The Instigator
magicSpoons
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
gavin.ogden
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

Charity is an appalling excuse for the abuses of capitalism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,182 times Debate No: 14100
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (25)
Votes (8)

 

magicSpoons

Pro

The 'abuses of capitalism' is a term that could be used to describe a whole host of societal ills, some perhaps less obvious than others. But in this debate I use the term in reference to those ills which charity is supposed to remedy; typically poverty and its various manifestations.

And by 'appalling excuse' I am not talking about people who argue that 'capitalism is okay because we have charity' (if anyone has made such an argument). I am making a more subtle point that charity, regardless of the intentions of those involved in charity work, serves as a powerful ideological tool; the function of which is to eliminate or reduce a sense of guilt, or fulfill a sense of duty felt by the relatively well-off inhabitants of Western liberal democracies.

The implicit assumption of the charitable is that giving to, or working for, charity is all we can do about the ills of society. By giving to charity we can carry on with our lives without having to think about the machinations that would bring about such ills in the first place. This is an attitude, an ideological standpoint, that cannot be justified, even if making this assumption is an easy trap to fall into.

With this argument I am not advocating socialism, nor am I saying that charity is useless - pragmatically, charity does make a difference, albeit a small one, in the world. I am saying that charity as an ideological tool to distract from the genuine origins of social inequality and poverty is deplorable.
gavin.ogden

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for the opportunity to debate such an interesting topic. If I understand my opponent correctly, my objective is to defend the merits of charity, and show that they outway the downfalls. I will allow my opponent to expound on his initial arguments before I start. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
magicSpoons

Pro

Thanks for accepting.

Just to clarify, here I am not talking about charity's obvious function of helping the dispossessed and the disadvantaged in society, and I am not intending to debate whether it is successful at this function . I am intending to debate a less obvious function of charity as a sort of social pacifier, an 'opiate of the masses' if you will. My contention is that this function exists and that it enables charity to be used as an 'excuse' for not doing something about the vast economic inequalities in the world.

Charity, I claim, in its obvious function of helping the poor and disadvantaged, is largely impotent. Charity benefits a very small percentage of those who really need it. This failure of charity to help on a large scale is intrinsic to its nature, money given to charity is essentially the scraps off the table of rich Western nations. It is not in the self-serving interests of business to give a large proportion of their revenue to charity, nor can most ordinary people afford to give any large sums to charity.

Despite this impotency, it still seems that Western societies at large are content with the notion that giving to charity is just about all we can do about poverty. Not only this, but by giving to charity people get some satisfaction from doing so, it doesn't matter whether this arises from a natural instinct or a socialised behaviour to help others - because of this phenomenon, charity essentially becomes a business with its commodity as redemption. You give some money to charity and feel the satisfaction from helping someone, you've 'done your bit'. This may seem all well and good on the face of it, but it is simply not enough. In order to really help the poor, something else needs to be done, something greater and more substantial than charity (I said I wasn't going to advocate socialism, but I see it as the final resolution to the problem of charity).
gavin.ogden

Con

I would like to thank magicSpoons again for this debate, and the readers for your time.

While my opponent makes some interesting points, there seem to be no real arguments to affirm the resolution. There are no facts, statistics, or anything else to support such a claim. Afterall, I assure you that charity absolutely DOES help those in need. Why don't we ask the thousands of Haitians, who benefited from one of the largest charities in history, if they believe charity is counter intuitive? They might have something to say about the resolution.http://www.google.com...

My opponent has shared only opinions, up to this point, but I will show some of the ways that charity is not simply a way for the wicked western world to feel better about its self indulging ways. St. Jude is not only one of the world leaders in cancer research and therapy, but also relies very heavily on charitable donations. Do I feel good when I give money to this charity? Yes. Do I do it for purely self serving motives? Absolutely not. My small donation is merely a small part of an extremely humanitarian effort that I support fully. Many people volunteer their time with the homeless. This IS a form of charity, and is in no way appalling.http://www.google.com...

My opponent's argument that charitable giving does little around the world is completely false, and the idea that people give to charity to free themselves of some greater responsibility is ludicrous, at best. Can more be done? Of course, more can always be done, but charitable efforts are certainly a big part of the overall picture. I implore my opponent to really find out what charities do around the world. Afterall, even if only 1000 lives a year are saved due to charities, the resolution should be negated, and that would be an utmost conservative number. Furthermore, the majority of charity that comes out of the U.S. come from individuals(83%), not businesses(4%). Foundations account for 13%. Keep in mind that these foundation's sole purpose is helping the less fortunate, which for all intents and purposes, is charity.http://www.nps.gov...

Once again, thank you to my opponent, and good luck in his final round.
Debate Round No. 2
magicSpoons

Pro

"While my opponent makes some interesting points, there seem to be no real arguments to affirm the resolution. There are no facts, statistics, or anything else to support such a claim. Afterall, I assure you that charity absolutely DOES help those in need. Why don't we ask the thousands of Haitians, who benefited from one of the largest charities in history, if they believe charity is counter intuitive? They might have something to say about the resolution.http://www.google.com...;

I'm not implying that charity has absolutely no effect in the world, and I'm certainly not saying we should get rid of charity altogether - at least, not until we find a better replacement. But let me reiterate that although charity does help, the extent to which it does so is small - it's bound to be, the sheer number of those living in poverty (about 3.14 billion on less than $2.50 a day) means they simply can't all be helped just through the works of charitable organisations.

I think if you were to ask the Haitians about their predicament they'd express exasperation at the fact that they have to rely almost entirely on aid and charity from other nations, rather than being able to cope with the crisis themselves - surely a result of vast economic inequalities between classes, meaning the proper equipment and resources needed to cope with the crisis are not available. Analogous to this problem is that of the global food crisis (which charity and aid is supposed to help with). In late 2008, Clinton criticised US food aid policies, as well as the World Bank, the IMF, and other global institutions, because they forced African markets to drop agricultural self-sufficiency in favour of food aid. The result of these policies is skyrocketing food prices, forcing more people into poverty.

We can see here that charity and foreign aid do help to some superficial extent in the provision of immediate resources, but once those resources are used up, there is no solid infrastructure for these people to fall back on. In the case of those recipients of US food aid, African farmers are even worse off than before because there is no longer any government subsidies for self-sufficient agriculture.

Charity enables economic inequalities to be sustained by acting as an ersatz remedy to poverty - poverty which is caused by the action of global market forces. I think that charity should no longer be used as an excuse for crises of capitalism, that we should stop kidding ourselves and see what the root of the problem really is.
...................

"Afterall, even if only 1000 lives a year are saved due to charities, the resolution should be negated, and that would be an utmost conservative number."

This attitude is precisely how charity functions as a veil covering the real roots of the problem it is intended to solve. Tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of lives are sustained by charity and foreign aid in a year, fine - but how many are lost, or are forced to live in terrible conditions because of globalisation, outsourcing, national debts, structural readjustments etc., charity is like a band-aid on a gaping wound.

Charity will only prolong the problems it intends to solve. To actually fix these vast problems that affect us globally, something big needs to be done - and as admirable as working or giving to charity is, it's not big enough.
........................

That concludes my argument then. And if I could finish with a quote from Oscar Wilde's 1891 essay 'The Soul of Man under Socialism' which I think summarises my view quite succinctly:

"The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism - are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this. The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man's intelligence; and, as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought. Accordingly, with admirable though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease."

Thanks again to my opponent for taking part.

Sources:
http://www.globalissues.org...
http://www.enn.com...
http://flag.blackened.net...
gavin.ogden

Con

Thank you for an interesting perspective.

I think my opponent confuses the actual problems at hand, and his intentions are good, however misguided. Charity has never been the solution to the world's problems, but it certainly is not an appalling thing. The goal of many charities is to educate people, so they may bring themselves and others out of poverty. Charity is not the problem, lack of education is the problem, but forgive me, I digress.

My opponent is actually saying that charity keeps people in poverty. This is simply not the case. Charity is just giving a helping hand to someone, although it is not required. Charity takes on many forms, and is a good thing in almost every way. If you want to make an argument for socialism, that is perfectly fine, but it has nothing to do with the resolution.
Debate Round No. 3
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
I understand what Pro was trying to argue, but he didn't adequately affirm the resolution, while Con did a good job of negating it, so the vote goes to Con.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Yeah, I didn't read the entire debate, but he didn't coherently frame the argument around why charity is insufficient to deal with Capitalism, but instead turned toward criticizing the morals of charity, which you adequately addressed. You made good points as to why charity is moral, and he didn't seem to have very good counter-arguments. I'll read the whole thing when I get home and make a vote.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
My opponent still used a straw man. He had a huge burden of proof that never materialized. Had he been able to make a logical chain of arguments to connect cause and effect, he might have had a better shot, right?
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Right, but when Libertarians argue that charity can take care of the poor in Capitalist systems, it is a rather poor excuse due to the underlying issues not being addressed.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
It is not supposed to. It is more like a band-aid, not a cure.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
I actually agree that charity, in most forms, does not solve that actual problems of social and economic inequality.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
This is a straw man of epic proportions. Charity is not an excuse to make up for anything. That is the point. It is simply people lending a hand to their fellow man. People were giving charity before capitalism even existed, so what are even talking about. You can't win a debate like this without any evidence to support your theory, period.
Posted by tinrope 6 years ago
tinrope
You seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding the debate.

First I will once and for all clear up the obvious link between charity and capitalism, which is why it has been branded a "poor excuse". Capitalism causes suffering. Charity attempts to reduce suffering. That is all there is to the link we propose.

This is not about showing a better or alternative system, this is about saying that practically charity does not make up for capitalism, does not fully atone for capitalism's ills.

Fallacies require justification and do not make something automatically incorrect - and as for this supposed fallacy, it is not relevant to the debate at all, because we are not proposing a better system, nor is it necessary that we should do so, all we are saying is that the abuses of capitalism outway the good of charity.
Posted by darkkermit 6 years ago
darkkermit
You can give to charity and still be anti-capitalist. It's not an excuse. How does one assume that charity is an excuse for capitalism?

Also, you still didn't show a better or alternative system, which fails your BOP. Otherwise, your argument is just one big utopian fallacy.
Posted by magicSpoons 6 years ago
magicSpoons
"Your resolution ASSUMES that charity is an excuse for the abuses of capitalism. CON showed that it isn't."

Actually I argued that charity as an excuse for capitalism is already an implicit assumption in society as a whole, not a personal assumption. CON didn't show it isn't an excuse, he simply asserted it wasn't - which proves nothing.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt that Con wasn't really addressing Pros points
Vote Placed by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
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