Progressive-minded people who reject the regressive, identitarian ideology of the modern Left must fight this ideology head-on, rather than surrender to it.
As per the cyclical initiation of young adults into University, freedom of thought arrives abruptly for minds previously well regulated by their guardians, often sweeping in new progressive ideas. It’s no secret that America’s youth is largely liberal, whereas their elders fall further right on the political spectrum; 2018 is no exception to this formula. However, while the players remain persistent, one team has seen its fall from grace.
The Left has mutated into a grotesque shadow of its triumphant past; the beacon for charity and justice and compassion that thrust us into modernity with tenacious movements for civil rights and free speech is now meddling in the intellectual slews of name-calling and witch hunts. Great champions of social justice have been convicted of “white supremacy” for the sinister crime of nuance. Those who show remarkable promise in contending with antiquated ideologies must now operate in the destitute outskirts of academia to which they are banished. Our heroes now reside in the dark, and the Left is doomed to rot, all the while flying their fraudulent banner of liberalism.
Far more harrowing, however, is the enduring recruitment of America’s unsuspecting youth into this new cult of leftism. Some of the brightest minds in the universities have already been thoroughly indoctrinated, for where else is there to go? There is no difference of opinion. There is no debate, there is no dissent. There is only the new Left. So I, a young progressive, now face a perplexing dilemma: fall in line, or face eminent ostracism. I will cling to the liberal values of my intellectual precursors and fight to reclaim our values, taking up the baton in pursuit of reform. Yet instead of the customary contest with the Right, civil war now takes its place.
“So I, a young progressive, now face a perplexing dilemma: fall in line, or face eminent ostracism.”
There are those who do not view the problem of degeneration into an outrage culture as unique to the Left, that there is equal pessimism to be found in the future of both sides of the aisle, while the silent majority remains reasonable. However, a couple of considerations hold my attention to my political sphere.
Primarily, I am not a conservative, and I am not accountable for their schemes at present. Although the end goal is to move in opposition to backward thinking, we cannot fight the good fight if we lack the faculties to do so. The cult of leftism is a virus that infects unsuspecting hosts predisposed to liberalism and metastasises from the acquiescence of “white privilege” and “toxic masculinity” to complete intellectual high-jacking that hinders productive debate with the Right.
The radical Left is growing in dominance, and history is quite clear that the radical fringes are the movers of history. The silent majority has no dog in this fight; they are susceptible to the whims of the outspoken. It suddenly becomes imperative to get our house in order before it’s too late. We must be aware of the fringes of our team, and at a certain point, the internet memes will not be so comedic as when leftists packed no punch. My gravitation towards speaking out against the Left is purely driven by the hope that one day we will be sufficiently reassembled to take on the Right competently, but this will never happen if all potential allies are either brainwashed or silenced.
“My gravitation towards speaking out against the Left is purely driven by the hope that one day we will be sufficiently reassembled to take on the Right competently.”
The other significant factor in pulling my sights toward the Left has to do with the curious case of free speech. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution seems to have been appropriated by the Right, thereby incurring a reflexive distrust by their opponents. The bewildering lack of good faith discussion from liberals appears to be attributed most closely to this recent phenomenon. The line separating free speech from hate speech is nowhere to be found. Rather, the definition of hate speech has seen a transformation from speech that attacks an individual’s predetermined circumstances, to speech that questions the dogma of the cult.
How can we possibly expect the future of liberalism to be positive when young progressives are taught how to accept and defend the tenets of leftism with explosive vehemence rather than equipped with the tools to reason? I eagerly await such a case to be made, but until then, the best option for the rational Left is to speak out, lest young progressives such as I either adopt an antithetical ideology out of necessity or be snuffed out.
“How can we possibly expect the future of liberalism to be positive when young progressives are taught how to accept and defend the tenants of leftism with explosive vehemence rather than equipped with the tools to reason?”
Perhaps there are those who feel that my cries of political homelessness are untenable. For the sceptics I present a few cases to alleviate such apprehensions. We ought not to forget that in very recent history we saw a group of students come after a Yale professor for an email defending the right to wear offensive Halloween costumes, forcing her to resign. Or the forced resignation of social justice exemplar and professor Bret Weinstein, who was ironically labelled a “white supremacist” by students at his campus, after refusing to partake in a racist “Day of Absence”. The most alarming quality of these incidents is undoubtedly the mob-mentality that spreads through the crowd as the demands and outbursts escalate. One need not wander far down the rabbit’s hole to conceive of the more chilling possible avenues these mobs could have taken.
The unaccommodating reactions of college campuses towards political speakers coming to talk have become routine, and the large protests that greet them are now expected. Speakers such as Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Dave Rubin have all been protested against extensively. The self- proclaimed provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was unable to speak after a violent protest erupted at UC Berkley, and the intellectually exiled Charles Murray just barely escaped physical assault at Middlebury College. Besides Rubin, all of these figures fall to the right on most issues. However, this is beside the point. It appears now that any nuanced opinion is quickly flagged as hate-speech and dealt with accordingly.
What kind of message is being relayed to the young liberals on the topic of the difference of opinion? These reactions lay out the case before our feet. Instead of fighting bad ideas with civil discourse, the new norm is to prevent your opponents from even showing up to the fight, and if they do, plug your ears and yell as loud as you can.
True liberals maintain the motto, “No idea is above scrutiny; no people are beneath dignity”, stated succinctly by Maajid Nawaz, a champion of liberal values and civil discourse. The new Left has it all wrong: according to the rhetoric, all ideas are intrinsic to one’s dignity, and therefore any scrutiny of opinion is perceived as a barrage on their individuality. This idea is being drilled into college students by social pressure and example.
So what happens when young liberals have nowhere to go but into the arms of a retrograde ideology? Well, it seems that some of the most compassionate young men and women that I have met simply accept the dogma of the new Left, taking it as the avenue to show that you care for the disenfranchised peoples of the world.
The whole liberal space is preoccupied with a game of emotion. These games do little to promote the necessity of empirically founded facts unless of course, they support the emotional presupposition. Rather than learning how to conduct scientific inquiry, university students are taught to accept science on faith whenever it fits the narrative and to reject science wherever it proves unsavoury. The all-too-often heard recitation from religious conservatives that “Science takes just as much faith to believe in”, is beginning to have some truth to it, as the new left increasingly discourages scepticism. The irony is almost too much to take in. The new Left is far closer to the Right than most of its adherents would concede.
As a student with a passion for science, it pains me to hear my friends from humanities majors agree with me on climate change and evolution in one sentence, only to decry a biological perspective on sexuality to be bigoted in the next. Otherwise, remarkably intelligent young people are getting tripped up on issues that, given their self-proclaimed epistemology, should not be an issue; this troubles me greatly.
I have noticed that while a sizeable group of students appear to have gone all-in on the cult of leftism, the more forward-thinking individuals, while not wholly convinced of the rhetoric, are not entirely uncoupled from its reach. Even for these bright minds, one or two tenants of leftist ideology are inevitably able to slip through the cracks and obscure their convictions. For some it might be they’re convinced of the truth in “white privilege”, for others it’s the disdain for the “patriarchy”, another might find “cultural appropriation” to be a heinous moral catastrophe.
But what else should one expect? If the social norm for young people is to buy into the rhetoric – you need only take a few moments to scroll through a millennial’s twitter feed to validate this claim – then is it really surprising that otherwise outstanding young liberals would be enticed by at least a small piece of the new left’s ideological pie? Not at all. There is no middle ground; the centre-left is but a whisper of the internet.
The middle ground has been lost, the echo-chamber fully calibrated, and young rational minds are forced to choose a side. A centrist student who is pre-occupied with her studies and a hectic social life will seldom find time to develop thoroughly original opinions on most topics, instead opting to outsource this endeavour to an ideology. But how many centrist individuals are we losing to the right due to the off-putting character of the new Left? A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that among 16,000 millennials, the support for Democrats has fallen from 55% to just 46% in just 2-years, with a 6-point rise in support of Republicans to 36%. The Left appears to be losing members not only to the Right, but also to silence.
“The middle ground has been lost, the echo-chamber fully calibrated, and young rational minds are forced to choose a side.”
Incessant media coverage blatantly favouring the radical Left has sent far too many of our ranks running. While the rational Left jumps ship, the cult of leftism accelerates its course straight into a storm of unfettered stupidity. All left aboard work diligently to summon a worthy opponent, and so we witness the rise of the alt-right.
The pious disciples of leftism have managed to trigger the immune-response mechanism of the right, unintentionally hurling young white men into the ranks of neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer and white-nationalists such as Jared Taylor. The University of Alabama, which I attend, saw a conservative club’s plans to invite Taylor just barely foiled by the administration in the spring semester of this year.
Now, while I see Taylor’s barring from the University of Alabama as a failure of the right to free speech, to say it is worrying that students would find a figure like Jared Taylor to have attractive views would be a colossal understatement. I find this invitation to be both enraging and heartbreaking; however, I do not find it surprising in the least. Taylor himself understands that he is not so effective as the Left is in bringing converts rushing to support his cause. Here is his view:
“Most whites do not have a racial identity, but they would do well to understand what race means for others. They should also ponder the consequences of being the only group for whom such an identity is forbidden and who are permitted no aspirations as a group.”
Here we have a leader of the alt-right telling us clear as day that he is in a seat of influence because of the Left’s indiscretion. Identity politics synthesises the phenotypic response of Homo Sapiens’ tribal gene, the gene responsible for the Rwandan genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Nanking Massacre, the Ukrainian genocide, the Holocaust. I need not go on; the piercing anguish humanity has provoked in its short history is simply immeasurable. We would be wise to resist this looming instinct with the utmost tenacity wherever it may arise. However, the wanton accusations of racism from the cult of leftism are ineffectual at best. While the Left eats itself, the alt-right lays the groundwork for its schemes and chuckles at their enemy’s doltish incompetence.
Young white men are beginning to feel the pressure as the new Left reveals its disgust for them. New York Times’ recent move to bring on the racist journalist Sarah Jeong is probably fantastic PR for Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor. Leftist media is just not getting the message, and the NYT has failed miserably to stand up to racism, and in doing so, takes yet another step backwards. It is obvious that the alt-right feeds off of the audacity of the radical Left and, yet, rather than take the foot off the gas, the assault on rationality has accelerated.
The university is now a place where young liberals are indoctrinated by post-modernist ideologies, silenced, or pushed to the right where they can breathe without constant fear of provoking a “microaggression”. The new Left is just too much to deal with, and a great trauma has been inflicted. There are very few young progressives coming to join the ranks of rational liberals that are willing to speak out.
Alas, not all hope is lost. As old media platforms have begun their lumbering descent into insignificance, new media is reaching a far greater audience, and millennials are able to connect with rational voices such as those from the Intellectual Dark Web. The IDW, coined by mathematician Eric Weinstein, is a motley crew of rational thinkers who remain unwavering in the support of free speech and civil discourse. Their conversations serve as a bulwark against the sophistry of the cult of Leftism and have proven formidable. Although I have no true political home, I have found the IDW to be somewhat of a refuge, instilling hope in young progressives that there is a silent majority waiting to come out of the woodwork in support of true liberal values.
We can set our hopes high, but there is still much to accomplish in order to set the Left back on the righteous path and bring about a new home for young progressives. If we move together, rationality will be unyielding to both the new left and the alt-right.
Young progressives, if you are tired of feeling compelled to surrender to the corrupt ideas of the new left, tired of the fear of ostracism for disagreement, the fear of being labelled a racist or bigot, the fear of standing out, the fear of a new idea, do not give in. Compliance is not the only option. Dissent is favourable. I am a young progressive, and I will fight for a political home. Join me.
Will Watson is a freelance writer currently studying at the University of Alabama. He can be found on Twitter at the handle @_willwatson.