Is Identity Politics a Capitalist Plot?

Modern American socialism faces certain tensions within itself, certain contradictions. Earlier this week I mused over American socialists who ran away from the proposal that “economic security” should be provided to those “unwilling to work”—no doubt because of the fabulous unpopularity of the proposal. Nonetheless, while notable socialist politicians and advocates distanced themselves from the proposal, in fact, major currents of traditional socialist thought aim precisely to delink work from reward. Doing so, the argument goes, actually liberates people to engage in truly rewarding work. In this more-radical socialist view, economic inequality is merely the symptom of the underlying disease of capitalism and private property.

So, too, the linking of identity politics in the U.S. with socialism might introduce another tension, another contradiction. Marxian socialism, at least, could view the sort of criticisms we’ve seen heaped on Bernie Sanders for running “too white” of a campaign, as hindering achievement of authentic socialist objectives rather than promoting them.

A critical feature of the socialist project, in this view, is the homogenization of all classes. (Capitalists are of course excluded, but even the capitalist class shrinks as market competition presses more and more capitalists into the class of proletarians). Contending identities are, and must be, dissolved in order for the unique, universal consciousness to develop in, as it were, this last classless class.

For example, in his Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right,’ Marx lays out the fundamentally unique character of the proletariat:

A class must be formed that has radical chains, a class in civil society which is not a class of civil society, a class which is the dissolution of all classes, a sphere of society which has a universal character because its sufferings are universal, and which does not claim a particular redress because the wrong which is done to it is not a particular wrong but a wrong in general. (Emphases in original.)

The universal, or homogeneous, experience of the proletariat in turns serves to achieve universal liberation:

There must be formed a sphere of society . . . which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all the other spheres of society, without, therefore, emancipating all these other spheres, which is, in short, a total loss of humanity and which can redeem itself by a total redemption of humanity. This dissolution of society, as a particular class, is the proletariat. (Emphases in original.)

The assertion of common or “universal grievances” is essential to the possibility of universal redemption. Hence, a traditionally common explanation of racism in the United States is that it served the interests of capital by keeping labor divided.

There is almost certainly some truth in that, although I suspect collective action problems deter the full realization of class interests even among capitalists. Indeed, even Marxists wouldn’t object to applying postulates of individual self-interest to the behavior of capitalists themselves. The prediction would be that individual capitalists free-ride on the divisive efforts of other capitalists. As a result, capitalists actually would invest less in achieving their overall class interests than would be optimal for their class. (In contrast, Marx presumably suggests that the class dynamic that creates the proletariat mutes the collective action problem for that class.)

Here’s the rub with this view regarding the ostensibly left-wing criticisms of the type of socialism Bernie Sanders represents: What is critical in preventing the rise of the proletariat is division between putative proles—division between races, sexes (and genders), religions, and more. In this view, encouraging white racism is only one means capital need employ to the end of keeping the proletariat divided. As the first passage above from Marx suggests, claims of “particular redress” for “particular wrongs” prevents the formation of common or universal identification. By deterring the formation of consciousness of the universal class it deters the formation of the proletarian class itself.

Marx’s criticism of “particularism” raises the possibility that, on Marxian terms, the interests of capital can be as easily advanced by facilitating consciousness of “particular” wrongs among different oppressed groups, with the possibility that these distinct claims would receive “particular redress.” Of interest, is that possible “redress” of past wrongs would seem to be as divisive to the formation of the universal class as offering special privileges to other groups. What matters is the division itself, not the source of the division.

As with the emphasis of America’s socialist-lites on the terms on which people labor rather than the transformation of the labor relationship itself—thereby internalizing fundamental “neo-liberal” postulates while saying they reject it—so too with the embrace of identity politics. It would seem on socialist terms to prevent the achievement of fundamental socialist aims rather than to advance them.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on March 01, 2019 at 06:53:32 am

Rogers observes the irony that one powerful way to promote in-group solidarity is by emphasizing your group’s opposition to the Other. (“Build the wall!”)

Yup, Marxism emphasized solidarity among the working class, and the gradual expansion of that class. This was to be achieved through emphasizing the working class’s opposition to the ruling class.

The capitalist version was the labor union, wherein union leaders promote solidarity by emphasizing that the members share a common grievance against their greedy employer. And it often worked, helping to move the income of workers closer to the income of the employers, thereby reducing class differences. But this strategy does not merely entail maintaining solidarity against the boss, but also solidarity in the face of non-union workers. And to the extent that union workers achieve their objectives, they often will see their incomes diverging from the incomes of their non-union peers. Employers will attempt to exploit this fact to encourage dis-unity. “Why should you non-union workers show solidarity with the union? See how much higher their income is than yours? So they’re not really your peers—thus you have no cause to honor their picket lines.”

There is an alternative strategy to rallying people in opposition to the Other: Rallying people to embrace love. Rallying FOR rather than rallying AGAINST. When MLK promoted civil rights, did he employ identity politics, or appeals to love? Well, both—but he famously appealed to love. Yet he made these appeals in a context in which there were no shortage of appeals based on us-vs.-them—for example, the early appeals of Malcolm X. So part of MLK’s appeal arose from Good Cop/Bad Cop dynamics: “Embrace my message of love—or face the alternative.”

I favor distributing resources more evenly not because I hate the rich—indeed, I regard the rich as mostly admirable—but because I want to promote everyone’s welfare, and this strikes me as a better strategy than any contrary strategy. But it’s easy for opponents to stymy this appeal by emphasizing differences: “Do you really want a policy that would expend hard-earned money helping unworthy [black] people? You don’t really feel solidarity with THOSE kinds of people, right?” Likewise, it’s easier to promote distribution policies by emphasizing difference: “Soak the evil rich!”

Given the powerful emotional appeal of us-vs.-them, what hope does mere love have?

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 01, 2019 at 08:39:05 am

Today's coalition of identity groups resembles the Popular Fronts of various socialist and communist groups during the 1930s, the existence of which variety was equally, according to high theory, counterproductive to the realization of the "universal and homogeneous state" (Kojeve) that is the ultimate goal of socialism writ large. The Popular Fronts were merely evidence, as if more were needed, that the splintered socialism of the late 19th-early 20th century was at best a rhetorical unifier, a big thin canvas tent beneath which the leaderships of the splinters fought amongst themselves for power, authority and pre-eminence, in keeping with human nature at all times and in all places (see, e.g., the fighting among Christian sects from the earliest times right up through today). "Intersectionality" is the academically preferred modern rhetorical equivalent to socialism (or, if you prefer, "Christianity"), but the latter has been fetched back out of the dustbin of history because it is proving a more effective sign around which to organize an effective national electoral Popular Front coalition. We are not yet far enough distant from the old idiom and all of the associated iconography of socialism for it to be functionally replaceable by an even more suspect intellectual and rhetorical device. And if neither "Christianity" nor "Socialism" was/is capable of binding humanity together, what chance do you think "Intersectionality" has?

Apropos nobody.really's comment, "the Other" is necessary to unify, even if only in the manner of a loosely bound aggregate, any human collection or collectivity of collections. The stereotyped image of "Trump" and the "Trump Supporter" is as necessary today to unify the Popular Identity Front into an effective political coalition as was the stereotyped image of the "bourgeois" and "capitalist" to its predecessor. The attempt to resurrect these old stereotypes and press them into the service of a disinterred socialism is proving highly problematic, seeing that today's mega-capitalists are not maga-capitalists at all but spiritually and, more importantly, financially, woke.

Nobody.really's proposed alternative, a church militant of love (love is not something one "rallies people to embrace," sheesh), would be just another stab at a unity that is antithetical to the human condition (only if and when the universe discloses to us some other conscious life out there will it be possible for people to hold together as "humanity"; a unified humanity requires an "Other" no less than any socialist or identity group).

read full comment
Image of QET
on March 01, 2019 at 09:08:43 am

[L]ove is not something one “rallies people to embrace,” sheesh....

If only someone had explained this to MLK, it might have saved a lot of bother.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 01, 2019 at 10:13:36 am

Preaching and rallying are not the same thing. Maybe I'm making to much of what I understand to be a more propagandistic, instrumental meaning of the word "rally." Love as a basis for politics strikes me as impossible, sort of how like Lincoln came to understand the invocation of God in his Second Inaugural.

read full comment
Image of QET
on March 01, 2019 at 10:14:50 am

Correction--like how Lincoln.

read full comment
Image of QET
on March 01, 2019 at 12:56:27 pm

For a thought exercise, let us substitute the word "socialism"with the words "Democrat Party" and see how well Roger's analysis holds.

Dare we admit that there are some rather interesting similarities / linkages.

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 01, 2019 at 13:17:01 pm

I am not unsympathetic to the sentiment, but perhaps you would do well to better explain what you mean by "love." Is there perhaps a less vague word or description that conveys what you mean? Theologians and philosophers speak of various kinds of love: ludus, philia, agape, and eros, for example. Love has a colloquial meaning that would seem trivial in this type of discussion; a child may say he loves hot dogs or, ironically, someone may love to punch someone else in the face. Pro-life people may profess their view stems from love of the unborn; immigration reformers from love of the disadvantaged. Certainly it is difficult to credit one and disparage the other.

"Love" by itself would also seem to leave room for special pleading. Someone may advocate any manner of hatred on grounds of loving the Aryan race.

Again, I am not disagreeing with you here. I do think that in order to be persuasive you will have to be a little clearer about how you think "love" moves the ball down the field, given the perceived imprecision of the word and concept. Allow me to pose a question for framing purposes: if a child falls down a well, should we attribute the selfless rescue efforts of strangers to love, or to something else? Can we attribute a collective motive at all?

read full comment
Image of z9z99
on March 01, 2019 at 14:19:50 pm

When I speak of a love-based agenda, I’m thinking of agape: Seeking to promote the greatest good, without malice or undue self-interest. “Soak the rich” seems like a malice-based message; it emphasizes us-vs.-them. “Help the poor” does not; it emphasizes solidarity—even if the resulting policies have many similarities to a “soak the rich” agenda.

Yes, people can seek to present tribalist, us-vs.-them policies in the language of love. As MLK noted on 2/28/1954, some people think that “it's even all right to hate, but just dress your hate up in the garments of love and make it appear that you are loving when you are actually hating. [But m]y friends, that attitude is destroying the soul of our culture.”

Yes, people can engage in strategic, recursive thinking, which makes it difficult to know anyone's motives:

- "I have love for the poor, but I believe that I won't be able to rally sufficient support based solely on a message of love. So I'll embrace a 'soak the rich' message as a means to achieve an agenda motivated by love."

- Conversely, "I have love for the poor, and a sincere belief that unbridled capitalism is the best way to advance their interests. But counter-productive appeals for redistribution will be too strong unless I can derail the campaign. So I'll adopt a Southern Strategy and stoke people's racial resentments as a means to achieve an agenda motivated by love."

And yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But there are no shortage of roads paved with malice and self-interest, or with indifference, that seem to lead to a similar destination. More people have died, and continue to die, from disease and preventable conditions than from human violence. Even the boneheaded maladministration of Communism can’t rival the power of greed and indifference as a force for human suffering—although it's amazing what can be achieved without even trying.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 01, 2019 at 15:09:43 pm

#1 Surely there must be detailed studies of how/why capitalist (but anti-free market) white South African governments did (or did not) attempt politically/legally to protract and deepen preexisting ethnic divisions.
What says evidence?
#2 Popular Fronts contrasted to Hilary's Affirmative Action Majority. PFs were already-opposed parties uniting against fascism for Stalin. When Joe by himself pulled the plug in August 1939, they withered.
LBJ birthed affirmative action by 1965 Executive Order (AFTER presumably-unitive CR and Voting Rights Acts). AA;, minority set-asides, & majority-minority electoral districts deepen racial/ethnic/sexual divisions compared to alternative outcome (after a more pro-market 1964-2019 span). Anti-family government policies even evoked the Gender Gap after 1920-1984's remarkably similar gender voting. THAT'S divisive.
#3 "Southern Strategy" since Nixon is opposite of deepening racial division. He wooed White South AFTER CR/VR Acts. WS went Republican abandoning white supremacy. "SS" phrase=Guilt-by-Association of innocent South w/Dems' white supremacist South. From 1928-1960 all but 1 Dem VP candidate came from: Alabama, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, or Tennessee (segregationist or outright Confederate states, all). THAT was a Southern Strategy.

read full comment
Image of George Steven Swan
George Steven Swan
on March 01, 2019 at 15:16:22 pm

Okay, I think I follow you so far, but some points still could use clarification. Please explain:

1.) Is this agape that you refer to a political concept, an ethical one, a psychological one, etc. Is it all of them?

2.) How does your notion of agape fit in with the original post? Is agape a negation of identity politics? Is identity politics a strategy based on agape? Does agape apply to groups at all?

3.) Is there a utilitarian aspect to agape? If you hate the right people, or group of people, is that preferable to rejecting hate outright, even if it leads to less "progress?"

4.) In consideration of 1.) above, does agape have a place in policy debates? Jesus has a number of quality quotes regarding love, how we should treat each other, etc. but as noted previously, the words "the government should" is missing from the Gospels. Is it possible for agape to be a collective phenomenon. rather than an individual one?

5.) Is agape, as you understand it an emotion, a socializing instinct, a philosophical construct, a doctrine,or something else? Does it have any relevance apart from an ethical theory?

read full comment
Image of z9z99
on March 01, 2019 at 16:22:45 pm

Capitalism (the abstraction) and Socialism (another abstraction) have no power to do anything whatever (in line with our current focus on Identity Politics). Instead, individual capitalists, "socialist" and delineated identity promoters, using convenient institutions, ideologies, and strategies, adroitly leverage capitalism's mode of social arrangement for decided aims (human life, in truth, is less an affair of institutions and systems than of people and an interplay of motivations and abilities).

A professor, many years ago, informed that Capitalism in rising to the economic surface came into a world of many surviving historical currents - "Marx, in The Communist Manifesto, recognized the capitalist as a new class, superior historically and functionally to peasants, vassals, lords, clergy and the like, but doomed to fall before the holy onslaught of the proletariat. Marx, obviously, wishfully accelerated the pace of history and wrongly anticipated a turn that never took place. Yet, Marx acknowledged capitalism's greater rationality to that which preceded it though believing the greater rationality misplaced: wholly in the narrow service of self, to the dangerous neglect of society as a whole." Nevertheless and without defending capitalism, one must admit that capitalism contains within its theory no propositions directly stating support for identity politics, neo-liberal postulates, etc.

read full comment
Image of Anthony
on March 01, 2019 at 16:36:19 pm


Re: #4 and "the government should" IS missing from the Gospels BUT not from nobody's frequent *epistles*.

Let me offer a contrast from R. Richard Schweitzer, frequent LLB commenter on the difference between nobody's "redistributive" ethos / socialist "agape" (for that is what nobody would present it as) and capitalism:

"Almost all younger (& most mature) observers fail to consider that Socialism, as a system, in whatever forms or degree, REQUIRES an instrumentality through which to "work" or operate for its ends -unlike our "Capitalism" which is NOT a system but a condition resulting from many seeking individual ends through choices and relationships.

For that instrumentality "Government," in its coercive garb, the State is required.

There is a failure to consider what "government" is- a collection of humans conducting affairs, with personal relationships and their own objectives that ultimately obscure and pervert the purported objectives for its uses.

Not being a system, our "Capitalism" does not REQUIRE such an instrumentality, tho' some benefits can be attained from its functioning for specific purposes.

Think of the kind of instrumentality that the objectives (and means) of Socialism require and the actual human nature of that instrumentality."

Herein, we that the socialist regime requires the force of government to effect its ends. One may claim that this is simply "agape" instantiated but clearly as it requires *force* one may not unreasonably question its characterization as agape.
re:#5: Is it a socializing instinct: - again, I submit that the application / necessity of force vitiates such a characterization.

What we are then forced to confront is this: That even the most eloquently enunciated justification for government directed agape is nothing more than a re-contextualized Southern Strategy (excepting of course that nobody's version of the Southern Strategy is far from an accurate description of both the intent and effects of that strategy).
Nobody.really believes that the redistributive "agape" is not about "power" and that it is merely an expression of love, a noble christian sentiment.

Everybody else seems to think differently!

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 01, 2019 at 17:22:40 pm

Let me append a "translation" of my friend R. Richards words:

Tocqueville (with some interspersed wording from John Marini):

"Alongside the "manly and legitimate passion' for equality, Tocqueville asserts, there is a 'depraved taste for equality in the human heart that brings the weak to want to draw the strong to their level and that reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to INEQUALITY in freedom [caps mine]. The modern bureaucratic state becomes the vehicle that reduces the individual to servitude. It does so by supplying all the needs of the body; in the process it enslaves the soul. The centralized power becomes the "tutelary power...which alonetakes charge of assuring [men's] enjoyments and watching over [their] fate. This power, Tocqueville noted, was

"absolute, detailed regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble a paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood. It willingly works for their happiness BUT {caps mine] it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living."

That is what nobody.really desires although he is loathe to recognize the eventual, inescapable and HISTORICALLY accurate outcome. It may be clothed in the cloak of "agape" but it soon, either intentionally or inadvertently devolves into another instance of power politics. It strives to be recognized as "agape" as even tocqueville recognized by delineating all the promised "goods" that would result from the centralized bureaucratic State power. Unlike Tocqueville, WE KNOW that the presumption of the bureaucratic experts to sufficient knowledge to usher in all these benefactions is manifestly false; that they do not posses such knowledge and it is indeed questionable whether they possess the proper motivations to implement such utopian regimes even if it were possible.

Yet, that is precisely what nobody proposes - redistribution - which can not but result in a "leveling' of status and wealth. this in itself may not present as an insurmountable physical or even moral obstacle. Where there is no doubt as to the "inadequacy" of such a redistributionist regime is in the obvious necessity, for its implementation, in the further aggrandizement of centralized STATE POWER.

Call it love; call it Christian charity.
I submit that both love and charity are dependent upon the FREE and WILLING exercise of individual human choice - not STATE dictats!

A far simpler prescription from the Christian tradition is to employ the Golden Rule. another commenter in the last few days cited John Adams take on Liberty - unsurprisingly it may be read as a simple restatement of the Golden Rule a prescription, BTW, which permits of virtue as the acts are performed voluntarily.
State sanctioned / directed agape is a contradiction in terms.

I do recognize nobody's sincerity. I applaud it and suggest that he continue to seek ways to better the lives of others. I would advise only that he do so in such a fashion as to not adversely affect the lives of not only the "betters": but also affect the moral standing and liberty of the "have nots' via a form of "Soft Despotism."

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 01, 2019 at 17:44:25 pm


I could not resist this:

Comes new today from our neighbor to the North, Canada that a Canadian couple have been told that they cannot refuse hormone treatments for their 14 year old daughter who wishes to transition to a man.


I guess Tocqueville was right. EVERYTHING will be determined for the new class of servants of the Administrative State / Judiciary. All will become clear as WE define what is proper. Clearly, the Canadians do not believe that the parents were intended for adulthood (manhood). Clearly, the role of parents is now made secondary to the "will" of the state as it determines what is proper, moral and liberty enhancing.

Then again, perhaps, that old French aristocrat was wrong. Recall he said implied that the "centralized" authority was not intent on raising people into manhood. Ha! here he is wrong as the Canadians have decided to "raise" (change) this little 14 year old *into* "manhood." Ahhh! the wonders and power of the modern state! Of course, it does involve the removal of certain appendages and the (perennial) reconstruction of others - but, hey given the proper amount of power there is not much that the State cannot accomplish, n'est ce pas?

nobody.really believes that it should!

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 01, 2019 at 18:45:51 pm

1.) Dunno. Can you think of a hypothetical that would distinguish between these ideas?

2.) I regard agape as a desirable perspective, generally contrasted with tribalism. But, as I noted, adherents of agape might adopt apparently us-vs.-them strategies as a means to achieve ends that make people better off.

I suppose the real relevance of this view is to encourage less defensiveness. Do people engage in identity politics to achieve legitimate ends, or merely as a power trip? Unless the matter affects people’s welfare, I don’t really care. Social Justice Warriors who do good solely to burnish their own reputations? Fine by me. Someone who meekly, sincerely, and with all good intention does foreseeably counterproductive things? That’s a problem.

Gabe seems reasonably well-intentioned—but deeply committed to tribalism. I fear that his endless obsession with tribalism needlessly impedes his ability to put his otherwise noble intentions into action.

3.) I generally favor a utilitarian perspective—again, with that caveat about the possibility of adopting a contrary strategy in order to achieve a utilitarian end.

4.) I want to promote the general welfare. The choice to use or not use government services in this endeavor is a matter of strategy: What is the more effective method to achieve the desired ends?

(But on the subject of Biblical injunctions to make sacrifices for others, see here and here.)

5.) Again, dunno. Can you think of a hypothetical that would distinguish between these ideas?

For what it’s worth, C.S. Lewis emphasized that agape tells us to love our neighbor quite without regard to whether we like our neighbor. So, in that sense, it differs from THAT kind of emotion.

In short, I sense many people here think my policies (such as using progressive taxation to finance a greater social safety net) would produce bad results. If you embrace agape, I expect you’d oppose my efforts—no matter how sincere and admirable you might find me. But if you found my arguments persuasive, I’d hope that you’d support these policies—even if you find me loathsome.

Poor gabe is in a bit of a fix: He may think that my policies would lead to disaster—but since I’ve encourage people who think that to act accordingly, and since gabe is utterly committed to opposing people from my tribe, he may feel the need to support my policies just to spite me. Tough spot….

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 01, 2019 at 19:27:11 pm

”Southern Strategy” since Nixon is opposite of deepening racial division.

Lee Atwater, architect of Nixon's Southern Strategy, described it as follows:

You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’

And here’s Kevin Phillips, Nixon's political strategist:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

From 1928-1960 all but 1 Dem VP candidate came from: Alabama, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, or Tennessee (segregationist or outright Confederate states, all). THAT was a Southern Strategy.

Indeed it was. The Republican Party was originally organized as the anti-slavery party (remember Lincoln?), and the racists Solid South voted overwhelmingly for Democrats until the Civil Rights era. When Democrats started supporting civil rights, southern white voters switched to George Wallace—but then were courted by Nixon and the Republicans, using the strategies described above.

Republicans have been using those strategies ever since, to great success—so long as white voters utterly dominated all other voting groups. Alas for the GOP, this seems to be a strategy with a natural expiration date, and the date is close at hand. It won’t be too much longer until the Hispanic vote flips Texas, and then it’s Game Over for the Republican brand. Oh, I expect another conservative party will emerge right on cue—Libertarian? Christian Right? “Family Values”?—but the label “GOP” will be pretty thoroughly tainted.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 02, 2019 at 11:40:39 am

Ummm! As i mentioned before, Nixon DID NOT CARRY the SOUTH.
What is more the South was in the process of change. It is today, indistinguishable from the rest of the country.

And the southern bigots did not vote for Nixon, as you acknowledge - they voted for Wallace.

How long will you continue to foster this narrative.
You see racist intent; yet I see a calculated strategy designed to appeal to the "silent majority (Nixon's term)" desire for an end to the lawlessness of the late 1960's, the follies of the anti-war left, their criminal behavior in the destruction / bombing of property, the unrest / takeover of college campuses, etc etc.

Speaking of tribalism, herein nobody throws his hat in with the tribe of "anti-racists" - or so he supposes. How morally self satisfying it must be to always be the white man defending the oppressed. Quite a substantial tribe these days. Unfortunately, it all too frequently manifests its own peculiar bias, i.e., the bias of lowered expectations for the *oppressed* and the *oppressed* need for direction by the morally "Select" of the majority.
The difference between the right and the left is this.

The Left believes that the oppressed are UNABLE to better their condition (without the left's help).
The right believes that they are just as capable of bettering themselves as are the majority AND that they OUGHT to try to do so.

Thus, there is no need to take from Peter to give to Paul (exceptions acknowledged).

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 02, 2019 at 12:00:02 pm


It is not about 'tribes"

It is about POWER and nothing more.
To accomplish what you seek, POWER must accrue even more rapidly / greatly to the Central Government.

Question: Are you prepared to surrender your liberty, your consent, your power to a centralized bureaucracy in order that you may have your wealth, and my meager fortune, distributed in a more "equitable manner."
And who defines what is equitable?
Surely, that decision will not be left to you or I, will it?
No - it will be determined by some government *expert*; having had many decades to observe the accuracy of expert predictions / finding / prescriptions, I am doubtful as to the benefits that may accrue to the society, much less social comity.

You CANNOT deny the change in POWER RELATIONSHIPS consequent upon your scheme.
AND you did not respond to my claims about power.

And, Oh BTW: MY tribe is the American tribe in all its glorious colors and ethnic groupings.

Consider that with the dissection of the American tribe into all this "multiculture factions" that it is now well nigh impossible to rally around a common good, much less identify a common good. The task is too vast, too fractured and not susceptible to resolution. In such an environment, it becomes inevitable that ONLY the centralized bureaucracy can impose a solution based upon ITS conception of the common good.
BUT, this destroys *POLITICS*, properly understood and practiced.

Agape has nothing to do with it. It is about power, i.e., State power, and the diminution of the citizens affirmative consent, loyalty and allegiance to the polity.

Agape for me means (bastardizing Marx here, both Karl and Groucho):
To and from (taxes) each according to his contribution not his need.
Charitable giving consistent with one ability and purpose.

Gee, that sounds like Progressive taxation, doesn't it?

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 02, 2019 at 12:07:12 pm

Gabe, did you even read the decision?

Kid spends two years seeking—with the mother’s support—to transition from female to male. Various physicians offer testimony supporting the child’s choice. Father opposes. Court ultimately rules in favor of letting the kid transition. This has resulted in two tragedies:

1. gabe has had to realize that in Canada, fathers don’t get to impose their dictates on their wives and children.

2. gabe has had to realize that Canadians are allowed to have opinions that differ from gabe’s.

Admittedly, there’s a real dispute about when children should be able to make decisions about their own lives. In some countries, a father gets to dictate a child’s choice of spouse, and may kill children who disobey. For better or worse, the democratically elected legislature of British Columbia voted to go a different direction. Regarding health care, they adopted the Infants Act which states at RSBC 1996, ch. 223, sec. 17, as follows:

(1) In this section: "health care" means anything that is done for a therapeutic, preventive, palliative, diagnostic, cosmetic or other health related purpose, and includes a course of health care;

"health care provider" includes a person licensed, certified or registered in British Columbia to provide health care.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), an infant may consent to health care whether or not that health care would, in the absence of consent, constitute a trespass to the infant's person, and if an infant provides that consent, the consent is effective and it is not necessary to obtain a consent to the health care from the infant's parent or guardian.

(3) A request for or consent, agreement or acquiescence to health care by an infant does not constitute consent to the health care for the purposes of subsection (2) unless the health care provider providing the health care (a) has explained to the infant and has been satisfied that the infant understands the nature and consequences and the reasonably foreseeable benefits and risks of the health care, and (b) has made reasonable efforts to determine and has concluded that the health care is in the infant's best interests.

People may disagree about the wisdom of such a statute, or to its application to the current set of facts. How should such disagreements be resolved? I'm kinda fond of democracy and due process. But again, I see that that's not a universally embraced view.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 02, 2019 at 12:59:18 pm

Really, nobody!

did you look at section to regarding "consent of an infant" - are you kidding me?

And yes, physicians often DO express support AS DO THE PLASTIC SURGEONS who reap rather large fees from this.

How do Canadians define "infant" - from 1 day until what age?
Is it reasonable to assume that a 14 year old, who is be definition unable to enter into a binding contract, may neither drive nor drink, nor enter military service, indeed is considered "not" competent to engage in paid employment - is it reasonable to suppose that someone with these noted legal disabilities is nevertheless competent to make such a *transformative* decision?
I, for one, think not.

And WHY do you think it is BETTER that a Mother gets to decide rather than a Father.
Oh, that's right, our Preacher nobody. really is against the "patriarchy"
But seriously, nobody -Upon what grounds is it legitimate to deny to the father, a right allegedly residing in the mother? Once again we observe the intervention of the State causing further disruption to family dynamics.
And nobody is fine with that.
If it is Ok to denigrate the rights of the Father, why can we not also have a system where the rights of the Mother are denigrated.

And once again, we see how the State interposes "alleged" experts. i.e. medical staff which may be only a nurse or a "candy-striper for that matter, in a continuing effort to assert control over family matters.
Why not go all out and simply take the children away from the parents and place them in state control.

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 02, 2019 at 13:54:15 pm

" I’m kinda fond of democracy and due process"


I contest that assertion. Considering the nature of your policy prescriptions over the years, e.g., forced distribution of wealth, approval of the States efforts to negate / counter or eliminate religious organizations doctrinal objections to certain "forms" of healthcare, etc, it is somewhat difficult to accept such a claim as in all of these instances you are approving coerced State action against some subset of the citizenry AND you are doing this without their consent via the "Will" or force of the government.

While it is laudable to hope for the betterment of all humanity, one must confront the impossibility of attaining this lofty objective AND one must be cognizant of the concomitant harm done to others in this fabled pursuit.

Unlike many, I do not believe that, unlike the Socialist / Progressive Utopians, the Founders did not set out to "immanentize" the Utopia, nor did they delude themselves into thinking that such a state of human affairs was even possible.
Consequently, unlike you, I am fully prepared to state that we cannot, and OUGHT NOT, seek to rectify and / or redress any all grievances, no matter how large or slight, such as "cultural appropriation, transgender *oppression*, etc. further, to resort to State Power to address these intractable dilemmas generates another, yet distinct, form of oppression - the tyranny of the masses by the "Elite", or were they Calvinists, "Elect".

Let me pose a question re: Your support of democracy.

Were the populace to vote for a return to segregation, would you accept this?
Were they to require that ALL people work, would you accept this.
Were they to require that all universities provide "fair and balanced" (OMG, sounds like that wretch Bill O'Reilly) instruction, would you accept this.

Why do i ask these obviously silly questions.

Because somewhere underlying ones response, we will find that there is in addition to a belief in democracy, also a predicate moral / philosophical basis - something that is greater than mere economics or a never fulfilled quest for the impossible goal of equality of condition.
I take the world as it is, knowing surely that it may be better; BUT I am not presumptuous enough to presume that I am wise enough to design and implement Utopia; Accordingly, I do not believe that any human is so endowed and would prefer to leave our development to the peoples ability and willingness to resolve the inevitable "collisions" attendant upon human intercourse.
It actually had worked fairly well for centuries PRIOR to the ascendancy of the modern crop of "immanentizers" known as Progressives and Social Justice Warriors.

so no, I think your commitment to democracy is conflicted at best.

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 02, 2019 at 18:51:40 pm

Reply to nobody really

#1 You respond to the call (in context of capitalism) for evidence with 2 accurate quotations.

A. Atwater says that by taxcuts "blacks hurt worse than whites." Well, ARE they? On net, were African Americans hurt at all by Reagan, Bush II, Trump income taxcuts?

B. Apparently unlike Atwater, Phillips was correct. Republicans enforced Voting Rights Act (and under Reagan amended it to recognize majority-minority racial districting). Thereby Republicans precluded resurrection of White Supremacy that fueled 1928-1960 Democratic Southern Strategy. Well, DIDN'T it?

#2 You (plural) seem to think Republican wooing of non-White Supremacist, Southern whites evinces Republican racism jbecause its voters ARE Southern whites. But White Supremacy is not hereditary. You (plural) seem devoid of fundamental explanations for your opponents' victories beyond: Holler racism! Holler sexism! Holler Nativism! Holler anti-Semitism! Holler homophobia!

#3 Affirmative action (b. 1965) arrived when the age of adulthood was 21. All age 74 and younger have led their entire adult lives under affirmative action. All under 53 have passed their whole lives under affirmative action. Well above 60% of US qualifies for affirmative action. That 60+% coalition defines the majority party. One element of the coalition was born with wartime conscription immunity. It already owned the majority of the country's capital BEFORE affirmative action. It enjoys 5-6 more years of life than anybody else, wherein to enjoy its capital under capitalism.

And this large majority-sized coalitions' emotional glue is Official Victimhood, plus "Blame the minority."

read full comment
Image of George Steven Swan
George Steven Swan
on March 03, 2019 at 01:11:44 am


I think I understand your perspective. I am skeptical that your description of agape can be scaled up to a social policy. I agree with Gabe that one eventually ends up with swords drawn to make people seem as though they are acting out of love. I think that, perhaps one reason the Gospels seem short on explicit political exhortations, as opposed to personal, ethical ones, is that when one invokes government, one inevitably invokes force.

As to the topic of this thread, I have concluded that identity politics is an irremediable social toxin that is responsible for more human misery than any other single cause. It is to be opposed wherever it arises, regardless of attempts to justify it or harness it for benevolent purposes. Identity politics is simply fashionable hatred, with no rational aim other than power and the corruption of power. It has no general benefit or redeeming qualities.

Again, however, I sympathize with your general view, that a public safety net is essential to a civilized society, and that no one should be excluded from the basic necessities secured by it. I am curious as to whether you have read Chesterton's The Outline of Sanity, wherein he touches upon the subjects of subsidiarity and the problems of concentrated capital. I started it, but have not gotten through it. I do not wish to drag this thread off topic, but I look forward at some point to discussing subsidiarity, vertically integrated corporations and corporatism in the age of data-as-a-commodity with you, when a suitable topic is posted on this site.

read full comment
Image of z9z99
on March 05, 2019 at 15:12:12 pm

Well, it has COME TO THIS:

News today from Hollywood wherein we find that Will smith, a "light-skinned African American is being criticized for accepting the role in a movie about tennis great Serena Williams father. It appears that Mr Williams skin pigmentation is somewhat darker than is Mr Smith's; thus, the light skinned minority MAY NOT DARE presume to play the part of a darker skinned minority.

Are you bleepin' kiddin' me?

As I am a (mixed mutt) Sicilian with light skin and blonde hair, I suppose that I must now stop making my truly excellent 12 hour pasta sauce and Bolognese meatballs because - WELL. because I am a "light skinned Sicilian.

read full comment
Image of gabe
on March 05, 2019 at 15:40:10 pm

Once again, gabe has heard some atypical anecdote on Fox News or wherever, and is trying to generalize ... generalize to some larger... larger social ....

...ok, you've got me here: When I heard about this, I laughed out loud. I mean, jeez....

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
on March 05, 2019 at 17:57:04 pm

Hey, nobody.
Ya gotta admit - it IS quite silly - agreed?

BTW: I told you - I DO NOT watch FOX NEWS - or any news program for that matter.
I simply look into a somewhat scratched and cloudy Crystal Ball.

read full comment
Image of gabe

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.