Titus Stahl

Against (effective altruism-type) charity

An interesting article by Mathew Snow on the recently popular “effective altruism” movement in Jacobin:

The irony of Effective Altruism is that it implores individuals to use their money to procure necessities for those who desperately need them, but says nothing about the system that determines how those necessities are produced and distributed in the first place.

If we look at the institutions that make and allocate the resources others so desperately need, we must ask whether it is wrong to withhold those resources from others for the sake of payment and profit. Doing so not only seems morally reprehensible, it is morally reprehensible for precisely the same reason Effective Altruists argue it is wrong not to donate money to charities: it’s immoral to value some small sum of money (or what it might buy) over a human life or minimum standard of living.

In this way, Effective Altruism’s argument trades off an obvious moral truth without any mention of its direct tension with capitalist accumulation: as men and women with money and moral consciences, we can’t put a price on life, but as men and women participating in a system governed by the logic of capital, we must.