How liberalism bans every type of discrimination, except for discrimination against non-liberals

Paul K. pointed out to me in an e-mail the other evening that my earliest statement of the Tripartite Structure of Liberal Society, a.k.a. the Three-Character Liberal Script, does not date from 2008, as I had previously thought, but from a series of comments in a December 2002 thread, “Education and the antidiscrimination principle.” The initial entry was by Jim Kalb, who wrote:

At one time people thought it was common sense to distinguish between a Connecticut Yankee and a Southern black and expect very different things of them. Today that kind of distinction is thought outrageous, but people still differentiate a Harvard graduate from a high school graduate who just got out of the Marines. The change is not due to an advance in morality but to a change in social ideal and to some extent social organization. Instead of accepting as proper the influence of culture, history and personal connections people today are inclined to view only technology as rational and legitimate.

Mr. Kalb’s idea that discrimination was no longer based on such things as race and background but on such things as whether you were a Harvard graduate or a high school graduate and a Marine—which really meant, on how liberal you were—got me thinking, and I posted this comment (the below comments are being shown in their original font):

To restate what Mr. Kalb has said here: Natural, cultural, and moral differences between human beings do not matter, and so no discrimination can be based on them. The only difference between human beings that does matter and that can serve as a basis of discrimination between them is the degree to which they have been integrated into the liberal system. That’s why such a high priority is placed on education, even as the schools teach less and less of substance. The more years of schooling people have had, the more liberal—i.e., the more abstracted from their background and from the natural and transcendent order of existence—they will be.

Viewed in this light, it turns out that liberals do not judge people by a double standard, but by a single standard: the standard of liberalism itself.

True, liberals don’t judge blacks, Muslims, and other minorities by this standard. But that’s because the minorities serve a distinct function within the liberal system. The minorities’ function is not to practice liberal non-discrimination, but to serve as the objects upon whom liberal non-discrimination is practiced.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 22, 2002 12:12 PM

I continued:

To expand on what I said, this is why, under the liberal order, minorities are not expected to assimilate and indeed must not assimilate. Since substantive differences have been bred out of the whites through the process of education and liberalization, there are not enough substantive differences among the whites for the whites to serve as objects for the practice of non-discrimination. People who still have REAL substantive differences are needed. Non-Westernized minorities are the only people left who fit the bill. Liberal society thus requires the presence of unassimilated (or, better yet, unassimilable) minorities in order to have people around whose undeniable substantive differences can be denied, and upon whom liberal non-discrimination can be practiced. Non-assimilated (and thus non-liberal) minorities are essential to the functioning of the liberal system.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 22, 2002 12:58 PM

And finally a third comment, where I suggested in outline the “three character liberal script” (see the bolded sentence), though I didn’t yet call it that:

What has been said above could be boiled down to a paradigm of liberal society.

Liberal society denies the existence and/or importance of substantive human differences, and forbids acts of discrimination based on them. It comprehensively trains its citizens to be non-discriminatory, with the result that the only legitimate basis of discrimination among them is how non-discriminatory they are. However, in being reconstructed according to this single standard of non-discrimination, the members of liberal society becomes ever-more homogeneous, with their respective regional, ethnic, cultural, and moral differences being progressively leached out. As a result, the liberal citizens can no longer serve as objects of the non-discrimination that is the very purpose and function of liberal society. A steady infusion of non-liberal, non-assimilated people is needed. We thus arrive at our present system of mass nonwhite immigration, multiculturalism, racial preferences for minorities, the symbolic celebration of minorities, the covering up of black-on-white violence, and antiracism crusades directed exclusively at whites. Under this system, whites practice assiduous non-discrimination toward the unassimilated, alien, or criminal behavior of racial minorities, while practicing the most assiduous discrimination against their fellow whites for the slightest failure to be non-discriminatory. This is the system that conservatives variously describe as “political correctness” or the “double standard.” However, from the point of view of the functioning of the liberal order itself, what conservatives call the double standard is not a double standard at all, but a fundamental and necessary articulation of the society into the “non-discriminators” and the “non-discriminated against”—an articulation upon which the very legitimacy and existence of the liberal society depends.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 22, 2002 2:43 PM

I would add that this was not the only time that an original insight of Jim Kalb’s, uttered almost on the fly, triggered a thought process in me that led ultimately to the construction of a theory. That’s also the way the Unprincipled Exception was born, as I explained in an April 2004 comment.

- end of initial entry -

James P. writes:

You wrote,

“liberals do not judge people by a double standard, but by a single standard: the standard of liberalism itself. True, liberals don’t judge blacks, Muslims, and other minorities by this standard.”

In a sense, they do. Blacks and women who are non-liberal are scorned as “inauthentic” (and even as traitors) to their race or gender. In the liberal worldview, “real” blacks and women are always liberal. As for Muslims, in the liberal view, genuine Muslims are liberal, and “bad” Muslims (who do not meet the standards of liberalism) are “extremists” or (the ultimate crime) “conservative.” Obviously, many Republicans accept this liberal view of Islam.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 05, 2012 09:23 AM | Send

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