Contestants on the Russian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” are reluctant to ask the audience for help.
When confronted with a difficult question to which his only lifeline is to summon the audience encircled around him, the contestant in the hot seat squirms like a harpooned squid.
Such reluctance is not one of haughty disdain, the contestant doesn’t thrash in his seat convinced the audience has the collective IQ of a pickled gherkin, nor that they, being Russian, have spent the afternoon pickled in Stolichnaya. He’s reluctant to ask for their help because the audience, more often than not, will intentionally provide Dimitri with the wrong answer and sabotage his dreams of winning a million.
Americans are different, eagerly donating their collective brains to Hank’s lascivious pursuit of unearned wealth by handing him the correct answer over 90 percent of the time.
French audiences, being French, are a little more temperamental. The French will happily provide the right answer if they believe the contestant deserves their help. If Eric asks whether the sun revolves around the Earth his fellow Frenchmen will punish his ignorance with audible glee.
Sociologists think the differences in audience psychology boil down to notions of who deserves what. Americans whoop and holler and share in Hank’s deserved or undeserved success. The French attach conditions to Eric’s success. The Russians, infected with Crab Mentality, that depressingly human tendency to deny to others what one does not have, conspire to sabotage Dimitri.
When observed, crabs trapped in a bucket will attempt escape, only for their fellow crabs to pull them back down into the bucket. The irony: each crab could escape, if only they could first resist pulling down those ahead of them in the queue. Instead, they all perish.
Perhaps the Russian sabotage is borne of a nation whose history is depraved with the politics of envy. The Russian 20th century was one of state-sanctioned envy of and vengeance toward those who stood out from the masses. Marxism, then, is the political expression of crab mentality.
The craven mentality depraving the Russian audience is the same craven mentality beavering through the Doric columns of Western civilization.
For all their talk of “diversity and inclusion,” what the woke really desire is a world in which we celebrate their mediocrities, validate their pathologies, and confirm their absurdities.
Armed with inflated grades, useless degrees, and the hokum of “everyone is gifted,” the woke degrade excellence in elevation of mediocrity. That’s why modern art degrades rather than sweetens, why ugliness and “breaking taboo” are the highest accolades of a modern culture long captive to the grievances of the mediocre.
Envy, as Kierkegaard wrote, is concealed admiration. To envy is to love and admire something so much you wish to destroy it rather than surrender to it.
Through the politics of envy, the woke wish to destroy what they cannot create.
Of course, the professional redeemers drape their envy and vengefulness in the robes of compassion and fairness. They call it “equity.”
Bill de Blasio, the departing mayor of New York, is busily scorching the earth before his exit. De Blasio closed down gifted and talented classes for New York’s brightest children as critics insist such programs “entrench segregation.”
Like all Marxist nothings, equity sounds like a warm compress upon aching limbs. The language is simmered down to the most palatable of soups, spiced with a universal obviousness—only the most callous and pre-modern of humans would refuse such nourishing fare.
After all, if some children are born into bookless homes, to struggling or single parents, who except the wicked would deny those children a little more help to flourish?
De Blasio’s problem with gifted and talented classes is that such classes cater to the “very few.” He claims his “Brilliant NYC” reforms will promote a more “inclusive” model, open to 26 times more children than the current system. By decree, the magic mayor made everyone gifted!
The real problem with such classes is that they contain too many Asian Americans and white kids. Such disparities, according to Ibram X. Kendi, known affectionately here as “Professor Piffle,” means that systemic racism is at play.
Professor Kendi, born the rather unradical Ibram Henry Rogers, sells antiracism for a living. Unsurprisingly, Kendi has a rather loose and thus profitable definition of the “racism” from which he makes his millions.
The reality, as our left-wing friends may one day learn, seldom corresponds to the theories of that famous soap-dodger Karl Marx, or his green-haired goblins of grievance.
Like demented surgeons, progressives first discern the ailment before poking around the body in search of the concomitant symptoms. They pull out organs from one place and stuff those organs where they feel those organs should go.
De Blasio and Kendi don’t look too closely at why Asian American kids and white kids are vastly overrepresented in gifted and talented classes because doing so would dissolve the victimhood narratives which justify their paychecks and their existences.
If they did look beyond their own noses, they’d discover that having two parents at home, and a bookcase or two, are more reliable barometers of school success than the totems of Marxist bumf penned by grievance-mongers and social inadequates. To look too closely would reveal to progressives what they—deep down—know to be true: one’s life chances are largely a result of one’s culture than of one’s environment.
That would explain why, here in Great Britain, British Africans are twice as likely to go to university as are British Caribbeans. That would explain why Nigerian Americans are the most successful immigrant group in America, joined by Korean Americans, Indian Americans, Filipino Americans, Taiwanese Americans, and along with Sri Lankan Americans and Japanese Americans and Ghanian Americans, all of whom do better than their “privileged” white oppressors.
Like all cults, wokeness bypasses the rational side of the brain. When the apocalypse fails to transpire, doomsday cults change the date of the apocalypse rather than change their minds. The true believers cannot look too closely lest their worldview, the sum of their intellectual and aesthetic endeavors, the fount of their emotional and political profits, dissolve on the end of their noses.
What the woke really want is not borne of compassion or fairness. Properly implemented, Equity infuses a cradle-to-grave victimhood narrative profitable to the self-appointed judges of “fairness.”
They’ll explain every difference and every disparity—the immutable facts of life—through lurid narratives of victim and victor, a social horror show in which envy is lionized and vengeance is sacralized.
Dear reader, perhaps you’ve discerned that your humble narrator is no day at the beach. I grew up in a small town in which aspiring to something beyond the “color of standard gray duplicate faces” invited foaming scorn and ridicule. To this day, the utterance “you think you’re better than us” still cuts through me.
And yet, who will benefit from equity? Those whom the professional victim-farmers deem most reliable to entrench their power.
From their first years in school, gifted and talented kids will learn that their beautiful gifts are stolen and that they, through an accident of birth, have no right to the brain between their ears. They’ll drain their days going over and over easier and easier material. They’ll conceal their gifts, obscure their talents, neuter their thoughts, tamp down that limbless feeling that unspeakable wickedness is being subjected upon them, all in the name of “fairness.”
Soon they’ll realize they’re the broken eggs. The tragedy? There’s no omelet.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared at Oxford Sour. Subscribe to Christopher Gage’s substack here.