The tripartite structure of liberalism

The other day I happened upon a March 2008 VFR discussion, “Are racial differences in IQ explained by cultural stereotypes?” It is very interesting and I recommend it. But it also contains a passing comment that may be my earliest articulation of the idea of the tripartite structure of liberalism—of the three groups that are needed for liberal society to function.

The entry began with my question,

Has anyone noticed the irony that most of the people who argue that there are no inherent differences in intelligence between the races are left-wing Jews, who use their high intelligence to argue that everyone has the same intelligence?”

A reader then said,

The majority of blacks believe the U.S. government is using AIDS genocidally against them. Our schools dumb down deliberately to accommodate racial differences (which dare not be mentioned). On the other hand, those at the high end of the intellectual spectrum have done much to mire us in this racial quagmire. How does one make sense of this?

I then replied,

There’s truth to this. The people at the high end ally with the people at the low end to destroy the vast silent majority in the middle—the actual society.

What I’ve just described (and this goes beyond the question of the specifically Jewish role, though it includes it) in fact represents the essential structure of liberalism as it actually operates in society. Liberalism requires three groups in order to function. First, there is the liberal elite itself, the people who make liberalism happen. They demonstrate liberalism by preaching and practicing non-discrimination toward the Other, the minority, the less capable. Second, there are the Other and the less capable, upon whom the liberal elite practices its liberal virtue of non-discrimination. Without the Other, toward whom one practices non-discrimination, liberalism would die. Therefore liberalism requires an ever-renewed population of non-assimilated and unassimilable people. But a third group is also needed for liberalism to function, and that is the vast unenlightened majority whose backward morality is needed as a foil against which the elite demonstrates its morality and establishes its legitimacy and right to rule.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 26, 2011 10:20 AM | Send

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