Up from below. For universal rights or against them. In support of egalitarianism or in support of the vicious inequalities of “meritocracy.” These are the conflicts. If you’re a conservative who thinks that black people in poverty in Detroit deserve it because of a supposed culture of dependence, you’re my enemy. If you’re J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, and you think white people in poverty in the Cincinnati suburbs deserve it because they don’t take initiative in their own lives, you’re my enemy. If you’re Donald Trump and you think undocumented immigrants deserve to be kicked out of the country, you’re my enemy. If you’re some wealthy liberal aristocrat writer, sneering down at the rubes and condemning them to misery because you’ve decided they’re all bigots, you’re my enemy. People deserve their suffering or they don’t. I say they don’t. That’s it, that’s all there is.

Honestly, Freddie should just go ahead and find religion if he wants to keep arguing over metaphysics such as whether people “deserve” their lot in life. He’s already got the instinct for martyrdom, and it’s just being wasted in the political arena. Why quibble over a trifling detail like whether Christianity is “true” or not when you so clearly believe in its otherwordly moral vision? If you’re ready to burn at the stake for the sake of a world in which politics is the ultimate cure for suffering, how is it any more of an affront to your intellectual integrity to accept doctrines of virgin births and resurrected corpses?

As an aside, if you can read Hillbilly Elegy, or listen to J.D. Vance’s public talks, and come away with the conclusion that he thinks poor white people “deserve” their poverty simply because he doesn’t agree that the state is ultimately and totally responsible for their well-being, you are a Manichean ideologue (as all the Matthew 12:30-style rhetoric would suggest) and a self-made idiot. There’s always the possibility that you could just be another hack willing to be dishonest when convenient, but I, too, am capable of being idealistic.