Does the liberal left want to “return to the prelapsarian world of a decade ago”? In a word: no.

This is quite a good article by John Gray at Unherd, where he attacks the New York liberals for their hypocrisy, and for not understanding how the world works, and how things are going.

There are two main problems with it. One is the literary essay style. These are matters that require plain speaking, and Gray writes as though he’s trying to remain above the fray.

The second is this claim:

Believing they understood the course of history, enlightened liberal minds suddenly discovered they did not understand their own society. The paranoia into which they descended – and in many cases remain – was the result of the destruction of their view of the world and their place in it. The upshot is that they are intellectually and politically paralysed. If they have any programme of action, it is to return to the prelapsarian world of a decade ago – the world that produced the present crisis.

(My underlining.)

I don’t think this is right. These liberals don’t want to return to the world of a decade ago. Many ordinary people, on the other hand, would like to. In fact, many people who get labelled as far-right really just want things how they were ten years ago. Some of the more sensible liberals would also like that, but they’re not the ‘paranoid’ ones that Gray is talking about (and they’re finding that they’re now being labelled as far-right too).

What Gray doesn’t really get is that the liberal left has an agenda. It always has, and always will. There’s an endlessly long list of things that have to be changed. There’s no stop point where it all comes to an end, and they say ‘Job done’. Victories are just tick points, to be built upon for further victories. The juggernaut must never stop. Anyone who thinks that liberalism was great up until a few years ago, but has now gone too far, has simply got off the train.

The real problem the liberal left is having is that their recent agenda items have angered so many people who never were on the train, and alienated so many who were but who have now jumped off, that a serious pushback is now happening, and pushbacks like this are not supposed to happen. The agenda takes time, of course, and liberals are fine with things gradually playing out their way over the long term, but they cannot handle it when they start to suspect that the resistance may have some lasting effect. They definitely cannot handle the idea that the wheel of history may turn, or start acting randomly. Look at how Stalin went off on a decades-long murderous rampage against his own people, and his own party members, just because of a mostly imaginary counter-revolution.

Anyone can be a nice guy when things are going their way. Anyone can seem reasonable when they’re on what looks like the winning side. It’s when the wheels start to come off that the mask slips, and the liberal left is revealed for the nasty, paranoid, violent conspiracy-mongers that they really are.

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