Nation of Victims

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From The Wall Street Journal:

‘I worry that this book has all been in vain,” writes Vivek Ramaswamy in the last pages of “Nation of Victims.” He fears that the American liberals he so badly wants to reach will simply brush him away as an Uncle Tom or a “Dinesh”—after Dinesh D’Souza, the Indian-American conservative whose name, for many, has become a byword for partisan hackery. He worries that people will dismiss him for “just spouting conservative talking points,” which liberals find especially indigestible when delivered by a non-white person.

Mr. Ramaswamy is Indian-American and has been, he tells us, politically conservative since he was in the sixth grade in Ohio. A self-made magnate, he founded a biotech company at age 28, eight years ago. He is now a robust commentator on current affairs, contributing from time to time to the features pages of this newspaper. His last book, “Woke, Inc.” (2021), took corporate America to the woodshed for its cynical—and lucrative—embrace of “social justice.” He has dissed Davos as “the Woke Vatican.”

In “Nation of Victims,” Mr. Ramaswamy turns his burning gaze on identity politics in America, blaming it for “the death of merit.” A first-generation American, he laments the fact that his America is no longer the country that his parents came “halfway around the world to join.” He doesn’t quite say that the American Dream is dead—he is too much of an optimist for that—but he does believe that “we’re not a nation that tells itself Horatio Alger stories anymore.”

As if to underscore the point, he feels the need to explain who Alger was—a writer who “made a name for himself in the 1800s writing rags-to-riches young adult novels” about poor boys who made good through honesty, hard work and luck. Alger isn’t read any longer in America. Mr. Ramaswamy wonders, mischievously, whether he might be resurrected by letting it be known that Alger was gay. We have been, he writes—pursuing his subversive advocacy a little further—“erasing a prominent gay author from American history, and representation matters.”

In Mr. Ramaswamy’s telling, the Alger “trope” illustrates how America, once a “nation of underdogs,” has become a nation of “incumbents”—a word he uses as a synonym for victims. The underdog American endured the hardships dealt to him by fate and strove to overcome them by making demands of himself. The incumbent American, by contrast, complains of hardships being thrust upon him by others, “the evildoers who commit racist acts, the perpetrators who steal elections.” And so these others owe him his rescue, his salvation. Today’s America has two options: either “closing off victimhood as a path to success” or forsaking the merit-based culture that is in “our national DNA.”

“Nation of Victims” makes a passionate, persuasive case for the first of those options. As such, it is a polemical companion to the oeuvre of Shelby Steele—who has spent a lifetime making an elegant and irrefutable case for the repudiation of the culture of black victimhood—and to John McWhorter’s “Woke Racism” (2021), which teaches weary Americans how to fight the virus of political correctness.

. . . .

Intriguingly, Mr. Ramaswamy suggests that the roots of American victimhood lie in the defeat of the South in the Civil War and the Lost Cause movement, which claimed the Confederates would have won but for the mistakes of a few ignoble generals. Prominent among them is James Longstreet, blamed by Lost Causers for the crushing defeat at Gettysburg. Mr. Ramaswamy makes a game attempt to burnish the reputation of Longstreet and argues—no doubt looking for a fight—that his name might replace Bragg’s in any rebranding of American military installations. Bragg, of the eponymous fort, was “a hapless general who lost almost every battle.” Longstreet, says Mr. Ramaswamy, was a better man: He became a Republican after the war, supporting Reconstruction and rekindling his prewar friendship with Ulysses S. Grant.

Victimhood also has constitutional roots, the book argues, describing how notions such as substantive due process and strict scrutiny have empowered an activist judiciary to “correct defects in the democratic process that had allowed majorities to oppress minorities.” Mr. Ramaswamy is at his weakest in his discussion of the 14th Amendment—whose due-process clause has led to much thorny jurisprudence. In his breezy armchair originalism, in which he seeks the amendment’s authentic meaning, he glides past almost all recent scholarship on the subject. Yet a few inexpert pages on American law don’t detract from his compelling conclusion that what we witness in the U.S. today is a form of “constitutional oppression Olympics.”

African-Americans, he writes, have become enshrined by precedent as “the gold standard of constitutional victimhood.” There were periods in American history when racism was so rampant that it “demanded a comprehensive societal response.” But the book insists that the need has passed. Now, in the name of anti-racism, we risk exacerbating the very problem we seek to solve. Mr. Ramaswamy gives us the example of a young Indian-American protege, a STEM-loving kid who was rejected from every college he applied to in favor of non-Asian applicants whose SATs were significantly lower than his. Heartbreaking questions tormented this young man: “What’s wrong with me? What do they have that I don’t?” What liberals miss, says Mr. Ramaswamy in response, is that they create new and genuine victims by their “ruthless pursuit of social justice,” in which some races are elevated over others in a hierarchy of victimhood.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

12 thoughts on “Nation of Victims”

  1. I’m reading The New Puritans by Andrew Doyle, followed by Race Marxism by James Lindsay that goes into more depth about the bizarre Woke religion that is infesting society today.

    It’s Marxism all the way down.

    Strangely, my book review on Amazon seems to be the only one for the US. Either no one is reading the ebook, or are too scared to comment.

    I write few reviews. It disturbs me that I seem to be so far ahead of the curve. That’s not like me.

    • Try this:

      According to the school’s mission statement:

      “The 5280 Freedom School teaches students from ECE-8th grade to become racially literate and civically-minded by centering Black knowledge, people, and principles. The 5280 FreedoThe 5280 Freedom School teaches students from ECE-8th grade to become racially literate and civically-minded by centering Black knowledge, people, and principles. The 5280 Freedom School exists in order to dismantle oppressive systems, to liberate ourselves, and to empower our students to transform the world.”

      Next generation of victims coming up.

      Makes you wonder about Australian immigration rules.

        • It’s not “similar” to Marx. It is Marx.

          They want to build a Utopia where there is no oppression, and everyone is equal. And it doesn’t matter how many people die along the way. Hundreds of millions of people died in the 20th Century the last time this Marxist Religion came to power.

          – The Woke have that religious fervor of all fanatics.

          That’s why Doyle titled the book, The New Puritans.

      • Makes you wonder about Australian immigration rules.

        There is no escaping it by going to other countries. Andrew Doyle is British, and writes about how infested Britain is with the Woke Religion. James Lindsay is focusing on the history of the Religion of Marxism, and how it is impacting the US.

        Australia is not safe in any way because like Britain they do not have Freedom of speech built into their system.

        – Once the Woke realize that what they are doing is wrong, they will stop.

        There are plenty of interviews with Doyle on YouTube about his new book, they are disturbing enough. The book is relentless. The sample will show you what I mean.

        What has caused this Marxist Religion to spread is that they take perfectly normal english words and change the definitions without telling you, so people hear the words and agree, without realizing that they are not hearing the words that they understand.

        Marxism has always done this. They create their “Dialectic”, and if you don’t understand their definitions, it means that you are not an insider. That you are not on “the right side of history”.

        – That’s the way every “cult” or religion works.

        I can’t remember the book that I read a couple of months ago, but the guy is a “Socialist” and the book is one vast word salad written in the “Dialectic”. It’s like reading stereo instructions translated from Japanese. There is a clear feeling of disorientation as you read the book. I’m more comfortable with ambiguity than most people so other than feeling a bit queasy the words slid right off me. It wasn’t until the end of the book when I read his bio that he mentioned that he was a Socialist. Then I realized, Oh, that’s why the structure of the sentences were so strange.

        This reminds me of growing up in the 60s and the “Counter Culture”, with all the Marxists books, pamphlets, and “Struggle sessions.” Remember, I have mentioned that Northern New Mexico has the highest per capita number of “cults”. Many of them were Marxists, whether they actually knew it or not.

        • Never mind the dialectic: what are tbey going to teach tbose kids? Math and science or activism? FORTRAN or EBONICS? Mass protest 101 or technical writing? How to earn a living or how to be a ward of the state for sixty more years?

          They may try to change the rules of society but the changes they want won’t raise a bushel of wheat, power a car, or cure a disease. Sooner or later their dialectic will have to face the mechanics of actually keeping a modern society running.

          And running a country takes no notice of melanin or ancestry. There’s plenty of black, hispanic, and asian folk working and producing. The freeriders may try to take control and they might even succeeed (Venezuela!) but not for long. Either they get kicked out by the very folk they pretend to represent or they run the country into the ground. Either way it never ends well.

          And this decade is the absolute worst time in 60 years to try their scam.

          On the Marxist front, Marxism in addition to be a failure of an economic hypothesis (not going to be polite and call it a theory) was intended as a means to transition from an agrarian society to an industrial one. It is intrinsically unable to deal with a full industrial society much less the transition from industrial to technological society. They’re so far behind they don’t even know the century they’re living in.

          Instead of solving the problems of the nineteenth, they’re recreating them and creating actual victims, not just theoretical ones.

          • You can never forget the “Dialectic”, because they sure don’t.

            – They are literally speaking a different language, using english words but with different definitions.

            And when you say things like in your post above, they will say that you clearly don’t have the knowledge to understand what they are doing. That’s why you need experts telling you what to think. Their experts.

            In teaching Math: They basically have kids using fractions and percentages, but the word problem is built around oppressed social groups rather than ships and trains. Everything is built around activism. That is the point of their Religion, it is not “Theory”, it must be put into “Practice”.

            And this decade is the absolute worst time in 60 years to try their scam.

            You miss the point. This decade is what it is because of the last sixty years of society being dismantled by the Evil Geniuses. I’ve watched this happening over my whole life, but could not put the pieces together.

            Read “Evil Geniuses” by Kurt Andersen to see what happened. The book will give you context to understand what’s going on, and who is paying for all of this.

            BTW, This is the same thing that Mao did in the reeducation camps. China used “Woke” to break down their society, and now everything “Woke” is outlawed because they know how disruptive to society it is.

            – Break society down, destroy all “Norms”, have everybody informing on each other, then outlaw the “Woke” tools once full control has been achieved.

            The Evil Geniuses are following the same playbook.

            • The last sixty years have already been dismantled.
              And not by activists or pundits.
              They have been dismantled by demographics, geography, and technology.

              All the rambling about evil genuises, white priviledge, racism, equity, etc, are dated concerns about things already gone, swept away by the pandemic. Like lumbering dinosaurs, the gerontocracy and the activists and their concerns are dead but they’re so wrapped up in their echo chambers they haven’t noticed.

              The new normal is already being forged by Maslov’s Hierarchy of needs. No amount of politicking is going to feed anybody or keep you warm in sinter or alive when a gun is pointed at you. Let’s see how far dialectic takes you when a quake or hurricane or nuke hits.

              All the handwaving of activists and politicians only matters in an age of assured affluence.

              That. Age. Is. Over.

              Look around. Look at the homeless. The waves of uninvited. The imbalance between the needs of society and the expectations of the “special” workers.

              All we’re seeing is the last gasp of the generation of ’68. When they finally “retire” their ideas go with them.

              What comes next is a cold hard age.
              Plan accordingly.

              • Here, try tbis:

                Is crying victimhood going to feed those 200Million people?

                What if Putin carries through and drops a nuke?
                What if this weekend’s (wild, unlikely) rumors out of china social mediz are real and they really have a military coup ongoing?
                (Official channels are dark.)

                Or what if China moves on Taiwan?
                North Korea moves south?
                Food shortages lead to war.

                2020 has nothing to teach us about 2023…

                • Food? Food gets even better. The US can both feed itself and produce the fertilizers for its crops. That is sure to infuriate faculty lounges coast to coast when someone tells them where food comes from.

                • Ah, but most farms are big business now.
                  The Kent farm was bought up ages ago by a bigger farm able to afford a million dollar combine.


                  Farming is big industry these days and about to get bigger with the arrival of digital farming or more accurately, industrial scale gardening. The newest combines can automatically process each plant individually with fertilizer pesticide or water as needed. No human needed. Much more expensive combines though.

                  Similar story with the enclosed vertical farms.

                  So yes, the ivory tower types will grind their teeth to dust as the new “evil geniuses” take over the food business. The age of the food barons is upon us.

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