As an ideology, Liberalism is most distinguishable in its conception of human nature.
Liberals have an optimistic view of humanity, regarding it to have an abiding potential for good that augments over time.
In Reflections of an Australian Liberal, F.W. Eggleston captured this idea:
I am an optimist, for I believe that the human mind, if it accepts responsibility and is allowed to be free, will always evolve to a better social order. This is the root principle of Liberal philosophy.
This presupposition is normally justified by pointing to a history of perpetual political, moral, economic and technological improvements. Whenever disasters strike, liberals rationalise them by claiming they pale within the context of both our total history and inherent capacity for future good. By this logic a belief in progress has persisted, remaining dominant to this day.
While commonly overlooked, this liberal faith in progress has particular authoritarian implications.
As Peter Hitchens described in The Abolition of Britain,
The conservative society accepts that rebellion and bad behaviour are natural and must be curbed. The liberal society requires all its citizens to be perfectly balanced, conforming to its ideals and aims with a happy heart and a willing mind–a rather sickening thought for the reactionary who does not care what is in his neighbour’s heart provided he obeys the law.
Liberal society “requires all its citizens to be perfectly balanced”–in the sense of ‘balanced’ it imagines–because Liberals believe such a state is possible.
If there are no conceived limits on what we can achieve, this envisioned human potential can countenance boundlessly radical measures, all undertaken in the name of progress.
In the Soviet Union, the dream of a classless society created obvious havoc: with tens of millions murdered or imprisoned–in many cases, due to arbitrary factors.
In the West’s modern pursuit of obviating all ‘racism’, ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia’ from people, the means have not been quite as conspicuous. That said, they have been gravely severe: first, through degrading public spiritual and intellectual capacities; second, when such intricate machinations fall short, resorting to harder forms of power–doxing, defamation, social ostracisation, (some) physical violence and censorship.
Wherever belief in progress resides, so too does the potential for an imperious, power-hungry regime inclined to imposing its vision at any cost.
Coming into this new decade, it would seem likely that measures of popular control will intensify, commensurate with the ongoing centralisation of elite power.
This is not to ‘black pill’; consequent from the projected economic and social dislocation of the 2020’s, reactionary politics will be especially primed for success.
Yet it is to say there is a positive correlation between Liberal belief and authoritarian practices. Meaning, that if brain-reading technology–concerningly funded by Facebook–is later expanded in application to actual thought criminals, we ought not be shocked. For this would be the logical result of Liberalism and the ideas on which it rests.