You are on page 1of 4

Politics is Ethics, Ethics-in-Action

(Random Thoughts on Ethics-in-Politics with Levinas and my Social Sciences)

Joseph Sylvester Evidente Pampliega
of the 1869
Street Theater, Talent Assistance and Events Group; an Angkan ni Vicente,
t took !e a"hile to re#oot !$ !ind #ecause it has #eco!e rust$ doing data entr$ here in
%anada& don't criticall$ use !$ !ind no" as often as "ould "hen "as there teaching, or
even (ust #eing in the acade!e, a!idst philosophers or persons "ho (ust love to think and think
criticall$& )$ environ!ent, !$ conte*t, is !$ issue& +ith "hat do, (ust code "hat see like
"as a %ro,)agnon -coding., in their case, dra"ing, in the inside "alls of the caves of /ascau*
"hat the$ see& The$ -code. their hunt in colourful dra"ings; -code. docu!ent infor!ation,
like dates, titles, authors and recipients, #lindl$; infor!ation that does not re0uire !e to think at
all& +hat see is "hat code& !a$ at ti!es even feel a! living a life of solipsis! not having
a single soul "ith the patience to even (ust listen (ust so can sa$ that "hat a! thinking is
intersu#(etivel$ constituted& And so, it took !e a"hile to actuall$ give this topic a shot& Thanks
to 1a$ )ichael %ordero for sharing this opportunit$ to #e a#le to share !$ thoughts& t is !$
These are !$ rando! thoughts on the topic "e are e*ploring, having also in !ind, since
/evinas' thoughts are central to our gathering, his ethics, along "ith the things have learned
fro! !$ sciences&
t is the intent of this gathering, through e*ploring Ethics and 2olitics or Ethics,in,2olitics, to
clarif$ "hat politics is and rene" our consciousness of "hat true politics is, guided #$ the
0uestions, first of all, "hat is politics3 +hat is ethics3 +hat is ethics,in,politics3 , "hich
#elieve is the concept "e are tr$ing to !ake sense of in this gathering& Are the$ related,
conceptuall$ or essentiall$3 s politics related to ethics3 s ethics presupposed in politics3 %an
there #e politics "ithout ethics3
Ethics-in-politics is also kno"n as political morality or public ethics& t is the practice of !aking
!oral (udg!ents a#out political action& t is also the stud$ of that practice& t tries to look at the
ethics of practice or the ethics of office first of all& The focus is the pu#lic officials, the
politicians and the !ethods the$ use& Take note4 the politician and their !ethods& 5ight then and
there, "e see an issue alread$& The other is ethics of policy "hich looks at the policies or the
la"s& n so!e sense, in this practice, ethics or the ethicist acts as a guard dog, the !oral (udge, if
not the -gadfl$. of societ$& t places ethics a#ove politics as it looks at ho" politics is done, ho"
ethical politics is& Given that, "ith ethics a#ove politics, -guarding. it, it "ould see! that
politics, conceptuall$ and essentiall$, has the tendenc$ to #e #ad, to #e dirt$& 6ut is this so3
)a$#e "e should ask "hat politics is in the first place& +hat is it for3 Given that politics is a
social fact, follo"ing 7urkhei!'s thoughts, it has a function& Ever$thing else that does not have
function ceases to e*ist& 6ut politics does e*ist, hard fact, and so it has a function& So, "hat is it
- 2 -
for3 2olitics, defined conceptuall$, are activities associated "ith governance8.; it is -the de#ate
#et"een parties having po"er. 9:*ford, ;<1=>& Sociologicall$, politics has to do "ith po"er,
ho" it is distri#uted in certain social organi?ation, in conte*t to a certain political organi?ation&
n a sense, politics cut across the develop!ent of hu!an societies or civili?ations& 9t started
si!ple "ith patriarchs and !atriarchs of #and s$ste!s and has #eco!e co!ple*, co!plicated, as
societ$ developed in structure and processes& @o" "e have presidents and pri!e !inisters "ith
their ca#inets, the "hole #ureaucrac$, set in place out of the necessit$ #rought #$ develop!ent of
societ$&> 2olitical organi?ations, for!s of govern!ent, "ere founded fro! ideologies that intend
to respond to present issues, social pro#le!s; to respond to the call of the times& 2olitics is the
response to these present, even pressing issues, social pro#le!s& Politics is the response to the
call of the times& Given that, po"er and its distri#ution is intended to respond to the call of the
ti!es& +ith this intention, "e co!e to reali?e that politics is a -"a$ of doing things., an activit$,
a de#ate& Aor "hat3 To respond to the call of the ti!es& That is "h$, as said a "hile ago,
political organi?ations, "here politics happen, as it responds to the call in a particular social
contet, also develops along "ith it& As it develops, for!s of govern!ents are founded , all
#ecause it responds to the call of the ti!es&
@o" as to ethics, "ould not discuss in thoroughl$ /evinas' ethics #ut "e kno" that for hi!
ethics happens in that ver$ !o!ent that "e recogni?e the face& The !ere -ga?e. upon the face,
the :ther -orders and ordains. us, co!pels us to -give and serve.& t #ounds us to respond& t
#eco!es our responsi#ilit$ to respond B in that ver$ encounter& Take it our leaven it, fro! the
personal e*perience of -Sa!e. to that, "hen taken all together, #eco!es a co!!unal e*perience,
a social e*perience& All of us, the societ$, are #ound to respond to the :ther& To /evinas' ter!,
it #eco!es human sociality& 2olitics, then, is the collective response to the call of the Cu!an
Aace, to the Aace of Cu!anit$& 2olitics, then, is ethics& 2olitics, as a response #ound #$
responsi#ilit$, as "e do the -"a$ of doing things., the activities, the de#ates of and in political
organi?ations, of governing our govern!ents to respond to the call, 2olitics is ethics,in,action&
Caving pointed that out, as to the 0uestion "hether politics is related to ethics, "hether ethics is
presupposed in politics, and that can politics #e "ithout ethics, "ould sa$ this4
%onceptuall$, politics is ethics since it responds to the face, it responds to the Aace of Cu!anit$
at that ver$ !o!ent of encounter& +e have seen this, though unconsciousl$ in its develop!ent
as societies developed, as populations increased, and as hu!an pro#le!s B social pro#le!s B
#eco!e co!ple*, #eco!e co!plicated& +e responded instituting political organi?ations to do
politics, to respond4 to put things in order, to put our da$ to da$ lives in order& Essentiall$,
politics is al"a$s ethical& ts act of doing politics, politicking, as it is the response to the Cu!an
Aace, is al"a$s good& t is authentic& f not, then, to /evinas' thoughts, "e #eco!e inauthentic&
2olitics is essentiall$ good& :ur (udg!ent of "hat to do 9to respond>, "h$ "e do things a certain
"a$ 9to respond>, ho" "e should do things 9to respond> is good, al"a$s good, and is directed
to"ard good, to #etter, as it responds to the Aace of Cu!anit$, "hat is 9"hat is real in societ$,
"hat can #e perceived> and to "ork for "hat should #e 9the ideas, our goals>&
The third 0uestion is no" ver$ trick$& %an there #e politics "ithout ethics3 This 0uestion is
grounded on the fact that "hat "e -see. people doing politics, in short our politicians, are doing
isn't reall$ going the "a$ politics is or should #e conceptuall$ and essentiall$& 5ealit$ #ites& :r
should sa$ perceptions #ite us& The negative associations "e have of politics are !oulded #$
"hat "e -see. and -hear., #$ "hat "e perceived #asicall$, "hat "e "itness& This is unfortunate&
6ut is this so3 t is so eas$ for us to (ust sa$ politics can #e #ad, that politics can or even,
- 3 -
looking fro! ho" it is no"ada$s, is dirt$& Thus, "e need a practice or a stud$ called Ethics,in,
2olitics to guard us, to #e our !oral (udge& 6ut is this so3
Truthfull$, a! #ound #$ !$ perceptions as "ell& could not -see. #e$ond !$ perceptions and
a! afraid to #ring !$ rando! thoughts deeper that !ight fall detached fro! realit$, that
!ight fall to the trap of #eing theoretical, that !ight #e too a#stract as opposed to ho" /evinas
see ethics, in the ver$ encounter, as -contrete.& %an -see. politics, distinct, fro! corruption,
fro! vote,#u$ing, fro! -political. killings3 Are these social pro#le!s politics, !ore so,
political, in the real sense3
%an politics #e "ithout ethics3 @o& 2olitics is conceptuall$ and essentiall$ #ound to ethics, and,
"ould sa$, even vice versa& There is no -other side.& There is no true or false side& There is
(ust politics, one and true& This appears naDve if speak #efore people "ho !a$ have not !et
/evinas and have #een #ound #$ "hat the$ perceive& 6ut this can #e radical, an indu#ita#le
hope "e have, for those "ho understand /evinas that things "ill fall into place& @o" ho"
should "e understand the perceived -dirt. in -politics., "hich no" "e should 0ualif$, not as
politics an$!ore, #ut -dirt. in our political organi?ation, in govern!ent3
f politics is ethics,in,action, if it is ethical, ho" can corruption, a!ong all the rest "e can
enu!erate, for instance, happen3 +e can approach it the co!!on "a$ "e do, pointing out to the
individual, the politician, "hich eventuall$, in the long run, stain the real intent, the concept and
essence of, politics, "hich is to respond to the call of the face, the Cu!an Aace, the Aace of
Cu!anit$& 6ut "hat no" of corruption3 +here the hell did it co!e fro!3 Co" the hell did it
creep into the halls of our political organi?ations3 %orruption happens #ut it is not s$non$!ous
to politics& Vote,#u$ing, cheating, -political. killings, thought in a sense, are affairs of political
organi?ations, is not s$non$!ous to politics& The !o!ent "e do things as such, politics, #$
concept and essense, has alread$ ceased& "ill not sa$, "e do not participate an$!ore in politics
#ecause it grants the act still "ithin the idea of politics& should sa$, the !o!ent "e do such
things like vote,#u$ing, "e did not do politics an$!ore& To the point of intending and the
!o!ent of doing vote,#u$ing, for instance, "e #eco!e, to /evinas' thoughts, inauthentic& +e
deli#eratel$ decided to refuse the face, "e deli#eratel$ decided not to respond to the Aace of
Cu!anit$& 2lain and si!ple& The Sa!e ceases to respond& +ith this, there is a distinct #ut thin
line in the "a$ "e -see. or perceive politics& +hat "e see is the political organi?ation, the
structures in place, founded as societies developed& And "ith these structures, are the people, the
politicians, "ho should perfor! politics #ut, as !an$ of the! did, the$ cease to respond& The$
are (ust there in the structures, d$sfunctional to the function of politics and the political
organi?ations& 7istinct #ut thin line, plain and si!ple&
This #elieve is the consciousness "e have to reclai!& This #elieve is the true concept of
politics& t is ethics& t is ethics,in,action& That is "h$ in our endeavour to respond to the call of
the ti!es B the call of the face, of the Cu!an Aace, of the Aace of Cu!anit$, as "e ga?e upon it
and do "hat "e can, #ig or s!all, in our fa!ilies, in our "orkplace, in the %hurch, in school, in
our co!!unities, in societ$ and the "orld at large, in the "hole of hu!an societ$, "e do politics,
that in realit$, "e even should not have fear usurping the :ther& +h$3 +e have (ust a thousand
!ore, conceptuall$, of infinites to respond to& !agine that ine*hausti#ilit$3 That !agnitude of
responsi#ilit$3 That is "h$ as "e -see. these -dirt. happening in our govern!ent, "e step #ack
and ga?e upon the Aace, -see. the face of our social pro#le!s, and continue to respond, continue
to #e responsi#le& 5e!e!#er that there is no reciprocit$ inas!uch as the :ther that even the
- 4 -
idea of corruption and the corrupt, as "e ga?e upon it, "e cannot de!and change or rene"al&
And #ecause of that, "e are all the !ore responsi#le&
This consciousness that politics, in its truth, cannot #e tainted #$ inauthenticit$ should strengthen
our hope that the things "e do, the advocacies "e stand in, s"eat and #lood e*pelled, is not $et
enough to "ipe clean, spick and span, the -dirt. "e have no" in our political organi?ation& n its
ine*hausti#ilit$, in its !agnitude, (ust as it -orders and ordains. us "ith as !uch !agnitude of
responsi#ilit$, "e take it patientl$, one step at a ti!e& Cope "orks that "a$& t should not allo"
us to cease responding& t feeds our desire, in the /evinasian sense, to #e infinitel$ responsi#le to
the :ther&