What is the world’s most powerful and violent “ism”? The question will summon the usual demons, such as Islamism, now that communism has left the stage. The answer, wrote Harold Pinter, is only “superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged,” because only one ideology claims to be non-ideological, neither left nor right, the supreme way. This is liberalism.
In his 1859 essay, On Liberty, to which modern liberals pay homage, John Stuart Mills described the power of empire. “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians,” he wrote, “provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required. The French liberal Alexis de Tocqueville also believed in the bloody conquest of others as “a triumph of Christianity and civilization” that was “clearly pre-ordained in the sight of Providence.”
“It’s a nice and convenient myth that liberals are the peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers,” wrote the historian Hywel Williams in 2001, “but the imperialism of the liberal way may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature — its conviction that it represents a superior form of life [while denying its] self-righteous fanaticism.” He had in mind a speech by Tony Blair in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which Blair promised to “reorder this world around us” according to his “moral values.” At least a million dead later – in Iraq alone – this tribune of liberalism is today employed by the tyranny in Kazakhstan for a fee of $13 million.
Blair’s crimes are not unusual. Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted and their people bombed. The historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions.
This has been principally the project of the liberal flame carrier, the United States, whose celebrated “progressive” president John F. Kennedy, according to new research, authorized the bombing of Moscow during the Cuban crisis in 1962. “If we have to use force,” said Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State in the liberal administration of Bill Clinton, “it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.” How succinctly she defines modern, violent liberalism.