“Social Justice” as a Coercive Therapeutic
“White privilege” is a cultural Marxist code word for nothing more than the same in-group mutual preference that is shared by all peoples everywhere. The predominance of in-group preference is why there are Korean churches in the United States; it is why the word “China” denotes something other than a geo-spatial convention. But, like all cultural Marxist terms, this one has only selective application, à la Gramsci. It is a correlative expression intended to belie the existence of a social pathology that is formally and forensically, ipso jure, denied existence within not only other ethnic groups, but also agglomerate populations that are artificially selected. An example of such an agglomerate is the construction “people of color,” a phrase which in practice means simply non-white, and an intellectual entity which has no existent correlative. One supposes this is done to emphasize the commonality of those groups in the single qualifying characteristic that matters for racial politics: that of being “other,” in contrast to the fictional hegemony of “whiteness.” However, if one takes the policy of race-based university admission criteria (affirmative action) as an example of public policy that is directed toward such artificial collections, this policy is formally denied inclusion in the class of social privilege by those who deploy it. By such contortions of reason, we see that it is not unequal treatment that is systematically attacked in policy by race demagogues, which, per definitionem, cannot be European. It is rather the chimerical evil of “white privilege” -that is, unequal treatment is only deleterious when practiced by whites. Further, class-based unequal treatment is deemed, in a prejudicial manner, to be lacking any conceivable justification, wherever it is seen, though there may in fact be many noble and even merciful reasons for employing it. Unequal treatment is rarely opposed when it facilitates protections directed at populations with so-called special needs. The question of discrimination then becomes one of merit, and those who have a vested interest in asserting that need has a purely social cause are foremost in drawing a distinction between forms of incapacity, or the difference between need that has a biological or a sociological explanation.
This inversion of the definition of special privilege amounts to the use of sophistical method in the development of a rhetoric of race, which white liberals employ in order to undermine the social and intellectual legitimacy of any of their peers in whom racial thinking might be manifest. More directly, those who use such inversions in rhetoric are sophists, like ancient Thrasymachus. In this connection, the term “white privilege” is deployed in much the same manner as once was “the Jewish question.” Its use is itself an act of critique, the presentment of an aporia for solution. It is a “probematization” of a state of nature, since the question is never one such as, “is there such a thing as ‘white privilege, is it harmful, and, if so, to whom?” Instead, it is an imperative statement of the form, “something must be done about white privilege.” It assumes what it has to prove, petitio principii. The salient question is rather, what, if any, difference exists between the ethical status of “white privilege” and the privilege exercised by other majority peoples throughout history who have obtained socio-economic, and therefore political, dominance? A related question is, why is black racial consciousness, presumably encouraged for the sake of opposing that of whites, of a different order and essence than that which it combats? It is readily observed that black racism must be treated differently by the liberal than white. As we will see, it must be granted the status of a therapeutic in order to privilege it, that is, to exempt it from the logic it employs in its own critique of white privilege. Among black intellectuals, Thomas Sowell (almost solely) is to be credited with the repudiation of this sort of sophistry. The motives of liberals in this subversion and inversion of nature and history are many and complex, no doubt, but all, at some level, seem to involve the notion of “social justice,” which I would like to talk about for a moment.
Examining the linguistic construction “social justice” one detects the presence of something like a sleight of hand. The posterior term is conditioned by the anterior: it is a peculiar form of justice which is indicated. In fact, in usage the metonym “social justice” does not refer to impartial and objective criteria of justice. It cannot make any such reference if it is to function as a fillip of the special rights by which an oppressed minority social class intends to obtain redress. By its very definition, social justice is not justice (either by the standard of equal treatment before the law, or by some objective moral criteria that we presume would be equally applied). Instead it is is only “justice” for some, and the class for whom social justice is justice proper is precisely that class which claims that it is just. That is, it is a self-authorizing identification that does not require the consent of other populations. Thus, social justice does not refer to transcendent values at all, but is rather a cipher that stands in discourse for the power emanations of a self-identified social class, or the very in-group determination that is denied legitimacy for whites. For this reason—and owing to the fact that it is consciously utilized in this way by minority intellectuals and their enablers in the European auto de fé on racial privilege—the term must be treated as a pure inversion, a potent example of Platonic irony, and an inquisitorial device.
The academic justification for the implementation of social justice, over against mere justice, is this: the institutions of the United States are not conceived to be the possession or birthright of a people, but are somehow the result of wholly impersonal forces which shaped the country (the term “nation” cannot be applied in this connection). From this perspective the culture of the country is merely an historical happenstance to which any and all may apply for domination and control. In his manifesto of white racial consciousness, The Dispossessed Majority, Wilmot Robertson put it this way,
“The most truly disadvantaged are those [...] who stubbornly go on believing that a set of highly sophisticated institutions developed by and for a particular people at a particular point in time and space is operational for all peoples under all circumstances.”
We may add further to the point by saying that such men, it seems, insist that these institutions be made serviceable to all, in spite of their irreconcilability to them, and that Archimedes’ lever be used to accomplish the feat. That is, no exertion is too great, no public policy too sacrificial of the interests of the (still) majority, the historical settler people of North America, and the builders of its unique civilization. Serviceability to the minority not sufficing, it is also to be declared their own inheritance, their property. As though they were genuine heirs themselves of the world their fathers didn’t create—heirs not by the edict of those creators of the European world, but by a latter day judicial fiat. By this means, the “posterity” to whom the blessings of constitutional liberty belong is an indefinite host comprised of those who are willing to expropriate it from its heirs. A fellow author refers to this horde as “neo-americans.” It were as though the culture and institutions of North America had been deposited intact on the continent by foreign gods, or extraterrestrials. In order to arrive at this conception of culture as a-historical object, as the universal possession, mentioned previously, history must be detached from culture and institutions, déraciner. Such a procedure is highly problematic, in that it assumes that institutions are not historical, that they do not attach to a peculiar people—and further insists that any person, regardless of social heritage, is a fit participant in, and more, a caretaker of, such institutions. Events put the lie to such an assumption, when the institution of the courts, and the laws they promulgate, are already under irrational and self-contradictory pressures in order to address supposed inequality. To gain its prize, minority racial politics must destroy the integrity of the institutions it claims it is fit to defend. In this method, culture must be cleansed of its ethnic sources—or, rather, certain ethnic claims on historical precedence must be denied, while others must be advanced, on the basis of the in-group determination we have just examined. Allowed to be completed, this course of action would end in nothing short of the destruction of culture itself, and its replacement by the ersatz unities of a purely economic existence. Such we have seen come to partial fruition in our own time.
Control, and not equality, is of course the positive objective of social justice, since it is the sole means by which such false justice may be obtained. Were it justice proper being sought, coercive methods in its attainment would be superfluous. The logic is stark in its irrationality: only thieves oppose laws against thievery, hence only racists oppose laws to correct the effects of racism, therefore their opposition is mooted by moral necessity. Presumably, there is no limit to the moral necessity which demands satisfaction; it is merely a matter of determining the identity of the plaintiff in the case at law against the world itself. Used in this way, the definition of racism appropriated by minority interests can make no moral reference, or it functions to undermine the very logic of redress. Another way of saying this is that the very criteria used to determine membership in the group that is the beneficiary of social justice are themselves “racist,” in that they use external, biological attributes. It will be seen that the functional definition of racism is pragmatic rather than moral: a racist is whomever opposes the aims of the minority, whatever they may be, as articulated by its self-appointed rhetors. The question that must be asked is, who determines this moral necessity that moots the wishes of the majority? My tentative answer is that who determines this necessity is a matter of actual control, that is, positive law, and not a moral question at all in its present application.
There is a hidden implication of this logic that reveals itself on examination: to refer to a form of justice, unsupported by reasoned argument, which is not recognized as such by a majority or significant plurality is to imply that this population is non compos mentis. That it does not know what is right by the use of its own faculties. It is to imply that there exists a psychological malady unknown to them which prevents the apprehension of what is really just. Reference to the diseased state of the subject who is to be coerced is, of course, implicit in the manner in which racial politics is lately conducted. Racism must be classed as a disease or it becomes merely another idea advanced by yet another interest group. The confinement of “racism” within the diagnostic space privileges it within the wider social therapeutic, and gives its cure the approbation of “medicine,” and more generally, that of “science,” that unassailable procedure which has the object of curing the superstitions of others. White liberals have read their Foucault, and have appropriated the consciousness he “problematized.” This is where the postmodern therapeutic of equality becomes what it claims it opposes, an architecture of mere force, whose justification is said to proceed from Reason.
The cultural Marxism that decries “privilege” advances by the rhetoric of moral presumption and bombast, and such rhetoric is used to assert, in the face of contrary evidence, that there is consensus on a matter about which there is no consensus. It is a baldly counter-factual claim that degrades and poisons those who accept it on its face as truth, by virtue of the unassailable privilege in discourse of those that proffer it. That is, it is a privileged rationality that attacks white privilege. It is used to avoid rather than to foster investigation of moral value, and is of the same substance as the ever-present testaments to the vox populi by the propagandists of totalitarian regimes, who wish to gain false propriety by lies concerning popularity. It is a means of disguising the fact that legitimacy has been in fact abandoned as an objective, it hides the bludgeon beneath the judge’s robes. It is indeed a paradox that minorities would avail themselves of justice (here meaning only dominion) by means of privilege, a position which justice itself demands they subsequently divest themselves. The point is hardly worth argument. Or is it to be supposed, alternatively, that white self-divestiture is to be the final step in a social evolution where utopia consists in the relegation of whites to a position of abject socio-economic subjugation -a permanent reversal of fortune? And is it a measure of our development as a race that we would accept such a position with equanimity, even where we are empowered by God (through nature) to effect a different end? I confess that I have yet to see an intellectually satisfying defense of the means by which inequality will lead to equality by some series of recognizable steps. Such a claim is an open sartorial fiction.
And let us be frank, special exceptions proving the rule, no people who once gain control do so in order to voluntarily relinquish it, once some specific social value for which dominance was obtained is achieved. Such behavior is unexampled in the human annals, aside from Christian charity, or its perversion, since none will expend such effort only to bestow its rewards arbitrarily as a matter of moral “necessity.” Rather, in the ordinary course of things, “privilege” is obtained by the mere fact of dominance, and not as a collective, self-conscious program of oppression. There are many ways in which dominance is obtained. Socio-economic and political dominance in a people’s native land is of the course of nature. And it is to be relinquished to a foreign minority by virtue of the bad conscience of the few imposed involuntarily on behalf of the many? Certainly not. And this end could not be accomplished but by the energetic support of an elite that is intransigently anti-democratic. Under ordinary circumstances, loyalty to a foreign population or government by a native is considered treason. But treason is the means by which the fact of native social dominance is called into question.
It is a liberal conceit to intentionally confuse what is a mere fact of history with acts which confer collective culpability. It is only by a self-contradictory edict of genetic guilt that whites are burdened with culpability for past inequality. Such a legal device is further un-Christian. Deuteronomy 24:16 forbids the inheritance of guilt. That sins may be visited on offspring is a matter of sin’s effects, and is not a juridical principle. Even today, the law respecting voting rights is different for states which have “an historic pattern of discrimination.” This is guilt inheritance, and it is special privilege. Further, the theonomist notes, it is a violation of Leviticus 24:22, where we care to insist that our laws reflect a Christian heritage, or anything more historical than mere convenience or power. That is, where we care to have any law other than positive law. In this process we glimpse the unacknowledged reliance that secular-political schemes of social justice have on the poisoning of the Christian conscience. Indeed, such reasoning cannot logically proceed by a sociobiological rationale, which tends to obscure not merely the question of why the summum bonum is what is claimed, but for whom it is a summum bonum in the first place. In such a scheme, humanitas is subordinate, and group preference cannot be displaced. Thus by sociobiological arguments it is impossible to argue that group dominance is “unfair.” By such reasoning native dominance is simply a fact, not a subject of moral critique. It is only by virtue of the capture and torture of the Christian conscience, that all that attaches to white ethnicity must be aggressively rooted up, while the chauvinism of its accusers is left to flourish. Without white Western legal traditions stemming from Roman law, and the Christianized common law, such arguments buttressed by the idea of fairness are quickly seen to be ridiculous.
In contemporary politics, the same opprobrium toward in-group thinking that white liberals display is not applied to blacks, whose preference for Barack Obama is simply because he’s perceived to be black. It is obvious that, since Obama is bi-racial, the emphasis of the President’s hyperdescent is evidence enough that his “blackness” is a consciously selected attribute by his supporters. Obama’s white mother is known to have been disappointed in his cultivation of specifically black bona fides, which give the lie to liberal claims that their position abandons the entrenchments of specifically racial politics -a ruse which seems perpetually present in the electoral politics of the left. We may only conjecture that perhaps she herself suffered the psychological pangs of the treason he committed: to use the historical institutions of the West to attack its native peoples. When white liberals decry racism per se, rather than specifically white racism, then we’ll have the first evidence that they are serious enough about the question of race as an intellectual proposition to at least bother with logical consistency. But as long as black racism (and the interracial crime it so amply underwrites) is formally denied existence along with the historico-ethnic sources of American culture and institutions, the outcry against “privilege” is hardly worthy of intellectual attention. It remains to be recognized, however, that such absurdities have genuine power to persuade, by means of emotive sympathy and the unassailable infra-rational instincts that are turned to this purpose. Meantime, the tools for dispelling such absurdities are, in the long run, not primarily political.