Glossary of Progressive Ideas, Part Four
Any public behavior, speech, artistic endeavor, or style preference displayed by humans of white European descent which does not match the stereotype of white European culture as defined by (white-European-descended) neo-Marxist academics.
Explanatory note: Like most exclusively progressive terms of art, cultural appropriation is a pseudo-concept grounded in a brace of implausible neo-Marxist presuppositions:
- that “culture” is a real, tangible, clearly definable thing, rather than one (highly questionable) theoretical interpretation of the nature of local customs;
- that customs may be clearly and accurately defined as essentially delimited by real or conceptual borders of some sort, be they racial, ethnic, religious, or other, such that any given cultural artifact or trend may be designated as unambiguously and exclusively the product or trait of one particular “community,” i.e., identity group, a presupposition that flies in the face of any common sense consideration of the undeniable historical cross-pollination of societal groups, a cross-pollination that would be unpreventable short of reducing every community to a North Korea-style “hermit kingdom”;
- that a cultural artifact or trend may be regarded as the rightful property of the identity group from which it is supposed to have developed, such that any adaptation, reference to, or incorporation of that artifact by anyone from another identity group constitutes a violation of the first group’s collective rights;
- that an identity group, as a group, may be assigned collective credit for having developed anything, so as to enable neo-Marxists to charge appropriators with a violation of collective rights;
- that there are collective rights;
- and various further, even broader and more untenable presuppositions implied by the preceding.
The most important qualification to make by way of clarifying this concept for purposes of practical application is that only a group designated (by white-European-descended neo-Marxist academics) as historically oppressed may be a victim of cultural appropriation. Thus, for example, if a white person chooses to style his hair in an Afro, this is appropriation; whereas if a black person straightens her hair, plays the violin, sings Italian opera, dyes her hair blond, or wears a kimono, this is creative self-expression. Of course, among the neo-Marxist-designated oppressed groups, there will, according to changing totalitarian fashion, be a sortable hierarchy of these groups, such that a certain oppressed identity group may be tacitly “permitted” to borrow or co-opt cultural properties from a certain other oppressed group without being accused of cultural appropriation, but not vice versa. (As for who is in the position to grant or deny such “permission,” any attempt to answer that question would drag us into the more explicitly theological aspects of the progressive faith.)
The concept of cultural appropriation, in sum, denies outright the inevitability and desirability of various peoples appreciating and learning from the customs of other peoples, in effect mandating that all cultural groups are, have been, and must forever be, completely sui generis and pure of all admixture. However, (a) this latter mandate applies only to oppressor groups (see above); and yet at the same time, (b) oppressor groups must always be judged as inherently inauthentic and “stolen” cultures, viz., it is essential to the concept of oppression (in the Marxist sense) that a “dominant” group stole its culture from the oppressed, which is why it is impossible for any violation of that oppressor group to occur — their cultural properties are all ill-gotten booty by definition, and therefore not protected by any rights claims.
Like all progressive concepts which include the word “social” (e.g., socialization, social science), social justice is derived from the theory and principles of socialism, i.e., the theoretical denial and political annihilation of the individual human being as such. Social justice is thus the direct socialist substitute for societal justice, i.e., the condition of a just society. Societal justice means, in outline, that everyone in the society may reasonably expect to be treated in a manner that is fair and appropriate to his desert. Social justice, by contrast, means precisely that no one in the society will or should be treated fairly and appropriately according to his desert, but rather that the progressive overseers of the society may determine which identity groups deserve to be granted privileged status over others, regardless of the merit of any individual within any of the relevant groups — individuals, you will recall, being doctrinally non-existent. This privilege is then asserted with the bludgeons of authoritarian law and ritualistic public shaming to criminalize and marginalize any “oppressor” group (or members thereof) on the premise that justice is primarily applicable and enforceable in collective and historical terms, rather than in individual terms.
In other words, societal justice entails a community in which, in principle, no one is oppressed, whereas social justice demands the counter-oppression of, or punitive revenge against, so-called oppressor groups as a matter of (what neo-Marxists call) justice.