Capitalism Versus Racism
posted at 10:53 pm on August 20, 2009 by Doctor Zero
The political atmosphere crackles with charges of racism. President Obama’s functionaries and allies make dark insinuations about the racial motives behind all opposition to his agenda. Tea party protests against Big Government are portrayed as thinly veiled Klan rallies. The boycott of Glenn Beck’s TV show is based on the idea that calling a black liberal Democrat racist is, itself, an act of indefensible racism. The hilariously incompetent and biased MSNBC network was so desperate to portray town hall protesters as racists that it framed the image of a black man holding a rifle to obscure his face, then tried to pass him off as an armed white supremacist.
It’s not surprising to see desperate Democrats throw gasoline on America’s simmering racial fires, in a last-ditch effort to reverse their political fortunes. The Left believes debates are won when the other side is silenced, not when those listening to the debate are persuaded. Charges of racism would not be one of their preferred weapons, if a climate of tension didn’t exist to make them effective. Racism consistently ranks near the top of issues Americans say they are concerned about. Reducing racial tensions will require building a society that is the exact opposite of the one Barack Obama favors. No system of politics and economics is more hostile to racism than classical liberalism combined with free-market capitalism… and none provides a more fertile breeding ground for tension between races, sexes, religions, and other groups than big-government socialism.
In a capitalist society, racism is both morally offensive and stupid. People might harbor some prejudices in their minds – and really, how many of us can say we go through our whole lives without having a single racist thought? However, overt expressions of racism are foolish, because they are detrimental to the success of both individuals and companies. It makes no sense to deprive your company of skilled employees by discriminating against their skin color, or drive off large numbers of prospective customers by insulting them. It’s equally stupid for an individual to pass up career opportunities, or forfeit the ability to collaborate with talented peers, due to blind prejudice. Over time, those who persist in such foolishness will inevitably fall behind those who rise above it.
Legendary economist Thomas Sowell has written extensively about the pressures free markets bring to bear against discrimination, even in the absence of legal penalties for such behavior. Of course, no system is perfect, and the sun will never rise on a world that doesn’t include a few blockheads scowling at each other for petty, superficial reasons… but we can aspire to build a world where the pursuit of excellence helps the human heart escape the undertow of ancient hatreds. A great nation does not require the absence of unjust men… only their irrelevance.
By contrast, while racism is still a moral outrage in a socialist society, it is not stupid. Collectivist systems reward tribal groups for maintaining their solidarity, and working as a bloc to exert pressure on the State, in exchange for rewards. Racial animosity is a brutally effective technique for maintaining solidarity – it has been proven across all the bloody centuries of human civilization. In an economy controlled by the State, the ability to deliver packages of votes, or arrange political pressure through organized demonstrations, is incredibly valuable. Barack Obama spent years baking in the furnace of Jeremiah Wright’s racial hatred because it gave him vital political power in Chicago. His presence in that church, and the financial support he offered it, were morally reprehensible… but not pointless.
The racial theories of the Left state that members of preferred minority groups are immune to charges of racism, due to prior oppression. They are indulged in behaviors that would be considered totally unacceptable for less favored ethnic groups. Those behaviors allow them to organize, and maintain group discipline, far more effectively. The Democrat Party requires over eighty per cent of the black vote for its political survival. It ensures that kind of loyalty through political activities in churches, vicious insults directed at “inauthentic” blacks, and the maintenance of explicitly racial organizations like the NAACP. All of those techniques would be greeted as unspeakable hate crimes by liberals, if whites practiced them. No one should want to practice them. We should be more interested in national associations for the advancement of everyone… or, more to the point, anyone.
The liberal would say that concessions to preferred minority groups are necessary, to compensate for past discrimination. In the shadow of the total State, those concessions will drag on forever, because they bring too much power to those who provide them. Retributive “social justice” for the sins of the 50s and 60s is one thing “progressives” will never progress beyond. Like tobacco, state-sanctioned discrimination is too useful to be outlawed by Big Government, no matter how poisonous it is. We can only honor the ideal of a just and color-blind society by accepting it in total. The proposition that “all men are created equal” is not improved by appending a list of exceptions and qualifications.
Fortunately, we do not require the blessing of high-powered politicians to set aside our country’s racial obsessions and grievances. That’s the point. We can only achieve freedom and equality by changing the government, not by sitting around and waiting for it to change us. The Left would have us believe the goal of social justice requires us to cleanse every prejudiced thought from every human mind, and since that goal is impossible, their demand for power to pursue it will be endless. I believe there is no better way to conquer ignorance and resentment than to build a climate of prosperity and opportunity, where people of all backgrounds can join in the constructive pursuit of a better life. It’s not a perfect, magical, universal antidote to prejudice – nothing is, and anyone who tells you otherwise is playing you for a fool. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to be good enough to whet our appetite for making it even better.
If there’s one positive attribute of humanity I’ve never lost any faith in, it’s the ability to discard useless things. The best way to make blind hatred seem useless to the vast majority of people is to make it senseless. That will never happen in a socialist nation, because tribalism is not senseless for people who depend on the favor of the State for prosperity, or even subsistence. One need only look at Europe to see how much ugly, murderous hatred bubbles in the state-subsidized cauldron of a permanent welfare underclass. The rise of the super-state has already divided Americans into too many warring factions…. and now the Left wants to give the State the power to dispense health care, throwing one more haunch of meat into the pit for the peasants to fight over.
Socialists like to taunt capitalists by saying the only color they care about is green. Hallelujah, and amen.