For purposes of this article, the following definitions should be used (I realize fully that most people will describe themselves as “moderates” by this set of definitions, but it is a set of working definitions and they roughly match what these words mean to me):
Reactionary: one who prefers that things go back to the way they were in an earlier age
Conservative: one who prefers that things stay the same
Moderate: one who can tolerate and encourage reasonable change for the better
Liberal: one who encourages change “for the better” even when it is not well reasoned
Ultra-liberal: one who encourages change “for the better” and rejects reason
A democratic society functions best when “the establishment” is conservative, most of the voting public is moderate, and there are a few liberals around that prevent the moderates from drifting into conservativism.
It is clear, however, that things have turned around. Not just in academia but also in the press and other forms of media.
The press is well known for a long tradition of liberal bias. This is fine when the liberals are in need of a voice. The liberals generally should be in need of a voice - because hopefully most people won’t give them voice, because they’re not exactly being reasonable.
Of course, what is “reasonable”? That is something that changes, and that is why reactionaries are always considred “backwards” - because what was reasonable this is not now and vice versus. I think most of the debates on the issue of politics revolves around the notion of what is “reasonable” - and I think that if people (1) had enough correct information to reason about, (2) knew how to reason, and (3) cared enough about the system to do the reasoning and act accordingly (vote, run for office, whatever), then we would all be fine.
Now, we have liberals in charge of teaching people how to reason, conservatives put into positions where they need to be innovative, and moderates that have become disillusioned about what’s going on.
The tides have turned, and no one is where they should be in this mess.