204. Gathering together (VII)
There was a time when a person accused before the law could claim “privilege of clergy”. If he could read a few passages of the Bible in Latin, his case was transferred from the secular courts to the ecclesiastical courts; and so much the better for the semi-literate rogue, for the ecclesiastical courts were, in effect, the liberal courts of their day—rarely did they hang a clergyman. Eventually, this loophole was closed and the court system for clergymen disappeared from the purview of the state; it probably did little harm, the types of people who became clergymen tended to be unlikely to be thugs in need of the rope or the lash—just suitable penances instead. Yet, of course, a parallel legal system of this sort was discriminatory, undemocratic, and, literally, privileged.
The word “privilege” is thrown about pretty liberally these days—mostly by people who consider themselves to be liberals, as it turns out. In the strict sense, the only sense that matters for reality, “privilege” derives from the Latin for “private law”; it applied to the idea of “privilege of clergy”: there was a separate law that applied to a certain class of people. In the Roman sense, privilege could even apply to a law made for one individual and not even a whole class; so the term “privilege” is really connected to a man who is “a law unto himself” in a literal sense.
Today, it is safe to say that we have lost any sense of what we mean by “privilege”. What has happened is that the analogical sense of the word has swallowed the whole sense of the word. We now use it in the sense that someone with a Bentley and a chauffeur is, in a way, a law unto themselves. When they use the road, they have more comfort and can do as they please in the backseat, smoked glass partition permitting; in a sense, they do not obey the same “law of the road” as other drivers. Yet it is still an analogy and an analogy that is overstretched; the chauffeured Bentley must follow the speed limit, pay the same price for petrol, pay insurance, and so on—if it were possible to buy a licence plate that meant the police could not stop you, no matter how fast you went, then that would be true privilege of wealth; yet this does not exist in any Western jurisdiction.
In a similar way, money can buy a child a place at a private school; but it cannot alter the exams, the child’s IQ and disposition, or guarantee a good place at a university or company. It can help; it can help the child access networks and know the forms of non-verbal communication used by successful people; however, none of this is law-like—the law is guaranteed and obligated.
When the contemporary left talks about “white privilege” they analogically mean the customs, traditions, and familial and friendship links that form an operative society; actually, they refer to the non-legal aspects of society—voluntary associations of kinship and friendship—as if these were repealable statute laws. This explains why they think the removal of privilege is easy; just repeal “the law”. The implication is, incidentally, that the entire organic nature of society must be liquidated; so the contemporary left effectively advocates racial extermination through the destruction of cultures, religions, and traditions.
There are genuinely privileged people in Western societies; there are people for whom special statute laws and exceptions exist as opposed to other citizens. These people are ethnic minorities, women, and sexual minorities; for whom an entire parallel legal structure exists, especially in the realm of work and careers—as well as a shadow, non-codified, assumption that the legal system should “go easy” on them. So we find, if we adhere to the etymology, that the situation is the reverse to that the left describes: the truly privileged people in Western societies are women, sexual minorities, and ethnic minorities.