If there is one thing which is currently obsessing large swathes of the ideologically globalized world, it is the scourge of systemic racism. It is a matter of unquestioned dogma that such systemic racism is widespread and that it must be purged from society. To question this unquestionable dogma is a heresy which is punishable by the unleashing of the lynch mob. This being so, and playing the fool who rushes in where wise men fear to tread, let’s investigate the matter employing the lost faculty of dispassionate reason and commencing with the forgotten art of defining our terms.
Let’s begin with racism itself. It is the judging of a person on the basis of his race or skin color, or the judging of a whole people on the basis of its race or skin color. It is, furthermore, the allowing of such judgment to transcend, subvert, or supersede all other considerations. Racism, as defined, is an unmitigated evil. From a Christian perspective, it violates the inviolable dignity of every human person as being made in the image of God, and breaks the great commandment of Christ that we love our neighbor.
So far, so good.
Systemic racism is the systemic practice of racism by institutions. Examples of systemic racism would be slavery, segregation in the South, and apartheid in South Africa. Examples of systemic anti-racism would be the abolitionist movement, the civil rights movement, and the anti-apartheid movement. Examples of enforced systemic anti-racism would be the Civil War, insofar as this was a conflict fought on the issue of slavery, and the busing of students in the 1970s to enforce the desegregation of schools.
Having differentiated between systemic racism and systemic anti-racism, it is clear that we live in a systemically anti-racist culture. Racism is illegal within the systems and institutions of this country, and, for that matter, in many other countries in the world. If a police officer or a school teacher behaves in a racist manner, the rules require him to be summarily dismissed. Insofar as there is systemic training, in police departments, schools, and businesses, it is anti-racist training. There is no police department, school district, government department, or business which condones racism, and it is preposterous to suggest that any of these institutions have racist training programs.
Insofar as there is systemic discrimination on racial grounds, it is what is called positive discrimination or affirmative action in favor of minorities. In its mildest form, it is choosing to employ the non-white candidate for a position over equally qualified white candidates; in its more potent form, it is choosing to discriminate in favor of non-white candidates, even if they are not as qualified as their white counterparts. This sort of systemic racial discrimination in favor of minorities has been widely practiced in both the public and private sectors of the economy for many years.
It is no doubt true, of course, that racism still exists in individuals in police departments and other institutions, but it does so in spite of the systemic anti-racism which does exist and not because of the systemic racism which doesn’t.
The real problem is that those who cry loudest about systemic racism are not referring to real concrete systems, in the sense of real institutions that exist, but about the whole “system” of civilization as defined by Marxist ideological dogma. The only difference from old school Marxism is that this new-breed of Marxists is comfortable with global capitalism, in the sense that they hate those who resist globalism, and have directed their hatred instead against anything tainted with the “European” past. Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms are racists because they are part of the European cultural “system”; every artist from Giotto to Cézanne is a racist because they are also part of the “system”; Dante, Dickens, and Dostoyevsky are racists. The “systemic racism” which these radicals seek to destroy is nothing less than the past itself, or at least any aspect of it which can be accused of the heinous crime of being tainted in any way with the unforgivable sin of being “European.”
At the root of this arrant nonsense is an inhuman understanding of history and the human person derived from philosophies that see reality in terms of systems and deterministic processes. Hegel and his disciple Marx saw history as an almighty mechanism and people merely as disposable cogs in the machine. This is why Marxists have happily killed tens of millions of people in the quest to perfect a social “system.” Another inhumane philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, hated Christian humility and advocated the Pride which reinvents the image of the self into the Übermensch, the superior person of the future who sees himself in his Pride as better than the inherently inferior Untermenschen of the past. Today’s revolutionaries have mixed Marx with Nietzsche to make a philosophical Molotov cocktail with which to set the world on fire. They will happily kill anyone who gets in their way.
Let’s end with the words of a former socialist revolutionary who advocated Pride and greatly admired Nietzsche, whose words, though spoken almost a century ago, sound strikingly similar to those enunciated by the Pride movement and its stormtroopers on the streets of Seattle and other cities. This revolutionary made “a declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists.” Like today’s revolutionaries of Pride, he had a mind animated by hatred. His name was Adolf Hitler.
This article has been republished with permission from The Imaginative Conservative.
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Joseph Pearce is Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. A native of England, Mr. Pearce is Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute, editor of the St. Austin Review, editor of Faith & Culture, and series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. He is the author of numerous books, which include The Quest for Shakespeare, Tolkien: Man and Myth, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis and The Catholic Church, Literary Converts, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile and Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc.