Our democracies and their liberal relics continue to move expeditiously towards the abyss. Critical thinking is now a pesky nuisance that undermines the cause of the collective. Constructive discourse was once the perfect mechanism to solve problems. But to give a fair hearing to an opposing viewpoint is now considered blasphemous.
As people continue to only interact with those who share their prejudices, the Orwellian tendency to strive towards uniformity decimates free thought. What goes with it is our ability, or even desire, to sharpen our thinking. The art of disagreement is the greatest casualty in these culture wars, not least because one side wants to sever our attachment to reason so it can uproot the patriarchy and effectuate our compliance with its worldview.
If you haven’t heard, words are violence and should be met with actual acts of violence, like spraying asubstance in someone’s face because their views don’t align with your dogmas. In case you didn’t know, criticizing a Congresswoman for her anti-Semitism and leniency toward Islamism is inciting violence. If you weren’t aware, free speech is a device by which the racist West continues to marginalize people. To respect the value of free speech, white people have to enjoy less. Because, as professional logic-chopper Noah Berlatsky tells us, “Defending the speech of white kids doesn’t necessarily protect the speech of marginalized people.” There is a war being waged on the English language. Racism no longer means what it has meant from time immemorial; it means whatever the laws of victimhood say it means. The point is, of course, you can’t be racist against white people.
We’re all human, and groupthink can permeate all sides, but given its domination of the culture and institutions, confronting the radical left should take priority.
What should behoove us to be forthright is the radicals’ ability to infiltrate administrative bodies and corporations since it proves that their fallacies aren’t isolated to a few quirky academic conferences and classrooms.
Moreover, since they can do this unchallenged, leftists are free to impose their idiotic delusions on the rest of us.
To understand groupthink, we could consult George Orwell’s 1984 as it appears to be a manual for our friends on the radical left. But we should also acquaint ourselves with Irving Janis, a psychologist who researched the phenomenon in the 1970s. He defines it as obsessive “concurrence-seeking” (agreement) that “becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.” Consequently, “all the members are amiable and seek complete concurrence on every important issue, with no bickering or conflict to spoil the cozy, “we-feeling” atmosphere.” Simply put, facts that hurt the cause or conflict with the “higher morality” must be suppressed.
According to Janis, eight symptoms signal the onset of groupthink. They are invulnerability, rationale, morality, stereotypes, pressure, self-censorship, unanimity, and mindguards. A combination of these is always detectable in any manifestation of the outrage machine and leftist stupidity.
A few of my professors were afflicted with just about every symptom. One of them, for example, was convinced of her unmatched morality and wasn’t timid in expressing her contempt for conservatives or anyone with a heterodox view. It was also apparent that the expectation was unanimous agreement, as she seemed to assume we were all raging leftists before even knowing what we thought. It was then the job of classmates to “mindguard” ideas as any dissent invited some insufferable browbeating. Mindguarding has proved efficient in maintaining the orthodoxy; recently, the social justice mob impelled the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University to rescind its invitation to Jordan Peterson for a fellowship. As Peterson rightly lamented, this will deprive students of an opportunity to learn about the West’s Christian heritage. However, intellectual rewards don’t matter if they impede the advancement of the phantasmic utopia.
The Lindsay Shepherd debacle demonstrated that the illusion of invulnerability pervades the academy as university faculties feel safe to make a mockery of higher education with little consequence.
As those stricken with groupthink refuse to accept there are legitimate views aside from theirs, they have minimal knowledge of what their opposition actually believes and think anyone who disagrees with them has a moral deficiency. Thus, their opponents are beyond the pale and don’t deserve honest engagement. Since ignorance is blissful, they think by identifying as a conservative or classical liberal—or anything to the right of Stalin— you must be indistinguishable from the worst political forces. Limited understanding of terminology results in Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, being labelled the “Alt-Right Sage Without the Rage” by the Economist.
These methods are justifiable to a narcissistic moralist incapable of rational thought. And among the most notorious of these methods is lying about what someone has said. The latest victim of this treatment is Roger Scruton. In an interview with the New Statesman’s George Eaton, Scruton’s views on things like China and Islam were edited to make him look racist, resulting in him getting sacked from a government position. Eaton then celebrated the outcome, as if he had just done the world a great service.
This is the idiocy that the current culture has wrought. Great men like Scruton—who once braved Communist despots to educate dissidents in underground schools—are publicly destroyed by a dim-witted left-wing writer whose only accomplishment is receiving applause from his fellow hacks.
What’s also distressing is that for every sign that the tide of groupthink is receding, something happens to show us it’s not going anywhere. For every Grievance Studies hoax, there’s a Mark Duplass-Ben Shapiro situation; for every civil dialogue, there’s a Joe Biden-Mike Pence kerfuffle.
It won’t stop unless a vigorous opposition is mounted against the conformity being promulgated by the self-proclaimed moral arbiters. If not, the crime of “bothsidesism” (yes, that’s an actual term), which is weighing both sides of the argument, will be considered a permanent sin. And this will continue to arouse the worst totalitarian impulses.