Manufactured Grievance: The Engine of Progressivism
Secular humanism takes a political form that regularly exploits the personal dissatisfaction that flows from its own broken philosophy. That political form is called liberalism or progressivism – its “arc of history” set always promising better days, delivering worse and profiting from the manufactured villains it wrongly blames. Given liberalism’s elite, self-designated managerial class is on average no more competent than the rest of us, the policy failures are unsurprising. However, the opportunistic blame shifting that follows and its resulting strife are appalling threats to the common good.
Consider that over the last eight years, median family income is down, food stamps up, labor participation down, cost of healthcare up, federal debt doubled, mass shootings up, black poverty/teen unemployment up and black homeownership down. Racism did not increase in the last decade and, thus, is not the wellspring of these problems, yet it frequently gets the blame.
And about diversity, when is there enough? Based on recent Bureau of Labor Standards data, now 4 in 10 households have female breadwinners. Given that women will more frequently choose stay-at-home parenting, can we ask if, in this case, sufficient diversification has been achieved? The liberal mind recoils in horror.
It is particularly non-objective and etymologically imprecise that the progressive liberal either cannot or will not define what constitutes diversity, but unsurprising because the question is a threat.
We've seen this before. Communist regimes used fear to turn citizens against each other, consolidating control by dehumanizing people. The goal was never the promised post-revolution utopia; it was just continued revolution, for the elite who benefitted from it. In Solzhenitsyn’s words, “Obviously it would never be possible to announce that the Communist society had been built. That would be a methodological error.” Or as the saying goes, “Their rulers lived in a different country.”
Who benefits today? It is telling that Hillary Clinton's top five contributors are hedge funds. Seven financial firms alone have generated $48.5 million for Clinton. Today, it is the 1% elite that profit from unfettered global flows of goods, labor and capital. It is the 1% elite that are comfortable in any Four Seasons Hotel of any city of the world (and why not, top shelf booze is the same everywhere?). It is the 1% elite that promote a lifestyle libertinism they rarely practice (given what remains of their mainline morality). Our rulers live in a different country.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of us are disoriented as a result of our severance from the traditional foundations of reliable employment, a savings account, family and vibrant mediating institutions like PTAs, neighborhoods, churches and even nation itself. Hence our need for distraction via the suggestion that we are deprived of our “right” to (and need for) relentless self-affirmation (by enemies we didn’t know we had). Hence the inflato-victim machine that reiterates our need for elite protection, and fulfills liberal managerial aspirations and the personal affirmations that flow therefrom.
Consider that liberal managers have decided that these are threats: policemen, unborn babies and American flags (it is remarkable that grandparents and apple pie escaped unscathed). You are right that the number of depressed and confused men driven to enter the ladies’ room is practically zero as a percentage of American men (gay or straight), but that's not the point. You are right that good studies show police are less likely to shoot and kill black men than other men, but those facts don’t matter. You are right that America is a good country, but again you don’t get it.
The point is to elevate the perceived victimhood of all minorities through the girls’ bathroom issue, of black Americans by making "all lives" a slur, of successful women by converting reasonable and humane abortion restrictions into a century-reversing threat to their livelihood.
Seeking staff members for multiple positions in a large, New York-based corporation known for its real estate investments…. The boss has very strict standards for female employees, ranging from the women who take lunch orders (must be hot) to the women who oversee multi-million dollar construction projects (must maintain hotness demonstrated at time of hiring).
Nietzsche would be proud. Offensive to executives and their assistants, the ad would irritate working women across the country. But it was a lie and proof theirs is a quest for power, not virtue. The DNC is the inflato-victim machine par excellence and non-elite liberals (up to 99% of Democrats) are tools purposely aggravated and victim-inflated by the 1% elite that hope their tools remain offended. It’s a pretty reliable test – if you’re aggrieved, you’re a tool.
So now, diversity trumps unity, autonomy trumps community, black lives trump other lives and either-or trumps both-and. The dialectic has prevailed. This elevation of differences over commonalities, and deliberately creating divisiveness are strange because secular humanists should know we are humans first, and a very distant second black, brown and white. In pursuing inflato-victim, secular humanists betray the clear-headed reason they claim.
The faithful, on the other hand, know to avoid deliberate divisiveness. Because their reason is bettered by faith, the faithful know we all have the dignity of being God’s children and that our minor differences (color, sex, etc…) are unimportant.
A saint once commented that our pride dies 24 hours after our bodies. We all commit the sin of pride and personal experience proves hypersensitivity inevitably comes when we look just to ourselves for happiness. But the greater evil is committed by deliberate purveyors of a philosophically-birthed political opportunism that seeks power by elevating vanity and pitting citizens against each other.
We are in the sad situation where everything political is personal for everyone, and the anachronistic “public servant” has been replaced by the “public irritant.” This obsessive contest for power won’t end well if it continues. And continue it will unless we back away from a self-oriented autonomy ripe for irritation and move toward the common good, self-forgetfulness and the virtues (particularly charity).