John Gray on the current paranoia among progressives

From John Gray at UnHerd:

Conspiracy theory has long been associated with the irrational extremes of politics. The notion that political events can be explained by the workings of hidden forces has always been seen by liberals as a sign of delusional thinking. A celebrated study by the political scientist Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1964), linked the idea with the far Right. Yet in New York in December 2016, many of the brightest liberal minds exhibited the same derangement. Nearly two years later, they continue to reach to conspiracy theory as an explanation for their defeat.

A liberal way of life emerged as part of a search for toleration in the aftermath of early modern European wars of religion. Today, the predominant liberalism defines itself in opposition to that way of life. In an ironic reversal, post-Cold-War liberals who believed the West had finally triumphed have been supplanted by a new type for whom the West is the chief enemy. For these alt-liberals, toleration is the enemy of social justice.

The collective derangement that I observed in New York was a symptom of acute cognitive dissonance. Believing they understood the course of history, enlightened liberal minds suddenly discovered they did not understand their own society. The paranoia into which they descended – and in many cases remain – was the result of the destruction of their view of the world and their place in it. The upshot is that they are intellectually and politically paralysed. If they have any programme of action, it is to return to the prelapsarian world of a decade ago – the world that produced the present crisis. More.

Reality check: Actually, if progressives can’t win anymore, there is reason to fear they will settle for wrecking as much as they can.

See also: Why did late-night TV hosts suddenly go political?