Since the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, Western societies adopted a political philosophy known as 'liberalism', that generally supported: political democracy, individual rights, free markets and trade, limitations on governmental power, separation of church and state, gender and racial equality, freedom of expression, respect for evidence and reason, and freedom of religion. Its intention was to replace hereditary privileges, religious powers, and divine rights of monarchies.
2. Fighting for liberty
This liberal set of ideals became favored across most of the globe as it allowed for a wide spectrum of thought on political and socioeconomic positions, with its purpose being to oppose polarisation and authoritarian movements both on the left and the right, or dominance from either secular or theocratic thought. Getting to this point took centuries of unrest and struggle against genuine discrimination that came from colonialism, slavery, theocracy, patriarchy, fascism, and many others - even if there's still more work to do today.
3. The threat to liberty
The foundations of liberty that our society has thrived on for many years is now at risk like never before as this new culture war ensues between the revolutionary left and the reactionary right. Each side fighting with ever-increasing pressure on how they believe societal structures should be understood and organised. The far-left and it's progressive social justice crusaders push a postmodern narrative of social inequalities being a consequence of direct oppression by select group identities, often male, often white. They reject reason, scientific method and objective truth as just another form of oppression, seeing only themselves as the true defenders of social justice. The far-right grows as a counter-balance in a more reactionary fashion, opposing this new progressive dominance, with the 2020 US election being the latest example.
4. The Culture wars
Whilst the far-right typically turn to stongmen as preservers of Western values, the far-left have departed from what it would traditionally fight for, opting instead to a revolutionary aim that rejects classical liberalism entirely. Both sides react to each other's extremes, dividing nations and threatening our liberal societies as we know them. Up to now, the far-right has been kept in check bar a few exceptions, however the far-left has managed to penetrate academia, activism, mid-tier business bureaucracies and the media, which is why our focus is on the left end of the spectrum.
5. departure from modernity
The left, in both its moderate and extreme positions, has rightfully fought for the liberal values most of us would defend, such as equality of opportunity, human rights for all, and the limiting of bureaucratic powers. However, for the first time in history, the left has departed from its traditional aims that have defined the Modern era and has instead aligned itself with the postmodern ideological structure that's rooted in Critical Theory, and views science and our objective means of obtaining 'truths' as simply part of oppressive meta-narratives.
6. rise of postmodernism
Postmodernism came to prominence in the 1960s, alongside other movements that focused on social inequalities, but unlike those, it placed total skepticism on the revolutionary scientific and social progress made up to that moment, such as evolutionary biology and the sovereignty of the individual. Instead, postmodernists hold a radical and cynical view of the world, particularly around knowledge, language, the individual, and their relation to power. Believing that scientific 'truths' and almost every cultural or religious narrative are social-constructs designed to maintain dominance and force social oppression. This cultural shift of seeing any form of 'inequality' as simply a result of power and oppression is, unfortunately, becoming the norm and dominates much of the sociopolitical discourse today.
7. evolution of social justice
Whilst the social justice movement has always existed in some form or another, its modern-day adaptation has evolved into a sort of authoritarianism that depicts itself, and it alone, as the only means to explain and solve the complex social problems it chooses to focus on. Any form of critique or questioning of it is deemed an example of the sort of oppression they seek to solve. This is due to the attachment this variant of social justice has with postmodernism and Critical Theory, believing that such social problems can not be solved with discussion, debate or reason, rather they can only be solved through reeducation, retraining and the adoption, by fiat, of their postmodern oppressive/oppressor narrative world view. Either you accept your unconsciously bigotted or you're part of the problem.
8. a new world view
As flag bearers of equality and diversity, the appeal of this modern-day movement cannot be understated, particularly with the younger generation who are mostly left-leaning to begin with. However, its means of obtaining such goals are where it departs from its formally liberal viewpoint to an illiberal one. To its followers, all forms of inequality in the world are due to prejudice alone, and can only be solved through quotas, affirmative action and forced equality of outcome. All forms of diversity are to be sought after but dictated solely by those who enforce it, typically excluding conservatives or those it deems as oppressors: the straight white male. To the new wave of social justice crusaders, racism is no longer defined as prejudice on the grounds of race, but as an invisible force that governs our societal structures and only those that have been trained in so called 'critical methods', or the woke, can see them.
9. Today's shift in culture
As the Overton window continues to move dangerously away from its centre and towards the progressive left, we see a new fundamentalist, cult-like movement that purposely looks to finds offense or oppression in almost everything, and obsesses in all forms of unconscious or subconscious bias. It silences its critics through authoritarian means of defamation, doxing, bullying, public shaming, and, most commonly, the labeling them as racist, sexist, alt-right, neo-nazi, far-right, or other such extremes. This is because to postmodernists, only a world of power struggles exists, and what was once deemed as a viable solution to complex issues, such as well-intentioned dialogue and reasonable debate, is now seen as oppression through the medium of language.