The en-vogue social theory of modern times, when stripped of its various veneers, boils down to a simple concept: that there are oppressors and oppressed. Not individuals, mind you, but groups, aka classes, aka categories, aka “identities,” and our only relevance lies in the collective. It deliberately de-individualizes us, despite the unassailable reality that we are individuals, and makes us nothing more than representatives of our identities, with concomitant obligations to conformity.

This is presented to us as born of noble intent, of a purported desire to combat racism, sexism, and other bigotries. We might think that the irony that this “typing” of people by outward markers is the very definition of bigotry is lost on the proponents of this world view, but it’s not. They differentiate people just as the bigots they denounce do, but assert that advocating for preferential treatment of the purportedly oppressed is corrective and “just.” This is all, apparently, part of balancing some sort of cultural scales, no matter that the individuals they seek to subordinate are not the bigots and oppressors of yore (again, individuals don’t matter, nor does equality). Your identity markers, if they’re “wrong,” are tantamount to original sin. That they’re emulating a concept born of a religion they mock and denigrate is an unrecognized irony.

Earnest and well-intentioned proponents of this form of “social justice” face an insurmountable problem. The moment unequal treatment is normalized, the very premise of a free society ends. Once we accept that it’s proper to treat people differently based on their identity, the incentives all change, and society devolves to an unprincipled struggle for power. And, inevitably, oppression and the destruction of individual liberties ensue.

Why must this be? Why will this lead us down the bad path?

Because someone has to decide what the identities are, which are “oppressor” and which are “oppressed.” Because those definitions are both subjective and ever-changing. Why do they sort people into certain categories, but not others? Why not by height, or by physical attractiveness, or by financial status, or by IQ, or by nose/ear/belly size, all of which prompt discriminatory behavior?

They can, but they’ve chosen not to (yet), because the current categories better serve their ends. When those stop serving, they will highlight new divisions (and, indeed, they already have, labeling some formerly “oppressed” as “oppressors”).

All this creates an inevitable crab-mentality melee. Since there’s substantial personal benefit not only in being labeled oppressed, but in getting to decide what markers qualify one as oppressed, there’s substantial motivation to climb to the top of the oppression hierarchy, pull others down, and become the “deciders.”

This “decider” status is a position of power. Power to write or curate the news we see and read, the entertainment produced for our enjoyment, the rules of our workplaces, the norms and bounds of our social interactions, and so forth, all the way to the opinions that we are permitted to voice, the beliefs we are required to hold, and the words we must or must not speak.

The power angle is also part of the new definition of “racism.” You cannot be a racist, we are told, if you don’t occupy a position of societal power. Bigotry by members of an “oppressed” group is therefore not really bigotry, since they don’t have the power to inflict harm (yeah, sure. Tell that to someone on the receiving end of an identity-based physical attack. Being a member of an “oppressor class” doesn’t make someone else’s fist hurt any less when it hits your face).

Physical manifestations of bigotry aren’t the biggest issue, however. Instead, we have “cancel culture,” wherein a person’s economic or social existence is deliberately damaged as punishment for violating the rules handed down by the deciders. The latest in a long line of these is the canceling of actress Gina Carano because she expressed some heterodox opinions on social media.

That Pedro Pascal, the star of the show from which Carano was fired, remains employed despite the existence of similarly flavored tweets, is telling. Pascal, you see, trotted out Nazi comparisons from the ‘correct’ side of the aisle, while Carano aimed them at the social justice deciders themselves. That was her unforgivable sin, and it affirms where the true power lies.

By their own rules, because they have the power, these deciders are “oppressors.” That they are by and large society’s wealthiest (the majority of “progressive activists” are white, college educated, six-figure earners) bolsters that conclusion. We know that 2% of the US population produces about 80% of the political content on Twitter, and we’ve seen how Twitter drives political opinion, “cancellation,” and cultural norms. That 2% isn’t composed of working class folks grinding out double shifts to feed their families, of “Middle-America” seeking to live their lives as they wish, un-harassed by scolds, or of impoverished victims of discrimination. It’s by and large people of means and with the free time to devote to agitation, to seek out reasons for pique, to search for targets to scold, to monitor and deep-mine others’ public presences for useful cancellation material, and to voice ginned-up outrage over whatever they can contort into a basis for accusation. And, it’s awash in requirements for action, not simply quiet/sullen conformity. If you don’t act in a sufficiently anti-racist fashion, you’re a racist (and I’m sure some are having onanistic dreams about bringing China’s Social Credit System here). Yet, they’ll never admit that their power puts them in the ranks of those they decry.

The real oppressors in today’s society have encamped on the political Left. They’re not liberals, not in any traditional sense of the word. They’re authoritarians and autocrats, enemies of freedom and of our individual liberties, lacking in any morality or human compassion, and rejecting the very concept of the individual. They decide, figuratively and sometimes literally, who lives and who dies. They’re neo-Marxists, exploiting identity differences in lieu of economic ones. As the linked Reason article points out, they’ve no problem with imploding an actress’s career over a political opinion, but turn a blind eye to real suffering (e.g. the Uighurs in China) when doing so serves their ends. This suppression doesn’t only affect the Right, by the way. Fully half the employees of the New York Times, a self-selected and well-culled bastion of progressivism, feel they can’t voice opinions freely.

We are in the early stages of a Great Purge, where political foes are smashed, where unacceptable opinions are silenced, and where a large swathe of the population is being brought to heel. They’ve figured out how to do this despite the Constitutional protections for individual rights: the path is via culture rather than government, with government to catch up and codify, legally, what gets established culturally. Behaviors they now demand upon pain of cancellation will, if they continue to have their way, eventually be written into law. Our freedoms to express ourselves and to associate with whom we choose are being choked off by Big Tech (and it’s worth noting that the coup leaders in Myanmar shut down the Internet to stifle resistance and dissent). The party that has been subsumed the oppressors is running as much legislation and regulation as it can, unilaterally, and some of its members are salivating at the possibility of disarming us.

Does this sound hyperbolic?

Fact is, what we see today is born of the same Marxist philosophy that produced the murderous regimes of the 20th century. Whereas, last century, the wedge was economic (haves vs have-nots, proletariat vs bourgeoisie), this go-around the wedge is “identity,” i.e. rage, gender, orientation, ethnicity, and whatever other (increasingly granular) markers prove useful.

While the wedge is different, the outcome will be the same. Totalitarian regimes don’t arise despite the citizens’ desires. They are birthed by them, by those whose voices are the loudest, and which convince a majority that they’re on the correct side of justice and fairness. Any “justice” or “fairness” that requires inequality is, however, nothing of the sort. It’s merely a veneer for seeking power, and power, once possessed, will inevitably be wielded to keep the power, reward allies, and punish enemies. People who think everything is about power will have only one goal: getting more of it for themselves.

It’s already happening. The current administration’s actions to date are a blend of punishment (anything Trump did must be undone), cronyism (reward unions, throw money at blue states, write rules to favor core constituencies over everyone else), and power consolidation (HR1 is all about tipping the playing field in the Dems’ direction). A Ministry of Truth (not that they’d ever call it that) is being debated in Congress. The social justice landscape, which already owns popular culture (with attendant cancellations galore), has now infested Corporate America (“diversity” has metastasized beyond HR and into corporate boardrooms, and “canceling” people for wrongthink or wrongspeak is all the rage).

The true peril lies in insatiability. There’ll never be a moment of completion. We’ll never hear “Ok, we’ve fixed society.” Those who’ve accrued power will never call it a job well done and settle into a future of amity (and those among them who might will be denounced and defenestrated). Beasts such as this never stop eating, and some identities once deemed “oppressed” will be relabeled “oppressor” just to keep the divisiveness going. We already see this happening with women, whose interests and protections are being subordinated to and by trans-activists, and we will continue to see increased “stratification” in the grievance hierarchy. Groups will fracture, casting out the less “pure” among them. The powerful, the true oppressor class, will wield its power ever more overtly, bluntly, and destructively.

While it is unthinkable today that political dissidents be incarcerated, the speed with which society has changed warns us that it can happen more quickly than most of us dare to imagine. Were today’s woke-activists living in Soviet Russia, they’d be members of the Party, they’d be political officers, they’d be the ones informing the government on their neighbors. And, if they continue to succeed in accruing power, they may get their chance to do so here.

How do we resist all this? How do we turn ourselves away from this stampede towards the cliff?

It starts with each of us recognizing the threat.

Yesterday, I saw a defense Disney’s firing of Carano, a “they’re a private company, right? They can do what they want” mocking of the libertarian view of things and denial of cancel culture. This ignores our own right to criticize them, to apply our own form of social pressure, and to reject the trappings of “woke.” It also ignores the fact that canceling someone for having an opinion can constitute an aggression, an initiation of force, and could thus run afoul of the Non-Aggression Principle that libertarians espouse. It’s also a violation of, or perhaps more accurately a corruption of, the Social Contract that many talk about (or at least used to), and an apt time for George Costanza’s reminder:

We’re living in a society. We’re supposed to act in a civilized way.

Destroying your political opposites is the behavior of barbarians, not enlightened souls. Genghis Khan informed us that:

The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears…

Genghis Khan, in case you were unaware, killed 10% of the Earth’s population at the time (a datum that, to my horror, has been noted by at least one erudite as “actually good for the environment”). He shouldn’t be a role model, and yet, the ‘enlightened’ Social Justice class has embraced his philosophy. Along with the depersonalization born of Marxist thought (Marxism killed a hundred million people last century – see a pattern here?). This witches’ brew of disregard for humanity is poisoning our culture, and if unchecked will eventually lead to the end of the American Experiment.

Ponder, also, a bit of history. From Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago:

“We are not fighting against single individuals. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. It is not necessary during the interrogation to look for evidence proving that the accused opposed the Soviets by word or action. The first question which you should ask him is what class does he belong to, what is his origin, his education and his profession. These are the questions which will determine the fate of the accused. Such is the sense and the essence of red terror.” – Martin Latsis, writing for the newspaper Red Terror, November 1, 1918.

Therein we witness a prior incarnation of identity politics, wherein you are “guilty” solely based on some external markers. The Bolshevik Marxists sorted people economically whereas today’s Social Justice Warriors sort people by demographic markers, but both ignore the fact of the individual. The Soviets’ depersonalization expanded with shocking rapidity to everyone not of the Bolshevik party, to students, to people who traveled abroad or who had contact with someone who did, and ultimately to people who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That depersonalization translated to arrest and Gulag, if not simple on-the-spot execution. Such is the fruit of a society that abandons the primacy of the individual, no matter how noble its initial intent.

It bears repeating that these oppressors, despite their dominance of social media, mainstream news, popular culture, and political clout, are relatively few in number. Therein lies hope.

The Soviet “machine” ground its citizens down to silent complacency, wherein almost no one resisted its predations, or dared even speak out about the injustices done to others. We must resist, vocally and vociferously, the imposition of a new Social Justice order as ordained by our Oppressor Class.

I’m sure many will read this with skepticism that such atrocity as emerged from the Bolshevik Revolution (or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, or any of the other socialistic reorganizations of nations of the past century) might eventually materialize in our nation and culture. As Mark Twain informed us, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” We’ve seen how rapidly individual rights can be stripped from societies, and it’s foolishly naive to think it can’t happen here.

Seventy years ago, McCarthyism produced blacklists, encouraged neighbors to rat out neighbors, fabricated guilt, cowed people into silence and ruined people for political views, real or alleged. Government power was misused and abused, and lives were destroyed. It’s happening again, right in front of our eyes, but it’s being led by private citizens, with government goonery following (to date, there’s been barely a wrist-slap for the secret FBI investigative fuckery). At this moment, we are being told, repeatedly, by this oppressor class, that 70 million Americans are insurrectionists. Coupled with the dismissal of any respect for individuality or individual liberty (take close note that “equality” has been replaced by “equity,” a vague cognate that, no surprise, is defined by the decider class), the peril this narrative poses is frightening. The oppressors are here, they’re emboldened, they’ve got the power, and they don’t care who they destroy.

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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