Friday 26 November 2010

Is it possible *not* to be politically correct?


Not really - at least not in public discourse.

Almost everybody reading this blog is politically correct - and this means you, gentle reader.

Especially if you are not a religious realist, who sees life as primarily a matter of salvation, then you are PC - or rather, if you reflect and probe your underpinning belief systems you will find that PC is where your ideology is tending - in theory and also in practice.


This is because we intellectuals (and if your are reading this you are an intellectual) live in a discourse of political correctness; and the higher we get the stronger and more pervasive this becomes.

At the highest level of status, power and influence in public discourse, PC is universal. There are no exceptions - not even The Pope is exempt.

That is a measure of the power and pervasiveness of political correctness.

Has there ever before been an ideology with this international scope and strength?


Of course many people imagine that they are opposed to political correctness, but in reality they are just PC-moderates made uneasy or amused by the PC-avant garde: yet ten years down the line and they will be saying the same things themselves, and vilifying those who disagree.


So, if you want to be non-PC then you need to make sacrifices; and you will be (more or less) on your own.

Being non-PC is not, therefore, a matter of building a political movement; it is a matter of personal salvation - done because you ought to do it, not with hope of changing the world.

Hence it is fraught with its own hazards: of going off the rails due to lack of objective guidance; and worst of all the sin of spiritual pride (of 'prelest' as Russian Orthodox call it).

However, lacking any non-PC support network, there is not really any alternative.


So, how to stay on the rails, lacking public support - and indeed in the face of almost monolithically hostile pro-PC discourse?

In the face of a world view based upon deep premises which cannot be challenged but which lead inexorably to PC?

Well, the answer is simple albeit variable between individuals, but has the same general character - a mixture of avoiding (as much as possible) participation in the mass media, and the PC discourse of high level modern functionality; combined with immersion in non-PC discourse (which will necessarily mostly be written, and from the past).

That's it!


Of course tradition is borne not by the written word but by interpretation, by humans.

On that basis we haven't got a chance, since the tradition is broken and there are no non-PC spiritual advisers whom we know-of.

But then there is the hope of external help, from outside of the human world, by praying for the grace to understand.

Ultimately, that is what we must rely upon.

Good luck!



xlbrl said...

Political correctness requires unanimity, like the Kings Clothes, and it is the weak argument that requires the most vigorous defense.

But it is possible. One must be both prepared and selective in choosing a word or an issue to work off of. The trick is not to win an argument, which will offend, but to provoke thinking. When we look into our past and see how we have changed our minds about something, it is usually a process, not an epiphany, begun by the exposure to a particular idea or experience.

It's really a target-rich environment. You can have some fun with it.

a Finn said...

Thank you, but here in Finland we try to avoid good luck. ;) Prepare, do everything that is possible, and then strengthen souls with prayers.

We could start by changing the whole mass thinking, i.e. statistical (state mathematics) thinking, i.e. PC thinking. Yes, PC lies about certain statistics, but only because other more numerous and "more important" statistics tells it to do so.

The purpose is not to abandon statistics altogether, just putting it back into it's place, to be one consideration among many.

We refuse to be a statistics, a mass that can be regulated.

Statistics, counterstatistics and individual hierarchical cases, including strange and exceptional outliers.

The thinking could go like this:

E.g. there are number of factors predisposing to alcoholism, and state perhaps tries to influence these. But who are those people, who have all the predisposing factors of alcoholism, both internal and external, but still are not and likely never will be alcoholics (counterstatistics). If these people are collected to a counterstatistics, and then studied individually, they can be put into a possible/likely hierarchy of resistance. Their knowledge and information concerning them could be collected to a composite ---> likely maximum resistance to alcoholism. This maximum resistance (all the parts which can be influenced and/or selected) doesn't have to suit everybody, just part of the people.

Now, let's do the same with PC and resistance to PC. Which are the groups and types of individuals living under PC? Which are the groups and individuals, who are the most resistant to PC, either certain aspects of PC or PC in it's totality (counterstatistics)? If we collect this information, put it into a hierarchy and make composites out of it, we have possible/likely maximum resistances to PC. Then we can ask, how to spread this information to selected local places, to selected groups and to selected individuals, who are predisposed to espousing it.

What could be a milder version of the resistances that could be spread to larger groups in society, in such a form that milder and stronger version are mutually reinforcing?

People generally don't act because someone tells them that the general situation is bad. They act, when in addition to this they are presented a good and virtuous cause, practical avenues of action, and the possibility of starting from easy and tentative; and the first starters are generally the early adopters (In this case early adopters are different group from e.g. early adopters of the newest fashion).


System is nearing a collapse. Nigel Farage, who is the best speaker in Euro Parliament, tells about one aspect of it. Nigel's reproach of Finnish commissar Olli Rehn alone makes this video sublime to many Finns:

CorkyAgain said...


After reviewing your blog archives, I just want to say that your postings this year have broken much new ground and are well worth reading.

Here's hoping that what we get from you in 2011 is to 2010 as 2010 was to 2009!

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks very much! I'll do my best in 2011, but no promises, I'm afraid...

Jonathan said...

I love your blog, but in almost every post I wish for more concrete examples of the processes you talk about. To whit:

Can you give some examples of statements you think are probably truths that contradict the most central belieft of PC?

Can you please give some reading suggestions to immerse ourselves in?

Speaking of which, I bought the Seraphim Rose book, but at first glance it appears to be a biography, not a collection of his writings. Are his best writings collected anywhere?

ab said...

I have found myself over the last decade becoming less and less politically correct - or so I think - but not surprisingly according to your analysis, my exposure to mainstream mass media over that time has been very limited, and my exposure to a very specific number of web sites and non-web writings has grown.

However, I am wondering if I am not really becoming so. Because so much of what you've written lately on political correctness is in abstract terms, could you give a few typical examples of what you have in mind here vis a vis people thinking that they are not politically correct when they actually are?

And, what do you mean by "and in the PC discourse of high level modern functionality"? (my apologies in advance if you have laid this out in previous posts, if so a direction to the relevant post would be much appreciated)

Bruce Charlton said...


Seraphim Rose's first book (before he became a monk) is at:

There is a collection of Seraphim Rose essays at:

As for other reading - you will probably have noticed that I am currently reading The Inklings: especially J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams.

But I'm intending to post something critical about the idea that there is or should be a conservative canon of set books.

One theme I keept returning to is that - while Christianity is certainly not sufficient to be anti-PC, it is necessary: and that Christianity must be of a traditionalist, supernaturalist type (not liberal).

(Well, there is an alternative to Christianity: Islam. But as a Christian I have already made my decision about that; and Islam is the current dominant trend worldwide, so there is no need to make intellectual arguments about it.)

I agree that this blog is extremely abstract and lacks examples. This is partly deliberate and partly lazy.

Deliberate in the sense that I want to keep things abstract, that I don't want to be deflected by wrangling over specifics, and that lack of specificity is a defence against PC police (as you will have noticed, there are few anti-PC bloggers who write under their own names; even fewer of these have 'respectable' jobs!)

The laziness is simply that good examples are very difficult to come by; and they would make the blog much more time consuming (while bad examples would misrepresent the arguments) - therefore I am relying on reader (a small, elite group!) doing the hard work for themselves.

This blog is a record of my developing ideas about PC. Go back a month, even, and you will see that my ideas have changed quite a bit.

So perhaps I am not a good guide to things - a wiser and less silly person than me would not have spent so many years pursuing so many wrong (incoherent, harmful) ideas, and have arrived at something like a valid coherent philosophy a lot sooner than I have.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ab - "And, what do you mean by "and in the PC discourse of high level modern functionality"? "

Sorry - that 'in' was a misprint (now corrected), which makes it even harder to understand. I was meaning by 'modern functionality' - whatever specialized functional system you operate in, e.g. a person's job in the legal, education, health service, military or economic systems.

And by 'high level' I meant at the upper, strategic (managerial) levels of these systems.

My point is roughly that if you participate in high level 'management' you will be living in a world of PC; and will only be able to participate by conforming.

To oppose one specific piece of PC you will be forced to make PC-based arguments - so that you can fight PC in one place only by strengthening PC in another place.

To escape the logic of PC you could 'just say no' and resist in an inarticulate manner - however this is not compatible with a management role.

The reason why you cannot survive without adopting PC (at least not for long) is that you would have to (in effect) prove yourself right and everybody else wrong - which while true (!) is clearly impossible in practice.

"However, I am wondering if I am not really becoming so. Because so much of what you've written lately on political correctness is in abstract terms, could you give a few typical examples of what you have in mind here vis a vis people thinking that they are not politically correct when they actually are?

The biggest group of examples (of people thinking that they are not politically correct when they actually are) is when they argue in favour of impartiality/ neutrality of procedures.

For example, if I oppose 'affirmative action'/ sex preferences at colleges (as of course I do) then it seems almost inevitable that my argument be made in terms of wanting a 'sex blind' system. And in a sense that is what I do want, I want sex not to be an important feature in college admissions - I don't want to hear people saying yet again that 'we ought to appoint a woman' or celebrating an appointment because it is a woman.

However, neutrality about important matters is in the first place impossible and in the second place actually undesirable even if it were impossible - although the problems typically do not emerge quickly.

My contention is that the West took a wrong turn about these matters around AD 1000 when the Roman Catholic chruch broke away from the Eastern Orthodox - and like most mistakes it was initially richly rewarded (otherwise the mistake would not be made) - with tremendous 'progress' in philosophy and scholarship (especially Thomas Aquinas), then in science, and later in the economy.

But this built a fatal error into the thought systems of the West. By secularizing knowledge (by creating The University - autonomous philosophy; instead of having learning focused in monasteries) we made - eventually - PC.

Ach! I can see that this argument should become a post not a comment....

Jonathan said...

Thank you for your reply. I don't seek a "canon"; just lots of examples. Nor do you need to be a "good guide"--just one of the people pointing out possible errors. When one is raised in a culture, it is extraordinarily hard to see which of its basic assumptions might be wrong; even dim pointers are valuable starting points. So thanks.