Correcting Conservative Convention

As conservative personages compress complex realities into television soundbites, especially on Fox News, they inadvertently use words and concepts in ways false to reality, amounting to surrender in the all-important struggle over language regarding justice. What follows is elementary correction. 

As conservatives strive to point out the difference between the noble word “equality” and the fraudulent word “equity,” they routinely state that the first means equal opportunity for all, which is true, while “equity” aims at equality of results—namely placing all individuals in similar circumstances regardless of ability, effort, and so on. The latter is a false definition of the term, in a way that facilitates the most unjust of inequalities through tyranny. 

It is perniciously false as well because it fosters a kindred falsehood—that socialism has anything at all to do with equality or with justice.

In fact, “equity” and “socialism” are verbal stalking horses for power divorced from any kind of justice—from anything other than force.

Fundamentally, “equity” having no objective meaning—what is equitable to A  is probably inequitable to B—is just another way of saying “This is what I want, not what anybody else wants.”

Equity’s meaning is necessarily decided by whomever has the power to decide it. Effectively, “equity” means “Power for my party.” 

Not incidentally, that is also exactly the practical meaning of the word “socialism.” Have you been to a socialist country? Any socialist country? Have you seen that those who administer the country live more or less the same way as those who do not? 

On the contrary: even the most superficial observations show that, beginning with food and living quarters—never mind all manner of privileges—the goods of life wax the closer one gets to power and wane the farther one gets away. 

Go to Cuba. Look at the poor bastards who have to live on the ration card. Go to the famously free hospitals, and notice that malnutrition is the number one cause for admission. Then look at the officials with whom you deal: they are sleek. What about Venezuela? Reminds you of what life was like in the old Soviet Union. But isn’t it true that in socialist countries, nobody owns anything? Sure. But who controls access to life’s goods? Surely you can count on them to administer these goods “equitably.” 

The practical meaning, both of socialism and equity, is “from each according to his ability, to each according to his standing in the Party.” 

Conservatives fall into a similar verbal trap as they strive to underline the poisonous nature of the racial politics being fostered among us. The oligarchs, they say, want to divide us by race so as to distribute money and positions according to America’s racial composition rather than according to individual merit. Conservatives also accuse the oligarchs of wanting to do the same with regard to sex and and all manner of orientation. 

But here, too, conservative verbal compression concedes and mistakes the point at issue—which is neither race nor sex, nor anything other than power for the Democratic Party. 

Because the racial fraud is so patent, there is even less excuse for conceding it than there is regarding “equity.” After all, the vast majority of those who rail against “white privilege” and “white overrepresentation” are obviously white. Just as obviously they refuse to credit the blackness of persons who are just as obviously racially black if they are not in lockstep agreement. 

So if the point of racial divisiveness is not to get fewer whites and more blacks or females—defined strictly and exclusively by objective criteria—out of or into positions of privilege and power, then what is the point (other than to squeeze a few more votes out of favorite constituencies)? 

The practical point stares and blares at us: it is to place more discretion about who occupies what place, about who gets what, into the hands of those in power. There is no practical objective other than to increase the power of the powerful. 

The racial scam, the equity scam, the socialism scam, are a single scam. 

Yes, time on TV is precious, and Fox has a history of talking down to its audience. But these verbal surrenders are important enough to fix.

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About Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla was a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He was professor of international relations at Boston University and the author of several books including To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).

Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

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