Karl Marx was the father of socialism, and co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels. Central to the thesis of socialism was the class struggle, which is to say the conflict between the working class (the proletariat) and the ruling class (the bourgeoisie). In Marx's view this struggle was inevitably violent. Embedded in the central principles of socialism is the concept of intergroup violence. Violence that is both necessary and inevitable. Remember this, because it's important.
On February 22, 1848, one day after The Communist Manifesto was published, the revolution of the proletariat seemed to be off and running with a revolution in France that led almost immediately to the abdication of King Louis Philippe I on 23 Feb. Revolutionary movements inflamed Europe throughout the spring of 1848, toppling governments and setting up new ones. Though initially successful, by 1851, the revolutionary governments had been largely overthrown, and their leaders executed, imprisoned, or exiled. Over the next 100 years in Europe, the specter of the 1848 revolutions, and preventing a recurrence of them, was a central factor in European domestic politics. Most countries were successful at this.
Others, most notably Russia, were less so. In Russia, of course, the October Revolution of 1917 led to the downfall of the Czar and the creation of the USSR. And the creation of the USSR led, in the fullness of time, to the superpower struggle of the Cold War between the US and USSR, which drove most of the political history of the latter half of the 20th century.
Marx's brand of socialism, which eventually became known as Marxism, was a powerful element of European politics from 1848 right up to the fall of the USSR in 1991. Oddly, Marxism was not so influential in America.
Marxism resonated in Europe because the concept of a class struggle made sense to Europeans. European countries were traditionally governed by a hereditary aristocracy. There was an entire class of people that, though small, held the lion's share of political power. Entry into this class by any means other than by birth was extraordinarily rare, and hard to obtain. It made sense, in the European context, that the central tension of society was the struggle between the aristocratic or bourgeoisie classes and the vast mass of the population.
America was...different. There was no aristocracy. Indeed, it was a central premise of the American founding that there should never be an aristocracy. As Thomas Jefferson put it:
...the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
This is not to say that there were no social classes in America. There were, of course, rich people who preferred to be insulated from the social company of the poor. There was virulent racism, segregation, and all the rest. But America had no truly aristocratic class. Nor was entry into the upper classes beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen. America had economic classes, to be sure, but there were no fixed social classes. Ordinary people could, and did, become quite wealthy. Economic mobility in the US was higher than nearly any other country in the world—and, for the most part, still is.
Thus the Marxist idea of an inevitable clash of classes never made much sense to most Americans. Americans always knew that they didn't live in a class-based society, and, moreover, knew that, to the extent that economic and social classes existed, there was always a possibility of moving into the upper class by dint of individual effort.
America's high degree of economic mobility made the Marxist thesis largely fall flat among Americans. Unlike Europe, there was no hereditary social class into which entry was largely denied to the citizenry. Needless to say, this caused no end of consternation to those American Marxists who couldn't understand why Americans had no class consciousness, in defiance of Marx's clearly "scientific" program of socialism.
Which more than anything else, is a sad commentary on American Marxists' inability to understand the country they were born in.
Well, for a while, at least. Modern Marxists—who now style themselves as "Progressives"—have figured that one out. Modern Progressivism is still Marxism, but with a twist.
Progressives have replaced the class struggle with the idea that everyone belongs to either a class of oppressors, or a class of the oppressed. The trouble with class-based Marxism is its inflexibility, and its analytical base in European-specific historical analysis. The genius of the oppressor/oppressed paradigm is that it is both delightfully flexible in some way and yet implacably, rigidly Marxist at its core. It is flexible in that it can assign an individual to the oppressor or oppressed class with no reference to economic or social status. Yet, it is implacably rigid in assigning a class moral value, based solely on immutable characteristics, like skin color or sexual preference. (The latter has an even more ingenious follow-on effect that we'll discuss in a bit.)
The first principle of modern Progressivism is that to be a member of an oppressed class automatically confers both importance and moral value on the individual. Similarly, membership in the oppressor class automatically confers a moral debt. Your mere membership in the oppressor class makes everything you do or say morally questionable, unless it is to abjectly apologize for your oppressions. Any questioning of the Progressive corpus of thought is clear evidence of an oppressor mindset. And how do you move out of the oppressor class?
To understand that, we have to understand who makes up the oppressor class. Largely, it's white people. More specifically, it's white males. White men have largely had a monopoly on political power in the West for centuries. White men colonized and occupied the lands of people of color. They engaged in the slave trade (Never mind that Africans were the ones who largely sold black slaves to white and Arab slave traders). Just being born a white man is an automatic entry into the oppressor class.
White females, while still presumed to be oppressors by default, fall into a slightly less oppressive class. White men have prevented white women from holding political and economic power through socially enforced gender roles and so forth. Thus, white women have a claim to membership in the oppressed class, at least in certain contexts.
People of color, on the other hand, automatically fall into the oppressed class. They were, after all, the primary victims of both slavery and colonization, and still suffer from racial discrimination. To be person of color means that you are owed. You are owed reparations, political power, economic power, and ultimately, a veto over anything the oppressor class wants.
Finally, there's the oppressed class of people with differing Sexual preferences. Homosexuals, the transgender, the non-binary, or those with other sexual preferences that have been historically discriminated against, or considered non-normative, also have a big seat at the oppressed table.
But here's where the ingenious follow-on effect I mentioned previously kicks in. The same person, you see, can be a member of both the oppressed and oppressor classes. This enables Progressives to create an oppression scale where your worth can be assessed with a scale that has nearly infinite gradations of oppressor/oppressed scoring points. Think of it as an oppression Olympics, where the only competition is the number of immutable oppression characteristics that can be assigned to you.
Who is more oppressed? A white homosexual man, or a white heterosexual woman? Both, of course, start out in the oppressor class, being white. So who gets more oppression points? Not that it matters, because they both lose to a black man in the oppression competition, who, in turn, loses to a black woman, who is less oppressed than a black transgender man, and so forth.
Not that it's always that easy to calculate the appropriate number oppression points. What if I'm a white transgender woman, who still has a penis, but prefers to sleep with men? Do I get the oppression points for being a woman? If I am a woman, does that make me heterosexual, because I have sex with men? Or does it make me homosexual because I still have a penis? Do I get both the woman, transgender, and gay points? Just the transgender points?
How do we score a politically conservative black lesbian? Does being black and lesbian make her oppressed, or does her political conservatism align her with "whiteness" making her an oppressor?
It's the sort of question that only a post-doctoral academic in gender studies could answer...and that's the point. Progressivism is a system so flexible that the level of oppression you're granted is almost entirely at the discretion of whoever is acting as an interlocutor with you at any given time. It ensures that, without both the proper immutable characteristics and the proper political and social views, you can be classed as an oppressor at any time it becomes convenient. Technically, Progressives say you aren't supposed to engage in this sort of thing, but they do it anyway, such as during some Black Lives Matter protests, where only black people were allowed to speak. Everyone is supposed to be equal in their oppression, but when push comes to shove, some of the oppressed are more equal than others.
That is just genius. It's also utter bullshit, and extraordinarily dangerous. It's leading us down the path to genocide.
Progressivism divides people into competing groups, with the goal of obtaining and maintaining power for the favored group. This is true of all collectivist ideologies, whether they come to the issue of political power from the right or the left. Progressivism, as an ideology, is just as odious as white supremacy. All collectivist ideologies tend to lead directly to political violence, with the potential for doing so on a massive scale.
The Oppressed/Oppressor paradigm of modern Progressivism is no different. Oppressors are, by definition, evil. After all, they, you know, oppress people. Fighting against oppression by the oppressed is, axiomatically, good. And, according to the common understanding of language, that's fine, as far as it goes.
The devil, though is in the detail of what constitutes "oppression", and that's where Progressivism goes off the rails. Because oppression becomes the catch-all answer of why any group has disparities in outcomes compared to other groups.
The thing is, we usually think of oppression in terms of, you know, actual oppression. Like, some people getting captured and sold as slaves. Or some people being imprisoned because they disagree with the government. Or being sent to concentration camps because of their membership in a proscribed ethnic, religious or political group.
The Western Progressive view of oppression is a much more expansive sort of oppression, coming from a particularly affluent, Western world-view, which can essentially be defined as, "anything we don't like". Take for example, some passages from the website of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture on the topic of "whiteness":
Since white people in America hold most of the political, institutional, and economic power, they receive advantages that nonwhite groups do not. These benefits and advantages, of varying degrees, are known as white privilege. For many white people, this can be hard to hear, understand, or accept - but it is true. If you are white in America, you have benefited from the color of your skin.
But wait, there is hope for even the whitest among us:
White people can possess other marginalized parts of their identity, but their race is not one of these.
There is, happily, as with all religions, some path to salvation, even for the worst among us. How, then, may I be saved?
To learn more about how race intersects with our other identities, check out the section titled systems of oppression.
We just need to tick off the appropriate oppression block to gain at least partial entrance into the ranks of the oppressed. And how do we experience this awful oppression?
A person of the non-dominant group can experience oppression in the form of limitations, disadvantages, or disapproval.
Well, I mean, it's not being shipped off to the Gulag to be worked to death in the snow of Siberia, but "disapproval" or "limitations" sounds pretty harsh, I suppose, to people raised in the wealthiest and most affluent society in all of human history.
Of course, if I was writing this in, say, 1950, I'm sure that the oppression of whiteness might be a little more evident. But we swept away Jim Crow and political exclusion for black people completely by 1965. Now, 13% of Congressional seats are held by black people, which is the same as the percentage of the general population.
In any event, as a white person in America, I can definitively state that I've never experienced being made to feel abnormal or different for being white. As the Smithsonian explains:
Whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups of are compared.
But wait. Is that some form of oppression, or is it the normal outcome that we should expect when growing up in a country where white people were a majority of the population? For instance, If I were to move to, say Botswana or Seychelles, two of the freest and most democratic nations in Africa, would the customs of their people be the standard by which I was compared? I suspect so.
Of course, racial discrimination and prejudice are wrong. But culture, no matter how fair and just the legal system might be, is still a powerful force. Would I be a member of an oppressed group in Bostwana by the Western Progressive definition of oppression? Logically, I should be, but I suspect the Western Progressive would say otherwise.
Defining oppression in this way is a key element of the way the Progressive perverts the common meaning of language to conform to a political outcome. In normal language, which is to say the common usage of a word and its meaning, words like "oppression" have a specific definition. The common definition of "oppression", for example, is "prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control", according to Google. That seems much more...intense than the Smithsonian's "imitations, disadvantages, or disapproval".
But perverting the language in this way is the point.
Oppression is, fundamentally, a denial of your human rights. "Prejudice" has an entirely different connotation that implies a personal belief or action. Moreover, you can't really fight prejudice. Everyone has prejudices. It's fundamental to human nature. I've come into contact with black people, for example, who I knew didn't want to socialize with me, or who just assumed I was racist, simply because I was white. It's irritating, but whatever. I suspect if I lived in Botswana, I might feel that irritation more often. Perhaps a lot more. But that's not really oppression. That's just a natural consequence of being somehow different from the society's cultural norms.
I certainly have a right to expect that my rights will be respected. That the government won't toss me in prison for my beliefs, or make me drink from a different water fountain because I am a different color. But I don't have the right to make people like me. The best I can hope for, in any society, is equality and equal treatment before the law. But, of course, merely saying that implies acceptance of color-blindness, which is itself defined as racist by the Western Progressive. Which, by the way, would make Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of his children being judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin, racist in modern Progressive terms. Perhaps because Dr. King unfortunately possessed internalized whiteness.
Redefining prejudice as oppression removes it from the personal and makes it political. By calling it "oppression" rather than "prejudice" it implicitly legitimizes a violent response that would be otherwise unjustified. "Oppressors" must be overthrown, after all.
And this is only one example of how Western Progressivism perverts the language in troubling ways. For instance, let's take a look at the word "rights".
In common parlance, and in the traditional understanding of rights in America, this has almost exclusively mean what are termed negative rights, which is to say restraints on other from interfering with your freedom. The government can't, for example, stop you from speaking, or going to church, or criticizing the president.
In Progressive parlance, rights have been converted into positive rights, which is to say obligations that you can place on others. You have a right, say Progressives, to health care, education, housing, internet access (!), and so forth. In other words you, by merely existing, have a claim on my income or property to provide you with certain things, even if I do not desire to provide you with them.
This is a complete reversal of the traditional understanding of rights. If I decline to pay for your high-speed internet access, I am, by definition, violating your rights...and, presto, I am once again an oppressor. And oppression always implies the right of violent resistance. It is no coincidence, as our Soviet friends used to say, that the language is being used in this way by Progressives.
Thus, Progressivism sets itself up as the arbiter of some cosmic justice, with the moral right to respond violently to its opposition. And really troublesome thing about Western progressivism is how far it has gone to infest Western cultural institutions, as demonstrated by the links I've provided.
I haven't even gotten to, and don't have time for, detailing the Progressive assaults on free speech, religion, privacy, or any one of a hundred other major issues. And those who disagree with all of these positions—the oppressors—well, they'll be dealt with soon enough.
Collectivist political victory in every single historical instance has inevitably led to mass killing, whether it's the 6 million Jews and 5 million others in Nazi death camps, the 20 million starved to death in the Holodomor in the USSR, or the 40-80 million who perished under the Chinese Communists.
There's a meme that goes around regularly on the conservative side of social media which says, "The progressives hate you and want to kill you. Buy guns and ammo." This seems, at first glance, to be a little overblown, or at least, it might've...until October 7, 2023.
In previous times, Jews would be a shoo-in for membership in the oppressed class. Centuries of persecution in Europe, pogroms in Russia, social and racial discrimination in the US. I mean, they'd normally have all the oppression points you could ask for.
Except that there's now a Jewish state, Israel, populated largely, though not exclusively, by Jews of European descent. They exist in a region surrounded by Arab states, many of whom still espouse a long-held view that Israel is an illegitimate state that must be disbanded, and returned to Muslim Arab inhabitants. These same states have attacked Israel repeatedly, only to be soundly defeated.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians have wormed their way into the hearts of Western Progressives by making claims of oppression that have largely been accepted. Of course, there has never been a nation of "Palestine". To the extent that the "Palestinians" are still refugees, it's because the neighboring Arab nations have refused to let them in, finding them more useful as anti-Israel PR tools and cats-paws for terrorist attacks. But none of that matters. In the world of Progressives, the Israelis—and, by extension, Jews in general—are oppressors, while the Palestinians are firmly in the oppressed camp.
So, how have Progressives responded to Israel after the October 7th attacks by Hamas, which killed 1,400 civilians, and which were followed by rocket attacks on Israeli civilian population centers? By joining wholeheartedly in anti-Israel marches, in support of the Palestinians. By tearing down posters of Israeli children kidnapped by Hamas, and held hostage in Gaza. Democratic Party members of Congress have publicly repeated the Hamas mantra "From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free." This is, as Hamas' leadership has stated for years, an explicit call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from "Palestine" and making it, as the Germans of a previous era might have said,judenrein.
We've also seen Jewish kids on American campuses—not Israeli kids, mind you, American ones—chased into buildings by mobs of other American kids. We've seen police in American cities telling Jewish citizens to avoid certain areas, or keep their ethnicity secret, for their own safety. Stars of David have been spray-painted on businesses and homes owned by Jews. Indeed, a Jewish fellow got beaten to death in LA by a pro-Palestinian protestor, for holding up an Israeli flag as a counter-protest.
Do you want a Holocaust? Because this is how you get a Holocaust. Frankly, we're only a couple of steps away from another Kristallnacht already. Which, in the mind of the Progressive, is justified, because the Jews are the oppressors.
So, maybe you're thinking, "Who cares? I'm neither Jewish nor Israeli. I don't know much about Israel or Palestinians, and I don't have a dog in that fight." That's understandable. It's certainly not a new attitude.
But I can't help to think back to 1938, when Adolf Hitler wanted to annex Czechoslovakia. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to Munich to appease Hitler, and agreed not to respond to the German invasion of that country. As Chamberlain put it, it was "a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing". Chamberlain returned from Europe waving the Munich agreement, declaring:
My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.
"Our time" turned out to be 11 months. The thing is, Hitler had already decided that war with France and, if necessary, Great Britain, was already inevitable. He got what he wanted from Munich, which was another year to prepare for that war, and he put it to good use.
Czechoslovakia was the canary in the coal mine in the run-up to WWII, and the West just stood around and watched while it died. The anti-Israel marches, and the anti-Jewish actions we've seen from Progressives, are the canaries in our coal mines. Anyone who'll attack Jews for political reasons will also attack you, if you disagree with them.
It doesn't matter how noble the Western Progressive sounds about their desired ends, they can only achieve those ends by becoming real, actual oppressors. And if they ever gain the unrestrained political power to create the society they want, it'll be purchased at the price of countless lives.
We're seeing them for what they are. Respond appropriately.