A Near Call: Whether the Left Will Implode or Triumph

March 29, 2021 Updated: March 30, 2021

Commentary

Here’s a question that I do not know the answer to: “Is the Left on the Cusp of Permanent Triumph, Or Is It Committing Suicide?”

That’s the title of an essay by Francis Menton at his blog Manhattan Contrarian.

Menton points out that the sudden acceleration of “cancel culture” and social media “de-platforming” are only two arrows in the left’s quiver of intimidation.

Another weapon—more bludgeon than arrow, perhaps—ratchets up the left’s “coercive suppression of dissent” to new, Soviet or Chinese communist levels of ferociousness.

One main tactic is the universalization of diversity imperatives. The whole “diversity” gambit was always noxious because it never had anything to do with fostering genuine diversity—which requires a sedulous fostering of dissenting opinion and open debate about contentious issues.

On the contrary, the diversity racket was always about enforcing conformity and ideological purity.

The difference now is that what had been confined to a few administrative proclamations and particular “consciousness-raising” classes has metastasized and is poised to dictate the emotional and ideological weather of entire institutions.

This development was possible only because of the left’s “long march through the institutions.” It began in the 1960s with a handful of outside agitators.

It gained steam in succeeding decades as activists slipped into more and more positions of power—administrators as well as faculty. The puzzle was completed and fully weaponized when the government stepped in and backstopped the radicals.

Bureaucratic Instruction

They didn’t necessarily look like radicals. Many of the examples that Menton adduces are just ordinary academic administrators who, in embracing the poison of woke ideology, have trampled all over the ideals of individual rights, due process, and fostering an atmosphere where substantive, fact-based argument, not racial grievance-mongering, could thrive.

Menton quotes William Jacobson, a law professor and genius loci of the Legal Insurrection blog, who recently detailed the ways in which various neo-Marxist theories have transformed large swaths of campus life into something indistinguishable from Maoist struggle sessions.

The catastrophe can sometimes appear almost innocuous because it’s typically promulgated in the rancid soporific syllables of bureaucratic instruction.

Jacobson cites the case of Martha Pollock, the wretched president of Cornell University, who last summer not only recommended Ibram X. Kendi’s truly egregious book “How to Be an Anti-Racist,” but went on to designate, with enthusiastic approval of the faculty Senate, that the book be an official Cornell “Community Book Read.”

Nor was that all. The central message of Kendi’s book is that whites are bad and that the “only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.” Pollock apparently agreed, for she declared that “we must embed anti-racism” across all aspects of life at Cornell.

As a start, she issued various directives mandating an emetic “equity and cultural competence training” and making such “competence” in “diversity, equity, and inclusion” part of the staff’s performance review.

‘Permanent Triumph’

Menton is undoubtedly right that the people pushing this toxic (and, by the way, deeply anti-American) ideology believe that they are “on the cusp of permanent triumph in America.”

They control (if but narrowly) all the levers of official power in Washington.

They are not so well-positioned in state legislatures, but Washington is in the midst of a huge push to federalize, well, everything: elections, border control, and education at all levels.

Sure, there are remaining pockets of dissent. But it’s disorganized and, more to the point, its partisans lack the single-minded fanaticism of the left.

Those dissenting from the dictates of “critical race theory” and the rest of this garbage mostly just want to get on with their lives.

The left is determined to get on with everyone’s life.

Hence, the rituals of humiliation and excoriation that have become such a prominent feature of campus—and, increasingly—of corporate life and governmental overreach.

Menton ends by wondering whether it’s all hurtling toward a reductio ad absurdum that is tantamount to suicide.

Perhaps. But, recalling the progress of that great battle for “liberté, egalité, fraternité” in France circa 1793–1795, I would not be at all surprised if this malevolent melodrama had a few more acts to perform.

We have already reached the point where the dictum “silence is violence” is enforced on many campuses.

That is to say, if you don’t offer full-throated support of today’s roster of politically correct initiatives—transgender rights, Black Lives Matter, the inextricable evil of whiteness—then you are just as guilty as those who actually criticize or oppose the revolutionary menu.

‘Dance of Death’

The French dealt with such implicit counter-revolutionary activity through the “Law of Suspects,” promulgated in 1793.

It required all citizens to carry certificates of “civism,” attesting that the bearer was a citizen in good standing.

Perhaps we will start in this country with a Fauci Vaccine Voucher, attesting to the bearer’s vaccination status, and hence, by implication, his subservience to the whole government program.

It won’t stop there, of course. Robespierre and his colleagues famously defined “suspects” as “those who have done nothing against freedom, also have done nothing for it.”

That could easily be dusted off and reformulated in terms of one’s support for Donald Trump, couldn’t it? Aren’t we almost there?

Christopher Wray’s FBI has already made a good start on the first provision of the Law of Suspects.

“All suspect people who are to be found on the territory of the Republic, and who are still in freedom, will be put under arrest.” How many innocent people has he rounded up and incarcerated?

Some estimates put Robespierre’s catch of people who had failed to “consistently demonstrate their commitment to the Revolution” at some 500,000. Maybe it was not quite so many.

Wray and his colleagues in the corrupt DOJ have a ways to go if they are to catch up. But they have all the time in the world and the entire apparatus of the U.S. government at their disposal.

I believe that Menton is probably right that they are engaged in a sort of dance of death that will result in its implosion. Eventually.

The trouble is, no one can say exactly when. I suspect there will be a lot of damage to individual liberty and what we used to be able to call, without irony, the American way of life between now and then.

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.