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The Modern Progressive Movement

In 2009 Jonah Goldberg wrote a seminal exploration of the liberal tendency towards totalitarianism. His book Liberal Fascism provides an excellent analysis of the historical underpinnings of the modern progressive movement. The Spectator summarizes Goldberg’s purpose for writing the book:

Goldberg’s purpose is not to argue that liberals are bad people, still less that they’re all closet fascists. But he does want them to realise that people in glass houses are scarcely in the ideal position to throw stones. ‘I’m not a big believer in guilt by association. But their lack of self-awareness about the demons in their own midst is really astounding.’
The lack of self-awareness is the core of the problem for modern progressives. As discussed earlier progressives need to be reminded that freedom of speech is a fundamental right. This is a group that consistently argues for respect for all people.

Progressive Fascism

It is certainly true that not all liberals or progressives are fascists. However, there are some liberals who do push forward a totalitarian perspective. Progressive University of Toronto professor Mark Kingwell penned a column in the Globe and Mail recently to discuss the violent protests in the United States over the last two weeks:

Why don’t we acknowledge that political belief is also an aspect of human behaviour in need of external control?
Kingwell’s question is the epitome of totalitarianism. Section two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees fundamental freedoms such as freedom of thought and freedom of belief. Fundamental freedoms should not be in need of external control. Any restrictions on our fundamental freedoms should only take place under the most extreme of situations.

Yet Kingwell starts his screed with an unsupported attack on the Trump administration:

in addition to revealing the extreme moral vacuity of the current White House.

Kingwell’s aside was thrown in apropos of nothing. He is clearly trying to pander to the anti-Trump sentiment permeating the Globe and Mail. By reducing the Trump administration to a cliché Kingwell thinks that he somehow justifies an attack on our fundamental freedoms.

“Flippant Dismissal”

Kingwell then proceeds to flippantly dismiss the arguments for another one of our fundamental rights:
Curbs on speech and strict rules of engagement – no interruptions, no slogans, no talking points – may be the right answer here. We already, in this country, ban hateful speech. Let’s go farther and insist on discourse rules, limits on public outrage and aggressively regulated social media. We could even ban media panel discussions.
Canadian hate speech laws have been rightly questioned by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association who:

works to ensure that any limits are reasonable and strictly necessary.

That short statement cuts to the heart of the problem with Kingwell’s call to limit our freedoms. Kingwell finished his piece with:
Limit indulgence in the cup of conviction; let’s have more constraint, less conversation. That’s your path to a stable future, friends – by not trying to be friends.
Kingwell actually justified his fascistic suggestion in the name of stability. Stability isn’t an ideal that inflames passions in anyone. Kingwell should be allowed to express his beliefs per his fundamental right to freedom of expression.
He doesn’t have the right to be taken seriously for his argument to limit other people’s rights in the name of stability.

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