18 OCTOBER 1991, Page 27

AND ANOTHER THING

The liberal fascists ride high

PAUL JOHNSON

Now that Marxism is dead, people often ask: what new ideological horror will take its place and bring misery to the world? My answer is that it is already here, a virulent and highly infectious disease, Spreading fast. I call it Academic Aids, or AA; it is more commonly known as Politi- cal Correctness. It is already beginning to tear America apart and damage its institu- tions, as the Judge Clarence Thomas hear- ings show. But let no one think we are immune from it here. There are plenty of People in Britain, led by the kind of left- 'wing dons who commute between liberal campuses in the United States and Oxbridge, but including many in the Labour Party, the media, the growing num- ber of political lobbies and the race rela- tions industry, who are carrying the infec- tion here.

I prefer the term Academic Aids to Polit- ical Correctness because it more accurately describes the nature of the toxin and its ori- gins in the university. People think of Marx as a professional revolutionary. The truth is he was a failed academic: he turned against society because he was considered not good enough, as a philosopher, for a teaching Post in a university, and both his theories and his writings have the unmistakable stamp of academic conjuring-tricks. That is Why it has always appealed so strongly to dons and why, in its dying moments, it lingers on principally in that home of lost causes, the campus. But in Britain I notice that some of these academics are now quietly selling their shares in Marxism and buying into the new PC conglomerate.

The process has been going on for some time and, on a far greater scale, in the United States, and, needless to say, Aca- demic Aids is infecting many groups on the campus who never caught the Marxist virus, especially blacks, feminists and homosexu- als. One reason why America is the world- incubator and generator of AA is that it has more universities than anywhere else on earth. Many of these, including some of the most celebrated, have in effect been cap- tured by AA, in the sense that its oppo- nents on their faculties are now afraid to Speak out against its ravages. The number of academics appointed as a result of AA, either because of their skin colour, gender or 'sexual orientation', or because they teach the new phony 'disciplines', like 'Native American Studies', is huge, and some of these mountebanks operate in multi-person teams, hired as units at enor- mous expense by universities which believe their status will thereby be raised in the eyes of liberal opinion-formers, and their funding increased.

The second reason why AA was born in America and spread rapidly there — and the reason why it has broken out of its aca- demic enclaves and now infects the body politic — is that it is, by its nature, intoler- ant. Indeed, intolerance is its essential characteristic. It is the current and so far the most dangerous form of liberal fascism. As such, it appeals strongly to a deeply rooted defect in the American national character. The America which has grown into the world's greatest democracy is the product of two strains. On the one hand, there is the educated, enlightened, practical man-of-the-world strain, the Benjamin Franklins and the Thomas Jeffersons, the Hamiltons and the Adamses, men steeped in the English Common Law and parlia- mentary tradition, with its notions of bal- ance, compromise, empiricism and com- mon sense. This, happily, has proved the predominant strain and has produced gen- erations of statesmen down to the present day; it has enabled America to make use of its enormous wealth at home and its great power abroad with, on the whole, modera- tion and justice.

But there is another strain in American history: the fanatic. It was there from the start, among the New England Calvinist pioneers, who settled there precisely to preserve their Biblical fundamentalism from the worldly-wise Erastianism of the Stuart court, and who have been joined, over the years, by successive waves of fanat- ics, one-issue immigrants, who came to America to practise their peculiar forms of intolerance in its tolerant climate. The Puritan New Englanders, in the areas they 'I think of myself as "the man in the street". controlled, enforced the earliest form of Political Correctness. Led by their divines, the 17th-century equivalent of the modern don, they ran their inquisitions into peo- ple's opinions and behaviour. The appalling witch-hunt at Salem, far from being an aberration, is in a way the quintessential event of New England history.

Indeed, in the sense that it manifests this saturnine strain in America's composition, it is also a characteristic event in American history as a whole. Let no one think that the witch-hunt has died out in the United States. It has become politicised but it remains endemic. Sometimes it is launched from one end of the ideological spectrum, sometimes from the other, but its charac- teristics remain the same: fanaticism, self- righteousness, abuse of the legal forms, contempt for justice. The anti-aliens purge run by the Attorney-General, Mitchell Palmer, immediately after the first world war, which claimed countless victims, Sena- tor McCarthy's witch-hunt after the second world war, the Watergate and Iran-Contra hunts, the trial of Judge Bork before the Senate and now the electronic lynching of Judge Thomas, are all instances of what happens when the fanatic strain gets the upper hand in American society. Despite the theoretical existence of due process, many of the victims are just as helpless as the frightened old women at Salem because of the astronomical cost of the law. Several of those ruined by Water- gate pleaded guilty, and served prison terms, because they simply did not have the money to defend themselves. Only last week, one of those accused in the Contra witch-hunt, after desperate plea-bargain- ing, admitted to two minor offences, of which he was wholly innocent, because he lacked the million dollars required for a not-guilty plea. The reputation of Bork, a fine jurist who might have become a great one on the Supreme Court, will never recover from the assassination of his char- acter by the Politically Correct hit-men. Clarence Thomas, a poor, innocent booby, is just the latest sufferer to emerge, perma- nently maimed, from the liberal-fascist tor- ture chamber. He will not be the last. There will be hundreds, thousands more, as Academic Aids gets into the bloodstream of America. There is little we can do about that, alas, but at least we can try to quaran- tine Britain from the infection and deal ' with the carriers who are already here.