Saturday 26 February 2011

A definition of political correctness


In a nutshell I regard political correctness as mainstream leftist politics post-1965.

This marked the tipping point between the left seeking equality of opportunity (meritocracy) and switching to equality of outcomes (egalitarianism),

there was a switch from the left being based on economic policy (especially the belief that the planned command economy was actually more efficient than the market) and a move towards cultural engineering via propaganda and 'consciousness-raising',

the beginning of the left's systematic dishonesty - especially suppression and demonizing of IQ research (IQ had been a leftist baby when the left was were concerned with equality of opportunity and meritocracy),

it when the left began their obsession with the Nazis and eugenics (having pretty much ignored the matter for two decades from 1945),

the beginning of a shift away from being a party representing (and funded by) the proletarian working class/ unions to a rainbow coalition of 'victims' of 'prejudice'; and so on...


Of course PC was continuous with socialism (or liberalism as you call it in the US), and socialism grew from atheist radicalism, that from deism and non-conformist Protestantism/ Puritanism, that from Scholastic Roman Catholicism, and that branched off from the undivided Christian 'Orthodox' Church around AD 1000 -

- so the roots of PC are very deep, being indeed the roots of modernity

(which explains why the modernizing opposition ideologies - such as libertarianism, or moderate Conservatism, or indeed any secular political alliance - cannot stop PC, and why PC will be replaced by a pre-modern, anti-modern ideology) -

...but, despite these roots, it was about 1965 when socialism clearly became fundamentally built on lies (and not merely superficially and tactically dishonest), became cut-off from the real world, and from negative feedback, became focused on process rather than outcomes:

and when transcendental inversion and the subversion of Truth, Beauty and Virtue became not just a plaything of the elite but a mass policy.


Another word for PC would be the New Left.

But political correctness is what the general commonsense public call moral inversion - the subversion of spontaneous human morality and its replacement with the opposite.

And this is distinctive to post-1965 leftism, which is why I use the readily-understandable term PC and try to enlarge its meaning, rather than using a more generic name such as socialism or liberalism - which includes types of 'Old' leftism from the era when socialism was merely a (mistaken) set of organizational means to the achievement of the True, the Beautiful and the Virtuous - as conceptualized by commonsense, by natural law, often by nonconformist Christianity.

The difference between - say - William Morris's utopian socialism of News from Nowhere (roughly, an idealized and secular Medieval communal society of craftsmen and free peasants), and the modern Western inverted world of bureaucratic political correctness motivated by the subversion of all forms of traditional Good, is about as extreme as can be imagined - despite their shared deep roots and tendencies.

Hence the need for a more specific term than socialism/ liberalism.

erived from spontaneous human .



Alex said...

I wouldn't quarrel with your nutshell definition of political correctness or your commentary on its functions, except to say it's surprising you haven't mentioned censorship.

In all civilized societies censorship is sometimes necessary - either internal or external to the individual. But the censorship of political correctness is a systematic attempt to impose thought control for ideological purposes, I think.

(Of course so-called "liberals" maintain that political correctness is merely a form of civility and has humanitarian intentions.)

Incidentally, it's interesting that you mention the suppression of IQ research as an example of the left's dishonesty. Frank Ellis was hounded out of his job when he published a defence of the Bell Curve theory in a review of Murray and Herrnstein's book.

SonofMoses said...

Dear Bruce,
I'm with you on the contents of your latest post until (going backwards) you get to deism and non-conformist Protestantism/Puritanism (I am assuming you mean the deism FOLLOWING the latter). I would be interested in just a few more facts showing exactly in what way (in the context of developing PC) Protestantism derived from the Scholastics, and these from what you call the united 'Orthodox' Church.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Son of Moses - Maybe this will help explain:

It doesn't explain exactly, but it gives what I think are the main reasons for the rise of modernity (and what modernity is) and why it is self-destroying.

@Alex - well, I am not against censorship; I am not a libertarian (tho' I used to be) I regard censorship as necessary. The problem with PC is that it censors The Good and fails to censor (indeed actively promotes) that which is subversive of The Good.

My own brush with international media coverage in May 2008 was related to IQ (you can Google my name, IQ and social class if you are interested).

This was the article that triggered it:

This came shortly after the James Watson Affair:

These provided valuable learning experiences concerning the nature of political correctness, and its complete (not relative) immunity to evidence: the fact that vast quantities of conclusive evidence over decades from mutiple independent sources against a foundational PC assumption MAKES NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER (sorry for shouting!).

Anonymous said...

In the minds of the left, they did not switch to imposing equality of outcomes. Rather, since women are supposedly exactly the same as men in mean and distribution, and blacks exactly the same as whites, and women should play exactly the same role in family and reproduction as men, any observed statistical inequality of outcome is proof of invidious discrimination, unequal opportunity.

In 1965, came war on statistically unequal outcomes, these being deemed proof of unequal opportunity, and in 1970, thoughtcrimes were deemed to cause unequal opportunity. If an employee in your organization thought bad thoughts, your organization discriminated.

There is a persistent tendency to believe that politics was perfectly normal at date X, when looking back on date X from some distance, because, compared to the increasingly bizarre and absurd present, the bizarre seems normal.

In 1890, the censorship was less severe, but among the right people, among the elite, it was still rather embarrassing to utter non PC thoughts, not something a proper member of the elite should do.

Froude got in trouble in 1890 for suggesting that blacks were on average inherently inferior to whites in: lower intelligence, poor self control, and so forth. And of course, when Marie Curie got two Nobel prizes for work that did not receive any special recognition when men did similar things, no one could possibly say that Marie Curie's work was remarkable for a woman, but quite unremarkable for a man.

That everyone piously applauded Marie Curie getting a Nobel prize for doing science while female shows a fairly severe level of PC.

Before 1940 or so, PC was Christian - Christian left, Christian socialist.

Before 1970 or so, PC was enforced by merely social pressures.

In about 1970 or so, judges started to punish organizations for allowing their members to express politically incorrect thoughts - if an employee thought bad thoughts, the organization supposedly discriminated against women or blacks or whatever. The big change was that political incorrectness changed from being merely socially undesirable, to a thoughtcrime against the state.

Bruce Charlton said...

I disagree that things have 'always' been as they are - we now live in circumstances of moral inversion which would have been literally incredible just a century ago - except to a very small proportion of the 'progressive' elite.

As I keep on saying, socialism/ PC has been growing for at least 1000 years - but slowly, from a tiny and isolated minority to a large and mutually-reinforcing majority - which makes a huge difference.

As an example of how the left changed - look at this:

These people who measured IQ in relation to social class were socialists. But they certainly were *not* claiming that all classes had equal and identical intelligence.

Rather they were proving that there were (contrary to some peoples' views) *some* very intelligent children, even among the poorest and less intelligent classes - and that this minority of poor intelligent children could benefit from more advanced education (in grammar schools and at college).

After a couple of decades this led to government funding of places for poor intelligent children at private grammar schools (these children selected by IQ tests mostly designed by one of the authors of this paper - Thomson). And these 'direct grant' schools soon became the highest achieving in the UK.

Nowadays this same factual information about social class and IQ (confirmed dozens of times and never refuted) is denied by the recent socialist government, and also by the current conservative government.

The left *has* changed, and very significantly.

Anonymous said...

As an example of how the left changed - look at this:

The left has changed in that its ideology becomes ever purer, ever narrower, and ever more extreme - but we can find a long way back the claim that there are no difference between genders, races, and classes, except for environmental differences which environmental differences are wicked and should be corrected.

If one takes Paul's statements about marriage as indicating that marriage and family law should treat men and women in the same way, as interchangeable, then how can one oppose gay marriage? Thus though gay marriage was unthinkable in 1890, it was a logical implication of the position that progressives held on marriage and family law - the difference being that they were reluctant to go all the way with the implications of their premises.

That they did not go all the way to gay marriage until very recently was merely early leftists being inconsistent, not any change in basic ideology.

Gay marriage is a logical implication of the position leftists held a hundred and thirty years ago - but a hundred and thirty years ago only rightists would have pointed out that implication as a reductio ad absurdum, and leftists would have denied it.

Today, however, the Christian right has no coherent objection to gay marriage, being reluctant to say that marriage is a contract reconciling fundamentally different interests.