Progressive regressions No 1 - Orthodoxy

Nothing illustrates how far modern Progressives have drifted from their left-wing, liberal and egalitarian roots than their current ideological intolerance. Previously debatable political positions are now widely seen as canonical doctrine - holy and inviolate. To question even a minor detail is heresy and can, very literally, ruin your life.

For example, there is no room for debate about racism in America. It’s taken as an article of faith that it has never been worse, and that the entire burden of this great crime against humanity falls upon the shoulders of the racist white people currently alive (which, as prophets like Saint DiAngelo will tell you, means all white people).

Any attempt to parse the details of this proposition, or to question any other potential causes for the plight of underprivileged black communities in America are immediately dismissed as either (at best) a spurious distraction or (at worst) a cruel and racist denial of obvious crimes.

This doctrine has so much power that all causes related to it are rendered immune to any criticism. Take Black Lives Matter - a broadly worthy movement for which I have a lot of sympathy. By the transitive property, BLM is sacred and may not be questioned - even as a growing trickle of stories are emerging about what looks like pretty blatant mismanagement of millions of dollars of donations.

It might turn out that buying a $6 million home with money donated to a social justice organisation was done in good faith and with good reason, but even to ask the question is to commit heresy.

The issue isn’t whether BLM is a good cause - it’s that making its leaders immune to scrutiny is a bad idea. People are flawed creatures - regardless of race or any other characteristic. They make mistakes and do selfish things. Giving them a free pass because of their membership of an “oppressed minority” is not just foolish - it’s infantilising and deeply condescending.

If I worked at certain media outlets or a liberal arts college, the two paragraphs above could be enough to lose me my job. That’s not an exaggeration. BLM and its related causes are a third rail that most, wisely, will not touch.

It’s obvious that some parts of America are still quite racist. It’s also clear that some structural racism does still exist in their legal and financial systems. But many experts argue (usually very quietly) that there are other more pressing concerns that are both unrelated to, and uncorrelated with, race. The 80,000 people dying from opiate overdoses, suicide and other “deaths of despair”, for example.

But don’t listen to me - I’m just a typical middle-aged white guy, right? I’m obviously a crypto-racist, and unable to recognise or acknowledge my own original sin. I dare to question the words of Saint Kendi - I am not with you, so I must be against you. Instead listen to the wonderful John McWhorter, a moderate left-wing black academic. Or you could listen to the incredibly talented Coleman Hughes - a rising star and public intellectual.

These two examples will have Progressives rolling their eyes. “Listen to black people” means listen to the right black people - not these Uncle Toms. And that, in a nutshell, is the Progressive mindset. Even your identity as an oppressed minority is not sufficient to immunise you against the hordes of self-appointed witch hunters general of Twitter.

And race is only one branch of this orthodoxy. From the gender pay gap (it’s enormous) to JK Rowling (the great TERF Satan) to gender identity - none of these can be interrogated at the level of practicalities. Society requires tradeoffs in order to function. Brute ideological force may change laws and bylaws but it cannot change minds. Figuring out how to move forward takes conversation - not compliance.

Progressives will, no doubt, point to the more odious parts of the Reactionary hivemind which weaponise their every misstep and undermine an otherwise noble cause. They will claim I am “platforming” the lies and distortions of the Reactionary hate-media machine, amplifying the problems on the fringe while ignoring the great arc of history bending towards justice. I am on the wrong side of that history, you see.

Here’s the thing, my Progressive brethren: you still don’t get it. I actually think a lot of your ideas are much better than theirs. It’s not your morality I am questioning, it’s your methodology. Orthodoxy is antithetical to actual progress. Do you want the world to get better? Or do you want to spend your finite time on this earth cancelling those you deem to be heretics? The choice is yours.