Introduction

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).


Linking (Neo)Liberalism, Identity Politics and Bureaucracy

Both David Harvey and Noam Chomsky have done a lot to analyze and explain the rise of neoliberalism. Both agree that it should primarily be understood as a political project, aimed at discouraging and disfranchising 'ordinary' people, which started shortly after the events of the 1960s.* Harvey has frequently pointed out that the neoliberal counterrevolution was kicked off by the publication of the conservative 'Powell Memorandum'. Chomsky (who prefers to expose the conservatism of liberal elites) adds that they were equally outraged by what they termed "an excess of democracy". He's described the liberal Trilateral Commission's The Crisis of Democracy this way:

This is a consensus view of the liberal internationalists in the three industrial democracies. They—in their consensus—concluded that a major problem is what they called “the institutions responsible for the indoctrination of the young.” The schools, the universities, churches, they’re not doing their job. They’re not indoctrinating the young properly. The young have to be returned to passivity and obedience, and then democracy will be fine. That’s the left end.