Alasdair Maclagan, John Milbank and Philip Blond are now operating in a threesome, as in this latest piece on the inequality of virtue. The left, they argue, should embrace
the “old Tory” view that privilege is not just reward for success, but also a way of providing the appropriate resources for the wielding of power linked to virtue. By virtue we mean here a combination of talent, fitness for a specific social role, and a moral exercise of that role for the benefit of wider society.
They are after a ‘justifiable inequality’ that seeks ‘to link social and economic prestige with virtue’, for then ‘we can hope for good financial and political leaders possessed of compassion and integrity’.
The problem with these guys is that they think they are offering new, lateral solutions to a perceived crisis (which, I might add, is pretty much restricted to zones on the world like the UK), but they are actually trotting out a tired mish-mash of ideas.
And the definition of virtue – ‘a combination of talent, fitness for a specific social role, and a moral exercise of that role for the benefit of wider society’ – stinks not merely of feudal hierarchies but of Plato and Aristotle. Both of them were archly anti-democratic, hated the rabble doing anything other than picking potatoes or functioning as cannon fodder, and felt in their bones that goodness, virtue, beauty and truth and were seamlessly connected with wealth, status, aristocratic birth – and, of course, the right to rule.
So … be always suspicious of the self-proclaimed virtuous, since they’ll knife you, have their way with your pets and fleece you for what little you own at the least opportunity.