Thursday, March 24, 2016

If I Am Canaille, You Ought to Be So, Too

A cause-creating drive is powerful within him; someone must be to blame for his feeling vile. His “righteous indignation” itself already does him good; every poor devil finds pleasure in scolding – it gives him a little of the intoxication of power. Even complaining and wailing can give life a charm for the sake of which one endures it: there is a small dose of revenge in every complaint, one reproaches those who are different for one’s feeling vile, sometimes even with one’s being vile, as if they had perpetrated an injustice or possessed an impermissible privilege. “If I am canaille, you ought to be so, too”: on the basis of this logic, one makes revolutions. Complaining is never of any use, it comes from weakness. Whether one attributes one’s feeling vile to others or to oneself – the socialist does the former, the Christian for example does the latter – makes no essential difference. What is common to both, and unworthy in both, is that someone has to be to blame for the fact that one suffers – in short, that the sufferer prescribes for himself the honey of revenge as a medicine for his suffering.

— Nietzsche

Progressives used to insist that all their talk of "privilege" was not meant to be accusatory, merely descriptive. In the real world, however, it should be obvious that a world without privilege would be a world without a past, a world in which reputation and trust count for nothing, a world in which some all-powerful centralized authority relentlessly enforces a Procrustean equality. This is the stuff of dystopian nightmares. The only thing you can possibly offer in defense of its proponents is that they are too naive and stupid to really understand what it is they're calling for. In practice, then, this monomaniacal obsession with ranking people and groups by degrees of privilege, rather than elevating those at the bottom of the hierarchy, would necessarily end up expressing itself through the attempt to tear down anyone perceived to have too much of it. In practice, you can't even conceptualize how to make everyone equally successful and contented, but you can come close to making them equally miserable.

And so we find this article in a popular leftish tabloid, in which the author can barely contain her resentful glee over the misfortune of an American college student sentenced to years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp. This allows her to imagine a blow being struck against the phantom of white privilege that haunts her every waking moment. In the real world, however, the suffering is borne by individuals, not abstract concepts or statistical aggregates. The arrears here are metaphysical, and even a billion more Otto Warmbiers couldn't reduce them to the satisfaction of the fanatics who have been seduced by an ahistorical fantasy of statistical equality.

These people are intellectually diseased.