Treasury Minister David Gauke has just told us that paying tradesmen cash (in order to secure a discount against 20% VAT) is morally wrong.
This should come as no surprise. It’s long been a popular ploy for leaders to suggest that their mandate is God-given.
In the olden days, this was accomplished through invoking the Divine Right of Kings. Today, it is accomplished through invoking ‘morality’ – which – at least in Judeo-Christian cultures – comes fully loaded with notions of Divine reward and retribution through heaven and hell.
I suggest that those who so easily invoke ‘morality’ on their side, have given little serious thought as to what it might mean or perhaps more interesting – from whence the concept might come.
Luckily for us, Nietzsche has done just that.
In his essay Good and Evil, Good and Bad, Nietzsche illustrates two different moral codes, with origins appearing to date back to ancient times. The first applies to the nobility – or masters – while the second applies to the lower class – or slaves.
Nietzsche suggests that while the upper class moral code was designed to be better than that of the lower class (i.e. to hold superiority over the lower classes by suggesting that being rich is good while being poor is bad), the lower class – through spite and resentment – have created their own moral code which in some respects is ultimately superior.
In the case of Mr Gauke’s ‘cash payments to tradesmen’, it would seem that the lower class ‘slaves’ (i.e. tradesmen and those who employ them) have indeed created their own moral code, which Mr Gauke as coined the hidden economy. In laymen’s lingo, it’s known as just trying to ‘get on’.
While Mr Gauke may believe his moral code to be superior, Nietzsche would suggest that it is not.
This is because the government’s master morality (however dressed up) defines itself solely by reference to that which furthers the rich and noble.
In other words (unlike slave morality which at least seeks to further the interests of society as a whole), the master morality of Mr Gauke is self serving, self-centred, and self-fullfilling.
Given that we believe ourselves to live in the ‘free world’, is it any wonder that the slaves have rebelled?