John Gray "on a new cult at odds with the progressives of the past" at the Times Literary Supplement.
[link fixed -ed.]
"While student bodies have dedicated themselves to removing relics of the colonial era from public places, sections of the faculty have ganged up to denounce anyone who suggests that the legacy of empire is not one of unmitigated criminality. If he was alive today one of these dissident figures would be [Karl] Marx himself, who in his writings on India maintained that the impact of British imperialism was in some ways positive. ... Of course, Marx may have been mistaken in this judgement. ... But like other progressive thinkers at the time, he also took for granted that this was a question that could and should be debated. ...
"in a society of the sort [John Stuart] Mill envisioned, other religions and philosophies would be gradually eliminated. But if only one view of the world is acceptable, what becomes of intellectual diversity? This was not a theoretical risk for Mill. He found it exemplified in [Auguste] Comte, whose philosophy he came to believe led to 'liberticide' – the destruction of intellectual freedom that comes when everyone is required to hold the same view. A hostile critic of liberalism who valued free inquiry only insofar as it was useful in weeding out irrational beliefs, Comte welcomed the rise of an intellectual orthodoxy with the power to impose itself on society. Mill was horrified by the prospect. He could scarcely have imagined that such an orthodoxy would be developed and enforced by liberals not unlike himself."