Deconstructing a complex process
January 19 2021 12:03 AM
Muhanna al-Hubail
Muhanna al-Hubail

By Muhanna al-Hubail

Dr Joseph Heath, Canadian philosopher and ethicist from the University of Toronto, published a critical study introducing a four-factor framework for criminal and unethical behaviours in the global capitalist market, which dominates the economic scene, in an attempt to enable ethical philosophy in protecting humanity from the growing and successive encroachments on the planet.
It is interesting that Dr Heath uses the terms “hostile policies” and “hostility” when describing market behaviours and plans against society. One might think that this description is exaggerated, but one might change their opinion after understanding market conflicts and assessing the losses that affected humans’ lives, health, and mental stability. Moreover, such policies instigate conflicts for the benefit of the financial market.
In this context, Wael Hallaq has an important observation about framing societies, which avoid harmful behaviours to their environment by default, as being affected by misleading mass rhetoric that gives a deceptive reassurance by promoting that such behaviours are mere deviations by some companies. Consequently, such behaviours sneaked into society, which have become an ethically conducive environment for corporate crime. 
This is a complex process that should be deconstructed, suffice to say that societies lack neutralisation mechanisms to protect themselves and individuals and enable market behaviours. This dilemma is not limited to economic life as it also touches the political and cultural spheres. This is how societies are held hostages of long seasons of oppression and extortion, while systems of criminal behaviour derive their power from within victim societies. 
Heath identified four factors that can lead to corporate crime. The first factor is bureaucracy in large corporations. The second factor is limiting individuals to local information that is dominated by the market itself, given the lack of liberation from this market, which would normally ensure information accuracy. The third factor is ideological hostility. Heath considers it an ideology, given that winning and success have become an ethical belief, rather than a participatory economic pattern. This hostility targets any market regulations that benefit the people and harm the ideology. The fourth factor is adversarial or competitive interactions between firms at the expense of society. 
Hallaq, prominent scholar of Islamic law and Islamic intellectual history, criticises Dr Heath regarding the identification of the four factors behind criminal conduct in companies. He believes that the culture of society has western origins, referring to the epochs and cycles of material modernism in the new world; this culture was initially established outside the system of moral values. 
This society that was merged with the thought of material modernism did not question it through value-based charters and laws. Hallaq, perhaps, refers here to the schools of thought that prevailed in the modern western world, without invoking the fierce left-wing opposition, to extend capitalism to individuals and society.
Hallaq links his criticism to the fact that Heath cited in his PhD thesis Hannah Arendt, the Jewish, German-born, American professor of philosophy (1906-1975) who criticised fundamentalist totalitarianism. Arendt was chased by Nazis and she helped save the Jews of Europe and create a homeland for them at the expense of occupied Palestine. In this context, totalitarianism and moral philosophy are defined within contemporary philosophical doctrines that completely neutralise the global human community. 
But this bias to the portion of the philosophical perspective that is linked to western history, and selective remorse, or neglecting the broad moral vision, mark this framework that fails to include moral philosophy with references beyond the author’s physical geography and historical and social affiliations, which revolve around material modernism. The opposing discourse in academia is also determined by modernism.
Arendt was concerned with the challenge raised by totalitarian ideologies, in a reference to Nazis and Marxists and their totalitarianism. At the time, these ideologies marked the emergence of a radically new phenomenon that forced researchers to deeply reconsider their usual analysis tools. They also marked a major unprecedented turn in the history of European thought.
Hannah Arendt contends that, “The originality of totalitarianism is horrible, not because some new ‘idea’ came into the world, but because its very actions constitute a break with all our traditions; they have clearly exploded our categories of political thought and our standards for moral judgment. Events trump concepts.” This is not limited to seizing power.
Here, we are back to the reference dilemma. Saving the Jews was a human obligation, but occupying Palestine and the intersection with the capitalist totalitarianism of modernism is a criminal act according to the same factors defined by Heath. The ideology of savage profit is a totalitarian model here, supported by modern western culture, and imperialism is prevailing in society and academia, including advocates of moral philosophy today. 
We cannot overlook this distinguished effort in tracking Dr Heath’s market dilemma, as it leads us to the knowledge market, but who sets its standards? 
Where is the totalitarianism that controls it? How was it formed in modern academia? How to combat financial market crimes without regard to Arendt’s recommendation to review research methods? 
If Arendt herself may not reach total moral standards, because of what Heath himself mentioned, i.e. the market does not allow the circulation of information outside it, and if the market here is western academia, then how can moral philosophy be liberated before regaining intellectual independence? And how do you regain independence if access to a new world of information is restricted by material modernism and its totalitarian vision?


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