In my opinion, too many people make the mistake of presuming that those on the left argue in good faith. While many conservatives and right leaning white people strongly disagree with liberals, they nevertheless presume that they actually believe in the equality they espouse. They just regard them as fruity or misguided.
However, modern leftism is little more than myriad “oppressed groups” jockeying for positions of power, all under the guise of “social justice.” The main problem is that many anti-leftists continue to allow the far left to frame the terms of debate. Take MRAs (men’s rights activists), for example. On a fundamental level, they accept various feminist tenets such as complete equality between the sexes and the discourse of victimhood. They endorse the marxist conception of oppressed and oppressor classes. The only difference is that they regard men as the true oppressed class, whereas women have now achieved privileged status.
Whether or not that’s true is utterly irrelevant to me. The problem is that MRAs are playing into the hands of feminists by reaffirming their most cherished beliefs. The same problem plagues white people who denounce affirmative action or other anti-white measures as “reverse racism.” Despite their defiant posturing, they are conforming to the anti-racist beliefs of the left, only white is now the new black. Both groups are allowing those on the left to dictate the terms of conversations regarding race, gender, and other controversial topics.
I propose that white conservatives develop a new conception of conflict and group struggle that eschews Manichean, Hollywood-esque portrayals of good guys and bad guys. Ironically, what helped lead me to this new conclusion is a book by a left leaning, black Stanford law professor named Richard Thompson Ford. I’m aware that I’m treading on dangerous terrain here by endorsing a book written by a black man. Given the amount of vitriol directed my way for suggesting that certain alt righters should reassess their disproportionate dislike for black people and focus on more important matters, some may perhaps wonder where my true loyalties lie.
However, despite being a leftist and supporter or affirmative action, Ford nevertheless provides several scathing critiques of multiculturalism (what he calls “difference discourse”). In his book Racial Culture, Ford denounces racial hierarchy and status discrimination based on immutable characteristics such as skin color. That’s not far off from our blog’s own stance, as we likewise hold racism in low esteem.
(Actual racism, not the loose leftist definition of the word)
At the same time, he unwittingly bolsters the alternative right position that multiculturalism is a costly project that requires significant upkeep. He even accepts that cultural discrimination is an inevitable, and at times desirable phenomenon. His description of “joint costs” illustrates the inherently problematic nature of multiculturalism:
“The central insight of this “joint costs” analysis, developed by the economist Ronald Coase, is that a victim and injury focused approach is incoherent because we can’t determine who the “victim” (the party who will bear the costs of a social conflict) in a conflict is until we determine who has the legal entitlement to either continue or enjoin the challenged activity-precisely what is at stake in the dispute…the problem was not well described in terms of causation and harm but rather in terms of incompatibility. And the question to be answered was therefore not an objective, formal one-how shall we prevent harm or force perpetrators to internalize the costs of their activity?-but rather a subjective, policy question-which activity should society privilege?”
Put simply, when you have numerous diverse groups living together, certain groups have to bear burdens and suffer certain injuries (however trivial) in order to maintain a harmonious, pluralistic society. Historically, minorities bore the cost in the form of assimilation, where majorities would then reciprocate by practicing tolerance (not “tolerance” in the modern liberal sense, mind you).
What most leftists and advocates of multiculturalism want to do is shift these costs entirely onto white people. Rather than demand that minorities assimilate, it is whites who must bend over backwards to accommodate and welcome newcomers, which includes affirming their cultural distinctiveness. In the end, neither the majority nor minorities benefit from this arrangement, as both are forced into an uncomfortable double bind (emphasis mine):
“Minorities are pressured to conform to socially pervasive ideas of their intrinsic culture and are admonished that the continuation of these practices is their birthright and their duty by society in general and by their own communities in particular. But they are also required to assimilate to mainstream social norms-understood to exclude the practices ascribed to minority identities-in order to participate in the institutions that provide esteem and resources in society at large. Meanwhile everyone in society is required to recognize the distinctiveness of various social groups, but we are also chastised for stereotyping when we do.“
It’s one thing to demand that whites not discriminate against people solely because of immutable characteristics such as race (Michael Jackson notwithstanding). However, it’s downright arrogant and historically unprecedented to demand that a majority group pay the costs for managing diversity. The audacity of minority groups pressuring the majority to adjust to its deviant cultural practices even as they conflict with mainstream norms would not fly in the non-Western world.
In conclusion, rather than viewing conflicts between distinct groups in terms of oppressor and oppressed, we should regard conflicts as clashes between two incompatible interests. If one analyzes most current identity related conflicts, they all follow this model. Latinos and other immigrant groups seek to increase immigration as a means of securing residency for relatives and augmenting their own growing political power. Increasing numbers of whites, recognizing that such immigration will render them an increasingly powerless minority, are beginning to clamor for immigration restriction. Gays, flexing their newfound muscle, are demanding that everyone from video game designers to bakers accommodate their lifestyle, even if it clashes with the strong moral convictions of other groups. Feminists seek to barge into male spaces such as gaming and leave their imprint on the games themselves, even though the majority of gamers (who are male) are rankled by such blatant intrusion upon their space.
You’ll notice that in each of the aforementioned conflicts, there are no clear-cut good guys or bad guys. Rather, there are two opposing groups acting in their own group’s best interests. Therefore, do not be suckered in by lofty rhetoric regarding equity and social justice. Likewise, do not be ashamed to acknowledge that at least some of your opposition to leftist movements stems from rational self-interest.
The world is far more harsh and competitive than our current elites, blessed with abundant resources, care to admit. There’s no moral imperative to embrace extra burdens and costs, especially on behalf of other groups who don’t argue in good faith.