Home Philosophy recent Victimhood is an Oppressive System of Relative Rights
Home Philosophy recent Victimhood is an Oppressive System of Relative Rights

Victimhood is an Oppressive System of Relative Rights

We are two years and spare change away from the American semiquincentennial which will celebrate 250 years since some brave men ratified the foundational document of our nation.

The Declaration of Independence’s bold assertion that the people were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” is all the more relevant in the age of relativism where fewer people believe in a ‘Creator’ or in unalienable rights. That radical document is why America remains the only place on the planet where freedom of speech is absolute.

Other nations have their constitutions and human rights charters which run longer than an old-fashioned telephone directory, but their rights are granted by the government and then taken away by the government. Under the guise of buzzwords like ‘stakeholders’ and ‘evolving social contracts’ your rights are constantly reevaluated by committees according to leftist doctrine.

Unlike the absolute rights of the Bill of Rights, the reevaluation of rights follows a Marxist paradigm in which the existing state of rights is an imperfect system imposed by the privileged on the underprivileged, and must be constantly shaken up to liberate the new oppressed.

Your rights are not absolute, they are relative to how oppressed the committee thinks you are. And if you’re only as free as your oppression, then you have to be oppressed to have rights.

These rights are not a gift from the Creator, but from systemic racism, that you have rights is not something to be proud of or grateful for, but a mark of shame that indicts you for having benefited from whiteness, being adjacent to whiteness, the patriarchy, heteropatriarchy or cisheteropatriarchy, and the only way to atone is to cede your rights to the next group.

The clash between traditional feminism and the transgender movement clearly shows the difference between absolute and relative rights. In the absolute rights model, equality for women would have been a permanent victory, but in the relative rights model, by winning equal rights, women stopped being the oppressed and instead became the oppressors of transgender men.

Feminists have responded to the transgender movement with both absolute and relative arguments. The absolute argument is that womanhood is a fundamental biological reality and not a relative state of mind that can be redistributed to anyone who comes asking for it. The relative one is, like nearly all relative rights arguments, an assertion of unique victimhood.

The Marxist paradigm easily defeats past claims of victimhood. By the sixties, the old class warfare model had evolved to adopt and dispose of such past claims like an efficient factory, beginning with the original class of victims, the white working class, once the vanguard of the revolution, but quickly banished to the ranks of reactionaries and oppressors of the oppressed.

From the lofty progressive vantage point of the current year, every domestic group on whose behalf the leftists of a century ago had advocated, coal miners, factory workers, women, Italian and Jewish immigrants, the rural poor, have now become the contemptible enemies of mankind.

At the rapid pace of radicalization, everyone from white gay men to black men to lesbians, are being prepped for the social abattoir. By 2035, the only true victims may be groups so bizarre and warped as to be barely conceivable today. Before they too are exposed as the oppressors.

Under intersectionality, each right is also a wrong, and each liberation conceals another oppression. The process of liberation is a constant search for new wrongs, new minorities to liberate and then denounce in a constant upheaval of society that masks the oppressive transfer of power from the citizenry to a revolutionary vanguard that also doubles as the true ruling class.

The true oppression is a liberation movement that frees no one, only pits people against one another, giving each grievance its hour in the sun, before turning the aggrieved into the aggressors, so that only the revolutionaries can ever wield any meaningful power by arbitrating who the oppressors and the oppressed are at given moment.

And that is what relative rights look like.

When rights are dependent on defining who the oppressed and the oppressors are, then those rights are not truly inalienable rights given by the Creator or by a foundational document, but by the constantly shifting paradigms of academia and the accompanying leftist politics.

Who the oppressed and the oppressors are can change overnight, as feminists found out. Yesterday, women were the oppressed, today any man who puts on a dress is oppressed.

The difference between your rights being determined day to day by King George III or the editorial department of the New York Times is a preference for one tyranny over another.

Absolute rights, like those in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, build one achievement on top of another. And that is the rights that most Americans, even most liberals, thought that they were getting, but instead the oppressed groups of yesterday wonder why the revolutionary moment seems to have passed them by leaving them with less than they had.

What happened to the revolution, they wonder? What happened is that it’s a revolution.

A revolution is a state of instability. Freedom doesn’t come from revolutions, but from the order that emerges afterward. That’s why Americans commemorate July 4th, 1776 as Independence Day. July 4th was neither the first nor the final shot fired for independence. Like the French, we could have made an original violent confrontation, the Boston Massacre, into our Bastille Day. Or we could have made Evacuation Day, a mostly forgotten holiday marking the British departure from New York City and the end of British rule, into the date of our independence.

But instead we chose to commemorate the aspirational vision of the Declaration of Independence. Revolutions and battles come and go, but we wanted to build our independence around a new order of liberty, not around the perpetual revolution championed by some radicals.

In my book, Domestic Enemies: The Founding Fathers’ Fight Against The Left, I described the radical American leftists who wanted to perpetuate the revolution and saw France as a model.

“Eternal providence called on you, you alone, since the world began, to reestablish on earth the empire of justice and liberty,” Robespierre had rhapsodized. During the Reign of Terror, the French leftist had assured fellow radicals that it would all be worth it for, “by sealing our work with our blood, we may witness at least the dawn of universal happiness.”

Some American leftists plotted to topple George Washington and the Constitution to pursue a French style perpetual revolution that would, after enough bloodshed, offer universal happiness.

Today the “dawn of universal happiness” has been replaced by the “right side of history”, but both are revolutionary movements of relative rights that are always incomplete and seeking perfection. But human affairs are by definition imperfect. The American experiment offered the security of absolute rights while the leftist approach is to rob of everyone of their rights over and over in search of the perfect state, the empire of justice and liberty, and the right side of history.

The real struggle is still between the absolute rights guaranteed nearly 250 years ago by the Declaration of Independence, and the relative rights promised by the leftist revolutions which are still going on today. And it is this clash of rights that will determine the future of our rights.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

Thank you for reading.


  1. That's a big point isn't it?
    When you have no Creator to call on, appeal to or seek vindication from - in this world , but certainly in the next?
    Then all you have are state sanctioned piecrust promise of being a special customer, of someone with the right to access the library's policy document re disability etc.
    Namely, no rights at all.
    Thanks for pointing this out.

  2. DG: I long ago (10 years) read and saved your "Minority Victim Value Index," as it seemed like the clearest and most concise explanation that I had read for the then-current social environment. I have shared it multiple times (& dearly wish that you might update it, except that it would be impossible to keep up with the ever-faster turnover of "victim" categores [as you explain in this post.])

    ...I now have another great post to begin sharing.... Thank you.

    1. thank you, yes, the VVI I think is still relevant, just some of the groups have shifted, but the basic principle remains


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