I have experienced regular cognitive dissonance observing how some members of the far-left have attempted to advance their political agenda over recent years. Perhaps you can relate. This has been an uncomfortable experience since I typically align with liberal principles and values. I’ve wondered, what is it that seems off to me about how members of the left are fighting real issues, such as forms of discrimination, racism, sexism, bigotry, oppression, and fascism?
I’ve come to realize that my cognitive dissonance is a result of this: it appears to me that, in attempting to fight forms of discrimination, racism, sexism, bigotry, oppression, fascism, etc, some members of the far-left are advancing worldviews and using tactics that actually perpetuate forms of discrimination, racism, sexism, bigotry, oppression, and fascism, not to mention forms of illiberalism. So I am concerned that at least sometimes members of the far-left are actually perpetuating the very problems they claim to oppose. Hence the dissonance.
If this is true then this a real problem. We can’t be fighting fire with fire. It’s no solution unless we want to burn things down. Indeed, “darkness cannot drive out darkness.” So what is the solution for the left? I don’t know what the whole solution should look like. It’s something we’ll need to figure out together. But I believe one solution is for members of the left to reclaim principles and values advanced by liberalism, which have shaped so many progressive left-wing movements that have sought to remedy social injustices.
For example, liberals can begin by viewing people, first and foremost, as individuals, and by treating individuals as possessing inherent dignity and freedom for self-determination. A person should not just be judged as a stereotypical member of some tribe, unless we want to revert to a primitive state of tribalism. A person is also an individual possessing personal agency who should be judged based on the content of their unique beliefs, values, and character, regardless of race, sex, gender, age, religion, non-religion, etc. And liberals can stand for the values of diversity and tolerance, recognizing that openness to diversity, including ideological diversity, supports and strengthens our efforts in commonly pursuing what is true and good as a society. In other words, liberals can begin by standing up for liberal principles and values.
I believe the left has an important role in our society and important contributions to make. But I increasingly believe liberals need to restore liberal values in the politics of the left in order to do so.