Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Inequality: Good Cop, Bad Cop

When you and I think of inequality we think of Charles Murray and Coming Apart.  How the lower 30 percent is turning away from marriage and work to live on the government dole.  But when the Washington Post's chappie Jim Tankersley looks at inequality, his mind turns to "skills training"--after it has properly digested the importance of more progressive taxes and better health care.

After writing about the fatuity of this, I got to thinking of the good cop, bad cop duality of the inequality game.

If you are a gentry liberal, living the good life in your government sinecure, whether as a government funded NGO, a government bureaucratic manager, or a government university professor, you think of inequality as a call for compassion, for devising better programs to deliver benefits to the traditionally marginalized who have lost out in the greedy grab for loot in the last 30 years since Reaganomics started.

But there is an ugly side to the inequality game, and the world-historical role of President Obama is to remind us of this.  It's all highlighted in my three point broadside: Government is force; politics is division; system is domination.

Government is force, you gentry liberals.  Every one of those wonderful programs they write about in The New York Times and they talk about on NPR is based on force.  Because the only way that government gets its hands on money to spend is by force.

Politics is division, you gentry liberals.  Politicians win elections by dividing the electorate.  No doubt the Republicans use heinous methods to do this, but Democrats are just as bad.  Democrats do it by sowing race, class, and gender hatred in the lower orders and not-so-lower orders.  There is a simple test for this: how could blacks be voting 90 percent for Democrats, in numbers usually only experienced in dictatorships?  We learned how in 2008 when we read about preachers like Obama's Reverend Wright spewing race hatred in their black churches.  And of course Democrats nod and wink at similar efforts in the Hispanic community.  Think about feminism and abortion; gays and gay marriage.  I don't reckon the divisiveness of this politics as deliberate, although it probably is.

No.  When you use inequality as the basis of your politics you are choosing it willy-nilly because it calls for government action, and you want to use the power of government to do good.  Society is unequal; something must be done.  Obviously it must be government action.

But the politics it takes to build support for that government action is divisive.  Then it just gets worse.  The government action you legislate to solve the problem is force.  And the system, the one-size-fits-all rational bureaucratic system that you devise to implement your program of force based on your politics of division, is bound to be a program of domination.  Why?  Because, as Horkheimer and Adorno wrote decades ago: "What men want to learn from nature is how to dominate it and other men."  It's a daunting thought that we mostly don't want to admit.  We develop science and technique so we can dominate nature and the world.  So every rational system is a program of domination.

Liberals recognize this when they put on their environmentalist hats.  We are exploiting the world; we are destroying the forests; we are killing animals; we are eliminating species diversity.  But then they put on their class-warfare hats and resume their project of political division and domination without even a moment of hesitation.

The liberal over-under coalition is a remarkable work of human creativity--and hypocrisy.  It satisfies the yearning of the gentry liberal Übermensch for sweetness and light, and it provokes the hatreds of the underclass Untermensch. Then wonder of wonders, it all delivers political power to the good guys, the Übermenschen.

And all in the service of "equality."

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