A conversation about race? About character? What we need is a conversation about civilization.

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Welfare clients and other people who adopt their values are being judged just as Martin Luther King asked fifty years ago today: Not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.paulbence / Foter / CC BY-NC

What makes the black underclass in America an underclass is not a manifestation of skin color or vestigial racism but of the welfare state. We can see this easily enough by looking at long-term welfare clients who are white- or brown-skinned, people who, alike unto the black underclass, reject Western middle-class values.

To the extent that the members of this welfare underclass are treated scornfully by people of all colors who are higher on the social ladder, that scorn is a rejection of this perverse, welfare-inculcated values hierarchy. Welfare clients and other people who adopt their values are being judged just as Martin Luther King asked fifty years ago today: Not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

That’s important for three reasons that I can think of:

First, we don’t need to have a conversation about race, contrary to the solemn admonition we hear from everyone who has no interest whatever in having a conversation about race. Instead, we need to have a conversation about character and values and how these manifest themselves in a civilization.

Second, we very much need to have a deep and earnest conversation about the welfare state, since it is the source and the sink of the moral philosophy that results in the welfare underclass. We need to have this particular conversation right now, not just because the welfare state struggles ceaselessly to undermine Western middle-class values, but also because the advent of welfarized health insurance in the form of Obamacare is an attempt to induct everyone into the welfare system. If we do not rid ourselves of this pestilence at once, in two generations there will no longer be any representatives of Western middle-class values in America. The middle class will have been eviscerated and we will all be one vast ignorant, helpless underclass, living at the mercy of and on the largesse of thugs, whose relative status will be determined solely by their brutality.

And third, we need to stoke the flames of the conversation about Western middle-class values we have been carrying on since the Greeks invented the middle class twenty-five hundred years ago. The welfare state is simply Marxism in disguise, and Marxism, like every tyranny, cannot withstand the scrutiny of focused Western thought. We have been liberal and tolerant and broad-minded for too long. If we do not marshall the courage to defend what we are, what we are will not only be outlawed, it will be obliterated from nearly every living human mind in very short order.

None of this is news. The Greeks themselves understood it very well, but Ayn Rand saw it all more clearly than any of us in Atlas Shrugged:

With all of their noisy devotion to the age of science, their hysterically technological jargon, their cyclotrons, their sound rays, these men were moved forward, not by the image of an industrial skyline, but by the vision of that form of existence which the industrialists had swept away – the vision of a fat, unhygienic rajah of India, with vacant eyes staring in indolent stupor out of stagnant layers of flesh, with nothing to do but run precious gems through his fingers and, once in a while, stick a knife into the body of a starved, toil-dazed, germ-eaten creature, as a claim to a few grains of the creature’s rice, then claim it from hundreds of millions of such creatures and thus let the rice grains gather into gems.

Until we take up this conversation, universal poverty under the rule of illimitable brutality is the ‘civilization’ you will be voting for with your silence.

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