One fun and snobby way of undermining the sincerity, originality, and appropriateness of someone else’s moral claim is to call it “fashionable.” Perhaps not surprisingly philosophers do this to each other all of the time. “Oh that’s really hot right now” is another way of suggesting that someone is a follower rather than an original thinker.
With that broad theme in mind, let’s turn to today’s lesson from George Will. The World Bank scandal–in which Paul Wolfowitz, patient listener and student of foreign languages used his leadership role to score a lucrative job for his girlfriend–teaches us not about the incompetence, arrogance and corruption of its president, but it informs us about the decades long retreat from “statism” and of the absurdities of fettering capitalism. In the course of making this argument (which someone else can bother with), Will points to the superficiality of the World Bank’s causes:
>Much of what recipient countries save by receiving the bank’s subsidized loans they pay in the costs of ” technical assistance,” the euphemism for being required to adopt the social agendas of the rich nations’ governments that fund the bank. Those agendas focus on intrusive government actions on behalf of fashionable causes — the empowerment of women, labor, environmentalism, indigenous peoples, etc.
Take that girls, workers and environment. When will misogyny, slavery, pollution, and imperialism come back in style? Those were the days.