“Your good, careful people of the villages are the thieves of virtue.”
Confucius, The Analects, 17.
“They agree with the current customs. They consent with an impure age. Their principles only appear to be right-heartedness and truth. Their conduct only appears to be disinterestedness and purity. All men are pleased with them, and they deem themselves to be right. But one cannot proceed with them to the principles of [the moral exemplars]. For this reason they are called “The thieves of virtue.”
D.C. Lau, Mencius (1970)
One of the surest hallmarks of a cultural death spiral is omnipresent anomie and the universal deadening of the capacity to experience shock. Everything in culture becomes repetitive and suffocatingly numb. I was reminded of this back in June when a friend sent me a video from Wi Spa, a Korean spa in Los Angeles that played host to a controversy when a Black female customer complained without success that customers, including children, were being exposed to the penis of a naked transsexual in a female changing area. While some left-wing sources are now claiming that the Black woman was a Christian conservative who fabricated the complaint, the truth of the matter remains unclear. In any case, the footage was, to me, not remarkable for the allegations (now becoming all too real and predictable regardless of what really happened at Wi Spa), nor the attitude of the Black woman, or even the robotic and dismissive attitude of the staff, but rather for the intervention of a White Beta male who played the role of the quintessential Social Justice Warrior. This man insisted to the Black complainant that females could have a penis, showed total disregard for the children involved in the complaint, and did his utmost to rhetorically strut and preen in the manner of some kind of moralistic human peacock; maintaining one eye on the Black female while employing the other to scan the watching crowd for admiring gazes. The spectacle, sickening for so very many reasons, was all the more perverse for this sideshow.
The Woke ‘Hero’ of Wi Spa
The reasons behind behavior like this are not mysterious. There is a strong element of self-interest and a flow of social incentives for ‘woke’ behavior. A lot of people engage in ‘social justice’ interventions, both online and “in the real world,” because they hope for social, financial, and professional rewards. In the same way that very many people in the age of the smartphone now fear being recorded and made viral as a new racist “Karen,” there are a great many people who want to go viral as an anti-racist social hero.
While punishment for racism is permanent and perpetual, however, the rewards of anti-racism are merely fleeting and superfluous. The System expects everyone to be anti-racist and open to sexual deviance, and so the greatest reward it bestows is not to share its riches or status, reserved only for the elites and a handful of celebrity anti-racists, but instead to offer the common compliant man only the quiet relief of not being seen as antithetical to the hegemonic values of multiculturalism. In this sense, we deal not so much with the carrot and the stick, as the idea that the “carrot” is nothing more than a temporary and conditional avoidance of the stick.
To put it another way, one is anti-racist and woke purely and simply in order to avoid being categorized by the System as racist and bigoted. Among yet others (the “vicar’s daughters-types” once described so vividly by Jonathan Bowden), there is an element of pathological altruism. In these cases, we confront the dim-witted and naive, the prototypes of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, but without that novel’s protagonist’s charm and redeeming qualities. Combined, these various types of White social justice moralist (the career climber, the fashion follower, the socially anxious, and the painfully naive) are fatal to all right-thinking, and are a major accelerator of decline.
So much, then, for explaining why people behave this way. But what are the moral mechanics at work, and how does this behavior impact matters on a wider social level? During some recent reading of Eastern philosophy, I encountered an interesting concept that might deserve at least some attention — the Confucian idea of the “thieves of virtue” or fake moralists. Confucius (551–479 BC) is an interesting figure for the consideration of White moral social justice trends because he was a traditionalist of his era and because he had a particular interest in the search for moral values in a rapidly changing social context. As such, he made a valuable contribution to developing a distinction between what could be seen as merely popularly moral and what was genuinely moral and sincere.
Confucius and Social Virtue
It’s worth briefly explaining who this ancient Chinese philosopher was, before suggesting why he might have some ideas even remotely applicable to contemporary Whites. Confucius was known in his lifetime as Kong Fuzi, or Master Kong. He was a court scholar who occupied, through a relatively novel meritocratic process, a position not unlike modern civil servants. Confucius sought to integrate the new meritocratic developments of ancient China into old ideals and traditions, and this effort to synthesize the old and the new led to his quest to develop a new moral philosophy with direct social implications. Despite the introduction of meritocracy and the partial replacement of aristocracy, Confucius was opposed to egalitarianism and upheld a strong belief in hierarchy and an innate inequality between men. Deep nobility (junzi) and virtue (de) could, however, be found throughout the hierarchy. If a lowly peasant understood and fully embraced his role within it, for example, he was no less virtuous and valuable than the man at top of the social pyramid. Everyone in the folk community had an important role to play. In this sense, his philosophy is a kind of national socialism, which stressed the ultimate importance of the community over social class. The social pyramid itself was made cohesive and coherent through the Five Constant Relationships: Sovereign-Subject; Parent-Child; Husband-Wife; Elder Sibling-Younger Sibling; and Friend-Friend. It should be pointed out, if it isn’t already obvious, that there is no room for the stranger or the foreigner in this scheme of social obligation and ritual.
Social obligation was itself made manifest through demonstrations of Li, which could be roughly translated as ‘justice,’ but could be more accurately described as ritual propriety. One encountered Li in ancestor worship, at weddings, at funerals, when giving or receiving gifts, and in everyday gestures of politeness such as bowing and using the correct mode of dress. These outwards signs were intended to reflected inner virtue, but only truly did so when performed with sincerity. It was sincerity, along with faithfulness and self-reflection, that really pointed to the genuinely moral and virtuous man.
Thieves of Virtue
The opinions of Confucius on those who merely perform Li without possessing inner virtue are found in the Analects, a collection of fragments of his writings and sayings compiled by his disciples. The Analects together comprise a predominantly political treatise, but the collection is also made up of aphorisms and anecdotes. In section 17 of the Analects, Confucius refers to “village worthies (xiang yuan 鄉愿)” and compares their empty moralism to “assuming a severe expression while being weak inside” and breaking into a home and committing burglary. The “worthy” exterior of the village moralists is thus stolen or unmerited. They are in fact hypocrites who, while critiquing all that is “bad,” are themselves utterly devoid of virtue.
If Confucius’s critique of these “village worthies” was solely limited to their hypocrisy then there would be limited value in applying his critique to contemporary White social justice moralists. We know full well that the majority of White self-styled anti-racists and woke activists are hypocrites. We know that most wealthy White multiculturalists do their very best to have their children educated in predominantly White schools, and to raise their families in predominantly White neighborhoods. The vast majority of people outwardly saying they’re fine with gay marriage and the widespread acceptance of transsexualism secretly hope their children don’t turn out that way. In an era in which pro-diversity propaganda is peaking—with no mainstream dissent, the fact remains that Whites are continuing to quietly self-segregate as much as their resources will allow. We live in an age where everyone proclaims the benefits of diversity while doing their very best to avoid it. Hypocrisy is endemic, and it is obvious.
But Confucius goes deeper than hypocrisy in his criticism of the village worthies, the ‘woke’ types of his era, stressing their role in the development of a kind of moral-social cancer that is catastrophic to national culture. In fact, Confucius’s most pointed critique isn’t that the village worthies wear masks, but that there is nothing to mask. They lack all sense of identity, possess no ideology, and are nothing more than chameleons who take on whatever face is considered attractive or laudable by the elites they want to appeal to. In this sense, when considering our contemporary White social justice moralists (the career climber, the fashion follower, the socially anxious, and the painfully naive), all can be subsumed under the title of “village worthies” who are “thieves of virtue.” All of them are fundamentally empty persons without authentic identity. A similar contemporary pop culture reference point would be the NPC (Non-Playable Character) meme developed by gamers to describe those who, like the background figures in video games, possess no agency or capacity for independent thought. Winnie Sung, commenting on this element of the Analects, writes:
The appearance-only hypocrite, such as Confucius’ village worthies, puts us in a special predicament. For someone who does not wear a mask cannot be unmasked. … There is nothing that we can expose when it comes to the village worthies because there is nothing underneath.
This is particularly egregious for Confucius because identity is a foundation of integrity. The person of integrity is someone who preserves a sense of what identifies the person as essentially the person they are. Or, to put it another way, you need to understand yourself and who you are before you can claim that “you” stand for anything, let alone something as lofty as moral values. Someone who denies their own heritage, ethnic origins, and identity cannot sincerely proclaim any moral values because these values are not rooted in their own identity and are therefore both artificial and adopted. Sung writes:
Assuming that having identifications is necessary for having an identity, since the village worthies do not have their own identifications, we cannot say what kind of person they really are. They do not have anything that they actually identify with, and hence do not have what is truly theirs. We cannot in their case say that there is any break between their practices and their true identity. The village worthies lack integrity not in the sense where one’s identity is corrupted or concealed but because they do not even have their own identifications.
Popular Moralism as Social Cancer
Accompanying instinctive self-segregation, there is an almost contradictory rise in culturally deracinated Whites keen to outwardly disavow the White past and condemn the White present. While the animosities of non-White ethnic groups can be easily understood in the context of inter-ethnic competition and their construction of past suffering at the hands of Whites (e.g., the lachrymose view of Jewish history common among Jews), White complicity in this process remains one of the strongest barriers to mounting a successful challenge against multiculturalism and multiracialism in the West. For Confucius, one of the most galling aspects of this behavior would be the tendency among some Whites to proclaim their status as a “White anti-racist” dedicated to spreading their ideology among other Whites. Confucius would object to such a self-designation, pointing out that such people are already devoid of any sense of White identity or what it means to be White, and that their interventions are thus inherently lacking in integrity and are essentially meaningless. There is thus no real “White anti-racism” but instead a phenomenon wherein empty persons mimic foreign ideas.
Because it is unnatural to loathe one’s own group and identity, when Whites adopt anti-White or anti-racist positions, they are simply reflecting the values of others, particularly oppositional elites. Unfortunately, such behavior can become endemic because “village worthies,” “thieves of virtue,” or NPCs have an endless capacity to mimic fashion. Sung comments:
At a larger scale, Confucius thinks that the presence of people who have no identity of their own, and merely reflect others’ values, is a threat to the moral system. Mencius quotes Confucius as saying: ‘Confucius said, “I detest what is specious. I detest the foxtail for fear it should pass for seedlings. I detest flattery for fear it should pass for what is right. I detest glibness for fear it should pass for the truthful. … I detest purple for fear it should pass for vermilion. I detest the village worthy for fear he should pass for the virtuous.” Just like the color purple (which closely resembles vermillion) easily confuses people and misleads people in their choice, the village worthies, who look just like the virtuous people according to our current conceptions and appear attractive to the audience, easily confuse their audience and mislead the audience to think that they have the more attractive character than the genuinely virtuous people. The village worthies will pretend to have moral qualities that appeal to their audience, and will not pretend to have moral qualities that do not appeal to their audience. Hence, the village worthies will never fail a moral test from the perspective of their audience. Although a small group of genuinely virtuous people might be able to detect the village worthies’ hypocrisy, they will not be able to convince the village worthies’ audience that these seemingly gracious and attractive people are not what they appear.
Social Justice versus Authentic Justice
A formidable obstacle to forming a challenge to the multicultural status quo is the idea that such a challenge is inherently immoral. This is an idea that began with ethnically alien intellectuals and activists who have an obvious self-interest in promoting it. Then, gradually, and with increasing frequency following World War II, the idea was seeded among leading White “village worthies” (politicians, academics, cultural figures) until it reached critical cultural saturation. Accompanying ideas were then also inserted into social fashion, including the notion that any defense of White ethnic interests is immoral. The result has been exactly as Confucius predicted — a wholesale threat to the true moral order. Today, only a dwindling number of representatives of junzi remain in the West, the “small group of genuinely virtuous people” capable of detecting the hypocrisy and false moralism of the age. This is the group which roots its integrity in its identity, and doesn’t feel the need to conceal the fact that its values are based in ethnic self-interest. Like the junzi of Confucius’s time, this small core of authentically moral people are unable to convince the masses that the village worthies—these “seemingly gracious and attractive people” with their allegedly impeccable morals—are not what they appear.
And yet our morality is evidently both genuine and of an especially high type. One of the most important aspects of Li is a sense of what we in the West call “equity.” This is the idea that we should not necessarily follow the letter of the law, but the spirit of it. We don’t automatically reach for the punishment for theft, but try at least to take into consideration why the theft took place when considering the sentence. Inherent in equity is a sense of the dualism of man — the idea the Man is never entirely good, nor entirely bad. A good judge, aware of his own failings as a human, will seek the most humane punishment or resolution to a legal case. In the Western tradition, equity begins in antiquity with the writings of Aristotle (epieikeia) and with Roman law (aequitas), and it is also a strong element (if not the strongest) in Christianity, which critiques Man as a sinner but rejects the rule of Mosaic law (despite the baffling claim of Matthew 5:17) and proclaims the possibility of Man’s capacity for Good and his ultimate redemption. Equity is also strongly evident in the ancient writings of the Chinese, and in the dualist religions of the Indian sub-Continent and the Far East, especially Buddhism. All such instances contrast with the Judaic/Islamic worldview, which lacks equity and sees law (Torah-Shariah) as an end in itself. It should be noted that the Judaic worldview, which makes categorical moral demands, is especially conducive to the development of “village worthies” and “thieves of virtue.”
White social justice moralists lack equity and deny their own dual natures. One would think, given their many lofty proclamations, that one is dealing with saints. And yet it is commonplace to discover that this or that anti-racist politician or activist is corrupt, a pervert, a child abuser, a slanderer, or some other form of human pond scum. These people, riddled with all kinds of neuroses and obsessions, cling to anti-racism like a life raft, finding in it at least one meagre chance of passing themselves off as “good people.”
Anti-racism, it might be said, is the moral band-aid of our age, covering a multitude of sins. Confucius, on the other hand, would see “racism,” or the seeking of one’s own ethnic interests, as moral to the extent that it proceeds from tradition, from identity, and from the integrity bestowed by both. For Confucius, a war of conquest contains an honesty that a professed moral crusade does not. He would have little patience for contemporary hand-wringing about past European conquests or enslaving Africans. How can one proclaim selflessness when proclaiming selflessness brings one social rewards that benefit the self? Confucius compared this delusion of morality to banging a drum in search of a fugitive—those most loudly bleating about moral matters will always find that true morality eludes them. The man who seeks after his community’s material interests, on the other hand, will be sated by securing them and will not entertain self-delusion. His desires are universal, predicable, and capable of satisfaction. The posturing moralist, or “thief of virtue,” on the other hand, is a true annihilator, since he will not rest until his fashionable worldview, in all its banality, is universally imposed. In this view, Genghis Khan is the moral superior to Moses, and infinitely less dangerous to social order.
Confucius’s perspective on community morality offers a nuanced and interesting perspective on some of the troubling issues confronting Western societies today, especially the total dominance of multiculturalism and Leftism in moral discourse. One of the major problems confronting movements for the defense of White interests is the culturally ubiquitous idea that such a defense is intrinsically immoral, and this idea has advanced to such a degree that several forms of defending White interests have been criminalized. Confucius’s concept of the “thieves of virtue” undermines the claims of this mass false morality and points out that fashion and conformity can smother authentic virtue and morals. We live in an age when most Whites lack identity, and thus integrity, and we have witnessed a kind of mass chameleon effect where the goals of foreign elites are mimicked and parroted for short-term personal relief or reward. This is a threat to the authentic moral system—a system which derives its morality from tradition and identity. It is moral and a demonstration of virtue and nobility to defend and expand upon one’s ethnic interests. The man who claims instead to be a world citizen, or to love everyone, is a liar. Such a man is a thief of virtue.
 Lau, D.C. trans. 2003 . Mencius. London: Penguin Books.
 Sung, W. (2020). Confucius’s village worthies : hypocrites as thieves of virtue. Alston, C., Carpenter, A. & Wiseman. Rachael (Eds.), Portraits of Integrity: 26 Case Studies from History, Literature and Philosophy Bloomsbury Academic.