Free society can only exist where the markets of both goods and ideas remain open. That is to say, individual liberty beyond a solitary existence is impossible to maintain if an economy has become overwhelmed by non-market factors or if ideas become crimes by their theoretical merit alone. This is why class consciousness and ethnic consciousness can become the greatest threats to a free society. If the predominant factor of life upon which individuals dwell becomes real or perceived injustices effecting the group with which they strongly identify, their natural inclination will be to use the institutions of society to correct these injustices.
Inevitably, those who develop class consciousness use non-market forces to influence and correct perceived economic injustice in an attempt to enforce balance upon the classes. Similarly, those who develop ethnic consciousness inevitably seek to use the powers inherent in our institutions, both within government and without, to combat and silence actions and ideas believed to be fueling the alleged injustices. Some philosophers, namely Rousseau and Marx, believed that these developments are the next stage in the political evolution of the species. But it is the opposite that is true. These developments are yet more evidence added to a long list throughout human history that however much humans maintain the capacity for progress and growth they yet maintain the similar capacity for regression and reaction. Building the future upon class or ethnic consciousness will not lead us towards a new egalitarian future, it will destroy our present reality of uniquely balanced equality in the eyes of the law.
A shocking number of Americans have written off the various ideas of our national political doctrine, such as capitalism, republicanism, federalism, and economic mobility, based upon their view that they are imperfect ideas and have created unjust conditions. But a more perfect future will not be attained by unwittingly clinging to ideas still bound to the injustice of the past. Private property, freedom of speech, currency, freedom of association, the right to bear arms; these are all developments which have only gained purchase in the human mind and come under protection of the government in the last two hundred years and they are the ideas which have raised humanity from the suffering and injustice which could be viewed as a birth right of the species until these ideas appeared and became enshrined in hearts who place freedom above all other concerns. To attack any one of these ideas based upon even a real injustice is to retreat from the liberty and justice we have claimed as a new birthright under our form of government and a retreat towards the despotism and impoverishment which beset untold generations of humanity.
Our experiment in representative government and free society has worked in spite of the injustices which have reared their heads as products of the human ugliness, which we all still maintain the capacity for in our hearts, that has beset certain parts of our history because pluralism and capitalism have survived to overcome our episodes of regression and reaction. If pluralism and capitalism remain under attack and lose the discipleship of America’s citizens it would not be a revolution in human affairs, it would be a large and tragic step backwards which would echo disastrously through generations to follow. It is natural to be conscious of our economic realities and to associate chiefly with those whose ethnic and cultural backgrounds match our own, but these must be secondary considerations to our consciousness of liberty and justice for all.
Goldberg, J. (2018). Suicide of the west: How the rebirth of tribalism, populism, nationalism, and identity politics is destroying American democracy. New York: Crown Forum.