Published on March 02 2018

The Politically Correct Definition of Racism Is Racist

Justin’s note: Today, we have another insightful essay from John Hunt, Doug Casey’s coauthor in the High Ground novel series.

Below, John takes a close look at the term “racism”—and provides a solution to the problem itself…

By John Hunt, MD

Racism is a fire that the political class can’t put out. Intentionally or not, politicians, the media, and academics are all stoking the fire.

Slavery is dehumanization. Libertarians are its most avid opponents. Libertarians oppose even the partial slavery that results from coercive taxation. The crime of past slavery no doubt contributes to the ongoing racism that persists today. Despite abolition, racism continues.

The historically racist term colored people has been replaced by the cool and fully acceptable term, people of color. I accept the relevance of the nuances and I’m happy to use the preferred term, but I harbor doubts that such a change in phrasing will make a sufficient dent in the problem of racism.

The meanings of many words have changed. Certainly the word liberal has had its meaning perverted (and essentially reversed) in the United States. Liberal once meant a focus on individual liberty in opposition to centralized power. Now? Rather the opposite.

Discrimination is another term that has undergone major changes in meaning. Discriminate used to mean to choose after careful deliberation, a process that has only positive connotations. Over the decades, the meaning gradually changed to a negative: making a choice based on group affiliation such as race, ethnicity, religion, etc. Then the word discriminate mutated further. It now seems to hold a more confusing, subjective, and inconsistent meaning, one that took me a while to parse. After some contemplation, I realize that discrimination has come to mean doing something that someone might want to get offended by.

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Let’s take the term racism head-on. In this conversation, I am using the original definition of the term discriminate, as opposed to the politically correct or confused versions.

First, let’s ask: Is there some biological, innate, genetically transferred process that, in addition to the history of slavery, causes or underlies racism? There could be. And if there is, we need to be aware of it.

We know that people commonly are attracted to mates who look like themselves. Just so, perhaps the tribes of long ago feared people who looked different from themselves—who looked strange—in other words, strangers. And rightfully so, as back then, such strangers might be invaders, stealing their land and their children, and enslaving their women.

Over the millennia, a fear of strangers may have become teleologically ingrained. In other words, to fear people who look different may have provided a survival benefit. Indeed, it still may, such as when fear of hooded gangs leads to avoidance of them. In addition to cultural causes, does the spontaneous segregation of black kids and white kids at school lunch tables have an ancient biological underpinning? Possibly. There are other evolutionary adaptations in the brain that prove to be handicaps in modern society. Racism may, in part, be a residual handicap left over from primitive times.

Fortunately, individual humans have rational function in the cerebral cortex that modulates the deeply ingrained instinctual processes of our animal natures. Indeed, this ability to overcome instincts with rationality distinguishes us from animals. It is the rational individual mind that needs to overcome racism, whether that racism is biological or cultural (nature or nurture). The rational mind can even overcome racism that is intentionally reinforced in us by those who want to divide us into more easily controlled groups.

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The individual rational mind has the potential to be a powerful weapon against racism, but a dominant definition of racism stands in the way.

There are two competing definitions of racism. One is collectivist, and one is individualist. And they couldn’t be more different.

The dominant and politically correct definition is the collectivist definition. The collectivist definition is: Racism is the oppression of one race by a dominant race. In this collectivist definition, all blame and all victimhood falls on entire races, disregarding any individuals who stand apart. An individual essentially can do nothing to resolve this, because it is a collective problem. That’s depressing. But it provides a clue as to why we are still struggling to beat racism.

The individualist definition of racism is vastly different: Racism is discrimination based on race. It is only the individual who is capable of making deliberate choices, of acting as a moral agent, of discriminating. In contrast, a group—such as a race of people—is not a moral agent capable of discriminating right from wrong or capable of making choices. Since only individuals can choose between right and wrong, the individualist definition of racism is the only racism that any of us can affect.

Note that only within the individualist definition do you have the power over whether you are racist or not. Note also that the individualist definition of racism is broader than the collectivist definition. After all, you can’t have the collectivist version of racism without the individual process of racial discrimination.

Yes, the individualist definition recognizes bi-directional racism. The politically correct may scream in anger at any notion that racism could be bi-directional (or multilateral), in spite of the obvious reality that racial discrimination is just that. Remember, the politically correct people are ensconced in their problematic collectivist definition, which excludes from the term racism any racial discrimination undertaken by individual members of the oppressed race.

Note that the collectivist definition of racism not only tolerates racial discrimination (if undertaken by the oppressed), but indeed demands that people discriminate based on race. And today’s media magnifies this. The headline, “White Cop Shoots Black Man” defines both people involved by their skin color as opposed to their character. At least the cop gets recognition for his profession, but the man who got shot is defined by, and described as being, not a father, son, friend, lover, lawyer, plumber, Christian, philosopher, or dancer, but as black. Can there be anything more antithetical to Martin Luther King’s dream than the way the media focuses attention on race (or even just skin tone) rather than content of character? Even when dealing with something as important as the killing of a human being, most of the media fails.

The government further encourages us to racially discriminate, systemically subsidizes such discrimination, and even mandates it. A government form rarely passes my desk in which I am not asked to check off a box to categorize myself based on race, no matter how irrelevant race is to the purpose of the form. I don’t check off such boxes. I write in: “Martian.”

I reiterate that the collectivist definition inherently demands us to discriminate based on race. And so the promoters of this definition end up encouraging racial discrimination. And therein lies a major contradiction and failing. We cannot effectively address racism if we accept yet another counterproductive collectivist definition.

Collectivism causes racism. We need to stop the collectivism in order to beat racism.

The solution to the problem of racism is the affirmation of individualism, because individualism focuses on the content of one’s character.


John Hunt, MD

Justin’s note: If you haven’t read Doug’s brilliant essay on the corruptions of the English language, I urge you to check it out here and here. Like John, Doug talks about how many of the words you hear, especially on television and other media, are confused, conflated, or completely misused…

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