The Liberal Tribe

Author: Bill Chapman: email

A lot of people I know are tribal liberals.  They feel that the liberal tribe, and its rules of debate, has resulted in the pinnacle of human intellectual achievement, and that if an idea was true, the liberal tribe, with its rules of open debate, would develop a consensus around that idea.

It was easy to come to this conclusion -- the liberal tribe contains most of the most highly educated people around, high-ranking academics and such.

And some of them felt that anyone who questioned the consensus of the liberal tribe, unless he was a Nobel prize-winner (and sometimes even then), was just an arrogant, poorly-informed jackass.

I think the liberal tribe had achieved a lot, and had reached its position through its embrace of free speech and the open marketplace of ideas.

But in the 20th century, particularly the late 20th century, the rules of debate got changed.

It was observed that certain demographic groups were getting the short end of the stick, and had been getting it for centuries. The "social justice" movement evolved to address this. There were a lot of bad actors, known as "bigots", who wanted to prolong the injustice. The bigots were well-entrenched and powerful, and the liberal tribe mounted a massive effort to take them on. "Bigots" had to be sought out and purged from positions of power by all means available.

"Bigots" were generally acting as individuals, and would hide behind "individual rights", like "freedom of speech". So individual rights had to be subordinated to group rights. Groups occupied a spectrum depending upon how privileged they were. No one could criticize a group less privileged than their own. And no one, from any group, could criticize the social justice movement.

Given these rules of debate, it didn't take long for social justice activists among the less privileged demographics to disavow any responsibility for their own actions and blame all their problems on more privileged demographics, who were forbidden to disagree.

Anyone who wanted much power, in a corporation, or the academy, or the mainstream media, had to maintain credentials as a member of the liberal tribe. If they were from a privileged demographic, this meant that they had to disown any identification whatsoever with their demographic, and not show the slightest sign of taking any offense at all to the most wanton slander of it. Any attempt to speak in defense of a privileged demographic was a sure sign of being a "bigot", with guaranteed swift career ruin as a consequence.

The consensus of the liberal tribe spun wildly out of control. They would drag social justice into any discussion of anything, and the moment they did, the conversation would lose all touch with reality.

As the liberal consensus drifted further and further from reality, and mounted ever more aggressive slander toward the most privileged demographics, who included the biggest voting block in the country, it created a backlash.  After years and years of taking ridiculous slander and abuse, with the threat of personal career ruin if they answered back, the biggest voting block in the country was going to take advantage of the fact that our elections are held by secret ballot to elect whoever gave the biggest "Fuck You!" to the liberal tribe.  Trump had found his moment.

The rules of debate among Trump supporters seem to be that whatever he says is right. No one can disagree with him or criticize him and be right. 70% of what he says, like that it didn't rain on his inauguration, is blatantly, provably false. But in his camp, he is the sole arbiter of truth.

Which sounds a lot like fascism to me.

So we're stuck with two highly dysfunctional camps on how we are to process information and come up with an accurate view of reality. We're basically really screwed.

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