In the past, the right, notably the segment affiliated with religious belief, was closely associated with censorship and control of thought. Today, enforced orthodoxy derives primarily from the left, emboldened by near total control of the media, university curricula and cultural products.
Remarkably, a recent study by the Atlantic found that “the most politically intolerant Americans” tend be white, highly educated urban progressives. . . .
Long ago, religious zealots embraced feudal ideals, but increasingly it’s the ultra-secular progressives who reprise the role of Medieval Inquisitors.
This move toward leftist orthodoxy is not unprecedented. McCarthyism in the 1950s may have been cruelly inquisitional, but not nearly as totalitarian as Stalinism. Unfortunately, it is largely on the left that we find the authoritarian demand for unanimity on virtually all issues.
At the heart of intolerance lies with the notion of “absolute truth.” Traditionally, Western liberalism embraced the ideal of healthy debate and interchange about values and objectives. Liberals and conservatives alike took empiricism and rationality seriously.
Today these ideals are being undermined by a fevered rush to reject empiricism and complexity. “There’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right,” suggests the left’s super-star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez .
This emphasis on intent and “morality” reflects a more Medieval attitude than that of a reasoned politics that grows from facts and evidence.
These people talk about morality, but they’re not actually moral. Plus:
Free speech’s future prospects are not made brighter by an internet controlled by a handful of tech oligarchs. Nearly two-thirds of readers now get their news through Facebook and Google; as those tech companies systematically destroy the economics of the news business, their dominance will only grow, particularly among the young.
Based largely in the Bay Area — a hotbed of progressive sentiment — these firms use algorithms to suppress anything they find mildly disturbing. This has already resulted in the mass de-platforming of largely conservative voices on outlets such as Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter.
The power over information wielded by the oligarchs, the shaping of the next generation by the progressive professoriate and cultural clerisy represent a clear danger to the future of free thought. It will take a concerted effort by people of good will, both left and right, to demand a return to appreciation of the great thinkers of the past and humankind’s beautiful diversity of thought. We can’t let our cultural legacy be squelched by today’s inquisitors.
Time to break them up.