The successor ideology is a concept attributed to essayist Wesley Yang. It is said to be an emerging ideology among left-wing political movements in the United States centered on intersectionality, social justice, identity politics, and anti-racism that may be replacing traditional liberal values of pluralism, freedom of speech, color blindness, and free inquiry. It is sometimes linked to an intolerance of differing opinions, cancel culture, "wokeness," "social justice warriors," and the far left; Yang himself describes it bluntly as "authoritarian Utopianism that masquerades as liberal humanism while usurping it from within."
Roger Berkowitz has linked the successor ideology to a broader retreat of liberalism worldwide, arguing that liberalism is being simultaneously challenged from the left in the form of the successor ideology and from the right in the form of illiberal democracy.
The term was coined by political writer Wesley Yang in a March 4, 2019 tweet discussing affirmative action; Yang stated, "This successor ideology has been a rival to the meritocratic one and has in recent years acquired sufficient power to openly seek hegemony on campuses and elsewhere." He expanded on the term in further tweets in May 2019. It slowly gained recognition among other political writers, and saw a surge of articles discussing it in summer 2020.
Sarah Jeong, writing in The Verge, has argued that there is no such thing as a 'successor ideology,' saying the term "seems to only muddy the waters since the thing that [critics of the 'successor ideology'] are concerned about isn’t actually a concrete ideology but an inchoate social force with the hallmarks of religious revival." She also takes issue with what she claims are the term's reactionary connotations, viewing it as a way to defend an "old paradigm" that "[breeds] an irrational and incomprehensibly unjust society" which "tolerate[s] the intolerant and treat[s] dehumanization as a difference of opinion."
Political writer Osita Nwanevu has likewise argued that the successor ideology is a reactionary concept. He further contends that, counter to the narrative that the successor ideology is fundamentally illiberal, it is actually those who are identified with it who are "protecting—indeed expanding—the bounds of liberalism," while it those who oppose it—the "reactionaries"—who are "most guilty of the illiberalism they claim has overtaken the American Left."
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