In the chattering classes, the line dividing the Left from the Right is over means, not ends. Watch cable news for a while and inevitably they will have one of those mini-debates they like staging to illustrate the two extremes of what is acceptable opinion on some issue. After the Dallas shooting, for example, a liberal and conservative would offer their take on the incident. What we are supposed to take away from these exchanges is that your opinion better fall somewhere between the two offered on TV. Otherwise you’re some sort of fringe weirdo or worse.
The acceptable window varies from station to station, but there’s not a lot of diversity within the dominant political culture. The liberal channels set the window closer to their preferred opinion while Fox is slightly to the right of them. The thing is, everyone agrees on the ends. You never see two people debating an issue where one has an entirely different goal in mind. Both sides always start from the same premise and have the same ends in mind. By “ends” I mean esoteric concepts like world peace, racial harmony or economic equality. They both talk about “solutions.”
If I were to describe what it is that drives those on the dissident right away from conventional politics, into the arms of various alt-right groups, I think I’d start with the ends in mind. People in the various refusenik camps, on the fringes of society, simply reject the ends that the conventional Left and Right accept as their starting point. It’s not that the trouble makers want the opposite of those Utopian goals. It’s that they reject the assertion that those goals are possible. Humans are imperfect and there is no solution to that bit of reality.
An example of how this works is in this piece from The American Conservative on the problems of Baltimore City.
From near and far, too many people who felt qualified to offer an opinion or exercise power to help didn’t take the time to appreciate the history that has shaped West Baltimore or the variety of people who have been working for decades to improve this place. Accounts of a place like Sandtown have to start with policies forged decades ago regarding redlining and lead paint—policies that handicapped the value of many residents’ homes or did likewise to their children’s brains. The harm is ongoing: conservatives can easily recognize how the welfare state disinclines people to work, but it is hard to blame recipients when most of the wealth transferred through government goes straight to property managers and hospitals, not to the people themselves, who have little opportunity to accumulate wealth. The institutions that are accessible to people in West Baltimore—primarily churches and gangs—are trusted because other institutions don’t maintain any reliable order or support.
Ask any liberal why Baltimore is a dumpster fire and they will make the exact same claims. They blame it on magic. Redlining, as a real practice, never really existed. In fact, banks have been under pressure for generations now to lend to unqualified minorities. Even if we pretend it was a real thing, it ended two generations ago. Blaming long dead bankers for the problems of today is the same as blaming ghosts. No one ever tries to explain how not getting a mortgage causes T’Quan to murder Terrelle for his sneakers. Blaming redlining is no different than saying Allah wills it.
There’s a similar problem with lead paint. It was banned in 1971 and government has been removing it from housing for two generations. There’s also the fact that there are no studies showing increased levels of lead in the residents of Baltimore, compared to the surrounding areas. It’s an interesting theory, but that makes it a good example of how statistical correlations can lead you down a blind alley. But, blaming magic means not facing reality so the Left and Right embrace crackpot theories like lead paint as the cause of black crime.
Rebuilding institutions requires local leadership as well as outside aid. Great hay was made of some $130 million spent on a public-private partnership in the late 1990s and early 2000s to revitalize the neighborhood. Much of this money can still be seen in the homes that were rebuilt. You can walk around whole blocks that were vacant 30 years ago and that now have clean sidewalks, no drug traffic, and the sort of neighborliness that New Urbanism celebrates. As deep as the problems of Sandtown are, much good has been achieved using outside investment directed by people from within the community.
This is the sort of stuff black radicals like the Black Panthers used to demand back in the 60’s. They wanted no-strings attached money from white people so they could build their Afro-paradise. When they got it, they stole most of it and used the rest to build out their criminal enterprise. Well intentioned white people supported these groups because they assumed the fairy tales were true. If you just gave black people money, they would create a black version of Mayberry USA. It was just assumed that all human capital was the same, because after all, all humans are the same and only racists would say otherwise.
West Baltimore is what it is because it is full of West Baltimoreans. The people who built and maintained the city’s institutions left a long time ago for suburbs. The current residents moved in, like animals taking up spots in abandoned buildings. They did not build it. They could not maintain it. The result was that nature took its course. The institutions decayed and collapsed. The habits and ways of the new inhabitants took over. There’s no solution to this reality. You don’t fix human biology with a government program or pseudo-prayers to the gods of diversity.
The line dividing the New Right and the Buckley Conservative is between those who accept the reality of the human condition and those who don’t. The writer of that piece thinks all people are the same and that the observable differences are due to various forms of magic like racism and lead paint. It’s why they are called the Wuss Right. They inevitably give into the Left because they share all the same assumptions about humanity as the Left. They share the same goals. Convergence in the form of orchestrated surrender is the inevitable result.
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