Thursday, December 16, 2010
[The following, by Daniel Greenfield, is crossposted from Sultan Knish.]
"Hey, I'm depraved on account I'm deprived!",
Gee Officer Krupke, West Side Story
When you replace the morality with class warfare, you also replace good and evil with poor and rich. Actions are no longer good or bad, except within the context of class. Murder is a crime for the rich, but not for the poor, or the rich who claim to be fighting for the poor.
The practical application of this form of left-wing morality is all around us. When justifying terrorism, the left argues that the terrorists are deprived, but the soldiers who shoot them are depraved. The Israeli civilians who are murdered by terrorists are depraved, on the other hand the poor starving Hamas supporters of Gaza are only deprived. The left holds that the root cause of terrorism is deprivation. On the other hand those who fight terrorists are depraved, because they kill them, instead of giving them what they want and ending their deprivation.
The same model was commonly used by liberals for domestic crime. Criminals were deprived. Their victims were depraved. The robber, the rapist and the murderer became heroes, fighting against oppression. Their victims were the oppressors, no matter whether they were bank tellers, college students or just random passerby. By not being deprived, they were automatically found guilty of being depraved. And even if their liberal credentials were in order, the liberal credentials of the deprived were always better.
To the left, everyone who is not deprived, is automatically depraved. Unless they are "part of the solution" and working on behalf of the deprived. To be neither deprived, nor an activist on their behalf, means that you are depraved. And if you are depraved, then you are fair game for the deprived. You can be killed at will. Your life has no worth or value. And those who take it have no burden of guilt for their actions. Because they are deprivation, a state that extends to their free will.
Violence among the deprived is held to be a natural response to that deprivation. A response that, as in Wright's Native Son, they have no real control or discretion over. They are driven to lash out at the entire system. And anyone who is held to be privileged is automatically a valid target, even women and children, all part of a faceless privileged mass. Denoted not by their own individuality, but their membership in a class or a race, by the inherent privilege of being born who they are. Born to be killed by any group the left designates as properly deprived.
The left reverse engineers justification for violence by working backward from the violence itself. Thus Islamophobia came into popular use after 9/11. Osama bin Laden's original declaration of war against America because of the presence of infidel troops on holy soil is largely ignored by the left, because its religious formulation lacks the oppressor/oppressed narrative that they crave. Instead they zero in on later videotaped condemnations of America and Israel, in which Bin Laden helpfully gives the left what they want, even to the point of referencing Michael Moore documentaries.
If you hold that the world is forever caught in the grip of a conflict between the deprived and the depraved, the ones who have nothing and the ones who have more than their share, then all is justified in an apocalyptic conflict that is all black and white, with no shades of gray. Global Warming even provides a mythical apocalypse, in which the greed of the depraved will destroy the planet, drowning the poor countries, while the rich retreat to mountaintops and eat crepes, and laugh at them.
The Global Warming apocalypse serves as a replacement for the previous mythological apocalypse, the uprising of the oppressed that would drown the world in blood, as foreseen by virtually every Communist and Socialist thinker in the 19th and 20th centuries. The uprising never happened. Increased productivity and open economies spread wealth far more effectively than Socialism and Communism, which instead took productivity out of the system, and placed a dwindling amount of wealth into a smaller number of hands. While free enterprise built up the middle-class, ending the artificial oppressor-oppressed paradigm, socialism turned the clock back to before the dawn of the industrial revolution, destroying the manufacturing sector and reverting Western countries to service economies with huge gaps between the rich and the poor.
But the left has outsourced class warfare. In the absence of street riots, Islamic terrorism has become their new symptom of the uprising of the oppressed. And their prescription has remained the same. Their position that the only way to end the conflict is through a system of wealth redistribution. It's not enough to have opportunities, or to point out that individual creativity and effort is what allows the deprived to become well off. Instead there must be a system that eliminates the depraved once and for all, the greedy profiteers and parasites, creating some form of economic homeostasis in which everyone has everything they need, or in actuality making it so that everyone is deprived.
By shifting the focus of morality from deeds, to social context, the left licenses itself to commit any crimes it chooses. It is always in the right, because it is always the champion of the deprived. No matters what atrocities it commits, it is doing so as part of a fundamental struggle that transcends morality. A struggle that renders right and wrong, good and evil, irrelevant. A struggle that defines anyone outside their own ranks as fair game for any and all attacks. Such a framework is convenient if you want absolute power and want complete freedom of action to get it.
Consider W.H. Auden's invocation of "The consious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder." Or Bertolt Brecht's "And treat with contempt those Who turned up with clean hands". Trotsky declaring that "morality is a function of the class struggle". Or Lenin proclaiming that "morality is whatever is in the interests of the proletariat." This allowed him to state, "We have never rejected terror on principle, nor can we do so." Because the only principle that counted was that of the interests of the proletariat. And once the interests of the proletariat were identified with those of Lenin and the Bolsheviks-- morality was defined by whatever allowed them to come to power.
So too the depraved-deprived formulation justifies anything that the left needs to do in order to come to power. Lie, cheat, steal, murder and even genocide. Nothing can be wrong when your only moral test is whether a given act will help you achieve power. That is why the left justifies crimes and terrorism. Because they are not in conflict with their morality. Only with the "bourgeois morality" of the ordinary American. Who doesn't matter anyway. Because his commitment to morality and nations labels him one of the depraved. One of those who must be swept aside for the left to come into its own kingdom. Like that of the Soviet Union and North Korea, to build their own kingdom of the deprived in every nation in the free world.