A Disparity in Power is Not a Disparity in Morals

Written by Daniel Greenfield


A disparity in power is not a disparity in morals. This truth is the dynamite under the edifice of the left which insists that the poor are more moral than the rich and that a nation's moral worth can be measured in inverse proportion to its per capita income. The debate is not merely one of wealth. It is less about the morality of wealth, than about the moral cost of assuming that to be poor or deprived is to be good.

Deprivation is not morality. That is why the class and racial divisions of the left are sociological and cultural, but not moral.

When America freed its slaves, a number of them moved to Liberia, and began to treat the native population in the same way that the Spanish, the Belgians and other European colonizers had. Even though both the natives and the colonists were 'black'-- Liberian history looks a lot like the history of most colonies.

A dubious land deal, superior firepower used to suppress the natives, a colonial state ruled over by a minority. For all the rivers of ink spilled over Apartheid, the Americo-Liberians were no different than the South Africans. Take away a few identifying details and it would be nearly impossible to tell if we were speaking about Rhodesia, South Africa or Liberia.

Can you for example guess which country celebrated 'Matilda Newport Day' to commemorate a woman who stopped a native assault on the settlement by setting off a cannon? Or which country's general responded to a British offer of aid in exchange for a base, by saying; "We want no flagstaff put up here that will cost us more to get it down again than it will to whip the natives."

Given the power, the cultural background, the tools and the opportunity-- Africans acted exactly as Europeans did. There was no racial difference.

The left has tried to define power relationships as racial or economic. But a disparity in power is not a disparity in morals. It is a matter of available opportunities. There is no class of people who abuse power and therefore cannot be trusted for it. The only such class is Homo Sapiens.

It is similarly one thing to treat wealth as abusive. A number of religions do so. What is dangerous is believing that the lack of it equates to goodness. The left reduces this to power relationships, but we are all involved in a nexus of power relationships. And those power relationships are often defined less by what we have, than by what we don't.

The looter in Haiti may have nothing, but he has the power to rape women in refugee camps. A billionaire in America who tries to do the same thing has a much smaller chance of getting away with it. Similarly the United States follows narrow rules of engagement, even while fighting enemies who follow no rules at all. Much of the debate over taxes focuses on how much the rich pay. But statistically the rich carry the majority of the tax burden, while 48 percent of American households pay no income tax at all.

The interesting thing about this is that concentrated wealth and power can lead to a higher degree of accountability and also a heightened awareness of responsibility. An extreme lack of it however can lead to a lack of accountability. Even subtracting economically motivated crimes, you are far more likely to be the victim of a violent assault in a neighborhood based on the average net worth of its residents. If the issue was merely 'money', then the rape and 'just for kicks' assaults should be evenly distributed. But they're not.

So why aren't they then? It's not because morality increases with net worth. We are more constrained by rules when we have more power and wealth, than when we have less of it. Both external and internal rules. More power means more possibilities, but also less freedom. To wield power is to be aware of what you do.

Historically the rich and the upper middle classes have provided far more than their share of reformers. The wealthiest men in America are also some of the biggest donors to liberal causes. The American left would simply not exist without their patronage. The irony is that the anti-capitalist agenda is funded by billionaires and millionaires.

The left insists on its constructs, on isolating entire groups into neat categories of oppressed and oppressor, but it can only keep those categories alive by perpetuating their disempowerment in one way or another. Take Griggs v Duke Power Co, in which the Supreme Court held that it was racist for a company to ask for a high school diploma of its employees, because such a requirement had a disproportionate impact on minorities. Like many of the loonier Burger court decisions, this one was scaled back over time, but what of the idea behind it. That social justice involves lowering barriers for qualification, thereby discouraging ability and competence.

The ominous implications of such a doctrine is that the promotion of failure freezes class and racial categories. As it was arguably meant to do. That the only way to uphold a socially progressive code that depends on disenfranchisement is to undermine the disenfranchised while appearing to aid them.

Poverty as a genetic code died with eugenics. Poverty as a racial code has not. Both class and racial wars depend on someone to be in the trenches. Someone on whose behalf the war must be fought. Most on the left are skeptical of the causes of conventional war, but they are eager to believe in their own justifications for political wars. It never occurs to them that they are the arms dealers of WW1, profiting from a conflict that they endlessly perpetuate for their own gain.

The idea that human character and its nobilities and failings transcend their categories is a dangerous one. Declarations such as "Everything is Political" or "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention", warn that pacifism is an unacceptable stance in the cultural wars. That you must believe that power disparities are also moral disparities, or you are on the side of the enemy.

If we must destroy categories of people to create bridge the power and wealth gap, then we must destroy the human race entire. Communism already demonstrated that wealth redistribution only creates a new feudalism with a party based hierarchy. There is no way to create equality without removing all individual freedom, but that freedom must still be vested in someone. And that someone is bound to be more than equal. Superior.

But then what is the point of an unwinnable conflict, except to provide status, power and wealth to those fighting it? The left's cultural and economic wars are unwinnable at their stated victory condition. Equality. And they are not the first to use human fallibility as justification for turning over the power of many into the hands of a small group in the name of fairness. But if a disparity in power is also a disparity in morals-- then the left is by its own lights, the least moral order around

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