To say that liberals treat liberalism as a religion rather than a political ideology is to state the obvious. What is perhaps less obvious is that this is not a recent development. And what it is important to emphasise is that many conservatives still do not comprehend this. Conservatives have the quaint idea that liberals see politics as something that can be debated. Liberals do not see it this way. Disagreement is not disagreement, it is heresy and it is a sign of moral wickedness. Politics is not something that is open to discussion.
The particular flavour of the Social Justice cult is also the result of a mixture of religious enthusiasm and feminisation.
If you go back to the 1960s when the Old Left started to decay and the New Left took its place the religious fervour was already there. The New Left had no interest in economics. They had sold out to capitalism. They were not interested in changing or reforming or destroying the capitalist economic system. The New Left was all about morality and emotion and power. They were on the side of moral probity. Anybody who opposed them was therefore, by definition, morally wrong.
The New Left was feminised. It attracted women, it attracted homosexual men, it attracted weak girly-men. It adopted a peculiarly feminised attitude towards dissent. If you were a dissenter you weren’t someone who disagreed with them. You were a bad person. You made them feel bad. You were immoral.
The New Left made a lot of noises about freedom and especially freedom of speech. Conservatives tended to accept these protestations at face value. Big mistake. The New Left never saw freedom of speech as anything but a weapon with which to attack their enemies. They never had the slightest intention of granting freedom of speech to their opponents. Older Australians may remember the way Australian university students shut down lectures by distinguished visiting psychologist Hans Eysenck in 1977. Eysenck was suspected of thought crime. Forty years ago the social justice warriors were already using violence and intimidation to silence anyone guilty of heresy.
The New Left saw all freedoms in this way – as potential weapons. Sexual freedom was a weapon with which to destroy the family. Feminism was promoted as an ideology that offered freedom to women. In fact of course feminists never intended that women should have actual freedom. Women were to be free to do what the feminists told them to do.
Conservatives at the time understood that the New Left agenda was dangerous but they made the mistake of seriously underestimating the extent of the danger. Or rather they wildly over-estimated society’s ability to survive the New Left’s social experiments. And they made the huge mistake of thinking that the New Left really did believe in freedom of speech.
So where do the neocons figure in all this? The New Left is right-wing on economic issues mostly because economic issues don’t affect them in a religious or emotional way so they take the line of least resistance, and as a result they get generously funded by rich capitalists. The neocons are much more excited by economic issues but what really marks them out is that they approach foreign policy as a religious issue. Anyone who opposes their foreign policy is not just mistaken, but morally wrong and a bad person.