The moral state of the nation is a perennial topic but now is a particularly appropriate time to discuss it. The credit crunch will have wide effects, and the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, made a crucial point recently when he said the age of irresponsibility was over. That seems to point to the heart of the problem but the age is far from over.
Increasingly in recent years irresponsibility has been the order of the day. From the highest downwards people have not been held to account. The order of the day seems to be that just saying sorry is enough. It is not. That is the start, but it is necessary to take the consequences too. World leaders, investment bankers, media people, lenders, borrowers, the people in the streets, either don’t hold others responsible or are blamed for speaking up.
Even those, like the police, whose job it is to uphold the rules often don’t do so, or break the rules themselves, and still keep their jobs and their bonuses.
These things have always gone on but now it seems not just to be expected behaviour but acceptable behaviour.
University philosophy departments, which seem to live on public money, rarely say a word in public about the moral state of the state, if they say anything at all, and so fail in what they should do.
It is up to the public to demand moral behaviour from everyone. If they start doing so, 2009 could be an interesting year.