One of my oldest and closest friends, an old college fraternity brother, wrote me this morning to bemoan how intolerant liberalism has become.
Some 20 years ago, after becoming reasonably competent with the emerging Worldwide Web and buying a home computer with dial-in Internet access, I became a zealous follower of the writings of Jim Kalb, a Brooklyn-based independent conservative scholar. Looking back, his writings remind me a lot of Samizdat, the dissident literature copied illicitly, often by hand, and passed throughout the Soviet Union in the 70’s and 80’s.
One of his main interests was discussing liberalism’s increasing tendency toward intolerance. And looking back over the last generation, I’m shocked at just how prophetic Kalb and similar dissident writers proved to be.
The 21st century liberal cocktail is composed of several potent ingredients. For starters, equality – equality at all costs, I should say – has become the all-consuming preoccupation of liberalism. And anyone who doesn’t subscribe to that view is somehow lacking in critical aspects of humanity.
Equally troubling is how the vast resources of the U.S. administrative state and, as it now appears, the Deep State, have been enlisted within the last generations to establish this increasingly intolerant brand of liberalism as the de facto ideology of the central state.
Perhaps this sense of awareness among liberals that they are on the cutting edge of history and that their final complete and victory is inevitable accounts, at least, partly, for their growing inclination to dehumanize anyone who does not share their enlightened opinions.
This increasing intolerance is even being extended to compliant groups, namely upscale whites. Indeed, the perfervid chest-beating among the white candidates for DNC chair underscores how pervasive this thinking has become. In the view of many of progressives, the primary duty of whites, particularly privileged ones, is to maintain submissive silence in discussions involving race, privilege or equality, especially in instances when these occur among people of color or other accredited groups. This sort of Orwellian-style intellectual submission – perhaps docility is a more apt word here – is now widely regarded as polite behavior among elite whites.
This new radical chic etiquette is especially evident in the growing contempt evinced for lower-strata whites among the higher reaches of “white privilege” – East and West Coast literati, technorati, and glitterati, college town faculty, etc. Recall one astute observer’s account of the visceral reaction among shoppers in an upscale Brooklyn organic market when “Sweet Home Alabama” was played over the sound system only a few days after the Trump electoral upset.
I’ve come to refer to this emerging cultural trend as kulakization. Segments of American society are being singled out as a sort of recalcitrant class immune to, if not unworthy of, any sort of intervention. Think about the terms “deplorable” and “irredeemable” and all this implies. I chose the term kulakization because this disdain bears a remarkable resemblance to the contempt the post-revolutionary Bolshevik regime evinced for Kulaks, the smallholding property owners of Czarist Russia, and other enemies of the people considered beyond contempt or, for that matter, reform.
I suppose that is why I have vowed in my own modest way to fight these people with my modest arsenal of rhetorical weapons for as long as I can draw air through my lungs. Honestly, I’ve come to regard this people with a special animus, and I think that this animus is well deserved.