Yet another kerfuffle over trans nonsense with Germaine Greer in the firing line once again. The most instructive thing about it is the nature of the Twitter outrage. Liberals do love to give the impression that they are in favour of choice, freedom, autonomy, etc.
And of course human rights. This week it seems that our most precious human right is the right to choose our own gender. The silliness of this is so obvious as to require no further comment.
What is really amusing is to see liberals noisily jumping up and down about freedom and choice. Amusing, because no-one hates freedom and choice more than liberals.
A liberal’s idea of freedom is that everyone should have the right to make the choices that liberals tell them to make. Any other choices are entirely unacceptable.
Liberals are in fact even more conformist than ordinary folks. Liberals are positively terrified of nonconformity. The very idea that they might one day find themselves thinking a nonconformist thought reduces them to gibbering wrecks.
This was not always true. A hundred and fifty years ago, in the heyday of classical liberalism, liberals really did believe in choice and freedom. What we call liberalism today bears no resemblance whatsoever to classical liberalism.
This might be one of the reasons that this modern variant of liberalism has been so successful in dominating debate on social and cultural issues while conservatism has failed utterly on those same fronts. It might also be the reason that classical liberalism is stone dead. The reality is that most people do want freedom. The proportion of the population that actually wants to have freedom is so tiny as to be statistically insignificant. People want to belong. They want to belong to a group and they want to be accepted unquestioningly as members of that group. The safest way to achieve that is by rigid conformity. Wanting to conform is the norm. The urge to conform overwhelms just about every other urge.
Modern liberalism answers that need. Accept the liberal creed and you need never trouble yourself with thought ever again. You need never fear failing to conform because such failure is not tolerated. You have a ready-made set of beliefs and a ready-made set of rules to obey. Obey the rules and you prove your orthodoxy and you are safe from accusations of heresy. Even better, you need never worry that deep down inside you might be a secret heretic. As long as you follow the party line heresy is simply impossible. It’s extremely comforting. It especially appeals to young people in whom the urge to conform is particularly strong.
Of course the rules change from time to time. In fact they change often. That’s no problem. As long as you read The Guardian or The Sydney Morning Herald or watch the BBC or the ABC you will always be able to keep up with the latest changes and change your badthoughts to goodthoughts instantly. And these constant rule changes are a good thing – the help the authorities to stamp out any embers of smouldering heresy. Heretics (like Germaine Greer) can be instantly identified and dealt with. Nothing comforts the orthodox more than knowing that heresy will never be permitted to raise its disturbing head.
So maybe liberals aren’t crazy. Maybe they just understand human nature better than conservatives do. Conservatives have done a very poor job of offering people a sense of identity and security.