It’s Time To Reclaim Classic Liberalism From The Hard Left

You see the most interesting things on Twitter. While I was busy the other night mining the Internet for post-feminist/transqueer/anti-settler tweets  to RT out of context (yes, I found several that met all three criteria), I came across this little nugget of actual wisdom from a random person I do not know and have never even heard of:

I find it hard to identify as a liberal anymore. Way too much cultural relativism, postmodernist b.s., nonsensical identity politics, etc.

— Miranda Celeste Hale (@mirandachale) March 25, 2014

That’s not an acknowledgment you see every day. It opens up an interesting line of thought. What does it mean when “liberals” no longer identify with the label? Perhaps it’s an opportunity for conservatives to reclaim it.

Digging into this person’s other writings, I realized very quickly that I would agree with almost nothing else that she wrote. She is apparently one of those internet atheists, the sort who actually campaign against religion instead of blithely ignoring it like a decent, polite heathen. Anyone who campaigns to end “Hereditary Religion” isn’t a person I’ll find much common ground with, ever, at all.

Yet it’s possible that it was her regrettable taste for anti-religion that led her to this interesting political observation. Atheists possess, if nothing else, a supreme talent for questioning the orthodox assumptions of society (and then sharing their opinions in YouTube comments).

Modern liberalism is, as many on the right have observed, increasingly illiberal and more rigidly dogmatic than even the most fevered popular conception of medieval Catholicism. Liberals even have their own self-appointed Inquisitors, who prowl about the Internet seeking the ruin of careers for the slightest impolitic comment.

It’s depressingly easy to run afoul of the High Inquisitors of the Left. In many cases, an insufficient zeal on the part of the offender for their pet issue is enough for them to launch a hostile social media “campaign” from their parent’s basement.

Not convinced climate change is appreciably impacted by man? Heretic.

Question whether government spending on schools correlates with success? Reprobate.

Think boys and girls are, biologically or otherwise, different and distinct? Blasphemer.

Fail to show adequate sympathy and uncritical acceptance of a victim group? Oppressor.

Insufficiently account for all the various permutations of queer when discussing social policy? Malefactor.

Believe America is a better country than most? Sinner.

Better than all? Colonizer.

The scoldings are severe, and sustained. While most are ultimately inconsequential, every so often you’ll see a celebrity or other public figure cowed into submission by the thought police. Liberals seem very keen on freedom of speech, including offensive speech, until that speech offends them. Then they bring terrible social or legal pressure to bear upon the hapless stooge who failed to demonstrate properly formed revolutionary ideals, or who dared to question the arbiters of socio-scientific wisdom. It may be funny when they turn on each other, but we shouldn’t forget their favorite snack is a conservative.

Witness the ongoing trial of Mark Steyn for skewering Michael “The Hockey Stick” Mann, noted climate change boob. The intent of any such action (beyond obtaining money) is to get those who are willing and able to oppose the leftist program to shut up, and by their example discourage further insubordination. Hardly seems right for a free society, does it?

The truth of the matter is that “liberalism” in this country has been infected and hollowed out by leftist rot.

To be a “liberal” used to mean being a classical liberal who, broadly speaking, believed that freedom for the individual is best achieved by limiting the power of government. Contrast that with modern leftist-liberalism, which has a boundless conception of the State’s duty to (and therefore, power over) the people. While political division has always existed in this country, the gulf between classical liberals and the Statists on the left has never been broader and never felt more toxic.

This relentless leftist mania (with its rabbit holes of gender, victim hierarchies, and contempt for social norms) would, if left unchecked, overwhelm and paralyze the sensible, rational (though still quite obviously wrong!) elements in the Democratic Party. We are currently at the mercy of one of the most leftward Democratic administrations in history, yet you can still find leftists who are bitterly disappointed in their compromises with reality.

Interestingly, one doesn’t hear many stories of hard leftists declaring they will stay home rather than vote for an imperfect candidate – as some of our friends on the right have done. The Democrats seem to have their zealots under control, for now. Or perhaps the leftists correctly intuited that they would have more impact within a party structure than outside of it.

Where does liberalism stand, these days? It’s tempting to look at the corrupted ruin of the left and say that liberalism is dead, but that’s not at all correct. We are all of us liberals, in the United States. That is our inherited system of governance. Liberalism, properly understood, still exists on the right. It still exists somewhere in the Democratic Party. We should reclaim “liberalism” from the hard left, and contrast it with their deceitful anti-freedom agenda.

It’s important to note that beyond the United States, there are few other bastions of liberal democratic governance in the world. Freedom isn’t magically self-sustaining. It can be snuffed out under the weight of Leviathan.

Forestalling that is our responsibility.