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