Let’s say you are, like most of us, a Recent-American — your great-great-great Grandpa stepped off the boat at Ellis Island a decade or so after the Civil War, with an elementary-school education, a few words of English, and $100 in his pocket.
Let’s further say that by the end of his life your GGGGP, through good old fashioned immigrant pluck and hard work, had parlayed that $100 into a modest farm somewhere out in flyover country.
He never did have that much English, and he never lost his nearly incomprehensible accent. They were realists back in those days, so he knew those two things meant that, however much he loved his adopted homeland, he’d forever be a stranger here. So he made sure that his boy, your great-great Grandpa, went to school every day and studied hard, loved baseball and apple pie and was indistinguishable from any other American boy.
And he did. So G3P, in true American fashion, turned his much better education into a much bigger farm. His much better education let him see the way things were going, and he knew that his son — your great-Grandpa — would need an education in the latest scientific farming techniques to keep up. So he saved up and sent G2P to the local cow college, and when he got back from the trenches in France, G2P made the family farm the envy of the county.
Having seen both ends of life, G2P knew that the world was changing faster than he could keep up with, despite his fancy education. Farming was consolidating; not even his envy-of-the-county farm could stave off the big combines forever. So he made sure that his son, your Grandpa, not only went to school, but got into a profession. GP went to law school at State U and made a nice middle class life out of it.
His boy, your father, went to an even better law school, and when it was your turn, you got into Harvard. And now you’ve got yourself a pretty nice life — you’re not rich, let alone a 1%er, but you’re doing fine, such that your boy can go to any college he wants, do anything he wants… you’ve busted your ass your whole life, using the accumulated wisdom of all your forefathers, to make sure he can.
With me? Now, let’s say your wife gets into geneaological research, and in the course of poking around in your family’s past, finds out something terrible about your great-great-great-grandfather, he of the little English and the $100. That hundred bucks? He stole it. He knifed a guy named Paddy O’Grady on the boat over and stole his life savings. What would you do?
For most of us, the answer is: Nothing. That was 1870, for pete’s sake. Nobody alive even remembers anyone who could’ve known G4P. And however dishonestly he came by his $100, the rest of it was all him. And certainly, whatever else the rest of the family tree accomplished, was theirs alone. No Western ethical system would disagree with this. Few Eastern systems would — even if you believe, with Hindus and Buddhists, that we suffer over lifetimes for our sins, at least they’re our sins. Only Confucians and Communists hold your great-great-great-grandparents’ crimes against you.
That’s just the thing, isn’t it? The Left finds it politically useful to pretend that certain people can, and should, be held to account for the sins of their forebears. But only certain people, of course — nobody’s demanding “slavery reparations” from, say, Ghana, even though just about every African sold into bondage in the New World was sold by a fellow African. And surely if Paddy O’Grady’s great-great-great-grandson showed up at their door, demanding a room in their house and half their bank account for what great-great-great-grandpa did back on the potato boat, they’d throw him out on his ear.
That’s how it is with everything Left. They can, of course, make a case that “you didn’t build that,” that “America was built on the backs of slaves,” etc. When you’re talking about large historical trends, it doesn’t make sense to talk about individuals. But, in the end, we live and die as individuals. Our world is made up of individuals, and individuals, contributing to something larger than themselves, make up Society (their collective contributions are called History). Leftism, when you finally get to the bottom of it, is little more than an attempt to enjoy, as individuals, the accumulated social, political, and economic capital of the group without contributing anything to it themselves. Lenin’s famous questions — “who? whom?” — are the best ever devised for getting to the bottom of things…. but as the man said, SJWs always project. Ask those questions to the Left and watch what happens. Paddy O’Grady? Never heard of him. Besides, he was a kulak — the bastard deserved it.