I’ve renamed this post so that the post that follows will represent a smoother transition from it, but no content has been changed.
My Pre-Election Reflections
Over the last week or two, in the run up to the American election, I wrote a number of pieces analysing the social phenomena that gave rise to a Trump presidency. I suggested that prominent evangelicals’ excuses for and celebrations of Trump leave evangelicalism facing a crisis of moral credibility and that we might need to reassess the movement and our places within it. I discussed the breakdown of trust that has produced a crisis of truth and authority, providing the context in which a figure such as Trump could emerge. I called upon Christian voters considering voting for Trump to step back from the polarized and polarizing discourse and, rather than letting the rhetoric and behaviour of Trump opponents drive them into his camp, converse with their own consciences and come to a self-defined morally responsible decision, rather than—what I still very much perceive it to be—an irresponsible socially reactive one.
I gave this counsel to those considering voting for Trump prior to the election because I felt many were being pushed in Trump’s direction by the behaviour of the progressive left. When other parties adopt polarizing behaviour and rhetoric and our own groups are becoming polarized and reactive, it is all the more important that we pursue self-defined and responsible behaviour, resisting the dynamics on both sides.
I did not want to foreground the responsibility of the progressive left prior to the election, because I felt it important to avoid fuelling any of the reactivity that was driving people towards Trump. However, after the election, I saw an alternative danger. In my immediate context of vocal #NeverTrump people, I feared that the response to the election risked slipping into narratives of evangelical guilt a little too completely. While evangelicalism undoubtedly bears its measure of responsibility, and must openly acknowledge this, it is no less important that we refuse to be the scapegoat that the progressives want us to be.
Politics of Guilt and Deference
The current politics of the progressive left is a politics of guilt and deference. In the hands of the progressive left, guilt is a tool for social dominance. The more that you can instil guilt and shame in your adversaries, the more you can crush their cultural spirit and render them abject and craven. People’s inability to deal with and atone for guilt renders it an immensely powerful instrument of control. Once a person who cannot appropriately deal with guilt has some guilt placed on their shoulders, the person to whom they owe a debt can act as a usurer, compounding that burden, unjustly laying on ever more guilt, until they are utterly ruined. The one who owes the debt entailed by their guilt can become the slave of their victim. It is imperative that Christians learn to live as a people who are not in the grip of and at the mercy of guilt. If we do not, we will swiftly be reduced to dhimmitude.
Part of the process of resisting the politics of guilt is to refuse the unjust assignment of guilt and shame to us. We definitely bear a burden of guilt, but we must not allow ourselves to become scapegoats, a means by which other guilty parties can displace their own guilt. Guilt must be assigned truthfully and justly. This means, in particular, that we must completely refuse to bear the guilt of progressive liberalism and must, rather, place the burden firmly at its door. We must throw a spanner in the operations of their politics of guilt and moral purity. For instance, we must not allow culturally privileged white progressive liberals to discharge the burden of guilt of the nation’s historic and continuing forms of racism upon the scapegoat of the white working class. They largely brought the election of Trump upon themselves and they were the oppressors.
As a tangential point here, it is sometimes speculated that the Reformation doctrine of justification is much less relevant in the current context. However, once we recognize that the political power of progressivism and its politics of deference to those designated as victims is founded upon the power of guilt, we may discover that, five hundred years after the Reformation, the doctrine of justification is more socially emancipating a truth than ever before. The doctrine of justification means that we can truthfully acknowledge and repent of our sin, without selling ourselves into the cruel slavery of those who would mercilessly exploit and leverage our guilt for social dominance.
This Christian response to guilt, it must be stressed, is no less radically opposed to the politics of guilt immunity and shamelessness practiced by those who acknowledge neither sin nor guilt or who revel in the sin. Racists, for instance, who acknowledge neither historic crimes and injustices, nor present and continuing ones, may refuse all guilt as a means of resisting the cultural dhimmitude brought about by the politics of guilt and deference. However, they ‘deal’ with guilt by lying about and perpetuating sin and injustice. A people that can speak truthfully about sin and guilt without being crippled by it can only exist if some just way has been found to deal with guilt, as it has in our Saviour. We are freed to question claims to victimhood and to refuse to accept unjustly assigned guilt and shame, while also being freed to speak truthfully about the wrong that we have indeed done and the culpability that we do bear for sin.
Posts Following the Election
In light of all of this, I wrote a series of three posts after the election, presenting a case for the progressive left’s responsibility for Donald Trump: ‘How Social Justice Ideology Gave Us Donald Trump’, ‘Further Thoughts: How Social Justice Ideology Fuels Racism and Sexism’, and, finally, ‘In Which A Man Explains Things’. Within the posts, I argued that the progressive left’s ideology of social justice had created a polarized and stifling context, disconnected from both natural and social reality, with a Manichaeanism ideology producing a cultural total war, and tragically radicalizing ugly new strains of nihilistic opposition to it.
Although I think it was already apparent within the posts, I was not arguing against a concern for social justice, but, rather, against the unhealthy way in which such an important concern has been refracted on the progressive left. I was arguing against identity politics, the politics of deference, the politics of guilt and fear, ideological Manichaeanism, and the illiberal closure of discourse. It is imperative that we are people who are practically committed to tackling racist, sexist, and other forms of injustice and not react against the core Christian concerns that are at stake here, simply because they are twisted by those who oppose us. As in the case of our voting, we must be self-defined in our action and not reactive, driven by well-formed consciences rather than by antagonism with others. Racist and sexist forms of injustice remain ugly realities in society, in the church, and in our own hearts and minds and need to be rooted out. However, the way that we handle these things must be markedly different from progressives. As we eschew the politics of guilt and deference, we can speak truthfully about these realities in ways that will directly contradict certain of the claims made by feminists and race theorists, while finding clear common cause with them in others.
Apocalyptic Political Events Change the Climate
Writing my comments, I firmly believed that Scott Alexander’s point that the election result shouldn’t change the narrative was an important one. In most respects, I still do. We should not allow the unilateral character of an election win to dull us to the fuller story: the majority of those who turned out to vote still preferred Clinton over Trump. America is divided and its people are deeply conflicted, both among themselves and within themselves. There is a resurgent form of populist nationalism, but it is nowhere near becoming a consensus. Racist elements have become more prominent in political debate, but the vast majority of people on both sides of the political aisle firmly reject racism. If we forget these things, we are in danger of suggesting that certain positions have a mandate that they don’t possess. Bearing these points in mind, within my post-election reflections I largely developed points that I had already articulated in other contexts.
However, while one can rightly argue the election result merely brought existing reality to light, I didn’t pay enough attention to the fact that ‘apocalyptic’—in the original ‘unveiling’ sense of the term—events such as a surprising election result always change the narrative. It makes a huge difference when a reality that has been largely hidden from people’s eyes suddenly becomes exposed, when a reality that has been denied suddenly becomes undeniable. Apocalyptic events are vast bursts of light upon a gloomy landscape, whose true features are suddenly exposed. After the apocalypse brings reality to light, some parties will necessarily be vindicated and others may be condemned.
Things such as authority, cultural dominance, credibility, and popularity are largely about perception, perceptions that shape the political reality. The emperor was wearing no clothes all along, but something needed to puncture the collective illusion. When the unveiling occurs and perceptions change, the political reality changes with them. The perceptions that prevailed before the election were of the progressive social justice left’s invincible cultural and political dominance, a dominance utterly unassailable by a candidate like Trump who so strongly defied its orthodoxies. The inexorable progressive movement of history was going to continue as it was finally proved that the presidency could come in pink as well as in blue.
Progressive liberals truly believed that they had their finger on the pulse of the country. Other groups on the left were also convinced of their dominance and so went along with them. Conservatives were convinced of their dominance and felt unable to push back against them. Tuesday changed all of this. It was revealed that progressive liberals were out of touch with the country, unable to mobilize key groups behind their vision, and devastatingly alienating for certain others.
The wind has changed.
Not paying enough attention to the importance of unveiling events and the way they change the social reality, I wrote my original piece without having closely followed many of the responses to the election from across the spectrum. My concern was not to allow the ‘weather forecast’ of the result to affect my read of the climate that gave rise to it. However, such a result is the sort of thing that can change the climate.
Elections are a great way to expose preference falsification. Within this essential article, Sarah Perry describes the phenomenon:
Preference falsification is an information theory term for the tendency for people to express a public preference that is different from their private, interior preference. For various reasons, certain preferences may not be publicly acceptable to express; they may be punished by execution, or labor camps, or exile, or social exclusion, or at the very least suspicion and a risk of some of these things. When people do not express their true preferences, they are deprived of the opportunity to coordinate with each other to create a more preferable outcome for both. Preference falsification is not just a political phenomenon, but a product of our dual nature, experiencing ourselves on the one hand from the privileged first-person perspective, and on the other hand from the imagined perspective of others. Pretending to have different preferences than one really does may be necessary to maintain a sense of safety, social belonging, and status.
An election can reveal the level of preference falsification in a society, help people to recognize when it is reaching critical levels and the systems encouraging it are vulnerable to direct assault, tempt dissidents out into the open and thereby enable them to coordinate their forces in a way that they hadn’t been able to do previously.
It is crucial to bear in mind that the power of the progressive left rests in large measure upon perceptions. Upon perceptions of its moral superiority and authority. Upon perceptions of its social invincibility and historical inevitability. Upon perceptions of its widespread appeal and influence. Upon perceptions of the intellectual credibility of its academic output. Upon perceptions of the desirability of membership in its in-groups. Upon perceptions of its immunity from ridicule. These perceptions are reinforced by extensive preference falsification on the part of the population.
Remove these perceptions (not least by weakening the effectiveness of preference falsification) and much of the progressive left may start to look fairly feeble and filled with fainting victims, morally noxious, pathetic and uncool, hypocritical in its sanctimony, ridiculous, and on the verge of academic bankruptcy. The cracks have been appearing for some time but few felt safe to draw attention to them. The progressive left has been exposed to increasing levels of mockery, satire, and parody from across the political spectrum. Fewer and fewer people take it or its culture of exaggerated victimhood seriously any more. Unfortunately for the progressive left, its power is almost wholly dependent upon people taking it seriously.
In short, the progressive left is tremendously vulnerable to apocalyptic events.
The Progressive Left Under Assault
Writing my original post, I thought I was writing a relatively original and independent take, putting forward an opinion that people wouldn’t encounter elsewhere. Perhaps especially on the left.
I was severely mistaken.
In the days after the election, people have turned on the progressive left, for precisely the reasons that I challenged it. Although the progressive left has resolutely pointed its finger at ignorant and hateful white voters and the spectres of racism and sexism, the facts simply don’t fit their story. A great many of the same people who voted for Obama, and have voted for women and LGBT candidates down ticket, supported Trump. A large minority of Hispanics voted for Trump. A comfortable majority of white women voted for Trump. Across the political spectrum people are now blaming the progressive left itself.
Many of these voices are entirely predictable ones, some are more surprising, although the fact they are converging on such a consensus in their interpretation of the situation is important. Most of the people in question were merely continuing analyses that they had advanced before the election, but at this point a determined movement against progressivism is coming into the open on both sides of the political aisle. In a characteristically insightful reflection, Roger Scruton draws attention to the alienating demonization of the white working classes and the way in which their sentiments have been suppressed through stigmatization by smug and morally superior academic and cultural elite. Peter Hitchens maintains that progressives are suffering the consequences of their smug and moralistic dismissals of reasonably voiced dissent and that the future they have invited is an ugly one. John Milbank argues that oppressive left wing identity politics has played a part in producing a movement in reaction against it.
Jonathan Haidt calls the left to retreat from the illiberalism of its identity politics, which merely makes the situation worse.
David French argues that identity politics are tearing us apart:
Since my law-school days, the problem has only gotten worse. Now the true cultural and historical demons are white—gasp!—“cisgender” males, and any white cisgender woman who doesn’t appropriately check her privilege. The ticket to white acceptability in progressive politics is a form of self-loathing: a constant attitude of repentance not just for the sins of the past but also for the benefits of the present, which are presumably enjoyed only or mainly because of the plunder and exploitation of “brown bodies.”
Oddly enough, this self-loathing doesn’t diminish the power of the white progressive. The movement is still chock-full of rich white men and women. Indeed, they mainly lead the American Left. They simply purport to hate and mock “white males” with the same intensity as do their black friends.
But while there’s no price paid by Harvard Law students who “check their privilege,” or by Silicon Valley execs who enthusiastically embrace the latest trends in identity politics—they and their families will do just fine—the rest of white America is not so fortunate. We’re left with the odd reality in which white kids who live in trailer parks are “privileged,” while the sons and daughters of wealthy black doctors are “oppressed”—in which the legitimate concerns of white working-class and middle-class Americans are dismissed as misguided at best (after all, they’re privileged) and racist at worst.
Trump seems to have survived by refusing to submit when his opponents took offence and attempted to shame him into backing down, a tactic that has been hugely successful against conservatives in the past.
But Trump is also the triumph of identity politics. For years the punditry have been saying that the GOP is finished because America is becoming more diverse, failing to see that since the Democrats win through identity politics, then Republicans could also play that game.
As he observes, people’s sense of progressivism’s asphyxiating regime leads them to self-censor to a degree that makes their true sentiments impossible to read. The more frequently that the progressive left has weaponized its orthodoxies to drive opponents and their viewpoints out of public life and discourse, the academy, their jobs, and their livelihoods, and forced them to act against their consciences, the more that people resent them and the pressure of resistance will build beneath the surface.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb challenges and ridicules the stupid and effete academic expert—the Intellectual Yet Expert (IYI)—and their failure to grasp that their small-minded but oppressive orthodoxies will be defied when people are offered an unpoliced context where their true sentiments or preferences can be expressed:
The standard explanation for Trump’s success is the economic anxiety driving the backlash from the “forgotten” white working class. But Trump voters were also driven by anger that their beliefs and values were held in contempt by the elites. Resentment of “political correctness”—which encompasses everything from rhetoric that demonizes whites and males to intolerance toward dissent from progressive dogma—undoubtedly played a role as well.
Trump’s voters have a point. They contend that political correctness is a cudgel used by the left only to silence the demographically undesirable (white, male, and rural). They chafe as the selfless members of law enforcement and the military are denigrated by the influential. They see their livelihoods choked off by regulation and they see their communities transformed by those who do not share their culture or values. What’s more, they are told that all these concerns and the associated sense of estrangement are bigotry for which they must be punished.
Sam Harris argues that the disingenuousness of the progressive left led to Trump. Americans in their masses rejected political correctness, the policing of discourse that stifled honest conversation about issues such as Islamic terrorism and immigration, which deeply concerned them and whose insistent and ugly reality in the news, repeatedly exposed the mealy mouthed inability of progressives to be voices of difficult truths.
Sohrab Ahmari takes aim at identitarian warfare’s provocation of a backlash:
Apparently it takes more than four years of college to understand this: You don’t get people to see things your way by calling them idiots and racists, or sorting them into baskets of deplorables and pitiables (deserving of sympathy for their moral and intellectual failings). If you can’t manage genuine respect for the people whose votes you want, at least try to fake it.
However, forgive me if I go further. It really ought to be possible to manage some actual respect. The complaints that Trump is addressing deserve better than to be recast in caricature then dismissed with contempt.
A number of people have observed the impotence and the growing counterproductivity of progressives’ favourite shaming words:
Resistance to the social justice left’s language is increasing. John McWhorter writes:
IN OUR MOMENT, my comments will elicit from many the question as to whether I consider Donald Trump a racist. The answer is yes—his feigning lack of familiarity with the opinions of David Duke and his explicit statements about black people’s purported laziness decide the case rather conclusively for me, and I am revolted that he will be our president for this and countless other reasons. However, the problem is treating Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, or even Trump voters as if they deserve being discussed in the same vein as he does.
They don’t, and only the mission creep the word racism has undergone lends any impression otherwise. Meanwhile, the melodramatic quality in designating well-meaning people who slipped up a bit as “racists” is clear to most observers, and it dulls their receptiveness to genuine, serious accusations of bigotry. Rather, “racist” starts to come off as a mere angry bludgeon used by a certain set of people committed to moral condemnation and comfortable with shutting down exchange. A common idea among Blue Americans is that the people “out there” shirk the racist label out of what could only be naïve denial. That happens—but what if a lot of them get weary of being commanded to pretend that Ellen DeGeneres is a bigot?
Social justice is about being honest and outwardly focused. Our language must encourage us in that. The way we currently use the term racism does not.
Over on Reason, Robby Soave remarks:
[C]ampus progressives have willfully pushed race-based and identity-group-based classifications: calling for segregated safe spaces and programs for students of color, LGBTQ students, Native American students, Latinos, and so on. At the same time, they have assailed white privilege and white fragility, treating white people like the enemy. In electing Trump, whites may have lived up to their expectations, but I can’t help but wonder whether that was a foreseeable consequence of the left’s campaign to demonize them.
In a very important piece over on Quillette, Uri Harris makes similar points to me about the moralism and the taboos of the progressive left leading it towards intellectual bankruptcy, unable to speak honestly and descriptively about realities of human nature. His argument deserves to be quoted at length:
Consider the values Trump has been promoting throughout his campaign. When he promises to make America great again and complains that America doesn’t win anymore, when he promises to reduce government, when he aggressively goes after his opponents, and when he refuses to couch his words in equivocation, he is not just offering a new political direction, he is thumbing his nose at contemporary moral beliefs, and many people are responding to it, especially men.
People have been taught for years that traits such as competitiveness, individualism, aggression, confidence, and national pride are morally suspect, and here comes a figure who is unafraid to challenge that. I’ve heard mentioned that Trump is tapping into many people’s disdain for political correctness, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, in my opinion. I think he’s tapping into a broad resistance to contemporary moral beliefs, beliefs that have become increasingly institutionalised over the past fifty years.
The problem is that these are precisely the beliefs that are held above inquiry in the social sciences. Under normal scientific conditions, scientists would simply say ‘oh, it looks like we underestimated the extent to which these values are drivers of human behaviour, let us adjust our models’. But social scientists can’t do that, so all they can do is declare them immoral, whether it be Brexit, or Trump, or the movements in France and Germany and many other Western countries that are currently building.
It isn’t just that social scientists disagree on the details of how important this behaviour is to people, but that even discussing it in anything other than strongly moralistic terms is discouraged. And so, social scientists face a dilemma. Treating individualism, competitiveness, confidence, aggression, and national pride as behaviour worthy of description dilutes the power of ideologies to moralise against them. And this threatens the left, which dominates the social sciences and whose ideology is based on declaring these behaviours immoral. It’s hard for social scientists in this environment to remain objective, and since there are virtually no social scientists with opposing views, the science suffers.
Harris’ registering of the gender dimension here is important. I will return to this in the post that follow this one.
Charles Camosy, in an article well worth reading in its entirety, writes about the failure of the academic left’s mind and imagination:
Religion in most secular institutions, for instance, is at best thought of as an important sociological phenomenon to understand—but is very often criticized as an inherently violent, backward force in our culture, akin to belief in fairies and dragons. Professors are less religious than the population as a whole. Most campus cultures have strictly (if not formally) enforced dogmatic views about the nature of gender, sexual orientation, a woman’s right to choose abortion, guns and the role of the state as primary agent of social change. If anyone disagrees with these dogmatic positions they risk being marginalized as ignorant, bigoted, fanatical or some other dismissive label.
Sometimes the college-educated find themselves so unable to understand a particular working-class point of view that they will respond to those perspectives with shocking condescension. Recall that President Obama, in the midst of the 2012 election cycle, suggested that job losses were the reason working-class voters were bitterly clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” The religious themselves, meanwhile, likely do not chalk their faith up to unhappy economic prospects, and they probably find it hard to connect with politicians who seem to assume such.
Thus today’s college graduates are formed by a campus culture that leaves them unable to understand people with unfamiliar or heterodox views on guns, abortion, religion, marriage, gender and privilege. And that same culture leads such educated people to either label those with whom they disagree as bad people or reduce their stated views on these issues as actually being about something else, as in Obama’s case. Most college grads in this culture are simply never forced to engage with or seriously consider professors or texts which could provide a genuine, compelling alternative view.
As one commentator on Twitter observes, the Democratic Party has increasingly become The Party of the enlightened social elite, with membership in or the semblance of support of The Party steadily becoming a social prerequisite for inclusion in polite society, public life, and much of the employment market.
Nor did either [Cameron nor Clinton] sufficiently address the fact that voters have not been moving to the political left in any large numbers—not least because in the United Kingdom and the United States, the left loathes talking about the identity and immigration concerns of the public and prefers to lecture on why the public is wrong to feel the way it does.
Social liberals have spent years scolding and lecturing conservatives without listening to what the other side has had to say. Rarely did they consider the possibility that the public did not need to be corrected, because the public was not necessarily wrong. Recognizing the existence of the people who have been “left behind” is not the same as doing something to help them. Finding them work may prove difficult. But castigating them for racism and other assorted bigotries is rubbing salt in their wounds.
It is true that Trump used inflammatory language against minorities and women, but liberals should not have attacked his supporters by portraying them as racist, misogynist, and homophobic fascists. Supporting border control or conservative values should not automatically earn one such a violent label. The correct response would have been to acknowledge the legitimacy of concerns over the free market and immigration. The incorrect response was to name call, which Clinton resorted to when she said that many of Trump’s supporters belonged to a “basket of deplorables.”
The status signalling of progressive elites is killing the left (along with the incessant window-dressing of its symbolic identity politics), rendering them incapable of engagement with a population that is turning its back on them.
Many of these concerns are also being reported on the ground. People have had enough of being moralized to and demonized by the priests and priestesses of the prestige faith of progressivism and now those denied cultural status by it are turning against it (this Tweet thread registers the educational dimension—it can’t be reduced to money or power—but misses the way that progressive academic elites have denigrated others through their moralizing prestige virtue cult). Henry Kissinger suggests, ‘The Trump phenomenon is in large part a reaction of Middle America to attacks on its values by intellectual and academic communities. There are other reasons, but this is a significant one.’
Joan Williams, in the Harvard Business Review, recognizes the failure of elite hauteur and how it registers with people outside of their professional class:
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.
Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.
Again, the gender dynamics are extremely important here and will have bearing on some of my later points.
The ‘smug style’ in American liberalism is alienating the nation, something Will Rahn is scathing about in an article on CBS News. The coded venom directed at ‘white people’ by (largely white) progressives, which treats the white non-college educated persons as scapegoats for white supremacy, and which is coupled with frequent celebrations of the steady collapse of their demographic into minority status, has the effect of driving them towards stronger forms of nationalism and racism:
Opposition to the behaviour of the progressive left is starting to be voiced in surprising places. Frank Bruni writes in the New York Times:
Other factors conspired in the party’s debacle. One in particular haunts me. From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.
Liberals miss this by being illiberal. They shame not just the racists and sexists who deserve it but all who disagree. A 64-year-old Southern woman not onboard with marriage equality finds herself characterized as a hateful boob. Never mind that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t themselves onboard just five short years ago.
Political correctness has morphed into a moral purity that may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. It’s a handmaiden to smugness and sanctimony, undermining its own goals.
When positions one associates with Heterodox Academy start to be articulated in the Harvard Crimson, one gets the sense that something might be changing for the better:
The causes of this ideological imbalance [in the Harvard ‘bubble’] are likely as varied as the reasons people choose to attend Harvard in the first place, and it would be unrealistic to expect our campus to exactly mirror the political divisions of the country at any given moment. But when the disconnect has grown to such proportions, diversifying political expression in all settings ought to become an administrative priority. The pursuit of “Veritas” which undergirds our intellectual life demands not only that each member of our community be able to debate politics freely, but also that we attend to the multitude of political views that exist in our nation. Stifling this discussion on campus is a disservice to our peers in the campus political minority, and to our own educational growth.
In the same vein, administrators and faculty should take active steps to ensure that students of all political stripes feel comfortable voicing their ideas, especially in the classroom. Concretely, this effort will likely involve actively encouraging the airing of different views, and curtailing unnecessary or inappropriate expressions of political favor by professors. Guaranteeing that more conservative professors teach in subject areas that clearly lean liberal, like the humanities, is also crucial.
It is a myth that Trump and Brexit won because of overwhelming working-class support. Nevertheless, they could win only because a large chunk of the white working class moved rightwards. Debates about how to lure them back ought to reveal the difference between arguing with and arguing against your fellow citizens, which most middle-class leftists have not even begun to think about.
You can only argue against committed supporters of Trump. If they believe all Mexicans are rapists and Muslims terrorists, you cannot compromise without betraying your principles. Fair enough. But before you become self-righteous you must accept that the dominant faction on the western left uses language just as suggestive of collective punishment when they talk about their own white working class. Imagine how it must feel for a worker in Bruce Springsteen’s Youngstown to hear college-educated liberals condemn “white privilege” when he has a shit job and a miserable life. Or Google the number of times “straight white males” are denounced by public-school educated women in the liberal media and think how that sounds to an ex-miner coughing his guts up in a Yorkshire council flat.
Emotionally, as well as rationally, they sense the left, or at least the left they see and hear, is no longer their friend. They are men and women who could be argued with, if the middle classes were willing to treat them decently. You might change their minds. You might even find that they could change yours. Instead of hearing an argument, they see liberals who call the police to suppress not only genuine hate speech that incites violence but any uncouth or “inappropriate” transgression.
For too many in the poor neighbourhoods of the west, middle-class liberals have become like their bosses at work. They tell you what you can and can’t think. They warn that you must accept their superiority and you will be in no end of trouble if you do not.
Finally, the satirist Jonathan Pie delivers a blistering and profanity-filled rant that mercilessly eviscerates the progressive left:
I take this emerging criticism as a sign that things are changing and indicative of the possibility of a new multilateral movement towards open and pluralistic discourse and away from the discourse of progressivism. The progressive left, though still overwhelmingly powerful in many contexts and institutions, is gradually losing its power, something revealed by the fact that so many people are no longer falsifying their preferences. Its opponents are starting to emerge from their boltholes and to organize against it.