General meeting – June 2009

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A return to more ethics

in European Union

General Assembly of the European Company of culture
Innsbruck on June 7th, 2009.

Vis-a-vis the moral crisis which strikes the European Union like the world, a return to more of ethics imposes itself. Requirement necessary to return its dignity to the person, to rehabilitate the citizen and to preserve the human environment. One will wonder in conclusion about what we can within the SEC to support this return to more ethics.

I To return its dignity to the person

In theory the respect of the person is in the middle of all the policies. It is far from being in practice always the case.

  • The respect of the elementary conditions of dignity

The social “fracture” grew hollow considerably in Europe. Thousands of people deprived of housing (SDF), essential medical care, of food are in a situation where de facto they cannot enjoy the whole of the basic rights. These people became ipso facto people of “lower condition”.

Opposites also with the dignity of the person are the too many violations of the human rights which one even observes in Europe. The fight against terrorism led to an indisputable and dangerous regression human rights in the United States but in the world in general including in Europe : one will mention the use in the United Kingdom (until this practice is condemned by the House of Lords) of evidence obtained abroad under torture, the repression from abroad towards countries where torture is practised, the practice of perfectly arbitrary blacklists and the laws of exception.

Other examples of unworthiness booked to the human person in Europe : various cases of discrimination according to the race, the religion, the sexual orientation or the kind (in this last case the very relative parity /femme man especially as regards wages). One could quote shouting inequalities in fact that it is the still excessive number of occupational accidents whose the blue-collar workers of the building are victims, the weak access of the children of modest milieus to the Universities and the universities, the social status degraded of the teachers compared to the executives of the financial institutions for example or the living conditions unworthy in most prisons of our countries.

  • Intellectual impoverishment

It is not opened out person if she cannot fully make bear fruit her intellectual and artistic donations. Without drawing up a statement far too pessimistic that to note if not too often wasting of average modern technologies. In the not very favoured mediums the children spend on average four hours per day in front of their TV screen, with their computers or their mobile phones.

That results T from them it if not a decline alarming from the level of the education of the young people, a loss of the linguistic quality of expression, a loss of the collective memory, a depression of the critical direction. This is all the more serious as the culture is an essential factor of knowledge of the other and of social cohesion in our diversified companies. Without general knowledge – Edgar Morin recently recalled it in the Le Monde newspaper – there are only fragmented knowledge and absence of reference mark to direct our life.

  • Risks of certain medical procedures

In very another order of ideas, certain progress of medicine is likely to maintain the dangerous illusions which could seriously carry also reached to human dignity.

Science lets foresee, when already she does not reach that point, of the “prowesses” where contours of the birth, those of death are diluted, split up what is not without posing serious ethical problems sometimes. With these examples can be added the use of genetic tests, the use of embryos to obtain stem cells, the practice of the surrogate mothers and the cloning ; in short the risk of “marketisation” of the person. This increasing artificialisation of the biological processes by taste of the prowess, whim, commercial interest could also result in ignoring the dignity of the person.

II To rehabilitate the citizen

In policy certainly but also in economy or that it is of sports or art, the citizen is too often the toy of forces which are unaware of it even behaviors which scorn it.

  • On the political plan and to limit itself to the European elections, one notes a constant decline of the democracy. Indeed whereas the powers of the European Parliament did not cease growing until becoming almost a Parliament except for whole, rate of participation with the elections constantly declined passing from 60 % approximately on average Community in 1979 to 42 %   in 2004 and 40 % in 2009

Among the causes of this behavior, one can quote the lack of civics and European, lazes it mediae which too often prefer with the debates on principles of the anecdotes on Europe, the attitude of the political parties which continue to project on these elections of the concerns national and politicking and which still too often practises a “political show”.

The dangers of such a disaffection for the European elections are obvious : the prevalence of technocracy, rise of the extremisms, corporatism, the doctrinaire approach.

  • On the economic plan, predicted for several years, the crisis has occurred in 2008. The saving in “casino”, completely artificialized fell in crisis, a very serious crisis which threatens the citizen and results in :

a fall of the growth which reaches in 2008 up to 6 % in Germany, 10 % with        United States

many closing down of companies and increase in the unemployment which reaches already tops in Spain, in France, in the EU and in the United States

a considerable debt of the States (up to 10 % of the GDP) of which     some, Iceland for example, at the edge of the bankruptcy have to require the assistance of the IMF (Greece in 2010).

At the origin of this skid the choice of the ultraliberalism is, the consecutive deregulation and the total permissiveness which it allows the profit of a small minority of avid shareholders of very high profits, Presidents of Banque accumulating the “stocks options”, the parachutes gilded and of traders insane.

Such an economy became indifferent towards the citizen, taxpayer, worker or reprocessed and more still towards the most vulnerable groups. It translates the state of our company of indifference from where the general interest is absent.

Our company is characterized by an extreme “marketisation” of the majority of the goods and services, even in the fields where would expect it the least in theory. Such is the case of the sport where a return to ethics is essential to fight against the special effects of the matches, doping by genetic engineering of the athletes, to prevent the traffics of sportsmen. Such is still the case of art where the market too often derives towards the pure provocation deprived of any talent, practical which devaluates art, including the artistic avant-garde.

III To preserve the human environment

Finally humanity is attacked, threatened when its environment, by cupidity or ignorance, is put in danger.

The environment is in danger because of impoverishment of the layer   of ozone and its effects on climate warming.

  • The water resources are in their turn threatened by this climate change what harms also seriously in the future of the marine animal-life or that of the rivers. Already a billion inhabitants are largely private of drinking water. In the event of warming of planet would be only from 2 to 3 degrees, water could have suddenly missed. So following the warming, the sea level continued to rise, this phenomenon could involve important ecological migrations (100 million people lives already with a meter only with the top of the sea level). In the same way the access to water can become a source of conflicts.

One of the causes of overconsumption is the wasting knowing that the agricultural production absorbs 70 % of the quantity of water available (another seizing example : a golf course in Spain for example, annually absorbs the consumption of a town of 12,000 inhabitants).

In connection with the food, one can worry about the capacity of agriculture to nourish a world population which will reach, in a nearest future, 8 to 10 billion individuals whereas the access to water will be restricted, that cultivable surfaces will decrease (continual development of the great urban areas, deterioration of the grounds, clearing of the forests for the production of agro fuels or the research of gold in Amazonia). Already 300,000 people die each year because of the climate change (famine and epidemics).

IV To insufflate a return to ethics in Europe

1 a moral crisis

Respect of human dignity, rehabilitation of the citizen, safeguarding of the environment, these tasks correspond essentially to the consequences of a moral crisis. With the European Union to take up this challenge in particular. Europe whose demographic weight decreased much, will be able certainly to maintain its influence only by showing excellence technical, of capacity of initiative but also of moral exemplariness.

The dignity of the person is the central concept of the European Treaties, it appears in article 1 of the European Charter of the basic rights. It is at the European Institutions the EU like the Council of Europe (47 States members), to be most attentive possible with the respect of the human rights under all the aspects which we mentioned and to as promote these values by their external action as it is commercial (the clause of the human rights in the trade agreements concluded by the EU) or their humane interventions. On the external level, the EU should not either neglect to reinforce her development policy in favour of poorest of the world.

The EU owes also it EP started to examine these questions of implementing a “ethics of the vulnerability” as well with regard to the people in situation of extreme poverty as of the patients, in particular those whose autonomy is reduced. How to take into account the “broken cogito” of the demented people, the impossible words and the memories lost of those increasingly many which are reached degenerative diseases ?

 On the political plan, Bronislaw Geremek in the last and very convincing contribution that it gave us in Pescia, here two years, had us on this subject invited to overcome “the lassitude” of Europe. According to him the European citizenship supposed a true democratic culture, the respect of pluralism, minorities and the taste of the Utopia i.e. the continuation of dreamed European.

In the economic domain it proves that the financial crisis is especially a moral crisis which can be identified with three defects :

  • A defect of transparency (in other words an absence of truth) due to the insufficiency of the coverage by controls such as the tax havens, the “hedges funds”, the operations of “securitization” except assessment which conceal these products known as “toxic”, the insufficiency of controls resulting from the doubtful character of the criteria used by the credit rating agencies, the absence of unified international countable data.
  • A defect of moderation, in other words of wisdom, honesty which results today in the obligation to restore a sufficient ratio of equities, to reduce the exaggerated dividends of the shareholders, abusive remunerations of the leaders.
  • A defect of direction of the responsibilities for the companies with regard to their employees and the community in general. The crisis should make progress the idea of “company citizen”. The first measures taken by G 20 and to which the EU took a great part, seem, although it is necessary to be careful, to go in the good sense (President Obama succeeded in making vote in 2010 a reform of the financial rules).

As for preserving the environment the EU is active in this field and fortunately the United States, under the new administration Obama, is much more receptive.  In spite of the relative failure of the Conference of Copenhagen, we direct ourselves gradually towards “an ecological saving in market”.

Although our continent, especially the EU, is not threatened of war, our civilisation is not less insidiously undermined of it by certain effects of the globalisation. The extent of the moral crisis is considerable, political, economic, financial, scientific and artistic.

2 the role of the European Company of culture

While waiting for a political start, the civil society and particularly the SEC must with its measurement alert the opinion and act.

These questions of ethics are not foreign with the reflections of the SEC since its creation. It is enough to refer to the review To understand and the fundamental texts contained in the Statute to note it. The SEC was always animated of an ethical requirement. This requirement is in the middle of the “food-growing policy” which is neither a defense of the Occidental culture nor an indifferent culture ; the function of this food-growing policy it is “the good food” between the inhabitants of the same city, not the small city locked up in its walls but Maximum Civitas.

Contrary to individualism, the SEC proposes the search for a universal solidarity to us, commits us to affirm a basic principle of universality which allows a true intercultural dialogue, the research of convergences across contradictions. To the undergone history, the SEC opposes the shared history and direction searches it.

During almost sixty last years, the SEC was confronted with all kinds of situations : the scission in two blocks Western East obviously, the permanent threat of the atomic bomb, the tragic accident of Tchernobyl, the crisis of the great ideologies, each time it proposed only one reference mark, the culture like conscience of the civilisation.

Thus in 1982 already, the SEC affirms that an ethical awakening of solidarity objectifies men must inspire the food-growing policy which beyond the symptoms, aims at the major reasons of the crisis.

In Belgrade in 1986, the SEC draws attention to the pressing need to evaluate with more the greatest caution the dangers which certain developments of the scientific research and its applications can involve.

In 1991 at the time of its 40ème birthday, the SEC denounced in particular the scandal of economic imbalances. Henri Bartoli had also protested with passion against this scandal.

Today the SEC is completely qualified by the accuracy of its principles, its experiment and its independence to propose a consistent project in a return towards more ethics ; i.e. development of a “European general interest” and the advent of “Europe power”, with the best direction of the term, vis-a-vis the reducing duopoly China-State-Plain and the drifts of the ultraliberalism. Will we be able and how ? Will we want ?

Finally let us have in memory this aphorism of Umberto Campagnolo : “There does not exist of good policy which is not the expression of the perfect moral will”.

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