This essay seeks to use a transnational class analysis to get at the complexity of the global environmental governance. This analysis abstracts three main groups from the global political economy: the ruling ‘capitalist’ class, the managerial cadre class in the middle and those on the receiving end of the global governance processes. My first task will be to expound on this social ontology. My second task will be to explain the assumptions adopted in this paper regarding the contradictory nature of modernity and capitalism, and environmental degradation as the routine exploitation of nature. From this class perspective, I will consider responses to environmental degradation seen in current forms of global environmental governance. The response is largely orchestrated by the middle ‘cadre class’, which is organically linked to both the imperatives of the ruling class to protect private property as well as grassroots movements emanating from those on the receiving end of the global governance process - the ‘masses’ to put it crudely. The response will be seen as largely split along reformist and more radical lines. The former sees capitalism as sustainable and requiring better regulation and market-based solutions; the latter has a tendency to question the sustainability of capitalism and pushes for greater change. I will conclude that a future deepening of ecological crises - which at this rate seems unavoidable - will provide the conditions for a convergence of the various cadre factions into a movement away from neoliberal market solutions.
In secularized modern Western societies, moral opposition to the liberalization of abortion, gay adoption, euthanasia, and suicide often relies on justifications based on other-oriented motives (mainly, protection of the weak, e.g., children). Moreover, some argue that the truly open-minded people may be those who, against the stream, oppose the established dominant liberal values in modern societies. We investigated whether moral and religious opposition to, vs. the acceptance of, the above four issues, as well as the endorsement of respective con vs. pro arguments reflect (a) “compassionate openness” (prosocial, interpersonal, dispositions and existential flexibility), (b) “compassionate conservatism” (prosocial dispositions and collectivistic moral concerns), or (c) “self-centered moral rigorism” (collectivistic moral concerns, low existential quest, and low humility instead of prosocial dispositions). The results, to some extent, confirmed the third pattern. Thus, compassionate openness does not seem to underline modern moral opposition, possibly in contrast to some rhetoric of the latter.
Morality typically includes prosociality but often also extends to impersonal deontology. Religion, theoretically and empirically, is concerned with both moral domains. What happens when the two domains are in conflict? Do religious people prefer impersonal deontology at the detriment of prosociality? Or do their prosocial inclinations allow them to transgress conflicting moral principles, for instance through white lies? Participants (177 Belgian adults) made a choice in several hypothetical moral dilemmas and were afterwards evaluated on Haidt’s moral foundations (care, fairness, authority, loyalty, and purity) and religiosity. When the conflict implied minor consequences for the target, religiosity predicted impersonal deontology at the detriment of prosociality, because of a high endorsement of purity. However, when the consequences were severe, religiosity was unrelated to impersonal deontology due to a suppressor effect of care. The findings indicate that prosocial dispositions shape religiosity into a ‘compassionate moral rigorism’, thus protecting it from excessive moralism.