I'd like to argue here that one extreme and destructive ideology does remain, namely liberalism.
Not everyone will immediately accept this claim. After all, liberalism is the political ideology that dominates Western countries like Australia.
Suburban life in Australia mostly revolves around going to work, shopping, watching TV and so on. There's not a lot of political excitement in the daily routine.
Nor does the liberal political class in Australia rely on a secret police or the threat of being sent to a labour camp to maintain control. The political class is generally able to stay dominant through the influence of the media, the schools and the universities.
Nor are liberals in countries like Australia revolutionary in the sense of wanting violent change or demanding a complete and immediate implementation of a revolutionary programme. Instead, they tend to be reformist, using the state to advance their aims one step at a time.
Nonetheless, I think it's accurate to claim that liberalism is a surviving extremist ideology we need to see off. Liberals in power may not be revolutionary in seeking to violently impose a vision of utopia; even so, they do follow a "transformative" urge: they need to feel they have made a difference in making progress toward the liberal ideal.
So decade by decade we are pushed further along toward more extreme and more destructive outcomes. Examples? The following spring to mind:
- Andrew Neather admitted recently that the mass influx of immigrants into the UK was not an accidental oversight as the Blair Government claimed but was done deliberately to permanently transform the population of that country - and was therefore hidden as a policy from UK voters. One commentator had this to say about the admission:
A speechwriter who worked for Tony Blair has said that the unprecedented mass immigration into the UK was done intentionally and purely for political reasons. This is utterly devastating news. Some people ... have said for a long time that certain government elites have been deliberately and actively trying replace the indigenous populations of their own countries without asking the people what they thought about the idea. It now turns out they were correct. This is the greatest betrayal in human history that I can think of.It isn't easy to think of a greater betrayal. How many governments, prior to modern liberalism, set out to secretly replace their own population with another one as a "transformative" project? There wouldn't be too many more extreme political projects than this one.
What immediately springs to mind is Bertolt Brecht's famous response to the crushing of a workers' uprising in East Germany in 1953 by the communist regime:
After the uprising of the 17th of JuneIt has been liberal and not communist governments which eventually have set out to "dissolve the people and elect another". It is a clear case of just how radical mainstream liberal politics can be.
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had thrown away the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
- In 2004, 500 modern art experts were asked what they thought was the most influential work of modern art. The 500 experts voted for "The Fountain" by Marcel Duchamp. This was a public urinal exhibited as a statue. High art had been reduced, in a modern liberal society, to toiletry. This is especially significant as high art exists not just to entertain but to communicate the ideals of a particular society.
- Jens Orbeck, as a minister in the Swedish government, declared that it was official government policy that male and female had no real existence but were merely social constructs:
The government considers female and male as social constructions, that means gender patterns are created by upbringing, culture, economic conditions, power structures and political ideology.Just in case people weren't listening Monica Silvell, representing the Swedish ministry of gender equality, again denied the distinction between male and female in 2004:
The government must regard "male" and "female" as social constructionsHow can this not be considered extreme? What other ideologies have gone so far as to deny the distinction between male and female?
- Liberalism has given rise to the idea that an action is made moral simply because we ourselves have chosen it. Dr Mirko Bargaric, an Australian human rights lawyer, believes that:
we are morally complete and virtuous individuals if we do as we wish so long as our actions do not harm others.Similarly Dr Leslie Cannold, an Australian ethicist, has put forward the idea that:
defining your own good ... is at the heart of a moral lifeThis is extreme in the sense that it denies the existence of an objective good existing outside our own individual will. In this sense it is nihilistic.
In my next post I'd like to take the argument further, by going beyond individual examples and identifying what is extreme within liberal philosophy itself.