks to the party elite (or start a recall) and their conservatism is a thinly disguised, but equally dangerous, Nazi-inspired fascism.

While it’s tempting to dismiss them as radical extremists who actually have no morality whatsoever, this is far too simple. Even ‘evil’ people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and certain Popes had moralities; they just contradicted everyone else’s and terribly hurt rather than helped people.

On Day #1 of Ethics class, we discuss the conflict between two predominant schools of moral thought - absolutism and relativism.

In short, absolutists argue that at least one moral principle or set of principles is true, right, and correct. Of the myriad moral systems and principles, one or more is objectively true (really, really true – like scientific principles are supposed to be).

Contrarily, relativists claim there are no absolute moral truths or objective standards; the moral status of actions is ultimately dependent upon other factors, one’s culture or social status perhaps. Thus, what is moral may change over time as people’s attitudes and values do or new facts are discovered.

Absolutism offers moral certainty. It alleviates the emotional agony of being poked by the horns of a moral dilemma and provides the security of a fixed benchmark from which to judge others’ actions (we love to do that!).

If absolutism is true, then we can know (in that indubitable Cartesian sense of the word) what is morally right and wrong. Moral dilemmas would cease to be dilemmas and for all situations, we could consistently make the morally correct choice.

Whew! What a load off our minds!

Relativism offers only doubt and uncertainty. It emphasizes the grey in moral thinking and acting. Its critics wrongly believe if relativism is true, then all acts are morally equal and competent moral judgment and comparison impossible. Without a fixed standard, how does one judge anything?

So, what does this have to do with the BushCo-de of Ethics?

Well, you’ve seen the way these neo-cons continually parse the world up into us/them, good/evil, Americans/terrorists. Their unquestioned moral clarity make their killing thousands of Iraqis and screwing ordinary Americans go down the ol’ gullet without a single thought, twinge of conscience, or tug of altruism. Bush is forever saying he’ll do what he thinks is right (as if this ignoramus’ moral compass is ever accurate).

An article by Marjorie Cohn called, ‘A Cruel and Unusual Embargo: Bush Gunning for Regime Change in Cuba’, published by Counterpunch on October 16, makes clear BushCo’s moral depravity.

Cohn asks rhetorically, ‘What if Sweden decided that the United States needed a regime change because of the high number of people living below the poverty level, without jobs or health car, the police brutality on our streets and in our prisons, the execution of innocent people, and the indefinite detention and inhumane treatment of 600 people in Guantanamo for nearly two years? Would Sweden have the right to impose ‘regime change’ on the United States?’ (emphasis mine).

I know I’m supposed to shout, ‘Hell no, they wouldn’t! No one has such a right!’, but all that comes out is, ‘Who the hell cares?! What an utterly irrelevant question! Who gives a sh*t whether Sweden would have the right to impose regime change on the US!?’

Certainly not BushCo. In their world of moral hypocrisy and duplicity, morality is nothing but the self-anointed strong and wise imposing their collective will on the selectively chosen weak and ignorant. Not very Christ-like behavior from a guy who once gushed that Jesus is his favorite philosopher (see, Bush doesn’t even know what philosophy is). Their utter contempt for international law, their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, and their hatred of American civil liberties all point to a power mentality.

The question, then, isn’t whether or not Sweden would have the right to impose regime change, but whether they had the power to impose regime change.

Remember, these guys aren’t that deep. This stuff is right out of the Thrasymachus might-makes-right playbook (the Greek proto-Bush in Plato’s Republic) and its modern update by Über-philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s been put into practice by every hated dictator in history - every head-case with a clear moral vision - and it never fails to rain misery and death upon countless innocents. It is an ethics of fear, paranoia, disconnect, intimidation, and raw power.

And it’s an ethics we should be ashamed to call American.

Allen Snyder is an instructor of Philosophy and Ethics.  He can be reached at This article is copyright by Allen Snyder and  originally published by but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.


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