Privilege is a characteristic feature of the world we live in, defining the vast and unmistakable gaps between the haves and the have-nots, the proverbial 1 and 99 percent. As such, privilege demands a permanent, indeed perpetual posture of victimhood on the part of the privileged as a safeguard against political challenges from heretofore oppressed groups seeking greater freedom and equality. Permanent victimhood is the characteristic feature of all attempts to assert, reproduce and establish privilege.
The value of perpetual victimhood for privileged groups resides in the main from the blame-shifting, scapegoating and crisis leveraging properties of the victim complex, which forms part of the broader set of mechanisms social psychologists associate with the phenomenon of moral disengagement. Moral disengagement is roughly defined as the set of subjective mechanisms we employ to disable the self-restraining qualities of the conscience.
The role of the victim complex in neutralising the conscience and expediting blame-shifting, results in the main from a pretence or affect constructed on the conflation of being made subject to doubt, criticism or challenge and an attack on one’s person or rights. The conflation of being doubted or criticised and being attacked derives in turn from a fundamental, and typically willing, confusion of individual freedom and personal license.
Individual freedom means the ability doing what you want as long as you respect the equal rights of others. Personal licence refers to the power to do what you like regardless of the consequences for anyone else. Individual freedom is the basis for all harmony, functionality and justice in society. Personal license is the basis of all chaos, disorder, and injustice. Privilege being a form of injustice depends then on the assertion of personal license at the expense of individual freedom.
Asserting the right to perpetrate injustice at the expense of others must be dressed up as something else. The actual victims must fail to understand what is going on, and the privileged must maintain an inner equilibrium (or something approximating it; the tendency to fixate on the approval of strangers through conspicuous consumption with the same degree of preoccupation and obsession that heroin addicts consume hard drugs points towards comparable spiritual deficits).
This is why the privileged, with the aid of their courtiers and lapdogs in government, the corporate media, the public relations industry and academia, habitually conflate personal license and individual freedom, a sleight of hand that establishes the aforementioned and much-vaunted and cherished victim complex. The privileged and their servants are no longer perpetrators of injustice, they are victims of it, just as the actual victims of the maintenance and perpetuation of privilege through the assertion of personal license are the victimisers of the privileged.
The application of the victim complex in direct defence of the economic privilege of the haves conflates personal licence and individual freedom through the myth that wealth is the result of individual hard work. If the richest 8 people in the world have as much wealth combined as the poorest half of humanity, so this myth suggests, it is because they are enterprising, intelligent, and work hard, an assumption whose flipside is that the poorest 3.6 billion people are poor because they are indolent, unintelligent and lazy.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘The Perpetual Victimhood of Privilege’.