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Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Disparity in Power is Not a Disparity in Morals

A disparity in power is not a disparity in morals. This truth is the dynamite under the edifice of the left which insists that the poor are more moral than the rich and that a nation's moral worth can be measured in inverse proportion to its per capita income. The debate is not merely one of wealth. It is less about the morality of wealth, than about the moral cost of assuming that to be poor or deprived is to be good.

Deprivation is not morality. That is why the class and racial divisions of the left are sociological and cultural, but not moral.


When America freed its slaves, a number of them moved to Liberia, and began to treat the native population in the same way that the Spanish, the Belgians and other European colonizers had. Even though both the natives and the colonists were 'black'-- Liberian history looks a lot like the history of most colonies.

A dubious land deal, superior firepower used to suppress the natives, a colonial state ruled over by a minority. For all the rivers of ink spilled over Apartheid, the Americo-Liberians were no different than the South Africans. Take away a few identifying details and it would be nearly impossible to tell if we were speaking about Rhodesia, South Africa or Liberia.

Can you for example guess which country celebrated 'Matilda Newport Day' to commemorate a woman who stopped a native assault on the settlement by setting off a cannon? Or which country's general responded to a British offer of aid in exchange for a base, by saying; "We want no flagstaff put up here that will cost us more to get it down again than it will to whip the natives."

Given the power, the cultural background, the tools and the opportunity-- Africans acted exactly as Europeans did. There was no racial difference.

The left has tried to define power relationships as racial or economic. But a disparity in power is not a disparity in morals. It is a matter of available opportunities. There is no class of people who abuse power and therefore cannot be trusted for it. The only such class is Homo Sapiens.

It is similarly one thing to treat wealth as abusive. A number of religions do so. What is dangerous is believing that the lack of it equates to goodness. The left reduces this to power relationships, but we are all involved in a nexus of power relationships. And those power relationships are often defined less by what we have, than by what we don't.

The looter in Haiti may have nothing, but he has the power to rape women in refugee camps. A billionaire in America who tries to do the same thing has a much smaller chance of getting away with it. Similarly the United States follows narrow rules of engagement, even while fighting enemies who follow no rules at all. Much of the debate over taxes focuses on how much the rich pay. But statistically the rich carry the majority of the tax burden, while 48 percent of American households pay no income tax at all.

The interesting thing about this is that concentrated wealth and power can lead to a higher degree of accountability and also a heightened awareness of responsibility. An extreme lack of it however can lead to a lack of accountability. Even subtracting economically motivated crimes, you are far more likely to be the victim of a violent assault in a neighborhood based on the average net worth of its residents. If the issue was merely 'money', then the rape and 'just for kicks' assaults should be evenly distributed. But they're not.

So why aren't they then? It's not because morality increases with net worth. We are more constrained by rules when we have more power and wealth, than when we have less of it. Both external and internal rules. More power means more possibilities, but also less freedom. To wield power is to be aware of what you do.

Historically the rich and the upper middle classes have provided far more than their share of reformers. The wealthiest men in America are also some of the biggest donors to liberal causes. The American left would simply not exist without their patronage. The irony is that the anti-capitalist agenda is funded by billionaires and millionaires.

The left insists on its constructs, on isolating entire groups into neat categories of oppressed and oppressor, but it can only keep those categories alive by perpetuating their disempowerment in one way or another. Take Griggs v Duke Power Co, in which the Supreme Court held that it was racist for a company to ask for a high school diploma of its employees, because such a requirement had a disproportionate impact on minorities. Like many of the loonier Burger court decisions, this one was scaled back over time, but what of the idea behind it. That social justice involves lowering barriers for qualification, thereby discouraging ability and competence.

The ominous implications of such a doctrine is that the promotion of failure freezes class and racial categories. As it was arguably meant to do. That the only way to uphold a socially progressive code that depends on disenfranchisement is to undermine the disenfranchised while appearing to aid them.

Poverty as a genetic code died with eugenics. Poverty as a racial code has not. Both class and racial wars depend on someone to be in the trenches. Someone on whose behalf the war must be fought. Most on the left are skeptical of the causes of conventional war, but they are eager to believe in their own justifications for political wars. It never occurs to them that they are the arms dealers of WW1, profiting from a conflict that they endlessly perpetuate for their own gain.

The idea that human character and its nobilities and failings transcend their categories is a dangerous one. Declarations such as "Everything is Political" or "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention", warn that pacifism is an unacceptable stance in the cultural wars. That you must believe that power disparities are also moral disparities, or you are on the side of the enemy.



If we must destroy categories of people to create bridge the power and wealth gap, then we must destroy the human race entire. Communism already demonstrated that wealth redistribution only creates a new feudalism with a party based hierarchy. There is no way to create equality without removing all individual freedom, but that freedom must still be vested in someone. And that someone is bound to be more than equal. Superior.

But then what is the point of an unwinnable conflict, except to provide status, power and wealth to those fighting it? The left's cultural and economic wars are unwinnable at their stated victory condition. Equality. And they are not the first to use human fallibility as justification for turning over the power of many into the hands of a small group in the name of fairness. But if a disparity in power is also a disparity in morals-- then the left is by its own lights, the least moral order around.

6 comments:

Paul said...

... If the issue was merely 'money', then the rape and 'just for kicks' assaults should be evenly distributed. But they're not.

So why aren't they then? It's not because morality increases with net worth. We are more constrained by rules when we have more power and wealth, than when we have less of it. Both external and internal rules. More power means more possibilities, but also less freedom. To wield power is to be aware of what you do.

Historically the rich and the upper middle classes have provided far more than their share of reformers. The wealthiest men in America are also some of the biggest donors to liberal causes. The American left would simply not exist without their patronage. The irony is that the anti-capitalist agenda is funded by billionaires and millionaires.


All good, except this is simply not true. You fail to make the distinctions in the arguments for capitalism, which are entirely different from the arguments for unequal distribution of wealth and power alone. Arguments made for the unequal distribution of wealth and power alone are the basis of classical fascism, which we need to remember is not just an epitaph spit out by spoiled brat counter culture socialists.

The arguments for capitalism and the unequal distribution of wealth that results is morally justified on the basis of superior achievement and not just the simple unequal distribution of wealth for any reason. Peerage and monarchy, for example, have no moral justification in our society and culture, and are illegal under the US constitution. The arguments for capitalism say that those capable of creative work are entitled to possess and make achievements based on that creativity and that such endeavors are positive moral forces in the world. Social forces that undermine the right to create and possess those creations undermine social morality. Allowing thieves to achieve, masquerading as capitalists, is degenerate in a capitalist society. The means of production as personal property alone is not a moral force. It is the creative acts behind it and the mind behind these creative acts that are the moral force. It is the market place that elevates, endorses and funds the moral advancement that these achievements represent.

Keli Ata said...

Self-determination and self-suffiency are concepts the Liberals will never tolerate or teach the poor.

Well, maybe the dream of self-determination and self suficiency but not how to achieve it.

Gary said...

Well thought out, well written.

The Soviets and Red Chinese both penalized if your grandparents, great-GP's, etc. were landowners vice peasants.

Our leftists are just wannabe Mao's, Pol Pots, or Stalin's and will bring the same killing fields to the US if they can.

This is the inexorable logic of socialism always.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

the upper class of a classless society

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article. I love the differentiation between the ability of those in power to "get away" with something versus those with little or nothing. Power and authority infuse responsibility. Great leaders act in a responsible manner, and don't mind the added scrutiny. Poor leaders resent the added scrutiny and try to deny responsibility when they are caught.

One item I will differ with you on is the use of the term "available opportunities". I happen to believe this is somewhat true - but I believe that in many respects, we are all afforded the SAME opportunities, we just lack the ability to take advantage of them. For example, I may not live over a patch of oil, while my cousin in Texas does. That doesn't mean I can't drill for it - I have the opportunity to drill - but I may not have the ability to derive value from it. Or I may not have the money to actually drill, whereas he might. That doesn't mean I lack the opportunity, it simply means I lack the ability to take advantage of the opportunity.
My wife and I argue over this constantly, as she perceives the inability to take advantage of an opportunity as the lack of opportunity itself.
Any homeless man or woman can apply for, or interview for, my job. But if they lack the ability to get past the front door because of their experience, or the way they dress or behave, this does not diminish their opportunity. It simply is an inability to take advantage.

gsw said...

It is similarly one thing to treat wealth as abusive. A number of religions do so. What is dangerous is believing that the lack of it equates to goodness.

No one really believes that lack of wealth = lack of goodness, or a billion catholics would worry about Ratzinger, the Anglicans about QEII and the muslims about the Saudi Mullahs, not to mention all those really, really rich American tele-evangelists.
It is just a comfort blanket thing, enabling the powers-that-be to accumulate more wealth.

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