Salvo 01.23.2023 5 minutes

The New Age of Uniformity

Woman shouting at men with phone

Don’t fall for the lies of the postmodern Left.

We live in a new age of enforced uniformity, prosecuted in the name of preserving “our democracy” and keeping “disinformation” and “far right lies” at bay. The Harvard intellectual historian James Hankins has aptly spoken of an “information oligarchy” that is committed to maintaining and enforcing its monopoly on the truth. In this surreal world of “democratic” uniformity, certain “truths” are beyond challenge or question. To challenge them with evidence, logic, and a more faithful regard for the truth is to risk being dismissed as an extremist or conspiracy theorist. The independent-minded, those who refuse to bow before what George Orwell so memorably called “smelly little orthodoxies,” are candidates to be cancelled and confined to the category of those beyond the pale. The Left has a preferred name for this: those who resist the pressure of intellectual conformity, of stifling political correctness, are “enemies of democracy.”

But the “democracy forever” narrative pushed and enforced by the information oligarchy is built on a foundation of lies, beginning with the mendacious Russia hoax—the claim that desultory Russian disinformation promoted on social media made the difference in the 2016 election, and the even bigger lie that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians before and after the 2016 election. Those lies are still promoted by leftist elites even if there is not a shred of evidence to support them. They tore the country apart for the four years of Donald J. Trump’s presidency and made effective governance all but impossible. And yet the endless repetition of these lies—promoted aggressively by the political class, the mainstream media, and even by powerful elements within the FBI and the CIA—were considered to be a sine qua non of one’s commitment to democratic values.

More broadly, the regnant narrative prohibited a meaningful public debate about the origins of the Covid virus, the efficacy and consequences of long-term Covid lockdowns, the effectiveness of vaccines and boosters, and, yes, the fairness of the 2020 presidential election. With the recent release of the so-called Twitter Files, we now know that genuinely independent-minded voices, some of impeccable background and expertise who aimed to clarify the truth about these matters, were silenced at the urging of the FBI, important elements of the Deep State, and dominant woke personnel within the social media companies themselves. 

The FBI knew perfectly well that Hunter Biden’s laptop, suggesting the most questionable and corrupt business dealings between the Biden family and the Chinese and Ukrainian governments and their business subordinates, was no product of Russian disinformation. But they egregiously lied to the social media companies who then censored the New York Post’s perfectly accurate story in order to do no damage to Biden’s electoral prospects just a week or so before the 2020 election. Fifty-one relatively high-placed former intelligence officials then claimed, without an iota of evidence, that the revelations about the Biden family corruption had all the hallmarks of classic Russian disinformation. Most disturbing of all, unquestionably affirming these lies immediately became a requirement of maintaining one’s commitment to our “imperiled democracy.”

While Trump and his more fevered partisans made some outlandish and unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election being stolen hook, line, and sinker, the elite media forbade any discussion of how massively changing election laws in every state in the Union facilitated the prospects for significant electoral corruption. With the self-conscious manipulation of social media, and with government-approved and promoted “cancellations” and coordinated mendacity by the FBI and its minions, one can hardly speak of a truly free and fair election. None of that justified the lawlessness displayed by some unarmed Trump supporters at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

But this riot was hardly the “insurrection” of legend. And it was hard not to notice that those same politicians and commentators who were quick to denounce incipient fascism and an anti-democratic “insurrection” that threatened “our democracy” had remained silent during an earlier insurrection, the organized mayhem and violence in American cities during the summer and fall of 2020 that took so many lives and that destroyed so many businesses all in the name of racial justice. During this earlier assault on American democracy, “no enemies to the Left” was the guiding rule of everyone from the New York Times editorial page to the Trump Derangement Syndrome so alive and on display at Bill Kristol’s Bulwark. Whatever happened to prudence and moderation and an even-handed commitment to truth and the rule of law? It was nowhere to be seen in the politically correct establishment.

The seasoned journalist Lance Morrow, an old-fashioned liberal and an admirable defender of civic good sense, noted in the last year of the Trump presidency that while Trump habitually boasted and exaggerated in the most obvious of ways, his cultured despisers adopted massive ontological lies with impunity. Is there an iota of evidence to support the claim that human beings are not embodied persons but rather can choose one of 173 gender identities (and counting)? Is America really the most racist country in the history of the world? Are disparities among individuals and groups always a sign of discrimination and injustice? Is “social justice” coextensive with socialism in its coercive forms? On the more specifically factual front, do the police really hunt down and murder thousands of black men each year, as many Americans seem to believe? Is an unborn child merely a blob of jelly or a part of a woman’s body in the manner of a kidney or liver as the pro-choice movement insists? A moment of reflection suggests that a precondition for being politically correct today is to parrot one untruth after another, while immediately and often cruelly castigating those who refuse to deny their rational judgment and moral good sense.

The ideological Left’s claim to a monopoly on truth is thus impossible to countenance. It is also a significant departure from earlier leftism that was all about jettisoning the very idea of truth. Just a few years ago, former President Barack Obama, a moderate leftist, told us that democracy is incompatible with any affirmation of “absolute truth.” The pragmatist Richard Rorty insisted that everything was “contingent” all the way down—there is in the end no truth and no knowable or ascertainable structure of reality. Indeed, he once expressed incredulity in the pages of The New Republic that the late Václav Havel could sincerely advocate “living in truth,” because there is no such thing as normatively binding truth. The postmodern Left, once (and in most cases still) relativistic all the way down and disdainful of a normative human nature and a binding moral law, now claim to speak the Truth and nothing but the truth on all political matters. Should we be credulous enough to fall for this self-evident lie? I hardly think so.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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