The best illustration of this principle comes from Roger Nash Baldwin, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the ACLU, in an article for “Soviet Russia”, in which he quite clearly explained why he was fighting for civil liberties.
“I believe in non-violent methods of struggle as most effective in the long run for building up successful working-class power. Where they cannot be followed or where they are not even permitted by the ruling class, obviously only violent tactics remain. I champion civil liberty as the best of the non-violent means of building the power on which worker’s rule must be based. If I aid the reactionaries to get free speech now and then, if I go outside the class struggle to fight against censorship, it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties. The class struggle is the central conflict of the world; all others are incidental. When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever.”
The Left is liberal to the extent that it’s not in power. It’s illiberal to the extent to which it is in power.
That’s something conservatives would do well to remember, especially as the social media right enlists assorted leftist allies in the cause of battling identity politics and cancel culture. Many of these, like Glenn Greenwald, are hard lefties. A number of them have now found conservative audiences who are happy to hear narratives like this piece from Zaid Jilani, like Greenwald, a militant anti-Israel leftist apologist for Islamic terrorism, who has a whole new audience now.
Yeah, this guy, ”Say what u want about muslim terrorists but at least they get the job done”
“The Left Has Replaced Social Liberalism With Social Control,” Jilani argues.
When was the Left ever not into social control? Jiliani isn’t the first to write pieces like these arguing that this is some sort of recent mutation.
“During the Trump years, left of center America slowly shed its old politics of social liberation—the one born in UC Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, sexual liberation, and the civil rights revolution—and have replaced it with something else: a politics of social control,” Jilani writes.
The Left was committed to liberation from the existing mores and codes of society in order to replace them with its own system. That’s the essence of the Left. This isn’t some sort of new phenomenon. What people tend to call cancel culture was originally called political correctness. It just has a lot more power behind it now.
Russia’s revolutionaries had all sorts of radical ideas. When the Bolshies finalized their power, all those radical ideas, except state control, were eliminated. That’s the theme of Orwell’s Animal Farm.
There’s nothing new in this phenomenon.
This is why it’s important to distinguish between liberalism and the Left.
A liberal society allows for individual freedom, a leftist society does not. It can’t because it claims to already know the only proper way for people to behave based on science. Like Islamic theocracy, it finds the idea of allowing people to violate the modes and forms of conduct that make a society ideal and utopian, insane and dangerous.
Leftists will act like liberals when they’re out of power. The more power they gain ,the less liberal they behave. It’s a familiar phenomenon.
Don’t be fooled when lefties act like liberals. They’re for freedom until they gain enough power to end freedom. They believe in liberation only until the people need to be liberated from them.