(IM)MORALITY

"Unorganised morality is called sociability. Organised morality is called civilisation. Unorganised immorality is called barbarity. Organised immorality is called statism"

Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski

Immorality and morality are key themes that underpin many of the revelations publicised by (In)Justice International. What is immoral, as opposed to moral, is an important distinction to make so that reasoned condemnation of heinous acts can be exposed and punished.  However, what is immoral and what is moral depends upon the context, norms and social values of the society in which such actions take place. In other words, the definitions of immoral and moral are social constructs where immorality in one social configuration can be deemed to be moral in another. And here lies the rub.

 

Is it, for instance, immoral or moral to educate all citizens equally in the ways, norms and values of the dominant majority in a Nation State? The experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada and Australia who have been forced to forego their languages, cultures, sacred habitats and ways of life (see 'Indigenous Peoples'), would suggest the former evaluation is apt, whereas hegemonic elites who have benefitted from the neoliberal socio-economic system in those countries (click here to read about 'Neoliberal Greed') would, most likely, lean toward the latter conclusion: hence the confusion/obfuscation between immorality and morality.

 

Of course this could be dismissed as philosophical semantics but it is important to note that the distinction between immorality and morality is not as clear cut as first presumed.  Nevertheless, if actions involve the violent infliction of harm, whether it be physical, emotional or economic, then it is relatively clear that these acts are immoral. Yet to compound issues further, the above acts of immorality were committed by the State and, to construct a criminal case against the State, it is imperative to note that the State is the law-maker and would hardly construct laws that would criminalise its own actions (for more, click on 'State Crimes'). Quite simply, the State decides what is illegal and what is not.   

Moreover, the same holds true for the perpetrators of corporate crimes. Although not actual law-makers (but by virtue of powerful positions have a say), many businessmen contend that their actions are not immoral or criminal. Rather, all they are doing is upholding the beliefs and ethos of their company/organisation to create profit and safeguard or improve the company's position and financial gain in a neoliberal State-endorsed market. Proving intent, therefore, becomes a major obstacle to legal conviction. And from that perspective, any devastating outcomes of their actions (ie. such as environmental disasters, denial of affordable healthcare or medication through cartel 'price fixing' of pharmaceutical drugs) are dismissed as unintended consequences and not deliberate acts of immoral criminality.   

As a result of all this obscurity and inability to prosecute the aforementioned pernicious acts alluded to, the concept of social harm has an integral and monumental role play.  Social harm can expand the investigatory lens beyond written legislation and, in so doing, enable investigations to posit this immorality into the frame of criminality and thus build a case for punishment on the basis of immorality and not purely as a contravention of the existing criminal lawConsequently, it is through the focus of social harm that (In)Justice International intends to transpose immoral acts so that outrage, prosecution, retribution and recompense can be facilitated to hold the perpetrators to account for their hurtful, devastating actions.