September 14, 2021 Reading Time: 13 minutes

It is very easy to say that we have been and are living in unprecedented times in 2020 and 2021. We have experienced a global pandemic, with government-imposed and mandated lockdowns and shutdowns of much of America’s and the world’s economic activities and social interactions, as well as with governmental debts that cumulatively are almost equal to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Other than the economic impact of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the disruption of peaceful international association and interaction during the war years of the 1940s, there is little that can be compared to what many people have lived through over the last year and a half, in terms of disruption of everyday, daily life.

Just when the United States seemed to be coming out of the woods with a freeing up of more parts of the economy from heavy-handed government restrictions, resulting in restored employments, rising outputs, and the “unmasking” of America, the Joe Biden administration is determined to impose an agenda of expanded domestic collectivism over the country that can only be compared with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs of the 1960s. Biden has proposed an unprecedented $6 trillion federal budget for the 2022 fiscal year.

But besides these trillions of dollars of spending, much of it funded by more government borrowing that will add to the national debt, there is the intention of imposing a Green New Deal on the economy that will result in a fascist form of central planning in the United States. The promise of more and higher taxes will, if implemented, threaten private-sector savings and investment on which longer-term economic growth and rising standards of living depend. Matching this drive for a fascist-style planned economy and fiscal socialism, there is an ideological presumption underlying the intellectual case for these policies that has never, in living memory, been more clearly anti-individualist, anti-capitalist, and anti-liberal.

Denying America’s founding in liberty

The 1619 Project, which was sponsored and originally published by the New York Times, insists that America was founded on the reality of slavery with the arrival of the first Africans brought that year in chains to Virginia. But more than that, it is asserted that “racism” has been the political, cultural, and economic foundation of “America” through all of its history. This has been reinforced with a push for the introduction of a “systemic racism” curriculum in government schools across the nation that from kindergarten through high school would attempt to indoctrinate the next generations on the inherent and inescapable “evilness” of America due to its racist past and its equally racist present.

This includes the assertion that the Declaration of Independence of 1776 is neither a milestone in the country’s history nor really means anything other than as a “smokescreen” to hide the reality of race hatred on the part of many, indeed, nearly all white people against “people of color.” Furthermore, not only is the history of the United States all “fake news” because it denies the country’s racist origin and nature, even science and mathematics are prejudiced impositions of “white culture” to deny the existence of alternative ways of thinking and understanding reality. Hence, some of these proponents have declared that to say that 2 + 2 = 4 is a white racist tool to oppress non-white peoples for purposes of continued Caucasian control of humanity.

The identity politics warriors insist that each of us should be viewed and judged not as an individual but as an inseparable member of a racial or gender group. The older Marxian collectivists argued that each person is inescapably defined by and interconnected with a “social class” based on ownership or non-ownership of the physical means of production, which was all part of a historically determined “class war,” the outcome of which, by “scientific necessity,” would lead to the triumph of socialism over capitalism as the transition to a future post-scarcity communism.

Social reality is based on skin color

The new race and gender “progressive” collectivists, who are an outgrowth of their Marxist ideological ancestors, offer no utopian ending to their version of the basis of historical and contemporary social conflict. Their notion of “equity” has little or nothing to do with the idea of equality of individual rights before the law. Instead, equity refers to the continuously planned and enforced distribution of employments in professions, occupations, and any other category of work, on the basis of race and gender proportions of people in these classifications as statistical percentages of the overall local, regional, and national populations.

Furthermore, due to the legacy of hundreds of years of past racial and gender discrimination, oppression, and exploitation by “whites” against all “people of color” everywhere in the world, “whites” must pay reparations and have reduced employment quotas to compensate for the centuries of slavery and segregation and other overt and covert bias and abuse.

Only after some indefinite time in a distant future — when “whites” will have consciously accepted their sins against the rest of humanity, and after other racial and gender collective groups will be judged to have been justly compensated and made up for lost benefits of the life that would have been theirs if not for “white” immorality — will “whites” themselves be eligible for their demographically “equitable” share of employments and income.

The “good society” of the future would be based on perpetual tribal identifiers of imposed and guaranteed race and gender proportionalities in, seemingly, every corner of life. Since one can never be sure that inherent “white” (genetic?) tendencies for racist ideas and attitudes may not reassert themselves, “eternal vigilance” may be called for to prevent the reemergence of the evils of the past. Hence, every new generation of whites will have to be educated and reeducated about their inherent racism.

Does this sound like unreasonable and extreme extrapolations from current identity politics and “systemic racism” theory? Let me suggest that I have drawn this possible conclusion from nothing more than the pattern of previous totalitarian ideologies and regimes that are the earlier manifestations of the same collectivist mindset. And have no doubt about it, the identity politics warriors and the systemic racism theorists are totalitarian in their worldview.

We see it in the insistence that some speech is inherently “hurtful” and “harmful” to those people or their descendants who have been the victims of “white” oppression and prejudices, past and present. How people may interact and associate, and what words and phrases may be used in conversation and in written communication, are to be dictated to assure “equity” in word and deed everywhere for everyone in society. Thought control and thought crimes are all part of the totalitarian worldview and mindset.

Identity politics in the Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union, starting in the 1920s, educational and employment quotas were established on the basis of people’s “class” classification and status. That is, was someone a member of the “working class,” or the “peasant class,” or the “intellectual class,” or among the former capitalist “exploiting class?” Under Stalin, added to these “class” categories came nationality or ethnicity classifications determining one’s life and fate. So many quotas for Russians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Kazakhs, Ukrainians, Turkmens, and so forth, including Jews.

Everyone in the Soviet Union had an “internal passport” issued to every citizen of the socialist paradise that listed his date and place of birth, the names of his mother and father, and, on “line five,” a person’s nationality. This followed a person for the remainder of his life, determining the type and level of schooling, the work that person could and would follow, where he was to live in the country, including the specific apartment and amount of space to be assigned to a member of that “class.” Those who were Communist Party members, of course, had special privileges and favors that others in the society could not even dream of.

To be classified not only as an “enemy of the people” but as a “child of an enemy of the people” guaranteed a lifelong social status as a pariah in the socialist workers’ state. Such a person, obviously, could never hope for acceptance into the Communist Party and therefore access to special apartment complexes, special food and clothing stores, special health clinics, and special places for rest and recreation. That is, they faced a closed door to any ability to have the perks designated for those most devoted and dedicated to fighting for the achievement of socialism in a world of capitalist enemies and domestic counterrevolutionary agents.

Racial purity and hierarchy

In Nazi Germany, the ideology of National Socialism defined everything and everyone in society based on racial purity and race hierarchy. The Germans were the genetically superior “race” among all the “races” of the world. They were the pinnacle of the “Aryan” race (above Swedes, Norwegians, or the British) and heads above the French, the Spanish, the Italians, the Greeks, or any of the Slavic peoples. Further down were the Asiatic peoples, the Arabs, and black Africans, with the lowest of the low being those designated and defined as “Jews.”

The Jews were in numbers a small minority out of the world population, but in Nazi mythology, they were everywhere despoiling the German people, and many others, by “race “defilement” through interracial mixing of bloods due to their seduction of Aryan men and women into “degenerate” sexual relationships that “poisoned” the German gene pool.

The Jews were “rootless” people, moving about throughout the world undermining older and “purer” races and cultures. They manipulated markets and weakened traditional society by way of capitalist conniving and exploitation of workers and by monopolizing professions and industries for their own greedy profit-making. Their other technique of societal debasement and destruction was “Bolshevism.” The Jews were the masterminds of the world communist conspiracy to destroy “civilization” and to enslave the rest of humanity for their nefarious and evil purposes.

Blending Marxism and Nazism

Identity politics and systemic racism theory are a peculiar blend of Marxian presumptions and National Socialist premises. Society is divided into two opposing groups in society: the capitalists who exploit and oppress people for their own ill-gotten gains and those who are their victims. These victims are denied a “living wage” and are locked out of educational and employment opportunities reserved for a ruling “elite” that panders to the lowest interests of common people in order to earn their profits and keep others ignorant of what is being done to them. This elite “starves” society of the taxes and technologies that could “save the planet” from pollution and “global warming,” which threaten all life on planet Earth.

But who are these “capitalists” who are out to ruin the world in pursuit of their short-run and selfish interests? They are not simply the monopoly owners of the physical means of production, as traditional Marxism laid out in its “social class” analysis of the scheme of things. No, these capitalists are not only white male misogynists who hate and revile women but also racists who detest and look down on all non-white peoples.

But it is not only white male capitalists who are “the enemies of all people of color;” the racist mindset permeates all white people. Marxists had argued that an essential way for the capitalist class to preserve its position of power was by inculcating a “false consciousness” among the other members of society. They did so though their monopolization of the press, though the educational establishments, and through religion, which they declared to be the “opium of the people” to dull their desire for a better world in the here and now by promising eternal bliss in another life if one was obedient and passive in this one. It was God’s will for man to suffer on Earth due to Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, so do not question the capitalist social order of things.

The “false consciousness” of capitalist society has also indoctrinated all white people to believe in and act on the presumption that they are superior to all other races around the world. For white capitalists to maintain their power, they have “privileged” all other white people with this belief and with the material reality of standards and qualities and opportunities of life denied, in general, to the non-whites of the world.

Reeducation and collective guilt

In the Soviet Union and all other communist countries, members of the former capitalist “ruling class” and their offspring needed to be “reeducated” and indoctrinated with a clear understanding of the evil and exploitive place and role they and their ancestors had played in society at the expense of everyone else. They also were to accept that they needed to atone for their oppressor sins and that of their fathers and grandfathers by working at more menial tasks and in less desirable places to make up for what had been done by members of their “social class” in the past.

Likewise, in contemporary America, all white people have to be reeducated to understand and accept the unjust and unjustifiable “privilege” they have had in society merely due to their being “white.” They all have been part of a ruling elite based on race that has burdened and abused all the other peoples of the world. They must be freed of their “false consciousness,” through an imposition of school curriculums across all subject matters that hammers away and “raises the consciousness” of white people to see their sin and to bow before “people of color” and beg their forgiveness. And to accept that it is right and just for them to be taxed to make up for prior benefits they did not deserve. It is only right that their place in society be reduced with larger employment and educational quotas for others to make up for the status and wealth positions that never should have been theirs to begin with.

Class and race enemies

The Nazis drew attention to the fact of how the small Jewish minority among the whole human race had managed through its perverse racial cunning to gain such power and privilege over others. There was a de facto rule by a minority over the majority of Germans and other “Aryan” groups who were racially far above the Jewish “vermin.” The identity politics and systemic racism theorists of this “progressive” neo-Nazism highlight that this small minority of white people, not even 20 percent of the world population of nearly 7.8 billion human beings, has used its particular political, technological, and other institutional tools to dominate and oppress all the other peoples of the world for a good part of the last 500 years.

Just as the Nazis said that the Jews were a small but no less dangerous alien and parasitic element in German and world society, so, now, the identity politics and systemic racism advocates insist that the globally small “white” population has ravaged the rest of the people of the world through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, “capitalism,” and manipulative privileges wherever they have established their power and control. They need to be excised from all positions of power, control, and influence.

Soviets insisted on the removal and razing of all symbols and monuments of the “old order;” that is, any physical or cultural residues of the capitalist oppressors. Buildings and statues were torn down; churches were stripped and made into storage facilities; streets were renamed; the homes of former capitalists and aristocrats were transformed into collective apartments for many families, rather than one “privileged” family; words and phrases reminiscent of the capitalist past were to be erased from the face of the earth. A new and better world needed to eliminate all traces of what was and had gone before.

The Nazis did the same with all symbols and representations of the presence of “the Jew” that had lived among the German people. Synagogues were burned or torn down; Jewish cemeteries were defiled and dug up; books and art by Jewish authors or artists were destroyed; Jewish neighborhoods were “cleansed” of their past. Nothing “Jewish” was to remain in the racially pure and beautiful National Socialist Germany that was to last at least one thousand years.

Cancel culture comes to America

What do we see with the arrival of “cancel culture” in America and some parts of Europe? Not only are the statues or buildings named after those directly connected with slavery or the slave trade of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries to be torn down, removed, or renamed. This applies as well to almost any person and symbol of the past that, even indirectly, can be shown in some way to be connected to or identified with racism and racially conscious attitudes considered by the cancel culturalists as being tainted by this evil of the past.

If statues of nineteenth-century abolitionists or even that of Frederick Douglass are toppled and damaged or destroyed in the process, well, these are unfortunate “excesses of the revolution,” all forgivable actions and episodes in the war on and removal of “white privilege” that burdens modern American society. Such “excesses” by ideologically driven and ignorant mobs were also excused under Marxist regimes and in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied areas of Europe as merely unfortunate instances in the making of, respectively, the new Soviet socialist working-class society or the National Socialist pure Aryan racial community.

A grave danger to liberty

Identity politics, systemic racism theory, and the accompanying cancel culture represent an extremely dangerous threat to the very ideas of liberty and individualism upon which the classical-liberal free society is based. It is a return to the most primitive of collectivisms, the classifying of human beings by the accident of birth as identified by the color of their skin. This becomes the meaning and essence of who and what you are.

The Nazis insisted that “it’s in the blood;” that is, your racial characteristics dictated and determined your status and relationship to all others around you. You can change your way of thinking, you can learn a new way of earning a living, you can practice other cultural patterns of eating, dressing, or speaking. But how do you change the pigmentation of your skin or the biological ancestry from whence you came?

It is for good reason that Ayn Rand explained and warned, “Racism is the lowest, and most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is a notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage — the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.”

And as Rand continued, “Racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.”

In other words, the identity politics warriors and the systemic racism theorists are the new racists. In this, they are totally and truly the antithesis of the idea and ideals upon which America was founded — not in 1619 with the arrival of the first slaves from Africa but in the words and vision expressed in the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. Human beings are not divided into nobleman and serf; not into master and servant; not into governmental ruler and obedient political subject.

We are, each and every one of us, a distinct and unique individual human being. We have certain inherent and unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as individuals, not as ethnic tribes or racial groups. Yes, in the aftermath of the American Revolution, some statues of King George III were torn down, and some British loyalists were hounded and threatened into leaving the then-independent 13 states.

But the new America that was founded on liberty and respect for personal property under the principle of free association was about building up, not tearing down. It was a place that became a haven for those desiring to breathe free, to have a new start and a second chance, away from the hardship and closed doors of the “old country.”

Yes, slavery existed and persisted in the Southern states for nearly 90 years after the new country was born, but slavery was gone in all of the other states and in the Northwest territory by the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The great debate and division in the country for those nine decades was about one question: Is America a land of liberty or a nation in bondage? After a tragic Civil War costing the lives of hundreds of thousands, the answer was that freedom and not coerced labor and servitude was to prevail.

It has been a long additional 150 years of overcoming the legacies and residues of racial prejudice and bigotry and lingering cruelty. But America is not the racist or race-discriminating country of 100 years ago, or 75 years ago, or even 50 years ago. The new Marxo-Nazism of identity politics and systemic racism theory, however, would turn back the clock and return us to a time and type of society that America and Americans have worked so hard to place in the past of human history.

We need to do all in our power to prevent this tribal counterrevolution against individualism and liberty from fully happening — before it is too late.

Reprinted from the Future of Freedom Foundation

Richard M. Ebeling

Richard M. Ebeling

Richard M. Ebeling, an AIER Senior Fellow, is the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ebeling lived on AIER’s campus from 2008 to 2009.

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