Inclusiveness and power

A common Leftist claim is that established moral principles serve the interests of the ruling classes. Oddly, the claim isn’t applied to moral principles of which the Left approves. In particular, it is not applied to a principle that in spite of its novelty seems to outrank all others today, the principle that “discrimination” is evil and must be rooted out wherever found.

That’s unfortunate, because it’s clear that antidiscrimination rules serve the managerial liberal state. They do so by destroying social authorities other than those based on the principles of liberalism — money, markets and bureaucratic social management. Every institution and authority is based on distinctions of some sort. The function of “inclusiveness” and “tolerance” is not to change the importance of such things. Rather, it is to abolish all distinctions other than the ones liberalism makes, those based on bureaucratic position and wealth, and thus eliminate all possible competitors to liberal rule.

Rules against religious and ethnic discrimination make the standards of every particular cultureineffectual, since to respect the latter is to favor one culture and therefore one group over another. As a consequence, only technical, financial, and bureaucratic criteria can be applied. You can insist that new employees be high school graduates and attend diversity training, since those things are integrated with the liberal state, but not that they be churchgoers. The latter approach might get you better employees who work more happily together, but allowing you to use it would reduce the significance of liberal educators and increase that of religious communities. It follows that it cannot be tolerated.

Antidiscrimination rules that relate to sex carry the process farther. Where the rules forbidding religious and ethnic discrimination abolish culture and belief as principles of human organization, the rules on sex discrimination abolish nature. The relation between man and woman, the basis of all previous societies, becomes a matter of contract and bureaucratically-determined transfer payments, and so is forced to comply with the liberal scheme of things. If the consequence is family breakdown that’s all to the good: “family breakdown” means that individuals do as they choose and rely on the state bureaucracy and market to discipline and take care of them. Isn’t that what the advanced liberal state is all about?

The consequence, in the end, is to make the managerial liberal state unchallengable. The only permissible public loyalty is loyalty to the constantly expanding principle of liberal equality. No alternative is possible, since settled particular loyalties invariably have some local or ethnic connection. If you speak of the Old South blacks don’t like it, the Old West is offensive to Indians and Mexicans, and Old New England can’t mean much to new immigrants from Somalia. Authority based on history is abolished, and replaced wholly by the liberal state and the market.

Complaint is impossible. To go against liberalism would involve acceptance of inequality and therefore discriminatory treatment of some group. Any objection to the ever-expanding power of the liberal state becomes advocacy of discrimination and so a kind of hate speech. Serious political discussion therefore becomes impossible, and the position of the powers that be unassailable.
Posted by Jim Kalb at December 19, 2002 11:19 AM | Send

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