Saturday, October 16, 2004
Intolerance - and the Fundamentalism of the Elitist Left
There is intolerance and there is intolerance. There is the dumb intolerance of the religious right and there is the new, vaulting, even more suffocating intolerance of the liberal left. Which is more dangerous? Here, by way of an answer, is another guess: Buttiglione and his supporters would not attempt to disbar from office a politician on account of that politician’s homosexuality, no matter how much they objected to it. Has Buttiglione yet registered a complaint about that exciting Bruxelles arriviste, P Mandelson? But the left — well, the left has taken intolerance to a whole new level.
Transgress the narrow boundaries of the left-liberal manifesto on a whole bunch of issues — race, gender politics, human rights, overseas aid and so on — and you will not be argued with, your views will not be challenged. They’ll simply stop you trying to have your say, insisting your point of view is not merely wrong, but “unacceptable” and therefore should not be heard. Even — or maybe particularly — if the majority of the electorate agrees with you.
Partly this is a result of the old leftist tendency to insist that the personal is the political and that therefore a human being is indivisible from his or her beliefs. And so, rather than counter the belief with argument they persecute the individual. Partly it is through a fear of actually engaging with the tricksy arguments themselves: it is altogether easier to attack the individual — to take out the man, rather than the ball, as it were.
But partly, too, it is evidence of an insufferable arrogance, the arrogance of a political hegemony whose views must not be challenged. If they are, then the people who do the challenging are either mad or bad and in either case should be sacked or prevented from speaking.