Moral obligation

Will this then be the death of democracy in this country?


What is all the current public angst about? The screaming, the waving of “MAGA” signs, the eruption of open racism and xenophobia? It seems as though, since the rise of Trump, society is being ripped apart at the seams 

It is on the ideals of moral consideration that, over centuries, civil societies have been built and upon the abandonment of those that societies ultimately have destroyed themselves. By any measure, we seem to have become a society on its way to becoming devoid of moral consideration over any sort of operational advantage, financial, political, legal, or otherwise. Consequently, when looking back at the idea of such obligation one wonders, if moral obligation can even be a part of our current political and social discourse.

We presently have a president who, with his physical posturing, defiant simplistic and infantile rhetoric, and unhinged “Tweets”, has more in common with Mussolini than any other American president. This is a president whose power and ascension to office was borne on the back of resentment and his ability to manipulate it. This is a president whose complete lack of morals has been revealed in one salacious tell-all after another. 

I believe one can rightly ask if the president, his family and staff, and his Congressional accomplices have even heard of moral obligation. This question must be asked because there doesn’t seem to be a trace of such consideration. It is clear that their actions, motives, and behaviors have been put through a wash and rinse cycle eliminating all moral engagement. What we are witnessing is a complete lack of moral obligation an absence of moral consideration of the effects of their actions on the lives and welfare of others. It is as though these people live in a moral vacuum. This is, in its effects, sociopathic, the consequences of which are consequential. This is, in effect, sociopathic. 

The inevitable question then arises: Will this society ever consider the moral dimensions of behavior in matters such as politics, social welfare, or war in places where there is no demonstrable national interest aside from the business of war the cost of which when measured in national treasure and the lives of young men and women is immense.  According to an international organization that monitors wars around the globe, the United States has killed something on the order of 2 million people post 9/11. Young men and women who could be making positive contributions to the betterment of this country right here, at home, are being used to make profit for the war industry. The F-35 fighter alone has cost in excess of $406 billion to date! The proposed military budget for 2018 is another $406 billion! Imagine what that money would do for public education, civil infrastructure, medical research and care, and so many other socially valuable activities.

Our national fortune is being squandered not to make life better, here on this continent, in this country, where needs are demonstrably great and infrastructure is in disrepair and crumbling. It goes beyond the exercise in dribble-down economics because the dribble inevitably disappears as manufacturing jobs are shipped to countries where lower wages prevail. What then when the population of unemployed Americans reaches a critical mass? What then when social services are diminished and disappear? What then when there is no one left able to purchase the goods made overseas? That then is the definition and expression of a zero-sum game. 

The question of moral obligation and engagement goes even further and deeper than the commercialization of war as billionaires and millionaires are currently sponsoring a war on public education. Everyone is an educational expert once their fortune exceeds some arbitrary amount. The most vocal of the self-appointed school reform zealots have zero qualifications as educators yet they exercise sufficient influence to destroy public schools. Where is the moral consideration in this? Public education is a foundational institution that has served this country since 1635 when the Boston Latin School in Massachusetts opened it doors. To attack public education for the purpose of profit goes beyond greed which is only one motive. What the self- anointed reformers are really after are children educated to be compliant and manipulable.

Will this then be the death of democracy in this country? Could it be that Hayek was right, that we are on “The Road to Serfdom”? Can that possibly be inevitable?


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Emanuele Corso’s essays on politics, education, and the social contract have been published at NMPolitics, Light of New Mexico, Grassroots Press, World News Trust, Nation of Change, and his own - He taught Schools and Society and school reform at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he took his PhD and three Master’s degrees. His BS was in Mathematics. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force’s - Strategic Air Command where he served as a Combat Crew Officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He has been a member of the Carpenters and Joiners union and has worked for the World Bank and abroad as a management consultant. He is presently working on two books: Belief Systems and the Social Contract and Schools and Society. He can be reached at