At one point the idea of ‘liberalism’ was associated with subversive thought, alternative lifestyles, sexual freedom, libertine practices, and damn near anything considered ‘non conformist’. It was reviled by the Right, particularly the religious right. The Right preached against the ‘devil’s music’, the revealing clothes, the ‘war against drugs’, and had their own cultural witch hunts to weed out the undesirables. Indeed, it was a Christian country of upstanding morals that condemned the corrupted and sexually perverse. The Right were ‘squares’, and the liberals were here to bring true liberty and freedom of thought. Oh how quickly does the accused become the accuser…
I grew up in the Southeast, the Bible Belt, my family was quite religious, and going ‘against the grain’ was discouraged. As a teen and young adult I lashed out against Christianity, the religious right, and boldly considered myself a Liberal. After time in likeminded social circles I quickly became disillusioned. As I studied more, developed my own thoughts and opinions, I soon discovered the free minded Liberals were as herd minded and witch burning as the Christian Evangelists I so hated. As the ‘SJW’ movement gained momentum, the cultural schism grew severe, I came to realize the Progressive Inquisition had become far worse than the Religious Right I grew up with. Given I consider myself socially liberal, queer, a libertine of sorts, exploring fringe ideologies of the left and the right, and religious only in the Aldous Huxley sense. In short, I would rather read Baudelaire than surf Tumblr, would rather read Nietzsche than the stupidity of Tim Wise. That being said, I am not alone in this, the fanatacisim of the Progressive Inquisition alienates those who could be potential allies for just causes.
The puritanical evangelists that the liberals once fought against, railing against their oppressive and stifling sermons, their moral crusades and religious zealotry…are now key characteristics of the liberal left, though now under the banner of “Progressivism”. The Secularists have become the Evangelists they once despised. The Progressives are Christian Evangelicals minus the theism. The pious are praised and the sinful are shamed. Much like the Christian culture of past, if you think or speak something that is not approved of by the dominating discourse, then you are branded as being a ‘sinner’, one of shame who must repent and ask forgiveness. Only by alligning oneself to the values currently held by Progressives can you attain salvation and be brought into the light. Those who reject this Gospel are barbaric and lost souls. This may sound like a dramatic exaggeration, but observe the Puritanism that has permeated our culture. The zealotry of the Progressives can even be felt by the moderately liberal, even comedians have spoken against this totalitarian policing. It is an ‘all or nothing’ ideology, the luke warm are rejected, only the ideologues will be praised.
It has been said that the minority has begun to rule the masses. I find this insufficient and myopic. What has occurred is the use of perpetual victimhood, not in the self-pitying variety, rather to claim to be the downtrodden for the sake of ethical appeal. Despite the totalitarian grasp on discourse, the constant witch hunting of any who disagree, ultimately they take the position of being the downtrodden and victimized. Nietzsche spoke of ressentiment; forming morality on reactions to the dominate, demonizing the values of the strong, and only the lowly and weak are good. The social privileges that have existed in civilizations since the earliest are now to be coupled with guilt, or to be more exact, the constant awareness of advantages that presumeably forces the individual to uplift the downtrodden. It is no longer Christian charity, rather the privileged are obligated to pay homage to the unprivileged. One is guilty of committing the sin of privilege unawareness whether he knows it or not, and must repent. This spectre, this Other that is ‘white narrative’ or ‘class narrative’ permeates the system, it must be expunged, this corrupting sin must be cleansed from our collective conscious, no matter the cost. Herein lies the witch hunt, it seeks out any hint of racism or injustice, whether it is actually present or not. It will find an actual witch or find a fitting substitute. It is a moral hysteria reminiscent to the ‘Satanic panic’ from the 1980s. The forces of evil must be eradicated even if we burn the village to the ground in the process.
The images of an inquisition, a pile of so-called blasphemous texts in a pile burning, those surrounding it basking in their self-righteous piety…this is not presently foreign to us. If it is film, literature, a historical symbol, philosophy, religion, and so forth it is at the mercy of the Progressive Inquisition. It could be deemed heretical if it is sexist, patriarchal, homophobic, racist, classist, or simply too explicit for the sentimental heart. If it is found guilty then it will be branded, shamed, stigmatized, a warning across its cover, and demonized if need be. All in the name of social justice, in the name of the Higher Essence, the moral Good. Those who put their nose to the ground, praise the downtrodden, and spit at these spectral witches are truly the most pious and beloved by secular God. If the whole of Western civilization, with its triumphs and follies, must be stamped out of history books and deemed ‘vile devils’ then it must be done. Acknowledge the cruel past of conquest, repent, and work off the sins of your fathers. The Inquisition will zealously continue the expungement until there is nothing left to be considered offensive or demonstrate superiority. If the kingdom must be razed in order to save it, then so be it.
It is safe to say the liberal left of decades ago is no more. The position that once supported diverse lifestyles, dissenting opinions, and libertine practices has mutated into the Puritanical crusade it once despised. One can only hope it will continue to spiral inward, rabidly devouring itself, ending with an implosion or collapse. The Progressive Inquisition is about extreme constriction, while the liberal position of yesterday was free expansion. With every action there is a reaction, and with the rise of the Progressive Inquisition has also been a rise of Fascistic sentiment in response. Thesis has been met with Antithesis, and I dread to see the Synthesis to come.