“Intersectionality” and the Envy-Game

Here is is solid and sobering short video on so-called “intersectionality,” by Ben Shapiro, done for Prager U.

Ben is like a lawyer for the Prosecution in everything he does. A Sharp mind, and a fearless tongue. Here is the video, and my remarks on this whole envy-based mess follow it:

https://www.prageru.com/videos/what-intersectionality

The thought that springs to mind after watching this video is that so much of what we are seeing today (in so-called “postmodernism,” in what Foucault labelled “transgressive behaviours,” and in the pathetic modern revolt against hierarchies of all kinds) is just a dumbed-down version of the “systemic victim-hood” that began, or at least was massively accelerated, in the 19th century by Marx and Engels.

That was the first major international movement (via the communist manifesto/Das Kapital, and continued in our own time by such as the Frankfurt School, postmodernism, etc) to persuade the whole world that all human beings are victims; in this case (which is ongoing and supported by a lot of modern leftist media) victims of capitalist oppression.

This was the first time in modern history that entire publics were persuaded that their condition in life is a consequence of a systemic evil in the world, of something evil outside themselves, rather than a consequence of their own behaviour.

When we recall that for so much of our history, Christianity has rested on the contrary notion – that evil/sin is something internal to the person, and not something outside ourselves, then we are tempted to say that what we are witnessing is an almost world-wide revolt against the Christian notion of internal sin and evil, and its replacement by a contrary notion of external sin and evil.

Whenever this psychology becomes regnant, one’s condition in life comes to be seen as a consequence of “the system” (capitalism, male hierarchy, racism, sexism, ageism, privilege of others, etc., etc.,) and the genius of this pitiable initiative is that it feeds on the bottomless capacity of all human beings to blame someone else, or some force, or moral evil, or system outside themselves, for their condition in life. It’s a modern form of Manichean dualism: the tendency to divide reality into the forces of good vs. evil. We are the good. The “other” and the external systems supporting the other, are the evil. But is this true?

Of course, there are indeed malign forces outside us, and human beings have always been conscious of these. But historically, the tendency to blame externals has been kept at bay by what was heretofore the reigning moral orthodoxy in all societies capable of realizing that even if some of this is true (that there are always things,events, forces outside us – such as our genes, our parents treatment of us, luck, our born disposition, war, fraud, whatever), no society can be successful if it attempts to persuade its members that their condition in life is wholly controlled by others, or by external events.

The difference between traditional societies that taught their members to be optimistic, courageous, and self-directed in the  face of such universal challenges (“it may not be your fault if you get knocked down; but it is definitely your fault if you don’t get back up!”), and our contemporary society, is that we seem to have swallowed whole the recent Marxist-induced systemic-victim myth (and now, as a flourish upon that, as this video explains, the “intersectionality” myth).

If anything is a sign of the decline of the West, it is not that so much whining, poor-me thinking is present (as I say, there is always some of this, and it may even be the first reflex of many in the face of personal or societal adversity), but that it is now accepted as the first, most permanent, and only legitimate moral and psychological reaction to adversity by entire classes of citizens.

The ancients dealt with this tendency via philosophies such as Stoicism that stressed detachment from natural adversities, and self-control. Christianity, as I say, did so with the concept of personal sinfulness. We moderns have left all that behind and latched upon externalities.

There are historical precedents, of course. Nothing is new. In Robert A. Nisbet’s very fine study, The Quest for Community (1953), he renders in fascinating detail the gradual moral downfall of ancient Rome (and of many societies since) and the feverish efforts of leaders to slow or to reverse the inevitable public mood of victim-hood that became so prevalent that the only means to quell it was the offer of more free public feast-days (panem et circenses – Bread and circuses).

During these feast-days, an idle and angry public, charged up with a bitter envy of all who enjoyed a condition of life better than their own, were being bought off with diversionary cornucopias of free food, dancing, sex, and the entertainments of blood and gore in the Coliseum, where they could watch slaves and gladiators kill each other.

In the end, according to Jerome Carcopino in his fascinating classic study, Daily Life of Ancient Rome (1936), just before the final fall, Roman citizens enjoyed some 240 of these feast days per year! That is all they could do to keep mass public envy at bay. For a little longer. Before the crash.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *