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We need to find a new label for the ideology espoused by leftist Democrats. “Liberal” doesn’t accurately describe the party of blinkered intolerance, fanatical certainty, and an eagerness to destroy freedom in order to achieve some dubious utopia. “Progressive” is more historically accurate for ideas that go back to a movement that started in the late 19th century. But it still suggests that lefties are the party of improvement and the future, when in fact they are reactionaries recycling failed ideas about as au courant as a Nehru jacket and a puka-shell necklace.
These labels, moreover, function like newspeak in Orwell’s 1984. They suggest that lib/progs are tolerant champions of individual freedom and rights, skeptical of old-fashioned group identity, believers in nuance and complexity, open to new ideas that challenge authority, and respectful of difference and diversity. Liberals fancy themselves the party of reason and truth, their views and ideas the consequence of education and nuanced thinking, and their prescriptions and policies the only viable way to improve human life and eliminate suffering and oppression.
Flip through any newspaper at random and you will find examples that show today’s lib/progs are exactly the opposite of those flattering clichés. Take global warming, back in the news recently after the announcement that last year’s average temperature was the highest on record. “The science is settled,” the lib/progs scold us, and there is a “consensus” that human activity is warming the planet to dangerous levels and causing more frequent catastrophic weather events. Those who challenge this “consensus” are “deniers,” either stooges of the oil companies or hopelessly ignorant rubes irrationally closing their eyes to an inconvenient truth.
But as Matt Ridley writes in The Wall Street Journal, this “settled science” in fact reflects a “monopoly that clings to one hypothesis (that carbon dioxide will cause dangerous global warming) and brooks less and less dissent. Again and again, climate skeptics are told they should respect the consensus, an admonition wholly against the tradition of science.” Thus the respecters of “complexity” and “science” unscientifically simplify the planet’s most complex system, one the mechanics of which we as yet don’t fully understand––certainly not enough to assert as revealed truth that increases in a trace gas in the atmosphere can drive the whole system. And the vicious shunning and slandering of anyone who practices the skepticism of received paradigms that has driven modern science, reveals that the champions of “diversity” and “tolerance” of ideas that challenge authority are in fact intolerant and irrational, more interested in ideology than in truth, and slaves to self-appointed authorities.
Similarly, the supposed believers in individual freedom and autonomy are the first to sacrifice both to the coercive power of the state and its bureaucratic minions. The most notorious recent example is the directive from Health and Human Services that Catholic institutions and businesses have to provide their employees with contraceptives including abortifacients, thus violating their religious beliefs. The lib/progs who regularly squeal about a fabricated First Amendment right to view pornography on a public library computer are perfectly happy to destroy that same amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion and religious speech.
But this is just a more visible example of a phenomenon that has become so common that we hardly notice it anymore. Universities and colleges, those supposed lib/prog bastions of free inquiry and freewheeling debate, have been in the forefront of using institutional power to police speech and proscribe anything that violates the lib/prog ideology. The latest offender is the University of Delaware and its “anti-bullying” prohibition. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the university defines “bullying” as “[a]ny deliberately hurtful behavior, usually repeated over time, with the desired outcome of frightening, intimidating, excluding or degrading a person.” Examples include “teasing,” “ridiculing,” and “spreading of rumors.” As FIRE points out, “The broad wording of this policy makes it highly vulnerable to abuse, with the potential to silence a great deal of protected speech such as parody and satire (which often ridicule their targets) and political speech.”
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