One of the themes here is that the American Left is a different thing from the European Left in that it was not born out of the French Revolution. It was born out of the English Civil War and the religious radicalism of the prior century. American Progressives are the spiritual children of the Puritans and Public Protestantism. Their primary motivation is communal salvation. To that end, their focus is on rooting out sin and naming the sinner, rather than the material egalitarianism we associate with the European Left.
American liberals, even though they don’t always articulate it, operate from the assumption that the community is judged as a whole. It is why they obsessively use the word “community” whenever they are talking about public issues. For the Prog, the ideal for man is the community where members are in harmony, living fulfilled lives. It’s why they are endlessly going on about “building communities.” The community has agency and the members work together toward a common goal, that goal being a state of grace.
This spiritual longing for a community is behind the efforts of social media platforms like Facebook to enforce community guidelines. Their executives obsess over their rules as if there can be such a thing as an agreed upon culture for a “community” that includes a billion people from different parts of the world. That never occurs to them as they assume the community is the default. It is also why they are fanatically evicting bad thinkers from their “community”, even when it is hilariously illogical. So much for their AI, I guess.
The American Left is, essentially, a theocratic movement. They seek to have the church control the state in order to enforce “community standards” and root out “hate and extremism.” The “church” in this sense is the secular religion we call Progressivism. In Europe, the Left has always sought to control the state in order to prevent the Church from making claims on the people’s morality and loyalty. Europe has always been blood and soil, while America was founded, in part, as a spiritual commune.
The quest for spiritual egalitarianism in America is a very different thing than the material egalitarianism of Europe. A Jeremy Corbyn has to kit himself out in the garb of the working man in order to be authentically Left. In America, a rich white woman like Elizabeth Warren can lecture us about the poor, from the steps of her mansion, as she is decked out in a designer outfit. The reason is she cares more for the spiritual well-being of the poor than their material condition. She fears the poor are being excluded.
You see, that’s where the obsession with community fits into their morality. In the mind of the American Prog, the worst thing to happen to someone is for them to be excluded from the community of the righteous. This is almost always caused by the sinners who preach hate or extremism, so the logical way to address this “inequality” is to root out the sinners and hate thinkers. The poor will still be shopping at Walmart and struggling to keep it together, but they will be included in the community and the community will be saved.
This impulse to hunt for sinners in order to save society may feel like a new thing, but it is a permanent and integral part of the Prog theology. It does not always manifest itself in the political and social arena. For example, in the 1980’s, the Progs were sure that the infernal one was causing daycare workers to engage in unspeakable, and implausible, acts with the children in their care. The result was a national panic about daycare centers and a spasm of wild accusations, leading to bizarre show trials reminiscent of Salem.
One of the more egregious examples was in Massachusetts, unsurprisingly. The Amirault family had run a daycare center for decades and there was never any evidence of problems. Then, the fever hit and the Progs were sure it was a den of molestation. The DA at the time had his assistant, Martha Coakley, build a case based on manipulating children into saying things that were not only false, but in many cases physically impossible. The family was destroyed and sent to prison by the witch hunters.
Another example is the Satanic Panic that ruined the lives of a Texas couple. They were accused of being Satan worshipers and doing horrible things to children. Like all of these cases, the evidence ranged from totally fabricated to outlandishly absurd. That did not prevent the state from destroying their lives. Like the Amirault case, the truth was finally revealed and the accused were exonerated, but the damage can never be undone. That’s the thing about witch trials. Even when there is no witch, they still have the trial.
The thing you always see with these spasms of witch hunting, is that the witch hunters never pay a price for their misdeeds. In the Amirault case, Martha Coakley went onto a long political career. In the Texas case, the DA never faced discipline. Today, of course, the wave of hate hoaxes like what went on in Virginia never result in the perpetrators facing punishment. It’s just assumed they had good intentions because they were defending the community against hate and extremism. Who can fault them for that?
The point of all this is to remember that the other side, the people in the Cult of Modern Liberalism, are motivated by the same forces that motivated Cotton Mather. Although he was scientifically inclined, he enthusiastically supported the witch trials. It is an example of how even the most rational mind can be possessed of such fervent conviction that it leads to the embrace of homicidal lunacy. Then, as now, these are not people with whom you can reason. The Prog is a crusader whose thirst for social justice cannot be sated.