Author: scott pettigrew – contributor
There is a very disturbing trend emerging in the Western dialogue; it seems as if the most important issues at hand are refused the open discussion, which they so desperately require. The new way of thinking for many so-called ‘progressives’ (I tend to side with Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar in identifying them as ‘regressives’) is to simply shut down any conversations or points of view that go against the popular narrative. These people do not attempt to win over opponents through honest debate; they silence opposing viewpoints at every opportunity in order to create an echo-chamber. The strategies to do this are diverse. However, the end result is always the same: the mischaracterization of arguments and attempted de-legitimization of opponents. Not only is this totally disingenuous and unethical, but it makes pariahs out of issues that desperately need attention. It creates a scary environment where facts are treated as offensive, and ideology treated as fact.
Regressivism is a very complex ideology; however it is closely linked with class struggle and sees the world as a series of privileged and oppressed classes. They also believe strongly in the unique ability of government to solve problems, and the inherent immorality of free markets and, seemingly, freedom in general. Hilariously, they can’t even attack opposing ideologies without mischaracterizing their views. Newsflash, big-business bailouts and corporate monopolies are anything but “Free Market.” Understanding the basis for their ideas makes it a lot easier to understand the viewpoint of these people, and the tactics that they employ. Unfortunately for these people, command economics are, almost without rival, the single most empirically and logically refuted political ideology in existence. Because of this, you won’t really see any regressives spending too much time explaining why their proposed ‘solutions’ are the best way to absolve the problems they present. Instead, they take a class theory-based approach to sociological issues like race and gender relations, which are much harder to empirically disprove. Even then, their attitudes toward these issues simply don’t hold water, ethically or practically. In order to bolster their ideas and prevent criticism, they try their absolute hardest in order to silence your perspective. This tactic, above all, is by far the most harmful and toxic aspect of this new way of thinking.
Usually, the conversation at hand is diverted away from the issues, and directed at the identity of the individual presenting the criticism. They use identity politics, which allocates social permissions to certain groups, in order to de-legitimize or silence your perspective based on their own arbitrary criteria. Many regressives simply characterize your views based on your race and your gender, which only hyperbolizes their already discriminatory views. In fact, the idea that somehow “every white person is inherently racist” is plaguing many political circles. Similarly, the idea that all men are somehow chauvinistic is permeating at an equal extent. The idea of limiting the accomplishments and moral fortitude of a person based on simply their race or gender is akin to the “original sin” of Regressivism. This idea, and strategy of stifling debate and dissent, is not a cause founded for actual concern for minorities. Rather, it is a nefariously engineered ideological weapon. From a moral perspective, consider the rightful backlash you would face in an attempt to characterize a minority group in the same way. The intellectual illusion that somehow certain groups are immune from hatred or persecution because is simply a crude excuse, and a diversionary attempt to distract from the hateful nature of their ideas.
What’s particularly ironic is that these individuals see themselves as doing the right thing. In fact, they often have the audacity to mischaracterize the views of their opponents in order to de-legitimize opposing perspectives, and take some twisted form of perceived moral superiority. In actuality, no reasonable person upon sober examination of their behaviour would ever characterize these individuals as being moral actors. For instance, compare the slanderous, deceitful, and dishonest tactics used by somebody like Reza Aslan to attack somebody like Sam Harris. This case is particularly interesting; a totally non-violent, vegan, spiritual atheist, whose work seeks to criticize the negative impact of religion on interpersonal and international relations, has been characterized as a racist neo-conservative by Aslan. Why? Seemingly because he cannot effectively criticize the ideas Mr. Harris (or his new co-author, Mr. Nawaz) in an honest debate. These tactics, besides indicating an alarming lack of moral integrity, highlight the weakness of an individual’s argument. I’ve criticized merely a couple elements of this new way of thinking, but there is so much more that can and will be done against it. “New Media” outlets like “Press Progress,” “Salon,” and “Everyday Feminism” (more like Everyday Authoritarianism) are finally being fact checked and criticized, and their once airtight echo chambers broken. Hopefully someday, we will look back on this idea and remember how toxic it was to free speech, and re-establish the unrivaled priority of intellectual free thought in democratic society.