(Someone on Quora asked, "Why did Europe become so leftist and liberal?" I copied my answer into this post.)
Europe is neither moving left nor liberal. Over the past fifteen or twenty years, Europe has been drifting into a form of collectivism that has deep fascist overtones but they keep calling it “liberal”. They call it “freedom”, but what I see developing is intense tribalism with multiple deeply loyal groups demanding conformity from their members while condemning anyone outside their group. Some groups call themselves “liberal” and some groups call themselves “conservative”, but from where I sit they all look very similar in their organization and goals. Each group is seeking complete control over all the others while using fear and shame to maintain loyalty within their own ranks. In politics, in sport, in economics, and even in neighborhood leisure clubs this phenomenon is gaining momentum throughout European society. “Tolerance” only applies to the members of the group, and even then, only to the extent they conform to the ideology of the group.
This is one of the factors driving Brexit and giving new recruiting power to traditional fascist and nationalist groups throughout the continent. The demand for social conformity to the ideals of an aristocratic elite that regards itself as more enlightened than everyone else is creating deep discontent among those groups outside the elite circles. I don’t know what this collectivist impulse should be labeled, but it most certainly is neither “liberal” nor “leftist”.
Beginning with the 2008 presidential election season, this same collectivist drive has begun to sweep through the United States. Granted, early glimpses of it could be seen in the “Moral Majority” movement. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union the “Moral Majority” movement lost all momentum and vanished into the wild, chaotic near anarchy that is normal for American society. The election of Barack Obama to the presidency changed American society very deeply. Barack Obama and his inner circle shared much more philosophical common ground with the elite European collectivists than they did with the individualist and fiercely independent American working class. The drive by the Obama administration to centralization of thought and forced conformity to an ideology of “diversity” with tolerance for everyone except the political opposition created such deep divisions in American society that tribalism gained more prominence as people split into two camps: those that supported the president and those hated by the president’s supporters. Millions of Americans suddenly found themselves being shamed and bullied into accepting an ideology of conformity and compliance with the president. Their response to this was a revival of “Moral Majority” style politics with an emphasis on Constitutionalism and strict nationalism. This is the movement that put Donald Trump into the White House. In Europe, this is the movement driving Brexit, Frexit, and so on.
There is nothing “liberal” about those in both America and Europe who are calling themselves “liberal”. They are fiercely intolerant of anyone not in their group and equally fierce in creating conformity within their ranks. This is why Hillary Clinton felt comfortable labeling everyone who did not support her, “deplorable” and “racist”, and even now, in her few public appearances since the election she still refers to those who voted for Trump as “sexist”. Trump supporters are being attacked in the streets of American cities, members of his administration are being bullied and humiliated at restaurants and convenience stores. Senators and House representatives feel no shame in both complimenting their followers for this behavior and encouraging more of it. This political bullying and shaming is neither liberal nor tolerant. The fact that so much of American society has now coalesced around “resist”, and the fact that this resistance relies heavily on shame and bullying to “debate”, does not bode well for the future of either American society or European.
In both America and Europe, liberalism had begun to look an awful lot like fascism. Drifting “left”? Drifting “right”? I don’t think these labels have any meaning anymore. Western civilization is rapidly descending into a bizarre form of collectivist tribalism.
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