When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity. It was the right that was suspicious, sniffing out Communists and scrutinizing public figures for signs of sedition.
Now the role of oppressor has passed to the left.
…Ms. Abdel-Magied got the question right: How is this happening? How did the left in the West come to embrace restriction, censorship and the imposition of an orthodoxy at least as tyrannical as the anti-Communist, pro-Christian conformism I grew up with? Liberals have ominously relabeled themselves “progressives,” forsaking a noun that had its roots in “liber,” meaning free. To progress is merely to go forward, and you can go forward into a pit.
I suppose you could say that it’s just another case of power corrupting. People with cultural territory to defend are fearful of losing it. Or you could look at the way in which left-wing politics have incorporated the worst aspects of the recovery movement, where everyone is defined by the supposed traumas and abuses that have shaped them from childhood, thus requiring politics to become another form of therapy. Or maybe it’s just the inevitable end game of a political outlook that always aimed too high and has now lost momentum and direction. Even the “sane” progressives have little to offer but nostalgia anymore, dreaming of a magical return to the unique conditions of the postwar welfare state, defining themselves against those dreaded conservatives primarily by means of their largely-ineffectual conspicuous compassion.
Someone somewhere recently joked that we should start calling this generation of leftists the ctrl-left, in honor of their relationship to their mirror image, the alt-right. Brilliant. I’m all in favor of it.