NOTE: Socialist as used here refers to critical theory neo-Marxism, not purely economic socialism. I probably should have used a better term, but in 2018 we were all a bit confused about terminology.
Welcome to TaraElla Daily News, where we build a centrist classical liberal awareness, one day at a time, one issue at a time. If you are interested in real intellectual discussions about issues, you’ve come to the right place, and I highly recommend subscribing. Today we have another episode of How Radical Socialism Ruined Everything. Classical liberalism brought many truly progressive ideas into practice, only for them to be ruined by neo-Marxist socialism.
Today, we’re going to talk about how Radical Socialism ruined our efforts to move towards a truly color-blind society. Classical liberals believe in equality of opportunity for every individual, regardless of any personal charactersitics, and this includes race and cultural background. It is just part of the long running campaign by classical liberals to make sure every individual is treated fairly, and that factors outside of one’s control, like personal background, isn’t a factor in the opportunity one is given. When we say we are for moving towards a colour-blind society, this is what we mean.
In the second half of the 20th century, great progress was made towards the colour-blind society. Discriminatory laws based on race were removed. Interracial marriage became legal, segregation was abolished, and racial discrimination became illegal. We’ve not become exactly color-blind yet, but we were getting there. However, in recent years, our gains have been slipping away, and divisions based on race and cultural background have made a big comeback. From the idea of cultural appropriation to the label of White Feminism, it seems that many progressives no longer believe in the original mission of the anti-racist movement. And I think radical socialism has a lot to answer for that.
How the Radical Socialist Worldview Ruined Anti-Racism
The truth is, many radical socialists never believed in the classical liberal vision of a color-blind society. A society where individuals have equal opportunity to compete in the free market system is a liberal dream that socialists never shared, and they have always been reluctant to put aside their objections to capitalism to work aside us for liberal goals.
The rise of neo-Marxist analyses of society further complicated things. In the neo-Marxist worldview, racism is seen as a system of oppression that arises from the class society of capitalism. Therefore, neo-Marxists do not see any possibility of a color-blind society where the capitalist system still stands. Instead, as always, they believe the oppressed must struggle against their oppressors, and that this process will result in the dismantling of the oppressive systems. To achieve this state of struggle, they believe in raising awareness of oppression among the oppressed, and highlighting the contradictions in society. Therefore, neo-Marxists effectively believe in working against our goal of reaching a colour-blind society through gradual reform and cultural consensus.
Divisive ideas, like how certain people should check their privilege and speak less, are a product of neo-Marxist theory. In turn, these ideas have encouraged an identitarian movement on the far-right, leading to further erosion of the consensus that we should move towards a colour-blind society. The sad truth is, in the past decade, radical socialist ideas have often been promoted as social justice, and naive social justice advocates have swallowed them without thinking about their origins and their implications.
In truth, I am totally for social justice per se. Social justice has a long tradition going back to the early 20th century, and it used to have nothing to do with radical socialist ideas. However, in recent years, radical socialists have been able to use the language of social justice, and inject their ideas into popular social justice movements. But if you look at it objectively, radical socialism is not real social justice. Neo-Marxism is, at its root, all about power dynamics and identity or class-based power struggle, all of which leads to less justice for individuals, if you think about it.
Classical Liberalism Must Become Academic, Too
In fact, what we are seeing now is the end product of at least several decades of development. A major problem we have is that radical socialist worldviews have gained an upper hand in intellectual and academic discourse in recent decades. Socialism, or more precisely, neo-Marxism, has become the default system for analysing social relations and sociological reality. The fact that there have been very few prominent classical liberal intellectuals since around 1980 is illustrative of this. This must change. I propose that we call for the establishment of a new tradition of social analysis, where we analyse social relations based on the individual as the unit, and individual liberty as the highest good. The core Moral Libertarian principle of Equal Moral Agency for every individual would be a good starting point for this.
The Core Moral Libertarian Question: is there Equal Moral Agency for Every Individual?
Using a moral libertarian analysis, we can develop a more individualist, and hence fairer, perspective on inequality. For example, if we are concerned about racial minorities having a harder time in accessing education or in participating in politics, what we need to do is to listen to the real experiences of individuals in those fields. We need to listen to what barriers they perceive as being in their way, and if these barriers are proven to be real, we need to fix them.
However, we look at situations on an individual level, and we have no reason to generalise everything into a system of oppression view. For example, barriers to accessing a good education may have cultural roots that differ by ethnicity, and lumping non-whites as a group disregards these cultural differences, leading to ineffective solutions. Another example is, while blackface is considered offensive generally, as an Asian I don’t mind non-Asians wearing our traditional dresses, and every Asian that I know personally has the same view. The two cannot be equated in a category called ‘cultural appropriation’. Each situation is unique, and we need to fix the inequalities in a case-by-case manner, looking at individual experiences in every case.
Originally published at taraellastylia.blogspot.com on October 26, 2018.
TaraElla is a singer-songwriter, independent journalist and author, who is passionate about free speech, liberty and equality. She is the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which focus on developing a moral case for freedom-based politics in the 21st century.