Having just survived a Leftist show trial, with no help from the lame Conservative government of Mrs May, I feel a certain alarm at the change in the public culture of this country. The idea of a thought crime has been with us for a long time, of course. We used to look in astonishment on Moscow show-trials, in which the victim, convicted of deviationism, bourgeois idealism, “neo-Schellingism”, Zionist imperialism or whatever, is given a brief chance to confess enthusiastically to his fault, before being taken away to the firing squad. Where was the evidence, we asked, and what exactly was the crime?
Now we see respectable thinkers accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and a host of other thought crimes, on the strength of a word out of context, a long-forgotten friendship, or (as with Jordan Peterson) a photograph proving that you are capable of standing next to someone wearing the wrong kind of T-shirt. The punishments are mild compared with those of the Moscow trials. But they are severe enough, as I and Peterson have both discovered. And in every case there is no defence. For every attempt at a defence entrenches the accusation. If you point out that the thought crimes are largely chosen to mean whatever the accuser wishes them to mean, then that is sure proof that you are guilty.