The moral imperative for the West

With the ousting of Milosevic the revolution of 1989 has been completed. This dramatic event causes us to relive the meaning of that revolution itself, while the whole of it re-emphasizes the moral imperative for the West. For while it is obvious that Russia and Eastern Europe must primarily help themselves, the moral imperative is that the West also should do something to enable them to help themselves better. Russia and Eastern Europe have been victims of the brutal repression by dictatorial regimes, and they need all the help they can get to develop towards stable and prosperous democracies, to the benefit of humanity, international peace and environmental sustainability.

While facing this moral imperative, the West however also finds itself in a predicament. As of old, the best way to enable people to help themselves is to allow trade, but when trade associates with cheap imports, then this seems bad for employment at home, and hence the West has barriers to trade again. So there is a tendency to lend money, but not allowing for the ways to repay those loans, and thus to end up in a second best or even worse world. Currently Russia benefits from the high oil price, but it is an improvement from a sad low point, and the situation is actually a demonstration of the importance of more trade in general.

Where the moral imperative really cuts, is at Western economic policy making itself. In Western capitals it is believed that unemployment is being caused by technology and globalisation, and sclerotic welfare systems as well. These are causes basically external to our systems of economic policy making. But the true cause of unemployment is not external, but internal to the West, internal in our system of economic policy making. If something is sclerotic in the West, then it is its system of economic policy making. It is the West’s own short sightedness that causes hurt to others. Hence, the moral imperative for Western nations is to reconsider the structure of economic policy making. Since this requires from our policy makers to become critical of their own ways and actions, this also clarifies why the moral imperative gets relatively little attention, and why there is so little improvement after the Eastern revolution.

What would be particularly advisable nowadays is that each Western nation adopts some Constitutional Amendment for an Economic Supreme Court, as an extension to the common Trias Politica structure. Next to the checks and balances of Executive, Legislative and Juridical powers, there would be an improvement in the quality of economic decision making if there would be a fourth Power specifically created for that task. The economic record of the last centuries shows that the economic security of the population at large is insufficiently served by the current structure of economic policy making, that allows too much leeway to political meddling. And indeed, the current three Powers will not easily bow to the moral imperative to reduce their current possibilities to meddle. So it is advisable to emphasize this analysis to our policy makers and the population in general.

For a full development of this analysis and the analysis of Western unemployment, I refer to my book and website below.

Thomas Cool

"Definition and Reality in the General Theory of Political Economy", Samuel van Houten Genootschap 2000, ISBN 90-802263-2-7

October 7, 2000