He then began to doubt other aspects of the left-liberal orthodoxy:
If I had been wrong about the relative danger of America, could I be wrong about all the other things I had previously held to be true? I tried hard to suppress this thought, to ring-fence the global situation, grant it exceptional status and keep it in a separate part of my mind. I had too much vested in my image of myself as a 'liberal'.
I had bought into the idea, for instance, that all social ills stemmed from inequality and racism. I knew that crime was solely a function of poverty. That to be British was cause for shame, never pride. And to be white was to bear an unshakable burden of guilt.
I held the view, or at least was unprepared to challenge it, that it was wrong to single out any culture for censure, except, of course, Western culture, which should be admonished at every opportunity. I was confident too that Israel was the source of most of the troubles in the Middle East.
These were non-negotiables for any right-thinking decent person. I couldn't question these received wisdoms without questioning my own identity. And I had grown too comfortable with seeing myself as one of the good guys, the well-meaning people, to want to do anything that upset that self-image. I viewed myself as understanding, and to maintain that self-perception it was imperative that I didn't try to understand myself.
What had kept Anthony in line wasn't just the force of left-liberal argument. It was also the success of left-liberalism in forming the personal identity of members of the political class. If you held to left-liberal ideas you then got to identify as one of the good guys: as someone who was right-thinking, decent, well-meaning and understanding.
It's not an easy thing to persuade someone to give up on their self-image. Anthony himself describes his resistance to even considering alternative views: he suppressed certain thoughts, tried to "ring-fence" areas of doubt, and avoided attempts at self-understanding.
When the left has the power to fashion self-identity, it has a stranglehold over politics. I can still remember thinking in the late 1980s that if the left in Australia played its cards right it could continue to dominate politics for decades.
As it happened, the left threw away its tremendous advantage. It was so dominant that it was able to do two things. First, it intensified the portrayal of men and whites as privileged oppressor classes. Instead of enjoying a sense of comfort and superiority in belonging to the left, white men had to accept a negative, inferior role in the leftist hierarchy.
Second, in the early 1990s third-wave feminism reached a peak and seriously disrupted relationships between men and women. The disruption was particularly acute if you were a man who normally socialised with uni educated, political women.
In the mid 1990s there was a backlash. A lot of younger men began to identify with the liberal right rather than the left. This created a situation in which the left, whilst still retaining overall numbers, was no longer able to project a complacent, superior self-image.
By itself, this hasn't led to a political breakthrough for traditionalists. It has, though, permitted a more open political discussion in which traditionalists can participate (there are certain feminist websites which have tried to maintain the old conditions by simply declaring their own positions to be self-evidently moral and therefore not open for discussion).
My impression is that the connection between left-liberalism and personal self-image was not as thoroughly ruptured in England as it was here. This possibly explains the relative weakness of traditionalism in England compared to the US or Australia.