That The Guardian – the gospel truth according to the liberal world order – was shocked by Jeremy Corbyn’s loss in the UK elections is testament to the fact that liberals have managed to completely detach themselves from reality.
After a high-pitched campaign, which seemed more intense on my Twitter feed than in the UK, Labour managed to turn in their worst performance in the post-war era.
In just two years since May’s disastrous foray, Boris Johnson managed to increase the Tory tally by 58 seats to 365 and Labour managed to win only 203. The last time they did so badly was in 1983. However, the profile of the Labour voter has changed dramatically since the year Kapil Dev held the World Cup trophy at Lord’s.
As a Guardian columnist notes, in 1983 the Labour voter was from impoverished inner cities, in 2019, they are from ‘highly-educated, pro-European enclaves huddling around a university’.
This perhaps has something to do with the fact that Labour - like other liberal political parties across the globe - have simply lost touch with the working class.
To be completely honest, the term ‘liberal’ is a misnomer here.
What we are really describing is an unholy troika of liberals, Leftists and garden millennials who love their pronouns. With their powers combined, they appear to create a political ideology which can be best described as 'John Lennon’s Imagine meets 1990s' Beauty Queen' who just wants world peace.
As an Instagram story, it might seem like a brilliant message; as a real political slogan, it’s just an annoying kitsch which befuddles voters.
The troika is always battling the ‘cis-hetero-patriarchal-capitalist complex’ which is responsible for all evil. They want to open their borders to all illegal immigrants, will support some group identities over others and call everyone who disagrees with them ‘bigots’. They will belittle those who wear their national pride on their sleeves.
And when they lose - as they are wont to do across the globe - they will blame a host of factors except their leader or ideology.
Since the UK debacle, I’ve seen people blaming the first-past-the-post-system (thankfully no EVMs in UK), bigots, racists, majoritarianism, social media, the Queen and the tabloids.
Exactly how one can blame the electoral system – which everyone knew going in – is still an idea one finds hard to fathom. Also, how exactly does one decide that a democracy has turned majoritarian? Yet, the arguments one hears after a liberal reversal are often the same across the globe.
Perils of Constant Thundering
It’s time to draw a line in the sand and realise that constant thundering isn’t just strenuous on the shouter’s tonsils, but also follows the law of diminishing returns and is extremely cumbersome for the listener as well.
Neither is calling everyone you disagree with a 'bigot' or 'deplorable' helpful, nor is cancelling things or calling everyone 'fascist'.
Let’s take labelling Boris Johnson a ‘racist bigot’. Johnson is a lot of things, almost a Shakespearean Fool who thinks he can get away with anything, but to label him a bigot, from studio to parliament, is the kind of ad-hominem politics that pays no dividends and is based on a system of fake news we blame right-wingers for all the time.
What Johnson had really written about burkhas (an article for which he’s constantly panned and called an Islamophobe) is this:
'If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree—and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran. I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any—invariably male—government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”.'
It's hardly Islamophobic, at best a sartorial observation, and Johnson is perfectly within his right to speak about it. Johnson, for his part, refused to apologise and said, “When I write this stuff, I never set out to cause pain or hurt. I really do want to make sure that everybody feels that they are valued, that they face no prejudice, that they face no discrimination. You just need to go back and look at the context. So much of this stuff is disinterred with a view to distracting from the basic issues of this election.”
Yet the entire campaign of Labour seemed to be run on 'Boris the Racist', 'Jeremy the Saviour' and Labour saving the world. It’s hardly surprising they lost, more so since the nation did vote for Brexit and was greatly angry that it still hadn't been carried out.
The Liberal World Order
We’ve moved very fast from the Centrist Clinton-Blair non-polarising politics to a new liberal world which appears to have reached a consensus on what to hate and what to love, from Hamas to plastic straws.
They love Greta Thunberg, a rich kid born in a developed country, who wants the rest of the world to give up basic amenities and move back to the prehistoric ages, and think Israel is always wrong in the Palestine debate.
Thankfully, there appears to be some political awareness to the event.
The Labour downfall has already sent shockwaves across the US, where Biden and Bloomberg in particular are warning of the perils of ‘moving far too Left with ideas that are not to be contained within a rational basis quickly’.
The warning is against the Sanders and Warrens of the world, backed by the Squad, whose left-leaning, radical views could easily be picked off by Trump to paint Democrats as nutcases who are completely out of touch.
The patron saint of liberals across the globe – when we are not counting his drone strike rate – Barack Obama, also echoed similar views speaking out against cancel culture and the Sisyphean strive for wokeness.
The same happened, to a certain extent in India, where former Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s office was overtaken by Leftists with views so radical that managed to alienate a large chunk of the conservative, nationalist voter base.
Their efforts saw Rahul Gandhi lose his traditional home seat at Amethi and it was a move back to Sonia Gandhi’s presidency and Congress’ older warhorses that managed to stem the decline.
For these people, any vote against Modi is a vote of conscience, a vote against fascism and racism and bigotry, which would mean the majority of India’s population is racist or worse. It’s a winning combination for Modi, which means he can pick off his opponents irrespective of how badly he has messed up every single thing he has touched.
The World Needs Liberalism... Just Not Its Current Form
One laments this liberal world order because in its real form, liberalism espouses the greatest ideas that our civilisation has come up with. It helped create societies that plod towards real equality, a moral universe that extends its arc towards justice.
What liberalism isn’t, is the constantly annoying and whining entity it has morphed into in recent years, one that has no political message beyond constantly complaining about the world.
As an anecdotal quote often attributed to Winston Churchill, Edmund Burke, and a host of other luminaries goes, “If you are not a liberal at 20, there’s something wrong with your heart. If you are not a conservative at 30, there’s something wrong with your head.”
It’s time for liberals across the world to get their heads on straight because we are not going to win with vague messaging.
Nirmalya Dutta is the Web Editor of Free Press Journal. He tweets at @nirmalyadutta23.