Mit dem SUV zum Biosupermarkt (EN subs)

English subtitles available.

By SUV to the organic supermarket.


Hello from the snowy Berlin. This video is called “by SUV to the organic supermarket” We are not currently going by SUV to the organic supermarket, but rather by culturally obsolete old diesel vehicle and to my home.
I already recorded this video once two years ago, but I didn’t like how it turned out, so I recorded it again two days ago, and this time I liked it, but the sound wasn’t right. So third attempt for this video.

The video is about ethics, and the discussion starter is, as mentioned, the activity of using the oversized vehicle to drive to the organic supermarket, which is sometimes used as an example of the inconsistent actions of the higher-earning classes, who shop in organic supermarkets, but also drive cars which use more fuel than necessary because of their construction. And my topic now is to talk about why that is not inconsistent to do.

Because if I have an ethic, which is pretty much to be assumed if I say it’s inconsistent and that doesn’t add up,
Then I have to check: what’s the hierarchy in this ethic. I take the liberty here to say that most ethics have a certain hierarchy. And at the very top of the hierarchy can be the human, or nature or the continuance of the life overall, or that things go well for this generation, or the next, and so on and so forth. Those are all different hierarchies, which then also structure the ethic differently, meaning that they order the maxims of action differently.
So if I say now that it is inconsistent to go by SUV to the organic supermarket, then I assume based on that that it is very highly ranked in this ethic to protect the environment, which can have different reasons, we’ll get to that soon.
But it can also be really consistent to argue that it makes sense to drive to the organic supermarket with the SUV. Since if I have a selfish ethic in which the focus is that I’m doing well, now for one thing, the organic products are better for the environment, but also the evidence seems to be saying that a lot of the organic things are better for me too, that they are better for the body. And the mind/spirit [smiles].
Yes and the SUV also brings a certain security for people, you sit a bit higher up and the car is relatively wide. So I have more safety when I drive an SUV, goes the assumption. It also brings a little bit of safety from other traffic participants. If I, in my SUV, for example collide with a cyclist or with a smaller car, a Fiat Punto or something, then the person in the smaller car or on the bike has had worse luck than if I had also been driving a smaller car. So driving an SUV is always selfish, because I use more resources and I am more dangerous for others.
Of course you could argue against that, maybe because I’m higher up it is balanced out or so. Either way, if it comes to a crash, it is difficult.

Ok, so if I have an ethic where I am the most important, then it is definitely consistent to do that, and I now take another liberty in saying that’s simply the way it is for many people. Or the people are really inconsistent. That can of course also be the case, that people for example somehow

… an ambulance here, a bit loud, continues on his mission …

that for example the higher-earning classes in part really do something for the environment, donate or something, which is cool, but then they also travel a lot, travel by car. That is a very typical thing, that one Somehow more or less cares to take action for the environment, but in the end flies to take a vacation.
And then it’s so, that the people who earn very little, and can’t fly away on vacation, that they use less resources than those highly intellectual vacation flyers who totally care and make an effort but somehow still act differently.

So, in the left milieu it is like this, that there … in Germany we have several parties and two big ones namely the Linke and the Grüne, SPD I place now in the middle, It’s not really all that easy to place these days. but we have these two that are very much in the leftist spectrum, these parties, but that represent two completely different ethics, at least originally.
So the Linke left, or PDS too at that time still, represents an ethic where the humans are in focus. And the Grüne ones, the hardcore Grüne, represented an ethic where it is really more about the environment. And when the Linke are representing the environment, when they care about how the environment is doing, then it usually is about making sure the environment is intact for the humans, meaning for use by humans or for human recreation, which is also a use and so on. And for the hardcore Grüne It’s more focused on how nature is doing, independent of the humans.
That is, if I close down a coal power plant, then the Linke left will say: “Yes, but it’s difficult because of the jobs we lose”. There is then the discrepancy between environmental protection and occupational safety/human protection. And depending on your focus, maybe someone who is closer to communism would tend to prioritize the jobs there. How useful that is to discuss is another topic.
And the original Grüne, who were not yet so lobbyistically oriented, they would say, “Nah, the coal power plant has to go. Does not matter. The people simply have look for something different for work, because we can not destroy the environment only so that there are jobs.”
And you can argue for both standpoints, but it is very clear that they have a hard time coming together, because of differing hierarchies in their ethics, as I said. This can of course be further differentiated, as I said, there can also be someone who wants to protect the environment but for different reasons. So i can have someone who says “I want to protect the environment, because I want it to be nice when I in the woods”, or “I want to protect it because it’s financially important, so that we continue to do business”, or “ so we humans can continue to exist” and so on and so forth. But I can also argue, yes I want to protect the environment because man is not the highest being that exists, it is not about humans, but it’s about life itself.

And then there is always the question in what time frame, millions of years, or billions, or until the sun stops, until this all implodes on earth, or am I only thinking about one generation, or just about tomorrow, and so on. Whether I’m thinking about my children, or also about my grandchildren, and how things will go for them. And depending on these things, the action maxim builds differently accordingly, and that is important to think about, because otherwise things are constantly being jumbled, and people talk from different points of view, and it is not clear what the hierarchy of ethics is. And then people have problems communicating with each other too. You have to settle that first.

In the case of veganism, for example, things often get mixed up. For many in that group, animal welfare is the main thing, so the animal is highly valued in the ethical hierarchy, while for others quite often the human aspect is brought up, namely that it’s better nutritionally. And I assume that this is primarily brought up to be able to argue better, because subconsciously, they seem to assume that for humans humans are more important than the animals. So that it is a better argument that veganism is healthier, than that veganism is important for animal welfare.
And then some people who for example used to be vegan and then started to eat meat again, they have this precise problem that they became vegan for ethical reasons of animal welfare and then noticed after a while -there are always people, who simply work better with animal products - , and they noticed that, and then a certain ambivalence arises, in essence a cognitive distortion- Some people solve this by not accepting it as true, that it is like that with them. That happens for some, I only use it as an example.I know many people who do really well as vegans, but I I also know many people who have tried it and it didn’t work very well. So then this cognitive distortion arises and then I look, what do I do with it. So either I push that away and don’t accept it, or I accept it and say, “okay, ”that’s not really the best nutrition for me. What do I do now?“ ”Is animal welfare more important than me or am I more important to me than animal welfare" and then many people try to find a middle way, that they for example eat meat once per week, or twice, or so on, so that they feel good … tralala. But there there is, even if it is not conscious, a balancing out of the ethical hierarchy.

So in that way, it is not inconsistent to drive an SUV to the organic super market if my ethic is structured that way. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be socially accepted, but it means that I can’t simply say that it’s illogical. You can do a thought experiment where you imagine that there are two categories of food.
Namely the food that is good for the environment, meaning it is cultivated in a way that is simply good for nature, and there is food that is good for humans, meaning that it is better than standard food, for me. Often both are true, because of course we are part of nature.
We are not separate from it, even if we sometimes create separation linguistically, but in in the real world we are not separate from the environment. We are the environment. And that’s why it tends to be that when I grow food which is primarily better for the environment, that increases biodiversity and doesn’t deplete the soil and so on, in most cases that food is also better for humans. Of course, there are always exceptions, but tendentially, yes.
And now if I imagine it is not so, that it would be two different things, that some things are good for nature and the other things are good for humans, what do i choose then? Which things would I buy? And if I answer that, then I know what my hierarchy of ethics is. And of course it can also be, that the answer is complex; yes in that and that regard, it’s a balancing act and so on and so forth.
Ethics need not be static, but it can be that many people have a tendency. But to possess the skill of ambiguity, the ability to let things be ambiguous, to have several and not just one perspective, that is actually a very good thing.

So you can decide situationally, which then doesn’t necessarily - well, partly, to a certain extent, corresponds to this German Kantian philosophy which is very clear really and not as dependent on the situation, but which states that there are certain action maxims, categorical imperative, I’m never allowed to lie and I’m not allowed to make an exception. So it goes, this whole classic Kantian. That’s one complicated theme. So maybe I’m somebody who’s very clear: “with me it is always like this”, or I am someone who takes the situation into account, who weighs things, “how can we do this here”.There.


Joseph Bartz