Topic: Liberal Fascism
For decades—since the Sixties, in fact—American progressivism has been moving away from classical liberal doctrines regarding freedom of speech and thought, liberty of conscience, and intellectual diversity. The results are seen in their most extreme form on college campuses with their safe spaces, lists of banned words, shouting down of unpopular opinions and a more or less explicit rejection of the First Amendment.
Progressives painted themselves into this ideological corner by embracing a concept of group rights that supposedly trump individual rights. And they have come to believe (if I may adapt a line of George Orwell’s) that “All groups are equal, but some groups are more equal than others.” That is, certain groups are deemed to be oppressed, with an unlimited claim on society’s approval and indulgence, while others are reviled as oppressors, bigots, etc. and so forth. Thanks to the color of his skin a white coal miner is a member of that arch-oppressor class, white males. But a black physician, attorney, member of congress, football player or actress is oppressed. Even if the white coal miner loses his job due to the energy policies of a black president, the former remains an oppressor and the latter remains oppressed.
Such perversions of thought being in the strict sense of the word indefensible, progressives have grown fearful of free intellectual discourse. Open debate and critical analysis would inevitably expose the contradictions that abound in progressive dogma. How can a white coal miner oppress a black president? Well, you’re not permitted to ask that question. Or take homosexuality and “gender identity.” It is claimed that the former is an inherent trait, probably genetic. If you’re gay you were, as Lady Gaga put it, born that way. But on the other hand it is claimed that there exists something called gender identity: a pure social construct. In principle, therefore, people can change their gender (“identify” as this, that or the other) as easily as they change their clothes. Progressives really can’t justify such absurdities but they can and do strive to shut up the people who point out that they are absurd.
As noted above this ideology—I call it postmodern progressivism—flourishes most malignantly on college campuses. So it might be objected that what happens on campus is anomalous, not reflective of mainstream progressivism. But consider. Just recently Hillary Clinton reviled half of Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables”: racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, etc.—the usual progressive chant in response to opposition. But Clinton went further, declaring that the deplorables—numbering roughly 35 million people—are “irredeemable,” not genuine Americans. This was a remarkably awful thing for a presidential candidate to say— worse even than Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe, for which he was viciously reviled by progressives. They had no problem with Clinton’s slur, though, and many have even defended it, e.g. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, who argued that Clinton was absolutely right.
Postmodern progressivism corrupts everything it touches. Though progressives congratulate themselves for being the reality-based party, in practice they respect science precisely to the extent that it appears to validate progressive pieties, and not an inch farther. Very often, indeed, they embrace junk science; vide the anti-vaccination movement and the jihad against genetically modified food crops. Here again opposition is shouted down. And progressives have a bad habit of enlisting the prestige of science in causes of which science has nothing to say. Take global warming or, if you prefer, climate change. Whatever the scientific merits of the climate change postulate, it cannot tell us how human beings can possibly reverse the process that is claimed to be underway. The remedies proposed, e.g. the complete decarbonization of energy production in the short space of ten or twenty years, are a study in impossibility. Yet we are told in effect that since climate change is “settled science,” the impossible must be done. Step one, presumably, would be the arrest, trial and imprisonment of “climate deniers.”
On the other hand, progressives are prepared to be tolerant of such things as arranged marriages, honor killings and female gentile mutilation. A good case could be made that the number-one human rights issue in the world today is the oppression of women. So shouldn’t progressives with their concept of group rights be in there fighting for the rights of this very large group. Well, no. It so happens that the oppression of women around the world is being perpetrated by other oppressed groups, e.g. Muslims. This is problematical for progressives, who routinely smear conservatives as Islamophobic. How, therefore, can they themselves condemn the oppression of women in the Islamic world? So a courageous women like Hirsi Ali who bears witness to this evil—carries its scars on her body, in fact— is shouted down, prevented from speaking on college campuses, even reviled as a bigot and hater. To “blame the victim” is, supposedly, a heinous ideological transgression. But when it comes to Islam this rule is suspended. Such things as arranged marriages, honor killings, female genital mutilation, are simply not to be discussed in student unions, faculty lounges or at the Democratic National Convention.
Inescapable conclusion: The main currents of progressive thought now bend toward authoritarianism. Progressives champion the administrative/bureaucratic state precisely because it is authoritarian, promulgating and enforcing its rules with no democratic oversight. They champion the concept of group rights precisely because it undermines classical liberal principles of individual liberty. They embrace the pernicious doctrines of postmodernism precisely because they undermine traditional institutions. The result is a kind of social fascism—ironically promoted in the name of equality, tolerance, social justice and all that good stuff. And having pretty much destroyed American higher education, it’ll soon be coming for the rest of us.