...free to think freely


26th February 2021

One explanation

I have long been puzzled by what drives Pseudo-Liberal militancy. It seems as if there is a small group of conspirators desperately setting out to destabilise society and turn people against each other while claiming to support tolerance. Yet the people doing so are almost completely intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them, with a vehemance far beyond what most people might expect. It is as if an atmoshpere of hatred has been deliberately created, but with no obvious clue as to who benefits from this atmosphere. For that reason, I have tended to think of wokism as a conspiracy without conspirators, which has never made sense to me.

Yesterday, while looking for suitable entertainment for a small child, I stumbled upon a TED talk about the American Civil War which I found very interesting. Obviously, it wasn’t suitable for the purpose in hand, but I made a note of it and viewed the first half of it later. That was all I needed to see a possible explanation.

It was entitled Debunking the Lost Cause: A lie embedded in American History. I cannot know how accurate the case made in this video is. What it did tell me about is an identity-forming myth apparently prevalent in the former Confederate States: a myth powerful enough to explain the attitudes many in those Southern states display, namely their distrust of civil authorities, belief in direct action, guns, self-reliance and determination, and opposition to anything “liberal” or “socialist” in any form whatsoever.

It seems, the myth (true or not) is that the American Civil War was fought not over slavery and White Supremacy as such, but over the rights of individual states to make their own laws. The thesis of the video was that this myth was deliberately manufactured after the Confederacy’s defeat to justify the otherwise unjustifiable position it had held — a way of denying guilt over a shameful and immoral past and glorifying the defeated side. Evidence was presented to support this, but I have insufficient qualifications or knowledge to establish how representative it is of the overall body.

However, whether true or false, this myth explains the attitudes which still dominate American politics, for it shows why Americans could still be passionate about a war and issues which happened over 150 years ago. In a real sense, it could be said they are still fighting and ready to fight each other over these long-festering grievances. It matters little whether the grievances are real. What matters is that they are felt, and they drive the current generation to fight by any means possible for their cause.

Thus, we see two sets of inherited values at war with each other and increasingly prepared to use warlike tactics to defeat the “enemy”. Here is the entrenched tribalism represented by the hatred of the other side which drives vicious assaults on the liberties of others, whether by right-wing extremists or Pseudo-Liberal wokists. The conspirators behind this are not visible because they are long dead, but they have left an inheritance which destabilises American society, and through the Internet, spreads these attitudes around the globe among people who have no idea of their origins but also want to be perceived as fighting for truth or justice. The American Right looks endlessly for opportunities to resist assaults on its rights by those on its left, and the left continues to look for new groups of oppressed people to free. Neither has room for tolerance or informed debate, for war requires strong beliefs, strong propaganda, and strong emotions. Informed debate is a tool for peace, not war.