A puzzling and annoying feature of the left-wing rhetoric that passes for mainstream thought today is its tendency to reduce everything to immediately personal likes and dislikes. If you think immigration should be reduced or homosexuality is a moral disorder then you’re “anti-immigant” or “anti-gay,” and your attitudes are examples of “hate.” The rhetoric may be mindless, but it’s evidently sincere, and people who are otherwise quite intelligent see nothing wrong with it. Educated people use it more than others.
Those features—mindlessness, universality, intellectual respectability and evident sincerity—show that this way of speaking is not a ploy but a direct expression of the basic outlook on the world dominant today. That outlook, which in many ways is the modern outlook, is very simple, and it makes all things equally simple. People who say there’s something wrong with it, and that things are more complicated, are obscurantist, bizarre, and not to be taken seriously.
That outlook is modelled on the 19th century popular understanding of physics: the world is composed of particles in motion that stick together or bounce off each other in accordance with laws of attraction and repulsion. Scientists investigate these laws and their findings give us almost unlimited power. Applied to human beings, this understanding tells us that only individuals are real, that they deal with each other in accordance with likes and dislikes, and that if what they do leads to conflicts then scientific investigation and intervention are the answer. That view applies to everything. It was his readiness to apply it to something as complex and troubling as sexual activity among young teenagers, and to call other views “nuts” and “rigid, untested ideology,” that earned the Republican congressman we we discussed a few days ago status as a “moderate.”
Liberals consider their view of the world nuanced and flexible. It is not. It’s inhumanly simple, terrifyingly so, and the flexibility and complication have to do with the contortions required to explain why, in spite of appearances, they’re right and their opponents so wrong as to fall beneath serious consideration.