Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sloterdijk's politics

While Latour dealt with Slot's first controversy this wikipedia entry deals with the latter on the welfare state.* It says:

“According to Sloterdijk, the institutions of the welfare state lend themselves to a system that privileges the marginalized, but relies, unsustainably, on the class of citizens who are materially successful. Sloterdijk's provocative recommendation was that income taxes should be abolished, in favor of a system in which the fiscal needs of the state are met by voluntary contributions from the rich. Achievers would be praised for their generosity, rather than being made to feel guilty for their success, or resentful of society's dependence on them.”

If this is accurate it is terribly naïve,** to think that the rich will make such voluntary contributions without government intervention via a progressive tax system. In US capitalism we've seen just the opposite running rampant. Given the current conservative tax code the rich and corporations are now paying the least amount of taxes in history. And with their gains they buy ever more conservative legislation with imposes ever-increasing austerity on the poor and middle class to further enrich themselves. With some exceptions donations by the rich and corporations are at all-time lows while profits are at all-time highs, with income for the 99% adjusted for inflation is pathetic and degenerate. We have Slot's scenario right now and it not only isn't working it is having the opposite effect.

Also it isn't resentment of wealth liberals feel but rather righteous indignation that the current system is not only unfair but heinously unjust. We don't begrudge anyone who achieves wealth through hard work and innovation; to the contrary we celebrate the likes of Steve Jobs as but one example. But what is happening on Wall Street is not that at all. It is a rapacious destruction of the economy by those that not only do not earn their wealth but steal it from society for their own gain. They do so via a corrupt legislative process that allows the spurious financial instruments like mortgage-backed securities to bet against, and thereby create, the downfall of the entire financial system while they make off with the cream for themselves.

* Links to the debate can be found here.
** And it appears so, as there are links to Slot's referenced article in English at Forbes. He doesn't deal with any of the arguments above. For example, from Honneth's response: "At no point does he make clear why fortunes acquired by inheritance or financial speculation are justly 'earned' in the sense of involving any sort of notable achievement." Not only that, such wealth is not only not justly earned but stolen from societal coffers.

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