As we all know and see consistently in public discourse, the liberals/progressives of our day are liberal in every sense of the word: generous, tolerant, open-minded, kind to those they disagree with, basically live-and-let-live kind of people. NOT!!! Unfortunately, we only see this in a fictitious TV episode I just invented that mirrors a Star Trek episode (called “Mirror, Mirror”) where in an alternate universe we see a bad Spock who happens to have a beard. In this alternate universe where liberals are actually liberal, we see the inversion of the Star Trek episode where in the alternate universe the crew is evil.
This is how bad it’s gotten in this second decade of the 21st Century, the very idea that liberals can actually act liberally is a concept that requires another dimension (we could even invent a Twilight Zone episode about it), something we simply can’t find in our current reality. Joel Kotkin in a recent piece at The Daily Beast gives us a sad overview of just how toxic our political and public discourse has become. The subtitle gets at why this illiberal liberalism is more than just some unpleasant people we have to deal with:
“The new liberal ruling elite, a mix of academics and cultural powerbrokers, is like the old clerical orders—wielding its wealth and power to enforce “truths” and punish dissenters.”
This wealth and power to enforce has real life consequences for those who don’t toe the line:
In ways not seen since at least the McCarthy era, Americans are finding themselves increasingly constrained by a rising class—what I call the progressive Clerisy—that accepts no dissent from its basic tenets. Like the First Estate in pre-revolutionary France, the Clerisy increasingly exercises its power to constrain dissenting views, whether on politics, social attitudes or science.
An alliance of upper level bureaucrats and cultural elites, the Clerisy, for for all their concerns about inequality, have thrived, unlike most Americans, in recent years. They also enjoy strong relations with the power structure in Washington, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street.
As the modern clerisy has seen its own power grow, even while the middle class shrinks, it has used its influence to enforce a prescribed set of acceptable ideas. On everything from gender and sexual preference to climate change, those who dissent from the official pieties risk punishment.
My previous piece on what’s happening to Christian groups on college campuses is just a small example of this cultural poison. Part of what we are reaping today is that the enemies of liberty control the cultural heights long ago abdicated by the political and cultural right:
The rise of today’s Clerisy stems from the growing power and influence of its three main constituent parts: the creative elite of media and entertainment, the academic community, and the high-level government bureaucracy.
This insight of Kotkin’s that the culture elites ally themselves with a burgeoning government bureaucracy to push a progressive agenda is a relatively new feature in the left’s war on American culture. Obama is the perfect president to help them facilitate this; whatever progressive policy item they can’t pass through congress, they achieve by bureaucratic alternative means.
In the past decade conservatives have woken up to the importance of cultural institutions, and the impact their influence has on the direction of our society, whether increasing statism and suffocating of liberty, or pushing that back and achieving some semblance of our Founders’ vision for America. And even though more than half a century of illiberal dominance will not be overcome quickly, we must fight as Winston Church said and metaphorically in our case, “whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” And make no mistake, it is and will be a fight.