Conservatives Must Abandon Equality
How CRT Conquered Equality
The pernicious contamination of classrooms with Critical Race Theory is an election-winning issue for Republicans in true-blue districts. The once-obscure legal doctrine, which castigates all institutions as arbitrary structures upholding white supremacy, has reached the highest court in the land. Supreme Court Justice Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson stated that her career “melds together myriad types of law” with “critical race theory,” and she once sat on a school board prescribing Ibram X Kendi’s Antiracist Baby. Patriots dream of the day this ideology is excised from public life. But could CRT, paradoxically, be the bastard child of the platitude which both parties parrot: the promise of equality, enshrined in the Constitution?
The Enlightenment is characterised as a great philosophical awakening to the origin of man’s rights to live, speak, think, and own one’s body and property without threat of harm. France’s Enlightenment followed Rousseau, who attributed the origin of rights to the state. Consequent efforts to emancipate man from the confines of civilisation produced their murderous Revolution.
Conversely, Englishmen followed Hobbes and Locke, and produced America’s war for independence. The Declaration asserted rights as innate and inalienable, and codified their defence in the Constitution. To the Founding Fathers, equality meant man is made in the image of God, with identical moral worth and the ability to pursue happiness.
CRT mutilates the Constitution. But its successful long march through institutions has been by marketing itself as aiming at equality. By appropriating a Constitutional promise, CRT is an American suicide note—a fly in its apple pie.
CRT inverts the victorious injunction of the Civil Rights movement: judgement on the content of one’s character, not the colour of one’s skin. Its self-avowed Marxist creators pushed “race consciousness,” a concept raising resentment among black Americans for historical injustices as a means to conscript them into revolutionary politics. Because the Constitution rejects racial consciousness for colour-blindness, CRT charges it with the enshrinement of a sleight-of-hand form of white supremacy into law. Lighting dynamite beneath racial harmony, CRT practitioners call for laws to be inverted or overthrown to achieve “true equality” between races.
Critical Race Theory states America is not a City on a Hill, but an apartheid state to its very bones for committing the topsy-turvy sin of rejecting racial division and undoing segregation. Bonkers, I know. But they truly believe, as Dr King did, that they are cashing the cheque of the Constitution’s promise of equality.
In Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom, founding CRT writer Sylvia Wynter charged Enlightenment thinkers with defining “men” in a fashion which excludes non-white people. She contests that scientific inquiry and appeals to Biblical scripture were used to justify the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. ‘the epochal rupture that was set in motion by Western intellectuals […] lead to the gradual development of the physical sciences […] by the no less epochal reinvention of Western Europe’s matrix Judeo-Christian genre of the human.’ To translate from gobbledygook: the Enlightenment and scientific revolution displaced man’s understanding of himself as made ‘Imago Dei’ (in the image of God), with defining his nature through reason and empirical inquiry. This shift in epistemology facilitated a new form of exclusion: predominantly, the elimination of black and native people from the category of ‘Men’ whose rights were recognised by the Constitution. Non-whites were considered “irrational/subrational Others”, and accordingly deprived of rights. (Wynter conveniently omits the Christian abolitionists who worked for the emancipation of blacks during the writing of the Constitution.) This definition emboldened their consolidation of ‘power, truth, freedom’ among their ‘Western bourgeois ethnoclass’.
Because this “Otherness” was ingrained in the foundational prescriptions of American institutions, ‘All other modes of being human [were] seen not as the alternative modes of being human [but] as the lack of the West’s ontologically absolute self-description.’ Intolerance of definitions, cultures, and ideals antithetical to American patriotism are racist. We see here the Marxist attempt to encompass contradictions within existing definitions, to collapse the existing order, at work within CRT. As Mao wrote: ‘the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics.’ CRT’s version of this is to transform the interpersonal ‘restrictive’ definition of racism into the ‘expansive’ systemic definition, to rectify ‘America’s failure to make good on its promise of racial equality.’ In relocating the locus of moral culpability from individuals to institutions, redress focuses on ‘equality as a result’, and blames racial ‘Wrongdoing’ on ‘social polic[ies] against an entire group.’ With the adoption of the expansive definition as ‘prejudice combined with social and institutional power’ by the likes of Merriam-Webster, the semantic seeds of CRT’s cultural revolution are planted.
As Carl pointed out in his article, ‘Five False Assumptions of Liberalism’, and in a debate with Stich & Adam, CRT has America dead to rights on the flaws in its founding premises. Locke inherited Hobbes’ belief in a pre-civilisational state of nature, from which propositional nations arose to organise atomised people into the ‘little platoons’ that Edmund Burke said are heart of free and responsible societies. Modern anthropological data refutes the notion that humans survived in pre-social arrangements as anachronistic. Hence, the possibility of the rational organisation of man around the reciprocal protection of his individual rights is undermined.
As such, Wynter asserts that America’s Constitution is incapable of ‘conceiving of an Other to what it calls human.’ Appeals to universality are actually white supremacy (sigh). True ‘equality’ would abandon the pretence of objectivity for the subjective experiences of oppressed identities, and have an intersectional coalition of the marginalised govern society. Marxism makes a similar pledge: to implement a classless, stateless society without property, by first creating a dictatorship that collectivises all wealth to share amongst themselves. Whether utopia, or activists’ amassing of power, is truly the goal here is a good question.
In a recent book club, Carl and Thomas argued Friedrich Nietzsche’s declaration that all philosophy has collapsed into anti-universality laid the foundations for the postmodern fractionation of ethics along these identitarian lines. Nietzsche laid the bedrock for Jacques Derrida’s insistence that ‘there is nothing outside the text’, by stating that ‘the value of the world lies in our interpretation’, and that ‘that every elevation of man brings with it the overcoming of narrower interpretations’. Moral evolution involves the abandonment of any pretence of a shared or universal morality. There is no shared interpretation—'there is no "truth"’—and that because ‘There are no facts, everything is in flux, incomprehensible, elusive’. Reality, liberated from the futile attempt to construct a universal morality, ‘become[s] "infinite" for us all over again, inasmuch as we cannot reject the possibility that it may include infinite interpretations.’ Even the assertion that ‘"Everything is subjective," […] is interpretation.’ (Though this totalising declarative is itself oxymoronically objective.)
With the disproval of one interpretation, one comes to question all interpretations. By becoming ‘woke’, those convinced by CRT believe all standards and institutions exist to unilaterally afford power to white people. Their belief in MLK’s paraphrase of Theodore Parker that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but [that] it bends toward justice’, has collapsed into nihilism—disbelief in belief. As Nietzsche said of nihilism: ‘One interpretation has collapsed; but because it was considered the interpretation it now seems as if there were no meaning at all in existence.’ Hence the Smithsonian’s argument that objective truth is itself a white supremacist belief. Any pretence at objectivity or universality by appealing to the present paradigm is just upholding the white supremacist hegemon which keeps a brother down.
This nihilism is an incitement to reconstitute ethics through Marxist praxis. Wynter’s professes her participation in a cultural continuation of Mao’s dialectic. The Constitution’s faux-scientific framework to justify racial exclusion was, as Wynter writes, a ‘negative aspect of the dialectical process of culture-historical transformation by which the West was to initiate the first phase of the degodding of its descriptive statement of the human.’ Again, to translate: by displacing the definition of humanity from resting on Biblical scripture to scientific enterprise, the Enlightenment mankind seized a Promethean power with which to be racist. (Again, Wynters neglects to reconcile the religiosity of the Founding Fathers with her homogenous characterisation of the secular Enlightenment West.) This ‘degodding’ of the definition produced a nihilism, from which rose a white supremacist hegemon who self-determined themselves as the sole classification of ‘Man’. As Nietzsche said: ‘God is dead’, that ‘we have killed him', Now, CRT have taken it upon themselves to ‘vanquish his shadow’ under the purported banner of ending racism.
Stephen R.C. Hicks identified how the obliteration of a shared interpretation, and subsequent construction of incommensurate and incompatible interpretations, incites conflicts between groups. Without the ability to self-associate via shared reciprocal ideas, revert to tribalism by shared superficial characteristics (like race). Nietzsche believed ethics became parochial to people; envisioning a ‘pantheistic’ race of human gods, living indomitably and individualistically side-by-side at humanity’s evolutionary End of History. This is where CRT diverges from Nietzsche. Clinging steadfast to Marxism, CRT imposes political allegiances to racial groups, and assert the supremacy of ‘Black’ people in the interim; until such as time where the post-racial communist utopia comes into being.
In fact, in rejecting the liberation of the will from the overt racial prejudice of others, as achieved by MLK, CRT rejects Nietzsche’s assertion that liberation is an individual’s ascension to Übermensch after nihilism cleanses them of inherited ‘slave morality’. In pursuing socialism, 'the logical conclusion of the tyranny of the least and the dumbest’, CRT constructs a new ‘slave morality’—an inflammatory observation, I’m sure, given the US’ racial history. ‘Black’ becomes an collective conscience exclusive to black people, but conferred only by acting in Black interests (i.e. toward the post-racial communist utopia). Hence congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s statement that she doesn’t want ‘any more black faces that don’t want to be a Black voice’, and Joe Biden’s belief that voting Trump would drain black Americans of their melanin. For CRT, nihilism becomes a catalyst not for individual liberty, but for collective racial consciousness and communism. ‘The good’ is not a personal determination, but defined by that which is in the interest of advancing a marginalised racial group against the white supremacist hegemon.
This is the reason why Wynter and her fellow Race Crits advocate a utilitarian dispensation of universal morals in order to reach their universal definition of humanity. They write books such as “In Defense Of Looting”, advocating violence as ‘a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society’, and wear the death and destruction of 2020’s Summer of Love as a badge of ‘honour’. Because the revelation of white supremacy has produced a collapse into amorality, only the post-racial communist utopia permits the re-instantiation of moral standards. Until an equity becomes status quo, retributive discrimination is visited on those accused of having benefited from the racist system. Till then, any act is fair game so long as it brings about ‘Black joy’.
This focus on emotional intuition is the foundation for arguing emotional, self-serving, and subjective ‘ways of knowing’ have equal validity to falsifiable hypotheses. Of course, anti-meritocracy will run aground on the rocks of reality eventually. But, to paraphrase Jordan Peterson: when bridges begin collapsing, it will still be blamed on a lack of ‘Black voices’.
So how do conservatives fight this?
Simple: conservatives must abandon ‘equality’.
I do not mean, however, that the Constitution should be torn asunder. Rather, that Republicans must re-frame the debate from promising equality, to preaching fairness. Universal equality remains an impossible standard. At the legislative level, equal consideration under law was achieved. Its equal application remains an ideal—distanced from us by affirmative action. But the Left has conservatives fighting the losing issue of material equity. Equality is a false promise. As Thomas Sowell said, “even the same man is not equal to himself on different days,” let alone his peers. Diversity produces inequality. The incompatibility of these promises becomes the government’s gateway to enforcing equity via socialism.
Promising voters taxpayer-subsidised stuff is an election-winning platform. It’s just “more equal,” as in Orwell’s Animal Farm. Conservatives cannot endorse this on principle, but they nevertheless continue to use the language of the Left. William F. Buckley’s tactic of shouting “Stop!” athwart history puts conservatives permanently on the back-foot. The longer conservatives try to ‘reclaim’ equality, the more drawn our defeat will become.
Conservatives rested on their laurels when Francis Fukuyama proclaimed liberal capitalist democracy was victorious in the Cold War. Now, the culture war is against domestic socialism, raking the form of a hydra of various identitarian grievances. In his revised predictions, Fukuyama admits the fractionating of America into identity interest factions, vying for wealth and recognition, has postponed history’s End. The New Right must assert a counter-narrative to the Democrats’ D-I-E dogma. Conservatives should stop trying to lop heads off and adopt new tactics.
Fairness, instead of equality, promises unequal but proportionate treatment. Fairness means receiving just consideration under law, while revoking the carte blanche given to criminals in the name of ‘equality’. Fairness means you keep what you earn, because the state’s pursuit of equity is simply robbing Peter to pay a lazy Paul. Fairness lets individuals privilege communities and close relationships over abstract categories like “Black,” or the ever-expanding LGBT acronym.
Abandon ‘equal’ for ‘fair’, and conservatives can make families their core political constituency again. Families are furtive ground, with ‘soccer moms’ rightly outraged when their babies are called racist.
Language matters, not least of all to critical race theorists. It’s time the Right reframed the discourse, and fought the Left on our terms.
After all, it’s only fair.