by Barry A. Liebling
In everyday life we frequently witness people being called out for using double standards. The accusation is intended to be a scathing criticism, and the rebuke implies that a single standard should be used. The proper way to judge people and events is to apply principles consistently. To be fair you should deliberately avoid taking into account the identity of the people involved. That is the essence of the expression “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”
The authentic interpretation of the phrase “all men are created equal” is that the rules for evaluating people should apply to all individuals equally – regardless of family background, amount of wealth, gender, or ethnicity. It does not signify that everyone has the same interests or abilities, or ought to reap exactly the same outcomes.
Note that a single standard for everyone is based on Enlightenment philosophy. For hundreds of years the concept of the proper way to evaluate human conflicts has been artistically represented by statues of Lady Justice. The figure is portrayed as a blindfolded woman holding scales (representing opposing arguments or people in conflict). The core message is that justice does not recognize or consider who the parties are – only the actions they take. Importantly, this is a cornerstone of individualism. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-meaning-behind-the-lady-justice-statue.html
Note that the concept of one set of rules for everyone is a vital correction that supercedes older, more primitive ways of evaluating behavior. Before the Enlightenment school of thought became influential (an inspiration to the most intelligent founders of the United States) the common default was to judge people largely according to their group membership. Is the person royalty or merely a commoner? What is the national origin of the subject? Some ethnicities deserve to have every advantage while others should be treated harshly. Check to see how much wealth a person has before deciding how he or she will be treated.
And also observe that the Enlightenment ideal of one set of rules for everyone has never been universally endorsed. Marxist philosophy (perhaps an oxymoron) explicitly rejects individualism and touts group identity as its guiding theme. Classic Marxists see a world of opposing groups. Two main groups are the bourgeoisie or middle class (who own property) and the proletariat or workers (who are exploited). There can be no long-term accommodation between the oppressed and the oppressors. Marxists believe in “dialectical materialism” which asserts that the oppressed will inevitably defeat the oppressors. The only question is the timing of the event. Furthermore, leftists feel it is their duty as progressives to accelerate the defeat “by any means necessary.” That means the oppressed are worthy of every consideration and favor, while the oppressors should suffer the most extreme punishment.
Since the last part of the twentieth century, classic Marxists have been superceded by Neo Marxists. The model of antagonistic groups struggling against one another remains. What is new is the proliferation of conflicting groups. This is the essence of modern identity politics where leftists proclaim some groups the oppressed – which bestows high prestige – and other groups the oppressors – the enemies that must be vanquished. Of course, the more oppressed groups a person belongs to the more that person deserves positive outcomes. And, conversely, if a person is part of multiple oppressor groups that individual is targeted for ostracism. As anyone who has attended school, watches the legacy media, or listens to popular entertainers – the most odious oppressor (to identity politics leftists) is the straight, white, male.
Let’s return to the topic of double standards. If you understand and appreciate the Enlightenment ideals of individualism, rationality, even-handedness, and fairness – you recognize double standards as wrong-headed. Employing double standards is either an error that should be corrected or is a deliberate rejection of accurate judgment.
But leftist progressives embrace double standards. Members of groups that are designated as oppressors should be attacked without mercy. They are destined to be crushed, and the sooner the better. The oppressed should be regarded as permanently deserving more than they have. Anything a leftist does that ostensibly benefits the oppressed (defined by the high priests of woke thinking) is justified.
Look at the real world of the high tech companies that are dominated by committed leftists. Google, Facebook, and Twitter openly censor the online activities of conservatives and libertarians – claiming that they are clamping down on “hate speech.” And indeed the speech is hateful to these executives because it contradicts Neo Marxist dogma. These same companies will give a free pass to content that calls for violence – providing it comes from anti capitalists and opponents of western civilization.
Hard-line leftists are not insulted when they are accused of using double standards. They feel it is the right way to behave. Persuading them to correct their thinking will be a difficult challenge.
*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***