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I was talking to my friend Stephen Usher today about the website we designed for the Austin Branch of the Anthroposophical Society. We are still trying to decide if we like the color of the background. It is nice to have a soft watercolor - it gives a bit of an ethereal feel - but it could be distracting. I brought this up after talking to Caron of Sontec Instruments, who is looking to put a website together for the Colorado Anthroposophical Society. We'll see if the site they design uses a flat color background or if they used a painting.

Last week someone e-mailed me a post that Peter Staudenmaier wrote to the Waldorf Critics list nearly a year ago about a page I put up on my Defending Steiner site. It took me a little while to get around to investigating it, but upon careful examination of the claims that Peter Staudenmaier has made, I find it appropriate to write the following response.

I made mistakes. Flipping the “e” and the “i" in Treitschke is the type of typing error I am prone to. I went through the site and found eight instances where I had misspelled Treitschke, writing Trietschke instead. Sloppy? Yes. But this hardly constitutes misspelling the name "in several different ways", precisely the type of exaggeration that Staudenmaier is prone to, and cannot resist, when he gets on his polemical rolls.

Now to the central argument: Can Rudolf Steiner be said to be "an admirer" of Heinrich von Treitschke? Well now, I suppose that really depends on how you define "admirer". For Staudenmaier's purposes, any hint of sympathy to any aspect of Treitschke’s work is sufficient to merit the label, so that this "admiration" can be rapidly and broadly extended to every aspect of Treitschke’s work, and especially the nationalistic portion, whether this is actually merited or not. This continues his "guilt by association" line of argumentation that he has been using against Steiner since he first published "Anthroposophy and Ecofascism".

So I will make a concession. I will confess that it is inaccurate to state without qualification that Steiner was not an admirer of Treitschke. For there were some aspects of Treitschke’s work that Steiner did profess to find useful. On the other hand, it is just as inaccurate to state that Steiner was an admirer of Treitschke, for this too is misleading. It is just as misleading because Treitschke left a large body of work ranging across a number of topics, though German and especially 19th century Prussian history was his specialty. Today he is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, and therefore can be easily defined as a one dimensional character. During his lifetime he was a very famous and highly popular historian and politician.

When I wrote about Steiner's relationship to Treitschke in the article that Staudenmaier attacks, I concluded with the following statement:

Steiner did speak favorably of certain aspects of Treitschke's works in a number of places, but his praise was always narrowly directed. And Steiner was careful not to praise Treitschke's person, only aspects of his work. Thus I do not feel that it is accurate to call Steiner an admirer of Treitschke.

As is typical, Peter Staudenmaier did not engage in the subtlety of my argument, but rather made a quick straw man and proceeded to knock that down rather vigorously. Staudenmaier writes that I insist “that Steiner, who met Treitschke personally and referred to him frequently throughout his anthroposophical works, did not admire Treitschke”. You would think from reading this sentence Treitschke was a frequent subject of praise and discussion in Steiner's nearly 6000 lectures. But that is simply not the case. There are under 20 references in these 330 volumes, a statistically highly infrequent occurrence. Staudenmaier has searched through these, and as usual as selectively quoted from a few trying to make the case that Steiner did utter laudatory statements about the person of Treitschke. Why is this important? Again it is to establish the "guilt by association" argument. What Staudenmaier has utterly failed to find, and this is because there are not any, are blanket endorsements of Treitschke nationalism. These simply do not exist, because Steiner was a vigorous and lifelong anti-nationalist. What you do find is what I described in my article over three years ago: narrowly directed praise to certain aspects of Treitschke work.

Still, to make the case against Steiner, Staudenmaier quotes extensively from a lecture Steiner delivered on January 13, 1917, (Zeitgeschichtliche Betrachtungen - Das Karma der Unwahrhaftigkeit - 2. Teil GA 174; Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1983) attempting to show Steiner's great praise of the man. But Staudenmaier could not help selectively quoting, for if he actually reproduced or summarized Steiner's entire description, he would undermine his own case. In the lecture where Steiner supposedly praised Treitschke extensively, Steiner's description starts off with an explanation that Treitschke was the subject of a demonic possession (page 109, the page before Staudenmaier begins his quotations). Now you may think what you wish of Steiner's diagnosis of demonic possession, but that is hardly the way someone starts off praising an author whom they admire. It was, Steiner explained "not an evil demon, but nonetheless a demon” (109). Treitschke was driven, Steiner explains, by a demonic force towards a materialistic explanation of history. Anyone familiar with Steiner's praise of the spiritual perspective and frequently expressed concern with materialism would hardly consider this to be praise of Treitschke’s person. But Staudenmaier, our polemical historian, has omitted this entire section as he tries through selective quotation to make a case to the opposite.

It is further interesting to note what of all of Treitschke’s work Steiner singles out for praise. Steiner praises Treitschke’s essay on freedom, and another essay in which Treitschke discusses the necessary limitations on the power of the state over the individual. Hardly the type of work that nationalists focus on. Nationalism, after all, is the philosophy that the nation and the state representing the nation has primacy over the individual.

So while Staudenmaier has clipped his citations such that they might be plausibly read as possibly indicating some form of praise for Treitschke, if you read the portions that he has left out, they are the contextualizing and critical portions. This is a point I have frequently raised in analyzing Staudenmaier's writing: namely that he selectively quotes, which in itself is necessary, but that he does so in such a way that the original passages are distorted, frequently into the opposite of the authors original statements.

So while Steiner delivered a lecture in which he sought to explain Treitschke work and significance both critically and from the occult perspective, describing Treitschke as possessed by a demonic force and also criticizing aspects of Treitschke work, Staudenmaier has selected only the slightly positive sentences, reproducing them as full paragraphs, to make his point. This is nothing less than intellectually dishonest. Steiner did not "specifically and effusively praised Treitschke’s contributions to the German national project”. The closest that he remotely came was to pointing out that a nationalist historian such as Treitschke is understandably appreciated by the Germans in a different way than by non-Germans. Had Staudenmaier left in the full context, it would be clear that Steiner was speaking in an objective way about international criticism of Treitschke and the German reaction to it; he was not taking sides. And Steiner, I must again emphasize, was emphatically not endorsing Treitschke’s nationalism. This is clear if you read the entire lecture, and not the heavily edited version Staudenmaier has offered and interpreted in trying to make his point.

Peter Staudenmaier likes to complain that anthroposophists do not "get" his arguments, and he practically laments the fact that they frequently do not agree with him. But there is a reason for that which goes beyond stubbornness, ignorance, or stupidity. His argumentation is faulty, his research highly selective, and his treatment of sources is repeatedly, deliberately, and blatantly dishonest. The only way that Peter Staudenmaier is able to continue to plausibly argue his tired and mistaken point of view is that almost none of his readers are able to check his citations against the original, and a few that are generally do not want to spend their lives as his research assistant. Were he to attempt such a hatchet job on an intellectual figure who worked primarily in English, he would be laughed off the Internet.

I will stand by my original summary of Steiner's relationship to Treitschke, even as I concede that some of my phrasing can be as misleading as Staudenmaier's.

Steiner did speak favorably of certain aspects of Treitschke's works in a number of places, but his praise was always narrowly directed. And Steiner was careful not to praise Treitschke's person, only aspects of his work. Thus I do not feel that it is accurate to call Steiner an admirer of Treitschke.

Once upon a time I came across a site that annoyed me. It had a wealth of material on esoteric subjects, details that were available nowhere else on the web, and in some cases nowhere else at all. The only problem was that not one piece of it had any citations, and that made it essentially useless for my purposes. It is standard scholarly practice if you are talking about something that happened 300 years ago to describe the sources upon which you base your conclusions. Other scholars such as myself can then go back to the sources and verify your research, or come to different conclusions. But if you have only the conclusions without the sources, than the opinions are essentially worthless. The author of the site was revealed after some clicking around to be Eric P. Wijnants. I wrote as much in a blog post entitled “How Not to Write Occult History”.

It turns out I stumbled on something a little bit larger than just a personal annoyance. In the comments of my blog a graduate student came forward to tell how Eric P. Wijnants had conned her into sending review material, pretending to be a professor at the University of Vienna. Her entire research, previously unpublished, showed up on his website as his own work. In a follow-up post a few years later I summarized the whole affair: “Eric P. Wijnants and the problem of pseudo-scholarly writing without footnotes”. Eric himself, using psudonyms, jumped to his own defense in the blog comments.

But the story continues. It seems Susan Olsson was not the only researcher and graduate student whose material was “borrowed” by Eric P. Wijnants – solicited for scholarly review and then posted wholesale on his site. Brendan French's Ph.D. thesis was similarly plagiarized, as was that of Dr. Walter Penrose.

Because his own name is now linked to this broadening plagiarism scandal, Eric P. Wijnants has increasingly used pseudonyms to solicit work. He also uses the pseudonyms to reference his own work, support himself and his other pseudonyms, and defend himself in public discussions (a tactic known as sock puppeting). Ah the wonders of the Internet, when you can pretend to be anyone you want!

Among Eric’s many pseudonyms:

Eric P. Wynants
Dr. Brigitte Muehlegger
Robert Anton Wilson
Francois Martinet PhD
C.Wong
Bhakti Ananda Goswami
Dr. Raphael Vishanu
Brian Muehlbach
Amara Das Wilhelm

And there are doubtless dozens more. Some of these pseudonyms Eric P. Wijnants uses may be real people, but they are also names that have been borrowed and used by him on the Internet, either to post in public forums or to solicit articles from scholars and researchers.

Eric P. Wijnants’s own website (http://sociologyesoscience.com/) continues to be a hotbed of activity, to which Eric posts up to 20,000 words of unreferenced, often uncited, and unsigned material per day. Much of it is highly specialize and thoroughly researched (by somebody, though if Eric P. Wijnants  did the research, you’d think he’d bother to mention the sources – but then if he was actually researching the stuff, there’s no way he would be writing 20,000 words of proofed, edited, and publishable <except for the frequent absences of references> material per day). Either he spends all day in front of a keyboard retyping everything he’s ever read in slightly different words and without a single citation or reference, or – more likely – he is copying and pasting wholesale from all over the place, leaving out the citations and references, and sticking it on his site, where it sits unsigned an unreferenced, but nonetheless implicitly as his own work. For more evidence that he is likely cutting and pasting (and/or scanning and OCR-ing) consider the page “Historical Overview” on his site (http://soc.world-journal.net/HistoricalOverview.html). The entire page is a bunch of scanned pages from some book and/or magazines(s) showing the history of the world. No, he did not master Adobe Illustrator and make all the charts himself; he scanned them and posted the images on his site. And he did not say where they came from, either. So aside from the blatant copyright violation, if anyone wanted to use them, it would be extremely difficult to find the original source so as to be able to cite it.

Consider Eric P. Wijnants’s output in the first 10 days of March, 2008: 9700 words on the beginning of the cold war, part one. 15,700 words on the beginning of the cold war, part two (between them, 260 citations to over 200 books and documents – I’ll get to that in a minute). A 1500 word commentary to a BBC article on Hitler and the occult. 5500 words on Chinese Tantra (a separate citations page lists 384 sources consulted, including over 100 primary documents – in the original Chinese!). 14,257 words on the end of the cold war (60 references). 628 words on the state of Eastern Europe today (no citations, but a scan of a map, uncredited). 17,700 words on “Populations at War” with 40 citations to over 80 sources. 1900 words on Kurdish nationalism (no references).

That is a total of 66,825 words in 10 days, or about a 200 page book. The topics span at least three different academic specialties, and the references (for 10 days of work, mind you) total 744 different books and documents (over 100 of them in Chinese). Not a bad output for 10 days! At that rate you should be able to complete about 10 doctoral dissertations per year, easily!

Aside from the improbable quantity (he’s been going at close to this rate for years now; in February he posted 24 different “articles” – there are 8 so far this March), what might cause us to believe that this isn’t all Eric’s original output? Well, there are the obvious OCR errors, for one. To give an example, “From romantic hero to man of steel; such was [he evolution of Stalin's self-image.2” (taken from http://soc.world-journal.net/startColdWar.html). Notice the “[he”. That is an OCR error. No typist would ever make that keystroke error. The [ symbol is the left pinky finger. A “t” is the right index finger. You don’t mix those up. But to an OCR program, t can look a lot like [.  Notice also how the footnotes have lost their superscript. If you typed the document in MS Word, you could transfer it to the web easily while maintaining the footnotes properly. Instead Eric uses Netscape Navigator 4.7 to create his web pages.

The well turned phrase “From romantic hero to man of steel” is enough for Amazon to locate the book (thanks to the “Search Inside the Book” feature). Eric P. Wijnants has lifted the entire chapter from Melvyn P. Leffler’s recently (September 2007) published book “For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War”. Does Leffler’s name appear anywhere on Eric P. Wijnants’ website? No.

So what are we to conclude? Eric P. Wijnants is a blatant, serial, high-volume plagiarist. Almost everything on his site comes from somewhere else, and none of it is credited to the original authors. The strange thing is that he becomes indignant when this is pointed out. And the biggest irony is that he runs around the world pretending to be an academic. Half his pseudonyms have PhD’s!

Wikipedia page views

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A new beta program is going around that counts Wikipedia page views. I tried it on a really obscure page, and none the less found that the page was getting just over 1000 views per week! At first I chalked it up to theh global reach of Wikipedia. But then I started to think about it more. I have to wonder if that number doesn't include hits from all of Wikipedia’s bots. Wikipedia employs a number of automated software programs (referred to as ‘bots - short for robots) that read through all the articles on the site looking for various problems. The most obvious are the ones that look for profanity and remove it automatically. But there are quite a few other automatic programs that read Wikipedia pages for various reasons. There are even several non-Wikipedia bots they read through all the articles, the Google spider (so named because it crawls through the Internet following the web of links) being just one of many. Probably every search engine on the net (and there are several hundred including some private ones) go through Wikipedia monthly, and possibly weekly. And then there are the various research projects that seek to understand how Wikipedia functions by taking frequent snapshots. So a thousand hits per week does not necessarily mean a thousand interested individuals searching for just that information. In fact there is probably some threshold amount, maybe even close to a thousand hits per week, that every single article on all of Wikipedia gets. It would only be hits above this threshold that would indicate genuine human interest. I am not sure what that threshold is. For non-Wikipedia pages, it seems to be about a thousand hits a month. That is, anything with a registered domain name will get a thousand hits a month just by virtue of being on the Internet. So it is only hits beyond that level are actually significant.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s concept of “practice” is a comprehensive one and transcendent of any particular culture. It is precisely in his distinction between the “codes of practices” (193) and the “core virtues” that are expressed within these codes that allows virtue to be independent of particular actions. While MacIntyre uses the morality of lying in different cultures as an example of how “codes of practices” vary from virtue (192-193), the issue of slavery (whether the American form or any of the others – African, Asian, Native American, ancient or early Modern) is an interesting one. Is there such a thing as a virtuous slave owner? (Aristotle should hope so, since he owned slaves). Is there such a thing as excellence in the management of slaves? While we might acknowledge excellence in the “practice” of the management of employees, is there any “internal good” to be gained from excellence in the management of slave labor? Or is it just inherently wrong? MacIntyre addresses the question on page 199, asking if some “practices” are inherently evil. He allows for the possibility, while confessing to be unable to find any examples (200). For him, the problem with the possible candidates for an evil practice, torture and sadomasochistic sex, is that he finds them closer to a “techne” than a “practice”. But plantation management in the antebellum South is complex enough to be a “practice”, and the social element is fulfilled by the community of wealthy slave-owners. In that historical context a slave owner could strive for excellence in the management of his plantation, judging himself according to objective standards shared by other plantation owners, and exercise “core virtues” in pursuit of an “inner good” (the wealth and status accrued from his exploitation slave labor being secondary), and be simultaneously virtuous and evil. In fact, the description might apply to Thomas Jefferson, except by all accounts he was a very poor manager of his estate, dying in near bankruptcy.

Reference:

Alasdair MacIntyre. After Virtue. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981.

Epistemologically, if you spend all of your time analyzing a discourse without reference to the original subject of the discourse, you run the risk of remaining so highly abstracted from the subject of study that you get not closer to the truth, not closer to reality, but further away from it. This of course presupposes that you believe in such a thing as "reality". An alternative point of view denies that there is such a thing as "reality", or at least denies it is possible to know such a thing. In that world, all there is are discourses, and any one discourse is just a serviceable as any other discourse. But reality has a curious way of continually reasserting itself.

Said’s claim essentially that the Orient as anybody in the West knows it doesn't exist is an interesting one epistemologically. "I have begun with the assumption that the Orient is not an inert fact of nature." (71) The way this is phrased is certainly quite defensible. He elaborates "There were-and are-cultures and nations whose locations is in the East, and their lives, histories, and customs have a brute reality obviously greater than anything that could be said about them in the West." (71) So what then is the book about? "The phenomenon of Orientalism as I study it here deals principally, not with a correspondence between Orientalism in the Orient, but with the internal consistency of Orientalism and its ideas about the Orient… despite or beyond any correspondence or lack thereof with a ‘real’ Orient" (71). Said starts with the assumption that there is no such thing as "the Orient", though there are people and cultures in the territory traditionally so named, and then undertakes a study of how Europeans have constructed “the Orient”. So far so good. But there is a second part to Said’s thesis, a second set of assumptions that he combines with the first, namely that the entire construct of Orientalism is "more … a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is a veridic discourse about the Orient." (72) This set of assumptions each need to be examined closely. The first idea, that "the Orient" is a construct, is fairly incontrovertible. And it would be very interesting indeed to study how the construct of "the Orient" does or does not correspond with the peoples and cultures living in the territory designated as such. But that is not what Said undertakes. Instead he attempts to prove his second assumption, that Orientalism ipso facto does not represent the people in the Orient, but is rather a reflection of – and even tool of – domination over the region. There is always a danger with this type of writing, where the author attempts to fit the evidence to the thesis. The danger is that in trying to make the point well they introduce their own set of distortions into the subject of inquiry. Said is explicitly trying to prove that all previous Orientalists were tools of imperialism. This may be the case, but he may be mishandling them at least as egregiously as he accuses them of mishandling the Orient. Whether this is actually the fact is beyond my competence to judge, but the danger ought at least to be acknowledged. And Said’s point would be made best if he acknowledged this inherent danger and took steps to mitigate it. However, he appears not to of done this, at least if the basic claims of his critics have any credibility.

References:

Edward Said. Orientalism. New York: Vinatage,1978.

I find Said’s application of Foucault’s concept of Discourse to be closely related to Thomas Kuhn's concept of Paradigms. Both refer to unconscious mental structures that both assist and limit human thinking. They it assist in that they create mental shortcuts, categories for rapidly understanding the whirling chaos of perceptions and impressions that constitute realities direct approach on our senses. However, the limitation comes from the fact that whatever doesn't fit the pre-existing structure is not even perceived, or if it happens to be noticed is explained away, so that whenever reality doesn't fit the theory, it is reality that is adjusted. I find it interesting that both concepts arise within a decade of each other, both representing a dawning awareness not only of what we think, but of how we think. And of course both are linked to the study of history, because it is only in comparison and with an understanding of how people thought in the past, that these paradigms/discourses shift over time, the but they are even noticed. In both interest in both instances, when you are thinking within a paradigms/discourse you are not aware of the fact. And, paradoxically as soon as you transcend your current paradigm, you are simply entering another one (though the new one, being fresh, may not be so clearly defined). As such, Said’s Orientalism is itself a Discourse, a way of looking at things that was at the time of its publication revolutionary, and then became popular. But that's not to say that it has an exclusive claim to accurately represent reality. More classical Orientalists have a different point of view. Robert Irwin in the introduction to his book Dangerous Knowledge (2006) observes that, "Most of the subsequent debate has taken place within the parameters set out by Edward Said. Much that is certainly central to the history of Orientalism has been quietly excluded by him, while all sorts of extraneous material has been called upon to support an indictment of the integrity and worth of certain scholars. One finds oneself having to discuss not what actually happened in the past, but what Said and his partisans think ought to have happened.” (4). You have, in essence, discourse versus discourse, paradigm versus paradigm.

Said makes a two-part claim about Orientalism. The first is that Orientalism constitutes a discourse, in the sense that Foucault uses the term. The second is that this discourse, this network of interlinked ideas, is inextricably linked to the history of political domination over the region known as the Orient. I can accept the first claim is fairly obvious, and to the second claim I would gladly grant a degree of influence, but the inextricable part is the one I wonder about. You can it really be true that no observations in 150 years of study of the Middle East are accurate enough to stand independent of the fact that the observer belonged to a dominant political structure? While the introduction portion of the 2003 edition of Said's book happily recounted the reactionary criticism that the first edition received when it was first published, criticism that was so ill considered that it's hardly worth taking seriously, the book is now 25 years old, popular, and well-established. In that time various points have been disputed, some more effectively than others. I quoted Robert Irwin above, who wrote an entire book on the subject. It seems me the most cogent arguments against Said’s thesis are those that go after the second part, the claim that the history of imperialism is inextricably linked to all thoughts about "Orientals". Influence is surely present, but thoughts about, say, the development of the Arabic language could conceivably come from a study of the language itself independent of whether your people occupy an Arabic-speaking territory, or your territory is occupied by Arabic speaking peoples.

References:

Edward Said. Orientalism. New York: Vinatage,1978.

Robert Irwin. Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontentents. New York: Overlook, 2006.

Thoughts on Nancy Fraser's essay "From Redistribution to Recognition":

I
Why is it that for academics, the solution to any problem is “a new critical theory” (69)?

II
It is an interesting starting point that requires the assumption that “both redistribution and recognition” (69) are necessary in a theory of Justice. This may well be the case, but I would like to see on what grounds she establishes this.

III
Fraser's view on the economic consequences of gender division within society seems a little bit abstracted from the real world. Certainly she identifies real problems. But she moves all too quickly to the conclusion that "gender justice requires transforming the political economy so as to eliminate its gender structuring” (78). This seems like a worthy abstract ideal, but I can predict a number of practical problems with any attempt to implement it. Viewing social structure as the only reason why women are drawn to certain occupations (think kindergarten teacher) presupposes no biological basis for these affinities. Now don't get me wrong, not arguing that women are only fit to be kindergarten teachers, nor am I arguing that men can't make perfectly good kindergarten teachers as well (in fact I know a few). What I'm arguing is that the affinity for teaching kindergarten may be statistically more widespread among women than among men for reasons other than just social constructions. And if this is the case, then social justice is not achieved by ignoring this fact. And it also means that social justice is a lot more complicated than a simple prescription for eliminating gender as a social construction (a prescription that anyway contains no helpful program for how this could be achieved).

IV
Fraser's analysis suffers on the whole from working with the idea of groups, while leaving aside the fact that groups consist entirely of individuals. This seems to me the reason why her analysis is interesting, but contains nothing useful for how society ought to get to a more socially just level. I say “nothing useful” because her prescriptions are abstract and group related, full of ought’s and should’s about transforming structures, and seemed to leave out the very individuals whose job it will be to transform these structures. (Example: “The logic of the remedy... is to put race out of business as such”(80). Great idea, but who's going to do it and how?) She plays elaborate games with abstract concepts, but these possess only a tenuous relationship to reality, and ignore all the interesting complications and contradictions that make real life so messy.

V
Fraser's prescription for successful change, what she terms a "transformative remedy" (85), is economic socialism combined with "deconstructive cultural politics" (92). In net effect I suspect she is right. A decrease in economic inequality would make for a society better able to overcome differences. And inasmuch as "deconstructive cultural politics" means people respecting each other more, this is also a recipe for success. However, in practical terms the socialist societies that she refers to exist primarily in nations that are culturally homogenous to a much higher degree than the United States. And it is in these countries-France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark-that the loss of homogeneity has coincided with a marked increase in social tensions. As immigrants become an increasingly larger part of these countries, the same class and race-based problems that have long plagued the United States also arise. The lesson seems to be, where cultural differences are small, equality comes more easily, and where cultural differences are vast, the equality is much more difficult. This is quite understandable and even predictable given what sociology is learned about the process of othering.

Reference: Nancy Fraser. Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the "Postsocialist" Condition. London: Routledge, 1997.

Should individuals be required to sacrifice for the greater good? Sacrificing for the greater good is an interesting paradox. I would see that as one of the highest goals of morality, but never an obligation. That is, if anyone choose to sacrifice for the greater good than that is to be applauded to the highest degree. But should someone choose to sacrifice someone else for the greater good then it may be necessary, but remains immoral, because it impinges on the freedom of another. Such decisions may be required in politics, but then very few would argue that politics is an occupation you enter to perfect your morality. Real life involves dealing with less-than-perfect people in less-than-perfect situations, and often the best action or policy is itself less than perfect, though it remains the best choice. Moral philosophy can be a guide to action in politics, but it can also be an impediment if actors feel that each action they take must be morally pure.So no, individuals should never be required to sacrifice for the greater good. If it is not a free choice, then it is not a sacifice, anyway.

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