In my previous post, I suggested a distinction between “liberalism” and “Leftism”. Now I’d like to consider some of the features of living in a Leftist society. Whereas my last post concerned personality traits of the liberal and the Leftist considered as ideal types, here I will be talking about Leftist society itself, about emergent phenomena that appear because of the power of Leftist mythology on the populace, regardless of the wishes of individual Leftists.
1. Believe what you want, as long as it’s not insulting.
Yes, there are restrictions on what one can say, but not in the sense of an explicit creed from which one may not dissent. What is forbidden is not making any particular value-free statement about officially oppressed groups, but “insulting” them. The crime is in one’s evaluation of the fact.
Consider the following two statements:
- “Women/minorities don’t constrict themselves by the rigid forms of linear, binary, Hellenistic-bourgious logical discourse. They approach reality in a more holistic, intuitive way.”
- “Women/minorities don’t think logically.”
Both mean pretty much the same thing, but only the first is acceptable; the second marks the speaker as “ignorant” and in need of re-education. The difference is that the first statement implies approval, while the second implies disapproval. In fact, many individual Leftists would agree with me that it is silly to accept the one statement without accepting the other. People who praise feminine intuition will be criticized by the more logical feminists who will accuse them of playing into the patriarchy’s hands. But the accusation of sexism against someone who says that women think in ways “unrestricted by oppressive masculine norms of deductive reasoning” won’t stick; the accusation against someone who says they are “illogical” will.
Acceptable statements can be combined to make unacceptable statements. Consider the following
- The Jewish people have a long and proud tradition of promoting social justice and standing up for the marginalized, sexual minorities, and, above all, immigrants. They have fought the oppressive structures of white Christian hegemony to create a juster world.
An acceptable statement, commonplace among leaders of Jewish activist organizations.
- Social justice really just means communist subversion. Stirring up resentments harms our nation and civilization.
Also acceptable, although unfavored. A commonplace belief not only among genuine reactionaries, but also among mainstream Republicans.
- The Jews are actively subverting Christendom and the white race. This is a bad thing.
Totally unacceptable! Kookery! The sort of thing only nuts like E. Michael Jones and Kevin MacDonald would say. But hardly a surprising conclusion to draw if one were to hold both of the previous two acceptable beliefs as true. In fact, one is allowed to believe as fervently as one wants that the Jews are subverting the West, just as long as one also believes that this is a good thing, that the West deserves to be subverted. (Are the Jews really doing this, though? Does it even make sense to attribute “subversion” to an entire ethno-religious group? Perhaps it doesn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is what you can get away with saying without being tagged a bigot and losing your job, not what’s true or even makes sense.)
As a final example, recall Pope Benedict’s infamous claim in his Regensburg lecture that God in Muslim theology stands above reason and morality. Of course, everyone was horrified by the bigotry and ignorance of such a statement, not least scholars of Islam. The funny thing, though, is that I had just been reading several books on Islam written by atheists and Muslims, and they all claimed, as if it were not a controversial point, that beliefs like those Benedict attributed to Muslims were indeed the majority view of Muslims for most of Islamic history. The difference, as you can imagine, is that these authors never expressed disapproval of divine command ethics, occasionalism, and the general motive of keeping God completely unrestrained. (Again, my own opinion of these theological positions, and how prevalent they really have been among Muslims, is beside the point.)
2. Maintaining the correct ratio of oppressors and oppressed
I cringe when I remember the naivety of my neoconservative days. The fact that America would eventually be a majority nonwhite country didn’t interest me much either way, but I did see a positive side to it. As long as blacks were the great majority of nonwhites, it would be hard to avoid seeing racial issues in terms of slavery and its legacy, with my own people and their descendants forever marked as the guilty party, the one that owes a debt but can never pay it. Once most of the country is descended from Hispanics who came here of their own will, I thought, that narrative will no longer make sense. We’ll be able to see racial issues in terms of the more fundamental issues of reconciling the legitimate claims of particularist ethnic loyalty and universal justice. Also, it will be impossible to believe that all of society’s problems are exclusively the fault of whites. Whites will become a people just like any other.
As I said, I was a fool then. I didn’t realize, although I should have, how flexible the oppressor-oppressed racial narrative could be in adapting to new situations. All the narrative needs is that the numbers of both oppressors and oppressed be kept at appropriate levels, and this can always be achieved by redefining categories.
When I grew up, the problem was to get a sufficient number of oppressed. There weren’t enough negroes to go around, and other groups were encouraged to find causes to resent the majority and become Democratic clients. Thus, Democrats claimed to champion the interests of “women” rather than speaking more precisely of championing the interests of single mothers, career women, and lesbians, because there weren’t enough of these smaller groups. New categories were created, such as “Asian-Americans”, so that minorities with insufficient histories of oppression in America could pool their grievances, and those who had suffered more could share points with those who honestly had nothing to complain about. At this time, there was still some outreach to low-income whites, who despite their “white privilege” might hopefully feel economically oppressed enough to pull for the Democrats. Even the Irish were encouraged to remember (or, perhaps, pretend) that there was a time when they were not white people.
Today, the dynamics is shifting. Officially oppressed groups are poised to become a majority, and further numerical increase of their numbers will debase the value in being oppressed. Does this mean a crisis for the system? Of course not. All that needs to be done is to create a hierarchy of victims, so that the most favored victims can maintain their relative status, and if necessary to eject some people from the category of victim altogether. The latter act–actually ejecting people from the circle of victims into the outer whiteness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth–that is an extreme and clumsy act, but it does sometimes happen, as in the case of “white hispanic” George Zimmerman. Being labeled “white” here constituted a sentence of excommunication from the oppressed.
The squabbling for placement in the hierarchy of victims has been noticed. Our friend Mark Richardson has noted the establishment of transvestites as a superior victim group over feminists and the crushing of feminist resistance to this usurpation. I have suggested that the popularity of Iris Chang among Chinese-Americans but not mainland Chinese comes from Chinese-Americans trying to establish their priority over Japanese-Americans in the victim hierarchy. As the mainland shows, ordinary people don’t enjoy remembering past slaughters of their people; only in the West are such memories valued currency. In his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman points out that it was only in the sixties that the Holocaust became the central fixture of Israeli consciousness (and Friedman, to his credit, realizes that this as an unhealthy development). Although he doesn’t draw the connection, this was the same time that the Leftist narrative established its dominance over the West. What had been a painful memory now granted access to the top of the victim hierarchy. Now, since victimhood has become a zero-sum game, the other victims can’t just let the Jews cash in. Hence we have that overflowing concern throughout the world for the plight of the poor, poor Palestinians. Why should people on the other side of the world care about Palestinians? They don’t, but they care very much about bringing the Jews down a notch. In this world, the only way to do that is to either question Jewish victimhood, which is illegal in much of the West, or to assert that the Jews have a foot in the oppressor camp, which is allowed and encouraged.
(It’s not just Holocaust denial that is forbidden. A general rule of the game is that no victim group is allowed to question or belittle another victim group’s memory of oppression at the hand of white Christians. That would call the system itself into question. The only way one victim group can assert status against another is to say that their own oppression was even worse, or that the other victim group is itself also an oppressor.)
People still do try to jump on the victim bandwagon, but it’s getting harder to do. Individual white men must resort to drastic measures: either forging their ancestry or taking up a hobby of sodomizing other men. Groups scour their histories for usable misfortunes. Not any kind of victimization will do; you’ll find your task much easier if you claim victimization from a group already recognized as an oppressor. Otherwise, your claim will be taken as an aggression against an already recognized victim group, which is a very risky way to start. For example, the Eastern Orthodox have suffered horribly for extended periods of time up to the present from Turks and communists, but that does them no good. Tell the Left that the communists persecuted you, and you’ll risk them taking that as evidence that you’re some kind of reactionary who must have done something to deserve it. Best to let bygones be bygones; I hear Stalin’s reputation is making a comeback in Russia. The only feather the Orthodox have in their cap is the 4th crusade. Here at last they can point to victimization by a recognized oppressor group: Catholics. Hence another phenomenon seen in Leftist times–the selective long memory.
Examples could be multiplied. Status competition among victim groups will be a key to understanding the coming cultural battles of this century. Some reactionaries have taken this as evidence that the Leftist coalition is unstable, that arguments among competing oppressed groups will fracture it. Instead, we see that this competition fosters greater and greater zeal for the official Leftist narrative. History is parsed more and more carefully for evidence of oppression and the sinister imprint of quasi-whiteness. Groups cling desperately to their real or manufactured memories of oppression by recognized oppressor groups. Outrage over these real or imagined slights feeds their hatred of the Left’s enemies. Even if it didn’t, no group wants to risk demotion in the hierarchy by appearing insufficiently zealous for the cause. Thus, we can expect no respite, no matter how small the population of white Christians becomes.
3. The source of white guilt
What is the source of white guilt? Why are whites uniquely guilty among all the races? Well, one can make a list of bad things white people have done: war, conquest, enslavement, etc. Ask someone why whites are a guilty race, and you’ll probably get a list like that. Notice what’s missing to establish the conclusion. How are whites in particular guilty? For example, if holding African slaves is enough to destroy a group’s moral status in perpetuity, what does it mean that Muslims also did this? Are they also moral pariahs? No, it is a matter of settled dogma that Muslims are victims. Why? Is it because the Muslim practice of slavery wasn’t as bad as the Christian practice? Was it less extensive? One could presumably argue thus, but it’s interesting that most Leftists are uninterested in this argument. I would understand it if, when one asserted that Muslim slavery, conquest, and oppression of women were as bad as that of Christians, the Leftist screamed “No, that’s not true! I don’t believe you!” It’s the indifference toward the claim that is revealing. Bringing up the misdeeds of other civilizations is said to be an attempt to “change the subject” away from the real issue of white Christian guilt. But that’s an interesting claim, isn’t it? Who gets to decide that “the subject” is? If we had started out by impartially comparing the moral offenses of every civilization and decided that Westerners are objectively the worst, I would understand just focusing on us. It seems, though, that the focus on white Christian guilt is the starting point of the whole enterprise. Whites are guilty on an ontological level; it is our nature to do evil. In fact, one suspects that rather than whites being guilty because they practiced slavery and war, slavery and war are wrong when done by whites because it is whites who are doing it.