Social Conscience

Sun, 26 May 1996 19:20:59 EDT

I doubt we can hope to see a 'social conscience' develop in a nation as
large and culturally variegated as that of the United States. Firstly,
'social conscience' is quite a vague term and it would be close to
impossible to get anyone to agree on even a limited set of cardinal
tenets; assuming that would happen, it would be even more difficult to
devise a strategy that would realise these ideals in policy of any sort.
Secondly, I wonder if such a thing would be desireable in the end: we
are careful as anthropologists not to tamper with the ideological systems
of other cultures, so why should we decide to force those in our own
culture to conform to our moral canon through legislative instruments ?
At best I would think that discussion of disparate perspectives in the
educational system could be achieved and we can allow people to draw
their own conclusions about the 'fairness' or logic of the ideological
positions considered.
This is not 'moral bankruptcy' for to import our contemporary
notions of justice to others is the worse form of proselytising I can
think of. Socialism and what many call 'social justice policies' are
strongly influenced by Judaeo-Christian morality and I for one want
nothing to do with it. Marxism, and many Marxist initiatives, are
nothing more that a peasant Christianity without God but with a
soteriological scheme in place that is supposed to see the proleteriat
This is admittedly a cynical perspective, but our ideological
heritage in North America (and here I am speaking as a Canadian) is so
fragmented that a 'social conscience' of any significance or uniformity
likely cannot arise. There are just too many people with varying
backgrounds out there -- and then there are all the people that you
cannot reach, that have fallen away from the mainstream of society.

Best Regards,
Independent Studies Programme
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario