Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Language Policing Doesn't Pervert Liberalism, It Is Liberalism

To be fair, I think Chait was genuinely trying to differentiate a genuine "liberal" politics of the left. But the left isn't "liberal." Today's "liberalism" is commensurate with ideological hostility to difference. So-called "liberals" --- routinely mislabeled in most mainstream political coverage --- are in fact radical leftists in the Marxist dialectical orientation. These cadres stand against so-called liberal tolerance and respect for ideational interplay as privileging unequal discourses of power. Chait would have saved himself some trouble be simply identifying leftists for what they are and reminisced approvingly for some long lost era of anti-communist liberal politics.

In any case, folks are going to keep using "liberalism," since it's ingrained in the cultural superstructure.

With that, here's Sean Davis, at the Federalist:
In a widely praised piece for New York Magazine, liberal writer Jonathan Chait says the leftist language police are perverting liberalism. Chait is wrong. The politically correct language police don’t pervert modern liberalism; they embody it. And amateur leftist thought cop Jonathan Chait himself is proof.

In his piece, Chait catalogued numerous discussions within a large Facebook group called “Binders Full of Women Writers” to show the toxic effect that language and thought crime policing can have on basic political discourse. At times, members of the overwhelmingly liberal group would demand that certain sentiments not be shared. Sometimes, members declared that certain people weren’t even allowed to have opinions on a subject on account of their color, gender, or sexual orientation. Here’s a small selection from Chait’s piece:

[Long block quote here.]

One of Chait’s main points — that speech codes are inherently corrosive and antithetical to a free society — is impossible to argue. He’s correct. They are. Speech codes are a widely used tool taken right out of the fascist toolbox. If they can’t control how you act, then they’ll control how you speak. If they can’t control how you speak, then they’ll control how you think. And if you act, speak, or think contrary to their demands, you will be punished. To the energetic little fascists of the online Left showcased by Chait, wrong thoughts lead to wrong words, and wrong words can incite wrong behavior. You will submit, or you will pay the price.

I’m glad Chait has suddenly decided that speech policing is a terrible idea. He’s only a couple hundred years behind the times, but better late than never, I suppose. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s all that sincere about it. In fact, I think he just opposes speech codes when they’re used against him or his fellow travelers. And the reason I think that is because I’ve actually read what Jonathan Chait has written about people on the right who disagree with him. It’s one thing for Jonathan Chait to oppose the practice of using speech codes against Jonathan Chait and his friends, and another thing entirely for Chait to oppose speech codes used against his political opponents.

For example...
Keep reading.

And poor Jonathan Chait. He's stuck in the middle and he's got no friends!

PREVIOUSLY: "I must say, I've gained newfound respect for Jonathan Chait: Leftist 'language police' destroying liberalism. Heh, thank you."