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Does it make sense to

Does it make sense to talk of PC liberalism as a grand conceptual system that’s inevitable because of something in modern thought? Isn’t it just the way things happen to have turned out? For example, some people view multiculturalism as Hitler’s bequest to us—if there had been no Nazis, they say, there would have been no revulsion against intolerance and politics today would have been very different.

I disagree. Stalin could have become the great devil figure. Why was it Hitler instead? Why is he so important for the complex of attitudes and understandings that functions as our public religious life? Why is denial of the being, attributes and significance of the Holocaust treated the way denial of the being, attributes and significance of God once was? In Europe, men go to jail for it!

Our image of Hitler and its significance for us is less the creation of Hitler than of the tendencies that gave us multiculturalism and would have given it to us if Hitler had never lived. If it hadn’t been the Nazis it would have been something else. Intolerance-as-ultimate-evil is a result of the liberal view that human desire is what makes things good. Since it is desire that makes things good, and all desires are equally desires, my desire and your desire and Andrew Sullivan’s desire are all equally good. Intolerance denies that, and makes the neutral management of society on the basis of the equal validity of desires impossible. Since that is the ultimate good for liberalism, intolerance is the ultimate sin.

Nazis or no, liberalism would have eventually become clear as to its own moral implications and insisted on them. Liberals don’t treat intolerance as the ultimate evil because what Hitler did was so horrible. Rather, they interpret Nazi intolerance as the supreme (negative) revelation of moral reality because of their fundamental attitude toward man and the world. Otherwise it would have been more natural to lump Nazis and Communists together and look for what they had in common as the key to the catastrophes of the last century. Which no one is interested in doing.

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