each democracy separately (to recall the “sucker exemption” avoidance). Yet perhaps someone arguing on Pogge’s behalf would also claim that we cannot limit our duties towards distant others to ensuring their survival, bodily integrity and freedom from slavery – that working to ensure their existence does not really ensure anything like a truly human life, even if these are necessary conditions for such life that are consistent in their deontological basis. But here it is the rigorist alternative that can claim greater feasibility. It is highly questionable that affluent nations can ensure by themselves the full UDHR standards for the world’s deprived, 76 especially given that many of the UDHR components (for instance access to education) clearly depend on domestic institutions that outsiders cannot replace nor easily alter. Subjecting democracies’ conduct to UDHR goals thus exemplifies the indeterminacy of the will (to return to the Kantian vocabulary) once made contingent upon achieving consequences that are beyond the agent’s sphere of control. In contrast, the conditions necessary for the rigorist view are far more attainable, since they depend solely upon affluent democracies themselves. 29
This is true, first, in terms of assistance to others. Today humanitarian assistance, understood most robustly, can prevent at least the deadly results of poverty, even if many around the world shall remain very poor indeed, and even when discussing, specifically, the practical difficulties of providing support for populations living under boycotted regimes. 77 Second, one of the main reasons for this confidence is the unprecedented prominence of liberal democracies in world affairs, crucial also with regard to the changes democracies must undertake before they can disengage from powerful, particularly oil rich dictatorships. These changes can be pursued by democracies possessing the vast majority of the world’s economic and technological resources, 78 who can commit themselves, for example, to developing alternative energy sources. 79 The democratic duty not to be complicit in dictators’ theft therefore cannot be discounted simply on “feasibility grounds.” To say “we wish we could act morally but this will require too much effort given existing conditions” is, surely from a Kantian viewpoint, self-incurred immaturity – the exact opposite of enlightenment. 80 Such abdication of moral responsibility is not sober pragmatism but plain moral laziness, 81 especially given democracies’ power. 82 It should be clear that this emphasis on democracies’ aggregated geopolitical clout is not in any way to a concession towards Pogge’s view: such an emphasis is perfectly compatible with a rigorist understanding of global politics, conceiving the relations between states mainly as a web of bilateral interactions between specific unitary agents.