Liberal fascism is on the march. Shrouded under the pretence of defending a socially liberal and open society its efforts to curb its opponents’ voice have left it in the ironic position of itself being the very enemy it looks to defeat, says Andy Brown.
In the United Kingdom and throughout the Western world, sark and sinister forces are on the rise; forces which seek to impose their worldview on others, which accept no dissent, and which use all the powers at their disposal to silence anyone who disagrees with them. No, I’m not talking about the far-right, radical left, Islamist extremists, or government-sponsored secret services involved in some conspiracy. The forces of which I speak are more sinister, for they masquerade as champions of tolerance and liberalism. Their language is that of fairness, diversity and equality, yet they pursue an agenda which seeks to crush anyone who does not embrace their view of the world. These are the liberal fascists.
Liberal fascism poses the greatest current threat to tolerance in the UK for at least two reasons. Firstly, the intolerance of liberals is for the most part ‘under the radar’ and therefore often goes unrecognised and unchallenged. The reason for this is that the liberals have managed to persuade us that they are the good guys, the custodians of tolerance, fairness, justice, progress and decency, while anyone who opposes them is intolerant, bigoted and a relic of a bygone age. This mantra is repeated time and time again by politicians, journalists, academics, activists and celebrities and appears to be generally accepted without question. The myth of liberal tolerance is firmly established and widely believed. Tolerance has effectively been redefined to mean conformity to the liberal consensus, rather than the ability to accept others who think differently. So, if you don’t sign up to the liberal orthodoxy you are automatically assumed to be intolerant. For example, any deviation from the current orthodoxy on transgenderism is automatically interpreted as ‘transphobia’, rather than an indication of an alternative viewpoint on gender identity.
The second reason why liberal fascism poses a greater threat to tolerance is that, unlike the Neo-Nazis or Islamist extremists, the liberals are firmly entrenched in positions of power and influence in society, which enables them to impose their values and beliefs on others. Liberal values are dominant throughout the public and private sectors, in government, education, the criminal justice system, healthcare, private businesses and the charity sector, etc. An example of this appeared in a report by the Adam Smith Institute in March 2017 entitled ‘Lackademia’, which found that there was a significant liberal-left bias in British Universities. When compared with the general public, far fewer academics supported conservative or right-wing parties. Another example is the British values agenda, which is being used as a vehicle for imposing the liberal orthodoxy, especially in the arena of education.
It is my belief that the impact of this intolerance on society is both far-reaching and damaging. One of the problems with intolerant world views and ideologies is that they require unquestioning adherence to a specific set of beliefs and values, even when these are shown to be harmful to individuals and wider society. Conformity is more important than truth. The liberal fascist’s commitment to political correctness and their belief in the superiority of liberal values has led to a situation in which ‘correct belief’ is valued above evidence and reason, often to the detriment of society. So, for many years British society has been unable to have a grownup discussion about mass immigration because those who questioned its benefit and impact were accused of racism. Equally, the grooming of mainly white girls by predominantly Asian gangs in places like Rotherham and Newcastle was not dealt with effectively by the authorities, in part because of sensitivities around the race of the perpetrators. Similarly, the whole issue of gender identity and transgenderism appears to be driven by ideological considerations, rather than evidence and reason. Some are already questioning the negative impact of this upon vulnerable children and there is concern that this ideology is leading to damaging and inappropriate medical intervention.
Another negative consequence of prioritising correct belief above truth is a tendency to close-down debate, restrict freedom of speech and supress alternative viewpoints. What matters is that the individual conforms to a particular pattern of thinking, speaking and behaving, whether or not this has any basis in truth and whatever the consequences. This manifests itself in many ways, including the proliferation of ‘phobias’, which are intended to label and marginalise those who express alternative views (Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, etc.) and the creation of ‘no platforming’ and ‘safe space’ policies in universities and colleges. No platforming is designed to prevent certain proscribed organisations or individuals whose views are perceived as offensive or harmful, from being given a platform to speak and bars student union officers from sharing a platform with them. Safe spaces are deemed to be places or environments in which an individual or group of people can feel confident that they will not be subjected to discrimination, criticism, harassment or harm – in other words, a space where a groups beliefs and values are not questioned or challenged.
The effect of these policies is to censor views that the university or student authorities do not agree with, which does a great disservice to students and wider society. Universities and colleges should be places of learning, not indoctrination. Rather than restricting free speech, closing down debate and ‘protecting’ students from viewpoints that are deemed offensive or controversial, universities ought to provide an environment in which students’ assumptions are challenged, where new ideas can be explored, debated, analysed and then accepted or refuted on the basis of evidence. Society can neither develop nor flourish if the truth is subordinated to ideology, but this is exactly what is happening in the case of the liberal fascists and it is this which makes their intolerance so damaging and dangerous.
Andy Brown is the author of Liberal Fascism and the Tolerance Myth.