Leftism pre-2020: “People are free to run their lives and associate with each other as they please, as long as they don’t discriminate or promote hatred.”
Translation: People can form groups but cannot recognize any organizational principle except credentialism (“discrimination”) and cannot collectively embrace any belief that deviates from the Leftist consensus (“hatred”). In addition, all but tiny groups must make at least nominal efforts to achieve “diversity”. Illiberal organizations are not really permitted. However, non-ideological organizations are allowed and even encouraged, and some of these promoted genuinely valuable goods: friendly socialization, neighborhood improvement, artistic or scientific advance.
Message to white men: You will be discriminated against, but if you keep your head down and your mouth shut and you work hard enough to be unambiguously better than your diverse competition, you can achieve a comfortable life.
Leftism 2020: “Silence is violence. It’s not enough to be non-racist; you must be antiracist.”
Translation: All human groups must have as their primary purpose the exaltation of the Negro and the humiliation of the Caucasian (including the organization’s own “shameful history”). Non-ideological organizations are no longer allowed; at best, organizations are allowed to have non-ideological secondary goals.
Message to white men: Die!
Why it matters
And all of the organizations–social, athletic, scientific, artistic, literary, social, neighborly, economic, educational, religious–all fell into line, every single God-damned one of them. This wholesale embrace of totalitarianism by everyone everywhere in the world was the single worse thing about 2020, even worse than the ruinous COVID-19 lockdowns that destroyed small business and organized religion everywhere.
No organization is what it was a year ago, at least not at the deepest level. To repeat the example I’ve given before, only one year ago it would have been thought preposterous that the scientific collaboration of which I am a part would be emailing political manifestos to its captive graduate students. That sort of thing wasn’t done, no matter how Leftist the faculty. Now we all have diversity officers berating us for failing to speak forcefully enough.
The medium-term consequence, my friends, is that we’re all going to lose our jobs, and I have no idea how we’ll be able to find new work or support ourselves thereafter. No matter what your job is, you’ve suddenly found that attacking Western civilization and the white race is a–is the–core function of your employer organization. It wasn’t part of the job description when you were hired. It’s nothing you ever agreed to. But now it’s your job, and your employer is not going to keep you if you refuse to perform a core part of your job. Silence–passively refusing to endorse the new core mission, even while not explicitly speaking against it–will not be tolerated much longer. “Your silence is violence.” “You must be anti-racist.” Thus speaks the totalitarian consensus, and no one is challenging it, not a single God-damned one!
I really don’t know how to protect from or prepare for this–“keep your head down, keep your mouth shut” really was the only trick in our arsenal. The good news is that it probably will still work to keep Antifa mobs off your front door, although I’m less certain even of that than I used to be. Leftists do not believe in censorship, but they do believe in accountability–loss of employment, expulsion from schools and athletic teams, loss of access to communication and financial services of those who fail to conform–and in calling out–harassment and and ostracism of dissidents–which only involve nongovernmental sanctions, thus respect the First Amendment, and thus are totally okay. Again, no one is objecting to this in principle; at most they claim that some people are being misidentified as racists (or transphobes, or…) and are thus being unjustly inflicted with the punishments that would be just if inflicted on real racists.
As a proponent of censorship, my objection is not that this is censorship, but that it is irresponsible, lawless censorship. Consider that for every crime other than racism it is considered a bad thing for judgment and punishment to be delegated to unregulated private initiative. For every other crime, it is considered a matter of basic justice that offenses be defined clearly and not punished ex post facto. There are good reasons for that.