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This is the ultimate legacy of 1968. As Gray suggests, this form of illiberal liberalism has been a tension present in Liberal thought ever since John Stuart Mill. The Corbynistas are suffused with the sense that “a new society will appear once we have been stripped of our historic identities, and switched to a system in which all are deemed different and yet somehow the same. In this view, all identities are equal in being cultural constructions. In practice some identities are more equal than others. Those of practitioners of historic nationalities and religions, for example, are marked out for deconstruction, while those of ethnic and sexual minorities that have been or are being oppressed are valorised . . . If human values are no more than social constructions, how can a society that is oppressive be distinguished from one that is not?”

Playing fast and loose with the boundary between social construction and denial of fact, indeed the belief that ideologically inconvenient facts are not objectively identifiable, is something that both the Momentum-infused Labour Party and the American alt-Right share. However, this truth decay is not limited to the UK or US. It has become a defining feature both of the Russian disinformation campaigns directed at the West and also of revisionist leaders across Europe. These attacks only serve to delegitimise systems of government, creating a decline in trust in institutions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a convergence between the critiques of 1968 and the “political technology” that Russia’s strategy of “active measures” uses to destabilise Western democracy. Both disrupt established Western political narratives and utilise outright subversion. By 1970 the Soviet Union was actively funding the Red Army Faction in Germany and other European revolutionary terrorists. Today Putin’s “active measures” are equally divisive. It seems likely that he has been supporting opposing political elements within the US with the aim of exacerbating social division, such as the spectacle of violence in Charlottesville that saw rival protests by white supremacists and their opponents. There is no end to the useful idiots he can find to do this work even without his direct prompting: he need only exacerbate existing tensions within Europe.

The Labour Party is ensuring that we re-enact the struggle of 1968. Where the soixante-huitards saw only repressive cultural hegemony, they forgot that less than 20 years earlier their parents’ generation had gone to war to protect a historically unique set of values. The millennial generation that give Labour’s Momentum movement much of its force appears equally blind, suffused with an unwarranted belief in the universality of its values. This obscures the historical specificity that led to Western society and the values which we uphold. The danger in such a viewpoint is that in mistakenly implying innate universality it overlooks the very real need to defend our values of freedom and tolerance.
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