It behooves us to remember that throughout 20th century, we saw authoritarianism target academia first. Free exchange of ideas is the greatest enemy of totalitarian and unscientific ideological claims, and free exchange is therefore opposed by ultra-left as well as ultra-right.
Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental and absolute right in advanced societies, because without that guarantee it is utter societal chaos and Matsyanyaya [‘jungle law’], where the strong finds a way to dominate the weak — using arbitrary and mutating rules. Unfortunately, history also teaches us, that most of the violence against free academia is usually led by academics.Sumantra Maitra, Methods behind the campus madness (Quillette)
With the anti-establishment right sidelined for decades, and the mainstream right failing to acknowledge the existence of the culture war, the culture war has long been between the left and reality. After overtaking the institutions, the left has been in complete control over the Overton window, i.e. that which consitutes socially acceptable discourse. Today, those who question the validity of the assertion that climate change is caused (predominantly) by mankind are disqualified from participation in the debate and called ‘climate change deniers’ (or even more absurdly: ‘climate deniers’). Yesterday, the same thing happened to those who questioned the dogma of multiculturalism. This is the genius of the long march through the institutions that the left has been able to achieve: if the only people seriously challenging your positions are muzzled and disqualified from participating in the discourse, only your position will be heard and almost inevitably accepted.
For years, the left has been crafting a reality of its own, independent of the world as it is. The very strategy that has given the left the power it has in our culture today, is the strategy that has disconnected them from reality. For all the complaints we are hearing now about social media being ideological echo chamber, the entire world was the left’s echo chamber since at least the 1990’s until 2016. We can all imagine that they have had a rude awakening and we are seeing the results of that every day. Whenever the left is confronted with a part of reality that goes against that which they have taught themselves to believe is true, they cry foul, accuse, berate, threaten and ultimately descend into violence.
Western universities have become ideologically possessed and even the most prestitigious of our educational institutions have abandoned basic scientific principles like the free exchange of ideas for the sake of protecting the leftist, postmodern world view that cannot be upheld at all if not for the oppression of dissenting points of view. Countless academics who have refused to bow to the left’s authoritarianism have learned how oppressive and unreasonable the left has become. Jordan Peterson is a clear example, as he went from being a valued academic to almost being a pariah almost overnight as soon as he went against the left’s dogmas on gender and masculinity. Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who was stripped of all his titles because he acknowledged the link between race and average IQs, is another.
But even self-professed left-wingers are not spared if they even so much as dare to listen to a right-winger speak. Professor Allison Stranger was sent to hospital after an attack by a left-wing mob for entering into a conversation with Charles Murray. Any attempt to host a university event with prominent right-wing speakers requires extensive security measures against similar left-wing mobs, and even then some luck is needed in order for the event to be allowed to take place. The Berkeley University riots (euphemistically called ‘protests’ by Wikipedia and Google) in 2017 surrounding a scheduled appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos form an infamous example.
Feminst activists assert that “quantative research is incompatible with feminism” because it submerges the voices of women in a “torrent of facts and statistics”, because of its emphasis on ‘controlling variables’, while “the very idea of control is viewed as a masculine approach” and that feminist research should strive to conduct research “specifically for women”, while quantitative research is “value-neutral”. Value-neutral sounds like a pretty good basis for scientific research, but if the results do not turn out well for the left, it is best to abandon it rather than to compromise the ideological framework in which these values came to be.
Without an artificial defense against reality, imagination cannot persist, and the left has understood this well. Film makers like Cassie Jaye (‘The Red Pill’) and Merijn Poels (‘The Uncertainty has Settled’) were popular with left-wing audiences until they ventured into territories deemed taboo by the left, and both have noted refusal from the left to show their material and attempts to ruin their reputations.
Unsurprisingly, the attacks on scientific values are driven largely by those who are active in mainly ideological fields: Sumantra Maintra, writing for Quillette, notes that 12 out of 13 Berkeley University academics who signed an open letter to Milo Yiannopoulos’ appearance there have a background in Critical Theory, Gender Studies, Post-colonial, Postmodernist or Marxist studies. Everything the seemingly-mainstream left does today can be traced back to Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism. Accordingly, nothing about today’s mainstream left is very mainstream at all; in any healthy political climate the mainstream left in the 2010’s-West would be considered extremist.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lamenting on ’60 Minutes’ that “there are a lot of people more concerned with being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right” is symptomatic of the left’s struggle with reality. Subjective reality is elevated to a higher status than observable reality – but only as long as that subjective reality coincides with left-wing ideology of course. The value of science and reason is precisely that they negate subjectivity as much as possible, as it is impossible to quantify or appreciate subjective matters. It should go without saying that objective observation should prevail over subjective opinionating (at least when it comes to policy-making and the public domain), but logic and reason have no place in the world that the left has made for us.
The very same left that applauds Ocasio-Cortez’ attacks on factual reality, mocked Kellyanne Conway’s mentioning of “alternative facts” when refering to Sean Spicer’s inflating of attendance numbers to President Trump’s White House inauguration. Ironically, ‘alternative facts’ do exist. Partisan politics, on all sides, thrives on them. Look at press photos and how they are framed – perhaps the most famous example is a photo of U.S. Marines helping an Iraqi soldier with water from a canteen, which can be cropped to either only show them holding a gun to the man’s head, or to only the water canteen – or the full story, of course. Similarly, President Trump’s White House would choose to show the photos showing the biggest crowds possible at the inauguration, while opposition parties (including most of the mainstream media) would show as many empty seats and bleachers as possible.
There are always multiple sides to reality, and more than one side can simultaneously be true (altough one may be more true than the other) – when it comes to ‘factually wrong but morally right’ versus ‘factually right, but morally wrong’, there should be a clear conclusion. Moral truth holds no objective or measurable standard – if reality does not behave the way you need it to behave in order to support your morality, it is not reality which is wrong, it is your morality which needs to be checked. You can want a $15,- /hour minimum wage to improve conditions for the working class, but if reality shows that people are getting fired, and companies are turning to either bankruptcy or automation – you cannot ‘will’ that reality to be different because it would suit your agenda. You will have to update your agenda and policies.
To the contrary, whenever statistics and evidence prove the left wrong, the left simply labels the facts as ‘racist’, ‘fascist’, or whatever else fits the narrative in question. The entire fight against ‘fake news’ can be distilled down to this; it is not a quest for truth, but a struggle for power. Sweden proposed to ban Lexbase for offering users the possibility of identifying the ethnic origin of criminal suspects. Swedish police and media also kept silent multiple sexual attacks by Afghan immigrants at the We Are Stockholm music festival in 2014 and 2015 because the authorities feared that telling people facts might benefit the right-wing Sverigedemokraterna party. The 50+ women and girls who were victimized by imported sexual predators at the 2016 edition of the festival were pushed unknowingly into the hands of their grateful attackers. This is the very real price that we pay for the left’s struggle to accept reality.
(This, by the way, is where the left will undoubtedly accuse me of using rape victims as tools to vent my ‘xenophobia’, but that is a product of their continued unwillingness to accept their own responsibility for the world they have created. Most of these and similar sex attacks are completely preventable, but the left continues to ignore the reality that some immigrants may not be a blessing to our societies – left-wing agitators have managed to delay the deportation of two illegal immigrants from Western-European countries, one turned out to be a wife-beater and the other a rapist. I am sorry if this is difficult to process for those of you on the left who are reasonable enough to still be reading, but I fully support equal rights for women. I do not support protecting women against violence and oppression because it means I can criticize immigrants for it – I support protecting women against violence and oppression from anybody, regardless of religion or skin color. It just so happens that the left-wing establishment turns a blind eye to oppression of and violence against women in immigrant communities, and it helps them to attack my criticism of that.)