In his book The Reactionary Mind, Corey Robin makes a convincing case that reactionary people are largely driven by a desire to silence and repress anyone they consider their inferiors, with violence if needed. This partly from a strong belief that ‘such people’ have no right to speak (or to be heard); partly because they fear loss of personal status and privileges; and partly from a conviction that society can only function properly when everyone 'knows their place'. Over the years, I've found this a pretty useful insight, and it made me wonder whether it was possible to similarly summarize the views and values of the '(center-)left' (called liberals or sometimes 'progressives' in the US, liberal or social democrats elsewhere). Because it was clear that they didn't subscribe to the ('radical') egalitarianism, inclusiveness and pro-emancipatory solidarity that forms the core of left politics (and to me, of being human).

On Myths, Religion and Innocence

As I've argued elsewhere, we are all taught to reason meritocratically. That is, we all learn to embrace notions such as that our moral value depends on whether and how highly others value us and our actions (rather than simply on whether we value our own existence), and that the institutionalized oppression and exploitation of those below us -- or at the bottom -- are proper features of human society. And since we are also taught that there are (many) circumstances in which we may use violence to attain goals, the logical outcome is that at least some of us will feel free to disregard the equal needs of others wholesale, and murder, make war on, genocide, and systematically enslave others; thereby enacting the conviction that it's okay to treat others as property, a pest, relics, and so on.