Thursday, August 13, 2015

Do identitarian liberals care that their approach leaves people of color disproportionately poor?

I've recently been quoting something I asked an identitarian a few years back:
For years, I wrestled with whether Malcolm X was right when he said you can't have capitalism without racism. Clearly, liberals and conservatives are working desperately to create capitalism without racism. But I've finally come to see that Malcolm X was right: if you don't redistribute wealth, the distribution of wealth will be racially disproportionate. If you do redistribute wealth, capitalism ends. It's a Catch-22 that anti-racists ignore. Do you have an answer?
I've never met an identitarian who did. The best of them are beginning to admit that social inequality and economic inequality might be more than "intersectional", that perhaps there's something to the argument that economic inferiors will always be social inferiors no matter how politely their bosses treat them, and are joining me on the Basic Income bandwagon.

But, much as I love Basic Income, it does not solve the Anti-racism Catch-22: Basic Income does nothing about racial disproportionality at the top of the economic pyramid. It only raises the base of the pyramid so the poorest people of all hues will suffer less while they work to make their lives better.

Now, you may argue that Basic Income will help bring about a true meritocracy in which the capable rise and the incompetent fall. But that's never been the case under feudalism or capitalism: great wealth creates its own buffers, and incompetent rich people usually get competent managers for their money. Do a little googling about class mobility in the US, and you should be appalled. So here're my new questions for identitarians:

1. Do you care that your approach will keep black and Hispanic Americans disproportionately poor?

2. If you believe your approach will someday result in black and Hispanic Americans being the economic equals of the ethnic groups in America that currently have a disproportionate share of the wealth, how many generations do you think it will take for that to happen?

I support Basic Income for the same reasons I support Social Security and Medicare: it ends economic desperation. But ending economic desperation is only the first step toward making everyone equal.

ETA: I originally wrote "people of color" in questions #1 and #2. I changed that because Asian Americans are people of color, most Hindu Americans are people of color, and some people insist with no regard to history that Jews are not white. All three groups are richer than ethnically Christian white Americans.

ETA 2: I tweaked the title and the first question to make them less confrontational. Because I really would like someone to try to answer how you can preserve capitalism and achieve racial equality.

ETA 3: Useful links from the comments:

'The Great Gatsby Curve': Why It's So Hard for the Poor to Get Ahead - The Atlantic

One-Third Of Americans Are In Or Near Poverty | Demos

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds - CBS News