February 01, 2008
The swarm of controversy I’ve provoked by my remarks on racialism continues. My critics on the racialist “Right” continue to generate more heat than light, but the occasional insight emerges, even in the most unsavory of places. A wannabe race warrior who calls himself Prozium makes a point below which got me thinking:
Zmirak ignores the fact that abortion (his pet issue) was illegal in America right down until the end of the racialist era with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. In stark contrast, abortion has remained legal from the beginning of the conservative movement right down to the present. Four Republican presidents elected with overwhelming conservative support “ Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush “ have sat in the Oval Office while tens of millions of abortions have been performed. By his own standards, racialists have done a better job protecting the lives of unborn future generations than conservatives.
Well, I’m proud of the fact that my “pet issue” is protecting unborn children of every race—even as Prozium fantasizes about the “triumph of white racialism “ in North America or Europe” which “would be quickly followed by events more like the Red Terror of 1918 or the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Make no mistake about it. Those who have brought our race to the brink of extinction in our own lands will be punished in the most severe ways imaginable. Their fate shall be that of the kulaks. I make no apologies for this. I am a Jacobin. We are the sans-culottes, the fascists, the Nazis, the Bolsheviks of the twenty-first century.”
Okay, then. It’s nice to know that I’ve ticked off the right sort of person—the kind my father guarded in POW camps in Bavaria, 1945. But despite himself, Prozium raises a valid concern, one that I’ve considered before—the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the legalization of abortion. I’m not asserting any direct causality, of course. While many of the Civil Rights activists were generic leftists or outright Communists, millions more were sincere Christians or genuine partisans of individual rights. Needless to say, the Civil Rights movement (and the Civil Rights Act) quickly went much further than Christian ethics or individual rights logic allows. While Christians and classical liberals may agree that laws enforcing racial discrimination are evil and must be repealed, it’s a huge step from there to say that the State must use its coercive power to restrict private association or freedom of contract—much less attempt to impose equality of results, and forbid policies that produce “disproportionate impacts.” While the theoretical gap here is vast—essentially comprising the distance between a free society and a “soft” totalitarian state—in practice, the Civil Rights leadership leapt quickly from legitimate to illegitimate means. It’s as if the pro-life movement succeeded in outlawing abortion—and two years later, banned birth control, and finally impure thoughts.
What is worse, and here is where I’ll accept a dose of diluted Prozium, the success of the Civil Rights movement created the template for other movements which would quickly spring up in its wake. Because so many of the State-based practices which Civil Rights activists condemned were ugly and irrational—race-coded water fountains, all white nullifying juries, and blatant voter discrimination—the Civil Rights cause swiftly gained a moral legitimacy all out of proportion to its actual merits. From forcing Southern governments to offer equal rights of citizenship to blacks, activists like the “moderate” Martin Luther King moved seamlessly to demands for the race-based redistribution of wealth, a massive national bureaucracy designed to restrict freedom of contract, and others in an escalating series of demands.
That set the pattern: A movement which identifies and addresses certain real inequities, using legitimate arguments of justice to overturn the inherited prejudice (in Burke’s sense) of centuries, gradually gains moral legitimacy and becomes fashionable among national elites. Soon opposition to it becomes disgraceful, and it triumphs in the legitimate parts of its agenda. Does the movement declare victory and go home? (The suffragettes did—having won their battle, they did not press a feminist agenda; indeed, women settled down to vote more conservatively than men for most of the century.)
Of course not. Having tasted power and put its opponents on the defensive, the movement grabs for more and more—counting on the moral capital it accumulated during the early (legitimate) phase of its activity. This strategy continues to succeed until and unless it provokes a powerful backlash. (See the Republicans’ long-successful, and entirely legitimate, Southern Strategy.) This structure of self-aggrandizement explains why neither we nor our distant descendants will ever stop hearing about the lynchings of the 1930s—even when the subject at hand is something like an athlete who murders his wife, or a stripper who fabricates a rape, or a football player who fights and butchers dogs.
Having seen the outrageous, overwhelming success of the Civil Rights Movement, activists for other (and much less worthy) causes quickly adopted the “liberation” template. Spoiled Marxist housewife Betty Friedan joined sexual radicals like Gloria Steinem to demand “liberation” for women from the demands of human biology. Whatever was legitimate in the feminist agenda was quickly exhausted—like repealing certain laws that have imposed archaic inequities on women—and followed on immediately by outrageous demands that arose from an insatiable ideology. The Civil Rights Act had already outlawed the long-standing practice of offering “family wages”—higher salaries once provided fathers of families, precisely so their wives could remain home with children. (Ironicaly, as Allan Carlson documents in his brilliant The American Way, the category of sex was only added to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a “poison pill” by a Southern segregationist who thought it would kill the Act.) These demands would expand with the same inflationary speed as those of the Civil Rights Movement had—with results far more ruinous since they militated not just against a particular racial hierarchy, but human nature itself—and the family as the essential unit of society. Feminist theory grew ever more radical and delusional, erupting in fantasies of Lesbian utopias, entirely artificial reproduction, the forcible subjugation of males—and much more practical demands such as the elimination of every meaningful distinction between the sexes in the law. (This is why our military now employs women in combat—an appalling policy which conservatives have almost uniformly accepted meekly.) Worst of all, under the influence of the population control movement and with funding from the Playboy Foundation, these feminists—for the first time in history—appended legal abortion to their list of demands. A practice which Susan B. Anthony and even Margaret Sanger had once condemned—indeed, the “a” word as late as the 1950s was as unspeakable as the “n” word is today—won acceptance among elites and legal theorists in an atmosphere that was open to every sort of “liberation” movement. Gay liberation and animal liberation followed in due course—each one employing as its “wedge” a small number of indefensible practices which most rational people would agree to reform, then following its inertia to grab as much social power as possible. Those who pushed back were tarred with a single brush: because they opposed the most extreme demands of the grasping lobby, they must in fact wish to return to the worst abuses it had opposed. One cannot resist reparations for slavery without acknowledging the Klan robes in his closet. Opponents of abortion must secretly oppose laws restricting domestic violence and marital rape. Limits on immigration will lead directly to eugenic sterilization, and so on.
It is sad to reflect that Christians who took part in the Civil Rights crusade are so very proud of themselves for having started a march that quickly went out of control, and set the pattern for a long chain of revolutionary “rights” movements that would transform the face of society much more profoundly than the Jacobins or even the Bolsheviks ever managed. I hold no brief for legal segregation, and would boycott any restaurant that didn’t serve blacks. But part of the price for using the State to overturn such engrained inequities was the launching of other insatiable “movements,” and the creation of an atmosphere in which every settled social arrangement—from the Christian dominance in Europe to “heterosexism”—was suddenly open to question. That is the essence of Revolution. And its victims in America now number in the millions.