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In “White Privilege Doesn’t Mean Anything,” Mark Bauerlein notes that accusations of white privilege are made “not to signify a social and historical condition, but to control a situation.”
He’s right. But leftists argue this way for a reason.
It’s not just that “white privilege” is an ad hoc explanation for more than 50 years of failed racial policies. Leftists’ only alternative is to face the bitter truth that their cherished social programs have generally harmed African-Americans instead of helping them. That truth is bitter because it lays the blame for many social ills squarely at the feet of leftists who promised—often sincerely—to eliminate them.
The reason leftists argue as they do is simple: They don’t make serious truth claims because they don’t believe in factual truth.
Like most in academia, the media, and the deep state, leftists are postmodernists. And though postmodernist writers are notoriously obscure—perhaps intentionally so—they occasionally let slip a clear statement. The late Polish sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman is instructive here. Rather than holding there is a factual relation between belief and reality, Bauman wrote in Modernity and Ambivalence:
Truth is a social relation (like power, ownership, or freedom): an aspect of a hierarchy built of superiority-inferiority units; more precisely, an aspect of the hegemonic form of domination . . . .
The godfather of postmodernism, François Lyotard, stated the goal this way in The Postmodern Condition:
[My understanding of knowledge] makes no claims of being original, or even true . . . Our hypotheses, therefore, should not be accorded predictive value in relation to reality, but strategic value in relation to [their effects on public power and civil institutions].
That’s why leftist arguments are usually nonsense. They’re not even trying to make sense. They see argument solely as a rhetorical bludgeon with which to silence and intimidate dissenters. As long as nobody laughs, it’s a win.
For leftists, argument is never about logic or facts: It’s always about power. Everything is about power. After they’ve forsaken truth and reality, what else is left?
That’s why they argue as they do, and that’s why they push a totalitarian agenda. “The issue” is never the issue. The issue is always power: to coerce, to intimidate, to destroy.
But let us give leftists their due: the ones who aren’t certifiably crazy are often sincere.
They honestly believe that the basic premises of Western civilization—rationality, freedom, individualism, and equal justice before the law—are wrong. But of course, they can’t say that in public.
They don’t believe in objective truth or fixed realities, so they do believe they can force reality to be whatever they want it to be—and force other people in the same way. They take seriously Karl Marx’s dictum that “the task is not to understand the world, but to change it.”
They don’t care to understand the world because they believe there’s nothing real to understand. There’s “no there, there.” Our understanding itself shapes the world, just as intersectionality and capitalism shape human nature.
It’s time to stop dignifying nonsense by pretending that it makes sense. It’s time to laugh.
Photo Credit: V&A exhibition