I’m watching a Facebook discussion on taxation and health care, in which an arch-reactionary is attacking the concept that health care is a human right; specifically, attacking it on moral grounds. Yes, of course, your immediate reaction is to laugh, or perhaps roll your eyes. But for me, there is a significance to this that is important.
It is a reminder that morality does not exist above society, is not handed down from God, is not inherent in the air we breath or the water we drink, but rather is a product of society, of human interaction. Moral systems, moral codes, are invented by human beings, and in class society, any moral system serves the interests of a definite class. In feudal society, to oppose the king was immoral. As the bourgeoisie began to gain power and influence, they created their own morality, in which, eventually, resistance to the king was laudable. In the antebellum South, opposition to slavery was immoral; but to the abolitionist, who represented the future and the interests of Eastern capitalism, and to the slave, whose deepest interest was emancipation, slavery itself was immoral. Today, failure to respect private property is immoral.
Then there are those who attempt to place themselves above society, and either make judgments about the worth of various moral systems as if reflecting eternal values; or, worse, take themselves entirely out of the conflict and make observations about all moral systems as if they were all equal and we can pick one based on whim and it would be no better or worse than any other; or still worse, and still more common, that the value of a moral system can be determined by only examining the system itself, outside of its social and historical context. These people, too, serve definite class interests.
I am willing to make judgments about certain actions as being good, or bad, or heroic, or vile. I do this based on the morality I have chosen, which is a morality that, to the best of my ability to understand, serves the interests of the working class. All ideologies in class society serve class interests, and that especially includes our sense of right and wrong. If you have not examined your morality, if you have not thought about where it comes from and what class interests it serves, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to do so.
Recommended reading: Trotsky: Their Morals and Ours