Tot mijn grote verbazing zag ik gisteren bij het Tv-nieuws Jan Peter Balkenende, je weet wel de man van Normen en Waarden, een pleidooi houden om wapens aan China te leveren.

In 1989 is er in de EU een wapenembargo tegen China afgesproken toen bleek hoe erg in China de mensenrechten werden geschonden. De beelden van de tanks die op het Plein van de Hemelse Vrede op protesterende studenten inrolden, zal velen nog helder voor ogen staan.

Overheden zijn de grootste wapenleveranciers op de wereld. Ze zijn ook de grootste moordenaars. Door overheden zijn de afgelopen eeuw 200 miljoen mensen gedood. Een veelvoud van alle (andere) misdadigers bij elkaar. (zie het boek vol feiten van Prof. Rummel:”Death by government”.

ISBN 1-56000-145-3.)

Jan Peter geeft toe dat de situatie betreffende mensenrechten in China nog niet goed is. Er wordt dus eerst besloten dat een embargo nodig is, hoe kun je dan nu die Norm naast je neer leggen?

Ook zegt Jan Peter dat je met goede betrekkingen met China meer voor die mensenrechten kunt bereiken. Gold dat dan ook niet in 1989?

Maar ja, Jan Peter wordt voorzitter van de EU op 1 juli, en dan kan hij moeilijk tegen de zin van Frankrijk handelen. Daarom is het gemakkelijker voor hem als de ethische Norm maar verlaagd wordt.

Vooral Frankrijk geilt al van grote wapenleveranties aan China. En Nederland kan daar fijn ook van profiteren. En als je er aan kunt verdienen, dan mag je kennelijk je Norm ook verlagen.

Kennelijk wordt er in de politiek geen waarde aan de normen gehecht!

Professor Tibor Machan schreef onlangs in een artikel ‘Logic, Liberty and Reality’ dat als we accepteren dat toegeven aan allerlei compromissen de norm moet zijn, dat we dan in een situatie van doelloze willekeur terechtkomen.

Mogelijk kan hij beter schrijven:’Terechtgekomen zijn’.


  1. Het artikel van Tibor waarnaar Hub verwijst staat inmiddels op op datum vandaag.

    Een ander zeer recent artikel van Tibor staat op Tibor’s website

    Gezien de moeilijke toegangbaarheid van het laatste artikel, copieer ik het hier.

    What is Ethics for?

    Tibor R. Machan

    One of the most appealing elements of ancient Greek philosophy for me is

    that when Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were ruminating about right and

    wrong ways of living and acting, they always meant to be practically

    relevant in what they discovered. Virtues such as prudence, generosity,

    temperance, honesty and even justice were to be guidelines to successful

    human living here on earth. Now that’s relevance!

    In our time, however, it often seems like one must choose between a

    ridiculously idealistic, out of this world morality or pure pragmatism

    that rejects principles altogether. A good case in point came my way in a

    novel I was reading, by James Woods, who aside from being chief literary

    critic of The Guardian in England, is also senior editor at The New

    Republic, perhaps the foremost political magazine in America. At one

    point the protagonist of the novel, which is written in the first person,

    makes this observation:

    Morality aside, lies add to the general confusion of my life, a confusion

    I sincerely want to reduce. Quite often, I might be happily minding my

    own business, and then suddenly a mental irritation reaches me, and I

    remember some little deceit I have committed, and I realize that I still

    have to extricate myself from the confusion it has left in its wake. (The

    Book Against God, p. 11)

    Notice how we are implored not to think of the narrator’s

    problem as a moral one – we are supposed to put morality aside. Yet, in

    fact, it is precisely because of what havoc it wreaks for the likes of him

    that dishonesty is immoral, unethical. As the Greeks viewed it, morality

    or ethics had as its function for us to do well at living our human lives.

    So, clearly, that means that when one practices the virtues, one is

    likely to get on better with one’s life than when one is practicing the

    vices. Vices lead one to unhappiness, virtues to happiness. Or so the

    ancient guys thought and so I think.

    In our day, though, we have something else and the one to put his fingers

    on the problem, interestingly, is the founder of scientific economics,

    Adam Smith. Smith noted, in his famous The Wealth of Nations (Modern

    Library Edition, p. 726),

    …In the ancient philosophy the perfection of virtue was represented as

    necessarily productive to the person who possessed it, of the most perfect

    happiness in this life. In the modern philosophy it was frequently

    represented as almost always inconsistent with any degree of happiness in

    this life, and heaven was to be earned by penance and mortification, not

    by the liberal, generous, and spirited conduct of a man. By far the most

    important of all the different branches of philosophy became in this

    manner by far the most corrupted.


    Now this is no small matter. It means, put in ordinary terms, that most

    folks believe these days that to be a good person will make one unhappy,

    whereas to be bad will be cool, quite thrilling. (It’s no accident that

    kids often say “bad” when they mean “good.”)

    With such an outlook it is no great wonder that many people shrink from

    being ethical, preferring instead to risk being immoral and to try to get

    away with it somehow. After all, they want to be happy – everyone, apart

    from some oddball ascetics, wants to be happy. To associate ethics with

    unhappiness pretty much consigns ethics to oblivion and then the only way

    to make sure people are ethical will seem to many to be the stick, not the


    The ancient Greek thinkers realized that ethics is connected with living

    well, and so for them it could be encouraged without having to make much

    use of the stick – without unleashing a lot of coercion, especially the

    coercion of the state. Sure, Aristotle did believe that encouragement is

    needed so as to foster moral conduct but that could be done by the

    community – poets, playwrights, and philosophers. But once this view was

    given up – at the urgings of several medieval and modern philosophers who

    didn’t believe that the good life meant the one we could live here on

    earth or, alternatively, didn’t think there’s much more to ethics than

    taste – most people started to think like the Woods novel’s narrator,

    namely, that morality doesn’t concern practical matters at all. What then

    does it concern?

    Well, this is one of the troubles of the modern age. Morality is either

    simply something with which to appease God, so we can get into heaven, or

    it is to appease other people, so they will like and approve of us. And,

    sadly, neither of these pack the kind of power that is packed by an ethics

    that promises to guide to living successfully, attaining happiness here on

    earth. So, then, morality needs to be enforced, which pretty much voids

    it as morality, doing what is right by choice!

    I have no great interest in returning to the ancient times, as far as

    science and technology are concerned. But as regards ethics or morality,

    I think those folks had a much better idea than do the philosophers and

    other moral instructors of our time. Ethics is for living well, not for

    pleasing anyone.

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