Keith Preston on Totalitarian Humanism at C-Realm Podcast

The full transcript of my recent interview with the C-Realm podcast.

You are listening to the C­Realm podcast. I’m your host, KMO. And I’m speaking with Keith Preston of Attack the System. Keith, welcome to the C­Realm podcast.

Keith Preston: Thank you for having me.

KMO: I have been listening to your podcasts. I live in New York city. My children live near Baltimore, and I drive there every now and again to visit them. And so, I have a lot of time to listen to big chunks of people’s podcast archives. So, just recently I listened to probably 3 or 4 of your shows over the course of a couple of days. And they’re pretty dense, I have to say, and erudite. Very impressive. And I feel like I have been enriched by those drives.

Preston: Oh. Well, thank you.

KMO: You have a great turn of phrase that I want to get around to, and that is “totalitarian humanism.” But rather than dive right into that, I would like to invite you to just say more about your general project of the work that you do with podcasting and writing.

Preston: Well, I am the chief editor of a website called Attack the System or, and I am the co­founder and I guess the director of a tendency called American Revolutionary Vanguard. And what we are is basically a dissident tendency within the anarchist milieu in North America. I have been involved in dissident politics in the United States since the 80s, and for a good number of years I was a part of the radical left. And then I eventually started to question certain things about the radical left and its effectiveness as a genuine oppositional force in the United States, and other places as well. And it appeared to me that the left had essentially been overrun by liberalism, that the so called radical left was just an extension of liberalism. And so I started developing a more eclectic philosophy. I started looking at other movements and other tendencies and other philosophical systems. And what we have going on at Attack the System is a dissident tendency in Anarchism.

Preston: Most of the Anarchist movement, at least in North America, is sort of a youth culture. And too often it’s oriented just as much towards fashion styles and music and things like that, as it is politics. But the more politically serious component of it tends to be just standard left progressive issues. If you listen to these people talk or read their material, listen to their podcasts or whatever, they sound like academic leftists. They sound like the kind of thing you would hear at a university humanities department. They’re all talking about privilege theory and white privilege. And they’re talking about the patriarchy and homophobia and some other issues like that, the standard social justice warrior paradigm. And that’s not as much what we focus on at Attack the System. At Attack the System, we’re focused on things that the historic Anarchist movement was focused on which is opposition to imperialism. Anarchists were anti­imperialist… revolutionary anti­imperialists long before the Marxists got in on the game.

Preston: The Anarchists were among the early organizers of the historic labor movement, the historic working class struggle. Anarchists obviously have a critique of the state that is unique and that you don’t find in other political philosophies and we’re trying to reclaim some of that legacy. The fact that Anarchists were the leading revolutionary tendency throughout the world in the late 19th century and early 20th century is extremely significant as well. And that’s the legacy and heritage that we claim. Now, we also modify the Anarchists philosophy a little bit. We’re not saying lets turn the clock back to 1900. Obviously, we can’t do that. But what we do is we take the same general framework, the same basic set of ideas, and we try to modify them and apply them within a 21st century context. And that’s what Attack the System is about.

KMO: You mentioned that the left has been overtaken over by liberalism. And liberalism is a stretchy word, what do you mean by it?

Preston: Yeah, that’s a good question. Well historically, the left, going back to the early 19th century, is socialism, communism, anti­capitalism. The idea to leftists that existed prior to World War II, perhaps even sooner, probably perhaps prior to the 1960s, the idea that you could have a capitalist left would have been considered a joke. Historically, the left is anti­capitalism. And anti­ imperialism and things like that. Now what we have seen happen to the left in the last half a century is that the left has been slowly overtaken by the cultural liberalism that emerged during that time period, during the post war late 20th century time period. And out of that, we see this fixation on things like, identity politics of different types: race identity politics, gender identity politics, gay identity politics. And all sorts of single issues of different types, ranging from animal rights to environmentalism to crusades against smoking or whatever. That’s really what the left is today, or what passes for the left.

Preston: I heard Ralph Nader describe the left this way fairly recently. Ralph Nader said that the left today is just basically a coalition of special interest groups, or a coalition of groups organized around single issues, their own individual single issues. And there’s nothing oppositional about any of this. None of this threatens the system in any way. In fact, the system is more than happy to incorporate all of this stuff into its paradigm, and we see that happening. Every kind of political system that exists has to have some sort of idealogical superstructure that is used to justify it, whether it’s in the ancient world where they said that the emperor is a direct descendant of the Sun God or whether it’s Divine Right of Kings in the middle ages, or whether it’s the Dictatorship of the Proletariat or The People’s Will or whatever.

Preston: All systems have to have some means of self­legitimation. They have to be able to persuade their subjects that they are somehow justified in their system of rule. And increasingly what we see happening in western countries, is we see this thing that I call “totalitarian humanism” emerging, which is sort of an outgrowth of this kind of cultural liberalism that I was describing earlier. You see that being incorporated into the systems ideological superstructure, where the system legitimates its own system of rule by claiming to be fighting against racism and sexism and for democracy and human rights and things of that nature.

Preston: For example, when the United States launches a war of aggression against Libya, what we see is the Obama Administration claiming they’re fighting for democracy and human rights. Or when the George W. Bush Administration launches an invasion of Iraq where they’re claiming they’re trying to bring what they call “The Freedom Agenda” to the Iraqis, and that’s just an obvious example. When it comes to domestic policy, an analogy I like to use is to some of the Bluenose movements that existed in past times. If you look at American history for example, you see there were people like Anthony Comstock who used to crusade against the supposed dissemination of obscenity through the postal service, and what he was really worried about were books about contraceptive methods and things like that, which he considered to be pornographic. Or in the 1950s, you had a big hysteria in the United States over comic books. You actually had congressional hearings about comic books and how comic books were undermining the moral fiber of society. Of course you also had the McCarthyism, the anti­communist hysteria of the 1950s as well. In the 1980s, we saw the satanic panic and how there were supposedly satanic cults out there abducting and molesting children or engaging in human sacrifice. There used to be a thing like that, a variation of things like that where people were concerned about hidden satanic messages in records in rock music.

Preston: If you played songs backward, you could hear a message from the devil. And in the 70s and 80s, you had this group, the Moral Majority that emerged and they were known for their Bluenose approach to a lot of things. One of their leaders used to say that cartoon characters were promoting homosexuality and the gay agenda and all of that kind of stuff. And what I see happening today is the same thing only coming from the left. I see, increasingly, you see people out there engaging in exactly these same kinds of tactics, only the issues aren’t pornography or homosexuality or things that are considered demons to people on the right as much as… It’s things like racism, sexism, homophobia, and then, they keep throwing on all these new forms of phobias and ­isms and ­archys. There’s the patriarchy. There’s the Islamophobia. There’s Xenophobia, there’s transphobia, there’s speciesism, and they keep adding on… Looksism, ageism, heightism, weightism, whatever. And increasingly, we see a type of left­wing Mccarthyism coming out of this.

Preston: One example was the fellow who was the CEO of the Mozilla Internet Company a few years back, I guess. The fellow’s name was Brendon Eich and apparently he had made a donation to a group that opposed gay marriage or something like that, so he was dismissed from his position as CEO for having opposed gay marriage years earlier, and that’s just one example as well.

Preston: And we can find plenty of examples like that if we look really hard. And it’s interesting that these people, these social justice warriors, claim to represent the oppressed and persecuted and yet, someone like Anita Sarkeesian is able to get an audience in front of the UN over the issue of cyber­bullying and things like that. Somebody that’s oppressed doesn’t get an audience in front of the UN. I don’t get to go speak to the UN about any of my personal problems and that really, I think, shows a great deal about where these people are coming from, that the people who really push this line, this social justice warrior nonsense or whatever we want to call it, are largely people from the privileged classes, or relatively privileged classes. And they find all of these bizarre things as oppression because they’re really not oppressed. People who are genuinely oppressed aren’t concerned about these kinds of topics.

KMO: What sort of topics are people who are genuinely oppressed usually concerned with?

Preston: Well, there’s a certain hierarchy when it comes to what we may call oppression or whatever. Obviously, as any psychologist will tell you or any biologist will tell you, the basic needs of most human beings are in the realm of material survival, food, shelter, these kind of things. And people who are oppressed, or people who are unable to achieve these things. Obviously there’s different levels of that as well. I’m a sociologist, and one of the things that we use to classify different types of poverty is to make a distinction between relative and absolute poverty. But the kind of poverty that you find in what we called the Third World is absolute poverty. That’s poverty that’s life threatening.

Preston: Much of the poverty that we find in a society like the United States is more in the realm of relative poverty, where you have people who aren’t as well of as other people, or people who are perhaps struggling, but it’s not an immediate threat to their survival. Although increasingly that is becoming the case in the United States. We do see class divisions widening enormously. We do see poverty growing in a lot of ways, including more severe forms of poverty than what we’ve normally been accustomed to, at least for quite a while.

Preston: So that’s one issue, basic material survival. Another is outright state repression. When the state can come and kill you, throw you in jail and do other things to you because they don’t like who you are, or what you do. Increasingly that is becoming very pervasive in the United States. There’s a number of writers out there, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, Radley Balko who writes for the Washington Post, William Norman Grigg who’s sort of an independent blogger with kind of a libertarian perspective. All of these fellows have documented very extensively the growth of the police state in this country and routine acts of violence that are carried out by the police against private citizens.

Preston: And I’m not talking about cases where there’s police brutality of an actual criminal. We can leave those cases out if we want for the sake of discussion. For example, you have a person that’s genuinely committing a crime, the police arrest this person, and perhaps the suspect gets into a fight with the cops. And there’s a scuffle between the cops, and the cops go over board with the use of batons or even a lethal force, or something like that. Even without considering these kinds of cases, we’re starting to see more and more cases where we have people who were entirely innocent who had been threatened by the police state, or we have people killed because of an instance of mistaken identity. Like I said, these kind of things are increasingly becoming pervasive, and writers like John Whitehead, like William Norman Grigg, like Radley Balko and plenty of others have documented this. There’s about 80,000 SWAT teams raids on private homes every year in the United States. Thirty years ago we had maybe 3,000.

Preston: SWAT teams used to be used for things like hostage situations and things where something like that might actually be appropriate. Increasingly, SWAT teams have been use for just routine drug busts and even for other things. I read once about a case, where somehow there was a SWAT team investigating the fact that some kid had committed student loan fraud or something of that nature. So we see this growing police state, and we see this massive prison system that’s built up around it. The United States has 5% of the worlds population, 25% of the world prisoner population. Now, there’s only two explanations for that. One is that Americans are uniquely evil predatory class of people. Or the other is that we simply got too many laws and too much state repression.

Preston: So material interest directs state repression of the type I just described. Of course I haven’t even got into things like the Patriots Acts and its provisions or the National Defense Authorization Act and its provisions, or things like that. Which have to do with terror war issues. And then of course is foreign policy, and if we look at the legacy of American policy in recent decades, we see that the United States has created one disaster after another around the world, and we see that the United States has contributed to the death of large numbers of people throughout parts of the world. Even if we believe the most conservative data about the number of casualties that were generated by the war in Iraq, it’s well into the six figures.

Preston: What we see going on in Syria today is largely an outgrowth of American foreign policy. The growth of the Islamic State and the kind of terrorism and repression that’s going on in Syria and the refugee crisis and all of that. These are issues that a serious left would be concerned about, a serious political left in the United States, or in the Western world generally would be primarily concerned about all of the things that I have just described. And instead what we have is a left that is concerned about things like the use of gender pronouns, or somebody called he a she in a way that they deemed inappropriate, or things of that nature. Or we see the left raising the bar to where the tiniest personal slight can somehow be dismissed as oppression. You called somebody a bad name, you said a bad word, you said something that could be remotely interpreted as a racial slur or a sexist remark or an anti­gay slur or something like that.

Preston: And that’s not to say that things like that don’t really happen. I mean there really are people that are racist. There really are people that are homophobic. There really are people that are sexist. There is such a thing, but increasingly what we see among the so­called left, and really this kind of thing dominates the entire range of the left today, raging from liberal Democrats to the far left. Virtually the entire spectrum of the left or what passes for the left is pervasively dominated by this kind of thinking. Even if you read the magazines of American Communist organizations, you’ll see that much of their focus is on things like transgender issues or LGBT, gay marriage, and so forth. In fact, I knew a fellow who belonged to the American Communist Party who resigned over these kinds of issues because the bulk of their focus was towards this kind of thing rather than issues pertaining to working class struggle or anti­Imperialism or anything of that nature.

KMO: Well, my next couple of questions might seem unrelated to what you’re talking about, but in my mind they are related, and I think as we move forward the connections will become clear to the listeners. You have mentioned in some of your podcasts, and they might not be recent podcasts but they’re recent in my mind because I’ve listened to them recently, that the Neo­conservatives or the Neo­cons originated in the Democratic Party and then switched over to the Republican Party, and you can envision them switching back to the Democratic Party. Would you say more about that?

Preston: Yes. Well, the Neo­conservatives are a movement that actually has their roots not in Democratic Party, but if you wanna trace it back far enough, they have their roots in the far left, they have their roots in Trotskyism. For listeners that aren’t familiar with what Trotskyism is, its a branch of Communism that developed roughly in the 1930s. Leon Trotsky was a Russian revolutionary, he was one of the participants in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and he was one of the associates of Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. After Lenin died in the 1920s, there was a rivalry for power about who was going to succeed Lenin. We all know that Joseph Stalin came out the victor in that struggle but one of the contenders was Leon Trotsky. And because Trotsky was defeated by Stalin in the struggle for power, Trotsky obviously went into exile. He actually lived in Mexico and was organizing the Trotskyist movement which was sort of an opposition in exile to Stalinism in Russia. And in the United States, there was a Trotskyite movement that was Pro­ Trotsky, and then you also the American Communist Party that was Pro­Stalin. But then there was a faction within Trotsky­ism led by a guy named Max Shachtman. Max Shachtman was actually a personal associate of Trotsky.

Preston: But over time, between the 1930s up to the 1960s, the Shachtmanites, the followers of this guy, sort of moved to the right. They started taking an increasingly anti­Soviet line on anti­Stalinist grounds, and for that reason they actually started supporting the Cold War against the Soviet Union which was rare for leftists back then and even for anti­Stalinist leftists. So they started developing a pro Cold War position. They even started defending things like the war in Vietnam. In fact, some of the other people on the left in those days used to call them the State Department Socialists because they took the State Department line on the war in Vietnam. But they also started a political party called Social Democrats USA which was a minor party in the United States. Like the name implies, it was a democratic socialist party, but actually had hawkish, right wing foreign policy views. And the Neo­conservative movement started to move away from the left altogether in the late 60s and early 70s largely as a reaction to the new left. They did not like the anti­Americanism of the new left. The fact that the more radical strands of the new left tended to sympathize with, say, the Viet Cong or with Fidel Castro or figures like that. They also in particular did not like the pro­ Palestinian stance of the new left. Many early Neo­conservatives were Jewish ethnics and were therefore very pro­Israel and pro­Zionist, if you will.

Preston: So this really marks the split between what would become the Neo­conservatives, which are these right wing Trotskyites or right wing social democrats for lack of a better term. That marks the split between them and the radical left. And then they were supporters of conservative democrats or democrats with conservative foreign policy views. At one point, they were big fans of Henry Jackson who was a US Senator who was very conservative on foreign policy but he was also a New Deal Democrat. That was a tradition that you used to see a lot of in American politics back then. You would see Democrats who were very liberal on economic policy, were staunch supporters of the New Deal, the Great Society, all of these kinds of things but had very hawkish views on foreign policy. They were very anti­Soviet, they were against third world revolutionary movements, they were very pro­Israel, anti­Palestinian, but in the 70s when the McGovernite democrats, when the new left that came out of the 60s starts moving into the Democratic Party and taking over a lot of the apparatus of the Democratic Party and bringing some of these more liberal or far left ideas into the Democratic Party, you see the Neo­cons, the Neo­conservatives, starting to move right, and they actually start supporting the Republicans.

Preston: And in particular in the 70s and 80s, you have the rise of the religious right in the United States which is a religious subculture that for whatever reason has a theological outlook that’s actually very pro­Israel for entirely different reasons than what the Neo­cons would’ve had. But they made for interesting allies of convenience because you had this very hardcore Christian fundamentalist movement that was pro­Israel for one set of reasons and this formerly leftist, formerly far left moving rightward hawkish foreign policy movement that’s very pro­Israel for other reasons.

Preston: So the right wing social democrats started calling themselves Neo­Conservatives and today they will actually deny that there is such a thing as Neo­Conservatives. In fact, Jonah Goldberg who writes for National Review, actually published a piece recently saying, “Well term Neo­Conservative, that’s outdated. It may be meant something at one point, but there was really no such thing as a Neo­Conservative movement.” Which is nonsensical if you follow the paper trail because the founders of Neo­Conservatism, Irving Crystal for example, who coined the term “Neo­ Conservatism” was himself a former Trotskyite. One of the other leading figures that helped from Neo­Conservatism was Norman Podhoretz who had been an editor of a new left journal in the early 60s.

Preston: And these were guys who moved to the right largely over some of these issues I just described, support for Israel, support for Vietnam War, support for the Cold War. So these fellows started moving right where it started becoming Republicans. They continued to have more liberal social views. They tended to be fine with the welfare state, they weren’t traditional conservatives or libertarians who were constantly criticizing the excesses of the welfare state. These people were fine with the social welfare state that came out of the New Deal. They were more culturally liberal. They were pro­civil rights for black folks. They had no problem with Martin Luther King or any of that kind of thing. So they were liberals on most issues except they tended to be very conservative or right­wing if you will, on foreign policy, very hawkish when it came to the Cold War, when it came to Middle Eastern issues.

Preston: And so they eventually moved into the Republican Party, and in the 80s you start seeing these people sort of forming an alliance with the so­called Conservative Movement. The Conservative Movement was something that emerged in the 1950s, and its leading figure, its leading intellectual was William F. Buckley and it was centered around National Review Magazine. And a lot of its financial support came from the Sunbelt like the industrial interest in the southern and western part of the United States as opposed to the say, the so­called north­eastern establishment. But the conservative movement was also very hawkish on foreign policy, very anti­ communist. They tended to be more conservative on economic issues. They wanted to keep the minimum wage low, protect their right to work, but somewhere in the 1980s, these two movements, the Neo­Conservatives and the Conservative Movement started to converge.

Preston: In particular, William F. Buckley and guys like Irving Crystal and Norman Podhoretz started becoming buddy buddy. And you start to see a sort of a hybrid conservatism emerge that is sort of a mixture of all this. And the Neo­Conservatives and their friends and followers and allies started embedding themselves in all of the major right­wing think tanks and Republican party organizations and issue­based groups, The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, all of this kind of stuff. And in particular, the Neo­Conservatives wanted to control all the money. They wanted to control all the money that was coming in to these right­wing organizations from donors. And essentially, the Neo­Conservatives were able to take over conservative politics in the United States. And that’s what some people now called Conservatism Incorporated, which is like this mainstream conservative movement we have today.

Preston: You see it on Fox News. You hear it on talk radio and that kind of stuff, and that’s really Neo­Conservatism. It’s really the Neo­Conservatives that set the tone for that, the character of that movement and its issues and that kinda thing. It’s certainly it’s leadership at the top level. And of course when George W. Bush became president, you had these Neo­Conservatives embedding themselves in the Bush Administration and they were some of the principle architects of the war in Iraq. They didn’t do it by themselves, but they were certainly key figures in this. So that’s the Neo­ Conservatives and they’re still around. They have magazines like National Review that’s a neo­ conservative magazine today. Weekly Standard, that’s one of their magazines. And if you’ve ever read one of these publications, you see that they’re basically a movement that pushes a very hard line, a militarist, hawkish perspective on foreign policy.

Preston: On social issues, they often kowtow to a lot of the more social conservative pro­life, anti­ gay marriage movements. Although, they’re widely criticized by social conservatives for not being sincere in some of this, and that’s probably the case. And also when it comes to economic issues, they’ll sort of pretend to be libertarians or conservatives on economics and then they’ll turn around and say, “Well the welfare state’s here to stay.” So they kinda try to work both ends against the middle in those kinds of issues. What they’re really concerned about is foreign policy.

Preston: Now, one thing that characterizes these Neo­Conservatives is their opportunism. And they would gladly go back to being Democrats as they once were if they thought that that was what was most opportune at the particular time. And in fact, many of these people are actually quite sympathetic to Hillary Clinton. And I suspect that if Mrs. Clinton were to become the next President of the United States, we would see some of these Neo­Cons trying to embed themselves in the Clinton administration and all of a sudden become quite friendly to the Clinton administration. I suspect we’ll start seeing editorials in Weekly Standard and National Review saying, “Well, maybe Mrs. Clinton isn’t so bad after all.” And the reason for that would be that Hillary is likely to take a fairly hawkish position on a lot of foreign policy issues. Particularly issues in the Middle East. And I think that that’s ultimately what they want. That’s really what the Neo­con movement is about.

KMO: You’ve mentioned that the religious conservatives complain about their part in this bargain that makes up the current Republican Party. That the conservatives of the William F. Buckley type and the Neo­Cons do not really care about the religious issues which are central to the concerns of the Religious Right and that the Religious Right has threatened for many years now, through many election cycles, to basically break up that coalition and sit it out. And just try to tackle the problems of morality in our civilization by non­electoral politics. And it seems as though the Neo­Cons would be ready for that.

Preston: Well, what’s interesting is that… Yes, you’re right. That’s something that’s been going on for many years, even decades. I remember reading a book back in the 1980s by Richard Viguerie who was a long time conservative activist. He’s a traditional Catholic, and he’s very much a part of the Religious Right, as it was in it’s early phase at least. He’s very anti­abortion, for example. Very anti­gay rights and things like that. I remember back then reading a book by Richard Viguerie where he was talking about what we Social Conservatives need to do is split off and form our own party. Then 30 years later, it’s still not here. In fact, one thing that’s interesting now is the way that the Trump presidential candidacy has opened these cleavages. What we see is that Trump is extremely popular with the Republican Party Base, what they call their base.

Preston: Well, as I was saying earlier, the conservative movement that came out of the 1950s and was lead by people like William F. Buckley and then the neo­conservative movement that came out of the Radical Left, they merged probably around the 1980s, and that’s really the basis of this mainstream conservative movement you have today. And now that Donald Trump has emerged as a viable presidential candidate, we’ve seen a serious split happen between the leadership of the conservative movement and between their so­called base. Much of that gets to the issue of the long­ standing hostility or conflict at least that there has been between the base, who tend to be social conservatives, and the elites and the so­called conservative movement, who are primarily concerned with foreign policy and economics.

Preston: The base in the Republican Party are people who are concerned about issues like, say, immigration. They want to reduce immigration. Or they’re often fiscal conservatives. They’re concerned about things like taxes and spending. Or they’re interested in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. Or they’re very religious people, and they see that religion is being removed from the public square in a way that they think is excessive or unacceptable. Or they tend to be social conservatives on other issues that they consider to be moral issues like abortion or homosexuality and things of that nature. And these currents, there’s a number of these currents, but these currents really form much of the base of the Republican Party. And these are the kind of folks that might’ve belonged to something like the Tea Parties when they started to emerge.

Preston: However, what we see now is a conflict between the Republican Party base that has really rallied behind Donald Trump because of Donald Trump’s criticisms of immigration, because of his promise to take a hard line against Islamic terrorism, because of his purported economic nationalism. These are things that resonate well with the social conservatives and with the base of the conservative movement. The Neo­conservatives and the leadership of the conservative movement itself wants nothing to do with this. These people are cosmopolitan elites, journalists, academics, politicians, intellectuals, professional people, etcetera, who for the most part share the social liberalism of the Democratic Party. They may not be as extreme as the social justice warrior people, obviously, and they may at times have some conservative inclinations, but these are not people for whom the Second Amendment is a primary issue. These are not people for whom restricting immigration is a primary issue. These are not necessarily people for whom conservative economic views like fiscal conservatism is really a issue.

Preston: These are people for whom foreign policy is their primary issue and maintaining the control of the Republican Party over the state. In particular, having a president that they can control and have access to, which they know they won’t have with Donald Trump. They know that Donald Trump is gonna pretty much do his own thing. And this is really unnerving to the conservative movement and to the Republican Party leadership and certainly to the Neo­conservatives who recognize that Trump is someone from outside their own milieu. At the same time, because Trump speaks the language of the base of the conservative movement, he certainly has become very popular. So it’s interesting to see how the Trump candidacy has allowed this cleavage between the elites of the conservative movement and the Republican party, and the Neo­cons on one hand, and the more rank file, grassroots conservatives on the other.

Preston: Some years ago, I wrote an article that was originally published at Taki’s Magazine, on the post­war conservative movement. And what I basically argued is that the base for American conservatism has largely served as useful idiots for the Neo­cons and for the plutocratic business elites that have always controlled and dominated the conservative movement. For example, if we look at all the time, the half a century now, that conservatism in the United States has actually been a movement, what we see is that they have achieved none of their stated goals except for one. They’ve always said that they wanted to roll back the welfare state, however big government is now bigger, it’s more expansive that ever. They’ve always said they were in favor of fiscal restraint. The US Public debt is now larger than it’s ever been. It’s one of the biggest national debts that’s ever existed in world history. They’ve also said they wanted to promote social conservatism or traditional values. We see that going the other way. Now, we see that America is a more culturally liberal society than ever before.

Preston: What we do see though, the one thing that the so­called conservative movement has achieved, is the perpetual expansion of military spending and permanent intervention in other nations, in a military sense, building this vast international network of military bases which the Neo­cons and the conservative movement leadership have always been zealous proponents of. We see that they have been very successful at that, but they haven’t achieved any of these other goals as far as domestic policy. And that’s why I argue that all of the grassroots level economic conservatives, or fiscal conservatives, or religious or patriotic conservatives, or social or cultural conservatives, largely they have served as useful idiots for the Neo­cons and for the business elites and overlords of the military industrial complex that actually control the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

KMO: Would you say more about the role of useful idiots? I mean, the two words put together communicate something, but it’s also a term of art.

Preston: Well, the term as I understand it, at least used in a political context, originates from Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, who was always talking about useful idiots that the communist movement could use as a means of advancing their own interests. Essentially dupes. And the old guard communist would often refer to social democrats as useful idiots, or liberals as useful idiots, or fellow travelers or dupes as useful idiots. And that’s actually happened on the American right.

What you start seeing is a lot of folks out there who are faithful Republican voters. They’ve got Fox News turned up to 11 on the volume. They’ve got talk radio turned up. And they really believe in the conservative movement’s causes, and values, and issues.

Preston: And they keep electing these shyster Republican politicians who are simply representatives of the military industrial complex, the plutocratic business elites who care nothing about their economic interests and these Neo­conservatives who simply are about permanent warfare. That is really the way in which these folks play the role of useful idiots. I mean, it’s really ingenious the way that the leadership of the conservative movement was able to bring in so many people from all these different demographic sectors as dupes for their own cause. And this is something that goes back for decades now.

Preston: The religious right, as I mentioned earlier, when that emerged in the 70s and 80s, it’s unbelievable how they were taken for a ride by the Republican Party leadership. In fact, many of their former leaders or the early leaders of the religious right will admit to that now. Cal Thomas, he’s a conservative columnist who was a leader of the moral majority in the 70s, and Frank Schaeffer, he was actually a leader in the anti­abortion movement in the 70s, they’ll come out and say, “Well yeah we really got taken for a ride by the Republican Party.” And that’s what the Republican Party is. It’s this party of plutocrats and Neo­cons that are using all of these “conservative causes” as a means of maintaining an electoral base for themselves, which they have no interest in or commitment to.

KMO: So with that definition of useful idiots on the table, do you think it’s possible for the social justice warriors to serve as useful idiots for the Neo­cons once they have come back to the Democratic Party?

Preston: Well, the social justice warriors are really sort of the mirror image of the useful idiots of the right. The social justice warriors are very similar in the sense that they are prone to all sorts of kind of kookie ideas. For instance, among the useful idiots for the right, you have these birthers that are obsessed with where Obama was born, and his birth certificate, and all of that. And you have people who think that Obama could somehow be a communist, a fascist, a Muslim, and a Marxist all at the same time. And you find comparable views like that among the social justice warriors.

Preston: All of society is just one big racist, sexist, homophobic conspiracy to keep down women and people of color and LGBT people. That’s the worldview that these people hold to. Some illustrations of how extreme this gets, I know a few years back when Stephen Colbert was doing his program where he was… His show was actually a parody, of course, of conservative media, so­ called conservative media, but he said something that was intended to be a parody of a right­winger making fun of Asian people, and then, because he had this thing in his presentation just as a joke that’s intended to mock what he perceives as the xenophobia or bigotry or whatever of conventional conservatives, the social justice warriors jumped all over Stephen Colbert just for having done this little skit because they actually took it seriously, and that shows how the social justice warriors think.

Preston: They’re sort of a parody of political correctness. You really can’t parody these people. They parody themselves very well. But their worldview is that everything is a racist, sexist, homophobic conspiracy. They will argue that 1 in 5 college students are raped on campus. If that were true, that would mean that there are about as many rapes on college campuses as there are in war zones and in places like sub­Saharan Africa.

Preston: You have this idea that all of society is engaged in this one big conspiracy to keep people of color down and things like that, and I think that the Neo­Cons are opportunistic enough that they would certainly make use of this stuff if given the opportunity. I think that if they thought that it was strategically, politically advantageous for them to adopt this kind of outlook as part of their philosophy or their ideology, I think they would. I think they could cater to this and pander to this in the same way that they have the religious right or the social conservatives or the libertarians or the cultural conservatives. In fact, we see hints of that now because what’s interesting is that in recent decades, the United States has become much more “right­wing” in an economic sense, in the sense that we’re more plutocratic, more business oriented. Public policy is more and more oriented towards the benefit of business elites. The old New Deal paradigm has certainly fallen by the wayside, and Neo­Liberalism is the paradigm now, and has been for decades. And we see that in any number of policies we want to name. We can look at this Trans­Pacific partnership, we can go back 20 years and look at NAFTA.

Preston: We see that, more and more, business policy, economic policy is oriented towards the interest of business elites. We see the United States has certainly become much more aggressive militarily since the end of the Cold War. The constraining force of the Soviet Union is no longer there. So what we see is these Neo­Conservatives who have come to dominate American foreign policy, and they want to go about waging war all over the world for all sorts of reasons. And while along the way these people have tended to adopt “conservative values” as a type of image or a front or whatever, traditional values, family values, religious values, I don’t think most of these people take that very seriously. I think it’s just a tool for them. And I think that, in fact, for many of them, the social justice warrior outlook would probably be closer to their actual way of thinking, giving that many of these people are cosmopolitan, urbanized professionals and academics and intellectuals. They’re not from NASCAR country. And we see some of this happening on a small level because, like I said, even though the United States is becoming more of a “right­wing” in terms of foreign policy, economics, we have this ever­expanding police state, we also see this hard left rhetoric being incorporated into the system as well.

Preston: More and more people are losing their jobs or there’s some media scandal or something because somebody said something that was supposedly racist or sexist or homophobic, and, in some countries now, you can be arrested for stuff like that. Yeah, I came across a case a few years ago in England where the government was actually doing monitoring of alleged racist incidents in pre­ schools, racism by toddlers or something like that.

Preston: And as I said at the beginning of the program, all states have to have some kind of legitimating ideology. And I think that as American society is becoming more “liberal” in the sense of more diverse, more demographically diverse certainly, and more accepting, say, of things like homosexuality, I think that kind of cultural liberalism is gonna be incorporated into this wider ruling class ideological paradigm, and state ideology. And these social justice warriors really provide a perfect ideological smokescreen just because of their extreme­ism and their intolerance. They’re kind of like a religious fundamentalism. They’re like a very fanatical religious fundamentalism where everything is a sin, everything is heresy, everything is apostasy, everything is blasphemy. And for states that want to control speech and thought and things of that nature, this provides a perfect cover for states to engage in censorship, engage in discrimination against dissidents, and so forth.

Preston: You know, hate speech. A lot of social justice warriors are really big on trying to block hate speech, which of course opens the door for all kinds of censorship and repression of freedom of thought and freedom of opinion. In the academic world, you see that these people have taken over the academic world, and you see that they’ve tried to remove from the academic world anyone that doesn’t really tow the social justice warrior line in a lot of fields. Norman Finkelstein, for example, I believe was denied academic tenure at DePaul largely because of his pro­Palestinian views. He’s very much hated by the Neo­conservatives. But you could see that this kind of thing happens with scholars, academics, who are considering…


KMO: I don’t like the term “social justice warrior” because people take the wrong message from it. If I criticize social justice warrior, they think I’m criticizing the cause of social justice. They think I am speaking in favor of racism and sexism and homophobia and whatnot. And I really liked your formulation much better; “totalitarian humanism.”

Preston: Yes. Well, I can very much speak to that issue because this is an issue that I’ve been dealing with for many years. Because I am very outspokenly critical of political correctness or social justice warriorism or totalitarian humanism or whatever we want to call it, I am frequently labelled a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a fascist, a Nazi, a reactionary. You name it, I’ve probably been given that label. Which is actually a grotesque misrepresentation of my actual views. And I have material on the internet that I’ve written going back for 15 or 20 years. I’ve written fairly prolifically about a whole of political topics. And if you read the full volume of my published work or my work that’s available publicly, not that I would expect someone to go out and just seek everything I’ve ever written and read it, I’m not that important.

KMO: I was going to say you can never assume that anybody has any passing familiarity at all with the larger context of the words that you’re speaking.

Preston: Yes. But if you’re familiar with the full volume of published work that I have, my politics for the most part are very, very far left. For example, I’m an anarchist. I’m an anarchist in the classical tradition with some modifications, which is about as far left as it gets. And when it comes to social issues, I’ve actually written before making an argument that reparations, that slavery reparations for African­Americans as well as land reparations for Native Americans could be justified on a number of grounds. I even wrote a blog piece like that. I don’t know if it’s still available online, but I actually wrote a blog piece for that on a right wing webzine once. I have also embraced the entire paradigm of the anarchist milieu. For example, I have no problem with what’s called Panther Anarchism or Black Anarchism, and these are anarchists who are derivative of the Black Panther Movement and who are influenced by that. In fact, I think some of the older ones are Black Panthers, former members of the original party.

Preston: I think that all of the cultural achievements that came out of the 1960s and 1970s have been good for the most part. I think it’s good that we don’t have the kind of overt racism against African­Americans that we once had. I think it’s good that women have the right to vote or the right to have jobs and education and things of that nature. I think it’s good that gay people aren’t subject to electric shock therapy as they once were just a generation or two ago, or are not subject to criminalization. I think that environmentalism is generally a good thing. We wanna have clean air and water and things of that nature. And there are many things in which I’m much more radical than liberalism or the left per se. For example, I’m very critical of the prison industrial complex and the police state that we have in the United States. Now that started to get more attention in recent years than what it once did. But at same time, I’ve also noticed that a lot of people on the left largely pay very little attention to the issue of the police state except for the racial disparities that you find in it.

Preston: Yes, when you see incidents of police brutality where the victim is an African­American or when they look at the prison industrial complex and they see the disproportionate rates of incarceration of black and brown people, they do point that out, but I go a lot further. I say, “Why do we have to have this prison industrial complex generally?” And I criticize a lot of the excessive state­ism that underwrites a lot of that. For example, for decades I’ve been an outspoken opponent of the war on drugs. Like many libertarians, I’m an outspoken opponent of over­criminalization, consensual crime laws, all of these kinds of things.

Preston: I am a proponent of self­determination for peoples all over the world, including the underdeveloped world. I’ve always been a very outspoken critic of American imperialism. When it comes to economic issues, I tend to take a lot of very far left views on economics. I’m very interested, for example, in anarcho­syndicalist models of labor organizing. I’m interested in bio­ regionalism. I’m interested in things like land trusts. I’m interested in the economic theories of thinkers, like Proudhon and Henry George. I think there’s a lot of value in Marx. I’m interested in things like workers councils, mutual banks, cooperatives, all of these kinds of economic ideas that are associated with a far, far left. Certainly, when it comes to foreign policy, I side with the far, far left much of the time. I have no issues at all with people who are not white or women or gay people. I would certainly defend the right of transgender people or transsexual people to do whatever they want to do and be whoever or whatever they want to be. But that’s not what I’m criticizing, when I criticize what I call totalitarian humanism.

Preston: Totalitarian humanism is… Well, to use an analogy, there are two historical precedents that I think fit very well. One is the legacy of the French Revolution. And the other is the legacy of Bolshevism, the Russian Revolution. In the late 18th century, we had revolutions in America and in France that were rooted in the enlightenment philosophy of rationalism and in the classical liberal philosophy of thinkers like John Locke and some of the ones that came after that… Voltaire, and Montesquieu, and Jean­Jacques Rousseau. And the impact of the American Revolution and French Revolution, was the overthrow of the old ancient regime.

Preston: That’s why we don’t have a king in the United States today. That’s why we don’t have an established church. That’s why we don’t have a hereditary aristocracy. That’s why we don’t have aristocratic titles being issued. And the same thing is true in France. That’s why France today is a republic not a monarchy. And for the most part, these were important historical achievements. At the same time, we see excesses that came out of that time period as well. The French Revolution is exhibit A. In the French Revolution, you had extremists who came to power and became essentially an inversion of what it was they claimed to be replacing. They were very hostile to the Catholic Church for example. And for good reason because the Catholic Church had long been a force for severe oppression in France, and not just of secularists, and atheists, and deists, but also of Protestants and other Christians, and Jews.

Preston: However, instead of simply declaring separation of Church and State, they engaged in a campaign of persecution against Catholicism. They developed what they call “the cult of reason.” They actually built a statue called the Goddess of Reason, which is kind of modeled on Athena and Aphrodite, some of the old pagan goddesses from antiquity. And they built up this cult of reason around the worship of the goddess of reason. So essentially, they did create a new state religion, and out of this came a lot of severe repression. We’ve heard about the guillotines and all of that, that were used in the French Revolution, the purges of other radical groups and ultimately, the French Revolution ended with the Napoleonic Dictatorship, which was an imperialist regime. In their view, they were trying to spread the enlightenment throughout Europe.

Preston: We saw the same thing happen with the Russian Revolution. The Russian Revolution had the effect of overthrowing the old Russian autocracy. And Russia, prior to 1917, was an extremely backward society. There were no opposition parties that were legal. There were no trade unions that were legal. They didn’t have free speech or anything like that. You had a deeply entrenched state church. A deeply entrenched hereditary aristocracy, in addition to the monarchy itself, the Czarist system. And so, they had little on the way of civil society that provided any means of redressing grievances or providing class mobility to ordinary people. So out of that came this revolution that overthrew the old Russian order. And what happened in the Russian Revolution, was you had what amounted to a cult, the Bolshevik party, led by Lenin. And this cult, this kind of Marxist cult, came to power and it repressed all of its rivals, not only on the right but on the left. They attacked other socialists. They attacked other Marxists. They attached anarchists, liberals. They also attacked obviously Czarists and conservatives of different types.

Preston: And that became the basis of the Soviet Union. This one­party state, led by a party that was essentially a cult, became the basis of the Soviet state, and then we know what came after that. We had Joseph Stalin. A strong man came to power and created an autocratic, authoritarian, totalitarian regime that was one of the most malevolent in history, at least as bad as any of the Czarist regimes had previously been. And along with that came this expansionist ideology that eventually occupied Eastern Europe and so forth.

Preston: What we see happening now with what I call totalitarian humanism, is something that I think is a prototype for this. We can criticize the excesses of the French Revolution without saying, “Well, Louis XVI and Maria Antoinette were really great people, and what a shame that they didn’t stay on the throne, and wouldn’t it be great if France went back to being the kind of absolute monarchy and Catholic theocracy that it was prior to the Revolution?” We don’t have to say that to criticize the excesses of the French Revolution itself.

Preston: Or when it comes to the legacy of Bolshevism, of communism. We can criticize the excesses of those kinds of regimes that came to power in Russia and China and other places without being opposed to social justice for the working class or the peasants. We can say, “Yeah, these revolutions in Russia and China and places like that happened for a real reason. There really was oppression that existed prior to that, and workers, peasants, etcetera really were oppressed under the previous systems.” At the same time we can look at the excesses of the Soviet Union or Maoist China and say, “Well, that’s not the direction we wanna go in either.” And the same thing is true with these totalitarian humanists.

Preston: We can look at American racial history and say, “Yeah, a lot of that is awful.” And when the left says that the American system was built up on slavery and genocide, they have a point. Or when we look at the treatment of women in many societies throughout history and in many parts of the world today, the Middle East, Africa, some other places, we can say, “Yeah, that’s horrendous.” Or when we look at things that have been done to gay people in the past, like I said, just a couple of generations ago, gays could be subject to electric shock therapy as a type of cure for homosexuality, which was considered a mental illness. We can look at that and say, “Yeah, all of that is awful.” We don’t have to go back and embrace all of that.

Preston: Now, we can look at the cultural changes that have happened since the 1960s and say, “Well, much of that has been good in a lot of ways.” There are many, many things that are part of the legacy of that that I would not criticize, [that I] would support. But it’s also true that we have to criticize excesses that come from movements that are supposed liberation movements as well. And we need to criticize the excesses of say Roques Pierre. We need to criticize the excesses of Lenin and Stalin and Mao. And we need to criticize the excesses of totalitarian humanism. I don’t see totalitarian humanism in this kind of statist progressive ideology that it reflects to be a force for any kind of liberation. I don’t see it as any kind of anti­authoritarian movement. I don’t see it as any kind of particularly democratic movement. I don’t really see it as a liberal movement.

Preston: What I see it as being as illiberal in the sense that if we look at the implicit assumptions behind what the so called social justice warriors or whatever believe, they essentially have an ideology that is first of all very state­centric in terms of its implications. And we see that creeping in to institutions today. For example, I’m constantly coming across articles about excesses of, say, Child Protective Services where they go out and arrest parents for letting a kid play in a park by himself or something like that because that’s now child neglect. There really is a such thing as child neglect. There really are abusive parents, but nowadays, we have abuse and neglect being defined in all sorts of extravagant ways that is intended to give all sorts of arbitrary power to state institutions over the institutions of civil society, like families.

Preston: We see increasingly separation of church and state coming under attack. One example of that is the way that people who have a religious objection to gay marriage can be sued for not baking someone a cake or something like that. So all of these things are ways of eroding the autonomy of civil society and the kinds of institutions that serve as a bulwark against political authority whether it’s families, communities, religions, voluntary associations, businesses, unions, whatever. That’s one thing.

Preston: We also see that the social justice warrior movement or let’s just call it totalitarian humanism. We see that they are very big on strong central government. A good example is the reaction we’ve seen on the left to this incident that happened in Oregon recently, the stand­off between some of these militia guys and the Bureau of Land Management.

Preston: Now, whatever one’s perspective on that controversy, whatever one thinks of these militia guys, what I thought was interesting is the way that the left is suddenly taking a law and order position, which is something they’re not traditionally known for, but it looks like whenever you have so called right­wingers committing crimes that all of a sudden they switch from saying, “We need to look for the social causes of crime” or “We need to avoid overly penalizing crimes.” And all of a sudden they’re adopting a very law and order “go in and stop these guys” type of perspective.

Essentially, you have so called liberals and leftists coming to the rescue of the Feds here, and we see this in foreign policy. Increasingly, we see liberal and left rhetoric or progressive rhetoric being used to justify military aggression. And we see that among democrats and republicans. We saw it with George W. Bush saying he’s gonna bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. We saw it with Obama and Hillary Clinton saying they’re defending human rights in Libya.

Preston: So we see that these people seem to recognize very little in the way of limits on state power if they think it advances what they consider to be social justice in some particular way. And they also seem to have a very manic and very dualistic view of the world in the sense that there’s the good guys, the progressives, there’s the bad guys, the reactionaries. And society is in this mortal struggle between good and evil, between the forces of light and darkness. And anybody that’s on the other side, anyone who was a conservative or a reactionary or a privileged white male or a male chauvinist pig or a homophobe or some adherent of traditional religion, they’re essentially in league with Satan. They’re on the side of the forces of darkness.

Preston: And there’s also a tendency to demonize entire categories of people. White people are guilty of racism by virtue of existence, which is interestingly very similar to the Christian Calvinist view of original sin. Or straight people are by definition homophobic or men are by definition sexist simply by virtue of being men. We see demonization of entire categories of people based on classification irrespective of what they personally do. And we see the same thing in the reverse. We see the deification, the glorification of entire classes of people irrespective of what they personally do. For example, it’s assumed that all minorities, all women, all gay people, all environmentalists, all workers, all social justice advocates, whatever are by definition are virtuous, deserving of sympathy, deserving of respect irrespective of what they personally do in terms of their individual conduct.

Preston: And we see the people in the social justice movement turning on each other. The case of James Howard Kunstler is one. There is a case in Oregon I had a while back of a woman who was a feminist who was considered to be trans­phobic, I believe. And then she was also, I believe, a vegetarian, but not a vegan or something like that. She was actually physically assaulted over some of these kinds of issues.

KMO: I think you’re thinking of Lierre Keith.

Preston: Yes, yes, I am.

KMO: She actually wrote a book called The Vegetarian Myth. She’s a former vegan, and she discovered the health benefits of eating meat, and she also did some research and found that farming denies whole swaths of land to all manner of non­human life forms. And you might be eating tofu, but that tofu comes at the expense of other creatures that would have been living on that land. So you’re not sparing any animals by not eating animal flesh, particularly if you depend entirely on the industrial agricultural system to provide your food to you. And some radical vegans took offense at this, and she was on­stage and they made a pie that was really just a bunch of frothy egg whites or something, but it was filled with cayenne pepper. And they hit her in the face with it. So that is how the supposedly peaceful, loving, compassionate vegans treat their ideological enemies, particularly when their enemies are close enough to them to seem like family.

Preston: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting. These people are all supposed to be great humanitarians and all fighting for justice and freedom and equality and yet, they do stuff like that. And as you were saying, it’s the people who were the closest to them that they hate the most. One thing that I’ve experienced with that is I have noticed more and more that among the different identity politics groups, there’s no one that they hate more than members of their own group who don’t tow the party line. For example, if you ask people from the anti­racist milieu, what they think of black conservatives, it’s interesting to hear the kind of answers that you get. All of a sudden, they start sounding like someone from the Ku Klux Klan talking about a black person.

Preston: Or if you ask the feminists, the radical feminists or the gender feminist or whatever what they think of non­feminist women or what they think of feminists who are critical of feminism, if they ask them what they think of Camille Paglia? Ask them what they think of Christina Hoff Sommers? If you ask people from the LGBT identity movement what they think of, say, a gay Republican, well, I mean it’s like worse than sin. And I’ve experienced that because as an anarchist, I criticize political correctness as an anarchist, and I criticize it mostly because I see it as being within this tradition of authoritarian or totalitarian leftism of the kind that has existed in the past. I see totalitarian humanism as the new Bolshevism, as the new Jakobenizm.

Preston: And if you look at the history of the relationship between anarchists and Bolsheviks, you see that Bolsheviks have always been just as quick to shoot an anarchist as Nazis have. And what’s ironic is that left wing anarchists wax hysterical over conservative organizations and movements. At the same time, they pay no attention to members of far left Marxist­Leninist organizations in their own milieu and things like that. I’ve always thought that was interesting as well.

Preston: But because I am an anarchist, a far left anarchist who agrees with most far left anarchist issues, and yet I criticize political correctness, and yet I also try to expand the realm of our ideas a bit, where I say, “Well, let’s not just look at this from this left­right perspective. Let’s look at it like, “What issues do people from the center or from the Right have that fit in with our own paradigm on some level?” Or, “Let’s find people all across the political or cultural spectrum that might agree with us on some things, but not necessarily everything, but might share our opposition to imperialist war, or excessive state­ism, or this or that economic question, or whatever.” Or, “Let’s look at civil liberties issues that are often championed by the Right but not by the Left but are consistent with an anti­state paradigm and other things like that.” Because I do these kinds of things, I’m labelled a Nazi, a Fascist.

Preston: One thing that I argue, as an Anarchist, is that freedom of association, freedom of opinion are pretty much absolute. And if you want to have an association of people that have “conservative views,” whether it’s some kind of traditional religion, or the he­man woman hater’s club, or white nationalism, or whatever, you’re within your rights politically to do that. Other people can criticize it if they want, but you’re within your rights to do that.

Preston: And I think that freedom of opinion, free inquiry, really has to be the first value of any kind of society, or system, or movement that is supposed to be Libertarian of any kind, whether you call it Liberalism or Conservatism or Libertarianism or Anarchism or Democracy, open inquiry, free exchange of ideas, has really got to be the foundation of all of that. And what I see among these so­called social justice advocates is precisely the opposite of that. I see them being more like religious fanatics who are trying to squelch heresy. For example, saying something that doesn’t tow the Left wing party line about race, about gay rights, about gender issues, about the environment, about any number of other things is not simply wrong, or disagreeable, or mistaken, it’s heresy, it’s blasphemy, it’s apostasy, it’s sacrilege. The kind of reaction you get from some of these people for expressing unapproved ideas, or even entertaining unapproved ideas, is probably not too far from the reaction you would get from a Saudi Arabian cleric, a Wahhabist cleric, if you expressed some heretical religious ideas.

Preston: And that really, I think, is the principle difficulty with this, what I call, totalitarian humanism. I think just the level of ideological fanaticism and intolerance that you see among these people. I think that the orientation towards stat­ism and authoritarianism, institutionalized authoritarianism, and not just in terms of the government, not just in terms of the issues I was discussing earlier in terms of government, but also just in a wider institutional context. For instance, the writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is well know obviously, and she is originally from Somalia. She grew up in a very conservative, fundamentalist Islamic environment. As a young woman, she moved to Holland. She became prominent in Holland as an outspoken critic of Islam. And she was awarded an honorary degree by Brandeis University. And Brandeis revoked her honorary degree because she was labelled an Islamophobe. Now, whether you agree with her views of Islam or not, I think it’s certainly understandable, first of all, that she would have the views that she has, given her life experience. I also think that if you had someone who voiced similar criticisms of say Christianity, or the Catholic Church, or something like that, you certainly wouldn’t have their degree being revoked. For example, would an American progressive university revoke an honorary degree given to Richard Dawkins because of his outspoken atheism? That by itself, no, probably would not have that effect.

Preston: So we also see the issues like in the business sector. I mentioned the case of Brandon Eich at Mozilla recently. At the same time, we see that Boston has actually, I believe, denied permission for Chick­fil­A to open a franchise in Boston on the grounds that they are a homophobic company. They are a Christian­oriented company that, I believe, their leaders or founders have criticized gay marriage, or maybe they contribute to religious right causes, or something like that. And from what I understand, Boston has pretty much said, “Well, Chick­fil­A is not welcome in Boston.”

Preston: And whether you like Chick­fil­A or not, it’s really beside the point. What I think is interesting about that case is there used to be an expression, “Banned in Boston.” And what that meant is that in past times, the political leadership in Boston tended to be somewhat conservative, and puritanical. And they were always trying to ban something, a play, or an exhibit, for being obscene, for being sexually suggestive, or offensive, or something like that. And now, the same thing is still happening. Things are still getting banned in Boston for not towing the PC line, and, again, that’s why I frequently criticize these politically correct social justice warrior totalitarian humanists as a type of religious fundamentalism. They’re not progressive in any honest sense.

They’re not liberal in any honest sense. They’re not fighting for freedom, justice, and equality. They’re not anti­authoritarians. They’re not about any kind of liberation. This is authoritarianism that mirrors that of religious fundamentalism and totalitarian political movements from the left or right, whether it’s Marxism, Leninism, or Fascism or anything of that nature.

























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