Liberally Intolerant


NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: A crowd marches from Union Square to Trump Tower in protest of new Republican president-elect Donald Trump on November 12, 2016 in New York, United States. The election of Trump as president has sparked protests in cities across the country. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)


From top: Anti-Trump protests in New York, November 12; Dan Boyle

Liberal smugness has been quite content to allow previously inactive portions of the electorate to wallow in their indifference.

Dan Boyle writer:

Political correctness is in the firing line. Its existence threatened by an unlikely coalition of preciousness and prejudice. Those of the lofty left have weakened the tolerance of needing to prevent the use of any language of hate, by zeroing in on what often have been the most petty examples of such speech.

The rabid right exaggerates that the right of free speech itself has been compromised by PC practice and doctrine, when what they really are being denied is the right to express prejudice. 

PC is a convenient crutch for either the left or right. By focussing on it we are ignoring the far more serious trends that have created the shifting political sands of today.

The current shift, which we need to recognise is quite a narrow shift, is based on seeds sowed forty years ago by followers of Ronald Reagan in the US, and Margaret Thatcher in Britain.

This nexus promoted the creed that individualism rather than the common good should inform policy making. For liberals the State exists to meet unmet social needs, needs that become exacerbated in a totally unregulated society.

The real failure of liberalism has been the smug and patronising assumption, that enough of the electorate would always support the common good above individualism.

We are led to believe that this shift has come about because of the participation of those who usually chose not to vote. Those left behind, those who had come to believe that voting changed little.

This has been only partially true.

The political advance of individualism has been led by those who, on the whole, have been doing very well, thank you very much. Their motivation has been to protect their entitlement from uppity others intent on (as they perceive) spoiling their way of life.

These needed to add to their columns by attracting enough of the deactivated votes of the discontented/disconnected to make a difference. Again they have been able to do so by liberal smugness, that has been quite content to allow previously inactive portions of the electorate to wallow in their indifference.

This smugness has left unchallenged the alt. right narrative that has played so strongly to the ingrained prejudices of the individualists and their convenient compatriots from the neglected reaches of society.

This is the template that has been used just as much for Trump as it had been for Brexit, and may yet do in a number of European theatres in 2017.

For liberals to win back the narrative there has to be less head in the air, less Mr. Nice Guy. The extremes of politics, both right and left, have been well prepared to lie to secure their narratives.

Liberals seem to be more prepared to deceive themselves.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic: Getty

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32 thoughts on “Liberally Intolerant

  1. AlisonT

    “The rabid right exaggerates that the right of free speech itself has been compromised by PC practice and doctrine, when what they really are being denied is the right to express prejudice. ”

    This sentence pretty much sums up how out of touch the left is with the idea of political discourse. – We are not denying you the right to speak, we are denying you the right to discuss your opinion.

  2. Gorev Mahagut

    Interesting piece Dan. I wonder is it the case that large parts of the left have swallowed the doctrine of individualism whole? Progressive issues like marriage equality, reproductive rights and so on are often presented as individual entitlements; which is not in itself wrong, but the erosion of commonality continues unchecked. The middle-class left are obsessed with protecting individual rights (against the state or against competing interest groups), less so with building community. Everyone digs deeper into a “them-against-us” mentality.

  3. bisted

    …Liberally Intolerant…haha…great headline…last week Dan was advocating castration for people who didn’t agree with him…has he softened his rhetoric or just given up getting a key advisor job with Donald…

    1. Dan Boyle

      Do you read with your eyes half shut? I was quoting a satirical sketch. It had nothing to do with whether people agreed with me or not.

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    So we have one article telling us “liberals” to stop being “Mr Nice Guy”… and then we get called shrill by the Tone Police when we do speak up on matters that concern us.

  5. spudnick

    Good piece. The takeaway from this is that people should learn to pick their fights with a little more finesse. That asshat in West Virginia calling Michelle Obama an ‘ape in heels’ – a good fight to pick. Agonising over Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands – not so much.

    *backs away slowly, waits*

  6. Neilo

    Didn’t hear about that crack against Michelle Obama – the fecker that said it should have been laid out. That view’s more prevalent than we might think and not just in backwoods parts of the world.

  7. human

    Hey Lefties…….

    Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING! The shadows betray you, because they belong to me!

      1. dav

        @DanBoyle – Brilliant piece on Monday on Livedrive by Philip Boucher Hayes on Trumps new head of the EPA – Myron Ebell

  8. Gah!

    The only smugness that got to me was the tone of this article. “Lofty left” and “rabid right” are not helpful descriptions to use. Can we ease off on the Daily Mail inflammatory language?

      1. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

        It makes it kind of difficult to read. I gave up half way through even though I kind of agreed with it. You could use an editor

  9. Formerly known as

    The election of Trump has little to do with left and right. The fact that many on the right have big problems with Trump shows that he is not one of them. It has a lot to do with the power of populism and the power of a single individual to captivate a large number of people. Trump has it, many of your 20th century war mongering leaders had it. Trump hit the nail on the head when he said that he could fire a shot in Times Square and not lose a voter.

    Trump made so many mistakes, that would normally make you unelectable but he still got elected. He is not up to the job – I think that a larger number of people have left logic at the door, when they voted. I worry that people will still follow him, even after he stuffs everything up.

    Good luck everyone!

    1. Kieran NYC


      He seems immune from any kind of criticism. His defenders will ignore all logic and excuse whatever he does.

      Of course no one else would ever get away with what he does. YUGE double standards from his supporters.

    2. f_lawless

      Yeah I think the whole Left – Right paradigm is wearing pretty thin these days in the US and elsewhere. As Noam Chomsky once said “There’s only one party today in the US. The Corporate Party”

  10. Jordofthejungle

    I cannot but agree. At the vanguard of these grim times, we have a heady mix of the trigger-sensitive-ready-to-cry-bigot brigade and the actual bigot brigade. The problem is the latter are actually beginning to seize the reins of power. How will the former react? Double-down and insulate themselves in a happy Bernie Saunders-Jeremy Corbyn meta-haze ensuring the newly ascendant bigot brigade will consolidate & copper fasten their hold on power? Gr times as I say.

  11. Rich

    The numbers in the US tell us that this was not a rising of the right. Trump received a similar number of votes to recent Republican presidential candidates. Clinton’s numbers were way down compared to Obama. The fact is a stronger democratic candidate could have motivated those voters who chose to abstain or voted third party. Third party votes rose by something like 4 million and the total turnout was also down by a few million. Those votes let Trump trundle in to town.

    1. Kieran NYC

      But it’s cool, because they got to smugly ‘vote their conscience’ while being insulated from most of the worst aspects of a Trump presidency.

  12. dan

    political correctness.

    1. Not giving the colour of a man who tried to strangle a jogger because he was black
    2. Not stating the colour or nationality of 2 17 year old Nigerians who are charged with false imprisonment of a girl

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