Bryan Caplan has had two epiphanies, which sum to the conclusion that — bad as tribalism is — misanthropy is the real problem. His ineradicable universalism betrays him once again.
It matters little whether people are uniformly judged good or bad. Far more important is whether such judgment is discriminating.
The central argument of Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals is clarifying in this regard, not least because it explains how radical mystification came to dominate the topic. How could there ever come to be a moral quandary about the value of discrimination? Considered superficially, it is extremely puzzling.
Differentiation between what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ requires discrimination. This is a capability no younger than life itself, which it serves as an indispensable function. As soon as there is behavior, there is discrimination between alternatives. One way leads to survival, the other way leads to death. There is nourishment, or not; reproduction, or not; safety or predatory menace. Good and bad, or the discrimination between them (which is the same thing), are etched primordially into any world that life inhabits. Discrimination is needed to survive.
The very existence of archaic hominids attests to billions of years of effective discrimination, between safety and danger, wholesome and putrid or poisonous food, good mates and less good (or worthless) ones. When these elevated apes differentiated between good and bad, appetizing and rotten, attractive and repulsive, they found such discriminations sufficiently similar in essence to be functionally substitutable. When judging that some food item is ‘not good for us’, a person is ‘rotten’, or the odor of a potential mate is ‘delicious’, we recall such substitutions, and the primordial sense of discrimination that they affirm. There can be no long-term deviation from the original principle: discrimination is intelligence aligned with survival.
Two contrary developments now present themselves. Firstly, there is a sublimation or sophistication of discrimination, which might be called cultivation. Abstract concepts, modes of expression, artworks, delicate culinary flavors, refined behaviors, and exotic elaborations of sexual-selection stimuli, among innumerable other things, can all be subtly discriminated on the ancient scale, supporting an ever more intricate and extended hierarchy of judgments. The reflexive doubling of this potential upon itself, as captured by the ‘higher’ judgment that to discriminate well is good, produces a ‘natural aristocracy’. For the first time, there is a self-conscious ‘Right’. This, at least, is its logico-mythical ur-form. To divide the good from the bad is good. Order, hierarchy, and distinction emerge from an affirmation of discrimination.
Because the Left cannot create, it comes second. It presupposes an existing hierarchy, or order of discriminations, which is subverted through a ‘slave revolt in morality’. The formula is simple enough: to discriminate is bad. Following from this leftist moral perversion, as its second-order consequence, those who do not discriminate (well), but are in fact discriminated against, must be the good. In the new moral order, therefore, to be bad at discrimination is good — or ‘universalist’ — whilst the old (and now ‘evil’) quality of good judgment, based on competent perception of patterns and differences, is the very quintessence of sin.
Lawrence Auster’s thinking, which would not usually be described as ‘Nietzschean’, conforms to the conclusions of the Antichrist perfectly in this:
We thus arrive at our present system of mass nonwhite immigration, multiculturalism, racial preferences for minorities, the symbolic celebration of minorities, the covering up of black-on-white violence, and antiracism crusades directed exclusively at whites. Under this system, whites practice assiduous non-discrimination toward the unassimilated, alien, or criminal behavior of racial minorities, while practicing the most assiduous discrimination against their fellow whites for the slightest failure to be non-discriminatory. This is the system that conservatives variously describe as “political correctness” or the “double standard.” However, from the point of view of the functioning of the liberal order itself, what conservatives call the double standard is not a double standard at all, but a fundamental and necessary articulation of the society into the “non-discriminators” and the “non-discriminated against”—an articulation upon which the very legitimacy and existence of the liberal society depends. [Auster’s emphasis]
The racial pretext for this righteous diatribe is not incidental, given the prevailing sense of ‘discrimination’ in Left-edited languages. Caution is required, however, precisely because vulgar racism is insufficiently discriminating. All generalization lurches towards the universal. The abstract principle of Leftism is, in any case, far more general. The trend towards the Left-absolute is entirely clear, and pre-programmed: no state of human existence can possibly be any better or worse than any other, and only through recognition of this can we be saved. Do you sinfully imagine that it is better to be a damned soul like Nietzsche than an obese, leprous, slothful, communist, cretin? Or worse still, in Bryan Caplan’s world, that one might design an immigration policy on this basis? Then your path to the abyss is already marked out before you.
It does not take an exceptional mastery of logic to see the inextinguishable contradiction in Leftist thought. If discrimination is bad, and non-discrimination is good, how can discrimination be discriminated from non-discrimination, without grave moral error? This is an opportunity for Rightist entertainment, but not for solace. The Left has power and absurdist mysticism on its side. Logic is for sinners.