• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Not Liberty, Happiness

Photograph Source: Becker1999 from Grove City, OH – CC BY 2.0

In 1863, John Stuart Mill posited the utilitarian principle as the foundation of ethics. Even today this lets us weigh actions morally: the more happiness an action promotes, the more upright it is. But if this simple calculus allows us to determine the greatest good for the greatest number of people, then how do we fare?

Take the pandemic, say. Will our posterity believe we passed the test, morally speaking?

Not likely.

Why? Because too many extol liberty, not happiness, as “the only thing desirable, as an end”––to quote Mill, who identifies happiness as this end (and everything else as “only desirable as means to that end”).

No. To have passed this test, we needed liberty to be a means to happiness, not an end itself. Probably, then, we can never laud ourselves as moral exemplars in light of the COVID crucible.

And that ballast that once righted our ship out of a deference for the common good? That stuff Mill once sensed suffused our collective ethical ether? A treasure, now, lost to the depths as the overboarded Africans who refused slavery, or the drowned migrants and refugees who, just yesterday, hoped for Europe.

Now, the greatest good for the greatest number is a mere specter, haunting those who mourn the future, too bereaved to bury the past.

Nor does this new understanding totally excuse us: even if we can never truly know why, as Mill says, “the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness,” we can still see, clearly, that liberty really does unseat happiness for some.

Too, any irony at present will not be lost on future generations who judge us, and rightly so.

Those appeals to market-based economics? Remember, they always pretended a moral probity by alluding to Mills’ principle: markets do the most good for the greatest number. And, having wanted no Caesar in Washington, small government and states’ rights should have prevailed painlessly, right?

Well, why so much state capitol protest?

Sad!

The freest among us now submit: happiness for a haircut––nothing more. And any moral turpitude really is so banal: they are losing their heads only to lose their hair, and maybe a life or two.

More articles by:

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel.

June 01, 2020
Joshua Frank
It’s a Class War Now Too
Richard D. Wolff
Why the Neoliberal Agenda is a Failure at Fighting Coronavirus
Henry Giroux
Racial Domestic Terrorism and the Legacy of State Violence
Ron Jacobs
The Second Longest War in the United States
Kanishka Chowdhury
The Return of the “Outside Agitator”
Lee Hall
“You Loot; We Shoot”
Dave Lindorff
Eruptions of Rage
Jake Johnston
An Impending Crisis: COVID-19 in Haiti, Ongoing Instability, and the Dangers of Continued U.S. Deportations
Nick Pemberton
What is Capitalism?
Linda G. Ford
“Do Not Resuscitate”: My Experience with Hospice, Inc.
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Who Are the Secret Puppet-Masters Behind Trump’s War on Iran?
Manuel García, Jr.
A Simple Model for Global Warming
Howard Lisnoff
Is the Pandemic Creating a Resurgence of Unionism? 
Frances Madeson
Federal Prisons Should Not be Death Chambers
Hayley Brown – Dean Baker
The Impact of Upward Redistribution on Social Security Solvency
Raúl Carrillo
We Need a Public Option for Banking
Kathy Kelly
Our Disaster: Why the United States Bears Responsibility for Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
An Open Letter to Joe Biden on Race
Scott Owen
On Sheep, Shepherds, Wolves and Other Political Creatures
John Kendall Hawkins
All Night Jazz All The Time
Weekend Edition
May 29, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Tim Wise
Protest, Uprisings, and Race War
Nick Pemberton
White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector
T.J. Coles
What’s NATO Up to These Days? Provoking Russia, Draining Healthcare Budgets and Protecting Its Own from COVID
Benjamin Dangl
Bibles at the Barricades: How the Right Seized Power in Bolivia
Kevin Alexander Gray - Jeffrey St. Clair - JoAnn Wypijewski
There is No Peace: an Incitement to Justice
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Few Good Sadists
Jeff Mackler
The Plague of Racist Cop Murders: Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Joshua Frank
In Search of a Lost Socialism
Charles Pierson
Who are the “Wrong Hands” in Yemen?
David Schultz
Trump isn’t the Pope and This Ain’t the Middle Ages
Andrew Levine
Trump Is Unbeatable in the Race to the Bottom and So Is the GOP
Ramzy Baroud
Political Ambiguity or a Doomsday Weapon: Why Abbas Abandoned Oslo
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery
Joseph Natoli
Conditions Close at Hand
N.D. Jayaprakash
No Lessons Learned From Bhopal: the Toxic Chemical Leak at LG Polymers India 
Ron Jacobs
The Odyssey of Elias Demetracopoulos
J.P. Linstroth
Arundhati Roy on Indian Migrant-Worker Oppression and India’s Fateful COVID Crisis
Melvin Goodman
Goodness Gracious, David Ignatius!!
Roger Harris
Blaming the COVID-19 Pandemic on Too Many Humans:  a Critique of Overpopulation Ideology
Sonali Kolhatkar
For America’s Wealthiest, the Pandemic is a Time to Profit
Prabir Purkayastha
U.S. Declares a Vaccine War on the World
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the Telecom Crisis
Paul Buhle
Why Does W.E.B. Du Bois Matter Today?
Mike Bader
The Only Way to Save Grizzlies: Connect Their Habitats
Dave Lindorff
Pandemic Crisis and Recession Can Spark a Fight for Real Change in the US
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail