In “Herds of Independent Thinkers” I lamented the problem of so-called progressives being “offended all the time”, “coming to pre-ordained conclusions”, and conflating their ego-centric political-correctness with their imagined right to restrict open discussion and freedom of thought of others.
Nick Cohen recognizes the political expediency of those in power when he writes “Farage meets Assange in a shameless illiberal alliance“:
All isms are wasms… as fascism and communism united in the Hitler-Stalin pact. That wasn’t true in 1939, when Berlin and Moscow found their shared belief in the “ism” of totalitarianism was greater than the difference between left and right, and isn’t true now. There is an “ism” – illiberalism – an ideology that has been growing for years.
Do not underestimate its force. Illiberals now control the White House and the Kremlin. You can track their influence in the Brexit right’s contempt for education and expertise, and the Labour left’s alliances with the counter-Enlightenment.
The old division between left and right makes as little sense now as it did in 1939. To realise its futility consider that in conventional terms [Nigel] Farage is a politician who manoeuvres in the grey zone before the right and the far right. He exploits chauvinism and plays on racial fears but is always careful not to incite violence directly. [Julian] Assange is a man of what I once called the Chomskyan left and what modern critics call the regressive left. He is against the west, often for good reasons. Like so many of his kind, however, he will then ally with any force, however reactionary, which opposes the west as well.
The Illiberal Alliance with the “Regressive Left“:
There is some irony in seeing the freedom of thought and speech that allows for this opposition becoming the seeds of its own destruction. The west’s ecosystem is ill prepared for the invasive species known as the “regressive left.”
For a candid explanation, Rohit Tripathy (a PhD student at Purdue University and who self identifies as a leftist atheist) writes:
“The “Regressive left” is primarily a pejorative term applied to a sub group within left leaning liberals who engage in apologism for Islamic conservatism and extremism. At it’s core it is about ideological inconsistency. Liberals typically speak out vociferously against illiberal ideas such as homophobia, misogyny, blasphemy laws etc. when it applies to the majority religion (that would be Christianity in the western world). Some liberals, however, view ideas through a cultural relativistic lens. So when the same illiberal ideas are espoused by minorities, it is explained away as “it’s their culture”.
Everytime there is an act of Islamic terrorism, the default reflex of some liberals is to point out that this has nothing to do with Islam, that western policy is to blame, that minorities are marginalized if their religious ideology is attacked, that there are right-wing terrorists upon whom there should be an equal focus and so on. Most importantly, however, the defining characteristic of a regressive leftist is a deep-rooted inability to listen to uncomfortable and contrary viewpoints without dishing out accusations of bigotry, racism, white supremacism, imperialism, Islamophobia and so on. [Sounds strangely similar to those who promote themselves as “progressives.”]
More recently the label “regressive leftist” has been extended to those elements on the left who consistently engage in language policing online and on university campuses and seek to shut down honest exchanges of ideas without tossing around accusations of bigotry.
Ironically, it seems like many who latched onto the “regressive left” label have begun dishing it out like candy to everyone that disagrees with their view. Sooner or later there will be a pushback against this group as well.”
Recently the Huffington Post wrote:
Nearly two decades ago, the political commentator Fareed Zakaria wrote a prophetic article called “The Rise of the Illiberal Democracy,” in which he worried about the rise of popular autocrats with little regard for the rule of law and civil liberties. Governments may be elected in free and fair elections, he wrote, and yet routinely violate their citizens’ basic rights.
Since Zakaria’s piece, illiberal democracies have become more the norm than the exception.
If it is true that all “isms” eventually mutate into totalitarianisms, it begins with the small erosions of freedom of thought justified by however self-righteous the regressive left, the progressives, or the right-wingers think of themselves.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
It is not in the shadow, but in the light of Christian freedom that freedom of thought can flourish. Moderns do not appear to be either reflective enough to notice, or historically aware enough to recognize the difference between a Christian faith that has grown in the ecosystem of challenge (and still does), and belief systems that are intolerant to it.
This is more enigma…