For me, being forced to rethink your own ideas about the world which surrounds us is essential not only to self-development, but also to societal progression. Without the continual clash of opinions, ideals and convictions, which we are experiencing more and more as the world of social media takes on more influence, society would stagnate. Which is why I was excited when a friend introduced me to the concept of ‘new Liberal bigotry’, thus forcing me to rethink my often too liberal ideals and morality.
This friend, having read through some of my blog, suggested that I watch an old episode of Question Time, in which Peter Hitchens speculates on the threat of a rising ‘new Liberal bigotry’. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Peter Hitchens, I feel like he makes too many sweeping statements and applies broad definitions and ends up with, well, not that much. However, in this particular panel show, he made a valid point, even if I don’t wholly accept it (12:35 onwards).
Hitchens claims that liberalism has reached a point where it is now forcing upon society and its individuals an ideology of diversity and equality, and that this ideology has in turn become accepted as a moral absolute. Now, I accept his point to a certain extent: society has indeed gradually become more and more liberal and an ideology of diversity and equality has indeed become the norm. However, unlike Hitchens, I do not equate an increase in liberalism with a decrease in conservatism (or an increase in the persecution of conservatives).
On the contrary, as is evident from the change that has taken place in the political sphere since 2012, the gradual rise of liberal morals has finally resulted in the resurgence of a more conservative morality. Even Hitchens himself has been commentating on the exasperation which has swept the nation, that is, exasperation with the failure of liberal government after liberal government to instigate real change. Liberalism has finally come up against some opposition and is perhaps now being forced to rethink itself.
So Hitchens was wrong. The supposed ‘new Liberal bigotry’ has not resulted in the persecution of conservatives, and I don’t think it ever will. I will concede that liberal ideals have come to be preached too often as moral absolutes, a practice which completely contradicts the concept of liberalism itself. However, the result of such ‘bigotry’ hasn’t been negative, it has in fact been positive. This persistent ideology of equality and diversity has provoked the very opposition which is now placing it under scrutiny.
Indeed, recognising the value in how someone else perceives the world allows for the opportunity to reach a compromise. Sure, a lot of the time, if not most of the time, we don’t reach that compromise before the opportunity has passed us by; and even if we do, the ever-changing face of our society means it can only ever be fleeting. But I feel, right now, society is feeling its way towards a compromise, so that hopefully in the future, for however brief a period, liberals like myself, who are too often prone to preaching moral absolutes (see my last blog post…), will bear in mind their conservative counterparts before they put finger to keyboard or pen to paper.