Creating Your Own Privilege with Community and Morality

There has been a lot of talk about “white privilege”. While there are certainly things in modern society which could probably be linked to such a privilege, what is absolutely hysterical to watch is the rewriting of all human and societal interactions into “white privilege” or “male privilege”. In fact, it would be quite entertaining just to listen to if it weren’t for the fact that the people espousing these things often have access to power of their own. I should expound on this more when I have the time, but a lot of the things that are being touted as “male privilege”, I know from experience, are actually instances of males depriving themselves of privilege for the sake of others. As I said, it would be funny if it weren’t so sad, and if the privilege whiners didn’t have the ability to influence political pressure.

The current amusement-of-the-moment comes from idiots posting about the idea that Holocaust survivors are part of the privileged group. This is a ridiculous notion. Holocaust survivors were not just discriminated against, they were marked for death. The countries that allowed them to be saved were countries that only discriminated against them. The US is partially on that list, except that we severely limited the number of them we even let into the country. So, in other words, they were so privileged that we weren’t sure that we should let them not die.

Why did the Jews prosper? Simple. Cultural values. Jewish culture esteems community, industriousness, and personal morality. It is simple to see how these work together. Community gives you a natural group of people who you can be safe with. Is “privilege” working against you? Well, if you have a strong community, you just made your own privilege. You are part of a privileged group – you’re own community! When people complain about “privilege” in other groups, a lot of times what they are really complaining about is the lack of community that they see in their own groups. So, rather than build up community, they whine. This is also called envy. There are always times when this group or that group unjustly works against another group, and those should be called out and fixed. However, what sets apart the groups that prosper is that, because of the strength of their own community, even in the face of injustice, they are able to make good of the situation they are in.

The next value is industriousness. There is no one (or at least very few) who have literally nothing. We have our own hands and feet, and can work industriously to generate new wealth. This works with community, because by having a strong community, we have a group of people who we can work for who will not exploit us, but help us move forward. This goes along with the next value, which is personal morality. Basically, keeping the 10 commandments. Why would someone work to earn or keep something if they believe it will only be stolen from them? If everything you have you think will be stolen or envied by someone else, then your best option is to never save up, and get rid and make the most of everything you have right now. If, on the other hand, you are secure in your possessions, then you know that if you save up, it will not be stolen from you. It also means that you have to spend less guarding what is yours. If I am worried about my money being stolen, I might buy a safe – but that reduces my wealth. If I am not worried about this, then my costs go way down.

If you own a restaurant, if your employees are moral, you do not have to spend the time to add checks and balances to make sure that no one steals the money. You also don’t have to check on them to make sure they are working. If they are moral, these things are taken care of automatically. When they are immoral, they must be checked up on, and that reduces the wealth of both the owner and the employees and society at large.

Community gives you a non-exploitive environment. Industry builds wealth. Morality allows you to keep wealth without penalty. By having these virtues, the Jewish people have been able to go from a persecuted and murdered minority to a group that some idiots call a “privileged” group. Sure, it is a privilege to grow up among virtuous people. The solution to this is more virtuous people, not denigrating those who are.

One last thing – bitterness. I have noticed that many of my friends on the left are extremely bitter when it comes to issues like this. I would argue that bitterness is the most unhelpful of dispositions. What bitter people want is for the person responsible to pay, pay, pay. It is certainly an understandable position, but it is also one that is both un-Christian and ultimately detrimental to yourself. Should wrongs be corrected? Certainly. But if you want healing, the bitterness has to go. Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. This is the opposite of bitterness. What happens when we are bitter, is that we are consumed by the guilty party. That is literally when they have the most control over us. You can see this in bitter people – they rewrite the entire story of their lives to be about how they were wronged. It literally becomes their identity. This is where the ludicrous positions of “white privilege” stories come from. It’s because they have become so entrenched in their own bitterness that they are literally rewriting reality to suit their bitterness, and can no longer see reality honestly. Their entire lives are being focused through their pain. It is only when we can let go, when we can forgive, when we can be joyful in spite of them, that their power over us ceases. It is easy to find friends who will tell us the easy things about how we have been wronged and how the other guy needs to pay, and then go on and blame them for everything else too (including our own faults). But what we truly need are people who will tell us the hard truths about how to overcome, and even perhaps the parts where we may be guilty ourselves.

One more last thing. Again, I am not saying that there aren’t instances of injustice we should seek to eliminate. But no one should imagine that these are what are holding down entire groups of people. What is holding them down are the race baiters who tell them that such values are irrelevant, and it is always someone else who is the problem. Even when that is true, the thing that actually helps the situation is increasing community, industriousness, and morality, and I would also add joyfulness, even in the face of persecution. That is the example of the Jewish people. That is their privilege.

Why I am Against the Sovereignty of the Individual

There are many aspects of Libertarianism which are very compelling, such as their desire to remove waste, to acknowledge the power of government to do evil, and to show the power that freedom gives people to overcome their problems. However, when taken too far, Libertarianism tends to denigrate humans, and what it means to be human. The pushing of contract law as the only rational type of law points to a flawed misunderstanding of people. The restriction of the definition of “harm” to “physical harm” misunderstands the breadth of humanity – moral harm is possibly worse than physical harm, but Libertarianism doesn’t allow for that.

In a similar vein is the doctrine of the “sovereignty of the individual.” It sounds good – we all want to be our own masters, don’t we? What does this, specifically, state? It says, according to G. A. Cohen, “each person enjoys, over himself and his powers, full and exclusive rights of control and use, and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else that he has not contracted to supply.” The problem is that we do owe services, and maybe products, to others that we have not contracted to supply.

The big question is this: can you be bound – both morally and legally – to obligations duties that you did not agree to? My answer is a strong, definitive, “yes.” In fact, life is mostly about fulfilling obligations that we did not choose.

Family is the place where this is most obvious, but it applies elsewhere, too. We all have an obligation to our parents. The 10 commandments, in addition to telling us not to murder and steal, also tells us we have a basic duty to our parents. We also have a basic duty to our children, whether or not we specifically chose to have them. Abortion in all cases where the life of the mother is not also at risk is wrong, because of the duties and obligations we owe to our children, even if they were conceived in violence against our will. If a stranger drops a baby on my doorstep, I have a moral obligation to that baby to at least make sure it makes its way to another’s hands, or, if none other will take it, the obligation becomes mine. If someone is drowning next to you, and crying out for help, and you decide not to help them, you are liable for their death, and rightly so. You have obligations to others which you do not choose, and the government has a rightful role to enforce at least some of these.

Therefore, I am against the sovereignty of the individual as a general concept. However, I do think there are ideas which serve similar purposes which are not as problematic. For instance, it is problematic for the government to serve as mediator in most of these obligations. That is, if someone drops a baby on my doorstep, I am morally required to help it out. If I do not, I should be held liable. What I shouldn’t have to do is to contact the government at any point in the process as long as I am fulfilling my moral duties. The government should only invoke action if they have a legitimate reason to think that I am failing to do one of my moral obligations. So, as long as I am fulfilling my moral obligations, there is no reason for the government to mediate the operation. This gets rid of a lot of the busy-bodying that government does, without weakening the morality of the law. In addition, I would also agree that all governances should be exercise extreme caution when legislating a duty or service that we have not contracted to supply.

This is part of what I call the diminishing return of laws in MicroSecession. Part of what law does is help teach us the standards and morals of society. When that list becomes large, then the effect of each law becomes less. There are so many laws about so many things that all law is now viewed as a burden. Law can be a gift, but when done in excess it becomes a burden. Part of this is a failure to recognize the larger moral obligations to God and each other, which Libertarians usually want to get rid of. But, as G. K. Chesterton warns, “When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.” The overabundance of rules that we have is because we have forgotten the big laws, and now must be ruled by a tyranny of small laws.

In any case, while the “sovereignty of the individual” can sometimes serve as a decent heuristic, it falls flat as a general theory of governance.