Sunday, September 21, 2014

Andrew Sullivan Attacks Radical Ideologues

Andrew Sullivan calls it “illiberal liberalism,”  and I find the phrase well chosen. In fact, I have posted about illiberal liberalism on a few occasions. Link here.

Of course, illiberal liberalism is really radical politics. You know it as political correctness. It’s form of indoctrination.

It tells people not to argue, not to dispute, not to debate with opposing ideas.

It prefers to condemn and discredit the messenger.

Sullivan writes:

Writers are not just condemned any more for being wrong or dumb or rigid. They are condemned as sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, blah blah blah – almost as a reflex in trying to discredit their work. That’s particularly true when it comes to fascinating issues like race or gender or sexual orientation, where liberalism today seems to insist that there are absolutely no aggregate differences between genders, races, ethnicities, or sexual orientations, except those created by oppression and discrimination and bigotry. Anyone even daring to bring up these topics is subjected to intense pressure, profound disapproval and ostracism. This illiberal liberalism is not new, of course. But it’s still depressingly common.

The enemy of political correctness is scientific fact and objective reality.

Writing about Sam Harris, Sullivan explains that Harris:

 … assumes that there are some essential biological and psychological differences between men and women, and for a certain kind of leftist, this is an intolerable heresy. If that truth cannot be suppressed or rebutted in a free society, its adherents must be stigmatized as bigots. 

The marketplace of ideas, Sullivan continues, does not always function to please ideologues:

The free flow of ideas will often lead to different audiences for different authors. That some books by white Americans are read disproportionately by whites doesn’t mean they’re racist. And, yes, style of writing – especially the combative, testosteroned debates that occur online or typify the slash-and-burn atheist conversation – can lead to a disproportionately male-skewed audience for that kind of thing. But all that is a function of free choice in a free market of ideas – not some kind of institutional sexism – let alone personal sexism. Why we cannot revel in these differences and embrace them as part of what makes being human so fascinating and variable is beyond me. But clearly it threatens people. Reality can.

Why do people practice illiberal liberalism?

Since they cannot win an argument based on facts, and since they cannot persuade anyone of the rational validity of their own ideas, they try to enforce them through threat and intimidation.

Sullivan says:

The point is the enforcement of an ideology by the weapon of stigma and social ostracism.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I've never known what to make of Andrew Sullivan, which is perhaps what makes him interesting. He defies labels.

I agree with his position on this issue of radical labeling and cowardly non-engagement on the part of ideologues.

What it seems he's really opining on is emotivism as justification for non-thinking lunatic policy. Bravo!

Sam L. said...

Well, old Andy reminds me that even a blind pig can find an acorn. Or two.

n.n said...

It is the rare (0 probability) occasion when any two people will agree on every issue. We can agree with Sullivan's position on this issue now. And I do. While disagreeing with him on other issues later. The poignant insight is the merit-based ruler by which we measure individuals, ideas, and actions.

Steve Sailer said...

When Sullivan edited The New Republic, he gave Herrnstein and Murray a cover story for The Bell Curve in 1994, which got him much denounced by his own staff. Although Marty Peretz was on his side over The Bell Curve, it's usually assumed that the Bell Curve brouhaha played a big role in getting him canned later.