I've had the chance lately to get to know a seriously political young left-liberal. What have I learnt from the experience? Mostly that it's not easy holding together a left-liberal politics.
One of the cornerstones of his thinking is that there are no true group differences, not between nations or races or sexes. We are all of us interchangeable, whether we are men or women, or Swedes or Kenyans.
But to keep this line of thought going requires a whole series of other explanatory beliefs, most of which strain the limits of credibility. And this must be a crushing weight to have to carry around mentally.
In part, my left-liberal acquaintance argues that claims about group differences are merely stereotypes. He often argues too that they are the result of white racism. But he reaches further than this. He is so focused on the idea that group differences are false, that he lurches into all kinds of historical revisionism, e.g. the idea that whites stole technology from the Asians who in turn stole it from the Africans.
There's this whole edifice of claims (e.g. that race does not exist, that women are as physically strong as men etc) propping up the denial of difference. And sometimes he seems to tire of running with these arguments, and he will then relax into some more bluntly realistic assessment of things - he doesn't find it easy to maintain the pose.
It's a vulnerability of left-liberalism. The principle of group equality is so absolute, that it seems to be difficult for left-liberals to admit, for instance, that whites or Asians created a more developed level of civilisation. So there's a furious intellectual pedalling to explain away the "false appearance" of difference, which involves a whole series of claims about social constructs, racism, and history.
The end result is a theory that has to be over-developed and that must consume a fair bit of energy to hold together. It's not difficult to see the potential for it to come crashing down.