Antirace-ism and Political Liberalism

Political liberalism is the dominant political, moral, and philosophical theory in the West. The theory is based on the idea that, to quote Ronald Dowkin, “government must be neutral on what might be called the question of the good life. [1]” Examples of non-neutral, or so called perfectionist, governments would be nationalistic and communistic ones or ones which define a common religion. Many political liberal theorists argue that the government should not only be neutral, but should work to enforce societal neutrality. An example of the latter would be judicial activism which aggressively attacks forms of discrimination (used in the non pejorative sense) such as “anti-gay” marriage laws.

As some have noted [2[, in practice Political Liberalism is never neutral. When governments are actually neutral with respect to individuals’ good life, they preclude a collective good life. Worse, Political liberalism tends to morph into perfectionist liberalism, the inverse of what is was supposed to be a replacement of [3]. An example of a Perfectionist liberal government would a government that establishes multiculturalism and diversity as a social good and actively implements policies to promote this good.

Perfectionist liberalism has become a dominant moral, philosophical theory throughout the West. One of the goods often advocated is “anti-racism.” Kelly et al (2010) sum up the two dominant antiracist positions [4]:

In sum, both eliminativist and conservationist agendas include, often tacitly, goals of psychological reformation. In particular: Eliminativists’ Goal: A reduction of racial categorization in thought and behavior. Conservationists’ Goal: The retention of racial categorization together with a rejection of thick racialism* and pernicious racial discrimination. As we shall go on to show, the extent to which these psychological aims can be achieved depends on the particular facts of racial cognition.

Consider first eliminativism. What exactly would eliminativists** like to eliminate? Politically conservative eliminativists (e.g. D’Souza, 1996) are committed to the elimination of racial categorization in public policy. But many eliminativists (including a variety of liberal thinkers) have something much more sweeping in mind, and suggest reform extending from large-scale features of social organization all the way to individual habits of thought and action. In such normative proposals, which recommend altering individuals’ habits of thought and action, the psychological assumptions of eliminativism are fairly close to the surface.”

Now I have pointed out elsewhere that it’s both rational and, for some, natural (i.e under genetic predisposition) to identify racially and ethnically. Were it not, racially identifying would still be a Good for some. Moreover, I have argued elsewhere that racial mythology (i.e thick racialism*) is just a manifestation of racial identification; it’s a story telling and mythmaking about out-groups that‘s loosely grounded in reality. Since racial identification is a Good, it follows that both racial eliminativism and racial conservationism are manifestations of perfectionist liberalism, which is to say inverted Political liberalism.

This is why I have argued that Alternative rightists need to start arguing on the basis of Political Liberalism and then push for vulgar liberalism.

[1] Dworkin, 1978. Liberalism
[2] Neal, 1997. Liberalism and its discontents
[3] Kalb, 2004. The Tyranny of Liberalism
[4] Kelly, et al., 2010. Race and Racial Cognition

*Kelly et al (2010) define this as: The doctrines that divided human beings into putatively natural categories. Such doctrines the held that ‘‘natural’’ races exist, and that sorting people into racial groups on the basis of phenotypic features like skin color, hair type, and body morphology also served to sort them according to a range of other underlying properties that expressed themselves in a variety of physical, cultural, moral, and emotional differences among the various races.”

**An example of racial eliminism is given by Kelly et al:

A nonracist society would be one in which the race of an individual would be the functional equivalent of the eye color of individuals in our society today. In our society no basic political rights and obligations are determined on the basis of eye color. No important institutional benefits and burdens are connected with eye color. Indeed, except for the mildest sort of aesthetic preferences, a person would be thought odd who even made private, social decision by taking eye color into account. (Wasserstrom, R. 2001 (1980). ‘‘Racism and Sexism.)

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