When it comes to science, the left has time and again attacked the view that science can make strong truth claims. Science, in this view, is merely one way of knowing among many, making the conclusions of science open to challenge by those who reject its methods and norms, even if they have little understanding of what it is they are criticizing. After all, these norms are arbitrarily ‘constructed’ by those with power and thus must be deconstructed by the oppressed (i.e., the children of wealthy elites attending expensive Western liberal arts schools).
Thus, activists are free to oppose the use of GMOs and vaccines—using precaution as a justification for perpetual inaction—even when these technologies demonstrably increase the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people. For instance, one of the leading U.S. technology think tanks, ITIF, reports that “anti-GMO advocacy groups have denied the benefits of agricultural biotechnology and suppressed its diffusion.” As a result, developing countries will likely lose out on over a trillion dollars in economic growth in the years to come. To put that in perspective, that equates to the current GDP of the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa, a region that’s home to over a billion people.
In a strange twist of fate, the left’s arguments have been adopted by the very right-wing groups they oppose. As philosopher of science Meera Nanda has noted, the arguments used by the postmodern left have been used by nationalists in India to reject liberal Enlightenment values and justify regressive cultural practices and authoritarian tendencies. The rejection of Enlightenment values extends beyond science to the denial of even universal human rights. For instance, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has traditionally done good work fighting racism and homophobia, has capitulated to the postmodern tendencies of the left by labeling liberal Muslims Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as extremist bigots, a position that has been condemned by the Lantos Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights.