Modern Tyranny: More on the Tribunal
A few days ago, I commented on the amusing case of Beto O’Rourke, last year’s wonder boy of the Democratic Party, who is now, as the Marxist wheel turns, an embarrassment to the progressive cause because, as a white male, and therefore (obviously) a beneficiary of white privilege, he has no right to run for U.S. President against female or black candidates, i.e., candidates who are (obviously) victims of systemic oppression at the hands of white males such as O’Rourke.
What I neglected to mention at the time is that in his reply to the inquisition’s accusations of racial and gender obsolescence, Beto the Beta did exactly what a progressive who wishes to remain “relevant” should be expected to do in the face of such charges — or rather what a progressive has to do: He pronounced himself guilty as charged and offered to declare his guilt from the mountaintops and to pay lifelong penance, if only the tribunal might allow him to live.
Specifically, he acknowledged that yes, of course, he has benefitted from the “advantages” of lifelong white privilege, and secondly that an old throwaway joke from his senate campaign against Ted Cruz, to the effect that his wife raised their children “sometimes with my help,” was sexist, and that he will never say such inappropriate and unjust things about women again. He vowed to use his own political career to make reparations for each of these sins against social justice.
As to the first point, his white privilege, I, lacking progressive bones, am naturally inclined to demand of Beto, in all seriousness, that he name one single solitary “privilege” he has ever gained in his life as a result of being a white male. No generic talking points or abstract neo-Marxist wisdom; I am asking for one real, concrete, nuts-and-bolts situation about which he can say, verifiably, that he got something of any value or significance that might reasonably also have been gotten — at that moment, in that situation — by a non-white or non-male person, and which he knows he got merely because he was a white male. Just one.
Frankly, I don’t see what Beto O’Rourke has ever “gotten” in his life that is of any value or significance, so I can’t even imagine what kind of goods he would be sifting through to find the one that resulted specifically from gender or racial privilege. (And by the way, I defy Beto to define the word “privilege” as used in this context.)
As to the second issue, his self-condemnation on the sexism charge, the joke he was making was clearly a banal attempt at a self-deprecating acknowledgement of his wife’s greater role in child-rearing. Why is it “sexist” to suggest your wife has contributed more to raising your children than you have? Of course, the progressive answer is that this joke implies that raising children is “women’s work,” to which a husband need not give much attention.
For my part, as a non-progressive-boned animal, I would say that a man who does not care to participate actively in the rearing of his children is not showing disrespect primarily to his wife, but rather to his children, inasmuch as he does not seem to take his voluntarily assumed responsibilities as a father very seriously. In any case, his irresponsibility is certainly not a slight against “women,” but only, if at all, against one particular woman, the mother of his children. One of the ugliest elements of progressivism’s collectivizing thought-control is that it proposes to turn even the most intimately related individuals — such as a married couple — into mere symbols of a theoretical struggle in each other’s eyes. By accepting this sexism accusation, and promising to make amends, O’Rourke is essentially turning his own wife into a cardboard cutout representing “womankind,” and himself into a generic, historically-defined “oppressor” — of his own wife. In other words, the effect of his moral cowardice (or worse, his actual agreement with the Marxist thought police) is to alienate him from his wife by reducing their actual flesh-and-blood relationship, with all its intimate human complications and secrets, to a mere conceptual placeholder. (That, by the way, is what progressive collectivism does to all human life and relationships, to the extent a person accepts its premises.)
Progressives take such a joke as evidence of “male oppression,” because to progressives, raising children is a hideous burden and plight — babies are for aborting, not raising — to which women have been imprisoned throughout the history of the capitalist patriarchy. Hence, Beto, being a white male with a pure progressive skeleton, meekly concedes that he is still sick with some unconscious remnants of the oppressive patriarchy, but promises to take active steps to rehabilitate himself, beginning immediately.
In other words, to continue the point I made in my previous essay on this topic, a progressive’s work is never done; and by “work” I mean self-annihilation.
The key to the progressive punishment of the obsolete, as with their punishment of everyone, is that the punished man must agree. It’s not enough to be killed, exiled, or otherwise excluded. He has to accept his guilt first, and to convict himself on behalf of his own executioners. That’s the communist tribunal mentality, and it’s essential to progressive modernity. You must accuse and condemn yourself, which means you must admit that right-thinking neo-Marxists are right about you.
Kafka captures this at the spiritual level. He worked as a bureaucrat, and deeply understood the heart of the modern administrative world, which is all about making a moral criminal of everyone, so that one agrees with one’s judges, even volunteers oneself up for condemnation, whether one’s “crime” makes any sense or not. The accusation itself is proof of guilt.
Likewise, it’s not enough, in today’s social justice terms, to imprison you for politically incorrect speech or thought. You have to acknowledge your guilt, apologize for violating today’s norms of sensitivity, and beg society to punish you because you deserve it.
The old tyrants killed you for rebelling, but you and the tyrant remained at odds to the end, and the tyrant accepted that; in fact, that fundamental disagreement was why he killed you. Today’s tyrants, the totalitarian progressives, have to break you and force you to surrender your will and conscience to their control. That is ultimately more important to them than the final punishment. Or rather, that is the final punishment. They cannot live with any alternative thoughts lingering around. You must be subsumed into the “social mind,” which, if you are a member of a “privileged” identity group, means you must publicly renounce your privilege and condemn yourself.