I recently dubbed “great” the it-word of the day. That proclamation served my thoughts of that moment, but does short shrift to the tomes worth of other it-words and phrases that relentlessly assault our eyes and ears in these modern, turbulent times. One that, I fear, will not be relegated to history any time soon is “systemic.”

I’ve written many words, on this blog and elsewhere, about the current culture wars, including wokeness, social justice, Critical Race Theory, political correctness (a phrase that’s almost quaint at this point) and the like. Their proponents, acolytes, warriors, and apologists have all grown to love ‘systemic,’ and often use it in either tautological or self-affirming ways.

Call a problem “systemic” and you sell past the close; you tell the audience that it’s well beyond the normal remedy discussions. You take it from the realm of the individual to something that’s even beyond pervasive. A systemic problem actually ignores the individual, and those who proclaim systemic this and that tell us that even the good folks who have no element of Problem_01 in their actions nevertheless perpetuate that problem unless they’re actively counterweighting it.

This offends the un-woke, who believe in judging people by the content of their character, and foments discord and strife. I believe that this is deliberate, but today I want to consider a different aspect of this – the mindset that produces the “structural” view of things.

It is a mindset that aligns perfectly with the premise of identity politics. Both put no stock in the individual, and instead reduce individuals to representatives of their identity groups. Your value as a member of society is based on your race, gender, ethnicity, and so forth, and that’s where it ends. If your thoughts and deeds conform to the expectation for your group, you are a good contributor to society. If they don’t, you are a problem, no matter that you are a member of a society premised on the supremacy of the individual and structured around individual rights.

So it goes with “systemic.” While each specific example purports to address a particularly injust “structure” – one whose existence is typically “proven” by pointing out disparate outcomes (e.g. a town that’s ‘too white’ is proof that it set up zoning to make it so) – the word serves a broader purpose. It removes the individual from the equation. The individual then has a harder time protesting innocence, no matter how legitimate the protest. If you’re not working to balance the scales as they tell you they should be balanced, none of your lack of personal bias or bigotry matters.

The mindset that produces all this is a collectivist one. It sees the population as a single hive, rather than several hundred million individuals, and granulizes that hive by various discriminators that serves its goals.

Once again, and I’ve heard those “you see socialism under every rock” rejoinders, the conclusion is obvious. The people who think up this stuff are not people with whom any lover of liberty can find any common ground. That they’ve failed to advance the very real and tangible reforms that would improve police-minority relations, and instead persist on “grand-scheme” things like CRT, tells us even more about the impossibility of common ground.

Meanwhile, the real “systemic” racism goes unresolved. The laws that turn cops into revenue agents filling public coffers remain unchanged. “Policing for profit” is a political problem, not a law enforcement one. The failures of inner city public education are colossal, despite vast amounts of money being poured into the systems. The culprits? The progressive politicians who love to scream about others’ racism.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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