The most durable narrative told by liberalism, acknowledged by almost all liberals of all factions across the political spectrum, is that liberalism lead to gradually improving labor standards within Western countries. The planks of this story are:
- Work-hour reduction laws
- Environmental protection laws
- Minimum wage guarantees
- Workplace safety legislation
- Mandatory unemployment insurance
- Outlawing of child labor
- Workplace-centered tax collection legislation
- Abolition of slavery, indenture, and heavily regulation of apprenticeship
- Transference of workplace training to the regulated school
- Gender equality legislation
- Banning of hiring practices that lead to disparate racial, gender, and sexual orientation impact
The trouble with this story is that it did not actually end any of these practices in the world. It simply displaced many of the older labor patterns into the ‘third world,’ which is where the West shoves all the practices that it finds aesthetically and morally displeasing to make their own countries more appealing to their moral aesthetics.
On occasion, there is a temporary moral craze about labor practices overseas, but those crazes are always short-lived, because the only way that liberalism can be maintained is by shunting the necessary labor that goes into supporting it out of sight, into foreign countries.
The shunting of these labor practices overseas creates a pervasive sense of guilt on the part of those inculcated into the higher strata of liberal spirituality, but part of that guilt can be abrogated by importing more third world inhabitants into living in the purer, more moral states which they inhabit.
Making a great show of how ‘anti-racist’ and ‘tolerant’ these liberals are makes up for their denial of the unpleasant (to their sensibilities) work must go in to supporting their shining cities, which are not really all that shining at all when judged against the great cities of traditional Europe.
The moral pretenses of the progressive labor theology are coming undone financially, as it becomes more difficult to maintain the currency-and-bond schemes, redistribution, and enormous global supply chains which mandate an incoherent, insupportable foreign policy.
In order to adapt to the failure of this set of religious beliefs which tries to shunt all the ‘dirty’ labor onto lower castes of foreigners, we have to learn to accept that some practices which we have long considered morally abhorrent are really not so bad after all.
We should also recognize that many of the theological planks motivating the labor laws were never supportable either in law or in reality. Ask any salaried worker if they have a ’40-hour work week.’ There is a good chance that such a work week is a legal fiction for them. Schools are not preparing people for labor, but stuffing their heads with nonsense ideology and immorality. Nor are schools appropriate institutions for preparing people to be laborers.
Welfare is morally corrosive as compared to labor. We have to re-learn to be accepting of social arrangements that are often permanent and hierarchical, rather than holding the pretense that we are all equal market participants.
This is the most profound challenge in handling labor issues today: almost every single thinking person in the West has accepted without question every plank of liberalism, while denying vociferously all the loopholes that make the pretense feasible. Liberals have turned away from the working classes of their own countries by pretending to have abolished the working man.
Pointing out that this is not true, and can never be true, punctures a pervasive and false world view. Providing a plausible vision for a society in which more people have legally and economically feasible roles would relieve much of the broadly-felt anxiety throughout the Western world, in which realism has died in favor of the promotion of various dreams which have little to do with the real world in which we must all work and suffer together.
That those roles are liable to be highly stratified, unequal, and unfairly distributed across lines of race and gender makes it more difficult to advance, but it must be advanced in any case.