The propaganda of Liberalism and how it has failed us

The propaganda of Liberalism and how it has failed us

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’ll have noticed the rise of extreme right wing and populist positions in politics and society at large, from Britain First in the UK, to the so called “alt-right” in the US and the Nordfront in Scandinavia. These movements have been been stirring and growing for nearly a decade, and represent a movement away from the co-operative, liberal society we all imagined ourselves living in. A reactionary way to look at it would be to place all of the blame on the people who espouse these ideas, after all, they’re the one’s saying it. But the hard truth of the matter is that liberal propaganda has spent so long telling people how good of a job it’s done in pacifying society, that it left itself open to regressive attacks. It may hurt to hear, but liberal propaganda as big of a factor in the backwards direction society is travelling in at the moment as any other, because it’s entirely unequipped to actually stand up for itself.

What is liberalism anyway?

Liberalism means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but no matter who  you ask there’s a theme running through their answers. Modern day liberals tend to focus on creating an open society, focusing on debate to challenge opinions and pursuing social justice. It’s an inherently progressive pursuit, but because of its’ confused propaganda, it’s one that is riddled with contradictions. Social justice is indeed a worthy cause, if we work to end injustice in everyday life then surely we can create a society that allows its citizens an equal footing on the ladder to success. You would have a fully functioning meritocracy, where people would actually see their efforts rewarded, regardless of where they came from or how they got started. That would be fantastic, but right now? Right now there’s no way in hell that modern liberalism can actually achieve that.

The ineffectiveness of free speech in driving progress.

The obsession with freedom of speech and entitlement to opinion are key to liberalism, but let’s be honest here, it’s also an actual barrier to the progress they strive for. You need only look at social media to find progressive people defending people with hateful beliefs because “they’re entitled to their opinion,” or “absolute freedom of speech is important in society.” Riddle me this though: If someone’s opinion stands to divide people, using xenophobic opinions or something similar, is it really worth defending the people spouting it? People will use freedom of speech as an excuse to give their damaging beliefs airtime, you need only look at the way Trump’s early supporters in the US election used it to begin a snowball effect of drawing deplorable people to his cause. And yet what’s the response? #LoveTrumpsHate and the associated denial in the press? That’s not exactly going to stop the direct suffering of minorities under the Trump administration.

You simply cannot have a world where you can defend everyone’s opinions, and work to reduce injustice, because inevitably it will always be someone’s opinion that the pursuit of social justice is what’s wrong with society, and they’ll be more than willing to play dirty.

Sometimes though you have to draw a line, you have to look at what’s happening and say “No, we can’t give this the time it needs to spread.” Take Germany for example, its strict laws on populist propaganda, put in place for obvious reasons, has been successful in keeping “National Front” style organisations from forming, despite the rise of groups like Britain First and the EDL in the UK, and the Front National as a legitimate political party in France. With every right comes a responsibility, and with the right to free speech comes our collective responsibility to make sure it isn’t used to promote hate, and yet groups that do this effectively are pitifully rare.

For every time an organisation such as the Quilliam Foundation, who famously convinced an EDL leader to resign, and Stand Up To Hate who encourage people to put pressure on companies that advertise on websites and newspapers that spread regressive and hateful messages; there’s another racist organisation willing to re-radicalise people, and another devil-may-care company willing to fill the pages of a newspaper. These techniques, which groups like these would have you believe are the only just way to change society, are capable of nothing more than token victories, tackling small injustices but doing nothing about the social conditions that allow injustices to flourish. Firing Katie Hopkins from LBC may have been a small victory for the marginalised, but without making changes to the media and the accountability for what they broadcast, it’s inevitable that someone will step up and fill the void that firing a hate speaker will create.

If you want to go far, go together.

To actually stand up and create change effectively it has to be done en masse, not just by a few people in small organisations, but by getting enough people together to actually make a difference. Once again, this is an area where liberal propaganda shoots itself in the foot. A core part of liberalism is to celebrate our differences, which seems to be a way to promote understanding of other customs and cultures. You would think that this would inspire groups to work together, and create the potential to oppose anti-liberal views, yet in reality the exact opposite has happened, because at the core of liberalism is a focus on the individual. Because of this, liberal propaganda has made gods out of rich philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk for their acts, you could quite easily fall for the lie that the only way to influence the world is to have a near unattainable level of money and power.

In reality, Bill Gates is head of a foundation which employs thousands of people to work on making the world a better place. It’s not like he’s doing it on his own, but the average person who believes that he is a force for good feels insignificant in comparison. They quite rightly feel that they do not have the resources or influence to change things in this way, because they don’t. The average person can however work towards creating a better society, just look at the successes of the labour, suffragette and civil rights movements; movements started by the common man and woman. These movements were born out of discontent, not created by philanthropists, and are a testament to what people can achieve by recognising their common struggles, not simply celebrating their differences. Yet for as long as liberal propaganda shows money and individuals – rather than people power – as the main driving force behind change, the liberal obsession with the individual is keeping people feeling too weak to challenge the status quo.

Where liberal propaganda has left us

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to swallow liberal propaganda hook, line and sinker. I used to believe that shouting “Fairness for all” from the rooftops would help create a just society. But let’s be honest here, we’ve been at it for a while, and the rise in ideals that seek to dismantle social justice is only evidence that we’re skidding backwards, not driving forwards. The obsession with freedom of speech has left the back door wide open to those who want to divide society along old boundaries, and the focus on the individual has left the majority of liberals too indifferent to respond in an adequate way to stop it. Liberal propaganda may have done a good job of keeping people’s hearts in the right place, but at its core it remains the biggest barrier to its own goal of creating a society which champions social justice.

 

Written by Zac Harvey

Contributor

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