In a presidential campaign that certainly hasn’t lacked for entertainment, Hillary Clinton might have delivered the best knee-slapper yet during Thursday’s Democratic debate.
Her rival, Bernie Sanders, has been very effectively painting her as a creature of the political establishment. That’s easy to do, because Hillary Clinton is the living incarnation of Establishment power. She’s backed by a long list of Democrat power groups, rolling in dough from their special interests, married to a former President, and covered by a media that largely consists of her friends, donors, and former employees.
Clinton attempted to deflect Sanders’ charge by saying she can’t possibly be Establishment because she’s a woman. She literally declared the very idea to be laughable. “Senator Sanders is the only person who, I think, would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president as exemplifying the establishment. And I’ve got to tell you that it is really quite amusing to me,” Clinton said.
This was yet another play of the Democrats’ dog-eared victim card, in which the entire world can be understood as a hierarchy of victims arranged beneath the heel of “privileged” oppressors. (“Privileged” means “white people who don’t give money to Democrat politicians.”)
Under these crackpot ‘cultural marxist’ oppression theories, the incredibly wealthy, powerful, pampered, arrogant Hillary Clinton can’t be part of the Establishment because it exists to keep women down. Her place in the victim pyramid is obvious, no matter how many private jets and limousines ferry her around.
A similar impulse is on display when a multi-millionaire Hollywood actress denounces the mythical “wage gap,” and her audience of multi-millionaire friends leaps to their feet with thunderous applause, as though they had just witnessed an act of courageous defiance on par with William Wallace telling Longshanks to get bent. Hollywood itself is home to one of the few major industries that demonstrably does pay men much more than women for equivalent work, but it’s more interested in staging national crusades than castigating itself.
Oppression is the coin of the realm in left-wing politics, because they need oppressors. Their world-view is destroyed if they don’t see themselves as victims, and the targets of collectivist power as villains. Only with these power dynamics in place can liberals encourage government theft on a massive scale without feeling a pang of guilt. Quite the reverse — they march against the freedom and property of others with a song in their hearts, because they’re fighting an epic battle for a cosmic justice far more important than mere liberty.
Many politicians talk about “fighting” for their voters, on both sides of the aisle, but Hillary Clinton’s speeches are non-stop declarations of war against all the Americans she wants to defeat. “Fight” is her favorite word. Who is she fighting? You. She wants to lead phalanxes of Americans into battle against each other. She certainly doesn’t think anyone ought to be fighting the government. Most people understand that “fighting” people and taking their money is tantamount to mugging them … unless those people are actually oppressors, in which case beating them down and taking their stuff is liberation.
Sometimes oppressors don’t even realize they’re being oppressive. Ideas such as “systemic racism” and unconscious forms of oppression are bandied around daily among campus liberals. This gives them moral license to turn the power of the State against innocent people who never did anything wrong. Those people are unconscious of their “privilege,” but they’re still members of the oppressor class, in need of “consciousness raising.”
As it happens, Friday was the birthday of the late Trayvon Martin, who was shot in self-defense while assaulting George Zimmerman. The oppression narrative around Martin is completely undisturbed by the facts introduced during the trial that cleared Zimmerman of murder charges. Social media lit up with posts denouncing Zimmerman’s freedom, and indeed his continued ability to draw breath, as an act of injustice. The point behind the media’s reclassification of Zimmerman as a “White Hispanic” was to strip him of victim status and recast him as a junior member of the oppressor class.
Viewed as an individual legal case involving two individual human beings, the Martin case allows for a wide range of responses, including criticism for the actions of both people involved. But under collectivist oppression theory, it can only be seen as the victimization of a saintly Martin, with Zimmerman standing as the avatar for society’s oppressors. The oppression racket is always at the service of collectivism, because it’s all about treating people as members of immutable groups, and using power to pursue some notion of collective “justice” that always involves treating individual people very unjustly.
The oppression racket allows supporters of the biggest, richest, most powerful government in history, ruled by a President with unprecedented dictatorial powers, to pretend they’re still “victims,” and the mega-State still isn’t powerful enough to defeat their oppressors. The villains of the private sector remain at liberty to prey upon the helpless waifs of America. Why, just look at all the filthy money bad millionaires and evil corporations can spend on politics! (Don’t worry your little head about the good millionaires like George Soros, Tom Steyer, Planned Parenthood, the “green energy” lobby, and the Wall Street titans wise enough to pay Hillary Clinton $250,000 for one of those speeches she refuses to let voters see.)
The abortion issue fits into the oppression formula for liberals, as only taxpayer subsidies to filthy-rich Planned Parenthood stand against a dystopian future of captive women forced to labor in the kitchen between bouts of breeding by their patriarchal overlords. Nothing makes people who think this way angrier than bringing up the truly oppressed and helpless party involved in an abortion.
Gun control is sold with an oppression narrative. No, not armed criminals and terrorists – they’re current and prospective constituents of the Left, not villains. Somehow gun control is portrayed as a noble struggle by politicians and celebrities (who mostly enjoy the protection of armed bodyguards) against the evil National Rifle Association, which is only interested in money.
“Greed” is a reliable motivation for oppressor-villains in these fairy tales, because it’s easy to accuse almost anyone of “greed.” We’re all motivated to some degree by self-interest, corporations die if they don’t make money, and groups are generally interested in fulfilling the purpose their members envision. Designated oppressors are allowed to have no other motivation than “greed,” while designated victims are incapable of it.
The standard liberal narrative of “positive rights” — things their clients “deserve” to have for “free” — is laced with oppression theology. The implication is always that evil forces actively seek to deprive the Left’s clients of their well-deserved benefits. This is usually framed as evil exploiters stealing the goods from the dependency class to enrich themselves, but sometimes liberals simply tell their followers that evil white male oppressors enjoy watching them suffer.
The oppression narrative is vitally important for sweeping aside concerns about whether the Left’s promised benefits will bankrupt the Treasury, or whether it’s really fair to saddle hard-working taxpayers with the cost of benefits for others. Everyone who asks those questions is a greedy oppressor who just wants to get out of paying his “fair share!”
A growing number of strong voices raised against collectivism are women and members of minority groups, including several of the current Republican presidential candidates. A little dash of oppression pixie dust makes those minority and female faces melt away. They’re just tools of the oppressors, don’t you know. They’re not authentically Hispanic, black, or female. They’ve been imprinted with a “false consciousness” by the patriarchy.
Oppression narratives are very durable. It doesn’t matter if collectivist programs fail to meet their objectives, as long as designated villains appear to be getting punished. Calls for the reform of failed programs, or the repeal of disastrous laws, can be framed as conspiracies by the oppressors to escape from their just punishments. Since the day of perfect “justice” and universal “quality” will never arrive, it will never be difficult for statists to demand more power by identifying a fresh group of villains who need to be walloped.
Given the Left’s deep belief in the idea of America as an oppressor nation, irreparably stained by the injustice of its birth, they don’t have to work very hard to spin tales of villainy. They’re currently obsessed with the idea that citizenship itself is a form of oppression, because greedy xenophobes hog America’s bounty for themselves by using citizenship laws to keep oppressed people of foreign birth out.
There is no happy ending to the oppression racket. It slips inexorably into a war of all against all, with the “oppressed” increasingly bitter that they can’t find “justice,” no matter how big the government gets. In search of more clients, the statists define ever larger groups as clients in need of protection against a dwindling group of oppressors, whose evil must be magnified as their numbers decline. Not coincidentally, those “oppressors” also end up paying for everything.
American politics no longer envisions the victims of oppression as starving people who need public assistance just to survive. Prosperous middle-class women are taught think of themselves as “oppressed” if they have to purchase inexpensive birth-control supplies on their own. People who don’t really have all that much to complain about are taught to see themselves as “oppressed” because shadowy rich people have exploited them to build unreasonable wealth. A generation of college students is learning to feel “oppressed” just because they hear words they disagree with. Every problem society faces is portrayed as the work of unseen villains, which makes it impossible to look at those problems clearly, and devise solutions that would actually work. The “oppressed” are taught to accept no responsibility for whatever ails them.
The oppression racket will end very badly, if we don’t stop it soon. The search for “oppressors” will always be successful, because there will never be a shortage of people who feel life has treated them unfairly, and they’ll always be willing to support vague allegations of social injustice against faceless class enemies. Meanwhile, the State grows ever larger … but only anarchic right-wing extremists dare call it “oppressive.”