Agreed! But was it immoral of Europeans to invent the sextant and the gun? If not, then there is no reason to suggest that the wealth in European nations was not earned.
Well, we’re mixing terms here. Morality / Earned.
Getting rich from Powerball is moral but not earned. Getting rich from Wall Street ponzi schemes is earned but not moral.
To unravel this further we’d need an operating definition of “moral,” which itself is tough, and is even tougher when you start taking historical actions into account which might not have had the same societal standards, such as the preeminent example of slavery, which you cover well I think.
As a fan of science, I don’t consider any scientific advancement to be immoral. What matters is how you use them. As a fan of free trade, I don’t consider the sextant to be immoral. As an advocate of personal liberty, I don’t consider the gun to be immoral either. As a conscientious objector to war, I consider all wars to be immoral, flat out. As a math nerd who understands how game theory necessitates nationalism, I consider war, or at least the posture for war, to be an unavoidable Nash Equilibrium. So throw those all into a hopper and hit “blend,” and I can’t say that given where the Europeans were at, societally, at the time they invented the sextant and the gun, that their actions were immoral. They were just running the program that must be run, lest someone else run it better than you. (more at prior hyperlink)
So their wealth was moral, and earned, but is mine?
So jump ahead a bit. I’m a white dude, who’s successful. I’m a little bit better off than my parents were at my age. I’m better off than most white people, and most black people. I might be better off than more black people by percentage than white people by percentage, on a ratio basis. That would be flat evidence of “privilege” for the folks who like to scream about privilege.
But I suspect that delta traces back to how my grandparents were better off than most black folks grandparents. Which had to do with their grandparents being way better off than the black folks grandparents grandparents. Wealth is heritable, not just in raw dollars and cents, but also in the advantages of stability in child rearing, and it spills down.
This is not an argument for reparations, necessarily, but I think it forms a reasonable argument for affirmative action.
And I do think there are instances of racial prejudice in certain local legal systems that should be addressed on an individual basis.
I think the folks who scream about privilege are basically falling into a correlation/causation fallacy trap. More on that here, about half way down.