A Decent Society

“A decent society is one in which people work to redress disadvantage and deprivation. There are marginalised groups; there are groups that have suffered greatly in the past. There is everything to be said for a politics that strives for equal opportunity and human dignity. But there is a great difference between a future-oriented politics and one that focuses on grievances of the past; between a culture that emphasises responsibility and one constructed around an ever-expanding notion of rights; between one that defines people as victims and one that helps genuine victims to recover their capacity for action and self-determination. Politics is about power and the distribution of resources. It is not about the psychology of self-esteem or the allocation of blame. When these boundaries are blurred, the result is deeply damaging to the good group-relations on which an ethnically and religiously diverse society depend.”

Morality, Chapter 14, p. 207