We all have elements of privilege to which we are heirs. We should strive to make the most of our privilege and be worthy of it; not view it as a crime or the raison d’etre for apology.
Singling out race-based or socioeconomic privilege is NOT speaking truth to power; it is simply bigotry & racism by another name. Does a native-born Chinese individual have privilege in China because he or she knows the culture, language and has familial ties? I would hope so. Does a black man from a well-off family in Nairobi have privilege in Kenya? Absolutely. But in neither case does that privilege necessarily equate to oppression of someone less fortunate.
Likewise, laying collective guilt at the feet of an ethnic group or race or gender is inexcusable; it certainly has no place in free democratic societies which claim the individual has intrinsic value. And laying collective guilt on members of an ethnic group or race based on sins committed by their ancestors is equally reprehensible.
The evolution and instantiation of this doctrine can be seen by examining the intellectual history of Socialists, post-modernists and Marxists. As the corpses piled up, the Neo-Marxists and their ilk could no longer defend the failed and bloody examples of communism and eugenics in 20th century. Their response was to soften and broaden their labor/proletariat vs capitalist fight by pitting races and genders against each other in a victim-oppressor narrative. In their view, every human interaction is just a micro power-struggle within the larger theater of oppressive dominance hierarchies. It may look different on its face, but it is the same ideology that fueled the murderous acts of collectivists in the communist revolutions of Russia & China. As Orwell alludes to, the socialists didn’t really love the poor as much as they hated the rich.
Proponents can no longer overtly defend the record of socialism/communism in 20th century; so now they must tone down the rhetoric. The toxic ideology continues, now masquerading in softer cloth as social justice and identity politics, based on their own hierarchy of intersectionality.
Those who would indict an individual for crimes of their ancestors, based on the color of their skin, practice a sinister and malevolent form of racism that will not end well. It is an ideology that distorts justice and shows no regard for individual sovereignty or free-will.
It’s time we learned the painful lessons of the bloody social experiments of the 20th Century. It is time to call out identity politics, charges of white privilege and the toxic ideology that underpins it.
We can do better. We need to rediscover the sovereignty of the individual in the tradition of Chydenius, Locke and Bastiat. Ayn Rand exposed the truth succinctly when she said, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”