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Education and the antidiscrimination principle

At one time people thought it common sense to distinguish between a Connecticut Yankee and a Southern black and expect very different things from them. Today that kind of distinction is thought outrageous, but people still differentiate a Harvard graduate from a high school graduate who just got out of the Marines. The change is due to changes in social organization and corresponding ideals rather than an advance in morality.

More specifically, the change reflects mass culture, bureaucratized social life, and a centralized system of formal education that has custody of young people throughout their formative years. It reflects, in other words, arrangements whereby young people are educated by a basically industrial process for a life of participation in that process. Such a setting leads people to view only technology as rational and legitimate, and they judge each other accordingly. In a more traditional setting particular local cultural influences and family backgrounds strongly affected by diverging habits and religious principles determine upbringing. Adult life is spent in a network of mostly informal relationships determined by elective affinities. Under such circumstances history, culture and personal connections are accepted as basic to what people are, and the current animus against “discrimination” makes no sense.

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To restate what Mr. Kalb has said here: Natural, cultural, and moral differences between human beings do not matter, and so no discrimination can be based on them. The only difference between human beings that does matter and that can serve as a basis of discrimination between them is the degree to which they have been integrated into the liberal system. That’s why such a high priority is placed on education, even as the schools teach less and less of substance. The more years of schooling people have had, the more liberal—i.e., the more abstracted from their background and from the natural and transcendent order of existence—they will be.

Viewed in this light, it turns out that liberals do not judge people by a double standard, but by a single standard: the standard of liberalism itself.

True, liberals don’t judge blacks, Muslims, and other minorities by this standard. But that’s because the minorities serve a distinct function within the liberal system. The minorities’ function is not to practice liberal non-discrimination, but to serve as the objects upon whom liberal non-discrimination is practiced.

“The minorities’ function is not to practice liberal non-discrimination, but to serve as the objects upon whom liberal non-discrimination is practiced.”—Lawrence Auster

Liberals’ “use” of minorities in this way for their own purposes reminds me of something I once heard someone say: “There are doctors who love disease, because it allows them to be doctors.”

I wonder if Larry Auster’s insight explains something I’ve always been puzzled by, ever since it first emerged around, I think, the early or mid-seventies: the animosity of the inner-city Black Community, in cities like New York, toward the Jewish Community which has helped them so much. I mean, what have the Jews ever done to harm the Blacks? On the other hand, what HAVEN’T they ever done, to HELP them? They’ve done EVERYTHING to help them. And Blacks TURN AGAINST them?

Maybe it’s because Blacks sense what Larry has referred to, liberals’ using them as mere objects on whom they can practice liberal non-discrimination, sort of to make themselves feel morally superior, instead of thinking first and foremost of the question of where the Blacks’ true welfare lies (it lies in the same place as for everyone else—self-control, self-discipline, non-whining, non-feeling-sorry-for-oneself, study hard, go to work diligently, delay gratification, don’t abuse substances, create stable two-parent families, cultivate good personal hygiene and grooming especially when applying for a job or being seen otherwise in public, don’t commit crime and CERTAINLY not violent street crime, etc., etc.). And perhaps the Black Community views the Jewish Community as made up largely of this sort of liberal (Jews in New York City are, of course, predominantly liberal, though I do not know if Jewish motivations in helping Blacks are those self-serving ones described by Larry as characterizing the liberal world in general).

To expand on what I said, this is why, under the liberal order, minorities are not expected to assimilate and indeed must not assimilate. Since substantive differences have been bred out of the whites through the process of education and liberalization, there are not enough substantive differences among the whites for the whites to serve as objects for the practice of non-discrimination. People who still have REAL substantive differences are needed. Non-Westernized minorities are the only people left who fit the bill. Liberal society thus requires the presence of unassimilated (or, better yet, unassimilable) minorities in order to have people around whose undeniable substantive differences can be denied, and upon whom liberal non-discrimination can be practiced. Non-assimilated (and thus non-liberal) minorities are essential to the functioning of the liberal system.

Larry, your analysis is brilliant! Reading it, I’d burst out laughing if I weren’t also ready to burst out weeping!

Larry,
Great post as usual. Has anybody ever written on this theme? Why do white liberals profess such love for blacks, but do everything they can to stay out of the presence of blacks?

White liberals search out the whiteist section of town to live in. They send their children to private schools, while bellowing for all-out school bussing for the public schools. I know plenty of white liberals like this myself.

Basically, blacks and other minorities are like a weapon. Liberals pick up this weapon and hammer the white middle class with it. I believe it was Robert Weissberg who wrote an article in Chronicles last year saying that championing blacks was a way of increasing government power. In addition, more “experts” are employed.

What has been said above could be boiled down to a paradigm of liberal society.

Liberal society denies the existence and/or importance of substantive human differences, and forbids acts of discrimination based on them. It comprehensively trains its citizens to be non-discriminatory, with the result that the only legitimate basis of discrimination among them is how non-discriminatory they are. However, in being reconstucted according to this single standard of non-discrimination, the members of liberal society becomes ever-more homogeneous, with their respective regional, ethnic, cultural, and moral differences being progressively leached out. As a result, the liberal citizens can no longer serve as objects of the non-discrimination that is the very purpose and function of liberal society. A steady infusion of non-liberal, non-assimilated people is needed. We thus arrive at our present system of mass nonwhite immigration, multiculturalism, racial preferences for minorities, the symbolic celebration of minorities, the covering up of black-on-white violence, and antiracism crusades directed exclusively at whites. Under this system, whites practice assiduous non-discrimination toward the unassimilated, alien, or criminal behavior of racial minorities, while practicing the most assiduous discrimination against their fellow whites for the slightest failure to be non-discriminatory. This is the system that conservatives variously describe as “political correctness” or the “double standard.” However, from the point of view of the functioning of the liberal order itself, what conservatives call the double standard is not a double standard at all, but a fundamental and necessary articulation of the society into the “non-discriminators” and the “non-discriminated against”—an articulation upon which the very legitimacy and existence of the liberal society depends.

An excellent summary from Mr. Auster, and one that could be developed in a variety of ways. For example, it’s necessary for the system to work that the non-discriminated-against be wards of the state, so that their illiberalism can’t threaten the system. Luckily, the principle that as victims they are rightful claimants of state support whose failures are not their own doing keeps them in that position forever. So the system seems self-consistent in that regard.

I suppose the neocon “colorblind society” system would be the same as the liberal system, but without the non-discriminated-against class. The highest goal is for everyone not to discriminate and to pursue his goals as an individual. The problem is that such a system rather lacks a focus of social effort. Hence neocon imperialism. The need to conquer the world and make it neocon replaces the need in the liberal system to have undigestible minorities to practice nondiscrimination upon.

Jim Kalb pre-empted the question I was going to ask, which was how right liberals, who generally call for large-scale immigration with assimilation, fit into the picture. I wonder if for some right liberals the effort of economic progress is ordinarily felt to be sufficient, whereas left liberals need to a greater degree what Jim Kalb calls “a focus of social effort”.

“The more years of schooling people have had, the more liberal-i.e., the more abstracted from their background and from the natural and transcendent order of existence … they will be.”

I would strongly agree with Lawrence Auster in this observation. Studies in Australia have shown members of the upper professions to be the least patriotic, while laborers were the most patriotic. Similarly, women seem to be at their least feminine by about the second year of university, although they seem to recover somewhat several years after leaving uni.

In Australia there are government targets to make all students finish a grammar type high school and for most students to complete a university course. This is usually justified in economic terms, but I suppose a liberal order would naturally prefer students to complete such a course rather than to attend a technical school or sign up for an apprenticeship.

“An excellent summary from Mr. Auster, and one that could be developed in a variety of ways.”—Jim Kalb

I agree! What a masterful piece of analysis by Mr. Auster! It’s had me smiling all day since this afternoon when I read it!

But how to explain one seeming conundrum? The same liberals who utilize “race” very carefully in their choice of an unassimilable minority to import into the country, in order that they can show in what a non-discriminatory manner they treat this minority—the same liberals without blushing will insist there’s no such thing as race or racial differences. (See Prof. Alan Goodman of Hampshire College doing precisely this in this “Gene Expression” blog entry:

http://www.gnxp.com/archive_2002-m12.html#standard-13 )

(It’s worth reading the entire New York Times article linked in the blog entry, in order to fully understand Razib Khan’s exasperation with Prof. Goodman.)

Isn’t it eerie how they deny any and all racial differences, calling them mere figments of the evil right’s imagination, yet know exactly which “races” to import into the country in massive numbers in order to both create maximum social disruption and resentment from traditional groups, and demonstrate to maximum effect their own “non-discrimination” toward these incompatible groups they’ve carefully chosen to import?

They profess to believe that racial differences and questions of racial incompatibility don’t exist, yet their very careful choice of “racial groups” for the advancement of their program seems to belie that.

By the way, “Razib Khan” (not his real name—the controversial nature of the subject matter he discusses obliges him to remain anonymous) is a dark-skinned Bangladeshi of Muslim family, who came to the U.S. as a child with his parents who were I believe graduate students at the time. Razib runs the excellent blog-site “Gene Expression,” to which a few bloggers contribute. It’s always worth a visit.

i do go by “Razib” in my normal life though my legal name is different. the reason is that bengali muslims give their children two names-a bengali one (Razib = Rajib = Rajiv) and an arabic one.

In response to Mark Richardson: liberals for whom the adventure of capitalism is enough, and who believe the logic of the market and the pursuit of self-interest will suffice to destroy all discrimination and break down all barriers among nations, become libertarians. Those who want something more active and believe force (antidiscrimination laws and an activist militarized foreign policy) will be necessary to bring about those goals become neocons. And those who believe that a yet larger effort will be needed to achieve the nondicriminatory millenium (constant moral effort in daily life, combined with minute state supervision of all social relations) join what has now become mainstream liberalism.