Monday 18 October 2010

Has the internet encouraged or defeated political correctness?


Many on the secular right (libertarians - such as I was until a few years ago) believed that the internet (including blogs) and other modern mass communication media would act against the excesses of PC, by preventing the elites from controlling information.

I certainly believed that.

But overall this prediction was quite wrong, and I think that overall the opposite has been the case.

In other words, the modern mass communication media have increased the scope and strength of PC.


This is because the problem of PC was not due to lack of contrary information.

(I should have realized this - after all, PC can be refuted simply by taking personal experience at face value.)

Instead the modern communications media have hugely exacerbated the distractability of the elites, and their tendency mentally to inhabit an abstract realm where ideas are played-with and where morality is chosen on the basis of lifestyle considerations.


Indeed, PC probably depends on the mass media - since it has grown up in parallel with the media; and is not found in societies which lack a large mass media.

The least politically correct groups are those which leads the most detached lives, those with the least frequent interaction with the culture of internet, cellphones and the like. 

If/ when the mass media collapse, so will PC.


In a McLuhan-esque fashion, the content of the mass media seems to matter less than the psychological effects of its structure: with the elicited psychological responses of abstraction, distraction, neophilia, unreality, pick-and-mix hedonism, and so on, and so forth....

Anything which reinforces the intellectuals' (natural) tendency to ignore the here and now and objectively constrained, in favour of the remote and potential and subjectively wishful - will overall tend to encourage political correctness.

And it has.

And I realise that this appears to make blogging a self-refuting activity for reactionaries - and this is true, but only overall. This blog may be one of the exceptions



xlbrl said...

To the contrary, it reveals much that the elites often show their fear of the internet and constantly conspire to control it. They understand very well that the Kings Clothes cannot stay in fashion with the stray giggle and pointed finger still around to spark an uncontrolled chain reaction.

The quality of conservative thinking and writing among ordinary people has risen dramatically during this age. Numbers are not so important as the quality of understandings. The primary elections in America are showing a sophistication well beyond anything we have ever seen from voters, no matter that they are small in number. They are far ahead of allegedly conservative politicians.

Bruce Charlton said...

Yes - but *nothing* has changed.

If ever political correctness is rolled back, it won't be subtle, it won't be something about which there is any doubt whatsoever - it will be all over everywhere as the elite scream blue murder (or else, it will be a cataclysmic coup and total replacement).

What we have now is... nothing. Whistling in the dark. People encouraging each other. Hope, maybe even optimism.

But nothing has happened.

a Finn said...

Charlton: "Yes - but *nothing* has changed."

- I view this slightly different point of view. "Nothing has changed" is related to the illusory concept of "progress", the false belief in the fast track to the secular earthly heaven, provided by our conceited elites. Earthly heaven will never come. "Nothing has changed" compares changes caused by our work to that "fast track progress" and finds it wanting. How much of it is related to the right now- short sprint mentality all around us?:

God advices us to be metaphorical ultramarathon runners:

Our track here on earth is as long as God decides it to be. Only God can stop our almost eternal run here on earth. The run continues from generation to generation, on and on. Our short term passions and motivations are inadequate to this task, and we succeed only by putting our faith and destiny to God's hands. God is our endurance.

We may never see the Promised Land. We may never even see any changes we work for, but with God our efforts are never wasted. Your children, your grandchildren, or some further generation will eventually see the changes we work for.

The society is a huge ship, and it would be a mistake to expect it to change it's course fast, except in crash and burn situations. Our efforts are small strings that pull the ship from various points, in versatile ways. The ships course doesn't change, but our efforts change the geometry and shape of the ship, and these send small waves through the ship. A little bit like the metaphor of butterfly wings and the global weather, but the effects are not random. Only God knows what the exact effects of these will be in the long run, but we know that they will be far greater than it now seems.


Would an average distracted, childless and secular liberal despise e.g. Hutterites, and think they are some stagnant group full of nobodies? Likely yes.

Hutterites have a peace in God. They learn and use the newest technologies needed in their professions. They are not distracted by anything the liberal society offers. Their numbers multiply very fast because of their high birthrates. Their group will never dissolve because of Christianity, ethnic endogamy and strong social relations.

Liberals have visual illusions of movement and progress, but they only conceal their stagnant state:

Eventually it will be seen by all who really was on a real fast track (of God).


So to me it wouldn't matter if I would wake up tomorrow and notice that 95% of traditional conservatives have given up and the whole movement is a tattered fragment compared to yesterday. I would continue my humble and modest mission from God. I thank God for every Christian and white my modest efforts have helped, also when I am not aware that I have helped somebody. I will continue until I die.

Bruce Charlton said...

I think I meant - more precisely - that I see no sign of political correctness being rolled back: I should have said nothing is change-ing.

But I agree with your general idea that we should do what we ought to do (as much as we are able) and leave the future to sort itself out.

I remember C.S Lewis's comment to the effect that civilizations are transitory while souls are eternal: it is not the individual that is insignificant in the larger scheme of things, but 'society'.

Jonathan said...

I'm a counterexample--most of what I know about PC's problems, I learned from the web. But I understand that your statement is more about the collective than about individuals.

I predict that a good deal of PC in America is going to die a sudden death during the next 20 to 30 years. That doesn't make me an optimist, though, as my full prediction is that World War III will trigger a resurgence of nationalism and national unity.

xlbrl said...

C. S. Lewis also observed that no cause is ever lost, because no cause is ever won.

That is as unpleasant a truth as can be learned. But there are emotions boiling below that quiet acquiescence which you see that, when loosed, will be in need of a prepared understanding of what must be done. That is what I see happening on the internet. The leftist mind is gaining nothing from it, because it cannot grow.

The eternal questions return in various guises generation after generation not because we can never resolve them, but because we resolve ourselves in them. How different were things in Burke's day?

"The literary cabal had some years ago formed something like a regular plan for the destruction of the Christian religion. They were possessed with a spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree; and from thence, by an easy progress, with the spirit of persecution according to their means. What as not to be done towards their great end by any direct or immediate act, might be wrought by a longer process through the medium of opinion. To command that opinion, the first step is to establish a dominion over those who direct it. They contrived to possess themselves, with great method and perseverance, of all the avenues to literary fame. Many of them indeed stood high in the ranks of literature and science. The world had done them justice; and in favour of general talents forgave the evil tendency of their peculiar principles. This was true liberality; which they returned by endeavoring to confine the reputation of sense, learning, and taste to themselves or their followers. I will venture to say that this narrow, exclusive spirit has not been less prejudicial to literature and to taste, than to morals and true philosophy. The resources of intrigue are called in to supply the defects of argument and wit. To this system of literary monopoly was joined an unremitting industry to blacken and discredit in every way, and by every means, all those who did not hold to their faction. It has long been clear that nothing was wanted but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue and of the pen into a persecution which would strike at property, liberty, and life."

Bruce Charlton said...

One way to think about the (lack of) power of the internet secular right, is to consider which groups - when the chips are down - could mobilize thousands of young men 'on the streets', with a cohesive aim and prepared to sacrifice themselves (if necessary) for the cause.

xlbrl said...

Perhaps you are thinking of Britian, and I can't argue with that. Yet. In America, we spy the secret terror of leftist politicians hidden in their comments concerning both returning war veterans and an armed citizenry. One of the statements by the boy President, proudly made and never repeated, was that America needed an organization of "volunteers", "as large as the military" for domestic duty. In other words, Brownshirts. It didn't gain traction.

Even so, I suspect Europe may surprise us all and lead the way in counter-revolution. Individually, these nations are crumbling wreaks running away from their better heritage. But your advantage is that all this implacable underlying doubt is hidden under so many different cultures, languages, degrees of courage, and contiguous geograpy. It is impossible to keep the lid on forever, and when rebellion breaks loose, it will come in unpredictable--and different--forms. People in one country will look at what is finally happening in another, and become emboldened.

That is what I mean by having men who are prepared to know what to do. Otherwise one revolution merely leads to another. The internet is a far greater aid than you imagine. It is the single greatest force behind Geert Wilders. This is only a beginning.